I'm Kristin Kembel
What's up Girlfriend!
Owner of Girlboss Designer. We help brave women combine design and marketing to build meaningful brands online, so they can make an incredible living doing what they love.
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The first year can the year you decide to push forward despite the setbacks (because there WILL be setbacks!) or to give up and completely question your direction. I’ve firsthand witnessed what can go wrong when you get into bad habits and don’t correct them right away in business, or are always winging it with no plan. The bad habits continue and then become “normal”, and there is a constant unsettling feeling because you know things aren’t quite right. I didn’t want that for my business, and lady, you shouldn’t want that for yours either!
Here are the top 3 biggest lessons (good and bad!) I learned this past year since launching Girlboss Designer.
1. SYSTEMS CAN WORK MIRACLES
Good LOOORRRD I am so thankful I kept systems as a priority when I first launched Girlboss Designer. First thing I put into place was a project management system (mine is Honeybook) to manage all inquiries, follow-ups, proposals, contracts, invoices & payments. I couldn’t imagine trying to keep up with all in email only, like I did when I was freelancing on the side. It just leaves way too much room for error. Mistakes like forgetting to invoice clients, forgetting to follow up on inquiries, losing contracts, attempting to organize everything in email folders no longer exist, and I am loving it!!
Other systems I have in place are all of my scheduling platforms for managing social media, my task management system (Asana) that I share with my developer Kate so we can stay on top of what I’ve assigned her, and my online calendar manager (Acuity). This is HUGE for me since I live opposite of the world from most of my clients. It allows everyone to see the calendar in their own time zone and schedule consultation and client calls accordingly. Saves us SO much confusion trying to convert time zones all the time!
All of this combined just helps things run smoother and gets rid of SO much wasted time. A game changer people!! The cost for all of the online programs I use equals about $130/mo, and it’s worth every stinking penny.
2. CLIENTS NEED DEADLINES TOO
This was a huge learning lesson for me in 2018. After I got my first big boost of website clients, I was very lax about them delivering what I needed to get their website done. I was busy, so I figured “O they’ll get to it when they can!” and went on working on other projects. I never gave them a deadline for when I needed their written content or other assets by for their website, and so things just went on and on… for MONTHS. I would send little friendly reminders, but that was about it. Well… this definitely caused some issues later on as I was on-boarding NEW clients because then the pile up began. Once the past clients started to resurface with their finished content, I then had WAY more on my plate than I should have. I knew I couldn’t let my new clients fall behind, it’s not fair, so I just became more stressed and frustrated at the # of projects I was attempting to juggle at once.
THIS WAS MY 100% FAULT. I quickly saw I created this because I didn’t provide a clear agreement with my clients for when they must have their written content finished and to me by, and WHY this was so important. Now I get it… life happens and sometimes those deadlines need to shift some! I totally understand. But at least there is some urgency there when the full situation is communicated to the client. Thank God I started doing things differently this year in 2019, and so far things are flowing quite well!
3. KNOW THE NUMBERS & PRICE ACCORDINGLY
Regardless of how good or terrible you are with the analytical side of running a business, this cannot and should never be overlooked. You need to know what you’re bringing in and what areas are most profitable from a $ perspective but also for your time. You need to be aware of ALL of your expenses, what areas eat up most of those expenses, and then weigh out if they’re worth it or if there areas where you’re wasting money. I have to admit, managing finances is an on-going learning process for me because it’s just not my strong suit. Now I can make some excel spreadsheets don’t get me wrong! But I catch myself avoiding it in lieu of other things I’m more excited to do. I can foresee outsourcing this in the future, but I’m just not quite there yet. I’m so thankful my partner Stephen is so analytical, he can at least help guide me in the right direction for now.
One big change I made after a few months in business was my pricing. I quickly learned I definitely wasn’t charging enough for the website portion of my offering. For any service you’re providing, it’s not only the time we spend working on the actual client work that counts, it’s all the phone calls, the emailing, ALL the communication. The time we spend managing our own business (scheduling social, planning marketing, etc) should also be factored into our pricing. This was a big money mindset shift I had to make when changing from freelancing on the side to fully running a business.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in the early years of running your own business?
Share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!