Defining Success and Facing Failure
I am an introvert by nature and it is exhausting for me to sell or be in social situations every day of the week. I enjoy and crave my quiet time. I used to work in sales and I would have to load up on coffee every day and sometimes on my break so that I could be peppy and energetic to talk to people and encourage them to buy from me. As sales reps we were taught various ways to phrase our sales pitches. Based on the customer you were helping and their social cues you guide the conversation to an automatic yes. Because to say no just made the customer feel stupid. It made me feel dirty, even if I never lied, it was manipulation. I hated it, truly hated it. As my old co-workers would have told you I was much better as giving information than selling, which worked in a lot of cases but didn’t get the numbers moving which didn’t make my managers happy. -FAIL I ended up quiting this job in 2013
I have always wanted to own my own business so I tried two different direct sales companies. They were big investments and it was hard, it was sales all over again. I was constantly asking my friends and family if they wanted to buy things from me and it felt awkward and uncomfortable, not to mention the strangers that completely dismissed me. Again, I hated it. - FAIL
I wanted set the rules, set customer expectations and be responsible for the quality of work and products I produce.
Fast forward to 2013, I started my own business as a photographer, completely self-taught, or YouTube taught I should say. I spent hours and hours everyday learning about different shooting styles, techniques and how to operate my camera. I offered a bunch of free photoshoots to friends and family so I could get the practice I needed under my belt. Six months later I was ready to take the leap and quit my real, bringing in good money, job. (Quitting also stemmed from some major back issues I was having so the timing just seemed to fit.) It was going pretty well and I was slowly but surely honing my skills. I had a website, a Yelp! account with several 5 star reviews and then I started getting phone calls from people I didn’t know! (Woohoo!) About a year into it I had a client complain, she didn’t like the photos, like AT ALL. I did my best to crop and edit them to her liking but it didn’t seem to help. That was pretty devastating, it was a blow to my confidence and it made me want to quit. Instead I tried to learn from it.
I started posting more of my work so people would know what to expect, I started asking clients to share their Pinterest boards with me so I could see exactly what they were looking for in their photos.
In 2015 I announced I was going to stop taking photos, possibly indefinitely because it was time to be a mommy and I knew I wouldn’t need my “hobby” anymore. I cancelled my website, cancelled my Yelp! (which took forever!) To my surprise, people started asking me when I was coming back. Could I photograph their wedding? Wow! Ok then, I guess if God wants me to still do this I will.
I now have three different branches of my business; photography, sign making (K&H Wood and Paper Works) and now the Workshop where I host classes and teach people how to make things and do art projects.
Just to be clear, when I say my business is successful, it is, in my eyes. I’m just busy enough to support my habit. By habit I mean reinvesting in new equipment to learn new skills or buy new photography gear. People get ahold of me and I don’t have to be a pushy sales person to bring in money. That is exactly how I like it. If God wants it to succeed, it will, if He doesn’t then He must have a different plan for me and He will give me hope.
And as Jordan Raynor says in his book Called to Create, “Without hope failure is terrifying. But with it, you can genuinely say that whatever your lot – epic success, massive failure, or something in between – it is well with my soul.”