We’re in the middle of a series for photographers and aspiring entrepreneurs called “Making the Leap” where we’re sharing our ten practical steps for going from part-time photographers to full-time. Or, as author Jon Acuff puts it, going from your day job to your dream job without it becoming a nightmare.
When we got engaged over five years ago, Amy’s uncle handed us an audio book and CD set that literally changed our lives forever. The book was The Total Money Makeover and the CD set was Financial Peace University, both by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey. As he handed it to us, Amy’s uncle told us he would’ve given anything to go back in time and understand these financial principles at the start of his own marriage, and that he hoped he could help prevent us from making the same mistakes he did. His words were so powerful and full of such conviction that we knew it wasn’t something we could ignore.
to live like no one else, so that later they can live and give like no one else
When we started our business, it was only natural for us to apply the same debt free principles.
It wasn’t going to be easy, but it would be worth it.
We knew that it would take longer to save up and pay cash for all of our gear and equipment while still paying our monthly bills and saving for the future than it would be to charge things on a credit card or take a loan from the bank, but we also knew that being patient would be worth it – because no one would ever own any piece of our business except us.
As two elementary school teachers, we weren’t exactly rolling in the dough, but we made the decision from the beginning to live on only one teacher salary and save the other, while building our business at night and on the weekends, to make sure that we’d have plenty of cushion to keep the uncertainties of life from taking us down. We invested a small amount of personal cash to purchase some starter equipment for Amy to begin shooting, and from there on, we committed to never spending any more personal money on our business.
We worked photo jobs, saved up, and bought all of our gear in the order of importance, not price.
We didn’t pay ourselves from our business for a long time because we were spending most of the money we were bringing in on acquiring all the gear we needed to grow into the future. It was an investment worth making.
We also committed to reimbursing ourselves by the end of our first year in business and never investing personal dollars into it again. We wanted to teach ourselves to be disciplined in our business spending. We also never wanted to get into the habit of bailing out our business with our personal savings, mortgaging our future and our future kids’ futures on a losing venture.
Our business would stand on its own, no matter how long it took.
Some people might argue that we played it too safe, that we took the conservative route, that we should’ve made the leap earlier.
For us, the peace of mind that came with building our business debt-free was worth all the sacrifices we made along the way.
We never worried that our business wouldn’t make it. We never had to take jobs that we hated, either, just to pay the bills. We got to do things our way on our timeline. Sure, it was really hard. We worked 12-14 hour days 7 days a week for a few years. But the stress of working hard towards a goal doesn’t compare to the stress of the loans and bills you can’t pay.
No matter where you are in your journey, we believe the best first step is getting out of debt. It might take some big adjustments. It might mean working your day job longer than you’d like. But trust us, Dave Ramsey’s plan won’t just change your financial future, it will change your heart, too, and that’s priceless.
If you have any questions about this first step, please leave your comments down below or shoot us an email and we’ll do our best to answer them!
Next, we’ll dive in to step two: Get a Mentor. We’ll talk about how we found our photography mentor, what to look for in a mentor, and how you can add value to someone so that they’ll reinvest in you!
We’re so proud of our shooting and editing course students all across the world! They’re shooting better, editing faster and serving their clients better than ever before!
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