15 lessons learnt from 15 years of running my business

branding shoots in my garden lifestyle studio

my mini branding shoots from last year 

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Photographer and personal brand strategist. I'm on a mission to help you get visible in your business with genuine confidence. 

Meet Vicki

15 business lessons learnt

This month I am celebrating 15 years of running my business. 🥳 I know it’s a complete clichĂ©, but I genuinely don’t know where that time has gone!

Statistics show that only 20% of UK businesses make it to the 15 year mark, so I feel pretty proud of myself for being one of them! I’ve been reflecting on the many lessons I’ve learnt over these past 15 years and thought I would share them with you.

I’m reaching back in time to 2008 Vicki to share these lessons with her.  Imagine her there; 30, full of dreams and determination, her 8-month-old son nestled on her lap as she takes that leap, hands in her notice and registers her own photography business.

It’s hard to imagine now, but in 2008 Instagram and iPhones didn’t exist, Facebook groups weren’t a thing, not many people were on LinkedIn, and no-one was even taking online courses let along using AI! The online landscape and the way we run our businesses are now so different from how it was when I started my business.

Below is my letter to the 2008 me with my 15 business lessons learnt over the last 15 years. I hope you find something in here that resonates with you.

Dear 2008 Vicki 

Congratulations on launching your new business! This is you in 15 years time (I know it’s a bit weird, but go with it!) and I want to share some advice as you embark on this exciting new journey.

1.You’re going to feel like you’re winging it in business a lot of the time. But you’ll soon discover that so is everyone else! You’ll learn to love the exploration, experimenting and figuring it out as you go along

2. Follow the tingles of excitement. You’ll sometimes even struggle to sleep because you’ll be buzzing about a new idea you’ve had for your business. Follow that excitement and you won’t go wrong. Run the workshop, launch the podcast, create the retreat, start the mini session days, build the course. These new ideas will make such a difference to people and will light you up more than you can imagine.

3. Working for yourself will sometimes feel lonely and you’ll crave to work in a team again. Invest time and energy into finding like-minded business owners who you can share the highs and lows of running a business with. Your belief of community over competition will serve you well.

4. It’s ok to say no – follow your gut and if something doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to do it. Remember that when you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else – that could be your dream client or a lovely family day out. Your time is your most valuable commodity. I know you worry sometimes that the work will dry up and you need to say yes to everything – it won’t and you don’t.

5. You’re going to be nervous about showing up in your business, but building your personal brand will be one of the most powerful things you do in your business. At times you’re going to find it scary to put yourself out there, but it will pay off and guess what – in the future you’ll be teaching other business owners how to get visible.

6. Keep caring about delivering an amazing experience to your clients and you’ll build an incredible network of people shouting about your work for years to come. You’ll soon realize that being kind and truly caring about your clients is the cornerstone of your brand strategy and it pays off in the long term.

7. Spend your money wisely. Don’t believe the advice that investing in your business always pays off – it won’t if you invest in the wrong thing/person! You don’t need to invest thousands every year in training or ads to run a thriving, profitable business, despite what the online world tells you. In fact, you’ll see many people go out of business because they overspend, something that’s not often talked about. Keep a growth mindset, always be learning, and research your mentors & suppliers carefully.

8. You haven’t failed because you haven’t scaled to multi 6 figures or grown a team. You will learn to ignore the hustle hard narrative you see online, and realise that’s not what you want from your business. You’ll realise that you’re proud to be a ‘company of one’ and to have run a thriving business for 15 years (whilst looking after yourself, your family and not burning out.)

9. It’s good to diversify your business and try new things. Those extra things you start doing (like a few business headshots on the side) will one day be the start of a whole new area of work for you that becomes the bread and butter of your business.

10. Celebrate your wins. Reflecting on achievements is crucial for maintaining motivation and perspective, especially when you’re working independently.

11. Embrace change. There is going to be so much of it. Stay curious but don’t feel like you have to jump head first into every new thing that comes along.

12. Blogging is never a waste of time and those blog posts that your create will still be working for you in years to come. Keep on blogging even when it’s so much easier to just post on Insta (that will make sense in a couple of years!) Oh and start your email list straight away – it’s how you’ll get so many of your bookings over the years.

13. Embrace the less glamorous parts of your business. Get familiar with your figures and set targets. Be sensible and invest in CRM and accounting software earlier than you think. 2023 you will be grateful that you did!

14. Don’t be afraid to increase your prices. You offer an amazing service and you and your work are worth it.

15. Don’t compare yourself to other business owners you see online. Things are often not what they seem. Remember the quote; ‘you are no better than anyone else and no one is better than you.’

Running your business will be so rewarding, but it will also test you in so many ways (and don’t ask what happens in 2020 🥴) Just know that in 15 years, you’ll be running a thriving business that you love more than ever, a business that has changed and adapted to you and your family and one that has made a positive impact on so many people. Enjoy it! 

Love from
2023 Vicki xx

I hope you enjoyed reading my 15 lessons learnt and took something from these that will help you in your business.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me over the past 15 years. Whether that’s as a client, a friend, a supplier or if you’ve just read my blog or liked one of my social media posts – I truly appreciate it.

You can now listen to me talking through these 15 lessons in lots more detail in this podcast episode…

Listen on Apple Podcasts here 

PS. See how you can work with me here. And click below to get my 12 page guide to help you get visible in your business with confidence. You’ll also receive my monthly newsletter full of advice and inspiration to help you in your business.

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