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Working out & Business

I kind of think it’s hilarious that I’m even writing this post. Me, of all people! I was basically allergic to exercise for my entire life up until a couple years ago. I’m really not athletic at all, and I never lifted so much as a 3 pound dumbbell before a couple years ago. I DIDN’T HAVE SNEAKERS AS AN ADULT TIL I WAS 25, GUYS.

I spent most of my life just thinking “Oh, working out just isn’t really my thing”. What I’ve discovered though, is that I’ve always had what I needed to be that athletic, energetic person inside of me and, that I’ve been that same energy (or whatever you want to call it) to run my business for nearly five years now! I learned that the things that make a great business owner and an athlete are one in the same.

Here’s a few things that I’ve learned about business through getting (somewhat) in shape this year:

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(See all the photos from the Crossfit inspired couple’s session I photographed for Southern Weddings here!)

Success/transformations don’t happen overnight. 
Maybe it’s my impatient nature, but I have been SO frustrated before after working out for a week or so straight without seeing any results. I think that also happens so often with our businesses, too! We try out a new marketing idea, or change up our website, and then automatically expect the floodgates to success to start flying open. But the truth is, it takes time to build a business (and it takes time to build muscles!). Consistency is key here. One other really important lesson I learned is that success (and fitness) totally do not have linear timelines the way you’d think they should and the way the Biggest Loser has lead us to believe. Some days you’re stronger than others. Some days your business has a freaking awesome day and you book lots of clients. And then there are valley booking seasons that slow us down.

You have to do the work
It’s the same as trying to half ass a workout and expect results… (been there, done that) you can’t expect to reap the benefits of work you haven’t put into your business. If you’re struggling to see progress in your workouts, you step up the intensity. You change things up and try something different. The same should be true of your business. If the approach you’re trying isn’t working, you’ve got to do something else!

Not everyone is cut out for it.
I hope this doesn’t make people mad, but I actually really don’t believe that everyone is capable of running a successful business. Not everyone is meant to be a business owner. And you know what, that’s totally fine! I’m not meant to be a singer, despite how much I try to convince myself I sound just like Adele when I’m singing along in the car.  When it comes to photography, specifically wedding photography, there are a lot of really talented people out there who just cannot handle running a business! There’s a fine line between running a business and having a hobby when it comes to photography and in my opinion, it all comes down to the financial aspect. If you’re running a successful business, you’re making money. That’s the bottom line.

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80 percent of what I do is business and maybe the other 20 percent is shooting (though this time of year, it’s actually more like 90/10!). If I can’t run a business, I can’t bring in clients to photograph, no matter how passionate I am about the actual act of photography. Does that make sense?? There are so many people who “have an eye” or are “good with a camera” that are terrible at business. The same way that not everyone is going to become a bodybuilder (I definitely am not) or to run a marathon, not everyone is cut out for a business. I don’t think you should kill yourself trying to do something that doesn’t make sense for you or feel bad about yourself either! Find what works for you instead!

Never say never.
One thing I have always tried to practice with my business is keeping an open mind. I realize that things are always changing, (especially in the wedding industry!) and that in order to grow, you have to try new things and be adaptable. I try not to say “I’ll never,” to things with the business, like “I’ll never advertise online,” or “I’ll never host a workshop” because you never really know where life will take you and it’s important to keep doors open for yourself. I think that also applies really well to fitness in general! I started my “fitness journey” by running and thought I’d never lift weights because, well, no real reason actually. I started lifting weights with John and now I do that more than I run! I also once said I would never do Zumba…and I did a hip hop dance class and actually really liked it, so sometimes if you say “I’ll never”, you’re really cutting yourself out of something that could be great for you and/or your business!

Comparison is a beyotch.
I think that the evil comparison genie (or whatever you want to call it) sneaks into almost every aspect of our lives, but as business owners and gym-goers, we’re especially susceptible to it. It’s easy to look at someone else and think to yourself “Why can’t I squat as much as her?” or “How does she book so many weddings?”. The truth is, you can’t compare yourself to other people because you’re not them. It’s as simple as that! Instead of worrying about what other people can do, I try instead to focus on competing with myself. Rather than try to beat someone else’s 5 mile time, I try to do better than what I did the last time. I work hard to keep the same attitude about my business, too! Instead of gauging my success on whether or not I booked the same amount of weddings as XYZ photog, I focus on booking the number I created for myself based on our financial goals for the year. Focusing on yourself and staying in your own lane is the key to being happier and feeling more successful at what you do, rather than getting discouraged and selling yourself short.

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You have to be a self starter
I used to go to this spin class every week where the teacher would always say “You’ve already gotten through the hardest part of this workout, which was getting to the gym in the first place!”. There is so much truth to that! You have to show up in order to make progress in business or in exercise (or really, in anything you do, even sleeping, or hot dog eating contests can’t happen if you’re not there! HA) and that’s half the battle. I think one of the most important traits to have as a business owner is being a self starter. That means being able to motivate yourself to get through all of your work without the fear of your boss (since, you’re the boss!). That also means being able to actually get yourself to the gym! It’s easy to talk yourself out of going to the gym….there’s always so many other things you could be doing, or so many reasons why you could skip a workout, and lots of times those same reasons keep us from doing our work, too! No one’s going to MAKE you go to the gym, and no one’s going to MAKE you run your business. You have to want it, and you have to take the steps to get there.

Whew! This post ended up being a lot longer than I initially meant it to, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are so many parallels to getting fit and being your own boss. With both things it all really boils down to taking the initiative. If you’ve got initiative, I think you’re already halfway there with both things.

If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for bearing with me! I’d love to hear about any ways you guys think that working out and working for yourself are similar, so holler at me in the comments!

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