Today marks that special day. It has been exactly one year since I made the choice to stop being afraid and really take a huge leap of faith towards my dreams. I made the choice to ignore all my doubts, took a deep breath and went for it head first into the one of the biggest unknowns I have ever gone through in my life. I chose to start my own photography business.
I remember being so afraid and so unsure. When I walked into that business office to file my paperwork I felt so intimidated and small. I had no idea how to run a business! Why was I doing this? There is no way I could possibly know if I would be able to make money or become a huge failure. What I was doing was crazy! I had only had my camera for a year! I don't understand anything about taxes and a tax id! Even with these thoughts in my head... I marched in, head held high and announced to the person behind the desk, "I would like to start a business please." I handed him my paperwork, hands shaking, heart beating fast and my mind on overload. I was really doing this! This was really happening.
Surprisingly, the process of starting a business here in Knoxville, TN went very quickly. It almost seemed too easy. I was done within 30 minutes and I had my business banking account an hour after that. I arrived home with all my papers in a neat green folder. I stared at that folder and thought, "This is my business. My business is in that folder." I had no idea what I wanted my branding to be like, my branding colors, my website, what photography products I would sell, how to do my bookkeeping, what my contracts would be, or even what my business identity was. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to take beautiful photos of people. I was sure I never wanted to have to go back into the corporate world, working customer service and dealing with the unfair politics of the workplace. I wanted to be my own boss... not wait for someone to tell me when I was qualified to. I wanted to reward myself every time I did a great job... not wait for an annual raise that could or could not happen. I wanted to start taking control of my own goals, my work, my life and my destiny.
Even though I felt like I didn't know anything about running a business when I started, it never slowed me down. I learned on the way. I researched, watched webinars, paid for teachings, had meetings with other creatives, found a business coach, found ways to do things on a small budget, organized my days, weeks, and months, researched more and tweaked anything that needed fixing. I worked hard to find out exactly what my brand should be and I did a lot of soul searching to reveal why this was my passion. Throughout this past year I have heard people telling me I couldn't do this and I even said it myself a few times. However, there is something about our inner beings... our souls... our purest part of ourselves that has a way of always knowing the truth and pushing us toward it when we need it... as long as we let it.
Looking back at the past year, I must say that I wasn't sure if I would be still standing. I wasn't sure if I would still be able to call myself a business owner or say that I was still doing photography full time. But here I am! I am still building, still fighting for my goals, still doing what I love and celebrating what I have managed to do in a year. Some people didn't believe I would still be here. Some thought I was crazy and would fail. There have been some hard times throughout this past year that have had me literally curled up in a ball crying my eyes out. "Why is this so hard?! Why am I putting my family through this??" I am so thankful that I have a great support system for those times when I feel weak in my journey. Each kind word of advice from my husband, my mother, my close friends and my amazing business coach is like giving me a quick drink of much needed water during a long marathon. They are all my like my boxing coach who quickly patches me up and tells me, "Get back in there and win! Stick it to 'em!"
My journey is long from over and still far from easy. I still have much more work to do to get where I want to be. I have fallen and picked myself back up multiple times. I have had plenty of doubts and plenty of low days. There have been MANY times where I go through "mommy guilt" or "wifey guilt" when I don't seem to have enough time with my family. I have had times where I was scared and intimidated... but I kept going through it all. I am STILL going. I refuse to quit. I have come too far, sacrificed too much and been my own boss for too long to quit. I love what I do and I will continue to fight for my passion. I am proud to be standing here today and instead of saying, "I would like to become a business owner." I can say, "I AM a business owner."