Just a quick history of me [Maura]: I worked a corporate job since graduating college in 2000. At first I loved my job, had great success, received promotion after promotion, raise after raise. I was at the pinnacle of my career but I was miserable. I found my passion in boudoir photography and decided that I was going to leave my job to pursue my dream life. I worked two full time jobs for two years before leaving my job, which happened 8 months ahead of schedule – it’s called goals!!
Today, I wanted to share with you 4 things I’ve learned leaving corporate america and becoming a full time boudoir photographer:
1) Goals are important.
Honestly, you can’t leave your job without having goals defined. I remember in 2013, sitting down with Heather during a mentoring session and I had decided that in August of 2014, I would ask for a demotion; in August 2015, I would quit. I had these goals taped to my wall and I looked at them at least 10 times a day. Well, I quit 8 months ahead of schedule. That really wouldn’t have been possible without defining the goal and giving myself a timeline. I am constantly setting goals for my business – giving my mind something to reach for – and I’ve been exceeding those goals year after year. Goals are critical to your development, both personally and professionally.
2) You will work harder for yourself than you ever did before.
Yup, I thought I worked hard and dedicated myself to my corporate job – I was wrong. Very wrong.
I work harder for myself than I ever did for someone else. I quickly learned when I started this business that I was responsible for everything. There are so many things involved with running a successful photography business than just photographing and editing – there’s website development, blogging, social media, marketing, designing, accounting, etc. Not a day goes by that I don’t work on or think about my business! I work more hours in this job than I ever did before, but in the end, it’s worth it to me because I’m building something I LOVE!
The job is tireless – you will wear many hats! Some days you laugh, other days you cry but most days you’re filled with joy because you realize you’re living a dream life without the chains of Corporate America.
3) Maintaining a personal life is a challenge.
Sometimes it can get lonely when you run a business by yourself. People won’t understand your dedication to this job you love so much and that means your relationships can falter. It is important for you to maintain a work-life balance and put some effort into keeping a personal life. I have found that setting a very specific schedule has helped me with life balance (i.e., Monday/Wednesday/Friday are shoot days, Tuesdays are edit days, Thursdays are sales sessions).
Shut down the computer, turn off the phone, cultivate the relationships with the people in your life – you will need your friendships during tough times.
4) It’s not all about the money.
My company was throwing money at me to stay and I was already paid very well. They must have thought I was crazy for turning down each offer. You quickly learn that your sanity is worth more than cash. The freedom that I now feel is more valuable to me that all the money they could throw at me. Even as a business owner, I choose to do the things that make me happy and I turn down jobs that I know I won’t enjoy. I refuse to make myself miserable just for some extra money – is it REALLY worth it? Not to me.
One bonus tip I want to share with you: Don’t expect the government to make this easy on you. It is YOUR responsibility to register your business with the government, obtain a tax ID and begin paying income and sales tax. Please don’t neglect these things because when you finally give them focus, you will pay penalties – I speak from experience! Don’t avoid the things you might not understand – take the opportunity to make it a learning experience.
I’m not saying to go quit your job and chase your dreams. I worked for years doing two jobs knowing what the ultimate goal for me was going to be. Each person needs to make a decision on their own. But, know that if you do make the decision to leave your job to pursue your passion career, you will face challenges and you need to prepare yourself for those. But, if you push thru, have some perseverance, you can achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself!