I have always thought about doing a blog post on this, but still to this day when people ask how I made it work, I still don’t really have an answer. You just do! Running a business, working another part time job, and being a full time college student was definitely not easy, but it was so worth it. With that being said, I learned a few things that I thought I would share with other business owners who are trying to make it work during busy seasons of life, whether it is school or being a mom, these can all be applied
First and foremost, be YOURSELF. I struggled a lot with this in the early years of college. The number one problem I struggled with was finding a balance in making sure that my clients knew I was professional without having to hide what actually goes on in college. With that being said, when I was finally authentic and true to who I really am, I seemed to find my more ideal clients. The clients who know how to have fun, but also want amazing pictures. Now happy hour and golden hour coincide in my life and it is the best thing ever. Also, meeting for drinks to go over their wedding plans instead of coffee, yes please!
Second, learn your market! When moving to Blacksburg, I was just starting to dive into weddings and it made me nervous that I may not be in a a big wedding market. However, the best thing I did was adapt to what was needed in Blacksburg, which was senior pictures and sorority shoots. These kept me extremely busy and I was still able to keep booking weddings back home and in other parts of Virginia. I also did not know at the time that people who I did senior pictures for or met at a sorority shoot, would now be inquiring with me for their weddings. It really does all come full circle. Adaptability and going with the flow are sometimes necessary when moving to a new place!
Next, it is okay to say no! This one took me way longerrrr to catch on to then I would like to admit. The first three years of college I would spend a lot of my weekends in the car driving to and from weddings. I never regretted it, but often felt like I was missing out on a part of my life that I would never get back. It wasn’t until my junior year when I felt the fear of college life coming to an end that I finally turned down all fall wedding inquiries for my senior year. I finally was able to attend every football game and spend more intentional time with my friends. Also despite my biggest fear, my business could just pick right back up after taking a break. It was the best decision I could have made for myself at the time! Take breaks, give yourself grace, and make sure to take the time you need to refill your own cup.
Lastly, be patient with yourself and your business. I think this is one all business owners struggle with at some point. Some days, it felt like there just were not enough hours in the day. I would get frustrated when I felt like I was falling behind whether it was in my business or in my school work. When juggling a lot of roles at once, I had to learn that my business might not grow as fast as others. I may not see overnight changes in my business, but I saw progress, which is always a good place to start. Avoiding comparison and just being thankful for where I was at in my own business made all of the difference.
There truly is no rule book and I still to this day feel like I just was lucky. I worked hard, yes, but I still do not know how I am where I am today. This business is nothing without my sweet and encouraging clients, supportive friends and family, and Virginia Tech. College isn’t for everyone, but I believe that building my business in college has brought me more opportunities and amazing people than I could have ever imagined.