Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alison Knott, Founder of Alison K Consulting, located in Halifax, NS, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I help nonprofits, social enterprises, and purpose-driven businesses convert the curious through SEO and web consulting. My clients put good into the world, and what they offer doesn’t fit the traditional “want it > add to cart > buy it” funnel. They want marketing strategies that attract quality leads with a socially conscious approach.
Specifically, I work with small marketing teams of 2-10 people. I perform audits on their website, SEO, or newsletters. Then, we work together through training and coaching to meet the recommendations made. I don’t ‘do’ the changes for clients - I empower their team to herald the work themselves. Doing so always yields more targeted results. Plus, it creates confidence and builds new skills within the team. Win-win!
Tell us about yourself
When I was in my early teens in the late 90s, I taught myself to code websites and use Photoshop. Back then, no one knew what to do with a girl that created stuff for the internet. So I earned a university degree in graphic design. This turned me onto the world of marketing and sales, and I LOVED it. Later I got back into building websites but also Google Analytics and conversion. Now I could measure what people do on websites and relate it back to messaging and client goals!
Since 2007, my business has evolved from hourly-rate graphic design to website projects to my current iteration today. I consult and empower teams to solve their complex marketing problems. My clients are what motivates me 100%. There are SO many amazing human beings out there changing the world for the better in unique and creative ways that simply blow my mind. It’s been so humbling to be a part of that impact by sharing my nerdy marketing skills, ha!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Niching down to work with purpose-driven clients has been my biggest win. When I got clarity on who I wanted to serve and how I could bring my best skills to do that, everything fell into place. And clients saw better ROI because of it.
This didn’t happen overnight, mind you. It took me years to get to this point. Especially pivoting from implementation to consulting. That was a big mindset shift but allowed me to do deeper and more powerful work. I could be swimming in ecomm and SaaS clients with my SEO knowledge, but that isn’t where my heart is.
Listen to your heart; you will attract amazing clients and rewarding opportunities. I still have moments where I’m like, “Did I cheat somehow? How did I ever manage to turn this awesomeness into a ‘job’?”
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Decision fatigue and analysis paralysis. Especially when you don’t have anyone else to bounce ideas or get second opinions. You can get really stuck in your head, which derails you from your goals and delays true progress. It can be tempting to fuss over small details that matter to our ego but not our bottom line or mission. And since you’re the boss – every damn thing is up to you, and that can be EXHAUSTING.
The good news: remedy this by creating a network of fellow business owners to support you. There’s a lot you don’t know, and that’s ok. So go ask people who do. More on that next!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Network your ass off. This is very different from marketing yourself or prospecting for clients. The more diversity of people in your circle of influence, the better. Build a hub of people who lift you up, each with their own special skills and experiences. I can attribute my personal, professional, and revenue growth to the guidance from people invested in my success. Yes, I put in the work, but it was the wisdom of others that got me there so much quicker.
- Commit to working ON your business. This is a block of time (or whole day) every week when you don’t book meetings or do client work. Focus on admin, development, and research tasks for your business. You’ll be amazed how much more you get accomplished. And how little people actually bother you when you block out the time.
- Go after grants and other forms of funding. Yes, they can be hard to navigate, but that’s on purpose – shoot your shot! Get creative and go in with the mindset that you are, in fact, the perfect fit for the funding. Get others to review your proposals, and hire grant writers when the stake is high. Don’t deny yourself the chance to invest in yourself and your business because you don’t have the cash flow. The money is there – take it!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The only thing holding you back from the success you seek is yourself. Don’t let naysayers, poor-fit clients, or the status quo tell you how to run your biz. There was a point in your life where you made the decision to strike out on your own – hold onto that courage, ‘Darlin. Myself and millions of other business owners support you!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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