Recommit To Your Goals
Entrepreneurs hunt. They don't manage. They explore rather than analyze. They build companies with vision, creativity, and tenacity. Not with policies and procedures. And I wanted to insert this idea here early on in the conversation because I think it is tempting that as we dive further and further into these topics that we can almost get down on ourselves for the very reasons that we are so good at being entrepreneurs. And so as we share these stories, as we look at where the roadblocks are, where the assumptions were made, where the obstacles were not overcome, I want you to know you're in, like, really good territory with this stuff. You're a hunter. You're an explorer. You have vision, creativity, and tenacity. And just because some of these other things don't come naturally to you or just because you haven't realized the full extent of your journey yet and where you need to go doesn't mean you've done something wrong. It doesn't mean you're the wrong person for this job. It just ...
means you've got a new skillset to learn here. You've got some new thinking to energize yourself with and to engage with. So I just wanted to throw that out there. So when you first started your business, you were on the hunt. I was on the hunt for that 200 dollars a month. I was on the hurt for the opportunity, the space, the time to stay home with my new tiny baby. I was on the hunt for meaningful work for myself. What were you on the hunt for? What were you after when your first started your business or exploring independent work? Beryl, I'm gonna put you on the spot first. (laughs) Tell us who you are, what you do, and what you were after when you first got started with independent work.
Okay, so I'm Beryl Young. I am a photography teacher and mentor for moms. And that is not how I started my business at all. My business actually started as a passion project. Like you, I started a blog. We actually lost our first baby when I was 20 weeks pregnant and I had picked up a camera to learn all about photography before we had our first child and when we lost our baby I hadn't picked up the camera in a while and I was like, I need something to find who I am. So it was this kind of hunt to find my purpose. And so I started a blog because I needed to share these deep thoughts and emotions and grief that I was going through. And amazingly, somebody was like, oh wait, you take okay pictures. Will you take pictures for me? And that was that first, like, somebody wants to pay me to do this? And I was a teacher for ten years in the public school system and I was like, do I wanna be doing this my whole life? Or is there something else that I can be doing? And so the journey kind of continued on from there. It expanded, it grew. I realized I was not meant to be a photographer, I was meant to be a photography educator. And that's sort of where I started.
Yeah, we're gonna come back to how things have grown and changed here in a minute. But what were some of your initial goals? Like maybe after that first e-mail or comment when someone said hey, would you take pictures for me? When you started thinking through like what could this look like, what kind of goals did you set for yourself?
Like you, I was like oh, can I make a hundred dollars in a month? I was like oh, money, okay. I'll take a little bit of extra spending money. The income of a teacher is not great. Then as the wheels started turning i was like, oh, can I actually... Can I make a couple thousand dollars a month? Then as I started to get more serious about my business it was can I actually replace my income and quit my job? So I was on the five year plan. It slowly turned into a three year plan. Quit my teaching job three years after I started the basis of my company. Now I'm not sure where I'm going.
We're gonna talk about that. (laughs) so who else? How did you get started doing what you're doing? What were those initial goals that you set for yourself? Yes.
I'm Megan from meganflatt.com and now I do business consulting for mostly mom entrepreneurs because that's kind of exactly where I started. And when you're talking about what was I looking for... I'd actually been an entrepreneur my whole life. Kind of never had that corporate job. Never had that nine to five job. Yeah, I always kind of... I taught dance, I taught swim lessons. I'd kind of always done these entrepreneurial things. I was a personal trainer and just have always done all these things. Then when I had my first child I was working as a personal trainer. I got a job at a gym because I just thought it would be easier. And I just found that it wasn't. That I was missing the flexibility and I was missing being in charge of myself and what I did. And so I really wanted to... I think I've always kind of been motivated by this lifestyle that I wanted. My mom was a stay at home mom and I saw so much value in what she was able to provide for us but I feel like she lost herself a little bit in that process. And so I always knew. Plus living in the bay area I always knew that I was going to need to work. But I wanted to work too. I wanted to have that piece that was for myself and that I got to use my brain and my education and my background but I wanted to be able to be actively present in the day to day lives of my kids and I was finding conflict in that and I knew that I had to go back to entrepreneurship to have that. To be able to merge those two things together. So that was really my motivation.
Yeah, I love that. The quest for a particular lifestyle, the flexibility. I think that's probably a goal that a lot of us can identify with as well. I'd like to go back even a little bit further than that though and just find out real quick, how did you get started or like what was it about that kind of independent work or that sort of now what we might call gig work that appealed to you without having ever had that kind of steady corporate job?
Well I think I had always been really driven to work and to kind of work for myself. And I think I sought out opportunities really young. I grew up in a really small town so the beauty of growing up in a small town is there actually are a lot of opportunities. 'cause there's not a lot of competition. I was a dancer and I was able to start teaching these dance classes one day a week after school as a teenager. So I was able to make some extra spending money. All through college, my parents were very generous and paying for my tuition but I worked to pay for everything else and so I needed that flexibility so that I could go to school, so that I could study and do my classes. So I needed to create. I needed to look a certain way for me. Plus I think I also just kind of want to do whatever I want to do. I don't want anyone else to tell me what to do. (laughter)
Okay, so lifestyle, flexibility, control... (laughter)
I feel like that's gonna come up later. (laughter)
That will definitely come up later. Maybe we do need to get the tissues up in here. And I'm also hearing, going back to the hunting piece, you're an opportunity hunter. And I think that when it comes to hiring and I'm sure that this will come up as the conversation moves on as well is that when it comes to hiring, it can feel like when we bring other people in, when we make that commitment to somebody else whether it's a real strong commitment or even just a loose... We're relationship people, right? Any time we enter into a relationship it becomes some kind of commitment that it can feel like you have to set that opportunity aside and it becomes a roadblock to thinking bigger. Because what happens if you spot another opportunity and you have to set this aside? And so I think we'll probably end up wrestling with that a little bit but I wanted to kind of point that out. I love that we started with you two. Because the stories are very similar but the motivation is very different and I think the challenges that come with that when we're talking about setting the foundation for your business in terms of hiring and creating something bigger the challenges are different. And so again, online, be thinking whose story is resonating with you? What are the challenges, the obstacles, the goals that these guys started with that resonated for you so that you can kind of track these stories and the conversation as we go. Who else wants to share? Yeah, Melissa.
I'm Melissa Dinwiddie. And now...
I love where this has started already.
Now I run a consultancy that helps organizations future proof their people and their plans through the strategic use of play. Yes. But when I first got started in business it was as an artist and I was really hunting for my own creativity. And I was just getting started coming back to art after years of believing that I was a non-creative person. And I was just playing with, oh my gosh, I can make things with my hands. And people really liked what I was making. And oh, can I pay you to make stuff for me? Sure, cool. So I started making art for people and that was really neat. And I was married and my husband made enough money that I didn't have to go flip burgers or something so I really liked the idea of... I needed an identity. So I was on the hunt for an identity separate from my husband and separate from my parents. So I was on the hunt for identity and a sense of purpose and a sense of creativity and so I built this little freelance business as a calligrapher and an artist. I just made enough money to pay for my supplies and my classes and my conferences and stuff and then I got divorced and all the sudden I really had to fish or cut bait. And it was either I find a job or I figured out how to make this-
When you're talking about the jobs, they're not a bad thing, okay? (laughter)
Well it was either find a job, which I didn't think I could get. I'm sure I could've gotten a job now, looking back, that probably would've paid the bills but looking in the classifieds or whatever I just couldn't figure out how to get a job that would pay the bills. And so I thought alright, I'm gonna figure out how to make this work. And at the time I thought well I just wanna make enough to get by. That was my goal at the time. And so guess what? I made just enough to get by. (laughter)
Absolutely, absolutely. But I love what you said too about hunting and identity. And I heard in that too, hunting meaningful work. Yes, you wanted to exercise your creativity and find out who you are. But it's this desire to have work that means something to you that creates a sense of purpose. I know you used the word purpose as you were describing. I think that's another place where a lot of us start. Which is awesome. And I'm so glad that's where we start with our businesses. And at the same time, it's kind of a myopic vision of what we can create because it's about us, right? And when it's about us finding meaningful work and it's about us getting by and it's about us adding a couple hundred dollars or it's about us having flexibility in a certain lifestyle it can be really hard to see how that can include others as well. And we'll certainly get to that. But how about one more kind of origin story? Yeah, Lashonda.
My name's Lashonda Green. I do marketing and business development. I just always wanted to make my own rules. So even as a child. I say my first business started at six. Because I would get our groceries and where we lived my room looked like a drive through window so all the neighborhood kids would drive by on their bike and I would basically sell them our groceries for like pennies at a time. (laughter)
I'm sure your mother was thrilled.
My landlord did not like it at the time. But I just always wanted my own rules. I always would joke around like, I am gonna have a tiny home. Because my mom very much oh my god, as long as you live under our roof you'll follow our rules. I'm like cool, no big deal. I can make this money and then I'm gonna go to Home Depot and then I'm gonna buy me like one of those little mobile homes. I literally tried to get my allowance and buy one of those sheds. And then they're like where do you think you're gonna put it? But I always wanted like the creativity to go into and do other things. Like, I always wanted to be not better, but greater. So coming up with ideas allowed me to do that. Whether it was selling Girl Scout cookies... I'm not gonna be in front of a store, I'm gonna be in front of a fast food restaurant and I'm gonna be at the drive through standing there when people are going to get it. So just being able to use my creativity so I could have more options.
Yeah, I love it. Great story, thank you for sharing that. (laughter) so we've started to unpack some similar themes but also some different themes. There's a lot of different reasons we start businesses and a lot of different goals that can come from the different reasons we start businesses. But as I said with my story and I'm sure with your stories as well, our goals change. So the next place I wanna take us is really examining how our goals have changed over time. I started out wanting to make a couple hundred dollars a month. Then I started, much like Beryl, wanting to make more than my old full time salary. Which was not a lot, you can ask Shannon. (laughs) then I wanted to be able to retire my husband and then I wanted to hit six figures which again was just more money in a single year than I ever could have imagined previously to that. But I saw people doing it, right? I saw people in our sphere creating things that allowed them to earn, to generate that amount of revenue. And so the more I got into it, the more and more I wanted something different. Over the last few years, it became very clear to me that what i really wanted was to build a company. But my whole business had been shaped around me. It was Tara Gentile. It was this face. (laughs) Right? It was this interaction. And I struggled because even though I knew that I wanted... I wanted a company, I wanted a team. I wanted to generate a million dollars in revenue at least per year. The company I had built... Because it was still a company... the business I had built wasn't capable of generating that because it was based on the goals from year one and year two and year three. And so as my goals changed the thing that was trying to reach those goals had not changed. Sure, it was making more money. Sure, there were people who were helping out. Sure I was doing different things than I had previously done. But the idea of what was behind it hadn't changed. It hadn't evolved along with those goals. So how have your goals changed over time? Shelley?
Well, I moved out of the country and I couldn't work. And so I picked my camera back up and had some really good traction and then eventually moved back to the States and started a photography business. But I was very ingrained in the corporate culture and went back. And after starting a photography business I actually went back and took a business of photography class, not like the technical training, and people were like wait, you understand numbers? I need your help. And I like for people to succeed and I would just help people. And then I met the beautiful lady sitting in front of us and apprenticed under you and then I realized this is something that's actually kind of rare and I should harness that and really should give back to these creatives who don't understand numbers and analytical but I could break it down. That's when my road shifted a little bit. And I went from being like photographer to more like an educator, coach, support system... And kind of diverged into two businesses. And that's when I was like how am I gonna make the photography work and do the business stuff? Because I'm only one person. I only have two hands. I wish I was an octopus. It'd be easier, but... (laughter) But then the goals changed the the goals changed again since whenever we met back in 2013 or so. So over the last like four or five years I've had another pivot in my photography business instead of focusing on consumer, families and kids and events, I do commercial work now. And so that's been a big pivot and a big learning curve and a big goal change.
Yeah, so what are some of the specific goals that you have now for both businesses?
Well with Business Juice, I launched my new website like this week. I posted it in CoCommercial. Anyway, so with Business Juice it's really I've done a lot of reflecting and I used to do very customized coaching and people would come to me and we'd be working together for six months. And I realized it was exhausting for me. They got a lot out of it. People loved it. But I was like, I can't do this. So I've shifted what I do to be more impactful in smaller pieces where I literally can jump on the phone and just be in it with them instead of in their business. And if they really want me in their business, then they pay me a lot more money. And so that was a big shift. And I've shifted my focus to be more transactional than long term for Business Juice. And there's also a component where now I've brought on somebody to help me with various research things or stuff where like I don't need to be using my time, I can have her do it. And her and I have an excellent relationship and she can execute all that stuff. So that's been really wonderful. To be like, oh... Like you were talking about your team and stuff. So that's been great to say I can shift this stuff on her. Because for the commercial stuff, it really is about me. It is about building that relationship with the ad agencies and the photo directors. They wanna know me. They don't wanna know my assistant. They wanna know me, they wanna trust me. That's who they're gonna hire. And I need to spend my time there.
Yeah, I love it.
My specific 2018 goals are... Well, right now I'm looking to book five pro-bono gigs between now and Christmas. Which is a 2017 goal, but... (laughter) I haven't even started with 2018 yet because I'm still looking at 2017.
Awesome. Beryl, how have your goals changed?
Gosh, I've been on this like up and down journey for the last year. My signature photography class is Momtography. I've been teaching it since the beginning locally in my Washington DC community and then it turned into an online course. And then you talked about burn out earlier and I had reached the point after about four years of teaching the class where I was like burnt out. And so I went on this journey of like well, maybe instead of photography it's like a broader base of creativity. And so I've created a lot of creative coaching options which have been amazing but I feel like I've come full circle because part of the journey has also been seeing that it was a very self-centered business in the beginning. It was very identity seeking for me. It was my class and my baby. And this is what I teach. And I have to do it, and I'm the teacher... And now I've started to recognize. I've made my first major hire in the last year. She's sitting right here. Yay, Jen. But it's allowed me to let go of some of that control of like it has to be me, that self-centeredness, and going oh, somebody else and their voice and their passion for my brand can actually elevate the whole thing. So I've come full circle back to my photography class and how can I explore that class that's been working for so long and expand it into a movement that's not about me anymore and that's really where I'm at right now. Sitting with wow, can this actually be something bigger than I ever envisioned when I started?
So it almost sounds like and probably Melissa, for you as well and even Shelley and probably for many of you... You don't actually know what the goals are for right now. The possibilities have expanded so much. The more you get into this business, the more you realize what is possible, the more questions you have about what your goals are. There's a lot of nodding here, for those of you online. And that's because our goals start to outpace our operational vision. And what I mean by operational vision is simply not just what your vision is for your company or what your vision is for your community or your audience or your customers but actually your vision for how things work in your business. Because so much of how things have worked in the past is because we worked, right? I got stuff done, I had ideas. I came up with things. I pieced this together and that together and the other thing and even when other people were doing stuff for me it still came down to me, right? Yes, more nodding. Loving it. And what happens is that our goals start to move faster, evolve faster, than that operational vision moves. And so we start bumping up against the ceilings. And I speak from personal experience here, guys. This is what I was saying about you know, I realize that what I wanted was to build a company but I didn't actually know what that company looked like because the business had ever only looked like this before. Even when other people were helping. Even when there was a brand behind it. It was still me. And so in order to actually even think about or create the capacity for reaching goals that I've been trying to reach for years, I needed to rethink the way my business worked on a foundational level. I needed to come up with a new vision for how it was going to work, what it was going to look like. And I had to be okay with that. Because if I wasn't I was gonna keep repeating the same problems. Bumping up against the ceiling or repeating the same problems, it's the same negative patterns. It's about the same thing. We get stuck in these ruts where we don't change what we're doing, we just expect a different outcome. And that's maybe a different way to say this is that we keep setting the goal outcomes to be different, the targets to be different. We keep doing the same thing in the same way. And so kinda going back to my teaser at the beginning, this to me is the number one reason you're afraid of hiring. It's the number one reason that keeps you from hiring. It's because your instinct is to keep doing the same things in the same way regardless of the fact that your goals have changed so dramatically. Are any of you working toward the same goal that you had when you started your business? No. And I know you're not out there as well. We're working toward very different things now. We have a different idea of what's possible. And yet who we are and the business that we are building hasn't changed much. It hasn't changed much. And if we're going to really open ourselves up to those new possibilities and give ourselves actually the chance to hit these bigger goals, we need to do things differently. And it needs to look differently.