As many of you already know, last week was my first five-day work week as a full-time photographer. I’d been juggling a 9-5 job and my photography business for most of the year, but just before Thanksgiving I clocked out of the office for the last time. Or as my fellow small-business owners would say, I “made the leap.”
And what a leap.
You know those videos where you watch someone jump off the high dive? There are two types of people who jump off of a high dive platform. The first type are Olympic types who live to make those leaps. They have done it thousands of times and gracefully arc into twists and flips before shooting into the pool below like an arrow. Then there’s the girl who has never jumped off a high drive in her life. She jumps enthusiastically, but her legs and arms flail around like a fish out of water because she has never done this before. She is not afraid, but she is awkward and uncoordinated in the air because she is in a new place. Her muscles don’t know what to do yet. She has much to learn before she will ever resemble an Olympic high diver.
I’m that second girl. I’ve made the first leap, but it’s new, exciting, and terrifying all at the same time! I’m not a pro, but I’ve taken the first step and can’t wait to keep going. And I’ve already learned some things…
1. My work systems need some fine-tuning.
Every successful small business owner says the same thing. Whether I’m talking to them in person or reading their blog posts, they all parrot “SYSTEMS! SYSTEMS! HAVE SYSTEMS!”
I’ve always been a fairly organized person, sometimes to a fault. I thought I had systems… but they need some fine tuning to make them more effective. They need to be on paper, in a consistent location, and stay the same from client to client. I’ve found myself missing steps or getting distracted, which only eats up time and creates frustration instead of enabling a clean, streamlined process.
2. Self-discipline is everything.
When you don’t have a boss telling you that you MUST be at work at a certain time, it’s reallllyyyy hard not to push the snooze button and sleep as late as you want. In fact, I’ve heard of many people who say, “I wish I could be my own boss! You get to sleep in and work in yoga pants EVERY DAY?!” Well, no. Sure, there are days when I don’t have to leave the house. But the idea that I have the luxury to sleep in every day and only work when I feel like it is a myth. Running a business takes a LOT of effort and the only way to get everything done is to push myself. There’s no one looking over my shoulder, tracking my hours, asking if all my tasks are done. I’ve taken on the role of boss and employee, and when I slack off, my client experience suffers and my business can’t grow. Without self-discipline, a small business will crumble. Every time.
3. BLOCK SCHEDULING.
Thank you to Amy and Jordan Demos for this one! Block your schedule. Instead of floating from one task to another throughout the day and checking my phone every moment in between, I’m starting to block my time. For example, this blog isn’t going up until Tuesday, but I’m writing it today (Monday) because I set aside an entire BLOCK of time to prep blog posts for the week! I’m not on Facebook, I’m not editing, I’m not checking Instagram. I’m writing blogs posts. Period. When this time block is over, I will move on to something else and not have to worry about blogging anymore, because all of it will be DONE! I’m also working on scheduling what Amy and Jordan call Orange Days, where I schedule in advance to not leave the house and knock out a bunch of business-y stuff or editing ALL AT ONCE. Then there will be Stacked Days where I will be out of the house most of the day either at photo shoots, client meetings, or running errands. Not only will I save time and gas by moving all my appointments to one day, but I’ll only have to do my hair and makeup once… and ladies, we know how long that can take!
I hope this was either helpful to you as a small business owner, photographer, or that you just enjoyed taking a peek into my day-to-day! I’m so excited to share more exciting news and changes that will be coming for my business in the coming weeks, so don’t go away 🙂 Thanks for spending your precious time here on my blog!