5 Business Tips from the Trenches

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I’m really just a newbie in the business industry, and have so much yet to learn but I’ve also gained a lot of insight in these early start up years both from personal experience and through knowing some amazing people. Hopefully what I can share here today will be of some help to someone out there, if only to just encourage them to take the leap themselves.

First let me give you a little back history. My first encounter with an entrepreneur was my own mom. It’s actually taken me all these years to come to the full realiziation of what an amazing woman she was in that regard. She passed away back in 1997, but continues to have a powerful influence over me. She was from the Azores and we lived there until 1971, when she moved her family here to give us a better opportunity. Up until that point, she had been self employed. This was a time and place that didn’t see too many women in the workplace, even jobs that are now considered to be dominated by women weren’t  so at that time. She was a hair dresser, and had been taught by a man. She then took it from there, not only did she see clients in her own home but often took it on the road and would go from village to village as needed. She was well loved, respected and always welcomed where ever she went. In the later years just prior to moving to the States, she had a sewing business. She was the personal seamstress for many of the American teachers living at the Base in Terceira. Ready made clothes were hard to come by in those days, so she found a nice niche for herself using her amazing talent. The entrepreneurial bug spread to her kids as well, my siblings owned businesses from auto body shops, gift shops, restaurants, cleaning companies, electrical companies and of course me with my photography business.

So here is a little bit of what I’ve learned so far…

1)CONFIDENCE:  First of all the thing that can break you even before you get started is your attitude. You need to be confident enough to even try. My mom had a saying that she would repeat to me often when I was little,  “If it can be done, then I can do it…I’m not dumber than anyone else.” …lol.  She wasn’t cocky either, her full confidence was in her Lord and His power to see her through whatever He was asking of her. She tackled many anxiety issues, but they never held her back. She never let her fear stop her. She’d just pray through it. When I was five years old, she came to work here in the States for about six months on her own. My dad stayed behind to care for us, there were seven of us but a couple had left the roost by this point. This without a doubt had to have been one of the hardest acts of obedience on her part. But boy did it pay back, it lay down the foundation required for the job contract that would bring us all back just a couple of years later.

2)HUMILITY: This might seem contradictory to number 1, but it’s not…it’s simply the other side of the coin. If your confidence is not a God confidence but a cocky self confidence, then you will lack this part of it and even though you may still acquire a certain level of success in your career it will never be fully satisfying.  Here’s the deal, you can’t go in with the expectation that others will just fall all over themselves to get whatever you are selling. You are going to have to put yourself and your product out there over and over. And risk feeling stupid or appearing stupid to someone.

Another important way that being humble can help you, is in being able to listen to the advice of others that have gone before you. I’m not talking about allowing others to make important decisions for you, or always doing everything everyone tells you. But about LISTENING and discerning what can be helpful and throwing away the rest. You also need to be able to be real with yourself and know your own abilities or lack of them. If you are just beginning, there will be a real learning curve to whatever you undertake. Don’t be too hard on yourself because this is part of the journey. But be aware of it, and know that even though most people outside of the industry might even think that you are the cat’s meow…there are others who have been at it longer and you haven’t reached their level yet. This is perfectly ok and gives you room to grow. There is a niche for everyone, don’t let this stop you.

3) Offer Value:  You need to constantly offer something that your clients need and you have to be willing to bust your tail doing it. Owning your own business is not a 9-5 endeavour. This is true for all aspects of the business, whether you are working on your craft, marketing it, or simply growing your presence on social media. Never take anyone for granted, they don’t have to ‘follow’ you. They don’t have to ‘like’ or share your stuff. Make it worth their while to do so. Build connections that are real…and that takes us to my next point, networking.

4)Networking : People matter!!!Both your customers and other business people! It’s ALL about relationships! We are seeing a lot of that being  magnified today through social networking. Before you try to sell anybody anything, you need to build trust. This is part of the reason that ‘mommy bloggers’ and ‘mommy Togs’ (photographers) are doing so wildly well at the moment. There is a trust factor, and who better at building relationships than moms?

The first time that the importance of knowing the right people hit me was while I was watching The Voice one night. Here were all these incredibly talented individuals, who had been working hard all along so by all rights they should all be huge stars by now. Some had even been in the industry before as professionals. What’s the difference this time? Here was a venue that put them before millions of folks and directly in touch with these four judges who personally put time and effort into their chosen candidates. WOW!

I’ve even heard how Ansel Adams, the famed photographer himself didn’t fare too well until he hooked up with the right marketing agent. People need each other, there is no shame in that.

5)PATIENCE: It takes a huge amount of time to build something up that is worthwhile. Trust the process! Don’t give up too soon.

Here’s my business page, please stop in for a visit. Essy D Photography

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