Oh, the advice I'd give myself if I were starting my business today.
Say NO more often than YES - I can't tell you how many projects that I wish I would have declined. If it doesn't sit well in your gut then it won't sit well as you communicate, contract, and work with the client.
Trading Exposure for Work- Will only benefits the receiving party - In twenty years, I can count on one hand how many times trading exposure for work has ever worked, and the number of times is under 5. DO NOT DO IT, you will, and when you do, you'll tell yourself never again.
Charge Your Worth (and then add tax)- You've read or heard this little line elsewhere. Once you understand what it truly costs to run a SUCCESSFUL, SUSTAINABLE & PROFITABLE business you will never sell yourself short again. I plan to share a future post on the cost of running a business, but until then, charge your worth, account for taxes, reinvest in your business, and pay yourself.
Outsource What You Dislike - Bookkeeping, scheduling, editing, etc - outsource whatever you dislike doing so you can spend the maximum amount of time in your creative zone of genius. Use client management software if you can't afford to outsource in the meantime, I use Tave.
Contracts and Payments- Always outline the terms in writing and receive at least 50% payment - if those basic terms can't be agreed upon, it's a hard NO!
Social Media - This is a double edge sword one that can be powerful and another that can cut deeply. Personally, I have a deep love/hate relationship with social media and at the time of creating this post, I've abandoned all of my social media. And, I am still carrying on with life. Treat social media as a tool and nothing more. Remember, likes & followers aren't metrics for success nor do MOST of your followers deposit actual dollars into your bank account. [More about my social media departure]
Don't Compete on Price - You'll never win! The photographer or creative down the street charging $25 for 125 fully edited photos available for download will quickly learn there is no room for profit. Plus, they are paying their clients to be clients. Competing on price is the fastest way to unhappiness as a business owner.
Personal Projects - Most likely you didn't fall in love with your creative passion because of the money, you fell in love with it because it fed you creativity. Find personal projects to feed your creative soul. A paid client assignment will rarely feed your creative soul - it will be up to you to feed it!
Create Schedule - Outline a daily and weekly schedule that carves out time for YOU! After all, isn't being in charge of your own schedule one of the perks of being a business owner. When my creative soul feels starts to fade that means I am no failing to fill my own cup.
Celebrate Accomplishments - Regardless of the size of the accomplishment, celebrate it. If that means ordering out your favorite lunch (and expensing it) or popping a bottle of bubbly with co-workers or your partner. Celebrate the win. Sometimes our focus is so fixated on the "next thing" that we fail to celebrate the win in front of us. Savor the moment eventually the moment will pass.
Health & Wellness - If you aren't physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy your business will not thrive. As my business expanded so did my waistline which caused more challenges than I realized at the time. Please, please, please make yourself a priority before making your business a priority. If any guru suggests you need to hustle hard, trade sleep for work, or do what you need to do to get by... find a new guru.
Workshops, Programs, and Courses - Do not be tempted by fancy sales pages, the narrative of making your money back in 30-days or this is the end-all, be-all. Invest in workshops, programs, and courses that fill the gap in your business. The latest preset, gizmo, gadget, or new gear line won't necessarily make you better.
A photographer down the street having success following x-y-z course doesn't mean applying the same techniques to your business equals success.
Remember, there is a difference between being a working creative and selling courses on how to be a working creative.
Understand Finances - If you are bad with money before you began your business- most likely you will be bad with money within your business. Learn how to set up business bank accounts, set aside money for taxes, understand the cost of goods, monthly and annual expenses, budget for education, gear & technology upgrades, and of course, how to pay yourself.
And lastly, your business is your business. You do not need to explain yourself to anyone else this includes; clients, colleagues, friends, and family. Create a trusted group of various business professionals and valued friends to become your "Board of Directors" who add value to your life and business and who provide an equal exchange.
Oh, and a fundamental rule should go without saying point - DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, one more time for the people in the back - AIR YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY ON THE INTERNET!
Friends, you have far more silent observers following what you are doing than you think! I've seen countless posts on social media of industry professionals (in all walks of life) complaining about vendors, clients, and colleagues. Don't put yourself, your clients, or your business in a position that could be harmful or damaging down the line. Turn to your "Board of Directors" for support and guidance before ever turning to a social media platform!