Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ema Suvajac, owner of Ema Suvajac Photography, located in Guelph, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
As a photographer, it is my role to help clients create eye-catching and noteworthy images - whether for individuals, businesses, or brands. My customers are anyone who wants to capture great images and have fun in the process! Being in front of the camera is almost no one's idea of a good time, so it's incredibly important to me to connect with clients, make them feel at ease, and have them leave my studio with a smile on their faces!
With three dedicated brands, my company serves a large variety of clients. Myself and my professional photographer team enjoy capturing everything from growing families and memorable life moments to strategic marketing materials to help take a company to the next level!
Tell us about yourself
Nearly 15 years ago, during my undergraduate in molecular biology and genetics, I decided to join a photography club on campus. My earliest memory in childhood is watching my dad develop photos in a makeshift darkroom in our apartment in Bosnia. It was truly magic! I never had an opportunity to learn how to use a darkroom in high school, so when I entered university, I saw my opportunity, and I took it! I loved being part of the club and simply creating. Within six months, I joined the executive team. I began helping to run the club, and slowly my business inadvertently grew. By the end of my undergraduate, I had an accidental part-time job out of photography - however, not enough to feel confident in pursuing photography as a full-time career. So, I started a Master's degree in molecular and cellular biology. It was actually my professor who suggested that I officially register my business. I thought about it, did some research, and consulted with a business advisor. Did I want to turn my hobby into an official "job"? I was a little bit nervous...I didn't want to fall out of love with it! I ultimately decided that I had to try at least and see what would happen. By the end of my Master's degree, I was doing more photography than research. I couldn't bear the thought of another few years in school to pursue a Ph.D., so I figured I would run my business full time and see what happened. Over ten years later, I am so grateful that I ditched the script of what one "should" do and that I took the leap to pursue my passion.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Learning how to run and scale a business with no formal business education. I've loved learning about marketing, communications, and so on. If I could go back in time, I think I would have enjoyed business as my major in school!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, it's boundaries. I love what I do. I get a huge sense of fulfillment from creating, and exceeding client expectations. As a result, I've had to learn the hard way that despite being able to go-go-go nonstop with no days off for months on end - I do, in fact, need time off! I've also had to learn how to have better boundaries with clients. The perfectionist in me used to feel a bit guilty if I wasn't answering client calls and emails at 11 pm at night! I've become much better at permitting myself to enjoy things other than my work!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Never stop learning and growing. Stagnation is the downfall of any business. At the end of every year, do an audit. Ask yourself what you did well and what you can do better. Make a plan on how you will exceed the previous year in the year to come.
- Learn about marketing. This is something I wish I had actively done sooner. I had done a lot of things right by accident - but there are aspects I could have put into motion earlier on in my career.
- Do a great job, and then make sure everyone knows about it!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Many people don't want to start their businesses until the conditions are absolutely perfect. Perfectionism paralysis has prevented a lot of great ideas from getting off the ground. Start now. You will learn as you go.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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