I’ll never forget the day Hudson turned to me and said, “Mommy put down your phone.” We were upstairs in our loft which acts as the play area for my two boys, and I was drafting emails while he played with his toy trains nearby. While I was physically present with him, I was nowhere near mentally or emotionally available to him in that moment. And as my eyes welled up with tears, I had to uncomfortably admit to myself that this was becoming a dangerous pattern of how I was operating as a mother.
That day I knew something needed to change. A a few days later was when I found myself in my therapist’s office crying out of overwhelm. But with her help, I was able to evaluate how my own choices were creating the situation I found myself in.
Which is why learning to say NO is one of the most important things I’ve ever done to be able to successfully run my business while raising my two boys and being the kind of mother that it’s important for me to be. Choosing strategic and specific boundaries helps to protect my time, sanity, and ability to operate from a place of knowing both my family AND my business are well taken care of.
Often I think as entrepreneurs we equate the word “No” to mean something negative, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. No doesn’t have to be a negative, and in fact, there’s are SO many positives to saying No. If I had to boil it down to the three most important reasons why saying No as a mompreneur is so important to me, it would be these:
Somewhere along the way many of us have bought into this notion that as photographers a jam packed calendar equates to success, but what it meant for me was that I was heading straight for burnout. When I really sat down and thought about what set my soul on fire photography wise, it became evident to me that couples and weddings excited me so much more than photographing families. And yet, I was saying Yes to every family who inquired with me. When I set stricter limits on how many family sessions I would take on a year, it opened up my calendar to be able to give more time, attention, and care to my #kdyecouple family and serving them to the best of my ability.
It was then that my business truly began to flourish. Word of mouth referrals became a HUGE part of me fully booking my calendar because of the Experience I was giving my couples. And that experience could never happen had I stayed in the place of jamming my calendar so tight and saying Yes to everything. There’s a famous Maya Angelou quote that says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you are saying yes to only those things that set your soul on fire that will translate over into how you’re operating your business. Passion, attention to detail, and a heartfelt experience will always make people FEEL taken care of, and that is worth protecting at all costs.
I know that as a photographer it can be daunting looking at an entirely blank calendar each year and knowing that you have to fill it up with clients in order to financially support both your business and your family, but having the mindset that you need to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way because of the fear of what will happen if you don’t is a very unhealthy place to be as both a business owner and a mother.
As a business owner, it means every decision is coming from a place of fear. But being confident in yourself and making strategic business decisions that align with your VALUES and overall business goals, allows your heart to light up when you are able to say YES. And as a mother, I am able to teach my kids that living out of fear is no way to live at all.
One of the reasons I started my photography business in the first place was to allow me to have more freedom and time to spend with my family. But many small business owners know that running your own company means LONG hours and tons of time dedicated to not only maintaining, but growing it, and that can take you away from the very people you love the most. At the end of this life when I look back on it all, sure I will be proud of what I’ve built with this business, and yes, I will know the impact I’ve made on the couples I love and serve will carry so much meaning, BUT I also know that the time spent and memories made with my family and loved ones will ALWAYS be the thing that means the most to me.
I’ve had to build Kate Dye Photography in a way that allows me to live the life with the people who make my world go round. Saying NO to a business opportunity means that I’m saying Yes to being able to devote that time on my calendar for family trips, days off to rest, and undivided time and attention to Hudson, Beckham and Tyler. By creating a business to support the LIFE I love, in turn I’ve created a business that I also LOVE.
So friend, I’m here today to give you the permission to say NO. It may be the exact thing you need to be able to continue to successfully build and grow your business. It may be the one word that will save you from overwhelm and burnout. It may be exactly the missing piece of the puzzle for you. And if anything, I only hope that learning to say No will bless your business and life in ways that you may not even think are possible right now. I’m here cheering you on today!!
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