Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lessons of a Growing Entrepreneur

School was finished and now it was time to play! We would set up the "computer" and get our "fancy" clothes on... just as we had done the last several days. The Scotch Tape was acquired as well as the red marker. Ten tiny pieces of tape were cut and colored and then pressed firmly to the nails. Long painted nails. Yes, that was pretty. A quick and stealthy trip into the older girl's closet was made to "borrow" a pair of high heels (because they were still doing school). Now we would make the drive to work. Sometimes the couch was used as the car, and other times we would get into the real car outside. Off to work we would go to type busily on our computers, talk with customers, and shuffle around papers on our desks.

That was the glamorous life of an adult. Oh won't it be fun to be an adult?

As a kid I pretended to be a meteorologist, have my own cooking show, be a maid,  and many other things. Pretending to be older was fun. 

Fast forward to the teenage years when school was harder, life was more complicated (or so I thought), cute clothes were important, makeup was a must-have, and the things I wanted required money. 

I'm from a family of seven girls. My dad is a pastor and my mom stayed at home to teach us. Money most definitely did not grow on trees. My parents worked very hard. They were (are!) generous but practical and careful with money. They bought us everything we needed. We were on our own for the fancy shampoo (instead of Suave) and extra pairs of unneeded shoes. There were plenty of times that they would give us things we didn't necessarily need, but there was not a habit of it. We saved our money for things we wanted. 

And so that was when the money saving started. My parents had set up savings accounts for us when we were little, and taught us to set money aside. At age 14 I started working. I babysat in the evenings and on the weekends. I would put that money into my savings account. Thanks to these lessons, I bought my first car at age 18. 

Lesson 1 was learning to save. 

At the age of 16 or 17 I decided I wanted a camera so I saved my money and got one. I took a lot of pictures, did some research, and realized I needed to buy a better lens. I saved for that and bought it. And so it continued. Eventually I had a great list of equipment and I was booking sessions for $35. It wasn't much, but I continued saving, taking classes, and growing my business. I saved every penny for my camera gear and business (somehow it means so much more because of that). 

(I took this the night before my first wedding. I was proud of this stash!) 

(Two MAJOR purchases. 70-200 lens and SB-900 flash)

Lesson 2 was being patient. Little by little I used the money I made to purchase more equipment to grow my business. 

The process didn't (and still doesn't!) happen easily though. Sometimes there were people who just wanted cheap photography. Sometimes I didn't eat out when my friends did. I worked a few odd jobs that were NOT fun. I worked one job where I babysat a child who would tell me I was ugly, boring, annoying, that my hair looked bad, that my breath smelt bad, that they didn't want me to babysit. Talk about dreading going to work. I worked for people that didn't treat me right.  It took hard work and a few seasons of doing things I did not like. At one point I was working 4 jobs and was exhausted. 

Lesson 3 was doing what wasn't fun.  

I still have to save money. Life is expensive.  I still have to be patient with the process of getting more clients and getting new equipment. I still have to deal with rude people. 

You hear it all the time. Do what you love. And while I agree with that, sometimes you have to do things you DON'T like to get to the place of doing what you love. Have a goal of where you want to go, but realize the journey getting there won't be all fun and games.   

Yesterday morning I worked at my desk, typing away on my computer then shuffled the many papers  strewn all over. Later I walked towards my new (to me) SUV in my high heels after booking the wedding of an amazing client. My hair was fixed, makeup done, and I had even painted my fingernails. I didn't realize it until later, but I was living one of my childhood dreams. 

While these moments are rewarding and fun, I have to be real and mention that this week has had plenty of anxious moments, stressful deadlines, and someone even went on a spending spree with my business card. Hard things come right along with the good things. 

I'm sure one day my childhood dream of taking my babies to the park and sitting with them in church will happen. It probably won't look exactly the same as it did to my 10 year old self, but for now I'll enjoy my occasional painted nails, high heels, meeting clients, and typing away on my computer. 

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