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I know this isn’t a topic you might hear about a lot, bullying in business isn’t really talked about often. Why!? It’s not something that I thought was super relevant to everyone, but what I have found is that most people just avoid the topic completely or dismiss it. Believing it’s because we are embarrassed or feel ashamed about it and so we don’t bring it up. It’s something that has played a really significant role in not only my business but my life. A pole on Instagram asking my community if they have ever felt a form of bullying within their business and it was 70% of the people who responded yes. What!
Bullying is happening, even in Adulthood
Bullying is happening to others in my community as well and I feel awful for them and sad for the people who are acting this way. It’s not a great way to live in a space where you are continually focused on another persons success and not your own. After doing some research, Canada has over 40% of workers who experience bullying on a weekly basis. Research by the BullyinginCanada.ca website was filled with information on this. To think that this doesn’t happen is truly an indication that you don’t fully understand the full concept of it. It could also be dismissed, just teasing, harmless play, but it has serious psychological repercussions.
Hobby or not, Bullying is not ok
When I first started my business I really had no idea who was or wasn’t a photographer in my local community. Exciting and new, I really wanted to put myself out there as I found motherhood so lonely in that first year. I quickly made a lot of amazing friends (no surprise). Quickly became super supportive of my new little business venture. I was getting referrals from everywhere and from people I didn’t even know. It exploded almost over night and I am still ever so thankful to this day that it did. Growth came with some nasty messages and comments from local businesses.
I will never forget a local photographer reaching out to me on Facebook and criticizing my pricing. Talk about being a huge bully in my business. She even questioned the level of safety I was taking. At this point in my I had no idea what I wanted from this hobby yet. Overall I just wanted to get better at doing what I was so passionate about. It was in this moment I realized that I was upsetting others who had been in business longer than I was. Sadly, this could have been handled differently.
Helping those who are new is much Sweeter
Now this seems so little in the grand scheme of things. Instead of helping me or pointing me into the right direction of things when it came to running a business, I was met with discourse. Each post on Facebook where someone was looking for a recommendation (which was about 5-10 times a day at times), I was made to look unprofessional. After taking courses and gaining real life experience with my own family & friends, I kept on going regardless. In my first year of practicing I photographed over a 100+ different families, clearly someone thought I was good.
I actually admired these local photographers because they were really talented. One day I hoped to be as successful as they were. Feeling included or “in” with them was something I wanted so badly. Being part of community is so important for growth.
Professional Photographer Group? Not really.
Flash forward about 2 years into my business and I was invited into a professional group on Facebook for professional women photographers. If I was invited to the group wouldn’t I be considered a professional at this point at least by my peers, I thought so. At this point I was loving my business and working extremely hard in it while also working a full time job and raising a toddler at this point. The only real hard part of my business was the very real attacks on posts or comments I would make in this so-called professional group.
For example, one of the attacks I endured was when another photographer mentioned that I was running a Groupon for my business. She claimed that I was stealing food off her table for offering this type of product to clients. Keep in mind I have never met this photographer in person and she lived about 70kms one way from my home studio. Pretty hard to believe I was stealing clients from her. This idea of even stealing clients seemed impossible since we truly have no control over who our clients choose to hire. The truest form of Bullying in Business that I have ever felt. Plenty of clients who have worked with other photographers as well as us. Heck, I even hire different photographers to do our own photos for the family.
You know bullying is bad – Strangers Help
The level of mean in this group grew meaning that other photographers that I didn’t even know started to defend my right to choose. How I wanted to run my business and who clients choose to hire is up to them. This very same photographer also got upset because I was liking some of her photos on instagram (it was actually a free bot tool based on hashtags doing it, but she didn’t know that). Talk about huge inconveniences. She claimed that it was upsetting to herself and friends that I was liking her posts. The kicker, regardless of the tool, I was actually looking for a maternity and newborn photographer myself. Had these women not been bullying me I would have hired them most likely because I used to love their work.
Why did this bullying even happen!?
So of course, me, my mind, goes to… well why!? Why did this happen. Sure most of you are thinking well they were jealous. They felt like I was stealing clients, they felt threatened in some way because I was making waves and they weren’t. Who doesn’t get that. New Photographers or Business’ pop up all the time! This is exciting! Why? People don’t always care about the same things that I care about in my business and that’s ok. Clients come to me for my service, my style, my personality. They aren’t just buying the product they are buying me, so regardless of the competition, I need to be true to myself. Only way to be truly successful in my opinion.
How to handle the bullies Once and for All
Now I have chatted about this and perhaps vented just a little, but one of the best things I have done is to talk to others about what’s happening. In this I have found help. One of the main things I did was realize that first, I needed to leave this awful group. Done. Needed to bless and block anyone who made me feel less than what I was ever. Check! Next I needed to help others when they started out and make sure that I was always as supportive as I could be. Sometimes I was supportive even when I didn’t feel like I had all the answers or the skills.
Get the Support you need
Lastly, I wanted to speak to you, my new and loving audience about this because I know it’s probably happened to you. Bullying in business is not ok. You need to know that it doesn’t need to stay that way. These negative feelings can be gone and only you can do something about it. Reach out and talk to a friend and get support. You can do what I did, bless and block them. Avoid them at all costs. Don’t follow them and definitely don’t let yourself get into a position where you have to even think about them.
Perks of being an Entrepreneur
I don’t feel stuck or put down, I don’t feel silenced in any of my abilities. Feeling like I can do whatever my heart feels. Trying things, or not, I can make decisions without any need for approvals and it’s the best motivator in the world. Having this complete freedom and control over my choices. This is the perk of being an entrepreneur, don’t let anyone take that from you because it’s yours and only you can be in charge of your own path. So forge onward and keep on killing like you already are.
For help with bullying in your business reach out to https://www.bullyingcanada.ca/get-help/.