A Leap of Faith | Our road to self employment
They say the best things in life are free and good things come to those who wait; that patience is a virtue and nothing worth having comes easy. On Wednesday, March 23, I decided I was going to take a leap of faith and resign from my job. Yes, this means that as of May, my husband and I will both be solely responsible for our incomes. This is our road to self employment.
For those of you who don't know much about our situation, my husband has his bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a Master's of Education in BCIT and was employed as a high school teacher up until last year. A very respectable career with a predictable future, good hours, and a comfortable salary (summers off, yes please!). I knew that he didn't love his job and that he felt suffocated every time he walked through the doors of the school, but I'm going to be honest, I didn't care. I was selfish and thought he should suck it up, like lots of people do. One day two years ago, despite my resistance, Rich took one of his horses, Jack (a horse that he likely saved from being slaughtered), to Cornell University to have a procedure to try to cut out an infection and save a horse that in my naive opinion, just wasn't really worth saving. I think it was during that trip that he fell in love with the idea of what life could be. I wasn't really willing to hear it at the time, but the young boy who dreamt of being a veterinarian who was now a man living a life of complacency had a spark re-ignited and saw a future of potential.
A few months went by and Rich couldn't shake the idea of attending Cornell's farrier program (no, not a veterinarian but I think he's quite pleased with his decision overall). A program that has stood the test of time and proven to be one of the most elite farrier schools in the country that only accepts three to four students per 16 week course. Despite my hesitation (again due to selfishness), a few tears and probably some unsavory words (I was pregnant at the time), Rich told me that after being notified of his acceptance in person (during the same follow-up trip to Cornell at which Jack was officially pronounced infection free; a rare accomplishment for an owner/horse diagnosed with canker), he was going to enter Cornell's program with or without my support. It takes a strong and confident man to say that to a spouse of only three years, and it was probably what I needed to hear to realize that most people wouldn't have the courage or conviction to do what he was about to do, and that determination (fed by his Faith) was precisely what was going to make him successful at whatever he decided to pursue. After extensive hard work and learning, Rich graduated from the program at the end of the summer and has been fortunate enough to have a steady flow of work that's been seemingly increasing and I have no doubt that he is and will be a success story. I'm pleased to report that against all odds, Jack is also a success story.
I took a little bit of a bumpier path to adulthood and never really succeeded in a college environment. You see, I was a rebellious spirit who didn't like to 'waste my time' in a classroom that I knew wasn't going to yield me a return, at least anytime soon. I have always loved to learn about topics that I'm interested in, but unfortunately that was limited to a handful of mostly very unrelated things (math, history, art, and sports were my 'things' that I enjoyed and enjoyed learning. Yes, I realize that I'm weird.) and I always found working and hands on experience more fulfilling than most of what I learned in a classroom. I wish I would've known all of this prior to wasting all of that money on a few years of college that I'll ultimately never use. You live and you learn, right?
When Rich and I started dating, I owned a boutique and absolutely loved everything about being a business owner. Shortly thereafter, a job opportunity opened up that I simply couldn't pass up, and I started working as a Designer for a company that I loved dearly. I thought I had found my 'forever job' and have worked there happily for the past 4 years. I had a great job that was fulfilling, loved the people I worked with, and had a great benefits policy. People kill for that type of situation, this I know.
I started my photography business in the Spring of 2014. That's right, Nicole DuMond Photography is only a fresh little two year old business. For the first year (and much of the second), I spent every dime I made (and then some) from sessions and events and put it back into my business. I took numerous online classes, in person workshops, purchased books, and educated myself as much as I could. It's something I still continue to enjoy doing and I'm already in the process of taking my second class this year. I also purchased all of the equipment I wanted to the extent that I have a dream kit (in my opinion) with enough backups that I am totally covered in the event of equipment malfunction. I take someone's wedding day pretty seriously.
I started praying for clarity and wisdom on my business shortly after I started it. I had a four year old boy who craved my attention and I was working. I was working a lot. Was it selfish to be focusing so much of my attention on my career? I didn't know where I was going or if I would end up regretting all of my hours logged in my work, but I kept at it. Businesses are time consuming and often financially draining to start. It takes a special person to be steadfast and determined to make it work. It is often extremely difficult for creative types, because it takes a lot more business savvy than creativity to be successful at it. I have heard that people estimate that a photographer spends about 80% of their time doing business related things and 20% of their time actually photographing. I would say this is pretty accurate. They also estimate nearly 80% of these businesses will fail. As I say, it takes a special type of person to be determined to make it work; and many creative people simply do not have a desire to be a business person. I do. I think that is why my selfishness got the best of me when Rich so eagerly and quickly decided to switch things up. It was hard for me to swallow that he was being such a risk taker (usually my thing). I felt like it wasn't fair that I had been working at and building a business and learning a trade for a few years all while still working a full time job, and he was going off to to whatever he wanted and leaving a pregnant wife behind (yes, I know this isn't quite reality, but it's what my clouded mind was processing at the time). It wasn't fair. What an ugly saying. I had the option of being miserable all summer or sucking it up and going with the flow. I am happy I chose the latter.
Last year, my little business really started to flourish (I even made a small profit.. yay!) and I knew some things would have to change. I had a sweet little baby girl in October, and I knew my schedule wasn't conducive to raising my kids the way that I envisioned. I decided that I would only shoot weddings in 2016, as I returned to work part time at the beginning of the year and started easing back into life as a working mom. After working part time for the past three months, I knew I didn't want to return to full time office work. It's not that I don't love my job; I do. But I love freedom of creating my own future through owning and running my own business more. I love the time I am able to spend with my children and family more. Whatever sacrifices we might have to make financially will be well worth the rewards of time. I need more time to see firsts, whether it be first smiles, first giggles, the first step, the first tooth lost. I need more time.
I crunched a lot of numbers while preparing my 2015 taxes and realized that it was actually a possibility to leave my job, if I wanted to, and pursue photography full time. Some math surrounding the cost of daycare and various other expenses made it simple to see that I actually had the potential to live a life I wanted without the burden of an 8am - 5pm office job. It was last week that I finally made my decision, after being told I was expected to return to work full time starting in April. It wasn't wasn't the life I wanted for myself or my family to work 80 hours per week and it finally became crystal clear that this is the push I needed to take a leap of faith. My prayers over the past two years have been answered, and I feel a sense of peace that is impossible to describe. Yes, we have to figure out what health insurance we are going to purchase. Yes, we might have to eat out less. Yes, there are some lifestyle changes that we might have to work through in order to make this work during the 'slow months'. But I am about 200% certain it will be worth it.
Nicole DuMond is a wedding and portrait photographer based in the rolling hills of Stillwater, Pennsylvania and serving the surrounding areas of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, including Bloomsburg, Benton, Berwick, Red Rock, Stillwater, Danville, Lewisburg, Hunlock Creek, Sweet Valley, and surrounding areas. Nicole is also available for limited travel along the East Coast & Worldwide.
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