Hi friends! Last week I had the utmost pleasure of speaking with my former High School’s FBLA club about being an entrepreneur. Now, I warned them as I’m currently warning you, that I’ve only been at this for about 14 months! I’m constantly learning and I’m still at the beginning of my journey. But I LOVED chatting with these high school kids about chasing their biggest, most audacious dreams.
I totally geeked out on Instagram after speaking with them and you guys sent me SO many sweet notes and insightful questions! Because of your amazing response, I thought I’d SHARE the presentation I gave to them, along with all of my speaker notes!
Check out the slides below and leave me a comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Hi everyone! My name is Francesca and I am a wedding photographer based in Westchester County. I founded my company, Francesca Dominique Photography, just over a year ago and I’m so excited that I was asked to chat with you all today! Not only did I graduate from here…a few too many years ago…but I first dreamt up the idea for my own company while in these halls!
So today I figured I’d tell you a little bit about my company, how I got there and 5 lessons I’ve learned in the last year or so. I want to preface this presentation by saying I decided not to get into the nitty gritty details of how to create a business plan or how to license your business as an LLC, though if you have any questions about specifics let’s talk about them! Please feel free to ask any questions you’d like, I’m here to help! But the lessons I’ve prepared today are here to instill hope – like I said, I’m about 14 months into this journey with a lifetime to go – so take it from me, that you guys can achieve anything. These lessons have helped me grow and scale my business in the last year as well as helped my personal life a well.
So, here we go!
Description of Francesca Dominique Photography
As I mentioned, I am a wedding photographer based in Westchester County though this year I’ve photographed everything from a 1st year old birthday party to corporate events for companies such as American Express and Facebook! Girl’s gotta pay her bills! But weddings have always been at the root and heart of my business, so I wanted to include a quick screenshot of the homepage of my website. I have business cards here for you guys too, if you’d like to dive deeper into my online presence and extended website pages. But at the heart of it, I’ve always dreamt of being a wedding photography for the crazy, adventurous, madly-in-love couples, so that’s what I’m leading with here and one day, I hope to focus even more so in the wedding industry.
How I Got Here
From there, I wanted to chat a little bit about how I got there and how that ties in with my first lesson for today.
So… My journey with photography started about 9 years ago when I was sitting in Ms. Dyckman’s darkroom photography class. As I planned out this presentation to include a timeline, I couldn’t believe that it’s been 9 years since I’ve sat in this classrooms and now I sound like I’m really old but let’s just keep moving forward (haha)
So in 2011, I took my first film photography class and I was a Junior at Lakeland at the time. I remember one day in particular, my friends and I were chatting about which colleges we wanted to apply to and all I could think about was that I wanted to start a wedding photography company. There’s so much hatred and chaos in the world, that wouldn’t it be so beautiful to photograph love and one of the happiest days of people’s lives? I went home to my parents with this idea of simply starting my own company and was encouraged to to go school first. So off I went to Marist College in Poughkeepsie. I put a note on 2013 because I remember calling my mom from campus one day, crying my eyes out because 1) adjusting the college life was tough and 2) what was I doing here when I really wanted to be a photographer?
As life would have it, I remained in college and finished my degree in 3.5 years. I ended up studying Advertising with a minor in Photography and truthfully, I’m so happy I stayed to receive my degree. Not only did college equip me with an immense amount of tools that I can transfer into my business today but I now have lifelong friends and an enormous amount of professional contacts as well.
After I graduated, I wasn’t sure what to do next and ultimately, decided to put my dreams of being a wedding photographer on the back burner for awhile. I kept telling myself, “I’ll do it when I get married,” or “I’ll start when I have kids…” I kept putting it off until the next step, whatever that was. I ended up working for an experiential event company in Manhattan and truthfully, I loved it! But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t fulfilling me in the way I knew photography could.
It wasn’t until my grandfather passed away in July of 2018 that I was reminded how short life it. And in the hopes of not sounding utterly cliche to you guys, it was then that I realized that not only is life too short – but it’s too damn short to spend my days doing something I didn’t LOVE.
So I finished up some projects and in October of 2018, I quit my job and made the leap to create FDP!
I decided to insert a quick timeline into my presentation to fully represent that it took SEVEN years from when I started dreaming of being a wedding photographer to taking action on it.
I like to call this one the “unrelenting dream.” Have you guys ever been so passionate or fired up about a goal? It doesn’t even have to be a business goal, though I know we’re in FBLA today, but even if it’s passing an exam or making the soccer team. You just have this fire in you that won’t go away until you start taking action on whatever it is fueling you? So some people call this their sacred rage, but I call it my unrelenting dream. It took me 7 years from when my dream initiated in 2011, to when I started taking action on it in 2018.
This, you guys, is my advice to you. If you have that fire or that passion for something….listen to it, lean into it. You don’t have to know the next step or what 10 years down the line is going to look like just yet. Just listen to it. That dream has been placed on your heart for a reason, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try and see it through.
Provide Yourself with an Arsenal of Resources
How many of us have made a new years resolution and then 2 weeks in we’re right back to where we started, our inspiration lost? This lesson comes from an idea similar to that concept. Motivation comes and goes. You can be super fired up one day and then “eh” about the same goal the next day. We still want the same end goal, but our motivation to put in the work is lacking. Right? It’s human nature, we all have days where we feel off.
Having what I like to call, “an arsenal of resources,” helps us to avoid stagnancy on our off days. To create this arsenal you have to come at whatever goal you’re trying to achieve from multiple angles and schedule them in your day to day. So, in my case – this looks like
- networking with other wedding professionals
- Speaking with wedding photographers who have been in the space longer than I have
- Asking them questions, offering to tag along at shoots and simply carrying their bags, observe how they interact with clients
- Scheduling time to listen to professionally development podcasts
- Investing in courses and online educational resources with scheduled time to implement each lesson you’re learning.
Having an arsenal of resources helps you to not only stay motivated, but it helps you to create a schedule that helps you to stay consistently disciplined on the days you’re feeling “off.”
But you can do this with any goal you have in mind. Say you want to make a starting position on the soccer team or get an A on your next Calc test. There are multiple ways to ensure success. You can chat with your teacher for after school help, you can review the lesson with your classmates and peers, you can take practice exams and even re-write each day’s lesson plans to further engrain the lessons in your brain.
The Power of Consistency
The rule of 5 is a concept I learned from leadership coach, John Maxwell, and it goes like this!
There’s a tree in your backyard that you’d like to cut down. So, you grab an ax! Every day you go outside, hit the tree with the ax 5 times, and then walk away. The next day, you hit the tree with the ax 5 times and then walk away. And then again the following day, you hit the tree with the ax 5 times and then walk away. You don’t hit the tree 15 times some days or 2 times other days. Every single day you hit the tree with the ax 5 times. It doesn’t matter if you hit it left handed or right handed or in the morning versus the evening – you just hit it 5 times each day.
John Maxwell then asks us, “what will eventually happen to the tree?” It’ll fall down. DUH! Right? Without a question, eventually the tree will fall down. It might be a really big tree that’ll take 3 years to fall down, but eventually it’ll fall.
The rule of five basically says, find your tree. And determine the 5 things you can do everyday to get closer to knocking it down. Whether that’s starting a company, passing a test, – whatever your “TREE” is, how are you going to knock it down? Be consistent and you’ll find success.
Think Big Picture
This one kind of speaks for itself, right? But here are some other fun facts about the multi-million dollar artist that you may have not known.
– Her music career began while playing the flute for her high school marching band.
– She collaborated with TONS of artists, including Prince, Clean Bandit and Bastille, prior to being known for her solo career.
– She released her debut album in 2013.
– “Good as Hell” came out in 2017 but didn’t hit the charts until 2019.
Be patient. Play the long game. There’s no such thing as overnight success.
Give Yourself Grace
And remember to always give yourselves grace. You’re not going to sit down on the first day of starting your own company and be amazing at it. Not every day is a walk in the park, it’s hard work. This has been the hardest year of my life. But I’m always learning and I’m continually getting better. In this world of social emdia, there are TOO many people to compare ourselves too – do not be hardened when you see other people doing what you want to do with your life. That only shows you that it can be done. You are your superpower when being an entrepreneur – because at the end of the day, 10 people can be selling the SAME product but only YOU are the one selling yours. You are your biggest strength. Failure is okay – it’s necessary. SO keep your head up and just keep going.