What It’s Really Like To Run A Small Business

Recently I was contacted by a magazine asking to interview me about my small business. I was pleasantly surprised that they were interested in featuring me as I am a teeny tiny fish in a great big ocean of creatives. 

Sadly, as with a lot of things in business, the article didn’t end up getting featured but since I spent precious time writing up the article for them I don’t want it to go to waste. Besides, it may help those of you who are considering staring your own photography business or it may just help clarify who I am, what I do, and why I do what I do. 

Elle Frizzell Product and Food Photographer

A Bit About My Business

I am flying solo right now, which means I’m personally involved in every part of my business. I am hugely passionate about nutrition, love fitness and create food and product photography content for health and wellbeing brands. I serve both local and international Clients as I am able to shoot fully remotely.

Health is at the heart of everything I do; I love all things health just as much as I love getting to be creative and capture concepts for brands. My interest in health and wellbeing was sparked when I started experiencing my own health issues such as IBS, food intolerances and acne. After clearing the chemist shelves of acne products and seeing my doctor more times than I can count, I turned to holistic health. I started my blog as a way to share my discoveries, from healing and nourishing recipes, to tips on reducing bloating.

My website, ellefrizzell.com is a hub for content on health, fitness and photography with a page of free resources including downloadable PDFs and the tools and resources that helped me get to where I am both with my photography and health.  

Why Did I Start a Photography Business?

I was motivated to be self-employed as my dad runs his own business and he has always encouraged me to start my own. Being in an office, sitting at a desk and crunching numbers is not my forte. I love helping people and being creative.

My passion for photography stems from always being more of a creative person and wanting to be able to take better photos for my own content. That hobby flourished into my career. My niche is shooting healthy food and wellbeing products; think platters of fruit, breakfast muffins, kombucha, protein powder, and natural skincare.   

I have invested in my education because I believe in having a strong foundation of knowledge to provide the tools and confidence to succeed. In the past few years, I have gone from basic photos of my meals and bakes, to creating custom sets, styling scenes, creating GIFS and stop motion videos for health brands. You can check out my portfolio here.

What are the Benefits of Owning a Small Business?

A big appeal to having my own business is the freedom it can offer. Perhaps not straight away, but once established I could theoretically work from anywhere in the world (as long as there is good wi-fi). And that’s exciting as one of my ultimate goals is to live abroad in the sunshine and have a business that can operate remotely. Imagine editing a shoot on a beach!

I don’t like the idea of someone else dictating where my career can go and where my limits are. As I age, grow and learn my business can evole too. I love knowing that the possibilities of business are endless. 

What are the Main Challenges of Owning a Small Business?

I don’t have what you’d call a ‘business brain’, and finances are not my strong point. Trying to grasp an understanding of the certain sides of the business has been tricky but thankfully my dad is an accountant by trade so he is able to help me with necessary evils, *ahem* tax returns. 

A big shock was that I didn’t realise how many roles I’d have to fulfil. Sometimes it’s a real struggle to keep all the plates spinning. When you have a regular job, you do whatever your job title specifies and leave the rest to other staff members, but when it’s your own business you do EVERYTHING; admin, marketing, social media, finances, content creation, client liaising, set building, styling, shooting, editing….the list goes on.

I have been made aware that I’m at risk of becoming a bit of a jack of all trades and a master of none, so that’s something I am working on. I also need to get more organised so those plates don’t fall.

In terms of the day-to-day struggles, a big one is rejection. I think like most creatives, as a photographer I get more noes than yeses. It can be tough to keep putting yourself out there and trying to make people see your worth. It’s especially tough as today everyone with a phone camera thinks they are a photographer. I spend a fair bit of time explaining just how much time and behind the scenes work is involved in photography and that’s why it costs money.

What are My Business Short and Long Term Goals?

I’m actually quite excited about what the future will hold and have recently (literally in the last month) made quite a big and pivotal decision about what I want my business to focus on and where I want my career to go. 

Currently I am training to be a qualified personal trainer and will be expanding on my nutrition diploma (more on that later). 

My website has had a major makeover, it took me a while to complete but I’m really proud of it. I plan on growing a YouTube channel focused on all things health to reach and help more people. I have had requests to make videos on gut health, particularly IBS and healing the gut, so I’m very keen to create content on those topics.

Talking of gut health, my eBook IBS SOS is nearing completion and will be launched later this year. It’s basically the book I wish I had access to when I was experiencing horrendous gut health issues and told by my GP to ‘just deal with it’. I was inspired to write IBS SOS after receiving countless heart-breaking messages from individuals who are struggling with their gut health on a daily basis, feeling like they are alone with little to no help.

My long-term business goal is to be able to offer 1 to 1 nutrition consultations, with a focus on gut health and female hormonal health. In order to achieve this, I am going back into education, at the age of 27, and studying for a degree in nutrition.

I still want to be able to create content and photography for health brands as I love being creative and exercising the right (and dominant) part of my brain. But the thing that I think about every day; my true passion that drives me, is health. No matter where my business ends up, health will always be at the core of what I do.

small business owner

My Advice for Budding Entrenpreneurs

I would advise you to understand just how many roles you’ll be taking on. If possible, outsource your weak zones (for me that’s finance) and focus on your strong zones, or as Sarah Crawford founder of Foodtography School puts it “your zone of genius”.

You also have to be able to cull things that don’t work, even if you have poured your heart and soul into them. Listen to your customers and Clients; what is it that they need/ want and how can you meet that need whilst still staying true to your values and business mission statement?

There are going to be tough times and setbacks so make sure you have support, for me it’s family but it could be friends, a partner, or entrepreneurial groups. I am in so many photography groups and it’s so helpful to chat to people who just ‘get it’.

If possible, have multiple streams of income in case one area of your business doesn’t perform so well. With creative roles your income can ebb and flow. E-Books and video content are a great way to supplement your income. Many successful photographers end up writing books or creating online courses to teach aspects of photography that they are particularly good at, e.g. lighting, styling, photoshop etc.

Whatever you do make sure you have a real passion for it and are doing it for you. For so long I have done things that I thought I should do rather than doing the things I really want to do. I guess it’s the consequence of being a people pleaser and chronic overthinker.

Final Thoughts

After working for just over a year in photography I have realised that it’s a struggle to earn a sufficient income as I’m constantly having to justify my worth. Maybe it’s where I live, maybe it’s me not beliveing in myself enough but so many people think it acceptable to pay me with product, but a bag of almond flour doesn’t pay for a roof over my head, running water, or food on the table.

I acknowledge that I need to be more flexible and strike a balance between enjoying what I do, and actually earning a decent living from what I do; enough so I am not just struggling to survive but able to thrive. This is why I have decided to diversify my business with personal training and nutrition so I can offer services centred around my biggest passions. 

Health & Happiness, 

Elle x

Elle Frizzell Food and Product Photography Hampshire UK

oh hey there!

Hi, I’m Elle. Photographer, holistic nutritionist, fitness lover and owner of one very sensitive gut. 

Welcome to my snug nook of the internet where you can find recipes, read up on resources, or book me for food and product photography. 

Elle Frizzell Food Photography Hampshire

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