Yael Pachino, CEO at Yael Pachino Photography, is a frequent Tribe 12 partner. You may have met her last year when she shot some Tribe 12 Fellowship events or before posing for her at our Beachadelphia photobooth. See more of her work here. Get to know this young entrepreneur a little better with her tips for running your own small business!
“Hello!” says by my best friend as I pick up the phone. “You have the day off right?” I take one look at my calendar and my never ending check list that is sitting on the desk in front of me and I sigh “Actually, I have a bunch of work to get through” I say, feeling a little bit guilty and a lot overwhelmed. Being the CEO, chief marketing officer, financial planner, accountant, biggest advocate, IT guy and barista for Yael Pachino Photography can be tough at times, but as my boyfriend always reminds me “this is what I signed up for” and to be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am not going to lie, it is not easy, it is not always fun, but being a young, small business owner is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. Let me take you back to the beginning…
I remember like it was yesterday, I was sitting in my boyfriend’s apartment, on New Year’s Day and I decided it was time. It was time to make Yael Pachino Photography Facebook official. So, as Robert was whipping up some omelettes, I was tapping away on my computer coming up with the perfect Facebook business page bio. Twenty minutes later, my Facebook Business Page was up and running. I had sent a bunch of my friends invitations to like my page and as Robert and I were eating our omelettes, talking about the night before and discussing what are New Year’s goals were, I was thinking “Well… now what?” This is a question every small business owner asks themselves time and time again, and let me tell you, it get’s easier. The first time is always the hardest, but the first time is also the biggest step. If you just formed an LLC, started your sole proprietorship or created your Etsy shop, CONGRATS! You did it. You went for it, now all you have to do is follow through.
Each business is different, each business owner has their own vision and each person has their own network, therefore each business has it’s own rules and as much as I wish I had all of the answers for you, I don’t. But, what I can do is share some of the things I have learned over the past few years that I find are essential to having a successful, awesome business, and more importantly, a happy and healthy life as a young entrepreneur.
1. If you take yourself seriously, other people will too
Do you know how many people have said to me “oh my god, what a cute hobby” as they refer to my business. At first, I didn’t really know how to respond, I mean I knew what I wanted to say, but I have a feeling telling someone that “my hobbies don’t pay my rent, but my photography does,” isn’t a very diplomatic way to go about it. Instead, I decided to take things into my own hands, being more confident in my business and myself. I started dressing more professionally, using an online scheduling software for all of my meetings, showing up 20 minutes early, speaking as if I was an expert in my line of work, going to networking events, etc… the moment you realize that you can be an authority in your field, that you are confident in your skills and believe in yourself is the moment that people will start looking at you in a more serious light. If you show up and become the go-to person, then people will treat you that way.
2. Find a balance
“You need to relax” is something I grew accustomed to hearing during the first year of my business, and let me fill you in on a secret, I hate being told to relax! If I could relax, I would do it and honestly, during that first year, I didn’t think I had time to relax, which made me even more stressed. When you start your own business, it feels like you are on the clock 24/7, seven days a week, 52 weeks out of the year, and in a way, you are. You will always be thinking about your business, you will always be trying to find ways to subtly pitch it in conversation and you will always be in search of the next thing that will help your business grow and flourish. Don’t get me wrong, that is all great and important. It means you care and it means your passionate about what you are doing. But, when you put all of your energy into your business and zero of your energy into yourself, you will burn out fast and that my friend, is not the way to start a successful business. I won’t tell you to relax, but I will tell you that investing in yourself is also a way to invest in your business. About a year ago, I decided that I would pick a day out of the week (my choice was Tuesday) and devote half of the day to me. I wasn’t going to do anything related to photography for half the day, at first, it felt like an impossible task. Now, it gives me the freedom to not feel guilty about spending some time and energy on myself. It is already blocked off in my calendar and there is no reason why I shouldn’t invest in the CEO of my company.
3. Outsource as much as possible (when you can)
“How the heck do you learn SEO (search engine optimization)?” I asked my Marketing Consultant during our first session as we were discussing my website and the craziness that is Google. Steve laughed and didn’t end up giving me a real answer. And you know what, I didn’t mind, because truth be told, I don’t really care how SEO works, I just want it to be working in my favor. It would take me months to try and figure out even the smallest part of how to manage my websites’ SEO and instead of doing it myself, spending all that time and energy on something that is just going to frustrate me, I decided I would rather spend some money and have someone who knows what they are doing, who might even enjoy it, take this headache off my shoulders. I know, I know, you don’t want to spend the money. But guess what? Your time is money and even if you spend two hours on something that can take an expert two minutes to do, why would you waste your time, energy or money.
4. Set smaller goals…and celebrate them
“…And your wedding package will be $5,000” I said, trying to make sure my voice didn’t squeak as my heart was pounding out of my chest. “$5,000… ok thanks, I’ll get back to you,” the bride said as she hung up the phone. I did it! I finally did it! I quoted a bride for $5,000 and it was not easy. I could barely breath after she hung up. I knew it was out of her price range, I knew that I wasn’t going to book the wedding, but my goal for the year was to quote at least one wedding $5,000 and I finally did it. I prepared myself for this moment, I made a new Wedding Welcome Packet, I updated my website and price lists, I had my portfolio on all the correct promotional platforms. I had set up my business in a way that made it so I could quote a bride for $5,000 and not get a big fat “HA” as a response. That was my goal, granted, it would have been awesome if she actually booked the $5,000 package, but that is a different goal and deserves a different celebration. Having both big goals and smaller goals are essential in any business. Creating a successful business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon (forgive me for the cliche), therefore, to keep up the momentum, feeling accomplished is important. All those little goals you set, will lead to the bigger end goal and trust me, you will feel a lot happier and a lot less stressed if you allow yourself to celebrate the smaller goals too.
5. Listen to advice, but make up your own rules
“No, no, no. That is not the way you do it. You need to do it like [insert advice here].” When I first started working as a photographer professionally, I had absolutely no idea what to charge people, what was industry standards, what people expected, what I should expect from people etc… So, as every young, professional does, I sought out advice. I went to people I looked up to and asked them as many questions as they let me. I need to be honest, this confused the heck out of me. Everyone I spoke to had a different opinion. How was I supposed to know what was the right thing to do!? It overwhelmed me and made be extremely inconsistent. With every client interaction, I would follow a different persons advice and it was turning into a colossal mess. Finally, I realized, hey, this is my own small business, I don’t have to listen to anything anyone else says. I make the rules. What I say goes in the world of Yael Pachino Photography; within reason that is. As your own small business owner, It is up to you to set up your own business model. If you don’t like the way things are done, change them. It’s your call. With that being said, I believe you should still seek out advice, still talk to other people who have even more experience than you, but if you don’t like what they said, don’t listen to them. Just because they came first, doesn’t mean they always know best. Believe in yourself, your own abilities and your own business mind to be able to create a business you are proud of!
Now, go on, go and build yourself your own business. Take yourself seriously and don’t let anyone tell you it is just a hobby. Take the time to really think about what you are doing and set up a list of goals that are reachable. Once you reach the smaller goals, the bigger goal won’t seem so far away. While you are reaching those smaller goals, make sure you set up your own rule book. Make sure you are comfortable with everything your small business has to offer and don’t forget to hire help when help is needed. This will in turn, help you relax and help you take some time to invest in yourself.
You want to start this small business because it means something to you, don’t let the speed bumps and the unknown scare you off. That is part of the adventure. Believe in yourself, give it your all and everything will follow suit.
Wishing you the best,
Yael Pachino Photography
Thinking about taking the leap into becoming a business owner? The Tribe 12 Fellowship can teach you everything you need to know. The Tribe 12 Fellowship supports an elite cohort of passion-driven people launching socially-responsible businesses and projects. Applications are open now! tribe12.org/apply-today.