Three mindset shifts that transformed my brand

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years in business, it’s that our mindset underpins everything we do. How we think about ourselves, our work, and what we’re capable of affects every single move we make in our businesses. My mindset has held me back the most in mine. We humans are conditioned by our upbringing and society in countless ways. It doesn’t do justice to think of mindset as something we simply choose to believe. Mostly, it’s something we have been taught, conditioned to believe, or learned through our previous life experiences.

Our minds tell us all kinds of stories about us, other people, and the world at large, simply to keep us safe. But in an effort to bubble-wrap us from possible threats, it also keeps us from fully putting ourselves out there and living life to the fullest. Mindset isn’t something we can simply fix by deciding to think differently. But when we become aware of these thought patterns, we can start making decisions from a more conscious place. We can choose to recognize how our subconscious mind tries to keep us safe, appreciate its intention, but not let it sit in the driver’s seat.

Before I tell you about the mindset shifts that transformed my brand, I want to make it clear that this work is never really done. Much like an onion, there are many more layers to peel once you rip off the outer skin. Working through these layers of old stories you’ve been holding onto may also be quite uncomfortable and eye-watering. And that’s okay. Neither you nor your brand can transform in a day. But you can significantly change the way you treat yourself and your brand once you stop letting your unconscious lead the way and start operating from a place of more awareness.

Here are the three things that held me back the most from stepping into my full potential, and the mindset shifts that have helped transform my brand.

I Stopped Treating Myself as a Beginner

Even years into my photography business, I was still treating myself as a beginner. While my business may not have been a huge success, and I still had a lot to learn, where I was in my business journey had everything to do with my marketing and business model, and nothing to do with how skilled I already was at my actual job as a photographer. By the time I started my business, I had already been practicing my craft and wowing people with my work for years. I had spent most of my life pursuing photography. I wasn’t a newbie photographer who just picked up a camera and started a business. I had spent many years honing my skills before I ever even thought of charging for my work.

But I had identified so closely with being a beginner in business that I forgot how experienced I actually was as a photographer. Naturally, my true level of skill and expertise wasn’t fully translating into my brand.

Once I started to stand taller and treat myself as the expert I already was, things really started to change for me and my business. But by that point, I had pigeonholed myself at a certain level, and it’s a lot harder to shift your position and perception in the market than it is to position yourself as an expert from the start. I realize now that I had let my insecurities around how good I was at business, marketing, and sales—even many years into my business—hold me back from really claiming my worth and respecting how far along I actually was as a creative and professional brand, portrait, and lifestyle photographer.

I know I’m not the only one. I see this pattern with many business owners, waiting to really invest in their brand and claim their expertise until they’re more experienced in business itself. I see skilled professionals who leave corporate or other fields after many years and start fresh in self-employment, bootstrapping DIY brands not because they’re beginners at what they do or don’t have the resources to invest in their brand, but because they don’t believe they’re ready to take themselves seriously. They are new to the entrepreneurial world. But just because it’s your first year filing your own taxes doesn’t mean you should base your brand on that. Your brand should reflect the value of what you have to offer your clients and customers, not your years in business.

I Stopped Letting Industry Norms Be My Rulebook

Consciously, I knew that certain things in my industry were not the only way to do things. But unconsciously, I was still so afraid of stepping outside the norm for fear of failure and criticism that I was keeping myself from making the very decisions that would later become the reasons for my successes.

This is a great example of how our conditioning can keep us small even against our will. I knew that certain things in the industry are not rules or official standards—they’re simply ways that many people choose to do things. Then others follow suit, basing their decisions on what someone ahead of or next to them is doing, not because it’s the best way or works for them. Over time, these things turn into “it’s just the way it’s done,” which then becomes an excuse for why something else doesn’t feel possible or “allowed.” But it takes that one person to break out of the fold and do something outrageously different for everyone else to realize that there were no rules to begin with and we’ve created our own cages.

As a photographer, I see this with so many things in my industry, from the types of offers people create, to how they package and price them, to their branding and marketing tactics. If we look at other industries, we can see that there are many ways to do things, but when we get stuck in our own industry bubble, it can be easy to assume that it’s just the way things are. When I let myself do things differently and actively sought out examples of people from both my own and other industries doing things wildly outside the norm, I began to find so much more freedom in what was possible for me and the future of my industry. Instead of sticking to the same unspoken rules that weren’t even working for so many people, I realized I could do things my own way.

But what also held me back was that I knew if I dared do things differently, I’d be likely to face some criticism from other people in the industry who would now feel called out for sticking to what isn’t actually working for them either. Because my choice to go another way shows people that it’s a choice and not a rule. This means they’ve chosen their own cage too. Not everyone is ready to face that. I knew I was likely to get “who does she think she is” type reactions, and I did. But what I didn’t expect were the numerous messages from other industry friends and photographers I’ve mentored thanking me for blazing new trails and showing them that so much more is possible for them too.

I was never one for dusty old rules, but I fell into following them in business, hoping to find the blueprint for success because I didn’t trust my own ideas and gut instinct. I realized that my success could only begin once I threw out the rulebook and sought my own adventure.

Where in your work are you holding on, perhaps too tightly, to that dusty old book of industry lore and rules? What could you discover and experience if you stopped letting those myths and unspoken guidelines keep you from exploring something new?

I Stopped Thinking Small and Started Focusing on My Big Picture Vision

Although I never really stopped myself from dreaming about what my future could look like, when it came to my business, I’d still make decisions based on where I wanted to be next month or in a few months—not years into the future. While I love to let my mind wander into daydreams, I treated them as just that—dreams. Something that one day, once I’ve worked hard enough, and if I’m lucky, may actually start to come true. Not something I was intentionally making calculated steps towards. I sort of just hoped certain things would become possible once I’d finally “made it.” My dreams felt so out of reach that I left them out of the equation in the way I was building and running my business. The reality was that by doing this, I was actually keeping myself further away from them ever coming true or “making it” in my business.

During the throes of rebranding, I invested in a business group coaching course and program. I knew my business wasn’t working the way I wanted and needed it to, and I needed some support. What I thought I would learn through this would be that I needed to put more time, effort, and investment into certain areas of my business. In some ways, it was, but not quite how I expected. I had been stuck thinking that the reason I was not getting closer to my financial goals was due to a lack of working hard enough. Instead, I realized it was the way I had built my business that was keeping me stuck. I didn’t need to be doing more to earn more—I needed to be doing less. My business simply wasn’t built for me to ever be able to reach even those humble financial goals I had then, let alone those bigger dreams for the future. Because the business as it was, wasn’t viable, let alone scalable. To move my business towards a more sustainable future, I had to crumble everything I’d built and start anew. While rebuilding has been a lot of work, it’s also been a lot of letting go and learning to focus on less, but better.

I had to learn my lessons the hard way. I wasted so much time and energy trying to make my business work in ways that were never going to. I kept myself stuck because I didn’t feel like I could or was allowed to do things differently. I hope you can learn from me and take the easier route. Invest in building the business and brand of your dreams now—don’t wait for the future. Recognize that no matter where you are in your journey, you already have so much to offer and so much more potential. Don’t wait to be better to treat yourself with more kindness and respect. Start standing strong in who you are and what you have to give to this world now. Because I know you have so much to offer—you might just not see it yet.

Are there ways you are holding yourself back and hiding your true gifts and potential in your brand? Then I invite you to join The Aligned Brand – the online course that will help you translate your magic spark and unique gifts into a magnetic personal brand aligned with your lifestyle, big picture vision, and your heck-yes people.