My fear of Success : A story of The Photo Forest evolution

I wanted to be successful. That meant being big, bigger than me, bigger than what I could only offer. I didn’t know how that was going to happen, but I wanted it so bad.

I was a graphic designer, a website designer, and photographer. I felt limited by how much I could offer my clients, branding, websites a few photo-shoots. It all felt so tiny like I wasn’t making the impact. It was only me after all. I felt unsatisfied. I wanted to be able to reach out to more people, help more people reach their dream goals online.

But I had a limited amount of time, I couldn’t work on more than 2 websites at once before I felt stretched to capacity. I wasn’t able to outsource as people came to me for my design, my eye, my creativity.

How do you outsource that?

I knew I wanted to have a business that was bigger than just me, just my single service offering, but I didn’t know what that was going to be. It took me almost a year of asking that question to come up with a business idea. I

woke up each morning and asked myself what can I offer this world that is truly needed? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t desperate. I knew I had time, I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my chair thinking I need to know by tomorrow or else. I always believe the right idea will come at just the right time. So I just kept asking myself.

A year later I had my personal revelation. It came to me one morning while I was in Hong Kong visiting my mother, where I had been offering Yoga photography portrait sessions to yoga teachers. I love taking photos, of capturing people in a frozen moment of time.

My realization was simple. Everybody needs photos. Every business needs photos to market their business with! It was a defining hallelujah moment for me. I thought to myself why don’t I sell stock photos?

Yes, why don’t I sell stock photos? The idea got me excited; I started talking to my partner, my parents, everyone around me about stock photos. As a graphic designer and website designer, I had already spent countless hours trawling through stock photo sites. I knew my target market were heart-centered businesses that just hated the cliché stock photos they found on the bigger stock photo sites. I knew them well too, I had also fallen prey a few times to the cliché stock photo gang (woman smiling with salad anyone?). I did some market research.

People were hungry for real and raw photos. Me, I don’t do things small. Yes, I could have had an online shop on my website or a shop on the creative market selling stock photo packs. But that didn’t satisfy me.  I wanted to build a platform; I wanted to build a community. I longed to be part of an online community where I could help people, show people, teach people to build better and more efficient online businesses.

My idea was born. I wanted a stock photography membership site where my members could not only download any stock photo from the library but they could request the specific photos they needed (gone are the hours wasted looking for photos that kinda depict what you want them too!). I named it The Photo Forest.

I wanted to launch in 2 months. I hired a business coach. I found a web development team. I knew I needed to do this properly as my last company I formed in India felt like a hot mess to me.

Remember how much I wanted success? Well, I still had that drive. But it didn’t last long. It took over six weeks to open a bank account in Hong Kong.

Without a bank, account, I wouldn’t be able to accept payments. It was during those six weeks that my fear of success crept in. I wanted this to be a proper company. In order to do that, things had to be done the right way. The company set up, the paperwork, the bank work. Was I really doing this? I kept asking myself and every time I asked myself I felt the fear creep in.

I had set aside 2 months to launch The Photo Forest. I stopped all other design work. I only talked about The Photo Forest. I was all in. I built the front end of the website to start advertising; which I did and I also set a launch date; October 2016.

Time passed and it was the beginning of October and there was no way that we were ready. I didn’t even have a bank account yet. I ran out of money. This project by the way was totally self-funded. I lived month to month and paid everyone with the money that came from website jobs before the two-month sabbatical. But I ran out of money. In the two months set aside, I didn’t complete the project.

I had to go back to being a designer, and so I did. That was the end of The Photo Forest. It lay dormant for all of December and January. I felt guilty. I felt like I had lied to people that I was going to have a platform ready for them. I had told them October, then it was pushed to December and then there was no more launch date.

My fear of success had set in stone. I didn’t even think of The Photo Forest anymore. I planned a trip to Australia in December 2016 for a month and off I went. I still had my web development team working on the platform while I was away, but our communication went dry, my guilt overtook the need to be clear with them.

So they quit. That was January 2017. I had nothing without a development team to create the platform. I had a few emails, I had an empty launch date and I had a 1/3 built platform. This was my pivotal moment. I could have chosen to quit right there. I already had the symptoms of business failure; guilt, remorse, money spent, no idea what to do next.

I was distraught; I was feeling my pain body, the questions of ‘why me’ in my head. I could have gone into a depression, I could have just quit. However I made a conscious decision to look at this event as a positive opportunity. An opportunity to find a new developer who had passion for the project, who loved the idea and would finish it off.

I sat down with myself every morning and questioned, did I really want this? Why was I holding myself back? Why was I afraid of success? This was my second revelation moment. I realized that I was afraid of success because I didn’t know what it would look like for me. I knew I wanted to live comfortably, to fly business class, to be able to eventually afford a house. But in my mind, these dreams weren’t good enough.

Everybody today is talking about setting your goals, visualizing your success, mapping out your dream board. But I couldn’t. I didn’t really know what I wanted. That simple fact was stopping me from being successful. And when I realized this, I had to tell myself that it was ok not to know the answer. It was ok to just trust. It was ok to figure things out along the way.

And so I did. I opened myself up to be ok with things the way they were and when I did that everything slowly fell into place. I found a new developer who inspired me. I went headfirst back into The Photo Forest, we set a new launch date and I started to talk about The Photo Forest to everyone again. The Photo Forest launches on the 1st  of June 2017.

It been such an inward journey, a revelation for me to realize that I don’t need to have everything figured out (including my dreams of success). I can let go and trust.

Trust is a big one. Things may still go wrong, things may still push my buttons, I still may question things but I use every circumstance as an opportunity for something new to be born. I share my story with you to inspire you to just go for it. Whatever your dream may be (formed or somewhat hazy) find that desire in you to create and just take it step by step. It will never go according to plan but let that excite you and not bring you down. Use it as an opportunity to ask yourself. Is this really what I want and if it is then let me tell you, I believe in you, you can do it.


Nora is the founder, creative and photographer behind The Photo Forest a new Heart centered stock photography platform and movement focused on helping online business owners market their businesses with more fun and creativity. Come and join the stock photo movement by signing up here and get 10 real and raw stock photos for free!

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