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What I’ve Learned from a Lifestyle Entrepreneur

I’d received some very positive feedback about my words in the previous post-a reader shared: “You do such a great job sharing your thoughts and experiences.  I feel like you are sharing your personal journal with me–letting me “in” on your personal and profession life.  I appreciate you putting your thoughts out there for everyone to think about.”

In light of this, I have to be honest with you. This past summer has been a struggle for me-stress has weighed heavily. I’ve wanted to quit, but not the photography business, the other business I’m involved in – the ranch. It’s no secret in my marriage that I have seasons (not weather related but periods of time in any given month, week, portion of the year) where I really struggle with living and working on a ranch.

I love the area we live, and this lifestyle has many wonderful qualities. Not growing up in this lifestyle, it’s harder for me to adjust to areas of the business that my husband is used to.

As a long-distance runner, I continue to learn about endurance. There are two people in my life who have proved their capabilities for endurance as they operate their own businesses-my husband and my dad.

Allow me share with you what I’ve learned over the years in my front row seat of learning from and observing these two sole entrepreneurs. These things apply to any small business and have helped me in my own photography business.

1. All businesses go through rough seasons-persevere.

  • In the past month I’ve re-watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some of my not-so-favorite-scenes in the Fellowship of the Ring I skipped through. I was struck by what a difference it made to the story-without that information the plot really lacked in substance. Even though I knew what was happening in those skipped scenes, not watching them gave the story a different view – it lacked the struggle which gave meaning for the perseverance. Life is full of tough scenes. We can’t avoid them, we can’t fast forward and pretend they don’t exist. By passing the tough seasons in life there isn’t opportunity to grow, to succeed in the test of endurance. (I did however, still skip the scene in Return of the King when Frodo is wrapped by the crazy spider-gross.)
  • Every business has it’s struggling points. Struggle is not a reason to end but allows for endurance to be practiced.

2.  It’s not about the money.

  • Most ranchers (or any business for that matter) who have started from the ground up, incur debt to purchase land/cows, deal with weather extremes (drought and lack of feed for cattle, blizzards and loss of cattle), etc., will tell you they didn’t jump in it for the money. It’s not a “get rich” scheme that will start paying for itself in a few years. Some never do. It’s not a business to get into with hopes of quick returns financially. It’s a business to get into for the lifestyle. If you look up ranching in Webster’s, it will say: lack of money, but rich in life.

3. The rewards outweigh the hard times.

  • Working for oneself and getting to call the shots. Spending many days outside in beautiful weather. Riding through your herd of cattle during calving season to the sound of meadow larks and the gentle moo as a new mom talks to her baby. Working together as a family, teaching the next generation the value of a hard days work. How many dad’s get the opportunity to take their kids to work, be home for most meals and allow them the opportunity to see what they do daily? Both my husband and my dad have said this is one of the best parts of their job.

4. Overnight success rarely happens, endurance builds a business.

  • My husband has been ranching on his own for —– years. He’s constantly learning more about how to increase the quality of the pasture grass, how to better maintain health management in the cattle, and culling the herd to produce consistency. The weather doesn’t always cooperate and sometimes we have set-backs one year, or several in a row. But, he keeps going. He presses on, for this is what he’s called to do and the Lord is the One who stands behind that calling.

Even though I have moments, or days, or weeks, when I struggle with various aspects of our ranching business, the example my husband has set of perseverance is both encouraging and inspiring to me. My dad has pushed through very difficult times, getting up early each morning to go to work and do what he’s called to do to provide for his family

As Cristen Joy Photography ebbs and flows, succeeds and faces struggles I’m beginning to see that it’s ok when times are tough-it doesn’t always mean I’m doing something wrong. Though I may not particularly enjoy the season I may be in, whether it’s my business or our family business, that’s ok, too. One step in front of the other, one moment at a time. One hill to conquer at a time. The view from the top might just prove to be worth the struggle of the climb. I will press on, using my abilities to honor the One who gave them to me, one day at a time, one step in front of the other. The reward of doing this work, of experiencing and sharing the beauty of the Northern Great Plains is a calling I know only the Lord has put there. When He calls, He also gives the ability to do it.

Marty takes a break as we give wellness treatment to the last of the spring calves. He’s one of the most hard working men of integrity that I know. I couldn’t be more proud to be his wife!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kathy Ahrens

    Beautifully written. Love you!

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