Five Lessons Learned in the First Five Years of Business
I am five years into owning my own business and just about everything about my business has grown, evolved, or completely changed from when I started! Obviously, I have learned much more than just five things, but these five stand out for me.
1. Invest in education and build your community.
This is probably the area that I have learned the most! I took several online classes before I started my business, but then I started shooting professionally and I longed for community. Plus, I know that I learn so much better in person. The relationships I have made through attending conferences and workshops have been invaluable! So, even though I work on my own, I feel like I have a community of people that understand me, my business, and face similar challenges.
Amy & Jordan Workshop - Arizona - February 2015
2. It's ok to change your business name.
I started my business as Leaving A Mark Photography. I thought it was unique and I wanted to be different. And if I am being really honest, it felt safe. Using my own name felt too vulnerable. But, three years into business and I knew there was a disconnect between my business name and me as a photographer. Almost as if it was 2 different people. It just became so obvious that it was time to change my business name. In 2016, I officially changed my business to KC England Photography. It was a lot of work, but I knew the brand recognition would be key to growing my business. Now, I wish I would have done it sooner. Click here for more information about my business name change.
3. Invest in systems.
Photography is so much more than just having a good camera. I think its so important to have good systems in place in order to grow your business. This is an area that I am constantly changing, upgrading, rearranging and as my business grows, so do my systems. You need systems in place for client management, scheduling, expenses, taxes, social media, and the list goes on and on. My best advice here is to evaluate, research, and implement new systems during your down time or “off “ season (if you have one!). Don’t try and attempt new systems during your busy times because it will make you crazy. Here are just a few of the "systems" I use to run my business.
4. Upgrade your equipment when you can.
I started my business with a Nikon d300. About a year later, I upgraded to the Nikon d700 and then a year or so after that I upgraded to the Nikon D750 and now I currently own two of these (one is my back-up). I have upgraded lenses and computers over the years as well. It’s an ongoing process. The point here is that you do not have to start out with all the top of the line equipment. Start with what you have and what you are comfortable shooting with and invest as you go.
5. It’s ok to say no.
In the beginning, I said yes to everything. I tried a lot of different things before I knew what I wanted to do and what I was really good at. Saying yes to everything when I started, gave me the confidence to say no later on. Just because you are a photographer, it doesn’t mean you have to photograph everything for everyone. Shoot what you love and it will become easier to say no to that which you don’t love.
Ok. I actually have SIX Lessons to share! Bonus!
6. Ask for help. Get help. Find help. Hire help.
This is a tough one. I have tried to do it all and I know I can’t. If I am doing all the things for my business, then something is slipping through the cracks at home or for my family. And If I am doing all the things for my family and home, then something is slipping through the cracks on the business front. Do your best and outsource wherever it makes sense. One thing I have outsourced since the very beginning is housecleaning. Paying someone to clean our house is actually an investment in my business. All that time that I am not cleaning is time I can use toward growing my business. I am outsourcing even more things in 2018 – more to come!
KC England Photography is located in Spokane, WA and serves family, senior, and wedding clients.