Can I ask you a question?
When you think of the word professional, what comes to mind? Is it a suitcase caring, suit-wearing, office in a cooperate office type of individual?
I’ve been seriously contemplating this question because when do we, small business owners, scrappy, creative, innovative individuals know when we reached professionalism?
I know this isn’t Camelot and that there isn’t a knight waiting to dub us into the ranks of professionals. So, when does a regular person become a professional?
According to the dictionary, there are 2 qualifications to make someone a professional:
- The individual must engage in a specific qualified field
- The individual must get paid for this specific field
I even read that sometimes you are viewed as a professional if you gained certifications or training of some sort. But you see, times have changed.
In the photography industry alone much has changed. Way back when, before smartphones were a thing, not everyone had access to a camera. Some of my peers in this field have no certifications or degrees. They went to the University of Google and YouTube. Others just took pictures every day and became better at their craft. I did both. I’ve studied photography scholastically from 10th grade to college, but to be honest, google taught me more than my professors did.
Most of my photo peers with no former training are way better than me. Most are making more money than me. So, do certifications really matter?
What am I getting at?
I want you to define what professional looks like to you. Are you a professional crocheter, florist, or calligrapher? Are you a professional hair salon owner or one in the making? Much of this definition is based on accolades instead of the person behind the credentials. Much of this “professionalism” is based on exterior factors when the true merit is the person who gained the experience. That person is you.
Not poo-pooing on training or education. It’s awesome to learn, grow, and be inspired by the information you receive. But when your titles are stripped away, what’s left at the core? The heart of the individual who didn’t quit when things got tough or confusing. The person who applied what they learned and grew and benefited as a result. That to me is true professionalism.
I challenge you to call yourself a professional if you haven’t yet. Don’t wait until you make “x” amount of dollars or help “y” amount of people. Call yourself a professional because you are one.
And if you already call yourself a professional, what made you feel that you left the newbie role and stepped into a full-fledged professional in your industry? Let me know in the comments below.