Whether your a plumber, restaurant owner, or photographer we have all experienced an unhappy customer or client as a small business owner. We all handle those situations very differently. Whenever you have an undesirable situation happen you automatically want to vent, ask for help, or lean on someone else for support. You vent to your spouse but they really don't understand the situation unless their in the same profession as you. So- what do you do? You reach out to people similar to you on social media. Social media can bring you together with people who have, in fact, been in your shoes. They have had that situation happen and can give you the right words to say or the advice you need to hear. You post your "undesirable situation" in a social media setting knowing that these people don't know you, your personality, your feelings, or your vibe; but you vent anyway. They read your situation and most of the audience will likely think... "Man- i'm glad that didn't happen to me" while they give you some sort of generic "filler" response in hopes that their comment will get the most likes and be one you can relate with. You read the comments and in your mind you tell yourself that none of their encouraging comments are really doing much to take away the situation itself. Sometimes the post ends up not turning out how you wanted it to go and you end up MORE upset. Either way- you take as much as you can from the responses and move on. Did it really help you to post it online? Did it really make you feel any better? Probably not- it probably made you feel the same if not worse. So in the end- you still have this "undesirable situation" that you need to address or an unsettling feeling that you need to let simmer down for a few days.
So let's talk about my drive and how this relates to me. I am a photographer. I love my job and I love the people I get to work with. Have I had some undesirable situations- absolutely. Some of which were out of my control and others that I directly caused. I found it relieving to share these situations with fellow colleagues and ask them for help or wording on how to respond to an unhappy client. I didn't always like the outcome of their responses but that's something I had to deal with because I asked them for advice or I put my situation out there for them to comment on. This is where I began feeling the negativity energy.
When I started this business, I needed advice, I needed guidance, and constructive criticism. Then I reached a point where I was okay to do this on my own and didn't care if my way was different than others. I felt I was making good business decisions for myself and I was moving in the right direction. Business is on the rise and my name is getting out there- each year business gets busier and busier. Of course there are bumps in the road and I got advice from colleagues or just searched for the information and knowledge that I needed. As business gets busier, the chances for "undesirable situations" become more and more likely. There are so many places to vent about the stresses of owning a business on Facebook- endless groups and pages. Complaining is easy to do- venting makes you feel better, sharing similar situations with others helps you forget about it- right? For me- not so much. This was something that hit me suddenly and like a ton of bricks.
This is my 5th year in business. According the Small Business Association (SBA) 50% of businesses fail within the first 5 years. I did it! I hit my first major small-business-owning-milestone! I should be rejoicing in my little success but i'm not- 2019 has been my hardest year yet. Every year I go through the same routine. Starting with the summer- business is steady but not crazy... Fall comes and i'm overwhelmed and stressed... Winter hits and i'm beat, over worked, and need a break.... Spring comes and i'm down and stressing because I took a break and wasn't advertising enough. Every year- same ole' same ole'. But 2019 is different. That Spring "down" feeling hasn't gone away like it used to. I have no drive to keep going, no spark to create new ideas, no urge to advertise. In some cases- I want quit. Throw in the towel- be done and enjoy my days with kids and no other worries. Reality hits- I can't- I have a studio to pay for and liability insurance that can't lapse and taxes to pay and licenses to renew and obviously a family to support. Why am I down? Why am I unmotivated and feeling as though i'm not good enough. Here's comes that ton of bricks that hit me.
It's my greatest ally and yet my worst enemy. I use it to advertise, to promote, to share, and to flourish. I use it to vent, to relate, to research and to learn. But why is it making me down? Why is it making me unmotivated? It's 2019. Everyone is a photographer, everyone has a "business". Hell- the iPhone has "portrait mode" - who needs a damn photographer anymore? It's causing me to compare myself to others who do things differently than me. Those who may have been in business longer- who are more financially able to purchase photography equipment or props. "Why can't I have that camera? Why can't I have that lense? Why can't my studio be that big? I'd love to have that many props. Why are they booked up and I can't book one session?" Everyone else's "social media positivity" is giving me negative feelings. So what do I do to fix this. Do I accept my fate and give up? Feeling like I will never be good enough- I will never rank up to those other people. What happened to me, I used to be fine on my own?
This is when I realized what the problem was. All those groups I joined, all those pages I followed- they're bringing me down. I am focusing on my faults instead of my successes. I have been comparing myself to others and where they are (success-wise) in their business and I am forgetting how far I have come since day one. My business is a garden and I was feeding it excitement and positive thoughts and watched it grow and thrive for 5 years. Then all of a sudden- I started feeding it disappointment and negative thoughts. That leads us to today, I sit here typing this as I watch my garden die. It's dying and I know I have the power to make it grow again. I now know what I need to do. I need to stick to what I know works for ME. Trust myself, trust my ideas, trust my creativity, trust that it's MY business.
My garden will flourish again.