February 19, 2019

5 Lessons I Learned in My First Year of Owning a Business!

The saying “time flies”, couldn’t feel more accurate while I reflect on this past year. Let me be honest, a year ago today when I hit “share” on all of my accounts to announce the launch of Madison Grey Media, I was pretty straightforward with myself knowing that building a business takes time. I knew I wouldn’t have an instant flow of inquiries piling up in my inbox, but I also wasn’t prepared for the feeling of defeat when my notifications were dim.

“I have a website!” I thought. It wasn’t great, but it was a website. “My work will speak for itself!” I thought. It was good, but was it good enough to stand out? “My friends and family believe in me!” I thought. Well that’s nice, but they aren’t going to pay your bills, Alex.

The first month was slow. Painfully and uncomfortably slow. The feelings of self doubt were mind numbing, and the voices from the past were looming. “Not everyone can be a business owner”, “It’s not as easy as you think”, “You should probably work for someone else”, “Is this even a field you want to work in?”. WOAH. Talk about inner mean girl overload. Yes, these were things people had actually said to me, but now was not the time to believe them.

Thankfully, the negative thoughts in my head didn’t last long due to the amazing support system I was surrounded by. My now fiancé Jon was the driving force behind starting my business to begin with. I remember sitting on my bed in Raleigh (in my adorable, affordable, downtown apartment) saying to Jon, “You think we can move to New York and actually do this?” and he said, “One hundred percent”. My parents both being entrepreneurs basically said, “What took you so long?”. And my friends, who were always the first eyes on any film I created, have been my biggest cheerleaders. I could do this.

Business books in the morning, podcasts at the gym, articles at night. I took in as much business related content as I could. But now what? Things weren’t going to start happening just because I knew more, I had to start to DO more. After implementing new practices, creating a new website, and establishing a brand, these were some of the most important lessons I learned along the way!

Form Real Relationships

As social media continues to grow and be a bigger part of business, it can also start to feel inauthentic. We have all fallen victim to the “follow/unfollow” approach that people use on Instagram in order to gain a larger following faster. With the 100 followers that I had, (which were mostly family and friends), I decided to show up for them! I wanted to let them know that there was a real person behind the pretty video’s showing up in their feed. We most likely had some common interests! A violent love for dogs, strong cups of coffee, working out, or a general interest in videography. Invest time into those who are investing into you. I’d take a face to face interaction over an Instagram comment any day, but if one of my brides posts a picture of her dog in sweater, you can bet that I’ll comment how I’m plotting to kidnap that mushyface.

People Hire YOU

One misconception that can deter someone from starting a business is thinking that their field is “oversaturated”. And yes, while there are hundreds of options for what you specialize in, there is only one YOU! What you bring to the table is different than someone else. This goes back to forming relationships. People will want to hire you, not just because of the product that you can deliver, but because of who you are. Being yourself will attract your ideal client!

Time Management

Working from home sounds great! You can wake up whenever you want, work with no pants on, go days without washing your hair (I wish I could do this, someone give me hair tips!) But this couldn’t be further from the truth! If you are planning to start your own business- especially if that means working from home, you need to hammer down on your time management skills. As a business owner, your “to-do” list is essentially never ending, so by limiting your distractions you can be more productive. Waking up earlier, working out in the morning, putting my phone in another room, are all ways that helped me stay on track this year. As the saying goes, time is money!

Embrace Failure

Failure is not a bad thing. Excuse me, what? Sometimes you are going to fail, and it’s okay! The best part about messing up is learning from it! There were plenty of times this past year when I would kick myself for a stupid mistake. Saying “yes” to something that I definitely should have said “no” to, rushing on a shoot and crashing my drone into a tree (that was fun), getting ghosted by a potential client, the list goes on and on. In the moment it felt like the end of the world, but looking back I couldn’t be more thankful. There was an important lesson to be learned from all of these situations! “Look what you taught me, and for that, I say— Thank you, next” – Ariana Grande.

Importance of Health

I have always believed in taking good care of yourself, but I saw the true value of doing so this year. I learned early on that videography was a male dominated industry, but being a woman didn’t get me out of hauling heavy equipment around. Anyone who has worked weddings understands that they take a toll on your body. Remaining healthy is SO important in the wedding industry! Couples are booking you anywhere from 6 months to 2 years in advance, and they are relying on you to show up strong, and healthy to do your job! Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. It is just as important to keep your mental health in check. Stress can create a cloudy mind, and in a creative field that can be detrimental to your work (or to your expensive equipment! I crashed a drone into a tree, remember?!) Stay active, eat healthy, and have a glass of wine (or two) with your girlfriends because sometimes they’re the best therapy you need!

One Year Anniversary Highlights!

Exceeded Wedding Goal

We set a goal to book 20 weddings in our first year of business, and we booked 29! We are so thankful to all of the couples who have trusted us to capture one of the most important days of their lives!

Grew Corporate Divison

As much as we love capturing weddings, we wanted to focus a percentage of our creativity on corporate videos this year. We have had the opportunity to work with gyms, fashion designers, real estate companies, and so many others!

We Got Engaged!

AHHHH! You can watch our engagement video here! This is a HUGE highlight for the year! After capturing so many weddings, it is crazy being on the other side of planning. Jon and I have been working with each other for a year now, and soon we will be a Husband and Wife team. Whaaaaaat?!

Earned My Pilots License

It’s true guys, I’m a pilot! Technically. I took the FAA Part 107 Exam and earned my license to fly a sUAS (Small Unmanned Aircraft System…aka a drone).

Made New Friends!

Wow, that sounds so lame in writing, but it’s true! I love connecting with others and this year we had the opportunity to meet so many amazing industry professionals!



Heading into year two, there are several goals I want to focus on. Blogging being one of them. Let’s just say I didn’t do my best on updating the blog portion of my website. This year I am planning to set aside more time to focus on this! Not only create posts about the projects I have worked on, but share educational content as well. I get a ton of questions about what camera to buy, how to edit, the best lens to purchase, etc. Whether that be in the form of YouTube videos or PDFs, I want to share my knowledge with you! And lastly, continue to grow my circle of influence. I have been so blessed to form relationships with some of the most talented and influential people. Together, we can all do amazing things! Cheers to another great year ahead!

  1. Jennifer says:

    Because You Can You Did!! So looking forward to this next year watching you Fly!!!

  2. Congratulations Alex and Jon!
    Your honesty and down to earth qualities are so refreshing in this industry.
    I am so grateful to have met you and worked with in this past year.
    Wishing you continued success my talented friends!

    • Alex D'Amato says:

      Thank you so much Lisa! We are so glad we had the opportunity to meet you and work with you this year as well! Looking forward to working with you again in the future! Xo

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