Sometimes I hate the term small business because it’s just SO vague. A small business could have employees, and offer retirement plans to said employees. A small business could make a million dollars a year, or sometimes less than $10,000.
I used the term teeny not to belittle myself, but to be a bit more realistic about what I’m doing over here. We’re less than two years in and I’ve only paid myself once, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves with all this small business talk.
That said, here is what I know about running a small/teeny/functioning business:
1. It’s not all coffeeshops and working in bed. For one, my desktop computer is 27 inches wide and not easily transportable. I have to sit at an actual desk to get work done. Photos take a lot of space and my brain needs a lot of silence, so working on a laptop in a coffeeshop isn’t really possible either. These brilliant blog posts are all written from the comfort of my home office.
2. It’s not all yoga pants and braless Tuesdays either (Or Mondays or any other day). Though there are definitely days that I don’t get dressed like a real adult, I try really hard to wake up and get ready. Whether that’s putting workout clothes on for the class I know I’m going to at 10:30 or just simply jeans and a t-shirt, I find that I’m much more productive when I’m not wearing my pajamas. Also, oddly enough, make-up. I know that when I wash my face, brush my teeth, and throw on a little mascara in the morning, I’m much more in the mood to get things done. Not to mention less worried about running errands or being seen by the general public.
3. It is a lot of coffee and wine though. These hours are no joke. Because what I do is categorized as creative, sometimes I just have to work when I’m feeling, well, creative. For instance, I do a lot of shoots in the evenings and on the weekends. No matter how many times I tell myself not to start working right when I get home, as I watch the photos upload, I usually start working on a few. I’m just in that space and it’s easy to get caught up in the light I just witnessed. So I end up pouring a glass of wine and just getting to work. Or this past week it was a gin and tonic with grapefruit juice, which I highly recommend (sometimes you buy grapefruit juice for healthy breakfast smoothies and end up using it in cocktails … whatevs). The coffee is for the next morning when I make myself wake up and write. I love the morning hours. So quiet and peaceful. There is no better time to write and online shop.
4. Sometimes you have to waste money on things to get the products and workflow you want. I have spent so many hours researching different options for my business: online signature software, photography preset packs, website platforms, camera equipment, different ways to deliver images, the list could literally go on forever. But hours of research can’t tell you how you’ll feel month into using your purchase. Sometimes you just gotta bite the bullet to figure out what’s best. I once bought a ton of adorable USBs from a company that shall not be named. They only work on Mac computers so I have to ask clients what kind of computer they have before giving it to them. Not so classy and a lesson was learned.
5. I don’t know how moms do it. I babysat yesterday, for a really adorable little squish. I had grand illusions of posting a book review and editing an entire session (insert laughing/crying emojis here). By 10:30 IN THE MORNING, I literally picked up my mug of coffee and thought, it’s late enough to put wine in here, yes? And I had gotten exactly ZERO work done so far, because baby. This is a different blog posts, but this is me doing a really long, really loud, and really awkward solo slow clap for all the moms who work from home with small children and run their own businesses. Like, what? How is this a thing that people do? I think I’m going to do a photo series on this. Again, different blog post, but for real. #hugamombosstoday
6. Financial goals are elusive at best. I thought that at the beginning of the year I could give myself a target annual goal and just work toward it all year. Um, no. That didn’t work. Because in this business, it’s easy to wait for the end of the year to try to make all your money. In January, when business is sooooo unbelievably slow, it’s easy to just say, well, it’s seasonal. Nope. Life doesn’t work that way because I still need to buy socks even though business is slow. So my goal for 2016 is to pay the mortgage. That’s it. It’s a little lofty for where I’m at, but if I didn’t set a monthly goal, where I actively saw the money coming out of my business account, I don’t think I would push myself as hard. Here’s to hoping we keep our house in 2016!
7. The comparison struggle is really real. It’s so easy for me to think about the salary I used to make. Or the other photographers who are the sole earners in their homes. Or people publishing books and actually making money from writing. Once a week I have to remind myself that I’m in the beginning of this thing. People don’t make money or salaries after only a year or two of work. I’m building something here and it’s ok if it’s not as big or as financially viable as the girl who is doing the same thing next to me. I’m really proud of this teeny business and if you have one, I hope you are too. What you’re doing is so hard and so brave. So grab your wine or your coffee or your healthy breakfast smoothie and toast to yourself this morning. Ya done good.