Failure is Up To You

Your job security relies on one thing, your ability to go out, kill it and drag it home.” – Dave Ramsey

“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” – Anonymous

The first quote is a powerful statement by an undeniable force in the small business community. Dave Ramsey has inspired millions with his no-nonsense approach to money and is one of our biggest influences when it comes to how we think about our business.

This post doesn’t have any flashy pictures or sweet technical photography tricks but will be just as beneficial if you grab your coffee and hunker down for a few minutes and begin to read on :)

I (Zach) was reading the USA Today this evening here in London to catch up on some US news, and an article caught my attention which led to a discussion by Jody and I and thus, resulting in this blog post. A topic that comes up often, not only the minds of Americans but the news as well, is those facing hard times due to losing their jobs and being out of work. Even more close to home – we are sure that is also on the minds of many of you photographers out there who are just starting out, and many who have been shooting for years and may be having a tough time paying the bills and wondering if they should change their course. We both want to address that topic in this post and we wanted to share our heart on this with you, and hopefully encourage many of you that you CAN do exactly what you want to do and be secure in it.

The USA Today Article: “Who are America’s Jobless?” shares the stats and mindsets of those who are out of work. On page 4, there was a short story told about Mellisa Wallace and her 16 year old daughter who are from Middletown, Ohio. This part of the article depicts how people looking for (what they think is) security are seeking jobs with a higher pay grade with greater priority over finding (or creating) a job that they truly love and enjoy doing. It goes on to share how parents are pushing this mentality on their children to help them avoid what they, the parents are now going through. Melissa (the mother) wants her daughter who is a sophomore in High School, to consider getting training after she graduates as a medical technician because it pays well.

“My daughter says she would like to be a wedding planner,” Wallace says with a mother’s exasperated sigh. “I told that’s a really great idea, but where we live, they’re not in demand. So what I did with her, I pulled out the PHONE BOOK [emphasis added], and we looked up ‘wedding planner.’ And there was one listed, in a different county. She was persuaded.”

A few things that immediately stuck out:

1 – The mom is validating her point by “researching” in a PHONE BOOK. The last time that I (Jody) remember coming in contact with a phone book was when I was too short to reach my food at the table and needed some extra height in my chair…

2- Talk about looking at the glass being half empty. If the phone book was an accurate depiction of the market in that area (which it’s not) then we would have looked at that as an OPPORTUNITY!! Only one planner in the area? Awesome! Less competition!

But, we are not going to entirely focus on those points… :) The excerpt from the paper was absolutely mind blowing! This poor mom, who is a 3 year out of work nurse’s aid (and only 34 years old), thinks that her daughter would be more secure being a medical technician (something she is not interested in doing), because there is only one wedding planner in the area, so therefore, not a demand for the job, and therefore her daughter shouldn’t go after what she’s passionate about doing.

Many people and photographers alike fall trap to this mentality. 1) They are either afraid to go after what they truly love because they think working for the big man is more secure (where in actuality you can get fired at any time, which unfortunately, many people have found themselves in that situation with all the cutbacks and downsizing). Or 2) they start doing something they don’t particularly enjoy doing… We’ll pick on photographers here for this example :) Say our photographer friend Harry starts shooting weddings (which he doesn’t like) instead of shooting dogs (which he LOVES) because he thinks there is better pay in weddings. Even though Harry love dogs, he feels more secure doing something that he is not passionate or excited about. In our experience and talking with other people, we have found that passion and the pursuit of doing something you absolutely love will make you more money, bring you more peace and fulfillment and way more security in the long run. Because we have been excited about our business and what we do, we never would have gotten it to where it is today if it was something that made us groan when we woke up every morning. We would have certainly given up a long time ago if it was something that we were not passionate about. Outside of our relationship with each other and the Lord, we have never been more motivated on anything than our business.

Going back to Melissa Wallace and her daughter, for curiosity’s sake we wanted to check some stats on the two jobs mentioned in the article on a nation-wide spectrum. Not that it matters in the least, but we were compelled to :) (income statistics from PayScale.com).

The average female medical technician in America makes approximately 26k to 41k averaging somewhere around 34k. That is somewhere between $11 and $16 an hour.

The average female wedding planner in America who works for someone else with 5 years experience makes an average of 51k. If they work for themselves, that number does not have a cap, because self-employed wedding planners can make anywhere between $500 and $5,000 per gig or more (with some high-end planners making serious 6 figure incomes)! Working as a medical tech has its limits because you are working for someone else. Working for yourself is only limited by your ability to make your career happen the way you want it to.

We also did a little research of our own, by not using the Yellow Pages (since no one we know on the planet under the age of 50 uses that for anything) and we found exactly 63 wedding planners who serve the Middletown, Ohio area on Wedding Wire alone! Those are the ones who have either paid, or taken the time to register with that ONE online source. If there is anything that is not going out of business, it’s weddings. But that is not even the point of this post.

Here is the point: Job security does not lie in the field your going into, the stats of how a certain company has performed for a certain amount of quarters, or how much demand there is for that type of job. Your job security only lies in your ability, your zeal and YOUR determination to make your career work for you! Now we’re not talking about some hocus-pocus “think happy thoughts and it will happen” sort of thing. We truly believe that our success has ultimately come from the Lord, but it also goes to say that “A man reaps what we sows” (Gal 6:7b). You will get in return what you have put in. If you put in hard work you’ll reap the benefits of that. If you put in little labor and deceit, the fruits of that will show as well.

We were determined to not be average with our photography business and worked harder than we ever have for anything, and our career is thriving and we seem to have limitless possibilities. We learned how NOT to do lots of things with marketing and branding (as those who have been to our IN-CAMERA: Business & Marketing class know all too well :) and by trial and error figured out how to make our job work. Even though the average wedding photographer in America makes approximately 22-31k a year (almost half the national average household income) and about $1,372 per wedding, we were determined to do better and we did because we believed we could and worked hard until it did. We didn’t just open the Yellow Pages, see one shooter (or hundreds or maybe even thousands as there are in Nashville) and give up on our dream.

In sort of the same way, Dave Ramsey knew he could do something he loved AND make lots of money doing it. However his first time around he went completely bankrupt. So, he did it all over again and re-started his business on a fold-up coffee table in his living room with the passion and determination to never feel again what he felt in his bankruptcy days. Today he has made millions, and has done it all with ZERO debt. Now he has helped thousands of families pay off millions of dollars (including helping us get out of debt and inspiring us to have a debt-free business too).

Are you starting to see how important optimism, zeal and determination are?

So, if you are stressed, worried that your photography business won’t work, won’t make money, won’t bless your family and help you pay your bills, just know that it CAN if you work at it and work hard. You need to go out and make this job work for you and when something does not work, know that you just figured out one more way to not do things. Don’t let nay-sayers and doubt destroy you and NEVER do something because someone else thinks it would be in your best interests. Do what you love, work hard at it, have integrity, and you will begin to reap your harvest.

Thomas Edison was one of the most brilliant inventors of the 19th century, but he failed more times than most men could ever dream. In 1883 and 1884, while beating a path from his research lab to the patent office, he introduced the world’s first economically viable system of centrally generating and distributing electric light, heat, and power which took him thousands of tries to perfect.

We want to close this simple post with some of our favorite quotes from Mr. Edison in honor of the Melissa Wallaces who find yourselves scared to take a leap of faith and are wanting to play it safe… or what you think is safe. Listen to the brilliance of this man and we hope that he inspires you as much as he has us.

“I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

“Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

“Show me a thoroughly satisfied man, and I will show you a failure.”