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Being in business requires a thick skin. If you don’t have a thick skin and you are in business for yourself, you either need to grow one or fake one.
By nature, I have a thin skin. I am sensitive and can get offended and insulted easily. Ask my sister about our fights growing up. Ask Matt about our fights now. They are usually about something he said and I took offense to.
Business is full of hard decisions, both on the end of the business owner and on the consumer’s end. One of the hardest parts of being in business for myself has been growing that thicker skin, and learning to not take rejection or dismissal personally.
As a business grows and changes, their products usually change and their prices usually increase. That’s how businesses can expand, improve their craft or products, and continue to be profitable and grow. As businesses grow, the clientele that frequents that business, and the clientele that the business is targeting change. This is normal. This is expected.
The majority of the clients that were a part of my business in the beginning are no longer clients of mine. For many reasons, they have taken their photography needs elsewhere. Instinctually, I used to feel myself feeling sad or bad when I would see my past clients’ photos taken by someone else. “Maybe they didn’t like me well enough to come back?” “What’s wrong with me?” Typical responses from someone who has a thin skin and is quite sensitive.
But then, Matt came in with brilliant advice he learned in his business classes. QTIP. This means: Quit Taking It Personal. He would tell me that it’s not a stab at me; for whatever reason, some other photographer happened to fit them better now. The reasons might vary [financial, availability, style etc] and are really irrelevant. The point is that it’s not an insult to me, my art or my business. They just simple hired another photographer. That’s all it is. Let it be.
I love TOMS shoes. But not every single pair of shoes I buy are TOMS. Sometimes, I buy boots or flip flops, or even other brands of flats. It doesn’t mean I like TOMS less, or don’t value their product. I just simply wanted something different this time.
Over the course of my business, it’s been a tough lesson to learn – to not take rejection personally. I still find myself needing a reminder: that people’s choice to go with another photographer for a family session or wedding isn’t a direct hit to me. It just means someone else fit their needs better. And that’s ok! That’s good actually! My goal is to have the clients who do hire me wholeheartedly believe that I am the best possible fit for their photography needs/vision right now.
One thing that has really helped me in the past is if a bit of that disappointment starts to creep into my mind or heart, I refocus my mind not on the clients I DIDN’T book, but on those that I DID. I think about all the amazing clients who have trusted their family/wedding/memories in my hands this year, and how much of a gift that is. It’s not about what we don’t have, it’s about what we do have.
So embrace and be thankful for the clients you have had in the past. It’s because of them that you are where you are today. And embrace the clients you have NOW. They are helping you to continue to grow and have determined that you are right for their needs right now. That, in itself, is a huge compliment and an even bigger blessing.
This advice goes beyond the photography industry, into every other business and industry there is. We all can learn a lot by deciding to QTIP and Refocus.