Share Your Journey: Ian Smythe

Describe the business you started?

I turned my hobby of photography into a business. I am a portrait photographer who focuses on weddings in Central Oregon. 

How did starting your own business while a student influence your course selections?

I returned to college in my late 20's to further my career with my employer. A little more than half way through earning my business degree, the company I worked for was acquired by a multinational. I decided to continue to pursue a bachelors in business because it's application was endless. 

What life lesson did you take from starting your own business?

There is a quote I quite like to use when talking about starting a business "entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week." Entrepreneurship is a life style. I spent a year as an inside salesman, it was an easy, well paying salaried job with excellent benefits. It was the worst year of my life, i burned out and had to move on. My father taught me to abandon the idea of "duty" and to live a life driven by passion and responsibility. Hard work is welcomed when your pursuits are fulfilling and not out of obligation to a sense of duty. Today i work twice as hard to make the same income, however, the biggest difference is that I love what I do. 

What advice would you give to students interested in starting their own businesses?

Fail. Become very comfortable with failure. The free market is a beautiful and harsh mistress. It doesn't care about your feelings, it isn't concerned with how hard you worked, its only concerned with weather or not you bring value. Know what your value proposition is and differentiate yourself from the competition. I am very good at what I do. I still fail. I learn as I go and work harder than anyone else who wants my job. That's how I bring value to my customers, that's what starting a business has taught me. 

Do you have a journey to share? We would love to hear about it!

Ian Smythe

Company: Smythe Photography
Major: Business Administration
Graduation Year: 2017