It’s official — I’ve been an entrepreneur for a decade. Ten incredible years of growth, evolution, and innovation. Thanks to our clients, our vendors, and our collaborators, we’re celebrating this milestone surrounded by a compassionate and supportive community. Without your trust, encouragement, and feedback, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
But let me back up a bit — I started my journey as a solo photographer, capturing moments, weaving stories, and sharing them with the world. Over the course of ten years, that solo photography business expanded into the suite of brands we have today. Alongside The Artists’ Lawyer, my husband Scott and I oversee East and Bay Law, Magdalena Studios, That Rad Booth, while we photograph a limited number of luxury weddings around the world. All of these experiences have made the last decade an incredible journey, with countless lessons learned along the way.
Our turns, triumphs, and challenges have evolved into guiding principles that we've allowed to inspire each project and brand. They’ve brought lessons that have shaped us, inspired us, and taught us what growth in life and business truly means. So, in honor of my TENTH year, I’m giving you a peek into the ten essential lessons that have helped my entrepreneurial ventures evolve and grow from what it was then, to what it is today. It’s my hope that you take what I’ve learned, and utilize it within your own business evolution.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
- Invest in Your Business
This has been my north star since day one. It’s a commitment that goes beyond monetary investments — it means dedicating time and energy into the growth and development of your brand. This could look like:
- Pursuing additional education or certifications to enhance your expertise.
- Refining your brand voice to resonate with your target audience.
- Investing in professional development for your team.
- Allocating resources to improve the look, feel, and functionality of your website.
- Enhancing client workflows to ensure a seamless, positive experience from start to finish.
Through a decade of entrepreneurship, I've learned that every dollar invested, every hour spent, and every resource committed towards improvement doesn't just return on its value — it comes back tenfold.
Your business is a living, breathing entity that thrives on growth and adaptation. Its strength relies on continuous evolution to meet new challenges, surpass customer expectations, and rise above the competition. So, don't hold back — be bold, be brave, and don’t be afraid to take your business to the next level.
- Stay True to Yourself and Your Style
With social media, it's easy to fall into the traps of comparison and trend chasing. But the secret to a lasting, successful business is being authentically you. Remember, the only meaningful competition is the one you have with yourself — your mission is to outdo your previous best, not anyone else's.
Strive to continuously improve from where you were yesterday, from the achievements of last week, from the lessons of last month, and from the growth of last year. Your distinct style, unique industry view, and creative spark are your most powerful assets. Instead of conforming to industry standards, be yourself, and let your work take up space.
Your individual style makes you unique, it helps your audience connect on an authentic level, and it allows you to carve your niche in a crowded marketplace. Embrace it, celebrate it, and let it guide your journey.
- Recognize the Peace of Mind a Good Contract Brings
I'm speaking from experience here — even as a lawyer, I've been burned from a bad contract. Having a solid template in place is a security blanket and investment in your business' future — it protects you from unexpected hitches and hiccups that might disrupt your business flow.
When the stakes are high, “winging it” isn’t an option. Don't risk losing that which you’ve worked so hard to build. Find professional resources and experts (like The Artists’ Lawyer) who understand your vision, your industry, and align with your values, then let them guide you in building a solid legal foundation.
A well drafted contract brings peace of mind, letting you focus on what you do best — creating, innovating, and growing your business.
- Outsource and Build a Team
As your business grows, your time becomes more valuable — and despite popular opinion, it's a simple truth that you can’t do it all. Early on, I recognized the value in creating systems and leveraging automation. This meant observing our daily processes, and if I noticed any task being performed repeatedly by my team, we created a system or template to streamline it. This freed up valuable time and cognitive space for tasks that truly demanded our attention.
I also identified tasks that didn't need my personal touch — tasks that could be accomplished just as well, if not better, by someone else on the team. Delegating these items allowed me to focus on core business activities, and truly play to my strengths.
Outsourcing and building a team enabled me to scale efficiently, manage our growth smoothly, and drive our businesses to levels of success I’d only envisioned. I’m a true believer that delegation is a pivotal point in the story of any growing business.
- Create a Strong Team Culture
Building a team is the first step — next, it’s time to nurture an environment that encourages growth, collaboration, and compassion. A strong team culture reinforces a sense of belonging and shared purpose. I’ve always embraced the philosophy of standing by our team members, especially during challenging times. This means offering them a second chance when they stumble, providing guidance, and empowering them with the resources needed to evolve in their positions.
Building a strong team means fostering a sense of mutual respect and understanding, facilitating open dialogue, and valuing an employee’s life outside the office. It means recognizing each person's unique strengths and allowing them to shine. I’ve found that this ethos of support and empathy is what transforms a group of individuals into a cohesive, high performing team. Such a team, rooted in commitment and passion, is at the heart of any thriving business.
Investing in a positive team culture is a strategic business decision that pays dividends in the form of increased productivity, higher employee retention, and, ultimately, success in achieving your dreams.
- Adapt and Say Yes (and Sometimes No)
The ability to adapt is an entrepreneur's superpower. Whether it's adjusting to industry trends, pivoting in the face of challenges, or finding solutions to clients' needs — a confident business owner harnesses the unexpected, viewing these moments as opportunities for growth and innovation.
There's power in learning to say yes to opportunities that align with your brand's ethos and objectives, even when they lie outside of your comfort zone. Embracing these opportunities can propel your business to new heights and unlock a potential you didn't know existed.
But, equally as important is mastering the art of saying no. Not every opportunity will align with your brand. If it distracts you from your core mission, drains your resources, or fails to align with your long term vision, respectfully decline and stay true to your path.
Balancing this duality of yes and no is an integral part of the entrepreneurial journey, building a brand that's resilient, authentic, and open to an uncertain future.
- Hone Your Expertise
The best thing you can do for your business is take the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses. In the last ten years, we briefly toyed with the idea of evolving Magdalena Studios to offer both photography and videography services. With careful reflection, we decided against it. Why? I’m not a videographer, and if, for instance, an unforeseen circumstance caused a team member to be absent, I'd have to step in. Without the right skills and expertise, the quality of our work would inevitably suffer. So we continued to focus on what we do best, photography. This was a significant decision — we chose to stay in the area that we excel in.
Embrace your strengths and build your business around them. This doesn’t mean you can’t venture into new areas or learn new skills, but you should have a strong foundation built on what you're truly good at. This allows you to deliver the best service or product to your clients, maintain your reputation, and continue to grow in your expertise.
- Set Boundaries
As entrepreneurs, we: A) wear countless hats and B) juggle countless responsibilities.This means blurred lines between our personal and professional lives. Over time, I've realized the necessity of setting firm boundaries to avoid burnout, maintain mental health, and sustain long term productivity.
One way I’ve done this is by creating dedicated workspaces. Having specific areas where working is “allowed” helps keep my personal and professional lives separate (our dining room table, for instance, has now reclaimed its original purpose).
Additionally, I’ve discovered the importance of protecting my time outside of work hours. This means not checking emails over the weekends or during time with family. Yes, it requires discipline and clear communication, but the rewards are worth it.
By creating a clear divide between work and personal life, I’ve said goodbye to overwhelm and embraced a passionate and energized attitude towards my role as a business owner. Remember, sustainable success comes from balance and nurturing all areas of your life, not just your business.
- Cultivate Relationships
Building a successful business means cultivating meaningful relationships. Each one brings its unique perspective, offering insights and opportunities that contribute to both growth and resilience.
Our clients sit at the heart of our operation — their needs drive our innovation, their feedback shapes our evolution, and their satisfaction underpins our success. But beyond the transactional relationship, there are personal bonds here, a shared excitement over successes, and a mutual support that gives our professional experience meaning.
Vendors and collaborators are also integral to our success. By building strong partnerships, we create a network of expertise and resources that allows us to deliver better value to our clients. We learn from them, they learn from us, and we grow together.
- Over-Deliver and Under-Promise
It's always better to exceed expectations — deliver more than promised, and leave a margin for pleasant surprise. This could look like: delivering projects ahead of schedule, offering extra services at no additional charge, or providing support that goes above and beyond.
These practices create “wow” moments for our clients — moments that differentiate us in a crowded marketplace, and transform clients into loyal advocates for our brand. This approach has earned us glowing testimonials alongside a community of brand cheerleaders who, impressed by their own experiences, refer us to their networks, multiplying our impact.
Over time, I’ve found that this principle of under-promising and over-delivering shows our commitment to our clients, reflecting our dedication to excellence and our desire to cultivate an experience, rather than a service. This commitment has become a cornerstone of our reputation and a key driver in our sustained success.
As I look back on a decade of growth, adventure, and transformation, I’m filled with gratitude — not only for our lessons and wins, but for the opportunity to work alongside countless incredible clients turned friends and fellow business owners turned trusted confidants. It seems fitting to extend this celebration to the connections, collaborations, and creative projects that have defined my entrepreneurial journey. Each one has made a unique impact, inspiring me to push my limits, pursue my dreams, and stay grounded in my values.
This decade-long journey wasn’t without its hurdles — but I chose to view them as learning opportunities, rather than setbacks. From late night editing sessions, to last minute wedding location changes, I navigated unknowns, learned from my mishaps, and emerged stronger.
Each experience has served as a foundational moment, shaping my brands, refining my principles, and driving me to outshine in a fiercely competitive environment. With each brand, I’ve pushed my boundaries further, venturing into unexplored opportunities and diversifying my portfolio. From luxury weddings to casual family sessions, each moment on my journey has been anchored in an unwavering commitment to excellence.
To the entrepreneurs and collaborators who have been a part of this journey — thank you for your support and inspiration. Your enthusiasm, creativity, and passion serve as a constant source of motivation.
To our clients — thank you for allowing us to be a part of your special moments, your projects, and your dreams. Your support has fueled our journey, spurred our growth, and inspired us to continually strive for excellence.
And to my team — your unwavering commitment, creativity, and dedication mean the world. Our success is an affirmation of your hard work. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such dynamic and talented individuals.
Looking ahead, I’m filled with anticipation and excitement for what the next decade holds. I’m armed with the wisdom of experience, the passion for creating, and the drive to innovate. Thank you, friends, for an incredible ten years. Here’s to decade two!