When starting your own business, there is inherently so much risk. Like many others, I relied on what Sean Wes calls “The Overlap Technique” for years before eventually leaving the safety, security, and team of jobs and school and diving into my business full-time.During college, I’d manage my shoots and editing around my class times. Luckily, I knew college was the “sweet spot” in that most of the time, I wasn’t paying for school or my room & board at that moment (I miss those days!). That meant that my personal income needed was very low. It was also incredibly easy to do personal work because you could see a classmate in the hallway who maybe had a cool outfit on or fit your idea and just say “Hey, when are you free today? Want to do some photos?”. It truly was a super fun time, and a safe time where experimenting was welcomed and buying a new lens or flash wouldn’t mean I would risk missing rent or a bill.
After I graduated, I was so blessed to get a job just 11 days after leaving college at National Community Church in DC doing video creation & photography. I was on an amazing team, had awesome people speaking into my life, and got to make something new every day. It was a dream job!
Unfortunately, I had a mountain of student loans when I graduated, which in addition to living and working in DC does not make paying the bills easy. So I kept taking weddings, corporate jobs, family sessions, even maternity sessions to keep my finances in good standing. Between working in a full-time ministry job and doing freelance, I was working sometimes 120 hours a week or more. It was brutal, but having a great job experience, and meeting amazing people in freelance made the 5 hours of sleep a night worth it most of the time.
But I longed for something more. I thrive best in situations where I’m not sure if I’ll be successful. I’ve learned now that folks say I love the “climb” or love the “grind”. Both of those sound like terrible dance moves but I digress. Before I left my full-time job, many times I felt selfish: “Why would you leave this awesome job?” I said to myself. When I actually did transition to full-time freelance, my mom even called me saying “Adam, are you sure you want to do this?”. It was a bit scary to hear that.
Honestly, though, does anyone who does anything worth doing, ever not look stupid before they do it? That’s the prime time for breakthrough I think. Best of all, nothing will push you to follow through like the fear of failure.
Fast forward a little over 18 months and things could not be better (I mean they always could but that’s the Strengsthfinder: Restorative and business owner in me)! I sincerely mean this but every single client I’ve booked for 2016 and 2017 are my ideal clients. This usually takes years for business folks to really dial in. For perspective, Starbucks started out as a sandwich shop! But again, I’m incredibly blessed. There’s still work to be done, bills to pay, emails to answer (in 24 hours of course!), and currently planning a WEDDING!!!
But nonetheless, life is good.
I’m not much of a cook, but when I have successfully made a meal, it’s almost tasted better because I put the effort in and I made it. It still takes work and isn’t as easily as dialing up UberEATS (my guilty pleasure) but it’s YOURS. That’s how Mason Photography feels now. I see things every day that I could do better, but I also see how far it’s come from my little dorm room in college and I am so excited for the future.
So if you’re a business owner, or you’re simply chasing your dream. Keep at it. Are you feeling overwhelmed at times? Wedding photographers just call that October. 😉 But seriously, you’ll get it. You can do it. One of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt says it this way: “It’s better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.”.
Keep it up. Keep being awesome.
If you ever have any questions, or want someone to dream with, email me! I’d love to hear your story and ideas (and maybe take your photo). My highest goal in life is to help you be YOU!