How to leave a legacy with your business w/ Michelle Hiatt. This is episode 1 of 4 of the Faith-filled Business Series.
I am so honored to welcome the first guest of this Faith-filled Business Series, Michelle Hiatt.
A wife of 17 years, a homeschooling mama of five and an entrepreneur in Orlando, Florida. The host of The Nourishing Mompreneur Podcast where she loves bringing biblical perspective to everyday life. Michelle really, really believes that the most important work we can do is within the walls of our home. She helps other busy moms expand their vision by partnering the work of their hands with the influence they have in their own home and leaving legacy through the next generation. She loves encouraging other women to pursue their greatest potential as a wife, as a mother and in business by first pursuing the person of Jesus.
I created this series because I wanted photographers, entrepreneurs and the like to realize how you can bring God into your business vs. compartmentalizing our life into little sections. Instead, how everything flows and works together. A frequently asked question is, “how do you partner with God in business, how can I bring faith into my business, and not be pushy”?
Great questions. There’s so much to that, what you said is exactly right, as believers, it’s not faith and business. Everything we do in the physical, is a spiritual thing. Our call is to bring the kingdom of God to earth and to reflect God in all that we do. I love the Bible verse, “let our light shine brightly, so that they can see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven”.
Heart being the focus is: everything we do with our hands, is to bring glory to God. So that being said, the posture of our heart matters so much, it’s not just what we do. It’s how we do it, and where our hearts and our mindset are, in that process.
When it comes to partnering your faith and business together, make sure your heart posture and focus is to reflect the image of God. We live in a society that is so self-absorbed, we’re the selfie society, we live in this Photoshop world.
With business, it’s all about marketing & branding. We know about attraction marketing, how we have to catch people’s attention and draw them in. So, the question is, how are we going to get seen? How are we going to get known, and I know with photography, it’s such a competitive industry, too. “What is really going to set me apart”? There’s this pressure to do that. I know because I’ve done it, I’ve done it in business.
When it comes to how to leave a legacy with your business, it’s different.
One thing that the Lord really convicted me of is that even though my intentions were good, and everything that I do with the work of my hands, is to honor the Lord, I didn’t realize until He really started me on this deep process of surrendering how self-absorbed I was.
This past year, I’ve been taking this shift from a more self-absorbed to surrender and really laying that down and what that looks like. How does he lead my business?
A lot of times, we have our goals and dreams, and we’re doing the thing. We just like add Jesus in on top.
As if to say, “Hey, God, come on in, jump in the car with me, I got this, we’re going someplace, and I want you on my side because I’m going to get more blessing”. That’s really not the right perspective.
The perspective should be, “Hey, God, everything I have is yours. My life is yours; my business is yours. I’m going to trust you to lead the way, I’m going to trust you to drive and be on the throne of my life and of my business. If you speed up, I’ll speed up if you slow down, I’ll slow down. If you pause, I’m going to pause”.
“Wherever you go, that’s where I want to be because your presence is my priority. Because I don’t want to do business alone. I want to honor you and I don’t care what the world is doing, or the pace that they’re setting. Nor do I care what the world says, this is success, or this is worthy work. I want you to define what success looks like for me in my life and in my business. I want to be where you are”.
So, first and foremost, posturing your heart to truly let God lead the way and reflect Him and all that you do.
As a believer, you’re going to feel unfulfilled in business if you’re simply working, doing and striving. Even if you’re getting those goals and making progress. You’re going to feel unfulfilled if you’re not making any eternal impact.
That’s what it’s really about being a kingdom minded entrepreneur is pointing others to Christ.
Brooke: “My goodness, I’m touched by everything that you said, especially with the word surrender”.
Speaking from experience, I have run my business the world’s way. And I have run my business by surrendering it all; following what the Lord is calling me to do, in whatever season of business I’m in, and my business has never been sweeter. It’s never been better than when I decided to surrender that control.
Surrendering is the first step and the hardest one for all of us. We have to come to terms with letting go, which is what surrendering is, we’ve got to quit being the control freaks that many of us are. It’s also a season that comes up all the time; we will have to surrender again; we will find ourselves trying to work, strive and all of that. We’re going to have to go back to step one, which is letting go control and surrendering, it’s not a one & done thing.
January of 2021, I started this deep dive of surrender, “okay, God, you want that too”. What I’ve learned that while he wants all of us, He loves us so much. He gave all of Himself for us, and He wants all of us in return. It’s a beautiful, beautiful communion. There is joy in that surrender.
In the beginning of last year, though, it was hard. Hard to lay down my control, my “rights”, my wanting to know everything and be the boss and do all the thing. I really had to trust in his way, his timing. The timing is the hardest part, and I used to say, “oh, I’m in a surrender season”, but the more I journey along, I’m realizing, This is not a season, this is a way of life, and I will forever be surrendering. That is a call of the gospel.
Brooke: As you’re walking in faith, and you’re building a business; remember, it’s good to do the things, it’s okay to set your plans, to set your course, to follow the blueprints and those that are supporting you and walking before you and guiding you. It’s good to do that, but also make sure that you are having a heart that is surrendered to Him.
I love proverbs 69; It says, “the heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps”.
Trust the Lord. Trust that he’s just going to give you the next step, you can trust him to give you that one step at a time. He’ll establish that and his plans will be better than you can even imagine because he sees the bigger picture.
That’s why so many times it’s like we have our dreams and our goals, and we try to come up with the vision. We have to remember that in the reality of it all, God has a vision already, we’re part of his story. It’s not adding him into our story and letting him be something that equips us for what we want to do. It’s God has a vision, He has a story, He’s mapped out our lives, and I’m a part of His story.
So, let me partner with him and do my part and just do whatever he asked me to do. And really just pursue his heart, pursue his presence, and then surrender to him. Even if it doesn’t make sense because I can trust that his picture and his vision for my life & for my business is going to be better than mine could ever be.
Brooke: The second that is hard for a lot of us, especially those in the online space is becoming comfortable with doing business (and all that it entails) differently. We have to surrender and be okay with looking different, standing out, and doing business & life differently.
I’m going to come from a client, a mom, but also somebody who understands business and entrepreneurship.
The thing is as you are pursuing the Lord, and as you’re pursuing business, you may not look like the rest of the world, you’re actually probably not going to, and that’s okay. That’s totally okay.
With photography, there’s so much competition, and it’s all about what is going to set me apart, what is going to make me different, what is going to give me from, from God’s perspective, from a kingdom perspective, from a Christian perspective, that “it factor” that’s going to really grow my business in the right way.
One of those things as a photographer, that will set you apart in your business, is being focused on the inner beauty, while giving your client a killer experience. Giving your clients an amazing experience is everything, it’s how you make them feel.
I know with photography, you’re looking at the outward appearance, you’re capturing pictures and there’s this outward thing you see with your eyes, but I want to encourage you as a photographer, to realize the gift that you have, and it is to pull out the inner beauty of your client.
If you can connect with them on that level, make them feel beautiful, encourage them, lift them up, pull out the inner beauty and those character traits that you see in them, and let that be the focus. I believe that is such an honoring thing. As you’re capturing the external moments, really focus on that inner beauty, because that is something that matters.
The Lord looks at the heart, we see the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. From a Christian perspective, that’s an awesome strategy to have. It’s how you leave a legacy with your business.
I have a friend I went to dinner with not that long ago and she showed up looking so cute. She had her lashes on and everything, and I said, “girl, what are you doing? You look so good tonight”. She responded with, “I did a thing”. She told me she did a photography shoot (a boudoir shoot), which is why she had the fake lashes on, and she was glowing. This is a woman who just had her third child, she’s got the mom bod, she’s working on losing weight & working through all that comes with that. And through our conversation, I didn’t realize, but she was really having a hard time in her marriage, going through some major things.
She decided to schedule this very vulnerable photoshoot for herself, something that she wanted to do for her. And let me tell you, she could not say enough good things, the experience she had, the confidence she had, how beautiful she felt. It lit her up in a phenomenal way, the way she was talking about it, I was like, “what’s this girl’s number? I’m interested”, and I’ve never in my life like thought to even do that for myself. She had such a great experience that it made me like consider it, like, “wow, that would be a good anniversary gift or something”.
You don’t know what your clients are going through, you don’t know the struggles that they have, you don’t know the battles that they’re facing. Look at them with eyes like Jesus, love them truly, not as another photoshoot, and give them a phenomenal experience and make them feel seen, known and beautiful. You know how you can impact them.
That is making an eternal impact. Because as a mom, photoshoots for me, as a family, they’re a little bit stressful because it feels like there’s so much on the line. There’s so much pressure, you’re paying a lot of money. You’ve got everybody’s outfits, you only have so much time. You don’t want anybody to spill on their shirts and trying to feed everybody at the right time, nap at the right time and trying to set it up for this successful photoshoot.
If as a photographer, you could take a moment that could feel very vulnerable, or that typically is stressful for a family., and bring laughter into it, you can actually turn it into a find a beautiful opportunity, you could actually turn it towards love. The goal as a kingdom entrepreneur is to reveal Jesus through your work.
Brooke: There are so many ways that photographers can show up and really get the job done, but go above and beyond that, and really show up and serve their clients. It’s that relationship, the trust there, the loyalty, that’s what gets clients to come back and be with you again.
This is exactly what I teach my students and other photographers; I want people to not simply take the physical pictures. I want people to have the connections, the relationships, the deeper experiences that God wants you to have in your business and with every person that you meet. Even for those photographers that work a second job, there are still ways that you can interact with people on an everyday basis that goes deeper than surface level.
Michelle: The last couple years have been hard for everybody, especially as an entrepreneur, it’s left you thinking, “I don’t even know what to do, I don’t even know what angle to take at this”.
All of the circumstances of life and of the world have kind of fogged up the lens.
So, let’s look at like this is a new year, this is a new season in your life, no matter where you’re at, let’s clean that lens, but not just clean it, let’s make sure that we’re actually looking at it from God’s perspective and from a biblical perspective.
One thing that you can always ask yourself before or during or after a photo shoot, or when you’re working with anybody is, “God, how do you see this person, how can I love them, where are you in this situation”? Bring Jesus into the situation, the photoshoot, the behind the scenes and every part of your business. Ask him and invite him to be a part of that.
In a world where there’s so much pressure, there are all these strategies, and there are a million courses and ideas of ways you can build your business, it’s not all that bad, it’s that we need his strategy. We need to know what is on the Lord’s heart first. Keeping things simple is the best way, and sometimes it’s the most spiritual way. Simple things are spiritual, and relationships, building relationships, they’re going to be the bricks that are going to build your business upon and you can rely on relationships over the algorithms because it’s going to mean something, it matters the most.
Love people make that your number one goal for 2022, love people so that you can be an outstanding photographer and that your business will be set apart from all the other photographers. You don’t have to have the best website. You don’t have to have all of the things but if your heart is right, I believe God’s going to honor your faithfulness.
Make sure your lens is clear and your heart is right. You’re seeking to love people well and to become like Jesus and let your business be the hands and feet of Jesus, because giving your client an amazing experience that impacts them, is meaningful. That is Kingdom work. That is what it means to be a Christian entrepreneur.
When you say, “relationships over algorithms”, I hope that hit people in the heart the same way it hit me. That is what it’s all about. When we’re teaching photographers how to show up online and how to market, that’s what we go back to is the messaging.
I also love that you brought us back to the very basic thing, and that is our physical time with our clients is a gift. Sometimes we take that gift for granted, we want more and more and more. We get so focused on trying to book out our calendar that we don’t slow down, we don’t ask God to come in. We don’t pray about our clients and how we can show up and serve them, which is how we leave a legacy with our business.
Michelle: I want to mention one more thing to broaden your vision a little bit more. Business, it’s always an opportunity to make a greater difference, but really to leave a legacy. There’s this quote, “your legacy is every life you have ever touched”. You get to touch so many lives through your business. It’s a gift. Don’t waste it, use it for God’s glory. Depend on him more, and know that your trust, surrender, strength will come from your dependency on the Lord. I know it doesn’t feel comfortable or may not seem like what the world is telling you. It truly is to lay down your plans and your business and take up the Lord’s vision for your life.
I promise like, you will never, ever regret it.
Brooke: You won’t, and we’re speaking from experience, you won’t.
One thing that comes up when you are a Christian and running your business on biblical foundations, and you are you are praying about the direction you are to go, you will not look like the world. The world is fast, and it’s hustle culture, and it is trying to sell you $10,000 overnight success secrets.
That’s not what a kingdom business looks like. That’s not how to leave a legacy with your business.
There’s really is no overnight thing to where you’re going to go from zero to booked out tomorrow. I want you to lean in slow growth is growth.
Michelle: I just want to reiterate what Brooke said about being patient, be gracious with yourself, especially if you’re a mom; there are different seasons of life and know that it’s okay. There is a quote, and I believe it’s true sometimes, “grow slow to grow big”.
Set your business on a firm foundation; be patient and ask the Lord to show you the next brick, the next client, and ask Him for what that looks like for you.
If you want him to open the doors, ask him to open the doors, seek, knock, ask but trust that He will open the doors. You don’t have to go banging, you don’t have to kick down the door.
There is no need to strive; you simply need to pursue his presence and trust that He will open those doors in the right time.
Visit Nourishing Michelle
Michelle: I do have a couple of freebies. If you’re feeling called to surrender and to trust God deeper this year, I have some awesome phone wallpapers that you can download for free, supporting you in your heart toward surrender. I also have: 10 tips for balancing motherhood and business like a boss as an available resource, too.
Want more of the Faith-filled Business Series?
Tune into the Book More Clients Photography Podcast.