by guest contributor Stephanie Reeder
If I were to look back on my seven years in business, I would say that I’ve been blessed to be where I am today. I would however say in the same breathe that is was not at all easy to get here. It took a lot of dedication, sweat, and tears. It was definitely a journey that I look back on now and say it’s because of the way I chose to look at my business that I am who I am today.
Now, lets look at these last seven years and see what has happen during my path of business that has shaped me to be the business owner I am today. I am now a mother of three little ones. Austin who is six, full of life, and personality and also a set of two year old twins Natalie and Owen. These two were my big surprise, but I could never see my life without them. Not only am I am mother of three, but I am also a wife, homemaker, and full time business owner. Some may look at my life and say how in the world do you balance it all.
Let me share this journey with you and share some of my secrets to balancing both life and business together. Two years ago was a huge turning point in my business. Before this moment I thought I had it all figured out. I had my clients, my business plan in place, and could handle the work load in front of me. It wasn’t until I got the news that shocked my world. I received the news on January 3, 2013 that my father was diagnosed with terminal stage four lung cancer. This was a huge hit to the knees because it was on the tail end of my pregnancy with my twins and I was unable to travel home to be by his side. Ten days later, I gave birth to my little ones who would spend two long weeks in the NICU. Thankfully this all took place during January which as a wedding photographer is my down time. Looking forward to 2013, I was now left with my world shattered and a plate full with two new babies and a deathly ill father. During this time, I was also juggling my clients, business, and bookings. It was in this moment that I had to make some changes and I did.
I could no longer be in many places at once, so I decided to step back and realize what was most important. I knew two things were on the top of my list and that was my family and business. Family coming first I decided to step away from my computer every evening at 6pm. This was a way for me to shut my brain down and spend the quality time with my family. When wedding season kicked into full gear I had to delegate my business in such a way that I didn’t get burnt out or lack on my customer service. During the six month period of my fathers battle with cancer I decided I would out source my editing to ensure my processing was done in a timely manner and that my clients were receiving a consistent product. I also lightened my load with blogging and marketing so that I could ensure that my time was spent with the people who were most important. During this entire time I learned a valuable lesson on how much I could really do as one person in business. Now to fast forward my business is now streamlined to balance my family and business together.
Here are 10 tips to creating balance in your life:
1) Run your business like any other and have business hours that you will return emails, phone calls etc. My hours of business are M-F 10am-6:00pm. Saturdays are normally filled by eight hour wedding days and Sundays are either spent with my family or shooting an engagement session.
2) Choose one or two areas at the most you want to photograph and focus solely on those. I use to do it all, but now I only shoot weddings and engagements because that’s what I love to do the most.
3) Make a calendar and stick to it. If you decide your going to edit on Mondays and Wednesdays, then make the efforts to only edit on those days and then focus on the other days in another aspect of your business.
4) Delegate your business accordingly. It’s ok to say I can’t do it all. In my time of need, I had to pass my editing off to someone I trusted could get the job done. Now that my life is back in order, I am able to take on my editing. But don’t be ashamed to say I need help!
5) Create boundaries and learn to say No. Do I want to shoot 50 weddings a year, Yes, but is that practical for me to so, NO. I make a limit to only take on 30 weddings a year because I know that’s what I can handle without compromising my family life at home.
6) Make a plan (to do list) for the day/ week. I find if I don’t make a list of things to accomplish for the day, I get lost in Facebook, and pinterest. It’s so easy now a days to get distracted. Make a plan and be productive with your time so that your not stressed out later.
7) Treat your business like any other aspect of your life and be dedicated to it.
8) Continue to be inspired. I find a lot of times that I get wrapped up in family, business, and life in general and it becomes dull. I try to always find time to be inspired. Whether if its having lunch with another photographer, participating in a workshop or online forum. I find that if I can keep the fire going, I am more willing to be productive with my business.
9) Don’t ever stop dreaming! Just because I am a mom, doesn’t mean i have to completely put aside what makes me happy. Photography is a huge part of who I am and with the comes my dreams and goals in life. Trust me, your children will see your hard work and dedication. They will later appreciate seeing you in this light.
10) Last but never the least, make it a priority to look at your life and business and see the important of balance. Balance is the key to a successful business. Without it, you’ll get lost, overwhelmed, and eventually burnt out. It’s ok to step back if you need a break and move forward when your ready.
Overall know that business doesn’t come on it’s own. It takes time, dedications, and yes many years of hard sweat and tears. Always be true to yourself and know the importance that balance will make in the end!
About Stephanie: I am a mother to one amazing little boy (He is my life!) I am a wife, sister, daughter, and friend I am in love with emotions, light, and all things beautiful I am fun, outgoing, real, and optimistic I dream of the future, but always live in the moment Finally I love who I am and will always be me!