This week I wanted to do something a little different for you all and have a woman who CONSTANTLY INSPIRES ME on the blog to answer a few questions about how she does everything she does.
Ali Kiel is a 2x business owner (she owns a photography studio AND a marketing company) and I had the pleasure of helping her out with branding + web design for her businesses.
She is literally Wonder Woman in my eyes as she balances being a CEO of two businesses, as well as a new mother, a wife and a friend.
Her insight is incredible and her ambition and energy is infectious. I promise you’ll leave this blog feeling inspired and ready to take on the world. Because sometimes, we all just need a little inspiration.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? What was the first step you took into starting to pursue your passion?
A: My neighbors actually brought a paper they had saved to my high school graduation. It was a flyer I had made at four years old (yes, four years old) that said I was looking for jobs and could do anything from sweeping driveways to walking dogs. The truth was, I could do none of that, but I was really intrigued by the idea of making my own money from the very beginning.
I don’t think anyone hired me at four, but I did a lot of dog walking, dog sitting, taking my toys to other people’s garage sales to sell, and more, before I got my first job at 15 at an ice cream shop.
Working at the ice cream shop didn’t last long, because I realized I could make so much more, and work when I wanted to work, by babysitting kids I enjoyed!
Q: What do you wish you knew when starting out?
A: Honestly, I’m so glad I started when I was so young (I had my first LLC at 19), because I was naive enough to avoid worrying. I didn’t know anything! I didn’t know how dumb I looked sometimes and I just went for it. I don’t think I ever would have taken the leap if I would have known more, because dang there’s a lot to be worried about!
Q: What has been the most difficult lesson you’ve experienced in business? What did you learn from that, and how did it change things for you?
A: I think the hardest thing I’ve dealt with so far in the photography business is losing images. Yes, you heard that right, I have lost people’s images. Sometimes, SD Cards just go bad and if you don’t have a camera that shoots dual cards (I do now!), you run the risk of a card going bad and losing images. The time this happened, I did absolutely nothing wrong. It just … happened. The card corrupted.
I’m a total Type B personality. I’m pretty laid back and sometimes, admittedly, fly by the seat of my pants. I’ve learned that I have to take extra precautions in business, even when I think everything will be fine. It’s always worth it to be safe rather than sorry.
Q: You own two businesses and are THE PERFECT example of being a multi-passionate entrepreneur, along with a wife, and a new mother! How do you balance it all? What are your tips for time management?
A: This is very sweet and I’m glad I’ve painted that picture for outsiders (LOL!) I do not have it all figured out, that’s for sure!
There is one thing I’m passionate about and that is being fully present in the role I’m in, whether that be Mom or Business Owner. I have a babysitter who comes to my house a couple times a week right now and then I will put my baby in a local daycare when she’s old enough.
I really want to be intentional about being with my baby when I’m with her and then working when I’m working. I think focusing solely on each job will allow me to be the best I can be in each of them. Trying to get work done while also trying to watch my baby would be a total nightmare, in my opinion. Neither job would get done well!
Q: Where do you see your business in a few years? What are some of your long-term goals?
A: Is it awful to say that I hope I’ve just evolved enough in the photography business to maintain the level of business I have now?
I’m constantly reminded that success in this business is absolutely not a given; you have to work for it! I see photographers all the time who have not evolved and are bummed because their businesses are dying. I just hope I can evolve enough to have people still booking me enough that I can still do this full time in five years.
From a marketing business standpoint, I hope to take some courses, maybe even get a “Mini MBA” and have several small businesses in my portfolio who I’ve really helped move the needle. If I’m not helping small businesses, what am I doing, ya know?
Q: We’ve worked together on branding both of your businesses and creating the websites for both. How has having a solid brand and web design changed things for your business?
A: In this day in age, I just don’t think people take you seriously unless you have a website that is easy to navigate and a strong brand. Well, maybe some people do, but I don’t.
Since you’ve redone my photography website, I’ve had increasingly more people hire me for me and my work, and not just my pricing. In turn, your work has created more satisfied customers and clients I really enjoy working with!
Q: Investing in any part of your business feels like a risk at first, what made you feel confident in taking that risk?
A: Honestly, YOUR brand made me feel really confident in taking the risk of investing in you and your work. You immediately looked like someone I could be friends with and someone who would “get” me. I was right!
I knew I needed a website and brand revamp, but I just needed to find the right person to do it. I knew from the start, based on your photos, website and reviews you would be the right gal for me.
Q: Any advice for others that you want to share:
A: The best advice I can give is, don’t look left, don’t look right, stay in your lane and GO. Social Media and the internet is awesome, but let’s be real - it can make us all feel really awful. Stop looking at what other people are doing, because ultimately, it doesn’t matter. No one else can be YOU, and that’s your super power. Do that really well and you’ll win.
Q: Where can people find you, and how can they work with you?
A: Find my photography at www.alielizabethphotography.com. Want me to travel to you? Let’s chat!
Check out my marketing website at www.marketingthatresonates.com. I have some really awesome clients right now and no real capacity to take on more, but I’d love for you to keep me in mind for the future!