Here's The Game Plan
Kickstarter was amazing for us in that it encouraged us to examine our infrastructure and our assumptions. With the prospect of an unsuccessful Kickstarter we reconfigured things and came up with a new game plan.
ASSUMPTION #1: We needed to be finished in order to start.
That is to say, we thought that we needed to have everything developed and set in stone in order for our business to be viable and attractive to clients. Through Kickstarter we realized that our clients are not only interested in working with us but they are also open to being a part of our development. Part of this assumption comes from our own ideas of legitimacy. We felt that we needed to prove ourselves by having everything perfect before we involved others. Thanks to Kickstarter and the amazing feedback we received, it's become clear that it is ok to view our business as something that is evolving. It doesn't need to be perfect.
ASSUMPTION #2: Being "scrappy" is a bad thing.
For both of us we had preconceived notions about what "scrappy" meant. We believe that it would undercut our value. But one thing we realized is that there is a lot of value in being as resourceful as possible. One successful photographer and mentor, Sue Bryce said that when she couldn't afford fresh cut flowers she bought silk ones and would cut real greenery to surround them everyday and her clients loved it (never noticing that they were not real flowers). Taking this principle to heart has been freeing in allowing us to think about what we can rent instead of own, and how we can get going by leveraging all of the resources we bring to the table and those surrounding us.
ASSUMPTION #3: We need our studio in order to have clients.
Here's a big one that contributed to a lot of our anticipated startup projections. We were looking at an affordable space that was beautiful and the type of space that we want to be in. However, we found a photography studio co-op that would cost 15% of having our own studio. Now, it's not ideal to share a space but it's perfect for starting our business and gaining momentum. Gia is meeting with the owner on Monday.
ASSUMPTION #4: If we build it they will come.
Now, we were smart enough to not buy into this mentality 100%. But when we examined how we were spending our time and energy it became clear that all of it was going toward building the perfect business and virtually none of it was focused on marketing and gaining clients. For the last two weeks we've been focused on marketing workshops and coming up with ways to build awareness and gain referrals. Ultimately, this is what will sustain our business. Shifting focus on building awareness and business partnerships has been very helpful and has resulted in client inquiries already.
ASSUMPTION #5: We need to be successfully funded in order to succeed.
In putting ourselves out there with Kickstarter—a huge lesson in vulnerability—we both believed on some level that we needed it to be successfully funded in order to feel successful and move forward. But we've gained so much from the experience that it is an undoubtable success. We got amazing press, we have proof of concept, we received so much support and love, and we learned invaluable lessons. What do we take from this? That nothing is going to stop us. We have support and people who understand and believe in what we want to achieve. That's all we need.
APPLYING WHAT WE LEARNED
We re-visualized the way that we are going to make VEV happen. That involved three components:
After a lot of deliberating we decided that in order for us to both work within our superpower areas and move forward feeling great about our roles, we are restructuring the business. Moving forward, Gia is taking sole ownership of VEV, leading direction and operations. Jillian, is going to keep a few points on the back end and come in monthly as a consultant. She will lend her expertise to set up key processes and infrastructure and illuminate ways that the business can maximize efficiency. This way, we are both leveraging our strengths and contributing in a way that we enjoy.
With our projected 22,000 being based on some of our key assumptions, we have determined that VEV will be a lean startup and proceed with whatever resources are available. If some of our backers continue to support, we will use that to determine what scale we will be able to move forward with. In light of little to no financial support, Gia will start with fewer clients while continuing to take on freelance work to subsidize VEV's evolution. In the event of some financial backing, VEV will be able to grow faster because we will have more time to take clients and turn around a beautiful result.
Building partnerships and referrals is our new focus. On Saturday (Sept.13th), VEV was involved in a wonderful racing event called Bridge of the Goddess. At the event Gia was able to talk about VEV and give away gifts. We also gave 1,500 gift vouchers for a complimentary shoot, 1 for each participant. These kinds of b2b partnerships are part of an over all marketing strategy to develop a strong client database. Thinking in a smart way about how to build awareness and putting our focus and energy there will help us make VEV profitable sooner rather than later.
IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING but we're going to say it anyway...
Your support and generosity is part of what has helped us to realize what steps we need to make VEV a reality. It has been humbling and inspiring to see the amount of people who not only understand what we want to accomplish, but are willing to take action to show their support.
We have been deeply moved by this experience. Thank you for being a part of this amazing journey.
Thank you so much,
Gia & Jillian
If you are interested in continuing your support we will gladly accept it here: