What My Baby Taught Me About Running My Own Business

Today my 11-month-old son pulled himself up to standing. He was super chuffed with himself, spending all afternoon showing off his new skill.  Sharing the video and photos with friends and grandparents, I captioned it “pretty pleased with himself”, my friend replied, “as he should be!”

This really got me thinking – how often ARE we pleased with our own selves? And openly willing to voice that? Although #selflove might be all the rage, there’s still a lot of stigma in “tooting your own horn” and celebrating your own success isn’t there?

I replied to my friend that my son had spent the weekend getting up to a bended knee position but then finally today managed to push on and voila! standing man! Skill mastered, but certainly not overnight.

A mentor from a training programme I’ve joined says “daily steps lead to success, do the work” and I’ve never thought more on this than following my baby’s triumph today. 

I run a moderately successful photography business. I pay my bills, pay my taxes, buy nice things. I make a lot of people happy with my photographs.  In January I decided to push myself harder than I ever have and invested in a new online business & community, with the aim to upscale and improve both that business and my photography one.

Covid-19 (or Coronavirus) has recently now gripped the UK, where I live, and its toll on my business and income has been rapid. My diary is full of postponements and regular contracts I had, have hit the pause button for the foreseeable.

I’m feeling a rollercoaster of emotions with it all.  I do now have a lot of time to concentrate on my new venture, but I have days of excitement followed by crashing self-doubt and worry. 

I’m setting up new social media channels and websites which are getting very little attention, I often feel like I’m shouting into a chasm and I’m not even sure the echo is coming back!

My partner, always the voice of reason, tells me “you’ve only had the page active for 3 days, that many follows is good” and “but one or two is better than none”.  And he is correct.  I know I would be telling a friend the same – have patience, keep going.

Why do we struggle so much with believing in ourselves?

After seeing my son in action today, and my mentor’s words rattling in my head I made myself take stock.

When I set up my photography business I started with not much – no followers, no bookings, heavily discounted prices. And now, 5 years on (Corona-gate aside): I’m booked, I’m earning much more than I ever thought I could, and I’ve learnt so much.

A friend found one of my original business cards in an old wallet and messaged me to say, “you’ve come a long way…your stuff is just so slick now”.  I have come a long way and it didn’t happen instantly. It was 5 years (plus 5 years prior to that of junior photography work) of every day improving, practising and learning.

A member of the community, Christine, shared a big milestone of hers with us all today too. 12 months ago, she joined up (as I did 3 months ago) and now is celebrating making 10k in online earnings and becoming a leader herself in her passion.

I actually met Christine in person, a year ago, when she was just starting out. I had been hired by this company (the same one I have now invested in) to take photographs for these new business owners and I photographed Christine – just a small step of her journey. 

Part of her post read “one thing is clear! I have NEVER given up on achieving this milestone.  Every day I have pushed a little tiny bit closer to this goal.”

Her share today was another timely reminder that in business (and life!) everyone is at their own stage and making their own progress. As Plato said “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress no matter how slow”

And so I see the same with how my son has learnt to pull himself up (and crawl, and clap, and throw and so much more) by doggedly and persistently honing his own skills every day.  Stretching just a bit further every time.  Getting back up every time he falls. Repeating in increments every day, until BOOM, skill mastered.

I might not be celebrating myself so much today, but I am celebrating really seeing the lesson.

Small efforts repeated daily lead to success. 

Thanks for the reminder son.

If you’d like to learn more from my mentors start here

Being freelance in the current health climate – lets get practical.

It all feels a fair bit crazy out there right?

I’m seeing fellow photographers worried about cancellations and the implications this has on our businesses. Most of us, I’m sure you’ll agree, are making a living not a fortune so don’t have a huge or regular cash flow to rely on.

As a freelance photographer you’re very likely to need to be with people to do your actual job – weddings, babies, events, these all involve contact with other humans! Postponed dates are inevitably going to happen and the next few months will be looking a bit stark. So what can we do?

Firstly, let’s not panic, let’s take action.  Here are some practical suggestions to consider:

Talk to your clients now

Take some pro-active action, reach out to your clients and email your upcoming bookings. They will be appreciative of you taking the lead in an uncertain time.  Open the discussion for rescheduling, discuss their contingency plans and yours. Agree to update each other if things change.

Read authoritative sources rather than eye-grabbing headlines

If all the chatter on social media is increasing your worry, take a step back and only engage with official sources. The NHS website for health guidance and Gov.uk will be being updated with the official stance here in the UK. Don’t panic but get clear on action you can take.

What to do financially if you get ill

Access to universal credit will be made more readily available to the self-employed.

Up to 14 days sick pay is to be made available by government for businesses with under 250 staff (which includes anyone registered as a limited company, although unlikely to cover sole-traders) under emergency legislation during the outbreak.

Income protection should provide cover if you contract the virus and cannot work, however, insurance is unlikely to cover not being able to work due to if you need to care for someone else, or if contracts are being cancelled outside of your control.

If you’re not able to work but have work to be done – read your contracts, understand what your obligations to clients are if you can’t work, and discuss what might need to happen in this situation.

If you have insurance, read your policies and understand what cover and protection you have in place if you’re not able to work.  Indemnity insurance may cover you if your clients have an issue with you not being able to deliver your work.

Support other freelancers and stay connected

Reach out in your online community, you’re probably in a few Facebook groups right? You might find some practical advice or even just some light relief from those that really understand what you’re all going through.

If you’re worried about not being able to work, create small pods of people you trust that could step in. Find other photographers and come to an agreement on how to work together and substitute for each other. Even if that’s not needed, buddy-ing up with others when you’re isolated helps lessen the worries!

And remember, its physical distancing we’re doing; NOT cutting ourselves off – make calls, send texts, share funny posts!

You may also find some helpful bits from these groups:

Doing it for the kids, a Facebook support group for freelance parents

Mental health support for freelancers from Leapers

Looking forward, the bigger picture

Take this as an opportunity to look ahead to the future generally and look at what you can put in place should you not be able to go out to work, regardless of the reason.

This could be an ideal time to finally get stuck into that ‘to-do’ list for your business! Had fleeting thoughts about setting up an online workshop, offering mentoring? Heard some bits about passive income but not had time to focus in on it?

Now is a great time to take some steps towards using your photography skills and knowledge in an online way!

If you’d like to find out more start here