Know what’s easy?
Growing a business from scratch while raising two small children.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA JK guys, it’s hard as hell.
I get emails from mamas of small children sometimes, and they mostly say, “How do you do everything?” The truth is, that I don’t. And the other truth is, that I do it all VERY SLOWLY.
Simon and I scraped together £350 so that I could buy a budget DSLR in the Spring of 2011. Adlai was just four or five months old. And I was kind of confined to this flat we lived in because it was upstairs, and every time I wanted to go out, I had to carry the stroller down the stairs and assemble it in the alleyway, and then walk back up the stairs and collect Adlai from the crib I’d put him in to keep him safe, and carry him back down again, crossing my fingers no cars had come down the alley and crushed the stroller.
So I didn’t get out much.
But our living room had huge windows, and I would just lay Adlai on the floor on top of pretty rugs and practice photographing him. And then I’d google aperture and shutter speed, and try again.
And that is how I started. Six years ago, with my rubbish little camera.
Over the next four years, I grew as a photographer extremely slowly. I was raising Adlai, and taking a few pictures of families and couples I knew for practice. In the Summer of 2012, two friends from church asked me to shoot their weddings. The first one paid me £200. I thought this was it…things were taking off.
And then I had Koa, and he didn’t sleep, and I literally did nothing for a year and a half but keep those boys and myself alive.
In the Spring Koa turned one – in 2014 – I decided to start again. And that’s pretty much when I say things really took off. The years before that, were just me, surviving. And the years since? Well, I’m still surviving. But somewhere between 2014 and today, I started really thriving.
And that’s what I want to talk to you about today. You, with the dreams burning inside of you, if only you weren’t so exhausted. If only you weren’t up-to-here in diapers and burp cloths.
And meanwhile, everyone is speeding past you. People who don’t have families yet. Immersing themselves in education and workshops and putting every cent of their income back into their businesses because they don’t have a family to keep alive. I see you. I’ve been there. I’m still there, really.
But there’s a lot to learn from where we are, and I want to go ahead and give you a shortcut to some of it, so you can focus on that on your hard days.
I say this often: “I cannot understand how I wasn’t running a multi-million-pound corporation before I had kids.”
Seriously. What did I do with all my time? The beauty of having limited time, is that you know exactly what to do with it. Nothing has helped me focus on what I want and what I’m working for more than having kids.
A) I want them. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And they’re pretty much the reason I started this whole thing anyway, which I’ll talk more about later. And B) When I have nine hours a week to get stuff done, I will work like a mad man for those nine hours to fit everything in. I have never been more productive than I am now, because I know how to squeeze every ounce out of an hour.
I am fairly sure that “overnight success” is a myth. I mean, I guess there are exceptions, like Rebecca Black and that “Friday” song (that I may or may not sing to my kids every single Friday morning).
But most success – even the success that looks “overnight” to the rest of the world – is just the sudden visibility of someone who’s been quietly working their butt off for years.
That’s you. Quietly working your butt off during naptime. Growing things sloooooowly. Figuring out exactly how to take care of yourself and your dreams while also taking care of the people you care about. Feeling the growing pains and then adjusting in every season to make your work-life fit in with your life-life.
This is a biggie. I know how much it hurts when it feels like other people with more time and resources are zooming past you. But here’s the thing: It has nothing to do with you.
You are on your own, very unique, very good journey, and someone else’s journey does not affect yours in any way…unless you let it. And you don’t let it. You focus on what you’re doing. You keep taking your own steps, as slow as they may feel.
And more than that? You know how to be the loudest cheerleader ever for that guy who’s sprinting up ahead. You know that that you won’t diminish yourself by lifting him up. In fact, quite the opposite. Because when it’s your turn, I guarantee he’ll return the favour.
You’ve had time, during your dormant years, to really think about what you want out of life.
First of all, you want these kids, this family. You want to have time with them, because they’re the most important thing to you. In fact, that’s probably why you started your business in the first place. Not because you wanted to make loads of money (although that doesn’t hurt), but because you wanted time.
Even the money is just a vehicle to the time. You want to be happy. You want to pick your kids up from school, and be able to hire a babysitter to go on a date with your husband. You want to be able to go on a nice vacation or two every year. You want to be able to travel to see friends and family who live far away. To make memories.
You know these things, because of the time you’re putting in now. Because you’re growing slow, and on the days when you can’t get %&*£ done, you’re putting the hours in. You’re putting the thinking in. You’re dreaming about what you really want, and what you really want, is the freedom to live your life exactly how you see fit – not to someone else’s Standard Life Plan.
So see? It’s not so bad, this season. You’re learning so much, and your priorities are awesome, and you are going to do this. And I’m going to help you in every way I can.