Why I Bite My Nails / The Ups and Downs of Small Business Ownership

I bite my nails. They are ragged stubs. My hands embarrass me. They are the visual representation of a “disgusting habit” born of my anxiety, and God help me, I can’t stop. Every time I lift my camera to my face, I’m on display as much as my subject. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m pretty sure my hangnails are worth a million.

I love my job. It gives me freedom and independence. I am my own #bossbitch. I find meaning in my art. I meet new friends every day.

But running my own business, especially as an artist, is like trying to carry a weeks worth of grocery bags from the car to the house in one trip. It’s a lot. There is always more that I could be doing. There’s always a bag that gets left behind or dropped.

Blogging, Instagram, Facebook, Emails, Networking, Editing, Sessions, Client retention, Search Engine Optimization, Styled Shoots, Workshops, Gear Research, Accounting…. The list is endless.

When I feel my mind begin to spiral, I try to ground myself in physical space. I bite my nails. I let the list fade and I focus on two truths.

1. I am enough.

Just because there is more that I COULD be doing doesn’t mean that I SHOULD. I have a family. FFS, I’m a full-time creative entrepreneur with an 8 month old running amok on the floor while I work from the sofa. I’m running a small business and a household. I am a human in need of rest and a social life.

So, I prioritize. I say NO more than I say YES. I limit the number of weddings I take on because if I can’t remember my client’s names, I have forgotten my purpose. I automate what I can (shout out to Honeybook, BlogStomp, Photo Mechanic, and Later). I put reminders in my phone and then forget about them until the alarm goes off. I do my best. I have found that it is enough.

Thank you Brene Brown. If you have a pulse and haven’t read Daring Greatly, I would encourage you to do so. If you don’t have time or mental space to read a book, I feel you, and assure you, you’re enough.

2. People are the priority.

In an industry where awards and features are credibility, it’s easy to get sucked into the lie that people are a commodity to be traded and sold. I can shoot a wedding for the couple, or I can shoot it for myself. I can choose to photograph the things that national blogs care about, or I can photograph the things that matter to the couple. Sometimes, those things align and HOWDY-DOODY is that exciting! However, if awards are the reason behind my work- my work is not art. It’s a stock.

A great sage (Macklemore) once said, “Make the Money. Don’t let the money make you.” Of course, this is my livelihood, and my family depends on my income, but balance is key. On one hand, wedding photography is (frankly) a luxury. On the other hand, I believe that it is also of priceless value. But this post isn’t about why I charge what I charge, it’s about how I do what I do. When I keep people first, I am fulfilled in a way that industry celebrity and wealth can’t satisfy. Photography becomes a gift that I can bestow. My job becomes meaningful and makes the world a lovelier place. My clients see their beauty and I have empowered them.

Why do I share all of this?

Maybe you need to hear that you are enough and that if you put people first, your work will have meaning. If I’m honest, I’m writing this up as a reminder to myself of who I hope to be and a celebration of who I am right now- stubby nails and all.

Photo by  Lost Co  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lost Co on Unsplash