What I've learned in my first year of business

As I shared earlier this week, October 1 was the one year anniversary of my photography business. My little baby is growing up! In addition to celebrating my business' birthday with a mini session giveaway (which you can enter now through October 18th!) I thought I'd share a bit of what I've learned in my first year as a small business owner. (Beware, this is a wordier post than usual!)

  • Starting a business takes a LOT of work, especially prep work before you even start the actual business. You have to learn about the national and local laws regarding the type of business, taxes, and other permits and licenses you have to have. Fortunately, the internet is a great resource and there are many website dedicated to photographers.
  • A photography business is 20% photography, 80% other stuff. The actual amount of time that I spend taking photos is very small compared to the other tasks that I do. Most of that "other" time is taken up by photo editing, with the rest being spent bookkeeping, emailing, blogging, managing social media/marketing, doing taxes, blogging, and planning for shoots. If you're thinking about going into business, photography or other, you have to be okay with doing all the other things that come along with it, not just the parts you love. 
  • Network (in-person). Sure, everyone is on facebook and instagram and twitter, but only having an online presence won't get you the exposure that going out and meeting people will. Finding local groups and events to be involved in will allow people to actually meet you and learn about what you do, and you'll create real relationships with them. I have a few upcoming blog posts that will expound on this a bit more.
  • There's always more to learn, even if you think you've learned it all.
  • Set boundaries or else your business will take over your life. Seriously. I have a job in addition to having my business and I also want to have a social life and time to relax. Before I gave myself limits, I was spending too much of my time outside of work on my business and was actually starting to get burnt out. Now, I set limits and have a few tricks to keep things at a more manageable level, like taking social media-less weekends, being an email ninja, and setting time limits for getting things done (like writing blog posts or editing a set of photos).
  • Create systems. Ever since I've streamlined my workflows, it makes things so much faster and easier to keep up with. I have a workflow for things like client inquiries, photo editing, and blogging, and it's cut down a lot on the time I have to spend on each of them. It took me awhile and several revisions to get to this point, but it's definitely been a good decision.
  • Don't put things off for tomorrow when you can do it today.

This first year has been lots of learning and trying, and I'm excited to see what year two will hold. What is something you've learned lately, business-related or not?