As my favorite business guru, Gary Vaynerchuk says, entrepreneurship has become really sexy as of late. The idea of working on your own terms has gained a lot of popularity. And I'll be honest, it is pretty awesome. But, awesome doesn't mean easy.
It has taken me six years to get to where I am today - fully self-employed, running a photography business I love with clients I adore. And there have been a lot of blood, sweat and tears in those six years. Has it been worth it though? Abso-freakin-lutely.
If you're considering starting your own small business, here are five tips I have to share:
1. Start building your network now. Before I started my photography business, I was in high school and the early years of college and I jokingly say, I babysat for everyone in Columbus. We're also members of a large church in town, I was a member of a local gym and I really haven't ever met a stranger. I have over 2,000 friends on Facebook. Those connections I made before I ever started my business have proven to be priceless over the years. The people I babysat for & friends from church were some of the first people who ever believed in my business and took the leap to hire me.
2. Learn how to use social media marketing effectively. It's a new day and age, people, and if you think you're going to run print, radio or TV ads to gain traction in your industry, you better have a lot of money. If you're like most people, you have to be strategic about where you spend your money and that means using social media effectively for the most cost-effective ads and narrow targeting.
3. Cheap is not a business strategy. If you want to be the Walmart of the world, go for it, man. However, there is only one Walmart and quite honestly, the people of Walmart aren't my target market anyway. I want to be the Nordstrom. It's my goal to deliver high-quality product to my clients while providing them with an excellent experience. If I don't charge enough, I will never be able to spend money on education and equipment to get better and ultimately, I will burn out. Being cheap is not a business strategy.
4. 100% Effort + 100% Customer Service = Success. When I started this little business, never dreaming it would be where it is today, my only goal was to do the very best I could do, in all aspects of the business. Giving 100% effort and always putting my clients first has been huge for my business. In my humble opinion, customer service is lost in most businesses today, so if you just deliver excellent customer service, you'll be ahead of the game.
5. Put your blinders on. The competition trap will absolutely kill you. I promise. There will always be people who are better than you, but you can't let that get you down. If you're like me, and you can get easily discouraged or feel insecure, just put your blinders on. Stop following people in your industry on social media - who cares what they're doing. You do you the best you can do you and success will follow. You will find your people.
Starting and running this small business of mine has been one of the hardest things I've ever done, but also the most rewarding. Every day is a hustle and that, coupled with my awesome clients, is the best part of the business. Thank you for being here and making my dream a reality!