The Transition From Employee to Small Business Owner

November 15, 2012

From passion to paycheck – a photographer’s journey – part four

Guest blogger, Greg Dillon, founder of the photography community Phophus.

One thing I have noticed about the Phopus startup process is the mindset shift from being an employee to being a founder of my own small business. It only hit me recently, as I was laid off for the third time and started freelancing with a number of different design agencies… I’m not excited by the idea of a permanent role in someone else’s business anymore, I’m excited by being able to do my own thing, to do what I love but in a way that earns me more than it would if I was working for another person. I actually found myself spending parts of my working day reading, researching and planning for Phopus and beyond realizing that lining someone else’s pocket would only be an option for me for a limited time. As a founder you...

  • never stop thinking about your project
  • are always thinking about how you are going to get it to market
  • start talking about your startup, and people come to you wanting to talk about it
  • get emails and calls from people wishing you luck
  • feel a bit alone when trying to work out all the different elements of the business
  • need a lot of support and belief from those around you
  • daydream about how this thing will work
  • stare at your feedburner account to see if the teaser front page is generating enough signups to encourage belief
  • tinker and tweak press releases
  • play about trying different ideas to generate pre-launch interest
  • look at the ‘route to payback’ equations and get excited when you see the pre-launch awareness generating signup numbers near the payback number – then feel a bit dejected when you are reminded that only about 10% of them will convert to paying members
  • realize that you can do a lot of it yourself but that it will be more prudent to outsource some of it – from infographics design to web design and accounting
  • discover that it is pretty hard to keep on top of all the invoices for anything from web design to hosting and legal stuff unless you print them all out and file them from on the start (and definitely worth keeping them in one email mailbox… not across three as I did!)
  • have to not only be wise about every aspect of your startup but also about the marketing, branding, legal, financial innovation and employer components
  • cannot let doubt creep in – that needs to be quashed right at the beginning otherwise you will lose faith and the resolve needed to plow on through every stage of the process
  • get inspired by random things and find yourselves using your Evernote account even more than usual to write little launch ideas or ‘phase two’ features ideas or even reminding yourself to review where you are on a certain phase of the project!

So much going on in your head, you need a way to get a release… personally I’m a keen squash player (though looking at me you would never know it…), and when I get a bit overwhelmed I take myself out of the city and go clay pigeon shooting with a good friend of mine or sometimes even get the time to go out and take photographs – bearing in mind my soon-to-launch site is a photography startup… but that is rarer at the minute!

Head over to now and register your pre-launch interest… believe me, every sign up raises a smile on my face and reaffirms that this whole process has been and will be worth it. 

Greg is the founder of - a photography community launching soon that will give amateur photographers a platform to get their work seen by the wider photography community and to get their name known. Away from startup life he is a Twitter addict – and works as a strategist for some of the biggest brands on the planet, helping them to identify their consumers and how to leverage their competencies to best target the people who matter.