Episode 7: What to Do When Your Family Doesn’t Believe In You
with Sarah Petty
It’s hard to take the leap, to go all-in with your photography, to leave a guaranteed paycheck, and actually reach for your dreams. Most people don’t have the tenacity or the tolerance for the risk it takes to leave the career they hate and do their own thing. Yet, isn’t it ironic that all of the people who hate their careers are the people who want to give you advice on what you should and shouldn’t do in your photography business? We are small business owners. We are different. This post is going to talk about what to do when your family doesn’t believe in you, and how you can still share what’s going on in your business without having to take their business advice.
Over the years, I have so many students who tell me, “But my hubby told me I have to sell digital files.” Or, “My mom said everyone’s priced under $200, so I have to be too.” Or, “My partner told me if our friends can’t afford these prices, no one will.” These comments used to frustrate me so much as a coach and mentor to photographers.
The Truth About Getting Advice for Your Photography Business
This is what led me to the epiphany that we can’t expect our family to give us the advice for something they aren’t equipped to give us that advice on. I realized looking back at my situation, I always kept my business very separate from my family. My dad was an entrepreneur, but he was in a very price-sensitive business where he had competitors. He had to always be super conscious of what he was charging. Even though he had an MBA, something told me he wasn’t the one to give me business advice because I didn’t want to be in a price driven business. I knew from my years at the ad agency that there was a better way. I just knew that he wasn’t the one to give me those answers.
With my students, I saw so much strife coming from home. So, I created a concept called front pocket back pocket to help photographers balance advice from the people around them. The front pocket is where you keep the people you love. This is your friends and family. We love the front pocket, but we can’t go to them with our business needs. But that doesn’t mean that those aren’t the people who are your first priority in life. They take priority, you love them, and they stay in the front pocket. But in your back pocket, that’s where you keep your community and mentors. People who believe what we believe. People who are qualified and experts on giving advice and supporting your journey. They don’t take first priority in your life, but they are the ones you listen to when it comes to your business.
Photography Business Advice to Implement Now
There are three steps to implementing this front pocket and back pocket concept. First, you have to create your advice-taking filter. Being in business is like being the chef of your restaurant. You have to figure out what you’re going to serve, what ingredients you want to have, what you’re going to buy into. And in the beginning, you’re going to need to have a mentor. Someone who’s going to say, “I have this system and process. We’re going to empty your head trash. I can get you where you want to be.”
For example, if you’re studying photography, study from an excellent photographer whose style you love. But be careful not to just assume that they’re successful in business. Not just do they have a pretty brand and a pretty website but are they actually making money doing what you want to do? I always try to find mentors who are making money, who are living a balanced life, and they’re actually doing what they say they are doing. For me, it wouldn’t make sense to take advice from a shoot-and-burn photographer when I run a boutique business model. Really take the time to ask yourself what you’re looking for in a mentor. And then use that as your filter as you’re picking.
What You Should Be Telling Your Friends and Family About Your Business
Number two, go to your front pocket, (your family, your spouse, your partner, your friends) with your good news. Tell them things about your business that are going to make them happy. That you had a great session. You had an amazing family with three cute little kiddos in a session today. You had a breakthrough in shooting a low-light session. Or that you found a mentor who is going to give you a system to succeed. Your front pocket will be excited about things like this.
I’m not saying lie to your front pocket, or hide anything from them, but think about it like this: do you go to your spouse, your person, every time you have a headache or a stomach ache? No. You’d be constantly telling them, “Oh, my toe hurts. My knee hurts. I ate something wrong. My stomach’s upset.” There are certain things in life we don’t have to share with our spouse and it’s not withholding. It’s not being a bad person. It’s just that it’s not pertinent. And it’s not going to bring energy and happiness to the relationship. They’re going to go into protection mode.
What to Do When Your Business is Backed in a Corner
Number three, go to your back pocket when you’re backed in a corner. At some point, someone is not going to be happy with you. You’re going to wake up one day scared to death to make that phone call that you need to make. There will be little voices in your head saying, “You’re just not good enough. You can’t do this. You shouldn’t do this.” That’s when you go to your mentor and your community, the people in your back pocket who are equipped to say, “Hey, punch that bully in the face right now. That is head trash.”
Think about what it would look like if you’re able to put all your favorite people, your friends and family, in your front pocket and take the pressure off them. If you could minimize the strife created from asking them to give answers that they don’t know how to give. And then having people in your back pocket who are in the same place as you. The people who can walk you through the same head trash they experienced. A community that will lift you up when you need it because they know exactly how you feel. Photography business advice that you can actually take because it’s coming from someone who is exactly where you want to be.
I hope that this opens your mind to looking for a back pocket of people to fill in your back pocket. It’s time, right now for you to separate the family you love in the front pocket, from the work you want to do with the people in your back pocket. But most importantly, when you keep your business with your back pocket people, you’re able to come home to your front pocket people as the happiest and best version of yourself.
I'm Sarah Petty
I’m a photographer living in the middle of a cornfield (central Illinois), momma of three teenage kiddos (plus a cat & dog) and an educator for all things photography business. Favorites: Earl Grey Tea (not coffee!), anything orange and clothes that are made for tall girls