Let’s Get Personal: Going It Alone – Starting a Business By Yourself

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  • August 28, 2013

The DC wedding scene seems to be full of partnerships – husband and wife photography teams, event planning businesses full of teams, videography duos, and even blogs that are managed & run by two editors.  For me though – it’s a one woman show and sometimes, to be quite honest, it can get pretty lonely.

offbeat dc wedding blog[Val and Sarah]

I’ve tried before to find interns, long-term guest bloggers, editorial partners, and even mutually beneficial co-op situations to try and bring more “partners” into my business (both the blog & the wedding coordination biz) but nothing has stuck. People flake, get busy (I know I am guilty of this too) or their business grows and it no longer includes me.

Now, the point of this post is NOT a pity party (I am not asking people to feel sorry for me at all!)- it’s more of a reflection on what it’s like start to start a business alone and maybe a reflection on why I haven’t been able to nail down any sort of partnership or team. Hopefully this post helps to connect to others that have found some ways to help with this.

offbeat alternative dc wedding blog[val & sarah]

So sometimes I wonder why – why haven’t I been able to find a counterpart? Why can’t I find a solid co-editor, or partner in this business. Is there something wrong with me? Or maybe I am looking at it wrong way.

Do I really need one? Isn’t it a bit more “free-ing” to be able to do whatever I want, without having to worry if my decisions and choices impact someone else. Or better yet – what happens when teams or partnerships disagree?

The journey from starting a blog over 2 years ago … to starting a wedding coordination business just recently … on my own has been an interesting one for sure. And at least I am happy to say that I have met a TON of amazing vendors and people along the way that have been nothing sort of amazing. I know I will prevail and I know by just DOING I am already a great step ahead of the rest of people that might never actually even make it to that execution part of a dream, but I will say that I still think it might be easier, or at least a bit more fun, to have someone to do this all with.

What do you think? If you are a solo business owner, do you like it? Or do you wish you had a partner or team too? If you are a duo – is it all its cracked up to be?

 

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24 Comments

  • I’ll always be here to partner with you. You crazy, pretend-dog having odd-ball!

  • Wendy Wade says:

    For me, I’ll always want to be a one-woman show. And if/when I choose to bring someone on, I want to always the the ring leader and call the shots. Right now, all your success are your own, and you should be so proud of that. You have an amazing blog and we all love you! :)

    • Bree Ryback says:

      Wendy – you are TOO kind. I can TOTALLY see what you mean on being the one woman show and getting ALL the shots and all the successes. Thank you for the kind blog comments – sometimes I just wish I had someone to share it with!

  • Having a partner is a double-edged sword, I can tell you that for sure. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and even disagreements end up bearing fruit in solutions that are often better, smarter, or cheaper than the original idea. That said, things change – people change, circumstances change – and having a partner or a team can become more of a challenge than a benefit. Ultimately, I would say “many hands make light work” but I wouldn’t be in a rush to go out and find a Tonto for your Lone Ranger until it feels right. Trust your heart :)

    • Bree Ryback says:

      thanks Evan – I can TOTALLY understand/see that side of the partnership. Especially since no one often shares that “bad” side – everyone just shares the “I LOVE MY PARTNERS” “I LOVE MY TEAM” etc etc side of it. It’s got to be a balance and a “grass is not always greener” side too.

  • Abby Grace says:

    Oh girl, I feel you. It can get pretty lonely as a photographer too when I see most of my friends out shooting weddings with their husbands, and I know that’ll never be a reality for Matt & I. I love being the head of my business, but it sure would be nice to have some sort of consistent support, whether that’s an assistant, intern, etc.

    • Bree Ryback says:

      thanks for sharing abby – i am sure as a photog it must be even more exhausting some times seeing (seemingly) EVER biz turn into a husb-wife one. I got you girl. And you are KILLING it on your own. So at least there is that ;)

  • Tina Tabibi says:

    I’m a solo business woman as well. I’ve had my ups and downs. I probably work enough hours each week for two people but I love what I do. The most important thing you can take away from your experience is that ALL of your successes are your OWN! You can and should be proud of each moment, whether big or small. I think you have a great, supportive team….ya know, the hubs, your furbaby, family, friends and vendors you’ve met along the way. Keep going girlfriend…it only gets better :)

  • Tammy says:

    I totally understand! I feel like this too. I try to get my gf to join me. I offer her a “job” unpaid of course about every month or so —I always get turned down. lol

    I do team up short-term and its been good and sometimes not so good. I like being a solo business owner and would love a team…but I will wait for the right team. Anyone just won’t do.

    You have been doing a great job. Thanks for this post, glad I’m not the only one that has felt this way. For the record, I think you’re awesome. I may be jealous if you did bring on a partner, then I’d have to share you…LOL

    • Bree Ryback says:

      Tammy – totally get you. I drag Andy along at my wedding coordination gigs, and I love having him there – but it’s obviously not his #1 priority ;) but I like short term team ups and collaborations as much as possible. AND I love all the work we’ve been able to do together since really, day 1. I can’t thank you enough for that!

  • Dad says:

    Don’t give up the steering wheel or share it just yet, just hire passengers as you need them and some passengers might just stay in the vehicle and become confidants and partners. One day I hope I am one of your passengers. Everybody wants to be closer to Bree… Great post! Love ya!

  • Eliza F says:

    I’d actually be really curious to read a whole series on developing your business. As a result of my wedding and some false promises from my management, I will become unemployed in a new city after the wedding. So I am re-investigating that question of “what I want to do when I grow up?” and I have seriously toyed with the idea of opening my own business. I’d love to hear what it’s been like to do that.

    • Bree Ryback says:

      hi eliza – huh! never really thought of doing that, but I could certainly work on sharing more of the business/how I got starter and where I am now sort of posts. Thanks for sharing and best of luck to you if you start!!

  • Maggie says:

    I totally and completely love photographing by myself and hanging out with the coolest vendors in DC :D

    Plus, the collab opportunities–endless & awesome!

  • Bree, GREAT post; and thanks for sharing something more vulnerable. I think all of us can echo one part or another of your experience. I’ve had my company for 9 years and throughout those years I’ve experienced pretty much everything you touched on. Esp with someone is your position I could see how pple might partner with you for the publicity then ditch when they got what they wanted out of it. It’s HARD To find faithful people. I would recommend reading the book “Good to great” by Jim Collins. One thing it talks EXTENSIVELY about is acquiring a successful team that will last. It has TONS of research that’s very helpful and practical. Another thought I had is that usually people who are VERY artistic are not very organized, structured or disciplined (not always… but often). Sometimes it’s important to hire people based on weaknesses of other team members rather than stylistic compatibility. Sometimes we connect with someone bc they’re artistic, fun and creative, but the flip side is they’re not dependable, consistent, hard working and timely. The first five years I mostly focused on photography which was great, and brought me to a certain level, but the last few years I’ve applied myself to learn about business and it’s really been VERY helpful. I’d love to chat more if you want to grab coffee. But you’re not alone, you’re doing something SO great and SO sorely needed in DC. I 100% believe in you and would love to think through things with you and share any of my experiences and lessons (that I’m STILL learning!!) if any of that would be helpful. Don’t give up though, what you’re doing is SO important. You’re unique and DC needs you

    • Bree Ryback says:

      thanks Michelle, really appreciate the kind words and insight from someone that has been in business WAY longer than I !! Will certainly take your advice as I search for those partners in crime :)

  • Fresh says:

    I often find myself thinking the same thing. When I left my job last year to pursue baking, I thought it would be awesome! And it is awesome – being able to do what I love everyday. Most people can’t say that. But I didn’t consider how lonely it would be. Yes, I communicate with customers on the daily via phone & email, but there’s just something about having that social interaction with coworkers that I miss so much. Running this business alone, as small as it is right now, is not easy and I often wonder if maybe I could move ahead if I had a partner in crime — not only as an extra helping hand, but someone to bounce ideas off of and be able to share the ups and downs with. I figure it will happen if it needs to and until then, my poor bf will have to continue to be my go-to :)

    • Bree Ryback says:

      We totally need to TALK. Everything you said is EXACTLY how I feel – and probably one of the reasons why I can’t quite the day job – I like that co-workers/daily banter/team work thing! I NEED social interaction. Perhaps we just open a studio together? Yes? Let’s DEF grab a drink soon girl!

  • Anna D says:

    I am solo…. I have had a business with a partner and it didn’t work. We had completely different ideas and things really didn’t get off the ground. Having a partner in business is kind of like marriage. You need the right partner, the perfect person to compliment you and your business ideas. Someone who has different strengths. I need a business manager BADLY because I suck at that BIG time. I secretly hope one day that my hubby will want the job because he knows me better than anyone, he has helped me in business before and he is all business-y minded and stuff.

    Bottom line is, that its lonely out there… maybe we should all rent an office so we don’t feel so lonely but can still tend to our work.

  • Beth says:

    Found a pic on Pinterest of your desk. Love the 409 magnet. Oh, and the shelf, too!! Good luck w/your partner search.

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