It’s definitely ridiculous, but it’s my favorite question. What’s your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it? I ask it all the time. Which makes me either consistent or unoriginal. I prefer the former, thankyouverymuch. But here’s the crazy thing… I never asked myself that question. Part of why I ask this question is because I learn more from what you did wrong, than what you’re doing right. Don’t ask me why, that’s just how I roll.
So, if you’re anything like me, I thought I’d put together a Top Five List of Things I’ve Done Wrong in My Business in case you can learn from my mistakes and not repeat them…
5. I didn’t ask questions
When I first started, I was afraid to let peers know I didn’t know what I was doing. When I’d go to workshops and the instructor would say something I didn’t understand, I just sat there and nodded my head. If I was second shooting and the lead photographer asked for something I didn’t know how to do, I tried to make it work in spite of my unknowingness. This is tragic. I could’ve learned so much more, grown faster, and softened my learning curve had I just had the cajones to admit I didn’t know. If I could do everything again, I’d ask every question I could…even if it made me feel stupid.
4. I waited too long to get a website
I know this goes without saying –probably because I say it all the time– but I can’t stress it enough. When I got a website, it legitimized my business and allowed me to further define my web presence. Clients took me seriously, coordinators/planners sent clients my way in light of a complete and focused online portfolio, and it became easier to warrant a new level of professionalism, which, in turn, allowed me to garnish a new type of client.
3. I let others dictate how I felt about my work
Needless to say, this happens a lot in the industry. Sometimes business owners will talk so certainly about WHAT they have, WHERE they’re going, WHO they’re with, HOW many weddings they booked…and so forth. And though it might be unintentional, they made me feel less worthy to pursue my dream of becoming a photographer, and my work. They had that camera, so clearly they take better photos than me. They’re off to that industry mixer with people who air kiss, so clearly they’re cooler than I am and will get jobs as a byproduct of it. They just booked their 764th wedding for the year…and updated their Facebook status to let the world know.
I walked around in a constant state of I Suckiness, and it wasn’t until I tuned out the noise that I was able to define who I was…just plain old Jasmine Star. Once this happened, I was able to embrace my current situation: While I may not have the best camera, or party with the cool kids, or book weddings like a boss…I’m moving forward. And moving is always better than sitting still.
2. I didn’t make long-term equipment purchases
I’ll never forget it. JD and I stood at the sales counter and we debated the pros and cons of each flash. I wanted to buy the Canon 430EX, but JD insisted I buy the 550EX. Through gritted teeth I reminded him we didn’t have money for it, but he understood the value of spending a little more for a distinct performance difference. I didn’t listen to him and bought the 430. A few months later, I went back and bought the 550EX because the 430EX just wasn’t cutting it for me.
Moral of the story: You get what you pay for. And JD is always right.
1. I didn’t take more risks
When I think back to when I first started, I can’t help but feel sorry for that girl. The girl who didn’t trust herself enough to take bigger risks. Who didn’t dream big enough. Who limited herself by her own experience and other people’s estimations of what was possible.
If I could go back and tell the Jasmine Star of 2007 something, I’d whisper in her ear: Believe in what you know you can do. Trust your gut. Ignore the naysayers. Dream big, but hope for more. However, knowing myself back then, I would ignore the whisper…so then I’d grab me by the shoulders, give me a good shake, then holler straight in my face, SPRINT TOWARD WHAT YOU WANT AND DON’T EVER LOOK BACK. Ever.
PS: Don’t forget to check out Jasmine’s site if you haven’t already!