There have been several experiences these last few days where I have received advice from brave, successful women I truly admire. They have encouraged me, blessed me, and in many ways given me the extra little shove I have been looking for to improve my professional and personal life. These beautiful and much needed opportunities have taught me many things about life, about business, and about myself. I just want to take a moment and share them with you.
The first encounter was a local event hosted by three handmakers behind The Handmade Creative. These brave, astonishing women got together and decided they wanted to form a local community for people who own/want-to-start thriving handmade shops. They wanted it to be a place of sharing, lifting, and growing And it was! The formation of their group alone was inspiring, but the event they carefully put together was perfection. We were assigned seats and meant to reach out and get to know other small business owners who are going through and struggling with the same things. It was a delight to share the same space with all these inspired, stressed out, and struggling entrepreneurs. I thank those ladies behind The Handmade Creative for putting it all together. The event was staggering and lovely, just the movement I needed in the right direction. An inspiration, all of you!
The next encounter was with the speaker from that night's event. Susan from Freshly Picked is a person I have met and partied with on a handful of occasions now. Turns out, the more I get to know her and hear her story, the more I like her. She is sincere, she is hard working, and she knows how to hustle! She shared her thoughts on starting and growing a small business. She spoke openly and honestly about the stresses and struggles she went through and continues to face as a business owner. She was very blunt about not carrying on with a bad situation, moving beyond your struggles, and only focusing on the positive for yourself and your business. The thing I took away from this presentation was a quote she shared, "Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can." The more I stew over those words the more I know there are some big changes on my horizon. First thing was first though, I needed to commit to it, which at the time was nice in theory. Instead I made a few excuses and walked away feeling good, but not doing much about it.
This is where the final and perhaps most influential encounter took place, in a polite conversation between friends. But first, some background. My mother works in the MBA office of the local University. In turn this means she rubs shoulders with Fortune 500 companies and the people who run them. She thrives on building and sustaining those professional relationships, but perhaps what she loves most are the more personal friendships she has formed over the years through these connections. One such friendship has been with Peggy. She was one of the first friends to hold my baby boy and we love sharing our family with her. While she was visiting Utah, my parents had her over for lunch and she was catching up on the goings on in our family. She noticed my camera and, with interest, started asking questions. "That is a nice camera. What kind is that?" "Do you enjoy it?" "Is that the case you always use?" She is always fully engaged in every conversation and I loved her complete attentiveness while sharing this exchange. The conversation continued and somehow we got on the topic of whether or not I take pictures professionally. I told her I did not and her immediate question was, "why not?" I started going on about my fears, my insecurities, and my lack of truly professional equipment and learning. She smiled, asked several more questions about my photos, not touching on the "professional" aspect after that.Then Spence and I had to leave, but I could not stop thinking about the brief, yet revealing conversation I had just had. There she was, our dear successful businesswoman Peggy, sitting across from me, not with her EVP and CFO hats on, but with her concerned friend hat, asking little me, "why not?" I was humbled, I was encouraged, and I was determined to do better.
Just over this weekend I have taken several steps in the right direction, doing specifically the things that scare me. I have looked closely at where I am and what I have. There have been so many good things going for me, for my family, right in these last few weeks. We are downright thriving around here and it is so wonderful and so nice. Basically what I found is that I have no more excuses. I also have an arsenal of resources. I have an excellent camera and raw talent. I have impeccable writing skills that I thoroughly enjoy. I have passions and I know I can hustle. I can also be brave! Deep breath. So I have committed to taking some professional family portraits for pay (gasp!), I have made connections and hope to soon join a writing/critique group (double gasp), and I have taken on a new kind of freelance writing job (eek!). Now I am going to start doing what I can.
Wish me luck!