I’m proud to say that I am going to start my Career Q&A series up again (if any of you remember it from Roasted). I have to admit I was a little bit bummed about coming back from holiday, and the thought of getting back to work and getting back into the hustle had me a bit down. I was thinking how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and how we need to support each other more and I thought this would be a perfect way to promote and collaborate with some of my favourite people.
First off is me! I kind of always wished someone would interview me about my career and then I just thought – screw it, I’ll interview myself.
So here it is. Feel free to ask questions or reach out. And stay tuned for more interviews to come!
Who are you?
My name is Michelle Little. I’m the owner of Michelle Little Photography. I grew up in a small-ish town in the prairies and have travelled and lived all over the world. I met my francophone husband in London, England. I’ve been in Montreal off and on for about 12 years now.
I have two very energetic boys that both exhaust and energize me. As a family we like to ski and get out and about – mostly because I think we’d go crazy staying inside with all that energy.
What is your business?
I have a photography business where I take casual but beautiful photos of newborns and families. I also do business portraits which can be more formal or more relaxed as well as branding sessions which I love because I love working with other entrepreneurs. I’m also introducing boudoir mainly because I fell in love with some photos I saw.
Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?
I worked in corporate for 10 years. I don’t think I necessarily decided to start my own business, but I decided to be a photographer and I just assumed it was always a solo affair. Now, I think it would be hard to go back to taking direction.
Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how you knew it was what you wanted to do?
Much like my decision to do boudoir, I was inspired by some photos I saw of children. They were full of emotion and movement, and they totally surprised me. I was used to seeing stiff photos of posed children. It drew me in immediately. I always knew (or hoped) I wasn’t going to stay in my current corporate position for life. I also did the blog Roasted which I loved but was very isolating. You write a post, pour your heart and soul into it, and get no response back. I could see the stats and knew people were reading but it wasn’t enough.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
That it’s not just about your craft. Out of my work week maybe 20% is photography. The rest is emailing, promotion, editing, and if I’m unlucky figuring out my software problems. I think this is also where so many creative entrepreneurs struggle. 80% of your work day is business focused and if you don’t get that right it doesn’t matter much if you’re amazing at what you do.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
Money. It was so much easier in so many ways to do corporate.
Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?
Having people hire me? Honestly, every time someone books I totally appreciate it.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
I’d say to network with other entrepreneurs so you aren’t alone in your struggles. Also, for me in particular there are several Facebook groups that are specific to pricing that have really helped me. The photography industry right now is facing a lot of challenges with respect to pricing and liveable wages and there are a lot of support groups out there now.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
Am I willing to wait for success and a paycheck?
Am I willing to put in the effort with respect to marketing and understanding the business side of things?
Am I passionate enough about this project to see it through?
What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?
You start to base your self-worth on your business, so that even if it’s not really about you if something goes wrong or no one books or whatever, you take it personally. That sucks.
What’s the best thing about owning your own business?
I get to decide the direction I take my business. This is also perhaps the hardest thing too but I realize it’s one of the parts I love the most.
In particular with photography, I love it when the images come to life on my computer screen. Sometimes I cry when I look at them – they really do move me.
And lastly, I’ve met SO MANY amazing families. I really feel truly privileged I get to work with so many lovely people. I know if the people I worked with were terrible I’d have stopped doing this long ago because it really is so hard to run your own business.
Thanks for reading!
Read more interviews here.