Top 5 Business Mistakes I Made (So You Don’t!)

What’s your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

I ask this question all the time. Which makes me either consistent or unoriginal.

I prefer the former, thankyouverymuch.

If you’re anything like me, I thought I’d put together a Top Five List of Things I’ve Done Wrong in My Business in case you can learn from my mistakes and not repeat them…

1. I didn’t ask questions

When I first started, I was afraid to let peers know I didn’t know what I was doing.

  • When I’d go to business workshops and the instructor would say something I didn’t understand, I just sat there and nodded my head.
  • If I was second-shooting and the lead photographer asked for something I didn’t know how to do, I tried to make it work in spite of my unknowingness.

This is tragic. I could’ve learned so much more, grown faster, and softened my learning curve had I just had the cajones to admit I didn’t know.

If I could do everything again, I’d ask every question I could…even if it made me feel stupid.

2. I waited too long to get a website

A lot of people think social media is the best place to grow your business, and I agree it’s a great tool to build genuine connections with your customers but I also think you should have both.

  • Before I had a website, I wasn’t able to send clients and industry peers to a place that showcased my work.
  • When I finally created one, I was able to get referrals and work with higher end clients.

Having a website legitimized my business and positioned my brand as an authority.

It told my friends, family, and clients that this was not just a hobby—it was a business, and I was willing to invest in it.

3. I let others dictate how I felt about my work

Sometimes business owners will talk so certainly about WHAT they have, WHERE they’re going, WHO they’re with, HOW much money they’re making…and so forth.

And though it might be unintentional, these conversations made me feel less worthy to pursue my dream of becoming a photographer and business strategist.

  • They had that camera, so clearly they take better photos than me.
  • They’re off to that industry mixer with people who air kiss
  • (Clearly they’re cooler than I am and will get jobs as a byproduct of it.)
  • They just booked their 8,764th client for the year…and updated their Facebook status to let the world know.

I walked around in a constant state of “I Suckiness”, and it wasn’t until I tuned out the noise that I was able to define who I was…just plain old Jasmine Star.

Once this happened, I was able to embrace my current situation: While I may not have the fanciest camera, or party with the cool kids, or go to parties filled with Lamborghinis and roaming baby giraffes…I’m moving forward.

And moving is always better than sitting still.

4. I didn’t make long term decisions for my equipment

Back when I was first starting out as a photographer, my husband and business partner JD and I went into a photography store.

  • I was given two options—the low end camera, and the high end option.
  • I was making a decision for the business I had that day, instead of making a decision for the business I wanted next year.

I bought the cheap option even though JD was advising me to purchase the equipment that would get me where I wanted to go.

2 months later, I listened to JD and invested in better equipment to take my business to further heights. [Moral of the story: Always listen to JD!]

5. I didn’t take more risks

When I think back to when I first started, I can’t help but feel sorry for that girl.

  • The girl who didn’t trust herself enough to take bigger risks.
  • Who didn’t dream big enough.
  • Who limited herself by her own experience and other people’s estimations of what was possible.

If I could go back and tell the Jasmine Star of 2007 something, I’d whisper in her ear: Believe in what you know you can do. Trust your gut. Ignore the naysayers. Dream big, but hope for more.

However, knowing myself back then, I’d ignore the whisper…so then I’d grab me by the shoulders, give me a good shake, then holler straight in my face, SPRINT TOWARD WHAT YOU WANT AND DON’T EVER LOOK BACK. Ever.

I’m here to tell you the same.