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I can’t believe that I’ve never talked about this before. I feel like I’ve shared tips, tricks and advice about how to grow your business but there are several game-changing experiences that helped us grow that I haven’t shared before! Why? Well, I guess I didn’t think it would be beneficial because not everyone is going to be able to do these EXACT things… but the value of this post is that people need to see how certain decisions and experiences led to business growth!

So what were some of my experiences that made massive differences in my business? Here they are! :

1. Signing up for WPPI and Spread the Love with Justin & Mary
2. Hiring Jasmine Star as my wedding photographer
3. Being an early adopter of Showit
4. Being asked to speak at Pursuit
5. One conversation with Jody Gray during lunch

These probably seem really random… but the truth is, random experiences and opportunities are what MAKE businesses thrive! If I had one piece of advice for small business owners in this post, it would be to take every opportunity captive.

take every opportunity captive!

So here’s how these five experiences impacted my life! :

1. I signed up for WPPI for the first time with my friend Jessie Smith and I only knew about 3 photographers in the industry! : Jasmine Star, Becker, and Rae Barnes. That’s it! I had a narrow view of the industry and I was so naive! Going to WPPI showed me just how massive this industry is and gave me a totally different perspective on everything! I also signed up for Justin and Mary’s “Spread the Love” tour and this was my FIRST educational event! I remember driving to DC and thinking I was going to be so out of place here. But I sat in the front row, raised my hand a few times and Mary commented on my boots. :) I talked with them afterwards and the rest was history! They are dear friends of ours! Not only did I LEARN a ton, I made a small but super significant connection.

2. Hiring Jasmine Star for my wedding was a game changing experience because I got to be the BRIDE. I had a photography experience of my own and it was wonderful! I learned so much from her and the way she treated me. I remember thinking “I’m just a baby photographer… and really a baby in general!” Jasmine was late twenties and I was barely 22 and yet she never made me feel like I didn’t know anything. Our friendship has continued over the years and her advice and encouragement has meant the WORLD to Michael and me!!!

3. From the very beginning, I was an early adopter of things! Showit came out and I was one of the first to commit! Where did that lead me? It led me to a bunch of friendships in the industry and eventually led to me being a leader of a Showiteer group… and then a SHARE group… and then a speaker at UNITED three years in a row. Don’t ever underestimate your relationships!

4. I remember over three years ago thinking that I would enjoy speaking… but that’s not something you can just decide to do one day… you have to be given the opportunity to give it a try. When Karen asked me to speak at Pursuit three years ago, that was my chance to explore this new passion in my heart. It changed everything. I started seeing my business more and more as a ministry and I started getting more and more inquiries about speaking because of saying “Yes” to that one opportunity. Was I nervous? Yep. Did I feel unqualified? I still do! But I’m so glad I did it! :)

5. One day at the Connect Marriage Retreat, Jody Gray and I were talking about my dreams and I quickly mentioned wanting to start an online store… but not having anything to share. And then I said “Well, it’s crazy but someone asked to buy my bridal guide! … But that wouldn’t be popular!”. Well, I was very wrong. Jody encouraged me to launch this store and make this bride guide thing happen. She gave me pricing outlines and launch ideas and I’ll NEVER be able to repay her for that wisdom! Our store has become a MASSIVE part of our business and I’m SO thankful for that one meal in GA with Jody… it led to big big things!!!

So what’s the moral of this story? Never take your opportunities for granted… AND, there may be some instances when you need to create your own opportunities!! These small little instances add up and before you know it, you’ll be looking around and thinking “How did I GET here?”…. and you’ll realize that little by little, your decisions, experiences and your friends are the very aspects of your life that have brought you to this season!!! So take advantage of your opportunities, think “big picture” and live life to the fullest!!! Talk to people, put yourself out there and never stop dreaming!!!

xoxo, Katelyn
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