This month, Fitzgerald Photo turns nine.
More than a decade ago, I started my photography business even as I continued working full-time as a technology consultant. I had some initial success bringing in new clients.
It was a nice little start but not enough to cover the bills. I had an idea, not a business, and it was clearly decision time.
My wife Beth—who always seems to know me better than I know myself—made a suggestion she knew I needed to hear.
In short order I found myself on a plane headed to Washington state to visit my friend Scott. We’d known each other 16 years, since meeting in Cottonwood, Arizona; each of us a journalist at competing small-town weekly newspapers in the Verde Valley. Since that time we’d both moved several times, lived abroad, gone back to school and now I was coming to pick his brain about his experience running a successful business. By this time, he’d been an acupuncturist with his own shop for about a decade, expanding from a solo enterprise to one with staff and multiple providers. I was there to ask for advice, in between hiking and enjoying some Northwest beer.
He grilled me on the long drive from the airport: what was I selling, to whom was I selling. I was tongue-tied and felt inept. The weekend was a master’s course in learning to not make excuses. I had a quite a few. In the end, he told me, simply: “Unless you cut out all the other stuff and focus on your business, you’re not going to have a business. Stay in your lane.” He may have added some expletives to that last bit.
Motivated, I returned to Maine. I phased out my other gig and focused every day on building my new work. Even if I didn’t have paid shoots, I shot anyway. I worked on my business and kept business hours. I built systems. I took every opportunity to talk about what I do and to ask others what they needed.
The needle started to move. Slowly at first but undeniably. My business tripled that year, after just seven months of full time work. The year after, it doubled again. Two years later, it doubled yet again.
I had a business.
It all started with a decision to take responsibility for what I wanted and to focus on doing my work without making excuses.
Fitzgerald Photo started in 2009, by necessity. It was born in May, 2010, by choice.