Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Barbara Bogue, Creative Director of [doubleb design + copy], located in Holly Springs, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I provide design and copywriting services to B2B tech companies. It's not typical to find one contractor who can do both (with a strong background in general marketing as well) without turning to a larger agency. A larger agency means bigger fees and longer lead times. I can fill a niche and streamline the asset development process by doing both.
I'm also an evangelist of sorts to B2B companies who still think they have to speak in technical jargon and sound robotic. I help them inject clarity and personality into their brands, with a knack for taking complex solution explanations and making them simple and understandable while standing out from the competitor -- both in words and imagery. I do B2B without the blah.
Tell us about yourself
Working for many years at agencies and in-house teams, I wore many hats and earned the ins and out of marketing in the real world. I endured corporate lay-offs and right-sizing, transitioned from buyouts and acquisitions, and ultimately launched my business during a recession. While the struggle to find steady work and learn how to "manage" a business was real, the freedom of working from home and controlling my schedule was life-changing. I felt more in touch with real problem-solving and creativity than I had in some time. And my efforts weren't diluted by bureaucracies or politics or irrelevant influences. Success or failure was up to me.
As I honed my business differentiator, I turned to my roots. I double majored in journalism and graphic design with a focus and love of publication design, where I could influence and control both words and images on the page. I turned those dual skills into my superpower. Each day I take pride and pleasure in developing work that reflects beauty, clarity, and a human touch. Sometimes I just write the copy, but I do it with the audience foremost in mind. Why do they care? What's in it for them? Make every word count. Sometimes I'm only doing design, and the same is true. How do I make this relatable? How can I make it beautiful, not getting in the way of the message but enhancing it? My sweet spot is working on both with a clear vision of what the asset needs to do and communicate. Do it with heart, humor, or whimsy. Do it in a memorable way that reflects the brand. That's my jam.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There are a lot of tasks to juggle as a business owner that has nothing to do with what you went to school for or how you built your career. Things like taxes and invoicing, sales outreach, and managing the feast and famine of freelancing. Being able to take on these tasks and keep my head above water is a huge accomplishment for me. I didn't go into this with a big investment or backers or partners. And I've always wanted to stay small -- just me -- making enough money to provide for my family. Finding that balance in life and business, day after day, is huge. But I think I've managed those skills and then some.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Balance. Balancing incoming with outgoing.... income, expenses, budgets, time, productivity, admin, and marketing. Balancing work and personal.... relationships, commitments, demands, and priorities.
Managing that balance is the hardest for me because it's all on me. It's all about the decisions and choices I make. And my success in finding and maintaining that balance affects me, my family, and my clients.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your craft. Build your offering around your strengths and what you love to do. If you don't love the work, then what's the point? Love what you do, and you'll believe in the effort and will put the commitment behind it. Because you'll need dedication to stick with it.
- Be honest with yourself. If you can't do certain aspects of running the business, delegate it. I'm probably the anomaly in that marketing is within my skill set. But that's not true for most business owners. So get the marketing strategy right from the beginning to fully understand how to position and brand your business. The rest can build from there. If there are other aspects you don't like or can't do well, find someone who can and move on.
- Be human. You are a person selling goods or services to other humans. Make a personal connection at every opportunity. Be generous and likable. Do it with integrity, quality, flexibility, and consistency. Work hard at that, and the sales will follow.
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.