It’s hard to believe – this week is the one year anniversary of Jenny Chokbengboun Photos (like, professionally and legally with taxes), but it’s been 4 years since I picked up my camera! This seems like a good time to reflect and share some lessons learned in the process of creating my business.
Looking back one year ago, I was sitting in my boss’ office putting in my notice – palms clammy, I could feel my face turning different shades of red and I could see 6 months of word prep going out the window. I was scared; the only work life I had experience in for almost 12 years was dental. At that time I was also in school about to apply for the dental hygiene program but also I was 3 years into photography. I created a list of pros and cons for if I should apply for the program, because if I did it would be 80K in tuition but what if my photography career worked out and I didn’t even end up practicing dental? It would just be a waste of money and, honestly, a safety net if I failed at photography. It wasn’t really a long list. I knew where my heart was. I decided to risk it all!
The 1 year of flying solo gave me a lot of time to figure out what I wanted as a brand and I focused my time there, which leads me to the first lesson:
Lesson #1 Find your cheerleaders.
Everyone needs support and encouragement, preferably from someone who’s been where you are. My best friends and family have been my biggest cheerleaders. They’ve helped me overcome major obstacles and remind me how resilient and strong I really am. I’ve also reached out to other photographers I’ve worked with in the past. I started a group of diverse girls to come together so we could talk about our issues, struggles, ups and downs. A judgment-free meetup to talk about our success and failures. Honestly, I feel like I can and will conquer the world after these meetups!
Lesson #2: Relationships are key.
Create your network and maintain it. I discovered something important about myself: I found that I truly enjoy connecting at a personal and individual level with different people and in different ways. I find myself being friends with my clients after working with them, which is extremely rewarding and a huge complement. Again, relationships are key.
Lesson #3: Be YOU.
Be authentic. Be you. Be yourself. If you try to be someone that you’re not, that comes through and could impact every aspect of your business. I remember agreeing to all of the jobs that came my way, it was great but while I was actually doing the job I was not happy. The energy I gave was not my best, with that kind of energy I knew I wasn’t going to be delivering my best work and the experience for my clients would not be good. A feeling I HATED, so I often think of myself as a client. So I ask myself, would I like this? If yes, then I will deliver my best for you.
Today, I’m happy to report that Jenny Chokbengboun Photos is here, happy, and continues to grow through your support, encouragement and referrals. There is so much more I want to say and this is getting long. I just want to thank everyone who has influenced, shaped and helped me grow into the person I am today. You know who you are and I plan to pay it forward =)