6 Important Things I’ve Learned in 6 Years of Business
Today officially marks 6 years of business for Emily Moore Boutique Photo Editing! I admit that some days I’m still pinching myself about it. If you had told me 6 years ago that I’d be running not just a thriving editing business, but also an incredible team of editors who are all just so sweet and amazing, I would have laughed.
Me?? Running a team? Get outta here…
As much as I hate to admit it, I struggle with self-doubt a LOT. I was once told – to my face – that I was not a good leader. Nine years later, that comment still haunts me, and it’s something I struggle with all the time. “If I’m not a good leader, how can I run a successful business? HOW can I run a team?” It’s one of the reasons I took YEARS to start my editing team. But almost a decade later, I’m SO thankful I was strong enough to ignore those words.
Six years ago today, I signed on my first official editing client. If I’m being honest…I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. THEY actually had to teach ME about using smart previews. Education in the Private Photo Editing world wasn’t a thing yet, and there were so many things I had to figure out on my own. I can’t believe how blessed I am to have found clients who were so patient and understanding about where I was in my career.
So to celebrate 6 years of business, today I’m talking about 6 things I’ve learned in my years as a small business owner! If you’re a newer business owner, then you will definitely want to keep reading!
Here’s a Quick Overview:
- Boundaries are Key
- Clients Want You to Succeed
- It’s *Okay* to Take Vacation Time
- Dreams and Goals Will Change
- Focus on *Your* Dreams
- You Don’t Have to Do it All in Just a Couple of Years
1. Boundaries are Key
When I first started my business, I didn’t set any boundaries between myself and my clients. I didn’t set official office hours, I stressed about emailing people back within minutes of receiving their emails, and I worked all hours of the day. It stressed me out so much, I hardly ever slept.
It wasn’t until I started restricting my office hours that I really started to see my business thrive. I allowed myself rest at the end of the day, and it was a game-changer. It’s one of the reasons why I hate when people tell you to “hustle” all the time. I honestly don’t agree with it. I learned first-hand what life was like to be hustling ALL the time, and it was absolutely miserable.
Once I set boundaries for myself, I saw my business really succeed. I was more productive during the day, and was actually able to turn catalogs around faster than before. All from this simple change. It was incredible, and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my 6 years of business.
2. Clients Want You to Succeed
I promise it’s true. Clients WANT you to succeed (and if they don’t, they are not right for you). As a new business owner, I was terrified of upsetting a client for any reason. Even the small things stressed me out. Every time I got feedback from someone, I felt like a failure. I thought they were probably angry at me and were going to leave. After a while, I realized that this kind, constructive feedback was not the client pointing out that I had failed, it was their way of helping me to do better in the future.
If there’s anything I’ve learned about this industry is that people are incredibly understanding. Not only that, but if they’re the right client, they want to help you succeed. After realizing this, I eventually understood that friendly feedback is their way of helping me do just that. Clients know that when you succeed, they succeed! They are going to give you all the support they can. Unless you’re really dropping the ball, they have your back.
3. It’s *Okay* to Take Vacation Time
For the first two years I ran my business, I didn’t have a single NORMAL vacation. I was constantly on my computer answering emails, or editing just to keep from falling behind. I was SO afraid that if I took any time off for myself, I was going to lose clients. Then when I started to block off actual vacation time, I realized that none of that was true. Clients were actually incredibly understanding and WANTED me to take vacation time. They’re human beings, too! They understand how important it is to have time for yourself!
I realized once I started to take real vacations where I didn’t answer emails and I didn’t edit any catalogs, I was WAY more productive when I got home. Not only that, but I was more productive months afterwards because I felt like I had time to really relax and rest.
4. Dreams and Goals Will Change
When I first started my business, I had all of these dreams and goals I wanted to achieve. Then as I began to grow as both a business and a person, I realized that some of those goals just weren’t really what I wanted anymore. The life I want didn’t always match up with the dreams I thought I wanted, so they changed. Sometimes, goals I tried to achieve took a serious toll on my mental health. There was a point where I had to decide to give up on a goal (at least for now) in order to focus more on self-care.
And you know what? It’s 100% okay. Dreams and goals are going to change. Life and business don’t always go the way we plan. There are always going to be twists and turns we never see coming. Sometimes we aren’t in a place where we can tackle a goal yet, and it takes a toll on us. It’s okay to step back an re-evaluate what the important things are to you and to change your goals.
5. Focus on *Your* Dreams
In the creative industry, I think there’s a lot of accidental pressure to do or be certain things in order to be perceived as successful. It’s easy to think that because certain people are speaking at conferences, or making a certain amount of money, or becoming educators and launching courses that you have to be all those things, too. If you’re not, there’s this little voice in the back of your head whispering that you’re not successful. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve felt like I’m failing because I’ve never spoken at a conference before.
Um…what?? That’s crazy, and it certainly doesn’t make me a failure. Speaking is not for everyone. Education is not for everyone. Making 6-figures is not a necessity for everyone. It’s OKAY to find something you’re good at and to be content serving your clients well.
It’s okay if you DO want to be all these things, but don’t feel like your dreams HAVE to look like someone else’s in order to be successful. Define what success looks like for you and follow that! I promise, you are going to be SO much happier if you do.
6. You Don’t Have to Do it All In Just A Couple of Years
If you’re new to business, you’ll find that the timing is not always right for every dream or goal you have. And you know what? That is totally okay. There are so many dreams I’ve had since day 1 that I haven’t achieved. It doesn’t mean they aren’t still on my list. Just because I haven’t achieved them yet doesn’t mean I’m a failure, the timing just hasn’t been right yet.
There’s an awful lot of pressure to always be “hustling” and working towards what’s next, but that isn’t always going to be right for everyone. We’re not running a race to see who reaches the finish line first. Think of it more as running a marathon. Some people are going to be really fast, but some people are going to be a little slower (y’all KNOW that’s me in the back). Our times are going to look different, but eventually we will all cross the finish line.
Building a business takes time. I know there are people who do it quickly, but for most people it’s a slow and steady growth. Don’t be ashamed of slow growth. My business looks WILDLY different now than it did even 6 years ago, and I am incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished during that time. Celebrate the small successes along the way!