Dear Mike (An encouraging letter to myself I wish I would have received in 2009)
For some strange reason you have decided to start a business during a recession. You're not exactly setting yourself up for success here, but I digress... A man named Peter Hurley is going to come into your life and he will have a coaching platform named PH2 PRO. You need to follow him. You need to do as he says. You've got a difficult road ahead, but you have confidence and as long as you can maintain your confidence, you will succeed.
It's lonely working for yourself. You need friends to discuss your successes and failures. You need friends who understand what you're going through. If you don't embrace Peter's love, and the love and support of your friends on his platform, you will run out of steam. You'll give up on your passion. Your confidence will waver. Your belief that you can be the best will dwindle and you'll ultimately give up. Another failed business. Another missed opportunity. A psychological blow from which you'll likely fail to recover.
Your work is good, but not as good as you think it is. You're aiming high, but not high enough. You're imposing a ceiling that only exists in your mind because at the end of the day there are 9 million individuals in your market and they all need a better headshot because you haven't photographed them yet. Peter will release video content and you need to watch it. He'll give you advice and you need to listen. He's bringing a workshop to market and you need to attend it. He will continue to offer you opportunities to better yourself and your craft and it's your responsibility to recognize those opportunities for what they are and seize them.
As time goes on, you and Peter will grow close. You'll host him at your studio, you'll host him in your home, he'll befriend your family and you will travel across the country together doing great things and helping others.
It's going to be hard. No really, it's going to be HARD. You're going to face rejection on a level you've never experienced before. People are going to copy you. People are going to try and tear you down. People are going to tell you that you're too expensive. People are going to tell you that what you do isn't that important or special. You're going to fall down and that's OK, because Peter and his crew will be there to pick you up and dust you off. They will always be there for you, if you let them.
When someone tells you that you're too expensive, that's not a reflection of your work or the value that you provide, but instead is a reflection of their own lack of belief in themselves.
When someone steals your idea or copies you, rather than be upset or angry, channel that energy into something positive and create something even better. It won't be easy but it will elevate you to a level that others will only be able to aspire to.
One of the hardest things you're going to have to do on this journey is to embrace your competition. I use that term loosely because the truth is that you'll have no real competitors. It might not make sense right now, but if you keep your head down, work hard, and stay true to yourself, you will be playing at a level where others can't compete. You must choose to embrace the other photographers in your market rather than making them your sworn enemy. These will be valuable relationships if you allow them to be and if you stay close to Peter, he will help to bring you together. These people will be some of the greatest assets to your business if you allow them to be. They'll be some of your closest friends as well.
PH2 Pro will evolve into something much larger than Peter ever believed it could be. As long as you stay close by Peter's side, he'll take you on a pretty amazing journey. After all, at his core, Peter is a sailor and a rising tide lifts all boats. Peter will go on to do great things, and as long as your vessel stays in his immediate proximately, you will too.