We here at GOBankingRates want to help get our nation’s small businesses back on their feet after the COVID-19 pandemic. To do that, we’re highlighting readers’ favorite small businesses around the country, and shining a spotlight on what makes them special to their customers and their towns.
2021 Small Business Spotlight: Check Out Our Small Business Stories, Plus the Nominated Businesses Near You
In this edition of our Small Business Spotlight series, we’re featuring Nickell Photography, a photography business based in Cedar Park, Texas. Owner Nickell Blair — a photographer for 15 years — photographs anything from weddings to graduations, and even births, and has photographed clients around the U.S. and abroad. Here, we chat with Blair about how her own wedding photo fail inspired her to start her business, how she’s been able to juggle family and career, and the best way you can support your favorite service industry professionals.
Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?
When my husband and I got married, we were discouraged by our options for photographers. We ended up using a neighbor that was a professional photographer who fit into our budget. We were so disappointed with our photos! It’s the one thing I wish I could go back and change. I’d always loved photography, and my husband was already a wedding videographer, so making the leap to start my business wasn’t a surprise to anyone.
What did you take from past experiences or jobs that you knew you wanted to be a part of your new business?
The most important thing for me when starting my business was creating relationships with my clients. When someone is uncomfortable with their photographer, it shows. I strive to be someone they can be comfortable with and have fun with. My favorite compliment is, “That was so fun! I wasn’t expecting it to be fun!”
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
I have loved the flexibility. I’ve been able to be around and raise my four kids. I love being able to make my own schedule. I still work hard and get busy, but I’m able to prioritize my family. I’m so grateful I have been able to do that.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
Unfortunately, I definitely felt the effects of the pandemic. Nearly all of my weddings were either postponed or canceled. And booking new weddings has been slow coming back. Hopefully, it will continue to pick up.
How can people continue to support your business during this time?
The best way to support is to refer. Referrals are how most of my business finds me. If you know a photographer — or anyone in the service industry, really — tell all your friends. Spread the word!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Shadow as many people as you can. Educate yourself thoroughly. There’s a lot more to it than people realize. People assume I just take pictures and give them to the client. There’s so. Much. More. It’s hard work, but it’s so rewarding!
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