7 Business Lessons Learned in 7 Years of Business

You know how Facebook reminds you that you’ve reached a milestone, or it says this thing happened a year ago today? Well Facebook just reminded me that seven years ago I photographed my first wedding. That is crazy to think about! It’s crazy to think that seven years ago I decided I wanted to be a photographer. What’s even crazier is somebody let me photograph their wedding.

I figured why not share seven takeaways or lessons that I’ve learned from running a business for seven years. So let’s do it…7 business lessons learned in 7 years of business!

I did a little bit of research and found out that 45% of businesses don’t make it past the first five years. When I wanted to come up with some things to share with you today, I thought these are not just things that I’ve learned from running a business, but what I’ve learned from running a business that lasts and that will last for years to come. Also, take a look at my blog on how I was able to grow my photography business. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!

Lesson #1

The first lesson I learned is that entrepreneurship, working for yourself, can be lonely. It’s crucial to find your people, find your network, and connect. We cannot do this alone (at least not well). You don’t want to be an island, which is a huge mistake that a lot of creatives or small business owners make. So find your people, connect with your people, and pour into those relationships. Yes, it takes time, but I promise you it’s worth it. It’s what’s going to fuel your business and keep you motivated in those times when you feel like giving up.

Lesson #2

Find a group of educators that you’re going to listen to and ignore the rest. This is a hard one. When you first get into your business you’re listening to all the people, you’re downloading all the freebies, and you’re getting all their emails because you downloaded all their freebies. While this can be wonderful, and the internet is amazing for giving out all this amazing information, you start to hear their thoughts instead of your own.

What I like to do is find a small handful of people that I really believe are doing great things. Not just their business, but in their personal life because I believe in a work life balance. I want to follow people that their business looks the way I want my business to look, but their life also looks the way I want my life to look. Then I ignore the rest. I had to go on a mass unfollow spree of lots of amazing and valuable educators simply because I needed to be able to listen to myself and fully learn from some of the quality people that I chose to keep around.

Lesson #3

Lesson number three is the sooner you get organized the sooner you can actually enjoy this business that you’ve created. I think that having systems and processes is not something that came naturally to me, but until I got all of that set up, it was rather stressful and I was a mess. That’s the best way of putting it. The sooner you can get this stuff figured out in your business, the sooner you will actually begin to enjoy the part where you get to own your own business, and you get to work for yourself and choose the clients you work with. Get organized!

I use Honeybook to manage all my contracts, invoices, questionnaires, and scheduling. Get 50% off your first year of Honeybook!

Lesson #4

Lesson number four is to pay yourself first. I learned in some of the research that I did for this video that cash flow issues is one of the biggest reasons why businesses fail. I learned from the author Mike Michalowicz. He actually authored a bunch of my favorite books, but the one that I want to share with you is called Profit First. That is the book that I gleaned all the information that I know about how to pay myself, how to structure my business accounts for putting money aside for taxes, how to know how much I can reinvest back into my business, and how much I know can be profit. I highly recommend it to all business owners. Check out Profit First, and start paying yourself first.

Lesson #5

The fifth valuable lesson is: there will be a lot of resistance to difficult things, but that that difficult things (and challenging things) lead to the most rewarding outcomes. I think my Youtube channel is one of the best examples of that. Getting to my first 1,000 subscribers was a lot of work and was a big challenge. Getting to 10,000 and then 30,000 subscribers was equally challenging but has been one of the most rewarding things that I have done. If you’re coming up against resistance and you feel like things are against you, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to quit.

Lesson #6

Lesson number six is to use a contract. Always. Period. End of story. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you didn’t use a contract. It has bit us all in the butt one too many times. Going forward, don’t do that to yourself. I really really love and trust the legal page. You can find her at TheLegalPage.com. Check out my YouTube video on what to include in your contracts.

Lesson #7

Lesson number seven is that you can actually do this! Until you do it, it doesn’t feel possible. It feels abstract. You might be wondering to yourself, “can I work for myself, can I have my own business?” The answer is YES! Will it be simple or easy? No, but it is 100% possible, and that is huge for your mindset. Just knowing going into it that it is possible is going to change the outcome and the trajectory of your business. That was something that I believed before I really knew it to be true (my own success). Then I made it to be true because to me it was success or nothing else. There was no other option. I had to be successful. I think that was a catalyst for building the business that I have today.

What’s the best business lesson that you have ever learned? Leave it in the comment section below.

7 business lessons for 7 years in business. - Joy Michelle Photography

7 business lessons for 7 years in business. - Joy Michelle Photography
7 business lessons for 7 years in business. - Joy Michelle Photography



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