When I got out of high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I had several hobbies and I knew that I was more of a creative than a bookworm, but had no clear vision for what my next steps could be.
Sound familiar? I know I’m not alone. A lot of us faced this same issue. It’s never really been an easy thing for me to talk about because I’m a person who naturally hinges her self-worth on what she can accomplish. Did I have a good day? Only if I got a lot crossed off my to-do list. Was this a good year for me? Depends on how many goals were completed.
This way of thinking is something that I’m recovering from. While I still feel that it’s healthy to set goals and have something to work towards, I have found that too much of this thinking leads me into a vicious cycle. When I don’t get something accomplished, I start beating myself up for it. Beating myself up causes me to lose motivation, and then I don’t get the next thing accomplished. Etcetera and so on, and the cycle begins.
I say all of that to say, when I decided I wanted to get serious about running a photography business at the end of 2018, I was worried about what I would actually be able to handle. It was exciting, but scary since I knew there was a huge possibility that I would let myself down in the end. I didn’t want to fail myself or fail in front of anyone else.
Fast forward to mid-2019, and here I was in that slump. I had projects and things that I was excited about, but my work had taken a turn from what it was in the beginning of my business, and I was frustrated, feeling like I had no one to bounce things off of. I spent hours reading posts in Facebook groups, trying to figure out what was working in the photography world from people’s online conversations. I felt like I had no official guide to help me get where I wanted to go.
One morning I was looking through yet another Facebook group when I came across a call for applicants for an internship in Charlotte. You guys...I looked over the application probably 20 times before I made a decision. The same fears and negative thoughts swirling through my head. ”What if I don’t make it?” “Why would I drive that far every week? It doesn’t make sense.” or worse…”What if I let myself down again?”. But every time I went back to the description of what they were looking for in an intern, I knew I fit. So finally, doubtful me filled out the application and hit submit...5 minutes before the deadline.
Fast forward again to September, and here I was, starting my internship with Cheyenne Schultz Photography. I went in to her office once per week and helped with all kinds of administrative tasks, and on top of learning so much from that alone, I was given 1 hour of dedicated mentoring time per week.
Every week I walked into the office I was greeted by Cheyenne, her amazing studio manager, Erika, and her big, lovable fur ball, Teddy. We always took a minute to chat about our weekends and anything else that had happened the week before, then I would dig into the tasks assigned to me that day. I can’t tell you how much this work taught me about the process I take my clients through.
I’m pretty sure I’ve referred to Cheyenne as the “queen of client experience” and I stand by it. Almost every week I was carefully putting together prints, albums, and welcome gifts in the prettiest packaging you’ve ever seen, taking care to make sure everything was as perfectly in place as possible. Cheyenne and Erika would often stop in the middle of their work editing and answering important emails to walk me through what some people would see as the simplest of tasks. It was all because they genuinely cared for their clients and wanted the absolute best for them.
I got to make online slideshows, see how consults were handled, and attend quarterly meetings where goal planning and reviews took place. I was given the opportunity to participate or sit in on anything administrative that might help me in my own business. I took in so much information, some that caused me to change for the better, and some that confirmed I was headed in the right direction already.
My mentoring time was invaluable to me. We covered everything from technical skills to styling to marketing and business strategy. Honestly, my new website and blog are all a result of Cheyenne pushing me to do one thing: “Just start”.
See, the problem that I feel most entrepreneurs have is this: We know what we need to do. We can look at other people and glean from their success and what they are doing right. We can see the vision for what we want to do and a lot of times we can even break in down into the steps we need to take to get there. We’re business-minded, we understand what needs to be done and we know we’re smart enough to figure out what we don’t know...But we’re scared. Because we feel like we’re “going it alone” on some level and we’re trying to navigate something we’ve never done before. It’s hard, and in a lot of cases the right mentor will do a world of good to push you to take the steps you need to take.
Cheyenne did that for me. Every time she would confirm that I had a good idea or help me brainstorm, it was like she was giving me permission to do what I was afraid to do. Her teaching gave me confidence and courage to step into what I knew I wanted all this time. It was freeing and exciting.
Overall, I was so impressed with how much integrity mattered to Cheyenne and her team. No matter what, their convictions about being open and honest in the way the business was handled came first. It was an inspiration to me and it’s given me a lot to think about as I plan for the future of my business.
Cheyenne has created one of the most positive, caring work environments I have ever been privileged to work in. She has a genuine interest in the thoughts and feelings of those around her and takes their input seriously. I only hope that if I could ever build a team like she has, I would be able to take the lessons I’ve learned from her and nurture it in the same way.
Having someone there to tell me to “just start” has been a turning point in my mindset towards accomplishing my goals. It is the reason you’re reading this post right now. It’s advice I would give to anyone who wants to take a leap into something new. You’re not going to be perfect on the first day, and the faster you’re willing to go for it and learn along the way, the quicker you will grow.
What’s something you’re going to “just start” in 2020? Hop over to my social media pages and let me know!
Cheyenne Schultz Photography - www.cheyenneschultzphotography.com