Reflections on my first year as a business owner
I’ve been trying to find the right words to convey my elation at having not only survived my first year as a business owner, but surpassing my own personal expectations. It’s challenging; I have so much I want to say.
Let’s start with a story. One year ago, my husband, John, and I sat down with our accountant.
Most small businesses don’t survive the first year. Of those that scrape by, many close their doors within 3 years for not being able to turn a profit.”
I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist. Keep your expectations low, because most people can’t pull it off. It’s funny — I didn’t take his comments as a personal attack implying that I wouldn’t make it. Rather, he was coming at this from a unique perspective. From a place of numbers and facts (which I can respect, because I married a numbers guy), and all it did was instill this idea that in order to survive, I needed to become a profitable business. And quickly.
I did just that.
Over the last year, I’ve asked John for pointers and then flat out ignored his advice. I’ve become better at trusting my instinct and being an advocate for myself. I’ve learned when to own up to mistakes, how to carefully craft and phrase apologies (which is truthfully an important skill, especially as a woman, to make sure you’re not over apologizing when it’s not warranted), and how to make things right to foster long term relationships.
Most importantly, I’ve discovered just how passionate I am about food photography and all it encompasses. This past year has brought me a sense of joy and fulfillment that I didn’t know I was missing,
When I was in Salt Lake City at the inaugural Tastemaker Conference two weeks ago, I attended a seminar by branding coach and strategist Tiffany Han. Listening to her speak was transformative. She shed a unique light on how I want to market myself moving forward, and honestly it sparked a flame. Be bold, dare to be inspired, and believe that you can. Girl, it’s working.
She challenged each of us to come up with 3 words that best describe us as a brand. What do you want people to think about when they hear your name or see your work? What feeling are you trying to convey?
It was a personal assignment and one that didn’t need to be shared with the world, and yet here I am opening myself up and doing just that. I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to fine tune what I already know to be true both about myself and Well Seasoned.
Elevated. Inspiring. Genuine.
I have said from day one that the content I create for Well Seasoned and my clients represents elevated classics, so choosing my first target word was a no brainer.
Inspiring encompasses so much of what I do already, and much of what I hope to become in the next few years. There’s the obvious hope that my pictures inspire people to get in the kitchen and cook. Then there’s the desire to inspire fellow food photographers to work towards improving their content. But inspiring can be so much more — it can mean empowering women to stand up for themselves in the industry. Or teaching others how to become self-motivated to achieve their goals. It truly encapsulates my hopes and dreams for where I want to take this business.
And lastly, I want to continue to be genuine. Everything that I do within my business is coming from a true and honest place. Yes, I want to be successful and make money — who doesn’t? — but my recipes are tried and true, my critiques are warranted, my advice is sage, and I will always put my best foot forward and give 120% for both myself and my clients. Because listen, if I’m going to take the time away from my family and friends, it better be worth it.
My goal moving forward is that everything touched by Well Seasoned is a perfect mix of these three ideals: elevated, inspiring, and genuine. I want you to really feel it.
I have so much more to say on my first year as a business owner, but for now I’ll leave you with this: if you’re toying with the idea of starting over, exploring a hidden passion, or just daring to dream big, ask yourself this — what’s holding you back? If I can help move you forward in any way towards achieving the impossible (which, by the way, nothing is impossible), reach out and ask for help. I am truly convinced that if I can get this business up and running in one year, you can too.
I am so appreciative for the outpouring of love and support from the people who matter most to me. I believe in myself enough to know that I would have gotten to this point on my own eventually, but it’s with your help that I got here as quickly as I did. Cheers to year one, and to many, many more!