How We Grew Our Business Debt Free and How You Can Too!

We are so excited to be getting a little more “personal” with you! First, thank you for following us and reading about what we have to say! We wanted to begin contributing more than just our finished products… Many of our followers are fellow photographers and aspiring photographers or just business dreamers. And although we are not experts in teaching anyone how to perfectly begin and grow their business, we know our business story and that’s what we want to share in hopes of inspiring someone with it.

This October will mark seven years of business for us. It’s pretty surreal… We honestly can’t believe it. There’s no word to describe how thankful we are and how humbled we are by the way our clients have come. And although we love our business and have fun running it, it has never been easy. We have made numerous mistakes along the way. We have wanted to quit many times. It was hard, and there are many days even now that brings all sorts of challenges. I mean, that’s life though, right? Who doesn't have problems? But, one thing that we know we did right is growing our business debt free. By the grace of God, we are so grateful that we had this teaching even before we got married. We strongly believe in the verse, Psalm 22:7, where it says, “the borrower is a slave to its lender”. We are to be free! From the beginning, as our business evolved, we never owed anyone anything. In order to stay debt free, we had to make a commitment to a lifestyle that allowed that.

You must make sacrifices.

From our humble one bedroom apartment beginnings to now, one thing that did NOT change is the way we manage our money. As our income increased, our manager stayed the same. That manager is our Lord, and He has always convicted us to live within our means, spend and save wisely and give freely. We just use what we have. At the beginning, when we were still learning about photography (still learning!) and about business, our prices were obviously low. Our first portrait session was $50 and our first wedding was $400! We had limited experience and equipment, but we did our best with what we had and gave our clients our worth for each season of our business. As most entrepreneurs can relate, a lot of the money you make especially in the first 3 years of your business has to go back into it. Sometimes, all of it… So, that’s what we did. That meant having another full time job for a season while the business was growing, cutting the lights in the home as much as we could, no shopping, no eating out, no cable, no latest gadget, no Starbucks, no movies or popcorn ;)… I think you get the point. Those little things add up to a LOT! If you don’t think that small things have significance in your finances, then yeah, you really “will never get there.” So, sit down and really add up the things you don’t need in life or things that don’t benefit you and you’ll be surprised at “what you can afford.”

You HAVE to make the sacrifice. Steady growth is the strongest type of growth…. As the saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.” And, it’s true! Each time we needed a new lens for example, we knew the price, saved up for it and then paid for it in cash. As this cycle happened with each piece of equipment, we were gaining more and more experience at weddings, portraits sessions, and our customer service to our clients. As we got better, our prices got higher. (We know that this kind of growth does not apply to all businesses out there. Depending on the type, you do need an investor or a loan to get you started for manufacturing or whatnot, but for our kind of business, it was feasible and it worked.)

Don't compare yourself to others.

It’s hard living in this materialistic society…. We have to learn to not compare ourselves with others and to not “keep up with the Joneses”. Whoever your “Joneses” may be, get them off of your mind! You’re not here to be better than someone else. Your purpose is to live a significant and successful life as you! You have to do what’s right for your family and stay true to your convictions and beliefs. Materialism will never give you the joy or the happiness that many think it will bring. Especially in our world of social media where it screams at you about how much everyone has and how perfect their family is 24/7, we have to stay focused more now than ever before and know who we are! We have to remember that social media for the most part is everyone’s highlight reel. Yes, that moment was true and real, but it’s not the “whole story.” Don’t believe everything as it is posted on social media. We, ourselves, only post our best moments in life…. I call it my “brag post of the day”. Things are not the way it seems and we have to realize that. Are you weak to it? Then, just don’t go there. We had to many times only post for our business and leave to discipline ourselves. It’s a wonderful tool to connect and market, but it can become very addictive and honestly, just a waste of time, so find your balance. Everyone’s situation and circumstances are different. You may begin your photography business as a single person. Some may begin after getting married or like us, we began after our first child was born two years into marriage. These seasons are incomparable and bring very different joys and challenges. We all do not have the same starting point, so be realistic in what you can do and set achievable goals. Learn to write your own story…

Work hard!

We live in an instant gratification world, but we do not believe in that. Good things come to those who wait, and we know that God is faithful as long as we stay faithful to Him and do what is responsible and right. If you’re not ready to have late nights, frustrating days, discouraging days, “so tired you want to throw up days”, ideas that did not work days, then running a business is not for you. In order to be innovative and be successful, you simply have to work hard and CAN NOT GIVE UP! We can write a book on all the mistakes we’ve made. We laugh at many of them now, but hey, that’s how we got here and that’s what makes us who we are. Like we tell our children, just get up, and start again. The potential is in you… YOU just have to believe it and work at it!

Get advice!

It’s a wise thing to ask for help and receive advice from those who you trust. Even if you have to pay for it! There’s no better investment than wisdom. Just think about who you would ask. For example, if you know someone is not managing their money well, then um… don’t go to that person for money advice! Go to someone who you know has strong convictions about how to be great stewards of their money and know the way to positively and honestly influence you! Go to someone you’re inspired by.

Learn to say, NO!

Yes, you can do it! It’s very hard for many people… we had to learn to say that word as well! There are still times when we regret to some of our yes’s. I’m not saying to only think about yourself… not at all, but you do have to learn how to prioritize and have boundaries for your finances. For example, now that we have three children, parties have become a part time job. J Can anyone else relate to that? It’s a great thing, of course! I love celebrating our friends and hosting parties myself! But! You just can’t go to all of them. It can add up when you, your spouse and your kids each have an average of say 10 friends. That’s 50 parties per year for a family of 5! If your budget is $25-$50 per gift for someone, that’s $1250-$2500 a year, $104.17- $208.33 a month! I’ve done the math for you, so you can see how that can fit your family’s budget. In closing, we believe that without sacrificing little things, you can’t ever achieve big things like your dreams. Take little steps at a time, and I promise you, you’ll get there! Dream and dream big, but embrace the journey.   That journey is the miracle…Thanks for reading!