Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fine arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chris Coates-Mitchell, Owner of Chris Coates Photos, located in Astoria, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the owner of Chris Coates Photos, and I provide high-quality photography to dancers and performers across the country.
Tell us about yourself
I started dancing when I was eight and turned that into a professional career that lasted almost 20 years. I've always had a love for movies, photography, and anything that is a visual art, so I wanted to find a way to combine my passion for dance with that love. Covid really brought things into perspective for me and pushed me to follow that interest and turn it into something more.
I was lucky because I already had connections in the dance world and was able to use those connections to transition to this new path. I'm motivated by passionate and creative individuals who like to collaborate to make the best image possible. I love the editing process as well because I really enjoy finding that perfect edit for each dancer and their personality.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a new business owner, I think that's still in the works. However, I'm really proud of my ability to keep growing, learning, and bettering myself with every job. Also, understanding my worth and what I can bring to this specific field took a second, but I'm finally getting there.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The first thing I think of is how many times I wanted to give up. What did I have to offer that wasn't already being offered? How many other people are doing almost the exact same thing that I am? Why does it even matter that I continue?
Once I was able to reconcile all of those (hint: stop comparing yourself to others) and find confidence in myself and my work, things became much clearer and smoother. No one else can do it for you. You just have to do it!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I'm taking this from my friend, but the number:
One is that you don't know what you don't know, and that's ok. You can't know it until it happens, so stop worrying about it. You'll figure it out when you need it.
Two, Comparison is the thief of joy. Stop worrying about what you don't or can't provide and only focus on what you can. No one has your set of experiences, abilities, or knowledge in the exact same way as you do, so use that to your advantage.
Lastly, Find someone who has done this before and ask for advice. They will have insight into things you wouldn't even be able to think about because you haven't done it before.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Starting down a new path was terrifying at first. A lot of insecurities came up and almost stopped me from moving forward, but I kept pushing and just focused on what I was good at. I can't provide every single service that every other photographer does, but I don't need to. I just need to be good at what I do and provide that at the highest level. I have no idea what the future holds, but I'm excited to find out!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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