What Pageant Days Taught Me About Business | Brenna Heater

What Pageant Days Taught Me About Business

Business, Personal

One of my favorite accomplishments to date was being crowned Miss Arizona USA in 2006 and going on to be in the Top 15 of Miss USA.

Being in the pageant world, I know there is often a negative cloud around pageants from outsiders looking in. However, I’m here to tell you that pageants truly helped mold me into the person I am today… for the better.

Former Miss Arizona USA and Miss Arizona Teen USA titleholders with the 2018 pageant winners

In fact, lessons I learned from my pageant days have helped me within my business.

You may not think that pageants have any correlation to a business, but the more I grow this business of mine, the more I realize just how much I’m using what I learned during my pageant days.

Here are just a few of those lessons that I’m using within my business:

Community Over Competition

I know you’ve heard this phrase time and time again in the creative world and it won’t be the last time you hear “community over competition.”

The reason you’ve heard it so many times is because it’s crucial for your business. I’ve learned it is always more important to form relationships with other people in your line of business, aka “the competition,” than it is to beat them in the business world. 

Believe it or not, some of my closest friends are because of this simple phrase. And, some of my lifelong friendships were made during my pageant days.

How to Properly Respond to Hard Conversations and Questions

One of the most well-known aspects of a beauty pageant is the interview portion. Contestants are expected to answer questions thoroughly with little to no preparation all while being composed in a two-minute timeframe. 

Sharpening this skill during my pageant training has prepared me for business inquiries, email responding, and tough conversations that happen on the spot. 

My clients expect me to know the ins and outs of my business. And, not only that, but when conversations and confrontations happen, they expect me to remain professional and rational.

If you’re anything like me, when I had my first handful of inquiries I used to get so, so nervous when responding. However, once I realized this was just like an interview portion of a pageant BUT I was on the asking the questions side so to speak, I quickly grew more confident in responding to clients.

Own Your Platform

Contestants have community service platforms that they represent. These platforms are often causes or an issue that a contestant wants to bring attention to. If you are crowned, this platform is one you’ll represent throughout your time as reigning crown/title holder.

Just as I had a platform as Miss Arizona USA–which was serving the local Habitat for Humanity chapter–my business serves as a platform in my everyday life. The things I say, the things I do, the things I post all represent my business. 

My audience is watching me so letting my voice be heard and the influence I have on my mentees is an opportunity that I do not take lightly.

“You must always have faith in yourself.” – Elle Woods

Ah, self-confidence. Competing in pageants helped me grow tremendously in my self-confidence. Yes, I know, people often think that pageants can tear away at a young girl’s self-esteem, but in reality, it’s the opposite.

Yes, there will always be someone smarter than me, prettier than me, etc. BUT that’s okay. I was constantly being judged (literally) and I had to get comfortable within my own skin quickly or I would have gone insane.

So no matter what score I was given or what place I received, at the end of the day, those scores and others’ thoughts about me did not have any impact on my overall worth, beauty, and future success in life.

When you are a business owner, you will also have people who are constantly judging you. Remember, their thoughts don’t determine your success or your businesses worth.

Expectations vs. Reality

I’ve put a lot of expectations on myself during my lifetime and when my expectations are met, I’m ecstatic! However, when my expectations fail to be fulfilled, I feel like a failure.

I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to fail and to stop putting myself on this pedestal of expectations that I feel like I have to meet.

Every inquiry isn’t meant to become one of my clients. If I don’t land a client or if a photographer decides that my course/membership/download offer isn’t right for them, that does not mean my services aren’t worth offering.

Unmet expectations or not “winning” does not mean that I should close the doors of my business. Not at all! It means I should take that failure as an opportunity to improve a skill or try again another way.

Don’t Give Up Easily

To piggyback on the last lesson… Sometimes, you have to try more than once to take the win or to have your “ah-ha” moment! 

Did you know that most pageant winners aren’t newcomers? Nope! They’ve often competed multiple times, taking away lessons each and every time before gaining a title.

When starting a business, you will inevitably make mistakes. Just like pageants, there is a learning curve! If you give up, you can’t ever win. You have to stick with it until you figure out the secret to winning (aka just what your niche audience is needing from your business). 

It’s also important that you define just what “winning” looks like within your business. Does it mean to be able to quit your full-time job? Does it mean to be able to pay for your son or daughters college? Does it mean to have extra money for a family vacation each year?

Define what winning looks like and don’t give up when something doesn’t go as planned. 

Most “winners” aren’t newcomers. 

There is Room for Everyone at the Table

Just like the talent portion of beauty pageants, we all have a hidden talent – something that makes us unique

For me as a business owner, finding my niche of being a newborn and maternity photographer is like discovering my talent within the world of photography.

Of course, there are other newborn and maternity photographers in Arizona, but each one of us has our own style and systems of how we operate and ideal clients we serve best. 

We Thrive Best when We Support Others

Lesson one was all about community over competition, but with this last lesson I’m sharing it’s all about being cheerleaders for the people within your community.

I LOVE being on the receiving end of an email or DM from a fellow photographer when they share with me a win for their week. It’s a win for me as well watching my friends succeed.

If your community isn’t cheering for you, it’s time for a new community.

In fact, this topic is so near dear and dear to my heart, that I recently launched a membership exclusively for Motherhood Photographers. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can do so by clicking here.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog about what my pageant days have taught me about me about business. 

Tell me, is there a particular lesson you’ve carried over from a previous job or maybe you competed in pageants too?? Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed this blog you might also like:

Important of Boundaries within Your Business

Introducing Membership for Motherhood Photographers

How I Meal Plan for Our Dinners Each Month

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