It’s been exactly one year since I took the leap into business ownership. I can say without a shadow of a doubt it has been the most difficult and rewarding experiences I had encountered in my entire life. It has pushed my boundaries to what I thought was possible for myself as a human. It has tested my resiliency, my courage, as well as some of my previous ways of thinking. In this article, I hope to share with all who read it the highs, the lows, the raw emotions, and other sensitive subjects aren’t typically discussed when it comes to business ownership. Moreover, I hope to provide some insight you can take into your own business.
I have enjoyed photography and videography since I was in high school. I took all the classes that were available to me and in college I concentrated in visual communication. For me, this started out as a hobby. I enjoyed making videos for my friends and I had no idea of the potential market for photo and video work, nevermind starting my own business. Once I graduated college, I started looking for a job as most hopeful grads do and came across a company, Y? Entertainment looking for a videographer. I was hopeful and decided to shoot a small promotional video for them while up at the TopGolf contract one night. For me, that is kind of where it all started and it leads into my first takeaway as a new business owner. I couldn’t be more appreciative of all the opportunities David has provided me to learn and grow in business even though we are not in the same field (David’s a DJ for those who didn’t know). Once he saw the hard work and understood where I wanted to be, he really taught me a lot of the business practices I was unaware of. From pricing structure, to contracts, and client acquisition, David has been one of the greatest mentors I have ever had and for that I am eternally grateful. If you get nothing else from this article, seek mentorship. The egotistical side of you may not want to seek help to say you did it on your own, but that is not how our world operates. On a fundamental level, we are very tribal beings, and we thrive when we belong to a community or when we are around others. One thought that made this very clear to me was prison isolation. It’s a form of punishment when inmates have misbehaved and some deem it incredibly unethical. Why? Because we are meant to interact and operate with other people. Starting a business in a vacuum will be the quickest way to fail in my opinion, so get involved in communities, seek mentorship, ask if you can shadow events, and perhaps even look for employment opportunities in the field before jumping head first into your business. No, this isn’t the fun, cavalier business ownership you hear about and see on social media. However, it is a sustainable way to enter the market and keep you running an enduring business, rather than one that is here today gone tomorrow.
Prior to getting my start in videography I was working in property management while I was attending college. In fact, one of the reasons I began seriously looking into videography was because the contract where I was working was ending. I felt that this was my opportunity to really go for starting a business and getting into the videography space. However, looking back on the struggles I encountered in my first year of business, many of them could have easily been avoided had I continued working a primary job. Don’t get me wrong, everyone is different and some people love the sink or swim ideology when starting a business. However, I will make the argument that you can make things a lot easier for yourself if you have an additional income coming in to help pay your bills and give your business the funding it needs. Most 9-5 jobs can be worked in congruently with your business and this is ideal if you can do it. Yes, it’s going to be difficult when you start, but it will be well worth it. The stress you end up putting on yourself can be incredibly burdensome and damage your morale when you have to feed yourself and the business with the money you start making from the business. When people ask me about this now I always recommend keeping your job until you consistently make 3 months of your monthly salary. So if you’re making $3,000 a month at your 9-5 job, I wouldn’t consider resigning until your business has made at least $3,000 dollars a month for 3 consecutive months. I would also seriously consider building an emergency fund of one year of expenses before resigning as well so you have a safety net in case things head south. In the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, our industry has been absolutely rocked showing us why it is so important to be prepared. In hindsight I would have saved myself so much pain and struggle had I kept a job, it will be hard now, but you will thank yourself and you can start your business off on the right foot.
We often don’t like to talk about sacrifice, but when starting a successful business from the ground up there are many decisions you will have to make and things you have to forego in order to be successful. If you are thinking about starting a business, chances are you aren’t afraid of hard work and as a business owner you are going to have to dig incredibly deep to start your business. It will be a testament of your will and how badly you really want your business. Your weekends will be filled with work and you may not have a day off for a while when you’re first getting started. I know when I was in the very early stages, still working in property management, I “worked” 7 days a week and I was actually editing videos at my job and then shooting for my friends over the weekends. The good news is that if you truly love the business you are going into, a lot of the time, it doesn’t feel like work. Yes, you still have to work long days at events, but to me, it honestly doesn’t feel like I am working. There will be times you don’t want to work and that is when your resilience will shine through, but you can absolutely do this. I often remember David telling me about his CD Warehouse days of working 60 hours a week and then going home only to continue working on his business. These times are going to test you, but if you can make it through, the reward waiting for you is immense. Saturday nights out are something you might have to sacrifice and for some people that might be very difficult and not worth it. This is where it is important to do research and talk to people in the industry before jumping head first into your business. Information really is power.
Relationships are something that aren’t often discussed when starting a business and for some, the prospect of starting a business may give you clarity on your current relationship. When we talk about relationships, we are mostly referring to intimate relationships, however this can also apply to friends and family. If your current partner is supportive of your venture, that is amazing! It really makes me happy and it is even more wonderful to see husband and wife teams in business. However, if your current partner isn’t supportive of you starting a business, it is going to be extremely difficult to have this dissonance in your life. Starting a business is hard enough as it is, so if your partner is unwilling to support you, it’s only going to make things more difficult. Try to communicate with them the best you can and explain how much the business means to you and how it could provide additional income for the both of you. If they are still unwilling to support you, there may be some choices you have to make down the road. Recently, my 3 ½ year relationship came to a tumultuous end in part due to my business. There are sacrifices along the path of business ownership and it will be extremely easy to waiver during these times. It is important to remind yourself why you started your business. If you are currently having difficulties with your current relationship, I think it is very important to try to work things through, but if that is not possible just know all hope is not lost and there’s someone out there for you that will support you just as you are.
Managing expectations in the beginning of a business can be very difficult, especially when you throw yourself into business. Managing your mental health is something that I also don’t think is talked about as often as it should be when you’re first starting a business. It can be extremely difficult for new business owners to be critical of their success or what they are or are not doing. It can also be easy to rush the process to book more business more quickly. There are plenty of “gurus” out there offering you to make exorbitant amounts of money overnight on social media, I am sure you’ve seen these ads. If that is what you’re looking for, Wedding Business Growth is not for you. However, if you are looking for consistent, long term growth, this community has everything you need if you’re willing to put the work in. I know these feelings of inadequate business growth will be incredibly persistent over the first year you’re in business because you are putting all of this work in and seeing minimal results. I know there were many times and still many times, I question what I am doing, but staying consistent through those times and having someone to talk to is ultimately the difference between who makes it and who doesn’t. I really believe the formula to a successful business is consistency over time. Obviously that is grossly simplified, but I am sure you get the idea. You must keep faith in the hard times and trust me, there will be hard times. I think this is where having a job to fall back on really helps because it takes the pressure off needing to book a certain amount of business or else you won’t be able to survive. I also think it is important each month to set actionable goals. In my first month of business ownership, I remember my first goal was to book just one client that month. That doesn’t seem like much, but you also don’t want to set unreachable goals as it can be very destructive to your morale. Quickly you will see by setting small actionable goals how one client turns into two, then three, then four per month and all of the sudden, you’re doing it.
I know that was a lot of information and personal, but I sincerely hope you could take something away from this article and apply it to your own business. Business ownership is difficult. As the saying goes, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. I believe it’s important to go in with a marathon mentality. We are not running a sprint here. Many people want to sell you the spring quick fix, because let’s be honest, we all want to book more business. But there is no quick fix in running a sustainable business. We are playing the long game, we’re running the marathon. Stay consistent and overtime, if you’re putting in the work, your business will begin to grow. There will be bumps and hardship along the way, but what a feeling it will be to look back and see just how far you’ve come.
Are you a member of our Private Facebook Group yet? If not, we would love to have you join us!