What I wanted to talk to you today about is something that I’m going through again in my own business. It’s funny how quite often what we are going through reflects what our clients are going through and what our people want to hear about.
Folks, I have the great privilege this week of introducing you to someone who has made the leap into entrepreneurship and is making BIG waves in the process. Nicole has become a great friend of mine and I think you are going to love her attitude to life and business. Run, don’t walk over to Greatestworth.com and sign up for Nicole’s freebies. ~ Ingrid
First, I am SO very grateful to Ingrid for giving me space on her platform to share my entrepreneurial journey. Ingrid and I bonded over positive mindset and affirmations at a conference this past October. Some call it random coincidence… I call it destiny!!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be the creator and owner of my own business. Beyond the constant flow of thoughts and ideas for This or That business (canning classes, anyone?), I’ve worked through the ins and outs of a photography business, not once, but twice. I’ve made preparations to open a space in the lower level of my house to offer classes in sewing and crafting, bringing makers of handmade goods together. I’ve taken multiple business planning courses in my town, and made capital investments in each of these ideas as I thought to myself “this time will be different. This time I’m really going to do it.”
I’ve just always enjoyed dreaming about being my own boss, working in my jammies and bringing my ideas to life. You see, I have a LOT of ideas. Or, should I say, the universe presents me with a lot of ideas and I love thinking about bringing every one of them to fruition.
Elizabeth Gilbert, in Big Magic explores how ideas and creativity come to us. She believes that they are everywhere (I imagine them like little fairies), constantly trying to get the attention of us. Us meaning people, who can actually curate and bring forth the ideas. Gilbert writes, and I believe it as well: “We are ALL creative beings.”
For the past 10 years, I’ve worked as a physical therapist, working for the large, regional hospital system for most of that time. The flow of ideas and creative solutions didn’t stop when I’d clock in at work so I thought, I’ll bring them with me into this cumbersome, large system. I’ll be the best version of myself at work and make my workplace better by using my gifts.
In staff meetings, while talking to coworkers or even at the dinner table with my spouse, I’d find ideas that I was sure were worth exploring. I would take the idea to my supervisor who would quickly state all the reasons it would never work. Then, I’d move on to the next person up the chain of command, only to receive the same response. I joined committees and project improvement teams. I brainstormed and implemented. I ran into wall after thick wall in the halls of middle management and administration. I think the universe was talking to me, telling me this was not the right fit for my gifts.
It took me years, but I finally realized my gifts and my calling were not in the healthcare industry and its nearly impenetrable norms and fixed culture.
My passion was in what I had been doing on the side, after work and on weekends for friends, for free. Personal financial counseling.
I have this crazy story where my husband and I made one choice that completely changed the trajectory of our life. A choice to pay off $100,000 in debt and stop trying to keep up with all of our neighbors and co-workers. We figured out that defining our own “American Dream” is what gave our budget sticking power. AND, through this amazingly enlightening and difficult process, I found I LOVE guiding other people towards finding what works (and what might not) with personal finance, intentional living, and family life. I found my joy and passion.
Even with all my excitement and fervor for starting my own business, I quickly realized this was going to be more than I was prepared for. The ideas and creativity bursts are one thing. It’s a whole other story to bring something this big to fruition. Did the universe think I was made of money? Did it think I had more than 24-hours allotted to other average American mothers?
At the time (November 2016) I was working full time as a physical therapist, had two school-aged children, two children too young for school, and had multiple volunteer obligations, including serving on a leadership team at my church. Oh, and my husband was just making a career transition as well!
Talk about questionable timing to start a business.
But, I found myself writing down all my ideas. Dreaming about and pinning what I’d like my website to look like. I’d use my lunch hour and any other free time in the evenings to begin to nail down my business plan and vision for what would become Greatest Worth.
It was fun and exciting – visioning is my jam and joy. It was also safe.
Eventually, though, the visioning started to become something with structure and bones, something possible and real. Then, the snakes arrived.
Not real snakes. But they sure felt real. This is the name my husband has given to my limiting beliefs and my poor self-worth – because my entrepreneurial journey so far has mainly been wrestling these beasts. And beasts they certainly have been.
In the past – with photography and the craft school, and countless other notions and dreams, I’ve chosen the snakes over creativity. You see, it felt MUCH easier to let the snakes take control, to wrap their little lies around my mind and keep me safely in their pit.
It felt MUCH easier to stay in a job that I dreaded every day, rather than risking challenge or loss or ‘failure’.
It felt MUCH easier to let the snakes keep my divergent, outside the box thinking contained and confined rather than stepping away from the status quo to name truths that may not be easy to hear.
It felt MUCH easier to avoid collaborating with creativity.
It’s safe and warm in the pit. There’s no risk. There’s no way I can fail. Or be embarrassed. Or have to learn new things like website design and lead magnets and how to be an engaging writer. Or have to pitch my idea 50,000 times to people I’ve never met and are so much farther ahead of me in their journey. Or, worst of all, to trust that I am sufficient, enough – more than enough – to do this. Surely, I thought again and again in the throws of my snake wrestling, people will see right through me, and decide I’m a fraud.
I don’t have any special qualifications! Who do I think I am trying to create this business about personal financial freedom?
My answer, again from Liz Gilbert: “WHO DO I THINK I AM? I’LL TELL YOU WHO I AM: I’M A CHILD OF GOD, JUST LIKE ANYONE ELSE. I AM A CONSTITUENT OF THIS UNIVERSE. I HAVE A RIGHT TO COLLABORATE WITH CREATIVITY.”
Her story and wisdom, and the support of people who love and believe in me despite my doubts and fears, gave me permission to follow my ideas and passions. So, I moved forward. One tiny step at a time. Sometimes it was a giant step (or it felt giant anyway). Like that time I invested hundreds of dollars in an online course for bloggers to help entrepreneurs create a successful, profitable website.
Some people start a blog as a hobby. I never wanted a hobby. I ONLY wanted a business. The tag line was compelling, so I made the investment.
Well, that investment led to meeting some really cool people through its community. Which led to some help and encouragement when I needed it. Which led to continuing to work on my self-talk. Which led to therapy and a few well-timed books. Which led to me having the courage to attend my first blogging conference. Which led me to my second blogging conference (where I was more confident). Which led me to Ingrid.
I met Ingrid at FinCon – a conference for personal finance content creators – bloggers, reporters, podcasters. . We met standing in line waiting for a free taco buffet. That’s the universe for you. Creating magic all over the place if we just open our eyes to see it, and accept and embrace it.
We connected almost immediately, realizing we were in a similar journey working to shift the way we talk to and about ourselves. We were both choosing to move forward with our dreams and our businesses. We both had those little idea fairies begging us to collaborate with them – we just had to be brave enough to say yes. And, strong enough to believe that we were (are) the right person for the job.
Because, that’s the crux of it, isn’t it. You’re too busy listening to your old story and your snakes. Snakes that sound something like this:
“Who am I to create something that amazing?”
“People are going to realize I’m a fraud.”
“I don’t have any special certification or education on this topic. How can I teach this?”
“What if no one cares what I have to say?”
“What if people laugh at me?”
“There are so many other people who have similar businesses who are way more amazing than me.”
“What if I waste two years trying to make this work, and I fail?”
“I should be content with my J.O.B. It’s good. I have enough. I’m OK.”
“I don’t have the time.”
“I have to make money, like now.”
Which resonate most with you? What stirs and rises within your experience as you direct some attention to these ancient stories?
Please, dear one, remember this: these are just a part of the story we tell ourselves, or were told. They’re not the whole of the truth, NOT THE WHOLE OF YOU. Thoughts and stories are constructs we build to help us make sense of the world and its dizzying complexities – they’re a choice.
Start by choosing to put time into figuring out your true story. Realize that you are worth it. You are amazing. Accept that the universe chose YOU for this idea you’re holding. You are the one to bring this idea, this creation, this course, this business to life.
And then, mostly, decide to love yourself. Love who you are right now. For me, in order to live a life that is authentic and true to who I really am, I had to decide that I am lovely and thoughtful and kind and generous and a good writer and awesome and enough.
I am enough. And so are you. Right where you are.
I still have a hard time writing these things about myself. But that’s the work friend, to choose to love and believe in myself every day. Because this love is the one thing that has helped me to continue moving forward, one tiny step at a time.
I’m rooting for you.
P.S. This past year I’ve used a morning routine as a space to do this hard internal work. So, I’ve made a FREE printable that guides you through my exact routine. Use it how it is or as a guide to create something that works for you! Here’s your first step friend. What are you waiting for?
I’ve been in this world of online Marketing for a while now – ever since I decided to quit my “real” job in Corporate America and venture out with my own business almost 10 years ago. That’s an eternity in online years! (I must be ready for retirement by now…)
Anyhow…during all this time I’ve “played” with every marketing tool out there, was on social media before it was a thing (MySpace anyone?) and tried #allthethings to grow my business. I feel like I’ve been on every list and hungrily consumed all the podcasts. Whenever anyone who I admired made a recommendation to try out a new thing, I was all over it!
I’m a sucker for new tools and technology, so this online world was just like a shiny, new playground for me.
Look at this awesome sandbox over here!
Those swings look awesome!
Anyone coming on the climbing wall?
Wait – SQUIRREL!
I know many of you reading my blog love taking photos just because you love taking photos. I also know that many of you love photography so much that you want to share that gift with the world and get financially rewarded for it too. If you have that desire then keep on reading. You’ll see more blog post from me over the coming months about this side of photography and how you can turn your passion into a full time income.
Sometimes a business can happen quite naturally. Chances are, if you love photography so much, you are THAT mom on the baseball field taking ALL the pictures ALL the time. At some point, the other parents realize their iPhone photos can’t compare with the beautifully captured images you are taking and they start asking you to shoot their kid’s photos. Or perhaps you’re so excited to use your new lenses you jump at the chance of photographing the preschool Santa photos and business grows naturally from there. If these types of situations have happened to you now is the time to leverage that. People already know that you are “snap happy” so make sure you tell them that you are open for business!
Its easier than ever to reach out to you friends and and your family. One click of a button and you can shoot an email to everyone in your address book. You’re only one status update from declaring your new venture to the world! Use the power of social media to tell your circle that you are doing some mini-shoots or send them a personalized message inviting them to a shoot. Telling your inner circle first will give you the confidence and practice you need to start pitching your services to strangers.
You actually have to ask people to share you are doing this new venture. Often times, friends might be hesitant to refer you if they are unclear that you are taking new clients on. Make sure your circle knows that you are open to shooting new people and actively ask them to refer you to their friends.
If you’ve already taken photos of them encourage them to share on social media and tag you or ideally your business’ social profiles.
Sweeten the pot even more by given them something in return for sending you a referral. This can be a formalized thing such as a free mini session for every three referrals given to you, or something a little more spontaneous by just rewarding those people in your network who you know are good for referrals. Perhaps a free 10 x 8 print or session every so often will help nurture that relationship and keep you top of mind when they are being asked to recommend a photographer. Personally I like a more formalized solution which is baked into your marketing plan. Having a system in place for this will ensure that this marketing strategy can essentially run itself and something I help my clients set up all the time.
As has been said a bajillion times before, there has never been a better time to get yourself and your business seen for FREE using the internet and social media. But because of this super low barrier to entry it is harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. Its important that you fully utilize your social media profiles to represent your business. Make sure the basic information is filled out correctly and for a local business put all of your contact information on there.
Encourage clients to write a testimonial for you on your social sites – e.g. Facebook, as these will be some of the first places people will look when researching your business. A good testimonial is priceless and you should use them everywhere in your marketing.
And of course, it should go without saying, the photography you share should be your absolute best work and an example of the type of photography you love to shoot. If you want to be a wedding photographer, tone down the baby shoots and most definitely those sweeping landscape shots. Post lots of beautiful brides to solidify your position in the market. If you are not getting the type of work that you truly want to shoot then take a good look at what your social media photos are saying about you. If you’re lacking the shots you desire set a plan in motion to go out and shoot them!
Being a photographer you have the luxury of constantly creating content that should sell your services for you. Every photo you take can be a piece of marketing material – its just up to you to put it in front of the right eyeballs. The next time your in your local Dentist Office, check out their wall decor. Does it need updating? Could you provide them with some pretty pictures in exchange for a utilizing their wall space? Think about the amount of people that are going to see your work on a daily basis. Even better if you can negotiate a deal with a very aligned vendor such as a Pediatric’s Office if you are a Newborn Photographer or a florist if you specialize in Weddings.
Also consider joining up with aligned vendors who operate in your industry vertical for cross referrals. Start to build this network of people who you like to work with and nurture them the way you would your clients. Word of Mouth Marketing has been around a long time and is flourishing now more than ever thanks to our super connectedness on Social Media.
These best thing about all these marketing strategies is that none of them need to cost you any money – which in any business is a good thing!
Last Wednesday was March 17th which as everyone knows is St. Patrick’s Day, our Irish national holiday (and also one of my favorite days of the year!) As my regular readers already know I’m Irish through and through – no really – I was actually born there and lived the majority of my life there so it really is a special day for me!
Anyways, I just thought I’d let you know that I spent this glorious St Paddy’s day morning being interviewed on Blog Talk Radio on “For Powerful Women Only” about Adapting and Changing (to my life here in the US) and entrepreneurship and all sorts of other chit chat. The interview was such fun and was with Lady T “The Business Coach for Moms.” She an awesome coach! Even through the course of the interview, she was able to pull out of me some really interesting and thought provoking insights. Being a work from home/homeschooling/ mom of 5, she knows a thing or two about all the trials and tribulations that moms have while endeavoring to run a business. I am, as ever, a huge fan of hers and recommend her highly.
So, if you are interested in finding out a little about me and my background you might want to give the interview a listen here
And don’t forget to check out LadyT’s blog here for really awesome tips for women starting their own business.