Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amy Farrell, Founder of Designing Success, located in Missoula, MT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is Designing Success. It started with the idea that freelancers and design business owners can absolutely build their businesses in a way that works for them - giving them freedom (both financially and with their time) instead of frustration and burnout. My customers are self-employed designers and creatives who have been in business for 2-3+ years. They have plenty of work (often more than they can handle), but they feel stressed, overworked, and often underpaid. They might feel trapped by their business rather than energized and fulfilled by it. They wonder how they can sustain their business for the long term.
Tell us about yourself
When I started my freelance graphic design business, it was 2001, and online help or mentorship was nonexistent. I spent many years just figuring stuff out and reading whatever design business book I could find. Now 20+ years into my business, I want to help others avoid many of the struggles I went through (including low pay, imposter syndrome, crappy clients, and endless revisions). I help freelancers take charge of their businesses and implement efficient systems and processes so they can make more and enjoy their businesses! I offer a free Facebook group (Designing Success) as well as plenty of free resources and a paid course called Behind Design that gives step-by-step lessons on how to set up and run a profitable, sustainable graphic design business.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Sustainability & freedom. For more than ten years, my design business has completely sustained our family (my husband and I are both full-time in our design business), and we enjoy it most of the time. We prioritize flexibility to enjoy our lives and our kids outside of work. Seeing other designers achieve their own definition of success is so fulfilling for me! I know it's possible because I've done it with hard work and focus.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
It can feel like a roller coaster of emotions. I've learned that there will always be challenges to solve in my business. I try to see these challenges as opportunities for learning and growth rather than frustrations. This keeps my mind in a good, productive, problem-solving space so I can serve my clients and students well. Being a business owner forces you to become a different (better) person at every stage of growth - and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start simple - you don't need to spend money on fancy things (like websites, photo shoots, and all the software tools) immediately. Get some clients and revenue going FIRST. This momentum will lead to more, and then you can budget for the nicer things. What you do need from day one is a signed contract and a deposit before you do any work. Prioritize this.
- Use your network - tell everyone you know what you're up to, and do it unapologetically. So many of my early clients came from former co-workers or people I already knew. From there, referrals started to blossom.
- Establish boundaries and expectations as soon as possible - it's easy to work ourselves into burnout if we're taking on every project or client, potential phone call, and doing whatever a client asks of us. Some level of hussle may be needed for a little while, but work yourself out of it as soon as possible.
- Think about HOW you want to conduct YOUR business - for starters: What are your revenue needs and goals? What makes a right-fit client for you? What hours are you available to clients? How will you communicate with them? What's your basic process for completing projects, and how many revisions are included? What's your standard turn-around time for various types of projects? You are NOT their employee. You are a business owner, so take charge of your business and act like the pro you are!
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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