Jessica Graham is the co-founder of ‘I Will Video’, a wedding videography team based in London which is run by husband and wife duo, William and Jessica. The team makes modern, natural and dynamic wedding films across the UK and worldwide.
In our Life Balance Series, Jessica shares her coping mechanism as an entrepreneur.
What does your typical day look like?
In the morning I make myself a huge pot of coffee, check emails, respond to enquiries and post on social media. I try and plan social media content in advance so I’m not stuck for ideas on the day, something that I’m still trying to master. If I have a video deadline I spend the rest of the day editing. If I’m deadline-free, I’m either promoting my business through new links, events and vendors, or writing articles for publications that my PR agent Hayley puts in front of me. I try to get out of the house once a day for my own sanity and try my hardest to clock off before 7pm – another thing I’m trying to master. It’s easy to get swallowed up in work because there’s always something I could be doing – always.
What has been the most difficult thing that’s come between your business and your family life (social life) ?
All businesses experience peaks and troughs. During the quiet times there’s a lot of anxiety in the air and it takes its toll on both my family and social life. I have to tighten the purse strings and focus all of my energy on getting more business. I try and channel this uncertainty into positive mental drive and eventually, when a peak comes (it always does) I’m left feeling invigorated and it fuels me to continue to work harder.
Planning trips with friends and family is always tough with this job. William and I normally have to confirm things last minute because it’s impossible to guarantee we won’t be called for a shoot at short notice. I remember one time we were on holiday in Hungary with some friends. While enjoying the sights, we had an enquiry for a last minute shoot in London, which meant we had to cut the trip short to fly back. We were gutted and so were our friends, but that’s the nature of a business start-up. You have to be flexible to accept business whenever or wherever it comes.
Not having the safety net of sick pay is difficult. Will had a bad ACL injury playing football, which meant he was unable to carry heavy equipment or be on his feet for six weeks while he recovered. It was times like these that made me realise how precarious life is for the self-employed and how lucky we were to have each other to pick up the slack when things went wrong.
Have you experienced any moments of overwhelm? How did you cope?
I opted to do the National Wedding Show in London, the biggest UK wedding show, one week before it was due to commence. Having never done a trade show before it was probably the most ridiculous decision I’d ever made. I had to make everything from scratch including marketing materials, banners, stall decorations all in 7 days. During the show I felt utterly overwhelmed showcasing against huge wedding brands and established businesses who looked like they had everything together. Never has the saying ‘fake it before you make it’ been so prominent for me. The secret was to look like I was in control at all times, but I coped with the support from William and friends who were there to help before, during and after the show. I didn’t feel alone.
Are you in a place where you think you now have your life in control regardless of what responsibilities there are? If so, could you share 3 major ways you have been able to take back your life.
Not at all, and I’d like to meet a business owner who has. At the moment I’m working on the following three steps to work towards a more balanced life:
1.Plan financially for the quiet times and use them as a positive opportunity to develop my product and do nice things with friends and family.
2.Be strict with my work schedule, clock out at normal times and use evenings to spend quality time with my husband, friends and family.
3.Invest in PR and marketing to take the stress off having to self-promote. This way I’m freed up to develop my product and business.
What singular advice would you give anyone in your business shoes now but not coping?
Ask for help. When I’m not coping I talk to other businesses I ask them for their advice or post questions on wedding vendor groups on social media. People are keen to help you epically if you’re just starting out.
Jess Graham, I Will Video www.iwillvideo.com