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Wow I really cannot believe we are here! 100 episodes in! It feels like I just started this little journey but also it’s amazing to see how far we have come in a year and a half! I have learned so much from this podcast and it has not only helped me help you, but it has made me a better business owner.
For those who have been around since the beginning you know that the whole reason I started this Podcast was because of a little phrase my husband told me when we first met. “Every successful rancher has a wife that works in town”
And that stuck with me for YEARS. I wanted to live the ranching lifestyle, and I was okay with working, but I also wanted to be a stay at home mom. I didn’t want to work in town.
So I hustled on my own business to make my reality what it is today. A serial entrepreneur, with a passion for branding, marketing and content creation. But most importantly… I am a mama who gets to stay home and raise her babies.
This Podcast was brought to life as a means to help you do the same. Even if your goals and dreams are not the same as mine. My hope is that this platform creates community for the western and rural women out there who have dreams bigger than the small towns they live in, and yet they love to live there anyway.
In this episode, I want to share with you my BIGGEST lessons I have learned as an entrepreneur. Lessons you may have heard me talk about in other episodes but all bunched up into one.
Are you ready? Let’s jump on in.
Lesson #1 – Perfection Holds You Back
Where are all my perfectionists at? Yup, I am raising my hand right there with you sister!
I’ll be honest, I still struggle with this both in my personal life and my business. My toxic traits if you will, are probably the fact that I am a huge perfectionist and people pleaser. More often than not when I am working on some kind of project I will get stuck on it because I never feel like it’s done.
If you think you fall into that same boat, then you can probably relate to things like this. Never being able to finish your website. Or not hitting publish on that blog post, Youtube video, etc because you don’t have the perfect graphics created, the audio you want, or whatever it might be.
Please hear me out and learn from my mistakes. I know this is easier said than done but if you stop relying on having the perfect instagram feed and just hit publish, you are going to make it so much further. Because while you are waiting for the perfect caption to fall into your lap, someone else is posting something every single day without much thought.
And I can promise you, they are going to get where they are going a heck of a lot faster because of it.
In my own business things like branding have always stopped me in my tracks. It may be a female things, but I love the physical aspects of a brand. The fonts, colors, logos, etc. You could find me designing these sorts of things all day long. And while they do play an important role in your business, they are not everything. When you spend too much time trying to craft the perfect logo and not as much time reaching out to new clients, you are wasting your time and missing out on potential income opportunities.
I believe it was Angie Lee who once said that “done is better than perfect”. This doesn’t mean you have to post mediocre work or that you shouldn’t be proud of what you are creating. But it does mean that you can lower your expectations and standards a tiny bit and remember.. you can always go back and “perfect” things later on. For now… hit publish!
Lesson #2 – Pivot When Needed
If there is anything that the year 2020 taught us, it’s that sometimes we need to be able to be flexible and pivot in our businesses. For me not only was that crazy year a game changer for me, but also these last few years have brought on huge life changes. These changes have forced me to reevaluate my priorities as a business owner but also as a person.
I realized that I did not want to have to be photographing a wedding every single weekend for the rest of my life as a career. I wanted to be at home with my babies and with my husband who works all week long.
Traveling was getting exhausting to me too. So I took a look at some new income streams to balance out what I would be losing if I ever gave up some weddings or all weddings for that matter. Also, I added onto my team and started hiring associates too.
This allows me to be in 2 places at once.
If you find yourself not feeling as passionate as you once did, or maybe you are trying to grow your family, it may be time to pivot.
You can most definitely find ways to shift your business into a different direction slowly without having to dive head first.
I have gone from horse trainer to wedding photographer. Photographer to educator and educator to podcaster. And now content creator too!
Add things when they feel right, and remove things when it no longer makes sense for your business or life.
Lesson #3 – Feedback Isn’t A Bad Thing
As a photographer this was always especially hard for me. I imagine it is the same for any kind of entrepreneur that is selling goods and services. We tend to take everything really personally, especially us women.
I remember feeling absolutely heartbroken when I got my first unhappy client. The stress I carried with me lasted for a really long time and the GUILT. Oh man, the guilt you feel when someone is not happy with something you worked so hard on.
It’s a funny thing to think about really. You could get 100 positive feedback reviews, and only 1 negative one. But what do you think sticks with you? Yup. The negative one.
Hear me out. Getting feedback, positive or negative, is a GOOD thing! In fact, I encourage everyone to make it a part of their workflow to ask for feedback from clients and customers. And I say this for a few reasons.
- Getting feedback gives you the opportunity to see what is working and what is not. Try your best to treat your business like a franchise, not like your little solo side hustle. If you worked for Walmart and someone called you and told you how much they didn’t like a Walmart product, would you take that personally? Probably not. You would handle the situation from a non bias position. That is what I want you to try and do (and what I need to practice more of for my own business).
- The other thing that getting feedback can do is provide you with testimonials to use in your marketing strategy. Social proof is such a game changer in business marketing. People like to read reviews before they purchase something. So if you have no testimonials listed out on your website or social media pages, you could be missing out on potential clients/customers.
Lesson #4 – Community Helps You Grow
When you are first started out in a new business, it can be really easy to think that everyone is your competition and that you need to hustle all alone and keep everything to yourself. And that’s not necessarily true, but it’s not necessarily a lie either.
There is this saying “community over competition” and while it’s a great saying, I think it can lead to unrealistic business practices.
The truth is, in business you are going to have competition. That’s just business. Other people in your industry are your direct competition. Your goal is to have the best business model so that people choose you over them. That doesn’t mean you cannot be friends and collaborate from time to time or refer people to them if needed. But I do think it’s silly to assume that as a business owner we are never going to have to compete to some degree. It’s just the name of the game.
On the contrary though, it is important to have community in your business to grow as well. This came to light for me personally when we decided to create out Elrod Ranch brand. As you may already know, my husband and I are trying to become first generation cattle ranchers, so naturally when we came up with this idea we created social media accounts and pages to document the journey. Welcome to the 21st century I guess, but also I know the power that the internet has and how one post could land in the right hands and it could change everything for us.
What I didn’t know though, is the community that would get created around this brand and sharing our family story. Because of Elrod Ranch, I have come across hundreds of other ranch wives, moms and incredible women who are doing what we want to do or whom are on the same or similar journey as us. These connections have led us to growing our accounts, learning a ton, getting brand collaborations and more.
I guess the reason I am telling you all of this is because I do think it’s important to establish relationships within your industry and even with those outside of it. Because you never really know what doors they can open for you.
I’m sure that I missed out on a lot of things in my early days because I was too stubborn to ask for help or ask questions. My advice? Don’t be like that!
Lesson #5 – Incorporate Yourself Into Your Business
Finally, probably my best piece of advice is to make sure you are incorporating yourself into your business. Your business is more than just what you do, it’s you! And it may be hard to hear this but it’s something that changed the game for me. There are a million people out there who can do what you do, but they will never do it in the way that YOU do it. The difference between them and you.. is YOU.
When you choose to hide behind your work and your business you are doing a major disservice to yourself. Your business is going to blend in with everyone else until you decide to step out of the box and share your story. Talk about why you are different and how that plays into what your products or services are.
So often the message you are sharing is more powerful than the thing you actually do
I actually want to also ad in one more piece of bonus advice if you will. This is something I have been learning especially right now being a new mom, having a newborn, trying to balance my marriage, social life, and business.
I guess my advice in the midst of walking through all this is to have grace and to know you don’t have to do it all alone.
Be willing to ask for help and understand that God has placed you right where you need to be in life. If you are walking through a challenge, it’s likely for a reason. If you are looking around at everyone else thinking they must have it all together, just know they don’t. Social media is such a lie.
Understand that it’s okay to take some things off your plate. Being TOO busy is not a good thing. Your time should be your biggest and most valuable currency. Do not every forget that.
OTHER EPISODES YOU’LL ENJOY
- Consider this before going full time
- How to stand out in a saturated market
- Getting over the fear of showing up online
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I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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