Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Melissa Jeffcoat, Founder of Melissa Arlena Photography, located in Charlottesville, VA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I'm Melissa Arlena, an SEO educator for photographers. Over the last 15 years of running my photography business, I learned how to get to page 1 of Google and get in front of my ideal clients. That led to fully booking out my calendar and being able to raise my prices. I started helping friends with their website SEO, and that snowballed to where I am today. Helping portrait photographers tackle their SEO and raise their rankings on Google!

Tell us about yourself

Fifteen years ago, I left my very comfortable IT job to jump onto the roller coaster of entrepreneurship. I wanted to be my own boss, set my own schedule and wear jeans to work every day! Those goals still motivate me today, but now I can add seeing my clients get results to the list.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I shared a story of the hard times in my business on a podcast to encourage others not to feel alone, and I woke up to so many messages from others who were inspired by it. From there, it led to people asking me to mentor them, and that ballooned to where I am today, helping photographers around the world understand and tackle their SEO.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Uncertainty, doubt, fear. Those three always come together when things get tough, and they take turns popping into your head. A mindset coach recently told me that it takes just as much brain power to fear something bad will happen as it does to have faith that something good will happen. So when those 3 show up, I make it a point to stop and turn my thoughts around to faith. Instead of fearing that no one will hire me, I have faith that all the marketing work I'm doing will pay off.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Go read Profit First. Then read it again. Then implement it! Seriously, I ran my business into so much debt because I let expenses get out of control. I had to put my business on hold at one point to get a part-time job to pay off the debt. Then I read Profit First, and I realized I was letting the business run me instead of me running it. Now I take home a steady paycheck each month, I have profit distributions each quarter, and I don't stress at tax time because I know I have a system in place to make sure everything is correct. If you are even thinking about starting a business, read this book before you accept your first client so you know you are on the right financial track for the future.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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