It's a little surreal to think that this little baby business has grown into a 5 year old business, and while, obviously that took some time (ahem5yearsahem) it also feels like it happened overnight. Much like parenting, you know everything about running a business before you start, and less and less as you go through it. But that's the fun part! Building a business is so much more than dollars and cents, it's about creating impact for others, while building a life for yourself. I thought since March is the official birthday month for KHP, I'd share 5 things I've learned over the past five years.
- Trust your own instincts. That client that you didn't really jive with, but felt like you needed to say yes to because you have bills to pay? That project that you aren't really excited about but everyone else says is a great idea and will sell? Those shoes that are killer but also killer in a not good way? Trust your instincts. You know what feels right and what feels off, and the faster you learn to pause and listen to your intuition, the faster you'll get really good at it.
- Being yourself is easier and more profitable than trying to be someone else. This applies to your branding, to your interactions with customers, even to offering products and services that align with your own preferences. Just because someone else out there is selling x (in my case, newborn photography) doesn't mean that you have to sell it, or that you should. Also, having a copycat brand is not only ineffective, it will make you feel frustrated and bad about yourself, because you're not the person you're trying to copy. Just be you.
- Know your why, and make it about more than yourself. If your why is just so you don't have to go to a job you hate anymore, that's great, but it won't sustain when a year in, your business idea is no longer relevant and a desk job looks easier. You need to know what change you're trying to make in the world (even if that 'world' is a tiny fraction of humans). You need to have a why that will sustain you through the ups and downs. Learning who you're serving, (it's not everyone) also goes a long way towards building your brand, successfully.
- Make relationships and make relationships and make relationships. I don't care if you're an introvert, you need to go out into your community (real life or online, but preferably both), and build relationships. Shop from your local businesses. Tell them what you do. Take an interest in other people, and they will take an interest in you. Building a business can be LONELY. You think you're the only one working crazy hours and feeling frustrated (especially when all your other friends have corporate jobs that they check out of at 5pm), but you're not. Did you hear me? You're not alone. I can't even begin to tell you how many of my amazing friends are business owners, side hustlers, freelancers , or big CEOs. And they all have their own perspective and pain points in business, and doing this together isn't just more fun, it's a whole lot easier. Relationships you guys.
- Lastly, my biggest lesson learned is that this is all fun. Well, it's what you make it. If you think building a business is hard and you need to struggle for years, then it will be. If you think it'll be easy, and fun, and a wild adventure, then it will be! Remember WHY you started your business, (for me, it was freedom and creativity and the love of small businesses) and it all gets a lot more fun. Oh, and add in a few dance parties and hair flips, ok??
These lessons are the reason I created the Brand Your Biz & Life online course, so you don't have to make the same mistakes I made. It walks you through discovering who you are, your why, and who you serve, and then gives you an ACTION plan to create your brand visuals, your brand copy, your online strategy and your offline strategy. It's 5 years of experience wrapped into one neat package to get you fast tracked to speaking to your dream clients, serving them well, and building a profitable brand - all while being yourself. If you're curious, click over to HERE to check out the lessons. I'm super excited about how this is going to help you, and don't want you to wait another week to start living your best life!!
Instead of doing a huge event to celebrate KHP turning 5, I decided to invite a small group of friends to the studio for some drinks and camera shenanigans. I have been wanting to photograph my group of close friends for forever, and this was the perfect excuse for the project. These are people who have been around for this ride, some since the beginning, some more recently, but all are ones that I can turn to with the good and the bad. *There are some people not in these photos that came to celebrate, and some that wanted to be here, but couldn't be. It's not an exhaustive list.
Lastly, there are one million people that have helped me, mentored me, shaped me, and supported me on this journey. My clients, my family, my friends, my former coworkers, and even the ones who doubted me. There are no words to say thank you, in a big enough way. My business is still young, but my enthusiasm and appreciation is so big. We're just getting started over here...
Cheers to another 5 more!!
P.S. Know someone else who wants to connect with her clients faster, and avoid many of the mistakes we make as beginning entrepreneurs? Send her this post, she'll thank you for thinking of her and her success!