I can hardly believe it — today we are wrapping up the fifth + final post in one of my favorite series to date, The Short Series – Our Business Story. Over the course of the last four posts, we have shared the story of this sweet business of ours.
From how studying abroad led to taking engagement photos in the first post …
To how living in the Middle East allowed me to discover my life’s true calling in the second post …
To what our first “official” year of business looked like in the third post …
And to a challenge of finding how balancing working hard + risk can lead to business success in the fourth post …
We find ourselves at the fifth, last, + probably my favorite post of the series: becoming a TEAM : )
Growing the Business
Year one + year two of the business found great “success” as we were growing, gaining more inquiries, + booking more clients. How did we grow? In the last post, I shared that it’s important to remember that no two businesses are the same, + what has worked for one business to grow may not work for another — there is, unfortunately, no “3 Step Process To Becoming a Successful Business Owner!” However, I strongly believe that serving our clients well + treating them better than they expect to be treated, working hard, acting respectful + professional, + showing up day after day after day (persistence AND consistency!) are some of the biggest contributing factors to the growth of Maison Meredith Photography.
As we were gaining clients, I quickly began to realize that I couldn’t shoot everything that came my way. There wasn’t enough time in a day … or a lifetime! : ) I asked myself, “When do you feel most alive when you’re shooting?”, + the answer was, hands downs, couples. At the time, Caleb + I were on our own journey of dating, falling in love, + eventually planning a wedding, + I think my coinciding photography journey created a deep + real desire to photograph other couples who were experiencing the same thing : )
I would say it was probably after the second year of starting the business that I began calling myself a wedding photographer. I began saying “no” to other types of shoots to make more room in my schedule for weddings. This was really hard (+ scary) at first, but it allowed me to become better at what I wanted to do — shoot weddings — because all my time was devoted to one specific aspect of the craft. I was able to spend time learning more about how to be a better wedding photographer + as a result, in time, the business kept growing because I was getting better at my “specialty”.
Partnering with Caleb
I have mentioned several times in the past that Caleb is actually the person who taught me everything I know about the camera! Photography has always been a hobby of his, + since I am a hands-on learner, we spent lots of time together learning how to use the camera (okay, I learned, he taught!). **I think it’s safe to say that this period in our friendship was the turning point towards becoming lovers … apparently, camera/photography “dates” will do that to you ; )!**
When I started the business, however, Caleb had a full-time job at Harley Davidson + we were living in different cities. He would join me on weekends whenever I had weddings, shoot alongside me the whole day, + then return to his job at Harley Monday-Friday. This routine left me balancing a LOT of hats in the business — client correspondence, blogging, editing, finances, gear, administrative work, bookkeeping, everything … !!! — all the while the business continued to grow. I was in over my head, constantly exhausted, always feeling behind, + honestly, already starting to feel burnt out after just a year + a half! Yikes!
In my head, I KNEW I needed help. And I had just the person for the job … but knew they were going to take some convincing! ; )
After we got married, Caleb moved to Madison + therefore had to quit his “cushy” job at Harley Davidson (did you know he actually has a Harley!? But that’s a different post … : )). Upon moving to Madison, we had discussed that he would either look for a new job or … join me in the business. Both of us as full-time entrepreneurs in one single business. Now THAT was a scary thought for him … so many unknowns! But, we did it. Caleb joined full-time in September of 2014 + we haven’t looked back since.
Why We Became a Team
So … how did a logical-minded, number-crunching, just-left-a-job-in-corporate-America decide to join the business?
- It was obvious that the business needed another employee. If Caleb would have decided not to join, I would have had to hire someone else as I was wearing too many hats + simply couldn’t do it all. The way the business was being run was not sustainable.
- After looking at numbers, we realized we would be able to support ourselves on the income of the business.
- We knew that though we share the same goals, values, + passions, we have extremely different personalities + giftings. This reality would, in fact, make us great business partners. I would be able to do the things that I loved + was good at, + Caleb would take over everything else (which happened to be what he loved + was good at!).
It just made sense. It was definitely scary, don’t get me wrong! But like I mentioned in the last post, when you take a leap of faith to do something, you inevitably work even harder to make your dreams a reality! It was just the step we needed to take to propel our business forward even more. With both of us working full-time, we were able to discover, together, our shared passion for MARRIAGE + encouraging our couples in their journey towards marriage together. Truly sharing our lives with our couples as a husband + wife team is our greatest joy + the greatest purpose in our business …
… something we wouldn’t be able to do without each other : )
Photo by Amy & Jordan