As an entrepreneur people often ask me not only what I do for a living, but also why I do it. The answer to this is really important because this is my “WHY”. WHY do I get up every morning, WHY do I work really hard & sometimes feel like I’m spinning my wheels, WHY are my husband & I risking everything & live minimally right now. Everyone needs a “WHY” to keep them on course when times get tough or when your business starts growing and changing and you’re not sure how to change with it. Your “WHY” is your Northern Star in your brand and business.
The answer to my “WHY” is actually rather simple: FREEDOM! I want to be free to stay home with amazing baby boy, free to drop everything & fly to New York and hang out with my awesome husband. I want to be free to work from home, or from an airplane, or from Alfred Coffee & Kitchen. Truth be told, I simply don’t like answering to “the man”. I got tired of being told what to do, and being afraid that when I messed up my job was on the line. I didn’t like that my job made someone else richer and only paid my bills. My husband & I want our son to grow up and see that hard work is good and that you can build a lucrative business you WANT to run. We want him to see that one person CAN make a difference in the world and that he doesn’t have to settle for a j-o-b.
Even within my photography business I have had to focus on and define my “WHY”. I knew why I wanted to own & run my own business, I even knew I wanted it to be a photography business, but I didn’t know what type of photography business I really wanted. I started off in child & family photography for no other reason than the fact that I didn’t have enough of a portfolio to do anything else. I knew I didn’t want to be a family photographer but I convinced myself that I needed to be. I have tremendous respect the amazing photographers in this niche because its not as easy as it looks. Its also very product and sales driven (prints, frames, photo books, magnets, etc.) and that just didn’t do it for me. I tried my hand at several different types of photography before it finally hit me that what I love most about photography is working with my friends. I LOVE taking pictures of my friends. The obvious problem with this is that photography quickly becomes an expensive hobby when those are the only people I want to photograph. I knew something had to change & so, with the help of a few trusted friends, and my incredible business coach, Lisa Steadman, I started brainstorming what it would look like to build a business I LOVE.
I began thinking about what I really liked about working with my friends & started making a list:
- I liked working with my friends because they trusted me & my process
- They enjoyed being there as much as I did/it was just more fun
- I liked working with people one on one (or close to it)
- I liked working with adults who could understand and take directions (aka, not kids;)
This also got me thinking about other things like how much it bugged me when I saw smart, intelligent business owners whose photos said absolutely NOTHING about what they do or even who they are. I knew that these photos looked generic at best, but in fact repelled MANY potential clients (often myself included). And then it hit me (like some sort of magical ton of bricks!): I CAN HELP BUSINESS OWNERS! It hits all the hight points on my list and because branding requires spending some significant time with my clients, they often become my friends through the process! We usually have coffee together, collaborate on wardrobe selections, and have a blast co-creating their Pinterest boards! Branding requires me to get to know my clients THUS by the time we get to our photo shoot, we have at least a good rapport if not a blossoming friendship! I literally LOVE my job!
What is your “WHY”?? Is it creative freedom? Are you tired of being told what your art can and cannot look like? Is it family & being able to stay home & spend time with your children? Is it that big dream you’ve always felt was just a little too big? Do you have a passion for ending hunger, or finding homes for orphaned children, or finding a cure for cancer? Here is my rule of thumb: whatever it is that makes your heart beat fast, THAT is your “WHY” (and very likely ought to be at least a part of your business).
Tell me about your “WHY” in the comments below! Whether you are just testing the waters & exploring the possibility of starting a business, or you are established and focus on your “WHY” everyday. I want to hear about it:)