In 2013, I picked up a friend’s camera for the very first time while we were at the barn riding our horses. As soon as I held it to my eye, I knew it was going to change my life somehow, someway. I had no idea that it would allow me to leave my 9-5, grow a small business, and start traveling the country.
But it did.
I still have that first photo I ever took on my friend’s camera. It’s of my dog Hallie, who passed away from kidney disease right in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, which makes the photo even more special to me.
Within one week of that day, I owned my first camera, a Canon t3i. And within 2 weeks of owning a camera, I knew how to shoot in manual. I’m telling you, I was hooked on photography immediately.
Like most photographers, I had friends lining up asking me to “shoot a few photos of their kids” for them. Eventually, I started charging for those few photos, but quickly realized if I was going to grow a small business, I needed to do it the right way.
Where most photographers want to perfect their photography before they work on the business side, I decided to concentrate on the business side… the side that would help me leave my 9-5 the quickest.
That was my biggest weakness at that time.
How you can grow a small business by despite your weaknesses.
First of all, I know if you landed on this blog post, you’re most likely a creative at heart who also owns a small business. You’re in business because you LOVE what you do and you know you can support yourself with your talent.
One thing I want you to place front and center in your mind is that even though you love what you do, you HAVE to put the business side first so you can support yourself, your family, and the life you’ve been dreaming of for so long.
You know the life that allows you to take off mid-day to take your kids to the zoo or watch their games or recitals?
Your business has to come first so you can live the life you love without feeling stressed out, anxious, or desperately searching for clients.
Each year, pick 1-2 weaknesses to improve.
Because I knew I wanted to grow a small business with a solid foundation first, I waited about 2 years before I invested money in improving my photography. I mean, I practiced and improved my skill on my own, but I definitely didn’t spend a whole lot of money trying to improve. The business side came first to me.
Eventually though, once I felt my business was super solid, I did invest in my photography to improve my craft.
I want you to take a few minutes and really think about what your biggest weaknesses are.
Where do you feel you are struggling the most? What’s holding you back from growing?
Is it your website? Is it your marketing plan? Your Instagram or maybe your networking skills?
Choose 1-2 areas to concentrate on, and until you master those, don’t invest into anything else.
Realize that you’re always going to be growing and improving.
You know you probably need to write more blog posts, email your clients, all the things, but you look at a blank screen, and get super overwhelmed?
Maybe you tell yourself, “I suck at writing” so you just don’t even start.
I totally feel you. I used to be the exact same way. But I also knew that blogging was going to be the best(and cheapest) way to improve my SEO and book out my schedule, so I wrote a blog post and even sent a newsletter to my email list every week anyway.
And guess what. I found my writing voice, and I improved. Now, I can knock out a really good, SEO friendly blog post AND newsletter in less than an hour!
It’ll be the same way for you. That weakness you think you have will no longer be a weakness if you work each and every week on making it stronger.
“Instant gratification is an endurance killer.”
― The 1% Rule: How to Fall in Love with the Process and Achieve Your Wildest Dreams
Remember, we all start somewhere.
I want you to remember to avoid the “business is slow” mindset.
Avoid making excuses and instead, figure out where your ideal client is spending time and money.
Figure out what you need to improve to get in front of those people. Do you need to learn how to network with other business owners? Maybe you need to figure out how to up your Instagram game.
I want you to know that most likely, you DON’T need to improve your creative skill set. Your problem is most likely not being in front of your ideal client.
Do you need to create a brand that draws those clients in like flies?
Spend some time thinking about that particular person, and instead of making excuses, figure out how to book them.
“Business is slow” is a mindset issue on your part.
I assure you, there are ALWAYS people out there ready and willing to spend money on what you offer. You just have to find them. It’s work, but it’s worth it in the end.
And girl, you’re killing it, just by showing up every day. Keep that shit up.
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Tracy Lynn is a boudoir photogapher for brides-to-be in the St. Louis area, and a mentor + coach for photographers looking to level up their businesses with better systems and processes.