I met Jen last year at Eventology 2010. This year, I got to know her better at the same conference. Kelly and I got to see her in action when she took new headshots of us. I usually feel awkward in photos. I can feel my stiffness. And, for better or worse – despite my confident nature – I feel my extra weight, my all-over-the-place hair, my midget hands, my closed-mouth smile. But, I have to say… being “shot” by Jen was REALLY fun. She’s very natural and it feels like you’re getting your picture taken by a friend. And, I forgot about all those things that normally make me feel so uncomfortable. I forgot she even had a camera in her hand. And, I loved the results! Thanks Jen!
Owner, Jen Lynne Photography
Grand Rapids, MI
Why did you start your business?
When I first realized I wanted to be a photographer I was doing a trek in Thailand. I never thought of being a photographer as being a business owner at that point. My goal then was to work for National Geographic! So as soon as I got home from my trip I went back to school and took as many photography and art and photojournalism classes as I could. A friend, who was taking the same classes, asked if I wanted to photograph a wedding with her. It was at that point I knew wedding photography was for me. So I put up fliers in some local coffee shops and started my first business from there!
What book do you recommend to new business owners?
The first book I ever read for business was (and don’t laugh) “Who Moved My Cheese?“. Ever since reading that book I can look back at it and remember that change is going to happen and you just need to learn to move with it. In my industry, change happens a lot and I do go back and re-read this book from time to time to get a little reminder that cheese moves and its ok 🙂
Do you have any cool goal-setting tips to share with us?
I have probably tried everything under the sun for goal setting. The one thing that has worked the best for me is having an inspiration board. A visual board in my office where I can hang ideas, images, colors and personal goals. Its serves as a constant reminder that I need to keep pushing myself to get to where I want to be. And even when I do get there, I have new goals that I want to achieve. I just keep adding to it 🙂
What do you find to be the biggest challenge as a business owner?
I would have to say the biggest challenge has been balance. When I first started my business I was working a full time job, so finding balance back then was easy. But now that photography is what I do full time I found that I work even harder than I ever did before. I was a newlywed when I went full time with photography and finding the time to give to my husband and all of our friends while running a (what seems like) more than full time job was really hard. I learned very quickly to say no and to take time for myself and my loved ones. I am still learning, but that was a tough one to overcome!
If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?
I think the first thing I should have done was come up with a business plan. I never did that. I just dove head first into photography and it wasn’t until recently that I realized this. The other thing I would have done was get an LLC and proper insurance. I have a learned a lot of very valuable lessons!
The other thing I would suggest to anyone who wants to start their own business is to take a business course! Even if its just at a local community college, it is SO worth the investment you make!
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