The Business of the Business

Thirteen years ago I was working on a beach selling falafels, taking photos of my friends and planning a lot of things that had no fixed date.  I wanted the lifestyle of an artist, a photographer, a storyteller, and an entrepreneur.  I was never really cut out for the 9-5.  So JBP was born those many years ago, but recently it almost came crashing down.

Last week I finished a four month business program at EMBERS in Vancouver.  It’s the third time since I launched JBP in 2001 that I’ve re-evaluated my business practices and re-tooled my career.  Each time I thought it’s the best thing I could have done and this time is no different.

I never wanted anything to do with business, even tho’, ironically, I wanted to run my own.  And like most photographers when starting out I had the artistic and technical skills to begin my career but very little business acumen or training.  I figured, like most, “Hey I’m good, I’ll hang a shingle and ‘they’ will come a calling”.  I bet 90% of photographers say the same thing; “well that didn’t work out so well”!  So 2 years after my initial start-up I accepted the obvious and put myself through my first entrepreneurial boot camp, and instantly my bottom line improved and continued to grow year after year.

Last week I graduated from my third training course – beers on a patio with my mentor, program coordinator and marketing team.  Cap and gown just didn’t seem right.  EMBERS has been phenomenal.  It’s provided me with a web designer, a research specialist, and a sales mentor who’ve helped me re-jig and re-build my business for this changing market.  The business landscape has changed a lot since the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Van, with shrinking corporate and marketing budgets making both sales and client retention more difficult.  Business was great then it got tough, it changed, I didn’t.

As an entrepreneur, life is incredibly hectic and it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.  This is exactly what happened to me.  This website is one change, my sales approach is another, and the rest is all behind the scenes in the new systems I have in place.  It’s taken early mornings and late nights for four months to get it done, but that’s what it takes every now and again.  That’s the price of being your own boss.  My business positions me to have an awesome lifestyle, but it takes incredibly hard work to reap the benefits year after year.

(EMBERS is a community economic development charity that works to combat poverty and assists in the revitalization of Vancouver through community-based business development.  Check em out! –  great people, great values).

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