Oct 11th, 2021
The Mass Business Podcast
Season 2, Episode 6 – Transition To Small Business Owner, with Jason Goldstein
This is Season Two, Episode Six, and I have a great guest for you. Our guest today is Jason Goldstein of Jason Goldstein Photography. He’s a Cape Cod-based photographer, specializing in all things photography, from family portraits to real estate, he loves to work with clients to fulfill their image needs. When he’s not working with clients, he’s out looking for wildlife to capture. In this episode, we talk about networking groups but also, Jason shares with us how he transitioned from one career to another, specifically to now being a small business owner. Are you ready? Let’s go!!
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Matt Ward 00:00
Welcome back to the next episode of the Mass Business Podcast. My name is Matt Ward and I am your host. This is season two, Episode Six, and I have a great guest for you. Our guest today is Jason Goldstein of Jason Goldstein Photography. He hails from Cape Cod. He’s a Cape Cod based photographer, specializing in all things, photography, from family portraits, to real estate, he loves to work with clients to fulfill their image needs. And when he’s not working with clients, he’s out looking for wildlife to capture. He has two young kids and loves going to the local pond with them. And he’s an expert, some might say in jujitsu. So there it is for you. That’s Jason Goldstein. We’re gonna dig in on how he grew his business, on this episode. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Matt Ward 01:04
Welcome to the Mass Business Podcast where small business owners, also known as risk takers, share their stories about the growth of their business and themselves. Our interviews and our content is focused on growing a small business, and understanding networking and referrals. I say it all the time. And I’ll say it again today. You never know where your next referral will come from.
Matt Ward 01:36
Hey, and welcome to the show. Jason, happy to have you here.
Jason Goldstein 01:40
Thank you so much, Matt. Thanks for having me.
Matt Ward 01:42
Absolutely. Now, go ahead and share in under 30 seconds or so share with our listening audience on the podcast platforms and our viewers over on YouTube. What exactly it is that you do.
Jason Goldstein 01:54
Hi guys, Jason from Jason Goldstein, photography, I’m a photographer in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. And as Matt said, I kind of do a little bit of everything. Photography-wise families, headshots, business, branding, real estate, a little bit of everything.
Matt Ward 02:08
Got it. Awesome. So how long have you been in business, Jason?
Jason Goldstein 02:13
Sure. Um, so I’ve been doing photography, probably five or six years, kind of was a side gig for about four or five years. And then two years ago, right before COVID, perfect timing, decided to go full time. Everyone loves getting a picture taken with masks on so it was perfect.
Matt Ward 02:31
Folks, if you’re watching, you can see the humor going on. You can probably hear it in your podcast app right now. So we’ve had a couple of people on the show, Season One and Season Two already that had started right, either before the pandemic or during the pandemic. What do you think your biggest challenge is as a photographer running your business? At this time where we are at with COVID, at the time of this recording, what do you think the biggest challenge is?
Jason Goldstein 02:59
I mean, it’s always the unknown. I think it’s just tough to know, what people are ready for, in terms of are they still comfortable with certain things? how close can I be? How far can I be? Do I wear a mask? I mean, I always try to be careful with clients and do what they want. Whatever appeals to them. But it’s always kind of difficult to read. And then just from a business perspective, it’s just hard to know what to expect.
Matt Ward 03:28
Yeah. I mean, I think the unknown is probably the biggest challenge for most small business owners, entrepreneurs. solopreneurs is, where’s my next sale coming from? When’s my next referral coming in? You know, is x person gonna pay their bill? Are they okay with the price? Is it a lot of internal conversation that we have in our own heads? How do you deal with that personally, and in the growth of your business? How do you not let that derail you?
Jason Goldstein 04:00
I mean, it’s very difficult. Um, you know, I’m a big mental health proponent, that’s part of what has has gotten me to this point is, you know, doing certain things, you know, certain therapies and other things to get me to be able to control those thoughts at the same time. But from a business perspective, it’s just chugging forward. It’s a little bit of stubbornness, a little bit of confidence, I think, and just believing that I can do it and that I will get those clients whether or not they’re sick with a pandemic, and hopefully not.
Matt Ward 04:29
Yeah, and from a marketing and sales standpoint, what’s the biggest success you’ve had with your business since COVID happened since you opened your business? What, what has worked for you?
Jason Goldstein 04:42
Um, I think social media, in general, is a big thing for photographers, there’s, there’s so many of us. But really, Google My Business has been a really big thing for me. I use a software called Thryv, which helps with that. But in general, it’s just getting those reviews a it’s always, staying on top of it. Because the first thing many people do is just say, you know, a restaurant near me, photographer near me, whatever the case may be. And if you’re not at the top of the list, you’re not going to get contacted. So really putting some time into that into SEO as well.
Matt Ward 05:16
Right? And you’re also doing networking. Have you been doing that on a virtual on zoom and things like that throughout the pandemic?
Jason Goldstein 05:22
Absolutely. So BNI is the other big factor there. It’s business networking International, it’s a world networking, place, I don’t know how else to describe it. But basically out of Mashpee is a group I’m in. There are 25 different professionals in different industries. And we always look out for each other and are trying to get each other referrals and it’s it’s been incredible. I’ve been I’ve been in BNI What is it, almost a year and a month now. And just the internal referrals I’ve received from people within the group has been worth it, let alone the outside.
Matt Ward 06:00
Yeah, I mean, I was in BNI 15 years, right? And yeah, I had a love hate relationship with BNI, right? There’s great things about it, the consistency, and I was driving 45 minutes to my BNI every week. And it was painful, sometimes it’s snowstorms and whatnot, and we cancel with the school was cancelled. But you know, the daily grind of networking can can be a toll sometimes, right? I mean, the word work is inside the word networking. It’s just, it’s a lot of work. And if we’re not playing the long game, but you have to look at the long game, right? What most people don’t realize is that I met somebody, it might BNI chapter in 2004. And that person bought my company for over seven figures in 2018. Right, so that’s a very large referral, right. And whether it’s BNI, or Amspirit, business connections, or NGU, or USA 500, or some chamber networking group, it doesn’t matter where you’re going, what matters is that you’re going right consistently. I have a virtual networking event that I run once a month, it’s the second Wednesday of every month, 4 pm Eastern Time, called the Big Connect. And there’s people from all over the country that come on this thing. And Funny enough, people start to get referrals when they show up consistently. And so I always talk about the need to show up on a regular basis and why that’s important. And that’s why you feel the way you do about the people in the group is because they’re showing up, you’re showing up the relationships are building. And as I said, in my book, people do business with who they know, like, trust, and care about. It’s even that fourth step, the care part that really converts these people into giving referrals to you, and you giving referrals to them, you build true long lasting relationships with these people that will even exist after you’re not in the chapter anymore. I mean, I have friendships with people that I met in BNIyears ago. And it’s a powerful thing. What’s the thing you like most about these relationships?
Jason Goldstein 08:13
Um, it’s just nice to be able to talk to other business owners and kind of get a feel for what they’re going through. And also just the experience, you know, as I said, I’ve only been in business full time for two years, about. Some of these members have been, you know, on the journey for 40 years. You know, an accountant and a plumber, all these things. They’ve seen it all, maybe not the pandemic, but they’ve seen it all. Right. So it’s, one of those things where I can go to them also as mentors in some, in some senses to get some advice.
Matt Ward 08:48
So where do you see the future of your business going in the next couple of years?
Jason Goldstein 08:54
So for sure, my goal is to grow as much as possible, whether that means getting a studio, which I hope to do this winter. You know, it’s one of those things, like I said previously, there’s just so many photographers, and my goal is to be the easy choice on Cape Cod. Yeah, especially families and branding and things like that, because you could choose anyone, but you have to stand out, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
Matt Ward 09:26
Yeah. What do you think your biggest strength is, when it comes to being a business owner?
Jason Goldstein 09:36
You know, it’s, tough. I mean, I think one of the things is, is confidence in myself. It’s a little bit of stubbornness. And it’s just making sure everybody’s happy at all times. But making sure you’re sane at the same time, so I really try to take care of my clients. I really try to take care of everyone. You know, my BNI grew up in the same way that the But I want them to take care of me. So it’s almost the golden rule. Because you’re not going to, get referrals, you’re not going to get business if people don’t like you. Like you just said that.
Matt Ward 10:13
Yeah, and so, so that’s interesting. You say confidence, because I have always felt I just had this conversation with somebody yesterday, that there’s a difference between confidence and cockiness. Right, your confidence is, I’m confident in what I do, I can deliver a quality product on time for the agreement that I offered and my work is great. And cockiness is way different. That Spring Break attitude, right? That’s t shirt off on the beach kind of attitude, right? And so I see a big difference in that, in networking. I was at a networking event a couple days ago. And it was very clear, we had a couple of people that had event who were very cocky. And then we had other people at the event who were confident. But what was interesting was they noticed the people that were cocky. And then they were talking about the people that were cocky in a negative way, saying that was overkill. And that’s the real difference. How do you balance that like, because I don’t see you as cocky at all, I see you as empathetic, I see you as understanding. I definitely see you as confident. And how do you make sure that you stay in that lane and don’t go out of it?
Jason Goldstein 11:32
I think it’s a it’s a combination of things, but it’s really my past experiences. You know, I’ve been a waiter, I’ve been a bartender. I’ve worked at blockbuster, wshen I was a kid, I worked at Walmart when I was a kid. So kind of having those experiences behind me and just doing different things in the past. You haven’t gotten into, I don’t even know if we talked about it at all before, but I’m actually an attorney.
Matt Ward 11:55
Oh, you’re an attorney.
Jason Goldstein 11:57
Yeah, I went to Suffolk law school. I graduated in 2010. during the recession, it was very difficult to find a job. But I worked for a year, and just found it wasn’t really for me. And it was just timing. And that’s one of the things I always talk about to with people is, timing is key with everything, because it just wasn’t the right time for me personally, or in the business world of being an attorney. So I kind of went into tangent there and forgot where we started.
Matt Ward 12:25
No, that’s okay, I hear people all the time introduce themselves as a recovering attorney, because now they’re an accountant or something like that. Right. And so that’s interesting. And so it sounds like you’ve had some time, you know, there are times in your your life that you did this introspective review of who you are, what you want, what you’re all about. You know, it’s interesting that you come from that background, and then go into photography, because I think being an attorney isn’t necessarily a creative job, right? But being a photographer is completely creative. And I find that the world of law is is very rigid, not a lot of movement outside the lines of black and white, it seems I mean, I’m not in it, right. But from the outside looking in, it feels that way. Whereas creativity, and the world that you live in, is much different. And so it’s interesting that you found your path over to here, but yet now you’re growing a business where you can use some of these black and white lines, so to speak, and build in systems and routines and processes and things like that, to kind of get to build a business that is desired and looked to in the community as a go to company and I think that’s fantastic. You know, what has that switch been like for you?
Jason Goldstein 13:56
Ah, it’s been difficult to be honest. You know, I love photography. That’s why I’m doing right now. I didn’t love being an attorney. But when you put all that time and effort into something and school loans, which all pay off the rest of my life, um, you know, it’s difficult and you see your friends, doing things as an attorney, and you’re like, should I be doing that, blah, blah, blah, but it makes me happy. At the same time, I’m running my own business, which I’ve always kind of wanted to do. And I think it’s a better spot for me and it’s just all the experiences I’ve had, whether it was being a waiter, whether it was being an attorney, you know, I’ve done some marketing as well. All these things make me a better business owner, and a better you know, photographer at the same time.
Matt Ward 14:43
Jason, would you say that you have an innate ability, a strength to figure things out?
Jason Goldstein 14:49
Yes, I would agree with that. I think that’s one of my biggest strengths is trying to see see a problem and then find different ways to find solutions to it. There’s always easy ways to, you know, get upset about things or look to just get out of something, being an attorney. But sometimes you got to shift focus and just find a solution.
Matt Ward 15:11
Yeah, it’s interesting, because as I talk to you, I’m like, you know what, there’s not a challenge that Jason couldn’t figure out how to solve. It might take time. But, you know, if you had to bake something today, you didn’t know how to bake, and you didn’t have the pans. I imagine, Jason might figure out how to do that.
Jason Goldstein 15:32
YouTube is a great asset.
Matt Ward 15:35
This is true.
Jason Goldstein 15:37
Yeah. I mean, how many times at your house? I don’t know, look, look up something. I’m like, the other the other day with the storm, I have a generator, and I was like, I forget how to use this thing. So I just YouTubed it. And there you go, then I figured it out again. So a lot of times, that’s how I do things.
Matt Ward 15:56
Yeah, it’s always kind of like not everybody else’s solution is your solution. Right? So you can take pieces of other people’s solution, and then modify that into, and that’s the other thing about building a business, right, is that, you know, there’s a lot of photographers out there. You can look at all these different photographers and how they run their business, and then you take pieces and parts of every one of them and then build it in a way that is your jigsaw puzzle, is your mouse trap, so to speak, the way in which you are comfortable with how this is running, right? And that’s kind of how you do it, right?
Jason Goldstein 16:39
Yeah, um, one of the things that was big for me was that I was obviously I went to school for law, but I had no real experience with photography, I just kind of picked things up, did a few online classes, did a few real person classes, but 99% of what I do is just self taught. So it’s just, you know, sometimes it’s, it’s being stubborn, and being confident. But like you said, not getting cocky an dbelieving in yourself, and you can do something, and then making it happen. You know, it’s, I think a lot of people, including myself, focus on the past and what went wrong? What did I do? What could I have done better? But you got to look to the future and say, Who do you want to be? And I try to be the person that I want to be every day, and learn new things every day.
Matt Ward 17:32
Tell me about what, how networking has gone for you. Since you’ve started your business. Obviously, it’s been through the pandemic. So it’s been virtual, right? You haven’t done a whole bunch of in person, have you been able to do any in person at all?
Jason Goldstein 17:44
Recently, I’ve done a few things, but it’s, it’s obviously even still difficult. I was photographing the ribbon cutting for the 100 acre school at the Heritage Gardens and museums yesterday. And, you know, it’s inside and outside, they did the ribbon cutting, but it’s just difficult to, you know, gauge with people, what they’re comfortable with in terms of bass distance, all of these things, and even getting my camera close to them. Oh, it’s just an interesting time.
Matt Ward 18:13
And what about the networking side of it? Um, you know, how have you been able to adjust with the networking? Are you doing enough of it in your mind?
Jason Goldstein 18:25
I mean, you can always do more, but at the same time, you have to focus on your business. So right now with BNI, that’s BNI is my main thing right now, you know, as I said, I have 25 at least and it’s growing even more than that. Awesome people who are always looking out for each other, and looking for ways to help each other. And even though it’s on zoom, and that may be changing soon. The fact that you’re there every week, and you’re meeting these people, and you’re getting to know them, and you’re relying on them, and they’re relying on you. It makes a huge difference.
Matt Ward 18:57
Yeah. And what about chambers, are you involved with chambers?
Jason Goldstein 19:02
I’m in the Sandwich chamber. I was actually going to try to go the event the other day. It’s obviously difficult.
Matt Ward 19:11
oh, yeah, right. So you want to be careful to right but yeah. Have they been doing virtual networking stuff to the chamber?
Jason Goldstein 19:19
I don’t think so. Um, you know, they have a monthly event, they just started back up last month. Who knows what’s gonna happen with all these things too with everything with the delta and all that stuff. So that’s what we talked about the unexpected, but so it just is pushing forward and hoping for the best in some ways.
Matt Ward 19:38
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s the thing, right? As you know, from a networking and word of mouth referral perspective, we have to do it, but we have to flex, we have to fit it into our lives. We have to fit it into the work that we do and into our family lives and our vacations and our travel if we’re doing that. And so we just have to be flexible about it. And when you know, the thing I always tell people is the networking do now pays off in six months. Right? So it’s rare that referrals happen within weeks of meeting someone in a networking event. It’s about the relationships we build over the next six months, and how do we stay in touch? And how do we follow up and all of those things, all those activities, I call them touch points, all those touch points that happen in the next six months are how we actually produce referrals down the road. And focus on that and, and the other thing I tell people is like, if you’re limited on the time that you can do with networking, then the goal is to make sure you’re networking with people, and you’re not asking for clients, you’re asking for the sources,. You’re asking for the people who can refer you on a regular basis. Because clients, you know, it’s not all the time that the accountant is going to be in a position to refer the photographer, what you really want is the accountant to refer the marketing company who also needs a photographer, the web company, who also needs a photographer, right. And even if you have those seats already occupied in your chapter, you can’t live off just one web developer sending you two referrals a year, right? So you have to have a staple of web designers and other types of people who send you referrals on regular basis. And so building that network of partners is powerful. Right, and it takes time.
Jason Goldstein 21:19
Yeah, that’s one of the things that a lot of the members talk about, that have been there 15 years, that’s it’s a long game. And then just in terms of, you know, people in general, I kind of try to treat everybody like a referral, like a networking partner. And sometimes that’s hard, because you know, people on social media will drive you crazy, and my wife will yell at me for getting into stupid things. But you know, every person I run into I try to treat, like they could be a client. Because they could be, you know, especially in my business, they could, they could know someone who needs a family shot, they know someone needs, branding shots, and so forth.
Matt Ward 21:58
Yeah. Jason, this is the time in which we transition, I get to ask a couple surprise questions that all my guests are always worried about. But they’re super layup questions. Super simple. When you think about growing a business, not software you use in your business, but software that you use as a small business. What software would you recommend that the listeners on the podcast apps are listening to now? Or or watching on YouTube? What would you recommend as software that they could check out? Or maybe some game-changing tools that can help grow a business?
Jason Goldstein 22:36
So I mean, the big one for me is thryv for sure.
Matt Ward 22:40
And what is that? Is that ,lient management tool, okay.
Jason Goldstein 22:44
It’s kind of a combination of things. So it’s a client management tool. It’s probably more honestly, for people that have more employees than I do. Not that many, but it’s perfect for small businesses, because it helps with Google My Business, because it gets you all these listings, and it checks everything and makes sure everything is listed up to date, so that you’re in the searches. But it’s also a tool to take all your clients and contact them. There’s ways to take payments, there’s ways to send invoices, all these different things, and
Matt Ward 23:14
well, so it’s a business management tool as well, then.
Jason Goldstein 23:19
Oh, it’s everything. Actually, one of the people in my BNI group is a thryv salesperson. He does consulting on the side for business and marketing as well. But it’s really, it’s huge in the group. Everyone has positive things to say about it. And it really helps small businesses.
Matt Ward 23:39
Yeah, that’s good. And then the next question I like to ask is, so do you read books or do you listen to them?
Jason Goldstein 23:46
Ah, not as much as I’d like to but for sure, yeah.
Matt Ward 23:51
is there a business book that you’ve read that you would recommend somebody else listening or watching on YouTube should pick up?
Jason Goldstein 24:01
Um, in terms of, I don’t know if I have a business book, but in terms of a book in general, you know, I like the kind of Mitch Albom and kind of stuff like that, but also this Oh, yeah. Malcolm Gladwell. I like those books. I think the tipping point is one for me that stands out.
Matt Ward 24:22
I’ve got the tipping book on my shelf back here, the tipping point on my shelf back here. That’s a fantastic book. Yeah, that’s a great book, talks about the way to get to scale to get to the point at the tipping point of your business so that you get over that hump and start going downhill and things start running smoothly again. That’s a great book.
Jason Goldstein 24:46
It’s in the details, just like anything, especially being an attorney, that’s what taught me you know, the details are the thing that matters.
Matt Ward 24:53
Nice, nice. Jason. If somebody wants to talk to you, have a one-on-one, learn more about photography. Maybe even possibly hire you? How are they going to reach out to you? What is the way that they’re going to get in touch with you?
Jason Goldstein 25:06
Ah, there’s the usual way. So website, JasonGoldsteinPhotography.com. I’m on Instagram, I’m on Facebook, anything you need. website wise, my websites great. And it has everything you need to contact. So I’d say start there.
Matt Ward 25:23
Great. So we’ll have all those links in the show notes, right here on the episode page. That’s awesome. And yeah, folks, I mean, I think look, you know, I think Jason provided some great insights here into, you know, starting a business, but more so transitioning, right? Going from being an attorney into another business field, you might be thinking, that’s what you’re up against. I’m doing this, I don’t love doing this. It’s not feeding my soul. It’s robbing me of joy in my life. And so I’d love to go do this. And so even if you don’t want to hire Jason, but you just want to talk about what his transition was all about. I think there’s something here. Look, at the end of the day, you got to do what makes you happy. And that’s what this podcast is truly all about. It’s about helping you grow a small business, through networking and referrals. But getting you to the point where it’s a business full of joy. And that’s what Jason’s at right now, he might not be working every day as a photographer, because he’s still just getting this going 2 years in now in the pandemic, but he’s doing what he loves, and it makes him happy. And that’s the exciting part of this whole interview, I think and that’s something that all you listeners need to take away. So Jason, I’m so thankful you shared that story with us. And it’s really, I know it’s gonna resonate with a lot of people. And I love it. I thank you so much. For those of you listening on all your podcasts, favorite applications out there, make sure you subscribe so that you get notified of all our new episodes, which is every single day of the Business Week it’s exciting. We’re an everyday podcast. For those of you watching on YouTube, make sure that you smash that subscribe button and get notified of all the new episodes and carry on in the comments because Jason will take a look at the comments over time and interact with you in the comments of the episode when it comes out. Until next time, don’t forget to live happy smile and high five. everyone around you. Take care, everybody.
Matt Ward 27:39
Thank you for listening to the Mass Business Podcast when we focus on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. Don’t forget to like on your favorite platform and share out this podcast. This show has been produced by Heather Grant music by Cailte Kelley. All rights reserved. I’m your host, professional speaker, author, and word of mouth referral consultant, Matt Ward. Don’t forget to live happy smile a lot. And high five everyone around you.