Taking a passion, idea, and or concept and turning it into a successful business is the ultimate American dream. But it’s a hard journey to get there. Sacrifice and struggle is the story of every successful business. Getting paid to do what I love is truly living the life. On top of that I own it 100 percent. It was funded with my own capital and my debts were very low. Running a business is hard and extremely demanding. Long days and sleepless nights is the typical thing that comes with being an entrepreneur. But the reward is providing a service to people who want to feel connected and reminded they are worthy and empowered.
I have been in business for over a year going on two. I own a luxury Boutique Photography business. Because I am not “essential” I’ve been out of work since 8 March 2020. For context, this is not a hobby, hustle, or side gig; this is my career. It is what I do to keep the lights on, shelves stocked, and food on the table. I’m licensed, my business email is a .com, I have an EIN and an LLC. I say this because there’s a snowball effect the public doesn’t see. When my clients are out of work I can’t get paid, I can’t get bookings, I can’t pay my team. I can’t pay my bills. Even when I don’t book clients I have monthly operating costs I still have to pay, plus my household expenses.
Entering the third month since my business was mandated to close has left me with a new level of stress and anxiety. How do I keep my business afloat with no income stream coming in? To the average person many don’t understand or know there is a lot that goes behind running a business. Many also don’t know small businesses are the lifeblood of a city/town’s economy. While many don’t associate the human toll with the numbers and figures, here is my perspective while currently having to deal with the economic devastation this pandemic has caused on my business.
Prior to the pandemic my business was finally gaining traction and picking up. I was finally booking clients after months of failed strategies. My first quarter was finally profitable and debts were finally getting paid. Months of grinding and in the terms of Gary Vaynerchuk “eating shit” was finally paying off. I was well on my way to becoming an established luxury photography business, beating the 80% odds of failing within the first year. The long days and sacrifice are beginning to pay off. The heavy weight was getting lighter. There is the sense of pride beating the odds and seeing a dream becoming a reality.
Supporting small businesses is vital and important. When small businesses succeed communities succeed. Job growth increases and there is economic stability. Everything is interconnected. It’s not the big corporations that support communities, it’s small businesses. Yet the everyday working person and small mom and pop businesses are the ones suffering. The burden to support small businesses falls on the shoulders of the middle class. This should be on the government as well.
When the CARES Act was passed on 27 March 2020. I applied for the emergency relief fund, and the Paycheck Protection Plan. I saw none of it. Despite being early in submitting my application. I later found out the billions allocated to small businesses went to multi million dollar industries. Wow, all I needed was less than one percent to safely keep my business running and the lights on.
On top of that banks refused to take new applications and won’t even do business with anyone who wasn’t a client prior to the pandemic. The process and information to obtain funding was confusing in itself . Many private organizations offering grants placed prerequisites on receiving funding, which made it difficult to apply. Some didn’t provide tracking and status checks on applications. Sleepless nights wondering will I be able to pay my mortgage or feed my family is a constant concern.
The measures put in place to provide some sort of economic security have either failed or some situations don’t exist. The complex fragile networking web to keep business like mine afloat does not exist. Constant posts from various news outlets don’t seem to register the additional human toll and the callous decisions to reopen businesses despite increased spikes in deaths. My back is getting pushed against the wall to decide to risk my safety and life so I can survive and provide the bare minimum. It’s a very dicey situation. With no economic certainty and lack of legitimate support from the government the question of can I keep my business afloat shifts to can I provide the basic necessities for my family just to survive. Like food, fuel, and utilities.
The struggle is truly real. During the pandemic, I made myself productive by refining my products and services, began increasing my social media presence and finding ways to attract clientele who would be interested in a service once things return to normal. Working on my business has been almost therapeutic but it doesn’t solve the current problem.
Since I am still dealing with the fall of the economy shutting down there are a lot of uncertainties. So what does someone do to support? If you want to do a photoshoot, schedule a consultation. Purchase a session fee or prepay for a collection. Many photographers such as myself will reschedule free of charge if closures are extended. Purchase gift cards for Mother’s Day, Birthdays, Wedding Anniversaries and Wedding Gifts. Like, follow, and subscribe to social media and sign up for the monthly newsletter. Sharing social media content, and referring the business to friends and family who are interested in booking a photoshoot in the near future.
These things will truly help out. Until then I am just trying to survive and keep the brand afloat until some former semblance of normalcy returns and this pandemic is looked at through the rear view of history.