When I finally found the courage to make my dream of being a professional photographer a reality, I had no idea what I was in for. Between the constant battles with my child, trying to build a client base, perfect my profession, and of course the behind the scenes of the business, I was afraid I was in over my head. Needless to say, I learned a lot in my first year of being a Mompreneur.
For example, I find myself promoting a lot of branding your business and yourself. The underlying reason for this is that branding is one of the most important and first things I learned about in starting and running a small business. I quickly learned that I couldn’t do too much too soon with my brand. One of the things I failed to take into account in the beginning was how much things in my business would evolve. I once read that you have to “hold your plans loosely, because so much would change,” and I soon realized that I need to leave room for brand enhancement and development.
In my last Mompreneur blog, I wrote about my upcoming Maternity Leave and how I’ve been diligently planning for it’s impending arrival. You’ve heard me practically preach about the importance of PLANNING! Because there will absolutely be some slow stretches, whether for some kind of leave of absence or simply due to the natural lulls in a business. Lesson learned: to avoid vulnerability and erratic decisions, it’s important to plan ahead for the slow stretches.
Coupled with planning is time management. I learned early on with my young daughter and my infant business that I needed to find a balance between home and work. The first and most important step to achieving this was creating a realistic work schedule. To avoid being redundant though, I’ll let you read my Mompreneur, Part 2 – Using Your Mom Strengths blog where I discuss in more detail how I learned to manage this.
When it came to building my client base I already understood the need for networking. With this though, comes the need for confidence, too. Projecting confidence instills respect in potential clients. It’s like a domino effect: when your clients can see your confidence in your abilities and services (or product for some) they’re more likely to take a chance on you. From this I’ve earned a respectable reputation, and in turn built a pretty sturdy client base.
The last two things I learned are probably the most important when it comes to running a business: Charging a reasonable price and defining an ideal client. When I say “charging a reasonable price,” I don’t mean for the client, I mean for me. I found myself wavering on my prices in the beginning because I didn’t want to charge too much. Lesson learned: I have to charge enough to make a living. This is my income, this is my livelihood and in order to keep it afloat, I have to choose prices that makes sense and stick to it. I urge you not to undercharge or undersell yourself and your brand.
This goes hand in hand with defining an ideal client. At the start-up of my business, I took on a lot of families and did a few boudoir, fitness, and business sessions in between before I realized I needed to define my ideal client. It was when I was discovered the need for small businesses to have a photographer that could fit their budget that I realized and stuck to my focus of business. From there I had learned my ideal client would be small business owners, entrepreneurs, and others like myself. I also learned that it’s okay to say “no.” If you’ve ever been in the customer service industry you’ve probably been told that “the customer is always right.” While in some situations this may ring true, it doesn’t mean you have to take on a client that isn’t fit for you. It’s a waste of resources and your time to target the masses and attract people that can’t and won’t appreciate your services or that you shouldn’t be working with.
There are a lot of hard lessons to learn in the first few years of being a Mompreneur. Some of which I haven’t gotten around to in this blog. Just remember that being persistent, confident, and taking note of what I’ve covered in this blog is enough to keep you grounded. It’s easy to forget that even a company like Apple started out struggling as a small business. Whether your ambitions are small or big, you too can achieve your dreams!
Until Next Time,
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© Crystal Hollman, Crystal Clear Photography, 2017