What makes an entrepreneur? Not just any entrepreneur, but a great one? Along with a combination of passion, motivation and a great skill set, you must invest your heart – and most of your time – into your business. The desire to become an entrepreneur has been with me since I was young and I feel I’ve always wanted to steer my life into the direction I envisioned. Before I became the person I am today, I managed small, side businesses that I never imagined would go very far. Little did I know, I was taking the first steps towards becoming an entrepreneur. I’ve learned that with the work, came a desire to succeed that I have carried with me my whole life.
After college, I started out as a broke photographer and tried to establish other businesses along the way, but that came with several challenges. It was complete and utter entropy. Not even rigorous college courses could have prepared me for the practical portion of actually setting up shop. There were so many unforeseen hurdles, expenses and processes, but I had to quickly learn that the key was to stay organized.
At first, I was sure I had everything it would take to make it, but challenges arose that I didn’t even think I would struggle with. For example, dealing with people was something I quickly learned I needed to improve on. It was difficult to accept the idea of being comfortable with rejection when I was presenting my business idea or bid to a potential client. I was hit with so many “no’s” within the first year that I started to debate whether I really should keep trying or just throw in the towel.
When I got my big corporate account, I didn’t have enough money in the bank to cover the cost of the work without the client paying up front, but I did it anyway because I figured at least I was young enough to bounce back. There still isn’t a day that goes by without an unexpected expense. When it came to all the legalities, licensing and business lingo, I could write an entire encyclopedia volume on it now, but back then it was a struggle learning all the ins and outs of what I could and couldn’t do. When you’re in any type of service or tangible production business, there are externalities that will come into that you hadn’t previously anticipated.
I had a vision. I wanted my business to be the solution to other business’s problems, whether that problem included needing a logo design or wanting a commercial photo or video campaign. Once I had my vision in place and the right tools, it slowly started to come together.
I started Hilmy Photography on December 1, 2012 as a photography company, but the company quickly grew into Hilmy Productions as we expanded our scope of services. Now we have three more in-house focuses – printing, video and design. The team started to grow and now has eight unique and professional individuals. I like to describe them as masters balancing use of both sides of their brain, each being both creative and organized. We each came in with different backgrounds of knowledge and experience, and everyone’s expertise has been utilized at Hilmy. I truly believe the team made Hilmy what it is today.
It was never a question that Hilmy Productions would be a completely hands-on company. When a new bar in San Antonio, Juniper Tar, came to us in search of the right branding and identity, the team got to work creating its logos, but also challenged themselves by working on interior design consulting, which is something that was not typically part of the business plan. We did photo shoots that were then manufactured and fabricated into wall art on location. Hilmy Productions designed everything from the cocktail napkins to the door. You never know which client will walk through your doors or what type of work they’ll ask of you, but Juniper Tar allowed us to tip toe into something new and expand our company’s horizons.
Hilmy Productions has worked with small start-up businesses to large Fortune 500 companies. Working with a range of different clients means each company has different needs, which has led our team to realize how important client education is. I feel I can speak for most business owners when I say that nothing is as consistent as inconsistency. This journey has been a bumpy ride, but I’m still able to carry out what makes me the happiest – having the ability to create. Through Hilmy Productions, I am able to take what was once an idea and turn it into something tangible.
Running and growing a business has single handedly been one of the most rewarding, exhausting, and beautifully chaotic educational experiences I’ve ever taken on, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China. The best advice I can give for other entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business is to do their homework. They must truly understand the direction and target demographic of their business. Albeit a lot of this comes from pragmatic approach, trial, error and overall experience, but entrepreneurs must always aim to avoid wasting time. There will be a paradigm shift when they realize how much more important time is than money. Find resources as well. I found mine through my friends and family. They have been my providers of great emotional support, feedback and decision making .
Hilmy Productions has given me excitement induced goose bumps and made me scream at the top of my lungs in pure joy. It has also brought me to my knees in tears, but I never stop learning, and continuously push myself and my team to get shit done. This generation talks and talks ad nauseam, but no amount of talking will substitute for a little elbow grease and the guts to just go out there and try it. For any broke recent graduates who are in the same boat as I once was, trying to figure out the right first steps, just do it. I promise it won’t be easy. I also promise it will be more than worth it.
*Featured/top image: Hilmy Productions at 310 W. Josephine St. Courtesy photo.