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MORE ABOUT ME
Proud pup mom, type A creative, lover of the outdoors, Top Chef fan girl, and wedding and portrait photographer. Welcome to the blog!
HI, I'M RACHEL!
Washington, D.C. Photographer
It’s Tips & Tricks Tuesday! Today I’m going to share 5 things I’ve learned at my day job that prepared me for running my own business – being an entrepreneur. A solopreneur, if you will. So if you’re struggling running the business end of things at your small business, this post is for you!
I am by no means an expert entrepreneur, but I have learned A LOT since I started running my own business. I’m pretty sure these past seven months would’ve been much more difficult without the experience I’ve had in my other career – my first career, we’ll call it. For the past ten years, I’ve been lucky enough to gain experience on a variety of things that have definitely translated to helping me better run my own business.
So while I still have a lot to learn about being an entrepreneur, I do know a thing or two about operating in a professional atmosphere. True, my passion lies in something creative, but every #creativepreneur still needs to know how to successfully & professionally run the day-to-day, administrative end of things. Hopefully what I’ve learned will help you in at least one area you may be struggling in your business.
1. Communication is key.
Whether it be through email, phone calls, or face-to-face interactions, coming across in a clear, concise, & professional manner is always best. Say what you need to say, but keep it simple & polite.
Especially in email, I like to be thorough & am an over explain-er. I’ll write a super long email & go back through once, usually twice, and delete anything that is redundant, excessive, opinionated, or overly emotional. This is something I highly recommend doing & I always do it in my photography-related emails.
I’ve learned to be respectful, diplomatic, & friendly in all of my correspondence, and pride myself on being that way in communication with my photography clients & acquaintances as well.
2. Speak up.
I have this problem where I turn bright red when I’m embarrassed or put on the spot. In the early days of my first career, I would turn red even if I thought someone was going to call on me to speak in a meeting. And I never voluntarily spoke up, answered questions, or gave my opinion.
But then I was given more responsibility & put in situations where I was in charge of meetings & therefore had to talk in public. Through trial by fire, I slowly but surely learned to speak up, hold people’s feet to the fire if need be, and give my opinion whether asked or not! Now I am completely comfortable saying what needs to be said in front of those who need to hear it.
That experience at my day-job has helped me immensely in running my own business. As a solopreneur, there is literally no one else who will speak up for my business! I’m all I’ve got! So my suggestion is, if you’re still working a day job, take opportunities to speak up in public situations. Slowly try stepping out of your comfort zone & take all of the practice you can get so you’re comfortable doing it when you need to for your own business. You deserve to be heard!
I actually love planning things! So I come by that naturally. But having the opportunity to plan something at my day-job adds the element of pressure & really makes things interesting. I’ve been able to plan & coordinate large luncheons, high level visits, conferences, & meetings – all of which were more high stakes because I was planning them for someone else. This has definitely helped me learn to pay attention to detail when planning things for my photography business.
At my day-job I had to make sure everything worked out so I didn’t ruin things for my bosses, but in my own business, I have that same pressure so that things run smoothly for my clients. I know one of the perks of owning a business is working for yourself / not having a boss, but my suggestion is to treat your clients as your boss. True, you’re the expert & you’re running the show, but you still want everything to go smoothly for your clients’ benefit.
4. Record Keeping.
A major portion of the business end of my business is keeping track of things: mileage, expenses, earnings, receipts of payment, bills, contacts, contracts, addresses. Whew! Luckily, throughout the years at my day-job, I’ve had the responsibility of keeping track of similar things for my bosses. I was taught how to do so properly & therefore am very organized – and comfortably so – in my own business.
I still have a lot to learn in this area with regards to different programs, software, and apps I can use to keep track of things, but at a bare minimum, I am successfully keeping track of everything I need to in my own hodge-podge way. I use Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, organized electronic folders, 17Hats, and keep hard copies in a file box in my office.
So my suggestion for new business owners is to make sure you are keeping track of everything & to start, it doesn’t matter how you’re doing it as long as it’s complete & legible!
5. Administrative tasks.
The truth is, I’ve done a LOT of administrative tasks over the past ten years! I’ve been the P.O.C. for a number of projects, so organizing email correspondence has always been a necessary part of my day. And guess what! I get a lot of emails in my photography business, so thanks to the day-job, I can successfully organize my inbox in a manageable way that helps keep me sane.
I’ve also managed my own calendar & the main calendar for projects I’ve worked on, so doing so for my own business is now easy peasy. Organizing files – hard & soft copies – has always been on my list of tasks to do at work, so it comes naturally for me to do it for my own business as well.
So even if these types of administrative t0-do’s seem monotonous & unremarkable at your day-job, know that you are building skills that will take you far in managing your own business. I hear people complaining all of the time about how they hate doing admin tasks for their business because they don’t really know what they’re doing. You’re steps ahead of these folks!
Sometimes I get frustrated with the fact that I work 40 hours a week for someone else, when I am trying to grow a business for myself, but I always remind myself: I’m learning a lot in those 40 hours – even after ten years – and gaining experience that helps me successfully run my own business. Let’s all keep this in mind! <3