Anna Hindocha has been in photography in one form or another for 20 years. Starting in wedding photography, then moving into family photography and finally setting up Warm Glow Photo in 2011.
She finally took the plunge in 2015 to quit her part-time photography teaching job to focus on Warm Glow Photo full-time and has not looked back!
Anna, What made you decide to set up on your own?
I’ve always worked freelance alongside other jobs but there were some very key events that persuaded me to give up the other work and make my business the main thing.
I had some life coaching where the coach asked how I felt about working in education and I replied that it was something I knew and a safe option with guaranteed pay. Then he asked how I would feel about doing photography full time and I said that that was everything I had wanted since I was 16. He said “I can’t tell you what to do but the enthusiasm in your voice when you talk about photography is so different to how you talk about teaching”. So I kind of knew that I wanted to do it from then but was too nervous to take the leap.
The college I was working at was quite an unhappy place to work and I was more and more determined to leave. I entered something called the Brand Amplifier Awards which was for women running their own businesses. We had a month of training in different areas of marketing, then a month to work on a pitch to give to a panel of business people. I just signed up for the training, I never expected to win but I put a lot of work into my pitch and ended up winning the Silver award and some seed funding for my business. After the awards ceremony I went and sat on my own on the Southbank and decided that I was definitely quitting my job and working for myself. That moment was one of the most pivotal of my life and I remember everything about it: how I felt, what I was thinking, what the river looked like. Everything. Winning the award gave me the push of confidence I needed to go for it.
And what were your biggest challenges at the beginning?
When I first started doing photography, but was working elsewhere as well, I was never relying on my business for money so I never really pushed it. I also had absolutely no training in running a business and no one in my family had ever done it, although my father-in-law has always run his own businesses and did help me out. I just had no idea what I needed to do beyond the photography and wasn’t very organised.
When I quit working part time and made my business my full time gig I had to work through a lot of negative baggage from my final teaching job at the same time as being terrified as to whether I’d make enough money. I also had to balance my business with looking after my young son.
And finally, what do you wish you had known back then?
You’re never going to feel ready so just jump and go for it.
I also wish I’d realised early on that I should outsource as much as possible of the parts of the business that are not my strengths so I can concentrate on what is. At first I tried to do everything myself to spend as little money as possible but people that are experts in what they do can do things so much quicker and allow you more time to focus on what you are good at. I now have an accountant, I’ve used a virtual PA, I use an amazing piece of software designed to run photography studios and I’m looking at getting even more help for other areas.
I wish I’d had more business training early on, I’ve only done that recently and it has made such a difference. As has making sure I have other freelancers in the same and similar professions that I can talk to, kind of like colleagues. Running a business can be lonely, it’s much better if you have people to talk to about your challenges.
There’s so much I wish I’d known, I’ll never stop learning!
I think the final big two things are I wish I’d focussed more on doing the type of photography I love and trying to find clients who want that from the beginning rather than trying to bend myself to whatever a potential client wanted and making work that was unsatisfying. And finally that you need to really try hard to separate work and home life and have a time you stop working at. You don’t need to deal with everything immediately, you need some time off.
Thank you so much for your advice-filled words Anna and your inspirational start-up story!
If you are just starting out and have been experiencing similar challenges or are already on the other side looking back at your early years in business please comment below with your experiences as I would be delighted to hear about them and feature them in this series.