Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Danielle Branje, I am a creative, smily and enthusiastic business and lifestyle photographer who makes portraits & documentaries. The unique aspect of my business is that I combine photography with empowerment & coaching. My business dream is to help other’s to live their dreams, to feel confident and to be who they want to be.
I am 29 years old, I grew up in a little village around Valkenburg and now I live in a nice and quite place just outside of Maastricht. I have a background as a qualitative and quantitative researcher & innovation consultant. In my previous job, I did a lot of courses on entrepreneurship which stimulated me to start my own business. Then I had the chance and applied for a fund to start my business. After writing a business plan I received a fund for 6 months to build a business I truly love.
One of the things I do is to help entrepreneurs with their online presentation by doing a personal photo shoot. I want to make a portrait or documentary that really reflects who you are and what you want to tell to your clients. I try to create a relaxed atmosphere and take all the time to make a good portrait. And you will see that on the photo. We have a coffee, discuss about their company and afterwards we look together at the results.
What would you consider your distinctive achievement?
My distinctive achievement is when I am able to show someone’s true ability, their beauty and deliver a product that can help others to improve their business. I made a portrait for a women entrepreneur who wants to start doing online courses. She was very proud of this photo as it truly reflected who she is. I want to give someone a little push into the good direction. Another one of my biggest achievements is just to get started. In the beginning it can seem so complicated, there are so many barriers, excuses, fears etc. that can prevent you from really doing what you want (most of them are actually only in your head). So in that case, getting ahead is already a great beginning.
What are the qualities needed to be an entrepreneur ?
I think you have to distinguish 2 different qualities: the first ones are related to your product. If you are a photographer you need to be able to make pictures your clients love! The second quality is to become a great entrepreneur. You have to work and train a lot to become successful in both. I recently read an interesting article about comparing your business to a marathon. If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you have to train to become an entrepreneur and not by following one course every month: you have to train every single day!!
I am part of an online paid support group for female photographers (Female Photography Association). In this group I learn to improve my photography work AND to become an entrepreneur. I follow courses about marketing, branding, money issues, mailinglist etc etc.
What are you looking forward to?
To see my big dreams become reality! It always starts with an idea, that turns into a big dream,But then there are moments of doubt and fear. It is such a great feeling when you get over this point and finally achieve what you want to realize.
Which advice would you give to the other professionals?
I think that my advice would be to find your group of people, that are exactly like you, they can help you in this way, because you will need it, you will have moments you have no idea where to go. You don’t know how to do it, you need it, you need people to get going.
What are the challenges that we need to overcome to make ‘cultural entrepreneurship’ more accessible?
One challenge to overcome is to increase our self-confidence. We have to become confident that we offer a good product that is worth your price. If you do not truly value your worth, your prices will be too low, you work too many hours for maybe too less payment. If people do not want to buy it, if they try to get discounts, you should ask yourself the question: is this the client I want to work for? Do I want to just give away all this valuable education, all these hours I studied, practiced etc. My product is great and I should get a good payment for it. You could learn from successful people and business, because art and business can go together. Make sure you stick to your goals, values and ideas.