How Did You Run Your Business While in College?

My college experience looked very different from a lot of people I know.  A typical student might have attended the same school for four years, got their degree, headed off to grad school or headed to start their career path.  Well, for me, I started my dream job right after my freshman year of college – photographing weddings and running a small business.  I also married my high school sweetheart during my sophomore year, worked part-time, was in school full-time, all the while trying to keep an active an engaging social life and run a business.

To say things were busy, was an under-statement.  Though truth-be-told, I thrive under busy, if I’m being honest.  It also meant though that I had a lot to learn about running a business.  Running to my car in between classes to answer client calls, editing during lectures, and creating systems and workflows were some of the keys to making it work!

Pursuing your dream while teachers are demanding papers, friends are wishing for your time, your new husband wants to see you, and having to work your way towards making money, it’s difficult but for me it was achievable – it just took a lot of work!

Here are the top 3 things that I did to make sure that I could a) run my business, b) pass college, and c) actually have time to spend with my husband and friends.

1) say no.

One thing that I definitely learned in college was the art of balancing and setting boundaries on my time.  If I felt like I should be spending time with friends that night instead of staying up late prepping the blog post for the next day, then I said no to work and yes to friends!  If I had a couple who wanted to schedule an engagement session during my classes (that always seemed to inconveniently fall right during golden hour) I just told them that I wasn’t available that day but here were two other days that I was! I think for me, during college I thought that I had to have it all together.  Because I was trying to start this business while I was still in school, it’s almost like I didn’t think I was good enough, and to prove myself I thought I had to say yes to every opportunity.  There are things that I said yes to in business, social life, and college that I wish I hadn’t.  There are also things that I wish I had said yes to, but didn’t.  But 9 times out of 10, saying no was my better choice!

2) schedule everything.

In college I purchased Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner and it was a serious game changer! It was the perfect way for me to keep track of all my homework, to-do lists, meals, social events, and more.  I literally wrote out every class period into my planner to make sure that I didn’t miss anything!  This also allowed me to schedule out breaks throughout the day for emails, writing blog posts, editing, client calls, etc.!  Scheduling was also super important for me because I tried to schedule all of my classes on as few of days as possible.  This allowed for larger chunks of time for me to get some work done.  I definitely utilized the free WiFi on campus, too, in between classes!

3) create a workflow that works.

When you’re first starting off in business, figuring out how long it takes you to accomplish certain tasks and how you are going get all the way through the process of scheduling a session to blogging and image delivery is something that’s super important! I spent a lot of time making my workflow something that was achievable for me but also something that was efficient.  I cull, edit, and blog sessions very quickly and actually built that time in to the evening after the session itself.  That way I could be working as quickly and efficiently as possible while still creating work that allowed me to be creative too!  One thing that really helped was to make sure that I was working hard to get my images as close as I could straight out of camera! By taking extra steps and caution during the session, I had the opportunity to work faster, not harder!

 

The bottom line is that when it comes to running a business during college, or for that matter any super busy and demanding time in your life, the key is (trying) to find balance.  This only comes from a great schedule, a solid workflow, and a whole lot of grace from your friends, families, and teachers!

 

Posted:

May 19, 2017

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Wife, mama, wielder of light & joy, and capturer of moments.  I thrive off of conversation and genuine connection.  In between wrangling our kiddos, and hanging my husband, you'll find me dreaming up my next idea or creative endeavour.  It's these things that culminate to give my imagery a warmth and joy to them - the greatest compliment I could receive.

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