Entrepreneur Spotlight #4

For my next spotlight feature, meet Seth Birky.  At age 24, he runs his own Taekwondo studio in Elkhart Indiana, Star Taekwondo.  I met him on a shoot recently and thought he would make a great addition to the series. Pictured behind him are all the medals and trophies he has won in the past seven years.  [tweetmeme source=”callielipkin” only_single=false]

What kind of business are you in?

SB: I run a taekwondo-based martial arts school for children and families that trains over 300 students from the ages of 2 to 70.  We specialize in training kids with ADHD and behavioral struggles to be successful in school as well as in taekwondo classes; we also special in high-competition for students who strive to be State, National, and World Champions.

How long have you been in business?

SB: I’ve been a key employee at this location for eight years, but have owned the business for three and a half.

Where are you from – where did you grow up?

SB: I grew up in Goshen, IN- just about 8 miles from Elkhart where my studio is located.

Where did you go to college?

SB: I went to Goshen college where I studied Developmental Psychology and Elementary Education.   I’ve also

taken specialized training for the physical and business aspects of running a Taekwondo school through the ATA (American Taekwondo Association)

since I was sixteen.  Training is always ongoing and continuing education courses are a required part of certification.

What is your favorite thing about working for yourself?

SB: Setting your own rules and goals.

And your least favorite?

SB: Enforcing those rules and meeting those goals.

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I Heart LinkedIn

I use LinkedIn on an almost daily basis to establish and maintain connections with clients, crew, subjects, other photographers and people I meet during portfolio reviews or other events.  I wish it had been around years ago when I first started showing my portfolios because it’s an incredible tool for staying connected with people, especially if they change jobs.  I can’t tell you how many people I met with 5 years ago that I now have almost no way of tracking down, especially if they have a popular first or last name (or both).

I would be surprised if freelancers in any field were not taking advantage of this great connecting tool, especially photographers.  I have had people contact me through the site who were interested in hiring me.  This makes sense. As I have begun keeping better track of all the requests that come for my services, about 80% of them come from referrals or previous clients.

My philosophy is that everyone in my network should have some sort of connection to me in the non-virtual world.  Even if its just a meeting or a request for a quote that doesn’t pan out, it’s better than just connecting with people I don’t know.  All the more reason to get out from behind the computer and get some actual face time more often.