We caught up with the brilliant and insightful JC Ruiz a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Hi JC, thanks for joining us today. We’d love to hear the backstory behind a risk you’ve taken – whether big or small, walk us through what it was like and how it ultimately turned out.
One of the biggest risks people can take is leaving their comfort zone of a corporate job and steady paycheck and trying to start a business on their own. When the entrepreneurial bug hits, it’s hard to ignore. Maybe it’s a hobby or passion you want to try full time or you’re just tired of making other people money and you want to make more for yourself; either way there is no such thing as the right time to take the risk of starting a business. You just have to do it.
I was unhappy working a corporate job, doing the same mundane tasks day after day for a paltry salary. Photography was my passion. It’s what I lived for after clocking out. So like all crazy people, I left my steady paycheck to start my own photography business. Everyone will always say you’re crazy for taking such a big risk, but they’re also the ones afraid to take such a risk. They like they illusion of feeling comfortable with the same thing day after day. Me? I wanted more.
Was it successful at first? Absolutely not. It was painful and at time I was questioning myself if I made the right move. We all have grandiose thoughts of making tons of money and having free time working for yourself, but those quickly evaporate. Starting out on your own means you don’t have an 8 hour workday like a regular 9-5. You’re always working. Always networking, always trying to find your next client. Sometimes the clients you get aren’t the ones that necessarily pay the most or have the most challenging problem, but when the bills are piling up you can’t be picky.
After a few years I was able to start to get some steady clientele. I made the right choice to start out on my own, but it wasn’t without risk and difficulty. Owning a business isn’t for everyone. One month might be amazing and the next quiet. Or you could find yourself in a middle of a pandemic and almost lose everything.
While Covid decimated a lot of small businesses, I’m still here. I was able to pivot a bit to stay afloat, but business isn’t what it was prior to 2020. I find myself doing things or taking jobs I wouldn’t necessarily take before. But when you own your business and there is no steady paycheck every two weeks, you have to do what you have to. It’s not necessarily only the strong survive, it’s those willing to do what they must to keep their heads above water.
Taking the risk of starting your own business isn’t the hard part. The hard part is weathering the storms of slow times. Once those storms pass, you know you made the right decision taking the risk to start your own business.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I’m JC Ruiz, owner of JC Ruiz Photography. I specialize in sports, wedding and commercial photography. I’ve been hired as a photographer for the NFL, MLB, NHL, Paralympics and more. I’ve photographed weddings both here and abroad. I’ve done commercial work for companies like Carnival Cruise Line, Golfsmith and others. When I’m not working for clients I’m usually on Miami Beach taking photos for my upcoming photography book about the Art Deco of Miami Beach.
Any advice for growing your clientele? What’s been most effective for you?
As a photographer, one of the most effective strategies for growing my clientele is constantly posting my work on social media. A lot of clients see my work on social media. You never know who is watching your profile or checking out your work. It’s also not about posting all the time. It’s also about being social. Connect with other creatives, comment or repost their work. I’ve had jobs that were referred by other photographers who I’ve never met in real life, but have a good standing with on social media.
Alright – so here’s a fun one. What do you think about NFTs?
I’m a bit skittish on NFTs. I think the whole crypto scene is the wild wild west where old money can break free from the regulations and rules of places like the stock market and other investing mediums. It seems like crypto and NFTs are a great place to artificially inflate the value or price on items and after the value has hit their ceiling, investors take their money and run leaving others holding next to nothing in value. A classic pump and dump of money. With the majority of crypto being held by a small percent of the population, they basically control the crypto market free of any government regulations. The less wealthy are always looking for a quick get rich scheme and they see crypto as their opportunity to make it big. Often than not they get left with nothing. Same with NFTs, these jpeg are selling for millions and more often than not it’s people buying their own NFT just to drive up the price. What value is there in a Bored Ape NFT? None, but someone has created a feeding frenzy where people have to own one? The problem with NFTs is that they can be stolen and resold as an original even though it’s fake. I think the NFT bubble is going to burst and people are going to be left holding onto worthless jpeg images.