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        Nichole Lauren Photography turns one today, and I can hardly believe it! It’s humbling to think about all the ways you have supported me and my little business and enabled it to come this far. They say the first year is the hardest, and I definitely see the wisdom in that. However, the first year also might be the most exciting in many ways. There is room for lots of experimentation because you’re not on too many people’s radar yet. You have a little more room to mess up because you’re finding your style that’s constantly being tweaked. I have done a lot of shifting in the last year, and the changes that have come have not just been associated with my business. A few of the big life changes have been transferring universities and living on my own in a new city. But as I reflect on 2015, I can’t help but realize that a lot of the change and self-discovery I’ve experienced in my own in the past year has really helped mold my business along the way, and that’s exciting to think about! So today, on the blog, I wanted to pause for a second and give you a little peek into my heart as it overflows with thankfulness looking back on this past year with Nichole Lauren Photography. (Plus, I went a little crazy with the balloons to celebrate and ended up with a styled shoot of sorts. Enjoy!)
        They say you’ve got to have money to make money. I know I’m bringing up a lot of conventional wisdom here, but this one is accurate. And, to be honest, even though finances can be a struggle for any small business in their early years, I often look at it as a test of the gut. Often before making marketing or equipment purchases, I would ask myself these questions (silently, of course):

  • “Can I afford this?” (most important one)
  • “Will the long run benefit of this investment outweigh the temporary cost?”
  • “If I choose to do this, can I see their being a domino effect of benefits to other areas of my business?”
  • “How willing am I to be ALL IN with Nichole Lauren Photography?”

That last one actually may give the first one a run for its money as far as importance. The further I go with Nichole Lauren Photography and just as I grow up, the more I realize that pretty much all of the questions that you encounter in life can be assessed to the core by that one question. “Am I all in?” I had been familiar with that concept in a variety of ways before, but it wasn’t until this past summer while working at camp and then this semester at school that it became an explicit core value that would be recited to me as a standard of excellence. Ever since I was little, I have always made “making the most of every moment” an important part of my existence, but being “all in” carries with it a little more than that. There were times when I had to make decisions in my business that I would have much rather sat out for. But the questions could never just be answered by “Well, I just don’t feel like it right now.” To run a small business or to live life in general, it takes passion to do it well. It sometimes takes putting all your eggs in one basket and praying that your hard work will pay off. It means trusting that even through the hard times, you’ll stick with what you love and you won’t give up because you’re assured of the fact that there are far better things in store for you if you stick with it. 

        Now what you may be thinking is the thought I’ve had more than once, “So I have to be fully devoted to my business (or to _________) all the time. What about my life?” And that definitely can be an intimidating thought when you look at your life from an “either/or” perspective. I like to think of myself as a “both/and” kind of girl, and I will admit that has gotten me into a bit of trouble in the past. But that’s only because I missed a key concept called “saying no.” You cannot possibly do everything, and I definitely not positing that. Throughout high school, I thought I could. In the end I made it out alright, and I’m glad I tried out all the sports and clubs while I could! But sometimes we still live like that, don’t we? Trying to dabble in all we can and never fully committing. I know, for me, I really don’t like “missing out” on things or making people unhappy, so I say “yes” sometimes a little more than I should.  Friends, saying “no” is liberating. I don’t mean to push you to use it as your default response, but instead evaluate your motivation for doing what you’re doing and genuinely respond. When you say “no” you’re leaving more room to say “yes” to what you love!! And that is beautiful.
        And that brings me to my core concept, the overarching theme I want to bring with me into the New Year to guide what I do: intentionality. This word alone, I think, could solve all of our stress problems, our time wasters, our discontentment, and our anxiety. Being all in and intentional with my time and my resources equals greater satisfaction. I know this for a fact because when I’m caught up doing school work or goofing off being lazy when I should be spending more time on photography, my business and my motivation suffers. However, the opposite is also true, when I’m pouring all my energy into my business and spending almost all of my time on Nichole Lauren Photography, I find my attitude suffers be it the competitiveness of the field or the fact that I’m missing out on moments with my family and friends. 
        What I’m trying to get at, as I wrap up this novella, is the Lord has given you talents. That’s a fact. Everyone has something that they are gifted with. What matters most about my business and how it’s grown in its first year is not the fact that I created my own website and built a brand I love from scratch or even that I’ve come closer to mastering the Adobe Creative suite. What I do gets value when I’m impacting others and spending time building relationships with you. I want that to always be my focus, and I never want to lose sight of the people behind the likes and the shares. Real-life stories are far more important than any of the ones I could ever post on my timeline. 

(On that same note, here’s a little real-life behind the scenes for you! This is the little munchkin that helped me with all the balloons and setup, and she wanted to take some photos too. :))

Happy Monday, friends! I know it’s going to be such a great week. My heart already feels refreshed! Oh, and stay tuned on FaceBook and Instagram for some exciting announcements about birthday celebrations. Every day this week, there will be a special surprise just for you with something HUGE on Friday! Sign up for the Nichole Lauren Newsletter (on the right) >>>> to be the first for hear about everything that’s going on!

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December 21, 2015

Happy First Birthday!

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Nichole Lauren is a photographer & business coach in Greenville, SC & available for travel worldwide.

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