One of my joys – and one of my struggles – is learning into being a small business owner. Having worked in Corporate America for over 20 years, I’m now trying something totally out of my comfort zone – being my own boss. It’s exciting and scary.
It’s a joy because I’m pursuing things that I enjoy and am pretty good at – photography and web design. Part of that joy and excitement comes from being my own boss. I’m not at the whim and mercy of a corporation. I don’t have to put in work for primarily someone else’s gain.
It’s a struggle and sometimes scary because one has to wear about 26 hats, as they say. I’m my own boss, but at least for now, I’m also the only employee! I used to say that Corporate America encourages mediocrity and efficiency. There’s also so much redundancy, overlap and “shared responsibility” – which is a nice way of saying a lack of accountability and ownership. Now, the buck stops here!
As part of my startup growth, I’ve joined the Professional Photographers of America. Among one of the many benefits has been their Business Challenge – a 12-month online cohort where we study the business and operational side of being a professional photographer. So, we’ve learned and worked on our business model – everything from product strategy, to pricing, sales, marketing, managerial accounting, social media, etc. We have regular webinars and online discussions with mentors in the field – studio owners and photographers who graciously share their knowledge and experience. The Q&A is where I learn a lot – but the real life experience and various perspectives has been invaluable.
One of our exercises was around “Finding our Core and Being Authentic.” We did a powerful exercise with Jonathan Main, a business coach and entrepreneur who has helped a lot of people and businesses reach their goals. Our focus was on better understanding our core belief systems – “finding clarity and an understanding of your core as you develop your authentic self.”
Personally, I got a lot our of the exercise because it mirrored what I’m working through for myself, including this blog series on “This I Believe.” I’ve come to realize that as I solidify my brand as a photographer, I want to make sure it’s consistent with who I am as a person –my personal brand. In fact, for me to be as authentic as I can be, there is really just one brand – Todd Fuqua. How I act, react, and interact in the world should be the same, whether its for work, family, friends or community. This is especially true because I’ve often felt like I had to “become something else” in order to be successful in Corporate America. So, I’ve vowed never to do that again – never to have one “work persona” and “home persona.” I am who I am, I believe what I believe – and to be the best, most authentic me, I must shine out in all aspects of my life. I won’t go back into the closet again…on any level!
In this exercise, we did some pre-work, including writing down those beliefs we hold about life. So, I thought I’d create a placeholder post, where I capture these short expressions of belief. It’s like my online vision board! As I grow and learn, I can keep this updated or add other insights. So with that introduction, here’s where I’ve started:
Traits I Admire in Myself and Others:
- Empathetic listener – in doing so, creates connections, community and healing
- Lives authentically – has found their own voice & stays true to that in life, and encourages others to do the same
- Fights for the oppressed – social justice minded, particularly for those upon whom society looks down
- Trustworthy – they do what they say, and are willing to own up to their mistakes or shortcomings
- Playful – knows the value of downtime, play, creativity, family & friends and taking time for self
- Generous – shares time, talents and things with others as gifts, to be given freely without obligation
My beliefs about life
- There are always three sides to every story
- There is power in a question
- People are inherently good
- Presume goodwill
- Seek to understand
- Know when to observe without judgement
- Each of us is doing the best we can
- Check assumptions and hidden biases
- That which bothers me in others is usually foremost my own personality trait
- Never do for others what they can do themselves
- I can’t fix, manage or control others
- The serenity prayer works
- It’s better to have a good memory than a bad picture – stay in the moment
- I can choose to be right, or I can choose to be happy.
- People change
- Community is messy
- It ain’t over until it’s over
- Mother Nature is a bitch
- We have some control over our lives, We can learn from failure, We matter as human beings, We all have real strengths to rely on and share (from Option B)
- Don’t yuck on somebody’s yum
- Strive for curiosity, courage, compassion and connection