The 5 Best Decisions I Ever Made for My Business
Running a business consists of A LOT of trial-and-error. From these errors, however, we learn how to grow and adjust. At the end of the day, we are better people (and better business owners) because of them. Despite all of this, there are still times when I find myself regretting certain errors I made over the years. I’m at the start of my fourth year in business, and there are SO many things I wish I did differently. There are A LOT of things I invested my time and money doing that I wish I hadn’t, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!
Of course, it hasn’t all been bad! Looking back, there are also a lot of things I’m incredibly glad I DID do. So today, I’m telling you about the 5 BEST decisions I ever made for my business. So grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive in!
1. Quitting My Job
I’m not going to lie, this one was the scariest decisions I’ve ever had to make. There were a lot of mixed feelings because unlike so many small business owners, I did love my 9-5 job. I was a photo retoucher at a company called Splash Worldwide in Portland, Oregon. I loved everything about my job – my boss was amazing, my co-workers were really fun, and I was proud of the work I was doing there.
Living 3000 miles away from my family and my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. So I quit my job, because life is too short to live life like that. It was scary, but it was a pretty good motivator for me to make my business work. It also gave me the time to really focus on my business. I was never really great at balancing work AND a side-hustle
*Side note, I do not recommend this for everyone who is thinking about starting a business. I had a LOT in savings and I didn’t have any children to take care of. It also helped that I had a side business on Etsy that supplemented a lot of income for me that year. I would only recommend this if you feel you will be able to make it happen without getting into financial trouble!
2. Simplifying My Business
If you’ve been following me for a long time, then you know that my business name used to be “Emily Smith Photography & Retouching.” I wanted to try to pursue retouching while also building up the photography side of my business. Needless to say, it didn’t go very well. Taking time of during the day to go out and do photo shoots took too much time away from my retouching work. I couldn’t find a good balance to do both. Initially, I thought that they’d go so well together. After all, photography and editing go hand-in-hand, right? I quickly found out that it wasn’t the case. At the beginning of 2017, I decided to rebrand, cut out the photography, and focus solely on my editing work. By doing that, I was able to double my income from the previous year. Now, I get to do photography when I want to do it, and I get to make a great income without spreading myself too thin.
3. Attending Workshops
Attending workshops has done wonders for my business! Even though most of the workshops I’ve done are specifically for photographers, they have still been incredibly beneficial to my business. As an editor, my clientele is made up of photographers (you see where I’m going with this?). By attending these workshops, I’ve been able to make connections to dozens of photographers. Several of these photographers are currently working with me now. They may not reach out right away, but sometimes years down the road when they feel ready to outsource, they think of me. Not all of them have become my clients, of course, but a lot of photographers who don’t even work with me have sent referrals my way. It’s a great way to make new connections and build relationships that benefit your business in the long run.
4. Attending Creative Conferences
Attending creative conferences, particularly at the beginning of my career, was definitely one the best things I could have done for my business. When I quit my job, moved home, and tried to start getting clients, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what SEO was, I had little knowledge of how to market myself – I was lost. Attending a creative conference allowed me to learn all about the behind-the-scenes aspects of running a business. Not just for a photography or calligraphy business, but for any small business. Because it wasn’t a photography-based conference, everything was generalized to a degree that it was helpful to ALL business owners. I learned a ton at that conference, and I am a better business owner today because of it!
Signing up for mentoring was –hands down- THE BEST decision I have ever made for my business. I didn’t even hesitate when I heard what it cost because I knew it was going to be a great investment. Not to sound overly dramatic – but mentoring changed my LIFE.
When I first started my business, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Everything was trial-and-error, and it was sucking the life out of me. I was tired all of the time, I was stressed, and I could honestly hardly even function. I rarely got to spend time with my husband, and it just wasn’t fair to him or me. Mentoring with someone who had been around the block before changed all of that. I cannot encourage people enough to invest in something like this when they’re just starting out. Even if it’s not with me – find an editor you trust and invest the money to make it happen! I PROMISE, you won’t regret it.