Wife, mother, entrepreneur. That is me in a nutshell AND in that order. At one point, however, that order got mixed up.
About six years ago, I was gifted a Nikon D300. I had no idea how to use it and was determined to learn so I could take better photos of my new baby girl. The more I learned, the better I became. The better I became, the more I wanted to learn. You get the picture. (See what I did there?) A year later and I was still just as passionate about this hobby as I was from day one, and decided I should take an intro class to get to know my camera even better. After that class, it was a wrap. I was photographing any of my friends and family who would let me and decided to start my business, officially.
Before I made that decision, my days consisted of getting up, going to my 9-5, dinner with the fam, putting my daughter to bed, spending time with my husband, and surfing the web soaking in what I could about photography. On weekends, we would sometimes stay at home, try out a new restaurant, or if we were feeling adventurous, we’d head to the West Side Market for fresh ingredients for those Pinterest recipes I had been saving all week…and to stand in line for 45 minutes for Steve’s Gyros (trust me, it’s totally worth it).
Simple, fun, and perfect. And my camera always in tow.
In the early stages of setting up my business, I asked so many different people for advice. One of my best friends runs a global photography business and manages an international team of well over a hundred members of staff so she has always been something of a mentor to me. When her business first started to take off, managing her payroll quickly became overwhelming. The challenges of running your own business are almost always unexpected, but there are steps you can take to make things better especially where paying your employees is concerned.
Fortunately, she now outsources her payroll to a payroll management service called Cloudpay (you can check out their website here: cloudpay.net). Ultimately, the advice she gave me was not to be afraid to outsource responsibilities that can become a drain on your time. Some things are best left to the experts, and paying your staff is a good example of this.
Now back to when I started my business.
Like many new business owners, I started off charging too little, undervaluing my talent and giving away too much. My evenings went from relaxing with my husband to editing until 2 am (sometimes even later). I’d get up bright and early, head to my 9-5, and was back at it again as soon as my daughter went to sleep. On weekends, I was too tired to do much other than shoot the clients I had scheduled, and edit on Sunday evenings. This cycle went on for a while. Much longer than I’d like to admit. I justified this crazy schedule to myself by thinking that being busy meant I was successful, and always thinking “I need to be better, I need to find more clients, I need to do more.” The thing with an “I need to do more” attitude is that there is no finish line. There’s no reward or light at the end of the tunnel.
It felt like my life had turned into entrepreneur, wife, mother. Something needed to change.
When I became pregnant with my son, something had to change if I wanted to keep pursuing my passion. There was no way I could keep this up with two littles at home. I’m so thankful that I was working full time because this allowed me to take a good, hard look at my business and do what I NEEDED to do to get to where I wanted to be. I wanted to work smarter, not harder. I stopped being emotional about my pricing – we’ve all been there. Telling ourselves, “No one will pay that” or “But other people only charge $xxx.” I set a financial goal, crunched my numbers, which is something I should have done on day 1, and realized I was literally working for less than minimum wage. This was never going to help me turn my business into a full-time career and give me the financial freedom and life that I wanted and deserved. The life where I wasn’t up late every single evening, tired the next day, and not getting as much time with my family as I wanted.
So, I raised my prices, stopped giving away the kitchen sink, focused on creating a unique experience that my clients couldn’t get anywhere else, and stopped working on weekends unless it was a wedding. A few things happened when I did this.
- Clients appreciated me more! Since I could show them more value in my services, they felt special. I took on fewer sessions each month so that I could create a better experience for my clients. This was a more personable experience, and because I did not have as much on my plate, I was able to exceed expectations. Remember, happy clients want to tell their friends about the amazing experience they had with you.
- I started loving my job even more. When you feel appreciated for what you do, instead of feeling overwhelmed, it changes your whole outlook. Business owner or not, when you are recognized for your hard work and have people that truly value what makes you unique and the best at your job, it makes you love coming to work.
- I got more time to be present with my family who is my biggest support system. My husband is pretty much a superhero and has never once complained to me about late nights, client meetings, or being gone all day at a wedding. Now, during my peak shooting season, if I am not shooting a wedding, I am enjoying the day with my family. No exceptions. If that doesn’t work for a potential client, then guess what? They aren’t my client. This motto has helped with my sanity and brought my family even closer. Remember, saying no means saying yes to something more important!
- After I made these changes, I quit my “day job” and went full time with my photography business by the time my son was born eight months.
If you at all feel like your priorities are getting mixed up, take a step back, figure out where you went wrong and what is necessary to get everything back in order. I promise you will figure how to manage entrepreneurship and your priorities. You got this!
About the blogger:
Kamron Khan is a professional wedding and portrait photographer from Cleveland, OH. She opened Kamron Khan Photography in 2013, and prides herself in creating a unique experience for her clients by making them feel comfortable and confident in front of her camera, and by helping them create custom artwork for their homes. She teaches photography to others, including middle and high school students, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and other photographers. Kamron is co-creator of The Bridal Space, a collective resource for the modern bride help her with her wedding planning process. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Knot, Munaluchi Bride, Black Bride Magazine, and South Asian Bridal Magazine.