My Top 3 business + life lessons after a decade in business



Ok friend. Grab a cup of coffee… or save this for your lunch break. It’s worth the read for the aspiring dreamers and the burnt out creatives…

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole decade since the year I took the plunge and made my business official. I remember those naive days. Just figuring out who to pay to make that “LLC” official, or the patient web buddies who survived all of my questions. And the sweet clients who endured my naive journey into a suitable designer who actually knew what she was doing.

And we won’t even go in to all the printing mistakes! I still struggle with typos. I’m sorry. I’m an artist. Not an English major. Grace.

It’s been quite a long road. There’s been some really high ups and some earth shattering downs. Not only in my business, but life as well.

Having come this far, I think it’s only fair I share some of the most vulnerable lessons I’ve learned. Maybe even some things I’ve never shared before. I think it’s time to stop hiding behind my work and share what it all entails. From design deadlines to project wins; heart-wrenching life valleys and first-hand miracles — if there’s a couple things I’ve learned (and maybe still learning today), it’s these:

1. Ask Ask Ask.

Yes. I mean, ask for help. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a go-getter (and a little bit of a control freak) and our kind hates letting anyone know that we don’t have it all somewhat together. We would never even dare asking the embarrassing questions in this sea of creatives that seem to “know what they’re doing.” Newsflash: We’re all just surviving — one plea for help at a time.

So don’t be afraid to ask the silly questions like: How do I even find my clients? How do I stop living paycheck to paycheck? How did she do that?! How on earth do I manage my time? What did she use for that? There’s no wrong questions. And you’d be surprised what a simple email can do. There are some pretty amazing creatives out there that don’t have a problem sharing their secrets, because let’s face it – nothing’s a secret anymore.

Like the first time I emailed Jasmine Star …and SHE WROTE BACK! Omg! Yes. Who woulda thunk? You email someone and they write back! Genius system, I tell ya. I just had a simple question…trying to understand my market more, since most of my clients were photographers and wedding vendors. And she answered!!! She totally did! Whether it was her assistant writing or her, she personally made sure I got an answer with her words.

So just because one of your creative crushes has millions of followers and seems to ‘have it all together,’ most of them are still willing to help. Most of them are human. Most of them have a heart.

Don’t stop at “I can do this on my own,” because the truth is, you can’t.

2. Learn from the downs.

I’ve had a lesson or two these past ten years.

Like, it’s ok to make a mistake and admit it to your client. The genuine honesty goes a long way.

Or that when someone walks away because you’re “too expensive” doesn’t mean you’re not doing it right. Bringing up your prices won’t bring doom to your business. Instead it brings the value it deserves and the clients who understand that value.

Or maybe the even harder life lesson that — divorce doesn’t mean the end of you…

That on that 2013 October day he walked out, it didn’t mean there was nothing left for me. And suddenly, it meant I had to find a Leslie who’s identity was not limited to ‘wife.’ And that was HARD. Because that’s the one role I valued most. Even over “mom.”

Most of you may know, I just stepped into the ‘wife’ role again last year (redemption baby!), but not without four years of growth, fear, and questions. And most importantly, the lesson that my identity has nothing to do with my circumstances — more so, how I walk through those circumstances. I could write a book y’all. And maybe one day I will. It would be full of hard core honesty and a ton of [almost] offensive grace — toward me and towards him.  (Gasp!)

If I hear enough, “Write it Leslie!” …I just may try!

3. Heard the line yet? —  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

The quote might be worn out and over-used on your Instagram feed, but it couldn’t be truer.

Every time I compared or tried to do it like someone else, it flopped. They all flopped — that design, that post, that date (ugh), that vacation I couldn’t afford.

If you’re scrolling social media and the comparison meter is at it’s highest. Stop. Just stop. (And believe me, I’m preaching to the choir…thus, my January hiatus from the media frenzy. Oh the peace it brings).

Did you know that the other photographer who’s killin’ it compared to you might not have kiddos yet and has double the free time you have? That’s probably why she’s whipping out more sessions. It’s a valid reason. A valid difference. And it’s ok!

Here’s one thing that hit me the hardest and stuck. I just heard it this month on Jenna Kutcher’s podcasts! You must check her out. It was like my own little special 10 year anniversary lightbulb moment:

“Yes, there are hundreds, maybe millions of people doing or selling the same thing you are. But every follower is only really listening to one of your kind. Grab your friend’s phone. You’ll see. They might be following a different fitness coach then everyone else in the room. But they’re intentionally following and listening to that one and not ALL of them. So keep whispering to your crowd. They’re listening. And they will really only cling to their favorite. Be your little crowd’s favorite and own it.” (Paraphrased of course – but sooo good!)

So those were my 10-year cliff notes. There’s so much to share. And I intend to share more this year. At least that’s my goal.

And May is celebration month! That’s the actual month I opened the doors to my business! So if you’re not on my email list….you gotta join now. (Sign up here)

That’s where I’ll share all the anniversary freebies that are being handed out this Spring, on me!

And, after five years, I’m finally sharing my own of re-branding journey. Complete with votes and chime-ins from you! Or, just use it as an inside look at the process before you take the plunge yourself!