The past year and a half has been incredible in so many ways. I have personally grown so much and discovered a lot about myself and what it means to truly trust God and to not simply believe that He is (potentially) trustworthy. Today, for this article I want to focus on the business aspects of my growth. I want to share with you how changing a few things has allowed my business to grow considerably more in a year and a half than the previous two plus years before that. Here are the changes I made:
Okay, let’s ease into this and start with a bit of a woo woo statement – haha! ‘You’ve got to be the first one to believe in yourself’. This goes beyond confidence. It’s about knowing AND portraying that knowledge of your worth and your potential. It’s not that I didn’t know what I was capable of (it was the case to some extent I am sure) but the matter of the fact is it doesn’t feel safe or inspiring to others when it seems that even you aren’t sure if you can make it or not. Acknowledging my strengths and embracing my weaknesses, allowed me to stand more powerfully as a business owner and a creative entrepreneur. I could feel it and others could see it. It’s a win-win situation.
This was the case with potential clients, but also with my family and friends and specifically my husband. He was always supportive of course, but once he saw the passion and confidence I had for Reverie Lane Designs, he believed as well and gave me the room to fully run my business.
Before starting Reverie Lane Designs and even for the first year or so after being in business for myself, I was applying others’ concepts and designs. I was not standing up for what I believed regarding branding. I was either designing for others’ clients or designing whatever my clients wanted, because they were the ones paying. I felt burnt out, didn’t make that much money really either, both because designing for someone else doesn’t pay as much and the clients who want this setup are not clients with big budgets.
I started to feel tired of hearing “Can you just design a logo for me?”, to do it anyway and see it misused and not serving that business, because as you’ve heard me say a thousand times now, there’s no such thing as ‘just a logo’. At that point, I decided to take my chance and stand up for what I knew branding should be, and create a process to guide my clients through the development of their brand identity. I also decided to follow my creative ideas and not just go with trends or what I think other designers might do.
Here is what these decisions brought:
-I became a much happier designer and better business owner
-I attracted clients with more creative projects and bigger budgets
-My work served my clients’ businesses much better
-I received recognition and praises from fellow designers – which let me tell you is great validation.
Once I did the internal work of realizing my own worth and what creative direction I wanted to take with my business, it was time to walk the talk, and the best way I found was to increase and improve my online presence.
I already had a Facebook business page I had used here and there, but no clear strategy. I also had an Instagram account that had nothing on it at all. I basically had to start from scratch. I took the time to think about how I wanted to position myself on the market among the abundance of other designers. At first I played it safe and I’m sure made some obvious mistakes, but I did try – although it still didn’t feel quite right. I quickly completely embraced my individuality and now I feel comfortable and so happy with it all since it’s paid off. I have booked many clients from social media source. I wouldn’t have believed that was possible two years ago.
Next, I turned my then exclusively portfolio website into a ‘real website’, making sure I was conveying the fact that I was legitimately a branding designer and that I had something unique to offer. I am actually about to launch a new version of that website taking the concept even further. Being able to send people to an online home base made such a difference in the way I was viewed – not just a mom with a hobby, but a creative who is serious about her business and her work.
With updating my website I started a blog (this one right here *wink*) with the intention to share more about those creative and branding ideas I mentioned above. The blog not only gave me a platform to reveal more about who I was and what I did, it also created interactions and connections I wouldn’t have otherwise made.
Finally, I started an online shop. I debated meriting this one in this article because I haven’t had much time to focus on that aspect of my business so far and it hasn’t been significant. I have some fun plans in the works though, I just need the time to execute them – like everything else, right?!
This one was undeniably the biggest game changer for me. At the beginning of 2015 when I finally realized Instagram didn’t scare me anymore and I actually wanted to join in on the fun, I started following some interesting people and interacting with them. I saw a photo of a lady with an inviting smile and a cute little white pineapple behind her, so I asked in the comments where it was from and boom she responded – that was my very first encounter with Heather Crabtree. From there on I joined her private Facebook group Savvy Business Owners and became a Savvy for life just like that.
I am not one to easily or quickly assimilate, but Heather created a community in which being different from each other, having different types of businesses, or even being competitors, doesn’t interfere with the importance of human connections. There’s a true desire to help each other and learn from each other – that impressed me! My heart swells with gratitude whenever I think about my entrepreneurial journey and how significant the Savvy group has been in creating business connections.
Talking about business connections, I must name Reina from Reina & Co. Reina and I found each other in the Savvy group soon after we both joined and decided to collaborate our efforts with two other ladies, for our upcoming launches (her website, my blog). We haven’t left each other’s side since then and now have moved from business connection to real supportive friendship. Our friendship is the best proof of the power of community. Once you find your tribe, like they say, you truly soar. Illiah from C&V is another one of those business connections turned friend. I usually prefer to be the side wolf (if that’s even a thing) but they have shown me that togetherness is much better and actually propels you a lot further ahead than you could ever go alone.
Another group which is as fantastic and as important to mention here in my journey, is the Rising Tide Society. If you are a creative business owner feeling completely lost at sea, you need to join it. The motto of the group is JFK’s famous quote “A rising tide lifts all boats” and it shows in the group. I have met and connected with so many fellow creative entrepreneurs in that group and still continue to do.
I don’t want to leave you thinking I have done everything perfectly and that my business is the ideal model today. I believe part of growing is the possibility to dream of even bigger and better things. I have come to realize how much I can accomplish with Reverie Lane Designs and all that I still need to do. What’s next for me now is to build my team (a bit scared of the D word – DELEGATE!!), to keep reinforcing my systems and processes and to move on to in person meetings (conferences, retreat, etc…).
REVERIE MINGLES: HAVE YOU TAKEN THE TIME TO EVALUATE HOW FAR YOU’VE COME AND WHY, BUT ALSO WHAT’S NEXT?