Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in branding and design but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Denise Foy, Creative Director of ZHOOSH, located in Asheville, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is a web + branding agency supporting micro-small businesses globally. We like working with small businesses with less than 20 people as we feel that we can make the most impact.
Tell us about yourself
Back in the 1990s, I took a huge interest in computers. I was the only girl in my AP Computer Science class in High School, and I've always tried to seek out the road less traveled. Back then, I remember seeing nike.com on the tv and other .com URL's and I became super interested to know and understand what that was, so I bought a book on how to code with HTML. My uncle owned a pest control company, so I started building out a website for him. I remember him saying, "I don't need one of those things!" I replied, "Yes, you do! Haven't you seen all of the ads on tv?" I remember recreating his logo and creating a relatively nice website for him.
I'm not sure why I didn't continue my education down that path. I don't know if it was something I had confidence in doing, being the only girl in the computer class. So I went to school for Finance and ended up becoming an IT Project Manager for big banks and insurance companies. I truly loved that job, but eventually, the corporate life became demotivating for me as I didn't feel like I was making a difference in anybody's life. I wanted to make more of an impact on the community in which I serve.
Backtracking a little bit, several years before my aha moment, I was living in Australia. A friend had asked for me to go to Bali with her for a few weeks to travel around the island. I didn't have anything else to do, so I happily obliged. While I was there, I met a small restaurateur, Aaron, whose business was failing. His business partner and family had flown back to Canada and gave up on the restaurant, leaving him to fend for himself. The problem was, I couldn't find the restaurant anywhere online. I asked him why and he said, "Denise, I'm a Chef. I don't know anything about this technology stuff." I replied, "Well, I do, and I'm happy to help you during my last week here." So that's what I did! Three months later, he was the #1 restaurant in his area on Trip Advisor, and since then, he's opened up several concepts and is thriving.
That story always lingered in the back of my mind, so when the underwhelm approached itself, it only made sense to me to help other small businesses with the technical stuff that seemed to overwhelm so many. Every day, my clients motivate me. They motivate me to keep going, keep my head up, stay strong, and persevere.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Gosh, the biggest accomplishment for me is staying in business for almost five years. Not giving up. It's definitely the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. It keeps me on my toes, keeps me learning, and inspires on a daily. Since starting the business, I've been acknowledged for my designs and functionality with a Partner Award by WiX (my chosen platform), and I've received all 5-star ratings on Google. It's been a true honor working with these small business owners with big dreams for themselves and their families.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing for me is being the juggler of all things. I have to be the saleswoman, the marketer, the bookkeeper, the web designer, the account manager, the creative director, and everything in between. Sometimes, if I'm being completely vulnerable and honest, it is hard to keep my head up and stay focused. I absolutely love strategizing and creating, but I can't say that I love to do all of the other things. So having my tribe of people has been a true saving grace.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find your tribe - hands down, the most important thing I've done since the get-go.
- Don't pay attention to all of the "shoulding" that will come your way.
- Design truly does matter, so find some great web + brand designers that have your back to help make you a success.
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.