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Small Business; From the Ground Up in 5 Years

Updated: Feb 13


Much like my life, there's no rhyme or reason for the timing of these posts. As I think something up, I attempt to write. In fact, that's what we'll call them. Attempts. As I've mentioned many times before, I am hopeful for my generation's affect on the economy and society's well-being overall. Young people are seeking out individual success and realizing their own passions and potential more than ever. Especially young women, as the number of women participating in entrepreneurship increased by 114% in the last 20 years. It's also important to note that, as of 2018, small businesses are responsible for the employment of roughly 57 million people. The undeniable capital growth alone sounds appealing enough, but what if I told you that over half of small business owners start their venture from home, where flexibility and happiness become realistic TOP priorities? If any of that nonsense caught your attention, this might be a good read for you. I'll keep it short and semi-sweet.


As a kid, I was often sent home with "violations." Most of which were labeled with something along the lines of "talkative during class," or "socializing during a lesson." My interest strayed far from what was on the board and I felt captive at my desk. I doodled. I day-dreamed. I embodied all of the classic signs of ADHD without ever receiving a diagnosis. I once turned in a Geometry test with only my name written at the top, and completed an entire semester of college without purchasing a single book. If you asked my professors, they'd say I was a creative thinker, aka a shit-head. I'd say I was destined to own a business from the very beginning.


I acquired my first DSLR camera the second semester of my Freshman year of college. All it took was a film photography course and meeting the right, influential person to get the ball rolling. I dabbled. I researched career opportunity. I practiced. I fell in love as quickly as I'd stumbled upon the idea. "Could I actually do this? Could I build a brand and go to work happy every day? Will I be able to support myself as a self-employed business owner?" Those answers didn't come for a few years. After lots of back-and-forth, offering free/inexpensive photo sessions, working with other locally owned businesses, flooding social media with my craft, creating a clean and friendly website, finding my style and putting in countless hours of editing, I photographed my first wedding in the summer of 2018 and learned the power of word-of-mouth. From there, I advertised wedding photography as my main service, along with newborn photography.


The spring before I graduated college was a stressful time. I needed to find a job in my field to continue growing as a photographer as I learned to operate the business side of my dream. I accepted a position photographing newborn babies, in their first 24 hours of life, at Vanderbilt Hospital. All within a couple month's time, I applied for the position, was accepted and made the move to Nashville, TN for my first day with Bella Baby. This innovative company is active all over the country, in some of the best cities, and offers incredible career/growth opportunity. I held my breathe and dove in. Arguably the best way to do it.


My schedule was flexible and I was able to edit from home several days a week. As I networked and met some of my greatest influences, most of my free time was focused on Haley Raven Photography as a brand. Before I knew it, I had 12 weddings on the books for the 2019 season. The only catch was that a great portion of them were located back home, in Evansville, IN. As much as I loved that city, my job and the beautiful friends I had gained, I followed my heart back home.


2019 was a year of growth and hard work. Putting hours in every single day. It was a year of reaching out and looking further. What can I be doing to better my business today? Who haven't I talked to, or collaborated with? What are other successful photographers doing that I'm not? I shot six times the amount of weddings I had the year before. I was supporting myself financially and filling my schedule, but I wanted to be doing more. In January of 2020, I decided it was time to outsource and work with my first major advertising company, The Knot. I saw an increase in traffic almost immediately and am now on track to photograph over 20 weddings this season. Weddings close to home, weddings in the regional area, and even weddings overseas, all the while still leaving some time for the homey, lifestyle sessions we all know and love.


I'm here to tell you that if you have an idea or a skill that can be scaled, look in to it. It won't be an easy road, but it is absolutely doable, and you already have your first resource/supporter (me). Feel free to contact me via haleyravenphotography.com with any and all questions and inquiries.


Happy Creating!


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