Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Cindy D'Aoust, founder of Master Graphics Marketing & Design, located in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Master Graphics Marketing & Design provides services for new business owners, as well as entrepreneurs who have been in business for many years and now realize that they need to promote their products and services online but don't know how to do that. A new business would need a logo and supporting marketing material, and social media platforms set up and/or managed. That could also include purchasing a domain for them, setting up their email address, setting up their Google business page, creating FLHA forms and business cards, and getting them printed for them. Whatever it is they need to set up but are too busy doing what they are best at; I can do it for them. I have a webinar series to teach business owners how to market their businesses themselves, how to create content for their social media platforms, etc.
Tell us about yourself
I have always been artistically inclined. I loved to draw, sketch and make crafts. When I was in high school, I took a course called Visual Communications. That course was an introduction to various trades like printing & plate making, photography, drafting, etc., and I really enjoyed it. Then after graduating in 1981, there was a job opening at the local printing company. I applied for the job, and as the boss showed me around the shop, I would say, "Hey, I've used one of those, "and "Hey, I've used one of those, too! "So, needless to say, I got the job. That was where I got my first taste of graphic design. Well, it was actually mostly typesetting and paste-up back then. It was before anyone even heard of personal computers. I used a machine called a Linotronic to set type, which came out on a roll of special paper that I had to run through a waxing machine, and then using a ruler and an X-Acto knife, I would cut the lines of text into strips and position them on my page which was set up on a drafting board. After a couple of years of working there, the Alberta Government started an Apprenticeship Program at the newly built Westerra Institute of Technology in Stony Plain, Alberta. I was the first student accepted for the Printing and Graphic Arts – Prepress program, which meant that my number was #0000001. Over the duration of the four-year apprenticeship, I would work for 11 months a year as a graphic designer and then go to school at Westerra for one month.
During the next few years, I continued to learn and hone my craft, gained confidence in my abilities to create effective designs for marketing material, and worked my way up the proverbial ladder of success. It was during this time that computers were introduced and are now being used by graphic designers. It was mind-blowing to me!! Using a computer was like opening up a whole new world of opportunities to create fabulous designs that were not possible before!! I invested in my own computer and started a freelance business on the side. Friends, family, and people from my church would hire me to design stuff for them, and I would have it printed where I worked. Win-win! I still do work for a couple of my original clients from back then. I am motivated by seeing my clients succeed in promoting themselves and their businesses. I love to teach and share the knowledge I have from my 40-plus years of experience. I want to empower business owners who can't afford to pay someone to create their social media and digital marketing content to be able to market their business with confidence.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Knowing how lonely it can be as a solo entrepreneur, I saw a need for a support system for our local service providers in the graphics, marketing, and design industry. I had recently purchased the domain www.edmontongraphicdesigner.com, and I decided that this would be a great name for a networking group. Whether you own your own business or work for someone else, all are welcome. Everyone has something of value to add. That includes, but is not limited to, graphic designers, web designers, photographers, videographers, app developers, etc. So far, we have about 26 Tribe members, and each month we interview and profile a different member on our Edmonton Graphic Designer YouTube Channel and in our monthly newsletter.
The Monthly Marketing Tips Newsletter provides insights to business owners who are trying to learn about marketing their business, social media platforms to use, and how and even what fonts work best at getting attention on printed marketing material. All of our Tribe members have different experiences and unique perspectives, and isn't that what marketing is all about? Communicating information so that it can be understood from every perspective. Every month we interview a different local business owner and encourage them to tell us about their services, how they came up with the idea for their business, how they are different from their competitors, that sort of thing. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. The video is edited and then uploaded to the Edmonton Graphic Designer YouTube Channel, and a written article about them is included in that month's newsletter. It is so rewarding getting to know the owners of the different local businesses, and it allows us to support each other for a healthy and thriving community. To view past videos, request to be profiled, or subscribe to the free monthly newsletter, just go to edmontongraphicdesigner.com.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
For me, one of the hardest things as a business owner is taking time for myself. I always seem to be in work mode. There is always something to be done. If I am not working on projects for my paying clients, I am creating marketing material and managing my own social media platforms or creating content and editing video for promotional content for my Digital Marketing 101 Webinar Series. I find it difficult to stop working. I am just wired that way :)
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The top three tips for someone starting a business that I would suggest are:
- Develop a strong business plan: A business plan is a roadmap for your business that outlines your goals, target market, and financial projections. It can help you secure funding, attract and retain customers, and stay organized and on track.
- Network and seek out mentors: Building relationships with other business owners and industry professionals can provide valuable support, advice, and resources. Consider joining a local business association or finding a mentor to help guide you through the process of starting and growing your business.
- Be prepared for challenges: Starting a business can be a rocky road, and it's important to be prepared for challenges along the way. This might include financial setbacks, difficulty finding customers, or unexpected competition. It's important to stay focused and resilient and to be willing to pivot and adapt as needed.
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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