This interview with Rachel E. Hegarty of Rachel E.H. Photography is part of my 2021 Autumn Adventure Tour‘s Entrepreneur Interview Series. This trip promotes small businesses along the East Coast, shares interviews with my past and current clients, and highlights my upcoming business mastermind.

Transcript:

SPEAKERS

Rachel E. Hegarty of Rachel E.H. Photography, Megan Taylor Morrison

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Hey y’all. I am here in Arlington, Virginia, where I am about to interview my former client, Rachel Hegarty. This is her dog Millie, who I’ve hung out with often virtually, but this is our first time meeting in person. I think it’s going pretty well so far! 

All right, Miss Rachel, tell us about your business.

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Rachel E. Hegarty  

I am a wedding and portrait photographer in the DC area: DC, Maryland, Virginia, Baltimore. I do weddings and portraits. The main thing that I love about my job is helping people feel comfortable in front of the camera, feel at ease.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

You really do. You come up with such clever things. Yes, you do wedding and family photos, but you also do these amazing cherry blossom shoots, which I’m dying to do with you. You’re a very creative business owner who likes to come up with fun new ideas.

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Yeah. I try to think of things that I like to do and that inspire me, or that I just really get lit up about, like the cherry blossoms, for example. Even though they’re very challenging and strenuous, and take a lot of time and planning. I still love to do them, so I make it happen every year.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Quintessential DC. One thing I’ve loved about watching your entrepreneurial journey is how you’ve grown your business. The grace, savviness, and strategy that you’ve developed as an entrepreneur has been really fun to watch. I want to talk about the past year of your business as well as the entire journey. In this last year, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about business?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Well, unlike some businesses, photography was actually very busy. Weddings, of course, were sometimes canceled or postponed. But the past year has been really busy for portrait sessions. So I got into the mode of constantly working all the time. I learned that I can still make time for myself even when I’m really busy. I can set aside time intentionally and stick to it, and everything will be fine. I’m still just as busy and making just as much money, if not more, by setting aside intentional time to take care of myself, live life, and do fun things that I want to do, which is something I hadn’t always done.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

You’re so good about this. For instance, with your morning ritual. I remember during the mastermind, you were like, “We cannot have meetings at too early an hour.” You really set the boundary. It was a wonderful thing to watch you take care of yourself so beautifully. Is that something you had to learn?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Yes, for sure. When I first left my day job and started doing my business full time, I was unsure of how to set my schedule. I was kind of floundering with what to do with my day and how to spend my time. I finally went the route of doing what I was most aligned with. Just constantly asking myself, “What is aligning for me?” I like to sleep in and stay up late. So I was like, “That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to sleep in, take my time getting up, journal or meditate or read to sort of ease myself into the day, and have breakfast. I’m going to take my time.”

Megan Taylor Morrison  

I love that you said that doing this actually makes you more money. Why do you think that is? What’s the correlation?

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Rachel E. Hegarty  

Well, I think anytime you’re doing something that’s in alignment, it’s better for you and for others. You’re attracting to yourself the things that you want. I think it makes me more peaceful and happier, which attracts bigger and better things. It also puts me in a better mood when I am working, which is important.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Hugely important, yeah. What systems and approaches made you successful? If you really look back at the first few years, what was key?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

From the beginning, I set up a customer relationship management (CRM) system. It has kept me very organized. I make folders in my email account for each project which correlating that to the CRM. That system allowed me to send invoices to get paid on time. A lot of other entrepreneurs that I have talked to over the years are often lamenting about not getting paid. I’m always like, “Why don’t you use something like this that automatically sends reminders, where you can schedule everything, and has a due date on it?” People take that seriously, especially when it’s coming from something that looks very official. 

Megan Taylor Morrison

What CRM software do you use?

Rachel E. Hegarty

I use 17hats, but there’s tons of them. I used 17hats from the beginning. It lets you do contracts, questionnaires, and invoices. It even has a bookkeeping function which is very helpful. It lets you add in sales tax, so just being organized from the beginning with something like that has been really helpful. Basically everything I do has a system. I think getting set up with that from the beginning and just being in the mindset of being really organized has helped me keep everything streamlined. It has helped me come across professionally to my clients, which keeps a lot of them coming back. I get a lot of compliments and comments about my systems. And I think that gives me a little bit of an edge over some other people.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

I imagine that your clients feel taken care of. When they give you compliments, what is it that they say? What do they like about it?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Mostly, I hear, “I love the system that you use, I love the email reminders. I love that everything is organized and that it keeps me on track.” I’m like, “Oh, you love getting an invoice? Great!”

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Fantastic. What would you have changed if you could do it all over again, if anything?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Ooh. I think the one thing I would redo that I think would have helped me save time later on is to have set everything up from the beginning in preparation for outsourcing. When I started, everything was very me-centered. I had to be the one involved with every task, in doing everything. It was very specific and detailed to the point that I would be the only person that would understand my process. And so changing that over to be able to bring in an editor, a virtual assistant, someone to help me even organize my inbox in a certain way, I had to take so much time just to sort of overhaul how I was doing everything. Even now, my contracts are still very specific. So that’s the next thing I need to do. I can outsource that. So yeah, just having it all set up from the beginning with the idea in mind that eventually I’m going to be outsourcing this. So let me create it in a way where it’s going to make that very easy to do in the future.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Give us an example of how one would do that.

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Oh, let’s see. Um, well, the easiest and best thing you could do is to find someone that specializes in that kind of thing. Just pay upfront to have them at least give you the tips. Maybe you don’t go through their whole package of what they do, but most of them will have some basic things that they can give you from the beginning to help you. Like just tips and tricks on how to do it

Megan Taylor Morrison  

On how to shift your operations so that it’s ready for someone?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Right. Like setting it up this way instead of that way. From the beginning, giving you those ideas, those expert tips and tricks, even if you’re the one doing it for now. That would be the best.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Yeah, that’s so smart. Because you could ask the personal assistant, “Hey, when you get a new client, what do you like them to have ready for you?” I’m sure they’d be happy to talk to you, especially if you’re going to hire them later on. And it will be easier for you to hire them. 

What do you love most about your business right now?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

I love working with people. When I’m shooting, I love getting to interact with people, being out and about, and spending time in nature while practicing an art that I love. It still just kind of blows my mind that people want to pay me to do this thing that I love. I feel really lucky about that.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Yeah, you took a big leap of faith leaving your government job. It took a lot of courage to go full-time into entrepreneurship. And now of course, your business is paying you even better than working for the government. What’s it like sitting in this home that you own that you’ve bought as a business owner, knowing that your business is paying the mortgage and your business is taking care of you?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Oh, it’s amazing. I sometimes forget to think about it like that, but when I really center myself on that fact, I feel a lot of pride and appreciation and am sort of amazed at myself. Amazed that this is how things have gone. I’m just happy that I get to do what I love, and that it has actually supported me to the point that I was able to buy my own home and pay for everything through my business. It’s fun.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Let’s chat about the mastermind, because some folks watching this will be interested in attending the business mastermind. How did the mastermind support your business growth?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Oh, a lot. Even before I left my day job, I was in a mastermind with you. Honestly, the conversations that we had on such a regular basis really teed me up to make choices and decisions. I was able to get things aligned, understand my values, and what I wanted out of my life. I recognized that my day job wasn’t fulfilling those things while my business was, and that I should be putting more of myself into my business. So that was an exponential help from the beginning. And then after I left my job, I stayed on for a new mastermind that we did for 3 years. Just having that consistent accountability and support, constantly talking about things that I don’t necessarily set aside time for in my everyday life and in my business was very, very helpful. It kept me on top of the bigger picture things instead of getting lost in the weeds of the hustle all the time.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Stay focused on working on the business versus in the business. It’s easy to get sucked into all the things that the business needs. What’s unique about the mastermind? How does it stand out from a networking or support group?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

First of all, the community is special. Having people from all different walks of life in one place with the common understanding amongst all of us that whatever we’re saying to each other, we’re going to say with good intentions, with love, and in order to help and support each other. That is very different from what I found in other places. It makes it much easier to say the harder things, and sometimes hearing those things is what we really need. I haven’t really found that anywhere else. Also, having a common language with each other. I did one-on-one coaching before doing the mastermind. I had this language that I was using with my coach but that I couldn’t really use anywhere else, because nobody else really gets it unless you’re in it. So having a group of people with whom I had this shorthand, that I could talk to like that was very nice and helpful.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

There’s something I’m getting from you in this conversation around the value of challenge, the way you’re able to challenge each other in the mastermind. Talk more about why challenging each other is valuable.

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Well, I really think there’s nowhere else that you’re going to get that, and we often don’t know to ask for it. So having that set up as a premise of the group from the beginning is helpful. Because in your everyday life, the people who are supporting you want to be positive. They think that what’s helpful is giving us pats on the back and encouragement. And that’s all great, but having people ask you tough questions that really get you thinking is what’s going to help you grow. That’s what’s going to help you grow as a person and help you grow your business.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Who’s the right fit for a program like this? Who would do well in the mastermind?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

Definitely someone who is open. Open in general, open-minded, open to new ideas, and open to whatever is gonna come. You might go into something like this with an idea in your mind of what you want to get out of it. And maybe you do get that thing out of it, but there is an opportunity to end up getting so much more. But you’re only going to get that so much more if you stay open to it. So I think first and foremost, it needs to be somebody willing to consider varied perspectives, share with others, and give feedback. 

Megan Taylor Morrison  

What makes it worth the investment of time and money? It’s quite a bit of time and money?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

There’s all the tangible takeaways that you’re going to get out of it, but it’s more than that. Whenever I make a big investment, I fret and worry about it. But at the end of the day, when it comes to coaching, I’ve never looked back and thought like, “Oh man, I really wish I hadn’t spent that money on coaching.” That thought has never entered my mind. It’s the exact opposite, where I think, “I got so much value out of this, that it was definitely worth my time and money and probably more.” Because it’s priceless, the things that you can get from participating in a group like this.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

And who is Meg? As a coach, how is she as a facilitator?

Rachel E. Hegarty  

As a facilitator, she’s very organized. She is someone who is going to stand for you. Like she’s gonna stay focused and centered on the thing that you’ve asked for. And stand for that maybe even when it’s uncomfortable or challenging. She’s really smart and knows how to do that in a way that is going to be helpful and engaging and push you forward. And then I think, too, and I always say this. She just leads the way and sets a good example. When I’m looking at successful people, I think, “They did that, so that means I can do that. It’s possible. I’ve seen it be possible. And so I know that I can do that too.” I feel like Megan is the leader. She’s leading the way. She’s doing everything she wants to do, all the cool stuff. She’s coming up with creative ideas all the time, and setting the stage for the rest of us.

Megan Taylor Morrison  

Oh, Rachel, thank you for sharing all your wisdom and how it is to be in the mastermind. I so admire you as a business owner. It’s so fun to be in your house, to hear more about all the things that you do, and to finally meet Millie, who’s down there! There she is. There’s Millie.

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