SMB Sales & Marketing Summit // A Panel Discussion about the challenges of growing a business

I recently had the opportunity to host a unique business panel with three entrepreneurs from different worlds. The panel took place at the SMB Sales and Marketing Summit arranged by Mordchai Lunger of Success Eventz. I never know what to expect from a panel, and this one provided lots of solid advice and fascinating insights into the struggles and challenges of growing a business.
These were the panelists:
Laibel Schwartz, a photographer who transformed his business into a company that provides high-end video solutions for a wide-range of clients.
Pinchus Schiff, a former salesman for a payroll company who, upon seeing a void in the industry, created a software-focused payroll company that makes it easy for small to midsize businesses to handle their own payrolls.
Eli Basch, the founder of Day3 Media, a boutique branding and digital marketing firm focused on website creation.
Enjoy!    –Nesanel

Nesanel: Welcome to Pinchus Schiff, Laibel Schwartz and Eli Basch! We’ll start by discussing your backgrounds.
Let’s start with you, Laibel. I know you’re a photographer, but obviously there is more to you than that. The headshot that I use for the public is the one you took, by the way. Tell us about your background.

Laibel: First of all, thank you so much for having us. I am very excited to be here. Originally, I got into photography because I wanted a solution that would enable me to learn in kollel as long as possible. I needed a job where I could learn all day and work at night. We started with small simchos, which was a really incredible experience.

Nesanel: Did you have a passion for photography before that?

Laibel: I was taking archaeology classes in Israel, where I had to wake up at 5 a.m. and dig all day in the heat. I had to get out of it. One of the professors taught photography, and I asked if I could take his courses; I knew that it required no work during the day except for taking pictures of artifacts from 5 to 6 p.m. It was amazing. I got all of my credits and was able to learn photography, too.

Nesanel: So after you got married, you learned in kollel while doing photography?

Laibel: When I met my wife, she was an interior designer from Parsons, which is the best design school in the world. My wife was designing places with $40,000 couches and then coming home to our $40 couch from Craigslist. This drove home to me that I had to earn a parnasah. I wanted to try something I could do together with her, so we started a photography business.
She built the business while I was learning in kollel. She did everything, and I took the credit. I always joke that between the two of us, we have a million and five talents—she has a million, and I have about five. Basically, I did sales between classes, and we photographed events together.

Nesanel: How did you balance having kids with work?

Laibel: We started this before the kids were born. Throughout the process, we built and built until it didn’t work anymore. About eight and a half years in, my wife said, “Laibel, I want to be with the kids.” I respected that and started doing simchos on my own, but it wasn’t fun anymore because I was bored without my wife. We knew we were going to transition somewhere else, and that’s when we went to headshots.

Nesanel: I think that’s where most people know you from. When they come to an event, it’s Laibel Schwartz Headshots, which is a business story in itself, because many photographers take headshots, but you made it a whole experience.

Laibel: People thought my business took off overnight. They didn’t realize that every Wednesday for two years, I drove into the city and practiced headshots, giving them out for free to everyone and his mother. I paid the tolls and rented the studio, all to give out free headshots. The first time I charged for them was at the first LinkedIn Global, which was six years ago. And we kept building. It was the two years of quiet work that allowed me to come out with a bang, as opposed to coming out with a bang and then struggling.

Nesanel: You have such a unique personality—you make the experience enjoyable, joking and having fun.

Laibel: That came from working the weddings. Every opportunity you have builds a different skill, so when you walk into a new event, you come with experience. When you play within the same industry, you can build and grow.

Nesanel: You told me earlier today that the headshots only make up 15 to 20 percent of your business. What else do you do?

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