On Writing and Entrepreneurship From a Wedding Photographer
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
I’m a starter rather than a finisher, and I had not considered labelling myself this way until I read the book, The Power Of Focus. As I get older, I am trying to become a better finisher.
My optimism is startling when it comes to new project and business ideas–and I’ve had many of them, believe me, with an equally startling record of fizzle-outs. I’m a dreamer, and I get caught up in small details, tending to stall after first base. I’m not good at deciding what to produce based on what’s in demand, and I kid myself into thinking I have everything covered financially. These weaknesses sound like a recipe for disaster, right?
I also know that what really counts is what you do with your weaknesses. And are these weaknesses such a bad thing if you’re aware of them?
Taking into account that I ran a wedding photography business for six years, while I do have entrepreneurial urges, the verdict is still out on whether I truly have what it takes. It’s like the shell is there but the insides are soft and . . . debatable.
I simply love crafting too much. But I’m tired of being a starter. I want to see something through, and I want it to be something that I love to do. If it means that I’ll need a business manager in my near future to help me with this then so be it. That’s me taking my weaknesses and doing something about it.
I’m prepared to make the necessary changes in my life to be a professional writer and make enough of an income so that I can pay my bills.
I’ve begun taking small steps towards this — such as starting and maintaining my blog, making content on as many social platforms as possible, and forming my own writing community on Facebook. I enrolled in Jeff Goins’s Tribe Writers course and bought his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve.
As I ponder my entrepreneurial shell, I think of my father.
My dad is an electrical engineer by trade. He has worked for the government, for private companies and for himself. He’s been in partnerships, run businesses simultaneously, including franchises. He’s tried anything and everything — fearlessly experimenting as much as he could. He’s passionate about business and service. A true extrovert, he genuinely enjoys dealing with people.
I worked at a few of his businesses. But I was too busy being caught up in my own creative mindset to study what he was doing and learn from it.
On the other hand, I am protective of my creativity and my ability to dream, and make no excuses for always gravitating towards the clouds. If I was meant to take in what he’s been tinkering with over the years, then I would have.
It’s not too late to learn.
It’s only been in the last decade, as my father approached semi-retirement, that he found his ultimate business groove, and has stuck with a good thing. He roasts coffee and he enjoys it. I’m proud of what he has achieved. The business suits him; he has full control over its pace — he can choose to take baby steps or go hard. It’s inspiring to see his journey as an entrepreneur finally lead him to a sweet spot, and to watch him achieve a desirable work balance.
My father and I are very different and we rarely see eye to eye, but one thing we do share is our entrepreneurial spirit. It’s safe to say that I inherited that from him.
I have been lucky enough to find my own sweet spot. Writing. This has required an attitude adjustment from some of my nearest and dearest, which isn’t going so well because the image of my once-thriving wedding photography business still lives on in their minds.
Having financial struggles when you choose a creative vocation is a definite harsh reality, but I’m not ready to give up.
If money issues can occur even when you don’t love your job, why not follow your heart and choose the job that you want? And if the term “follow your heart” makes you roll your eyes, then replace with: pursue what makes you happy.
With entrepreneurship, there is a serious amount of hustle required. With writing, whether it’s for yourself or writing to meet a demand, you still need to hustle if you want your words to be read by someone other than you.
Entrepreneurs invest time, money and energy into business, sometimes multiple businesses. Maybe they are sold off and new ventures are acquired. You know the drill. Writers invest time, money and energy (sometimes blood is shed too) into books; each book is certainly a venture, and I don’t just mean the actual writing.
I try to be thankful for all the times that I just wanted to taste everything; all of my retro ideas, projects and past work experience have prepared me for this very moment.
For now, my superficial entrepreneurial shell (thanks dad!) with its mysterious internal contents is perfect for the writer in me, and I’m allowing myself to believe that it’s going to be a hard one to crack.