I've never been to business school, only the school of hard knocks.
.......................okay, let's just move on.
While I've never attended business school, launching not just one, but two, businesses in the last handful of years has handed me an education that was not for the faint-of-heart. Lucky me.
I will share a few of the things I've learned for free.
But first-let's take a look at me before we started a business, so young and carefree; I'm the one on the right:
Now, for a peak of me after starting the business, again the one on the right in the second photo:
Crazy things happen in the world of business. Things like growing double chins, not getting enough sleep and your head growing too big for your hats.
You've been warned.
Okay, some things you should know before starting a business that no one may ever tell you.
1. It is hard. Like really, really, really hard. At first, you will have more hard days than good days. It's hard because no one believes in you like you believe in yourself and there are days when you doubt yourself too. It's hard because it's more work than you've ever done in your entire life before and there is no one but you to carry the load.
2. It is expensive. When you work for someone else, you clock in, you clock out. You get your benefits and your paycheque and then you pay your rent. It's rather care-free and easy.
When you run your own business, however, before you get that paycheque, you need to spend money on
new cameras when they break
new lenses when yours rust out
new computers when yours dies
a new broom
more toilet paper
and ten things that I forgot.
Then you may or may not get to write yourself a cheque. OR a check.
3. It is competitive. It's particularly sticky in the photo business these days, but I know we're not the only profession that's overflowing with creatives, wannabes, wildly talented people and so on and so forth.
Insert 'market or die' and all that cheery sentiment here.
4. I can't let work define me. I have always known this in a generic, impersonal way, but it became personal quit quickly as we've marched forward. When someone doesn't book us, I can't take it personally. It's business. When someone doesn't like our style, it doesn't make me less of a person.
I mean, Obviously I know that, but it doesn't always feel that way.
Unless you've ever been in the shoes of someone giving their all, trying to pay their rent and run their business, it's hard to really correlate the two in a way that brings my point to reality. But try opening a candy shop and having all your friends buy candy at the store right next door for the next two years, waving at you as they go by. Then come talk to me; I'll pat you on the back for as long as you need me to.
5. Fridays have never felt the same. Mostly because we work most weekends, most of the weekend. When you run your own business, you carry it around with you everywhere, day and night.
6. It is worth it. Running our business has developed my character and perseverance like little else in my life. I've wanted to quit a dozen times over, yet here I stand. Even on mornings like today when I get up at 5 for work or like yesterday when Jonathan left the house at 6:30 a.m. and didn't get home until 9:30 p.m., the wonders of working for ourselves never cease. We get to do what we love, with someone we love, every single day. And that's a gift we don't take lightly.
So if you think you have it in you, then you should open your own business, do your own thing. If I, with my lack of business savvy and sometimes-awkward interpersonal skills can make this work, so can you. Besides, I believe in you.