Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Things I wished I had known starting out in business.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Of all the things I wished I had known starting my first business was a real understanding of what it would actually take to be successful.

A entrepreneurial friend of mine likened it to being a Starbucks barista.

We start working at the coffee shop because we LOVE coffee, but what we don’t realize is that we will have to do every job expected to keep the the shop running. Serving clients, mixing drinks, washing up, cleaning floors, marketing the store etc.

We better be sure we love coffee!

How I see owning a business is like a marriage.

We start out completely and utterly in love! We have stars in our eyes, everything looks peachy and we hear loads of praise and congrats on our new love. While on our honeymoon we have all the excitement and thrill of the new adventure, and often overlook things because we are in love.

As they say love is blind.

A few years down the road we realize it takes a lot of work to make a marriage/business a success. It also takes more time than we ever expected.

The long nights spent editing our photos seem tedious after we’ve spent our energy on marketing, selling, social media, emailing, phone calls, editing, admin, bookkeeping, taxes, cleaning, packaging, shooting etc. It becomes an 80/20 job of spending 80% of our time doing the business side, and 20% of our time actually doing the fun stuff.

Oh did I forget to mention that most businesses FAIL within the first five years?

I hear some of you say “Hey that’s not what I signed up for? I got into business because I LOVE it!”

Hold your horses.

Let me give you some valuable nuggets of truth that your mom, BFF or significant other won’t tell you when you’re starting out all starry eyed….

#1 Education is Key:

It’s much harder learning from our own mistakes that it’s actually more cost effective in the long run to learn from others who have been there before. Good thing you’re reading this! I’ve learnt so much from mentors that I’ve seen a tangible difference in my business once I implemented the lessons I learnt from mentors.

#2 Get a Grip on your Numbers:

Just because you’ve saved for that shiny new camera doesn’t mean you should take your eyes off the dollars. If you’re serious about turning your passions into a full-time career, you have to be serious about taking the emotion out of it and looking at your business realistically. All the love in the world won’t pay the bills. Too many entrepreneurs thumb suck their prices based on looking at what their competitors charge, who often than not are in the same boat of guessing!

Without knowing how much you will need to pay for rent, insurance, medical, equipment, marketing, and all the other overheads; you can’t realistically meet your needs without a plan.

Consider this, would you be prepared to work for less than minimum wage? I thought not, so make sure you take the time to work out your numbers before delving into business.

#3 Stop comparing yourself to your competitors

It’s a national sport, comparing. We all do it, it’s hard not to. When we start out we look around to see who-is-who in the zoo. Often we want to emulate the style of another entrepreneur whose work we love, but let me tell you something… it’s simply not possible to be somebody else. It will cause an eventual meltdown!

With all this talk of “style” how do you know what you like until you try, right?

The one thing I’ve learnt is that testing or trying all these other business models only delayed my vision. I clearly remember WHY I fell in love with being my own boss and WHY I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

But along the way I got lost, sucked into doing things my heart really wasn’t into, because someone waved money in my face. It appeared to me that my competitors were doing really well so I thought I wanted a piece of that pie too.

Don’t get me wrong, we do need to earn money if it’s to be our career, and we all start somewhere -granted. However, doing something really well has a major bearing on how much we earn and how much happiness we experience.

When we produce sub-par work based on what our competitors are doing well, it becomes a detriment to ourselves AND to the industry!

We muddy the waters for potential clients thereby bringing down the standard and perceived value that it becomes a very hard sell for everyone to charge their worth.

Consider this… until you’re ready to charge what you need to run a profitable business, keep your day job.

Yes I said it!

In summary…

Just because you THINK starting a business is easy money think again.

TIME is MONEY and $50 cash sounds like a lot but when you factor in all your costs, overheads, profit margin, future potential earnings… you’ll be asking your mom, BFF or significant other for a loan.