Ep. 13: How To Get Your Spouse On Board When Starting a Business, with Dana’s Husband Sean Graham

April 15, 2021

When it comes to quitting your job and starting a small business as a mom, your spouse is likely going to have something to say about it. In this episode, I walk through my journey in entrepreneurship with my husband Sean to get his insight and mindset from the beginning of my photography business to now. He tells us his reservations at the start of my company, how he was able to overcome them, and some things he did to encourage and support me along the way. If you’re having a hard time getting your spouse on board as you plan to start a new small business, we hope this episode provides you with some tools to help you two get on the same page.

I do want to note – this episode and our frame of mind is coming from a very personal place. Every situation is VASTLY different, and everything we say might not be applicable to you. We were starting a very small business, with very normal-ish financial goals… and that of course had something to do with how our story unfolded.

Let us know what you think in the comments below! I am so excited for you to hear something from my husband – even though he lives in Africa right now, I swear he’s real! 😂

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13. BONUS: How To Get Your Spouse On Board When Starting a Business, with Dana’s Husband Sean Graham

When it comes to quitting your job and starting a small business as a mom, your spouse is likely going to have something to say about it. In this episode, I walk through my journey in entrepreneurship with my husband Sean to get his insight and mindset from the beginning of my photography business to now.

Full Transcript:

Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 hour work weeks I go either until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans we made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn into, but I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me is I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all, amidst the chaos. Hi everyone and welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos. I’m super excited today to have Shawn my husband on the podcast I know that starting a business, and launching into something brand new for your family no matter what way that looks is a team effort, and not only a team effort, but a team decision so I thought it would be really interesting to have him on here today. And since he’s home for a little bit we can do this live and in person so welcome Shawn thanks.

Sean: Thank you. Thank you, happy to be on.

Dana: He is not a quiet person as you can tell, the audio and this is probably going to be me being quiet and him being loud so adjust your audio accordingly,

Sean: adjust accordingly. Ladies and gentlemen,

Dana: oh my god. Well, so, Shawn, I, everybody kind of knows if you haven’t already listened to Episode one which is my story, make sure and go back and listen to that, because it will give you kind of a timeline and a picture of what happened, it talks a little bit about how Shawn, you know encouraged me it was just like, supportive and if you’ve listened at all you know is, he’s our number one hype guy around here so really good to have that background information, but So Shawn tell us, so I’m pregnant with Grady, our second, and I’m on maternity leave, and trying to figure out, you know if I’m gonna go back to work the daycare situation how it’s going to happen, and I was, I mean how would you describe my mental state at that point,

Sean: flustered. Well chaotic. Yeah, I think you were just when you were pregnant with Grady, you know, you were still going to work, and the lead up to the work you are getting, I think you’re getting more and more. I don’t know if paranoia is the right word but just just just kind of flustered and thinking that you were going to miss so much time with both kids and that, you know, we’d be paying somebody else to watch our children for us. And you weren’t going to be able to be at home with them as much as you wanted. And you saw that with Plex a little bit. But when Grady was coming, I think it only compounded your those feelings, and that probably sound a little bit of anxiety and you

Dana: definitely anxious is the word you could use. It was, it was hard for me I wanted I liked my job I liked my team but I was desperate to be able to spend more time with the kids and especially with both of them was just so much time away, but I really kind of said like hey I want to quit my job and you said, hey, we’ll go bankrupt. So what, but I had no idea I had no clue, like when Grady was born at that time I had literally no idea what I would do or what I could do.

Sean: That’s true, right before Grady was born while you were pregnant, I just started a new job and the job involves some significant fall on training that I had to complete in order to in order to really submit my position in the role and. And with that, that’s a lot of change, I just started a new career, and now you’re telling me you want to quit your career that’s the one stable part of our family, the one stable income we have, and you want to quit, a good job, a good paying job with a good team that allows flexibility and just start something, but you don’t know what that something is, but you want to start something, and all you want is to be on with the kids.

Dana: And so you thought I was crazy. 

Sean: I don’t think you were crazy. I knew that you were writing those feelings when we started dating you just told me one thing, and that’s that you wanted to be a mother. You didn’t have huge career aspirations, you didn’t have. You didn’t want to travel the world, there was nothing specific what you just said is you just want to be. I just want to be a mom I want to be the best mom that I can be and I want to raise the happiness of the family.

Dana: Yeah and I mean I felt that way since I was a little kid I literally never was like oh I’m gonna be a doctor or a lawyer and, and some people are and I think that’s where my story is a little bit different than a lot of people’s is that I didn’t, you know, quit my job and quit the corporate nine to five to pursue a passion, I sort of started my business out of a little bit of desperation right out of a little bit of hey I need to get out of this corporate cycle where I can control my own four hours and have the flexibility, but I had no real passion to follow this was something that, that we decided on more out of desperation and passion.

Sean: Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with you on that I think that the passion that you had, was substantial, and that passion was to spend more time with your children to be a mother, and to not be going into the office every day and not be away from them. And that passion led you to be creative and find a way where you could stay at home and could spend the time you wanted with the kids, but make money doing so, from what I remember, obviously, at that point we’re like okay, we can’t just quit. You have to go back to work, but we were in this position where you’re about to be traveling like things are about to be crazy and then we realize that hey if you’re going to be gone anyway. Maybe we can just rent out the house, and I can move, go down to my parents. And so that kind of gave us the option of like, Hey, you could start something and see how it goes and see if you can make it work. I just started my position, and with that came a bunch of travel, in the first six months I was just going to be taking some short trips, and so like you said, we thought hey maybe we could, this would be a good opportunity for us to save some money here. And if you’re starting this business this is the ideal time where you’re on maternity leave, let’s, let’s see if we can get out of paying a mortgage, and, and with the graciousness of your family be able to save some money for the next few months. And that money would be able to put towards you starting your business and not have to worry about paying rent, or making bills.

Dana: Yeah and I think that gave us some sort of a little bit of sense of security, but it was really, I mean, I’ve said this on the podcast too like there was some really questionable decision making happening for sure, like I definitely remember being like, Huh, I’m not going back to work. This is really terrifying. But amidst all this, I was hit with that Facebook ad, remember from Cole’s classroom where they’re like, We can teach anybody how to use the camera.

Sean: Yes, I remember that very clearly.

Dana: And I was like, oh maybe I could do it, and I had our camera that we, my parents had given us for our wedding gift. And I pulled it out and like was like Shawn, I have to buy a $50 lens, I have to, like I can’t do what I have to do on this camera, but all I need is a $50 lens that’s it, which is true, by the way.

Sean: Yeah. And the interesting thing there is, Dana, in the past. She’s got an entrepreneurial spirit and so there’s, and she’s also an advertiser, an advertiser’s dream because she sees an ad, and it works every time. It doesn’t matter the color, it doesn’t matter the shape, the size, how it’s presented to her. It just says something, and it resonates with her. And so, when she was like oh hey I saw this closed classroom thing I’m thinking, here we go again. This is the next best thing that she wants to get in and get started with, and I love the passion. Right. And I think the difference here, unlike other times in the past where you tried to dabble in different things, is that this time you really, you had fire in your belly and you you had a reason and you had a why you knew the answer to your why of why this business needed to work was going to be successful. And you were sure that it was, and you weren’t going to stop until you had a successful business, And you were making the money that you needed to be able to stay at home with the kids. And that was really the game changer.

Dana: I mean, I don’t even know what really gave me the confidence that I could do this, I mean I knew that obviously like with photography, people are doing it all the time, somebody is making a work So why couldn’t I mean there’s no, nothing that makes me different. Yes, it’s a super saturated market but there’s no reason why I couldn’t do what other people had done, and I think you know that fact is scary, but I mean I had also like I had a Cricut I had done like some art things and like built a couple of different like little projects and none of that seemed really that profitable and wasn’t very interesting to me but I think I you know I found this course and got some little level of result back and was like, Oh yeah, I could definitely do this

Sean: right and you had, like, it’s, it’s not that you didn’t enjoy photography before you enjoyed it. You know you were definitely always the mother with Blakeslee who were taking photos every day multiple photos you know more than the average person, and you use your camera and you enjoy doing it, but it was never business for you. And so once you started looking at it as a business, I think the wheels started turning in. Like I said before, this time, you were going into it, needing to have results, like I said before, the passion of knowing that you had to be at home with the kids was driving every step you took, and you weren’t going to settle for no or anything less. And I think the other interesting thing to point out is, I remember highlighting to and I said, Hey, you don’t have to be super successful. You don’t have to make six figures in your first year, all you got to do is give us enough to pay the rent in Northern Virginia, and my salary can cover the rest. But we can’t be up here as a single income family, we need some help, and all you got to do is cover the rent. And I think that was like 2500 bucks a month. And so you had that goal, you had that goal set from the beginning, you know you had a few months while we were living down your parents build that out.

Dana: Yeah and I think setting that goal and kind of having like that idea and we never set like we never said we did say the rent but it never was like, Okay, here’s the math of like, you have to make this much, how are you going to get there I mean I kind of did that on the back end. But, yeah, but we definitely like said okay this is what we have to do to make it to make it fly and make it work. Okay, I pick up the camera right I start taking this class on Cole’s classroom I’m like trying to take photos of everything Sean’s so annoyed that I’m like taking photos of everything and everyone, but was there a point for you in those early days like especially before I even launched or announced that I was going to do this, that you were like okay she could do it or were you the whole time like, oh gosh, she needs to get better.

Sean: No, you’ve got a very creative i You mentioned that like you done the cricket stuff in the past and you’ve always been very crafty and you’re, you have a very creative way of viewing the world through a certain lens and so when it comes to photography and posing I think all that stuff came natural to you. Initially, I’m like, okay I don’t want to do another practice photoshoot for you to try the 17,000 setting on your camera. While Blake’s and I are standing here pretending to smile, you know, maybe, but it was more about support like okay, if you know, if I was in her shoes, Dana would be supporting me big time, you know, and she’d be doing everything I asked. And this is something, this is something that’s easy for me that’s free that I can help her out with, you know, and I’ve always known like okay if they just meet this girl, and she just gets in front of them. She’s gonna be successful, you know like photography is something that you can learn, you know it’s an implied task, it’s something that can be built, knowledge that can be built in a skill that you can develop over time right through training and instruction, but her personality and her motivation and and her passion for wanting this business to succeed, to be the mother that she wants to be, that’s something that can’t be taught, that’s something that can’t be built. And so, for Dana I was like, I know she’s going to be a good photographer but to build this business, and get the clients that’s going to be the hard part. And so I never had any doubt and you know your photo, your, your ability to take photos. Tao was like, you know, it’s like being a real estate agent like how are you going to get all these people to know and trust you as their family photographer, and pay you money to do that to take pictures of them, that they’re gonna have on their walls, forever.

Dana: Yeah and I think that’s super, super interesting that that was the hurdle that you saw, because for me it was all about like the putting out a good product and I was like, Is this photo good, how can I make it better. What can I do to better this this is what’s going to get me client, and it’s funny when you’re talking with your spouse anybody in business at all, obviously, there are going to be different priorities and different things, where your mind goes naturally honestly this is the first time I’ve heard him say that and so it’s super super interesting for me because that’s where he was. That’s the headspace he was in when this was starting right he’s like okay, the business side of things where she getting these clients how are these people going to come in, like if she gets them in the door, she’s got an unlock, where, for me, I was like, oh gosh, what’s happening behind the door. Like, I need to make sure that gotta perform right and I that’s what I was trying to perfect and that’s really what I was worried about for the first little while I wanted every single aspect of each photo that I was posting anywhere to be perfect. And it wasn’t so much about the building my business portion

Sean: right and It goes back to like you having that creative eye and saying, your dad kind of told me this years back, and he’s a home builder for reference, he built custom homes. And we were doing some construction projects and there were some flaws in the project that we’re doing around my house minor stuff. I was like, Ah shoot man you know I mess this part up and he’s like oh don’t worry, nobody will ever see that. And I’m like, Yeah, myself, he’s like I mess stuff up all the time and I build multimillion dollar homes for people but you’re going to be the only one that will ever see that nobody will ever notice that you’re doing that, you notice that because, you know, you’re, you’re the one worried about the details, and all these minor imperfections. And so when that translates to you taking photos, it was the same thing it was like you were showing me these products I’m like dude, these things are these things are awesome, right like compared to like these, iPhone photos that I’m taking the kids. These things are works of art and belong in the Smithsonian. And it was you like that creative eye you were the one worried about those little details to focus, you know that the sharpness of the photo of contrast and brightness. And I’m not, I wasn’t seeing any of that, you know, I’m just seeing it as a father, you know, looking at it and so I’m like these families are gonna love it. They’re great photos, it’s a great start and their of their family in a beautiful environment and beautiful clothes like the families were gonna love it. No matter what.

Dana: Yeah, but see, so that’s really important exactly what you just said is super important to realize the difference in the way your brain works and the way your spouse’s brain works when you’re going to start a business, so if you’re, you know, wanting to start something and, or maybe you already have, and it seems to be a, not a point of contention but it’s tough right you’re either trying to convince your spouse that hey, like maybe this could be a thing, you know when your child’s like well I don’t know like, maybe you need to have a conversation about like what are your concerns, and not interrupt and let him talk about you know what he’s really thinking and have him think about it you know ask him the question and say hey take a day, take a little bit, take a beat to figure out what hurdle, you’re really seeing in this because, and fortunately Shawn is again just the biggest cheerleader was like gung ho, let’s do it. You got this, but if you don’t have that scenario and that situation, we could have easily been in the opposite scenario if Shawn hadn’t been just gung ho, he could have been, you know, not about it but not for the same reason that I was but I wouldn’t have known that unless we’d had this conversation, and we could have been sitting here with me still in a corporate job, years later, because we didn’t just say, hey, let’s lay out what the actual problem that you see is, I think that communication is key.

Sean: Right. First off, I’d like to stop being called a cheerleader. Okay. Second, I couldn’t agree with you more but and I specifically remember some walks we took our parents lived down on the beach, and, and we would take these walks on the beach and she was so pumped about this new job. And like she used to, she she loved she loved her own work, she loved her work she had a great team that she worked with and she loved. She really loved the people that she worked with. And so she would come home and she would talk to me about the team and how people are doing, or if there was any drama. And so like that’s what kept her going right that in the paycheck, the work that she was doing, you know, she hated it

Dana: I didnt hate it, but I was an insurance broker, I mean it wasn’t like, it’s not my calling.

Sean: Yeah, it’s like a bedtime story, we’ll put you to sleep

Dana: well okay, it’s not that bad.

Sean: But she never talked, she never came home and she was like oh my god they look at check out the numbers that I ran today,

Dana: I actually did do that a couple of times just because I’m so psycho, but. But you’re right, it wasn’t, it wasn’t keeping me going.

Sean: So, once we, I was kind of like yeah if you want to do this, I totally understand like you’ve, you’ve been so supportive of me going after my career and my passions. Like, this is now time for me to be supportive of you and so if you want to do this, let’s go, let’s go all in, you just got it you got to produce, you know, early and I remember her as soon as like, she kind of flipped that switch saying, Okay, I’m gonna do this, and I’m quitting, and she caught up in PR two weeks in her mind was firing a million miles a minute, and then all of a sudden it’s like talking to some, you know your wife who’s like, pitching Shark Tank idea after Shark Tank idea on these beach walks, and she’s just like talking all about the business and the possibilities and how she’s gonna get her customers and grow and become a better photographer and and fix different holes in the industry and, you know catered to moms and all that and it was just fascinating to see you could tell that like this passion and energy just really turned on, And it totally switched the way that that you know the way that she thought about work and thought about providing an income for this family and I thought it was really cool.

Dana: So obviously, like you saw me start to change as a person, right like that me just being fired up about work, you know, on a long term basis I mean I pretty much didn’t shut up about it, like that’s all we talked about Yeah, but like, you know that can be overwhelming. First off, but clearly I have the passion enough that I’m gonna make it happen. So what have you seen in me in the past few years since all this has happened, like, have you seen a change in my personality in my demeanor, because I have but I’d be interested to know if you think that me you know starting a business has changed me on a personal level in our relationship to.

 Sean: Oh, that’s a great question. I think that the answer is multifaceted like the question. And on a personal level, I think, you become a way way way more involved, mother. I know you’re raising our kids the way that we want to raise them. And you’ve been, been doing a fantastic job in my absence. And you know, the kids are, are happy and independent and strong and free willed and and thoughtful children right and that’s because you’re home every day, ensuring that they’re being raised that way. And I’m forever grateful that personally. Also, you know, you have Dana as the mom, and then get, you know, Dana as the individual and, and the wife, and I think you’ve been much more a much more fulfilled person, you’re more energetic you’re more excited, you know you’re doing what you want to do. Every day you wake up and you’re going to work but you’re going to work for you. and I think that excites you, yeah. And so, as a person like while you still have some stresses, they’re not somebody else’s problem, you know. And so I think that’s really interesting. And then you have Dana as the business owner, and there is where you’ve made like these leaps and bounds. I remember first talk starting out, like, you know, it’s like you’re like freaking out about your website design and I’m like oh big, I’ve done some website design and before you know dad like messed around in it, I can help you out, you know, I’m like, helping you out with, with little things in your business here and there and I’m feeling like I’m having a big impact helping her. This is stuff that’s stressing her out, and I can do the small things to help her with her business talking to her, hey, you know, babe, there’s this thing called SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s how you get ranked on Google, you know, and she’s like, okay, hold baby, there’s these things called Google ads. And that was like, early on, and now she’s like, Honey, please don’t talk about this stuff, you know, she’s like, she’s a business woman, you know she’s, I’m looking at her website, and the coding that she’s doing. And she’s running this podcast and she’s running this this photography business, and she’s just like, she’s got her three year plan or five year plan, and it is just the most impressive thing around, and that has been really, really awesome to grow. And I think it’s important to note here like, they’re still like the same stressors from work, and the same. You know she she has problems every day and things, things that, that go wrong and things that send her into a spiraling panic attack, but at the end of the day, she’s solving those problems for herself for her business for our family. She’s not solving somebody else’s problems, you know she’s not going out there and fixing some other person’s work or some other bosses work like this is her business and so while there are problems there her problems and solving them only makes her more successful and our business more successful, and is able to get her voice to more moms out there. And so, I think, in total in like over the past few years you’ve changed drafts, as a mother, as a woman and as a business, business owner, and it’s really fantastic to see.

Dana: Well, I suddenly regret asking that question because I feel super uncomfortable. Now I did not mean it to be like a brag session I meant it to be more like, hey, you know, if you’re, if you’re at home, if you’re gonna have your spouse, listen to this so spouse listen if your wife or husband or whoever it is that wants to start something new, need some sort of boost of confidence and needs an overhaul of how they think about themselves, start a business because it will, it will definitely change your almost even to my personality I’ve changed I feel.

Sean: yeah, and for one I’ve never started a business, I talked about starting businesses all the time. really when I’m just upset and I’m like I could do this better, but. But the interesting thing about Dana was she was like, I’m gonna do this, I’m starting, I’m doing it, and it’s like boom, I’ve got a successful business. And so watching you what I would say is like if, you know, take it, take this with a grain of salt. But if you want to start something you just got to start you just you just you just got to put pen to paper and do it and that’s what you did and I thought that was really fascinating there was so many challenges that we didn’t know the answers to. And so many hurdles that you were like, I have no idea how I’m gonna overcome this, but I’m just gonna start, like, I’m just gonna put one ad out there I’m just gonna go take photos of one person. I need to build a website, okay I’m gonna find this, you know, website design thing and I’m gonna try building it myself. It doesn’t have to be the best website the first time, right, you know. And so that was fascinating to see.

Dana: I think just starting is key because you know we talked about me like doing other random things that I never really thought would be businesses but like, oh maybe someday I could sell this or blah blah blah. But, you know, do it on the side while I’m working on being a mom at home but that never was really going to be a financial option for my family when you work for the government and we live in Northern Virginia,

Sean: Yeah, not the biggest paycheck, so good job ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gents

Dana: so yeah so single, single income household wasn’t a thing but I think the differences with those things. I never did anything about it. I never took real action I said, there was always something holding me back like oh this is, you know, but this, it can’t work because this or I don’t have time for that or there was always some sort of excuse and that’s what definitely made the difference between this and anything I had done prior. Okay so we’ve talked about some of the some of the good things that can be super uncomfortable about me, which is, again, I promise, not what I intended to do, but this has been hard. I mean this has been really hard for me financially on our family at the beginning for sure,

Sean: super hard,

Dana: but talk about some of the hardest things that you didn’t see coming. Obviously we knew financially, it would be tough at the beginning, but what about me starting a business and have your wife and your partner in start something new start something from scratch.

Sean: I think the, I mean, you mentioned like we knew the financial thing was going to be tough. Like just because you know a car crash is coming, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. So, we like, we knew finances are going to be hard, and that we’ve like kind of had enough money to make it through, but we didn’t realize that like it was going to be really, really that painful, you know, the interesting thing there was Dana kept putting money back into the business, and that was the right thing to do, so like, while it was hurting us financially. You know we still had a roof over our heads. And we had two vehicles, and we had the lights on and we had hot water, you know, we’re definitely not eating out and and not going crazy on the weekends, you know, but like we were, we were financially stable.

Dana: Yeah, we were financially stable but it was not going uphill, it was definitely beginning to decline, 

Sean: and so she’s like, I’m getting all this business I’m getting all this business and I’m like great, like, Why aren’t our finances going up again all this business. Why isn’t the bank account growing too, because the business is apparently growing, but the numbers in our bank aren’t growing so what’s up and she’s like oh yeah well I just had to buy this other ones. Oh yeah, well, I just, you know, I had no sad, you know, and so at the time I’m like, She’s right, and she’s giving me the real reasons on on my why the money needs to go back into her business, or that she needs to save it, you know for taxes and the business or whatever, you know, and at the time, I knew that she was right. It’s just it was just tough to see, but now looking back it’s, I don’t think that she wouldn’t. She would have been able to grow the business like she had, if she didn’t continue to put the money back into it, the way that she did.

Dana: I too want to say a lot of that first initial reinvestment was in education.

Sean: Yes, that was hard time because I’m like, your photos are good, you know, you’re getting clients, people are sending you emails saying that they’re happy with the product. So why are you then spending buku bucks to go take these, these web courses or these, you know these training sessions, right, and you were able to, you were able to properly defend your reasoning for needing to do it.

Dana: Yeah, there were so many times that I would like pull up, you know, a different photographers website or Instagram and be like, This is why because look, they are producing a consistent product and that was the first

Sean: Consistency was key to what you were saying,

Dana: There it is. Yeah, that is the name of the course. Yeah, Caitlyn James course that I that I the first one that I have the first like big ticket item course that I ever bought was is was the consistency course with Caitlyn James and and that’s why because I knew that if you’re going to invest if I was ever going to charge more for what I was doing I needed to have consistent work, you needed to know that like you come to my website and this is what you’re going to get,

Sean: right, and you and you had said that and like looking at you now, like it’s very clear like we’ll walk around different stores in the mall, and I’m like, Hey, that’s your brand colors, you know, or, or like, Oh that would look good on your Instagram, you know, because she’s been consistent and its style of photography, where she likes to shoot this, you know, the scenery and the colors and the clothing choices and all of that right, and that was, that’s really when you come to think of it that’s really when you took that professional, where you were like you were taking solid photos, but like there was nothing that was like, That’s Dana style. Right, right. And then I remember where it started talking about light and area and all these different these different styles right and you, you essentially chose your style. During like a few editing sessions. And then from then on out, you knew like okay, I need to. These need to be my colors. These need to be the places where I shoot. This needs to be how my Instagram’s laid out, right, and everything was consistent to that image. And now looking back it’s very clear like oh yeah she has she absolutely has an image, this is Dana, this is how she shoots. This is where you’re going to get when you hire her. I don’t think at the time you had that.

Dana: Yeah I didn’t adapt but that was the goal and like, it’s not just about providing something pretty so if you’re not a photographer, which most of you aren’t listening to this, and you’re trying to build something new. When I’m talking about consistency here at what I was doing because, because I do have a visual product you need it to be consistent but what that does is it builds trust. So you need to find something that you can always, always provide to your clients and they can expect the same thing out of you every time they trust you as a business owner and as somebody that you know, they come to you for whatever problem that you’re solving for them. And I think that, you know, if you’re ever trying to convince your spouse, you know, Hey, like, FYI, we’re not paying ourselves as much this month because I’m investing in a course to have a solid backup into, and reasons why, and to, you know, again have that conversation about it is really important because if you can show them, like hey, like, I need to get to this level, like look how much this person is charging, and here’s why, you know, and this is what this course is going to teach me to get me how to do that. Now, we will have there is going to be a podcast episode coming out soon about courses in general and finding one that’s worth the cost. So be careful with course buying because As Sean mentioned, I’m a marketer’s absolute dream like, I will buy anything, like I would buy sand on a beach. So,

Sean: our crash. Yeah,

Dana: so we’ll talk about that on another episode but I do want to say that if you are investing in education to further your product further your business have reasons why you need to invest in that and really you know kind of talk to your spouse. Now, this whole conversation leads me to a question that somebody asked on my little Instagram box when I asked what we should ash on, and she wants to know how active Shawn was in making business decisions. And, you know I’m the business owner like Shawn knows nothing about newborn photography at all

Sean: Thats not okay,

Dana: well it is. But he is not making any of the artistic decisions at the beginning though like our whole livelihood wrote on this I mean this was everything so I think you know at the beginning, we’ve talked a lot so far today about how involved you were in that I bounce stuff ideas off on you but then there was one that was gonna say hey yeah this is happening, or no it’s not happening.

Sean: Yeah, I think you were just, you were respectful, from the fact that like we’ve been married a long time now we share all of our finances, and we share our big life decisions and our family decisions. And so early on understanding that like the salary that I was bringing in was essentially covering everything and you were needed to bring in the salary for the rent, or the revenue for the rent that we’re talking about you needing to be able to make that gap and finances and pay for the rent was, was a significant barrier, and at the same time like you had the ability to provide more financial relief to the family, but at the same time you wanted to use some of that money to reinvest in the business. And so I think you saw it as like, as, as been split between the mother and the business owner, and saying, Hey, some of this money could go to our family and as a mother, that’s great because you know it could mean XYZ for our kids or children or new outfits. But this money should also go towards the business so at a later date I can provide more money. And as your spouse that’s something that you wanted to talk through with me, and I always tried to walk like a very careful line like this is her business. She needs to be the decision maker here, but I’m going to provide input, both as like a spouse, and as a partner in life and decision making. 

Dana: Yeah, well also it’s really lonely when you start a business like nobody has any idea what’s going on in your head, except for you, unless you’re cooling them in. And so for me, like, I know Shawn doesn’t want to be called a cheerleader, so we’ll go with hate, man, like he’s clearly a hype man and he was ready to do it but I needed somebody to talk things through and it wasn’t necessarily that I needed his permission for anything, you know, and I think that was key like he clearly has a ton of respect for me and handled the situation, I mean I honestly could not ask for better. And I think that, I’m sure there were plenty of times where he like kind of shut his mouth and put his head down even though he probably wouldn’t have made the same decision. Yeah,

Sean: there comes a time where you’re like, Oh, she’s not asking if she can do make the decision. She just wants me to tell her that it was the right decision. And then at that point you just say that sounds like a great decision sounds like you talk us out.

Dana: Yeah and I think I think trusting me. It was really neutral and it’s not like I’ve never made mistakes, for sure, but that having that trust there makes a big difference right

Sean: and the good thing to have me not knowing anything about new newborn photography as you say, Is that like I’m a neutral, I’m not neutral but I’m as unbiased as someone involved can be, right, so like, I think when you’re, you’re bouncing this off and I’m like Okay, walk me through what you’re thinking, walk me through the different your different options, or the pro calmness with me, you’re able to pro con it, and then I’m able to see it from outside of your business right, I’m able to see it, like from an outside perspective, but also as someone who’s vested in the decision making process, right, because that affects my day to day life. And so, I’m invested in the decision making process but I’m not invested in you know you actually go into this course and enjoying yourself or, or getting anything out of that that has nothing to do.

Dana: Right and I think that it’s funny because now I have a ton more confidence than I did then and it’s one of those chicken or the egg things did you know you being in Africa Last year, like, make me really make way more decisions on my own or was that did I already build that confidence I think before you even left I was really at the point where I was like oh yeah I’m like I’m doing all this on my own.

Sean: Yeah, you always have the ability to make the decision on your own. For sure, like, for sure. And you’re very like you’re you’re confident and you comes back down to the passion right and like you, you, your drive to make this business work against all odds, no matter what. Right, so like you are going to make the decisions to make it work, even if they’re the wrong decisions and the time they probably feel like the right decision and you continue to make decisions until you were at a place that you felt was successful, which is in you’ve arrived, right. Yeah,

Dana: well I think once we were financially stable on bringing in, you know, a very at whatever the minimum was each month or more than that depending on the time of year, we, you, we kind of just talked about little things like that less and now it’s not so much of a like Hey, should I spend the money for this or that, like, it’s very different conversations that we have, it’s much more like broad like hey this is my long term game, right,

Sean: right, this is where I’m trying to take the business left or right. But going back a little bit I think that my parents traveled the world, they work for the government as well and, and Dana and her family, they they stayed pretty local and did a lot of local trips like domestic trips growing up, and a few international trips. And I remember, Dana kind of just being very not nervous for me to leave but like it’s significant Wait, you’re starting a new business. I’m going overseas for a year, and she grow the business by herself, and she has to raise two kids that aren’t in daycare, and it’s no joke. It’s no joke and it’s extremely challenging and anybody else want to, I don’t know if they would have been able to be successful, right, all of the stress with the business and it all I’m saying is like if anybody’s listening and they’re thinking about all the, how much is on their plate, and how much they have as mother and how much they have with work and they’re already overloaded so how are they supposed to either start their job, or start a new business or start a new business while they’re working, how are they gonna do it, you know, and that same thing. That was the same thing for you, you were saying, How am I going to do this as a single mother, like how am I going to run a business and raise children, and start this new ship. With you gone, it’s hard enough with you here and already having all these issues. Now you’re going to take 50% of my support network primary support network away, and you’re going to, I’m supposed to grow this business and not just keep it on its feet, how am I going to do that, you know, But you always find a way to prioritize you always find a way to make it work, you know, that added stress the inability to have that other person forced you to significantly prioritize your work and say what is the most important thing in my business, if there’s one thing I need to achieve today What is it, you know, whereas when I was here, you could say hey take the kids and go play. I got a lot of work today and I’ve got to go through this whole to do list, but without me here, you can’t do that. And so it’s forced you to become an extremely productive person and say, What do I need to do, and if I’m going to do one thing call today a successful day What is it, right. And I think that’s very important for any mother out there who’s thinking about starting a new business to know like, you may be overwhelmed now and the thought of bringing something else on your plate is overwhelming, and extremely scary, but if you have the passion to do it and know the why, you know the answer to why you’re starting this business, then you will find a way to make it work, you will find a way to prioritize, and you’ll find a way to fight through that slog. And then one day you’re gonna wake up from bed like you did and you’re gonna say, I’ve got a great business, and it’s bringing in money, and I’ve been home with my kids for the past two years and watch them grow up every single day. You know, and I think that’s hugely important to know, you know, don’t be scared of the looming responsibility the looming choices and everything on your plate, dive in.

Dana: Yeah and I think prioritizing has definitely been something that had to happen and it took me a little while, I mean, you know you left and it was leading up to our busy season so it’s kind of a nice time to kind of get prepped for that but it was, it’s been really hard and it’s not you know, yes it’s made me more productive and be able to list out tasks and learn a lot about time management and a lot about my headspace and it’s grown me as a person, would I choose to do this again like this. Probably not, like, it’s been really, really hard having you gone, and having to do all this by myself, you know you laugh at the saying what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger like people say it to you, but like, That is not funny because it almost did. Like, it has been really, really hard and, you know, not just having not a sounding board for my business but just in general to not have him in touch all the time and a sounding board for board for the kids and having to figure that out has been really tough, so I think back to my original question about Shawn being active in the, you know, business decisions. I think now we’re at a point where it’s fun to talk about my work.

Sean: Yeah, I enjoy it and you bring you bring new broad ideas right and I’m able to come in and say, Oh, I’ve ever considered this right, and you’re like, you’re a dissection, think about x y z. And that’s fascinating because then I hear you out, I’m like, holy smokes. This chick is an entrepreneur is really like that, you have this vision and, and you are taking these steps and I think you’re providing real help to mothers and people are listening to you and you’re able to show them that this is building a business as a mother is achievable and there’s so many of you out there that are doing it right and so that’s awesome to see.

Dana: Okay, I swear, I’ve been telling you people that he’s the cheerleader and high man and I, I did not mean for this episode to be like a Dayna production of like just happiness and praise I swear I didn’t know that that was going to go that way but honestly I’m not surprised.

Sean: Not a cheerleader.

Dana: Okay, so there’s obviously been a lot of growth and a lot of change and a lot of, you know new things to try and we’ve been through quite a few different scenarios of like hey my husband’s involved in my business. Hey, he’s not involved. Hey, he lives in Africa and is away from us and so we’ve been through a lot of seasons of our marriage in a very short amount of time since this business started and I think for me what’s made it doable and made us thrive and all this, especially in the business and becoming a business owner, as I mentioned before, is communication, like we have talked about, about most of it and I think, to know that someday your communication will change and you’re not going to be like, Hey, you’re like I booked this client and you’re so excited, and he’s like, Oh, well, how much did you charge for that. And like that can be really frustrating because I’m excited about, you know this, whatever the new thing may be happening that you know the session is in a new location, I’ve never done or something like that I was excited about a different aspect of it and his mind was focused on, you know, the business side of things, but that doesn’t really happen anymore. I mean, we never it’s never to the point where we don’t have the conversations where it’s stressful and where I’m annoyed that like, Hey, don’t worry about that like this is something that’s going to build my business, you don’t need to. You don’t need to stress about that I got it, we don’t have those conversations anymore so if you are having those conversations with, you know, your spouse, it’s like Hey Stop panicking. Let’s see the joy in what I’m dealing with, like, see how this is gonna progress us know that those conversations like once you do have a foot in the door and you’re really feeling confident and running your business well, those conversations go away, and they you’ve gained their trust, and I mean you should have had it from the beginning, probably, but I mean, having a tangible way to gain their trust is great and then you get to enjoy your business with your spouse and they get to see you be excited about what you’re working on. And, you know, see the possibilities for the future instead of focused on the nitty gritty,

Sean: right, it’s not that. No, I think I can speak for all spouses here most of them all, all of them listening. It’s not that all one of you we don’t. It’s not that we don’t trust you guys. You know when you’re going to say I’m going to do this, it’s that you’re, you’re making, you know, a major life decision or a major change and you’re diving into the deep end for us what seems like an unknown. And we see the passion and that’s and hopefully, or supportive, you know, we’re able to say yes they do it, but like, you’re diving in and then it’s like, Okay, now, swim, swim, and how do we make money with you swimming right how, like, this is fun and all but how does, How does this pay rent, like, have these real world responsibilities, you know, especially if you’re a mother. That means you have children, and children need to be fed and clothed and, you know have a roof over their head. And so that, like, you’re right, early on, for me it was like, I’m glad you’re so happy. I’m glad that I’m able to watch you grow, and I’m saying, You’re enjoyable to be around I’m loving the conversation love and watching do this but like we got to make money, you know, and so I do remember like you would call me and like the first. I don’t know 100 clients you ever got the pick up the phone, but I got so many books today, and I’d be like, Oh my god, like, like you caught a new client. And every time you call it, like, and it was stupid idea, and I’d make you do annoys to him like, alright, let’s hear it. Yeah. And then it was like, every can’t say

Dana: you’re not a cheerleader, after this conversation, you will literally,

Sean: Every, every day you would be like calling me like five times I’m like I do, and you’re like, I can’t, I can’t do it anymore, okay, like, Can we move on, I have serious work to do. I’m like, Oh my God, this business this is real. She she’s doing it making money, you know, and, and you’re right, like it’s slowly drifts away to to you, just the trust and me seem like, alright, she’s got this this is a real business, it’s growing, and she’s doing this on her own and she’s paying the bills and we’ve got this, and we’re good. And now it’s just, it is it’s it’s it’s relaxing and it’s interesting to just watch the direction you flourish and watch like the different directions, you’re trying to take this company and how you’re trying to give back. And the coolest thing is how you’re trying to show other mothers like hey, you can do this too. And like you were saying photography was super saturated, like you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you know, you can you can make another wheel, and it but it’s like how you do it, it’s how you go about doing it, how do you market yourself or your product or your business, you know, and the passion behind it that that’s what makes a difference.

Dana: Yeah and I think, you know you started, it’s funny because I started my sentence and I said you know you have to trust us, and then I backed up and said well you already trust us. And then you also basically did the same thing, and said well it’s not trust but kind of it is. So trust is the wrong word. I think what it is really and what I’m realizing now as we’re having this conversation is that, proving that there’s something behind this and that you can make it happen. You have the trust in us, but what we needed to do, as the entrepreneur for our marriage, and, you know, for our family in general was find a way to tangibly instill confidence in us, well know each other and each other Yeah, well no and me like I needed to build your confidence level in me,

Sean: you needed to build, but, and you needed to do that by building confidence.

Dana: Right, exactly. Yeah so I think I think saying that, you know, just trust your spouse like she’s gonna get it done. Like, you can’t say that because that’s not really it of course they trust you that you’re going to try and do the right thing, but I think building some sort of tangible confidence in your business is really what made our turn happen and made are made it become really fun for us.

Sean: And that goes back to what you’re saying earlier about communication and talking through all those different business ideas early on is like, they weren’t broad conversations and start out with, they’re very detailed. Exactly like hey, I need to spend money on these ads, and they’re gonna cost this much money every time somebody clicks on it, but that brings me to my page and if you know if one out of every 10 People write by photo session, and we’ll make this much money, right. And so you’re like that’s how I’m gonna get the money back to our family, you know, to show, you’re like, legitimately talking about the numbers with me in the business plan, and it was there that I was like okay like you were not just pouring money on a hope and a dream, like they’re this is a this is a business at the end of the day, and we will recap it, you know, we’ll recap our investment.

Dana: Yeah and, and to be honest like that was frustrating to like for both of us but it was frustrating for me on the business side of things, because like, Hey, this is my business like I shouldn’t have to justify this to you, you weren’t justifying but and not technically because I was gonna probably do it anyway but, like, but, but you do want to keep your marriage healthy, right and you want to make sure that they aren’t like it’s not something to say hey this is mine, I got this like I can do it like for me like I wanted him to be a part of this and be passionate about it too and, and it was frustrating to spend the time that I could be working, you know if the kids were actually both asleep at the same time, instead of spending the hours doing whatever I needed to do to further the business I’m spending the time convincing him that this is a good idea, and that

Sean: was frustrating.

Dana: Yeah, The so so maybe if you have a spouse who’s questionable. Then take the active steps to go and talk to them and say, and I know you’re worried about this. And I know that this might be a scary time. Here are the steps I’m going to practically take to bring our some money back to the family and this is how we’re going to do it and this is how we’re going to get there. And I think maybe if you would have, you would have done that at the time, it would have probably alleviated a lot of my concerns, and I wouldn’t have asked so much. I’ve seen you thrive with this business and I’m seeing you like, like your ideas flourish but I’m like, in my mind, you know I’m like we left the known salaries salaries like you get paid this much per year no matter what, right, to who knows how much you can make this could be infinite or this could be $0, you know, but we have to have, we have to have more than just my income so how are we going to go about doing that. And so by having those conversations, of course, you’re able to convince me, and we’re able to grow, grow that confidence in each other, that, that you are going to be able to achieve, but I think maybe, from my perspective, if you would have kind of hit me with those numbers, early on and, and say hey this is how I’m going to bring some money back to the family. That probably would have made me a little bit more at ease early on.

Sean:Yeah and I think, you know, I’ve seen so many people like Hindsight is 2020 right and they like look back and like these, you know, powerful like women entrepreneurs like you don’t need to justify justify yourself to anybody, you kind of do like in this in my situation in this specific arena right of starting a very small business from the ground up when we’re risking all this, you do like you do have to have some sort of, you know, conversation, and confidence in each other and it can’t just be, Hey, I got this like be confident,


especially if you’re in a family,

Sean: right, because I’m saying, you know like yeah, like you’re not gambling you’re being a single woman or a single man like you’re gambling your life, right, and that source to gamble, but like when you start your decisions start affecting everybody else’s decisions around them, then it does become more of a group conversation, you know.

Dana: Yeah, and I do think too that like your, you know, it is important to invest those hours as frustrating as it is when the kids are finally asleep, it is important to invest that time to communicate with your partner and like really get them on board because if he wasn’t on board, I, there’s no way I would have, I probably would have done something but not anything like it is today because I, it was a whole level of confidence, especially when I didn’t have any like there will be days where I would come home and be like, that was not my best work like that did not go great, you know, and you were like no I’m sure it was fine and then, you know, you’d be like, pull out the pictures and I would show you and you’d be like, Look, this is great, you know, and having somebody that’s in your corner is invaluable and I think too, if your spouse has been forced to listen to this by your spouse who’s wanting to start a business. Remember, any confidence you can you can put into your spouse and say hey, like you have got this, even if you’re not 100% Sure. It’s building her confidence which is going to in turn build her business so I think that like not having blind faith right but you want you want to be realistic, but at any turn when you can instill any sort of confidence and positivity into her, it’s going to be really game changing, because I know that I never would have done this without Shawn being like you’ve got this and doing his little noises and literally being my cheerleader.

Sean: Right. Yeah, yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more. And like I said earlier, there comes times where you recognize that this decision is happening with or without your support. And so you might as well get the simple win by saying you got this baby. And then you’re coming out as, as the hero on the back end, but no I’m just kidding, but I couldn’t agree with you more on that
Dana:  Well, we’re like way entirely over the time that he’s episodes or how long these episodes are supposed to be. And we’re not getting to a lot of the questions that people were asking, but I do want to take a second to note that you were. I put up the question box on Instagram of ask which I ask John in this interview with him and in our discussion here and he was trolled so hard, by all of our friends from college, I mean, they’re y’all can form a club without I mean they’re probably 12 people that sent straight troll messages about just Shawn in general and it was hilarious so if you’re one of those people thanks because we, we laughed really really really hard. Maybe one day we’ll answer the answer the trolls QUESTION So Sean, thank you for doing this I know you were like, This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever done in my life with my spouse, but again he couldn’t say no because decision was already made. Thanks guys for listening, I just want to remind everybody, we have Mother’s Day coming up, and a lot of really cool offers from a lot of the moms that have been on the podcast, so if you need a reminder for all of that, check it out on our webpage at amidstthechaospodcast.com You can go and search there, we do have plenty of time when, as this episode is airing, you have plenty of time to convince your spouse of what you need for Mother’s Day, so take a look, and we will chat with you all next week optimistic as I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you’ve heard, and even more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidstthechaospodcast.com For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it will mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to read it. Thanks for joining me, amidst the chaos.


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