New Year, New Me?

If there is one thing 2020 has taught me is that I’m up for a challenge. If anything I think 2020 was definitely a new year, new me, because I didn’t have a choice! 2020 pushed me into the new whether I was ready or not. (protip: you are never ready)

via GIPHY

I finally took the time to focus on my business and make plans to do things a little more strategically and to stop recreating work. There has definitely been some business take-aways from this year, and I’m one of the lucky ones in this time of uncertainty for sure. As with everyone, the end of the year brings reflection, and I’m no different.

So here we go, a look back on 2020…I spent a lot of time on my business. On MY business. Anyone who works for themselves knows this doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.

  • Wrote out my processes, with every single step. Created some email templates that I can use for inquiries and a few other communications that I do repeatedly.
  • Wrote out step by step how I do maintenance on my sites. This has proven to be well worth my time as now my virtual assistant can take over this task as needed.
  • Created a standard pdf manual for Unlimited BS clients with screenshots and step by step instruction so they are empowered to do their own content updates, change out imaging, etc. I used to create a brand new manual for EVERY. SINGLE. PROJECT.  Time savings on this is huge.
  • Created a Project Handoff document. I used to just send an email with project details, now it’s a package, it looks professional, and is just better.
  • Created a new logo. Because with the work I put into my business, I needed to step up my visuals a bit to meet that. Still my brand. Still BS. Just up-levelled.
  • Created content. A lot of content. For my site and social accounts.
  • Created a newsletter!
  • Created a new Instagram account for Unlimited BS Web Design strictly for business, and maybe the occasional pic of my pets.

  • Did some online training on social media messaging. Narrowed down my three pillars of content to Web Design, Entrepreneurship, and Processes.
  • Created a Pinterest board, not sure the benefit or need for this yet, but so far it has acted as a bit of bookmark for my favourite tools and resources.
  • Celebrated 9 years of business with a well received 9 days of giveaways on Instagram – so fun!
  • Ended the year with a new opportunity and am excited for where it will lead me. (vague-blogging)

Were there downsides? Oh hell ya. It was an emotional, draining year of uncertainty and unprecedented family time, haha!

  • I struggled with creativity, harder than the usual rollercoaster of this business. Made me be late on deadlines and I hate that. Lesson for me here is to get better at planning and setting deadlines in times of stress.
  • I burned out on my content after my 9 days of giveaways on Instagram (protip: running contests is time consuming!) and lost my consistency of posting. ugh.
  • I still haven’t mastered a balance of marketing. I focused so hard on it, then got lots of work, and now don’t have time to keep it up!? I think I have to commit to less social, and amp up as needed. Jury is still out on that one as I don’t want to market for more work that I can’t take on? Any insight on this is appreciated, if you’ve struggled with this too and found a happy medium, please let me know?

On a personal note, I watched all of Netflix.

BUT… I also enrolled in an Anti-Racism course that is amazing. I’m learning so much and am committed to being a better human in any way I can be.

And the biggest highlight for me personally in 2020 was being asked to sit on the board for Ubuntu – Mobilizing Central Alberta and attending our first meeting. I am so beyond thrilled to be a part of this and can’t wait for the opportunity to get to know each other better, the vibe of the group was palpable.

So will 2021 be a new year, new me?

I hope so.

 

Know your brand

You need a website. That’s a for sure.

But when?

What goes on it?

When do you reach out to me?

HOW do you even start this process?

It’s important to know your brand before this part of your marketing begins. And I mean knoooow your brand. Don’t get hung up that it is forever, because brands grow and evolve over time, and so should they, but know who you want to connect with and who you want your clients to be.

Know your brand. 

What does that even mean?

  • What’s your voice?
  • Who are your ideal clients? If you say everyone, you have more work to do. 😉
  • Is the tone straight up conversational or all out business? How do you want to connect with your people?
  • What feel does your brand portray? What impression is it giving your site viewers or storefront visitors?
  • If you asked other people what they thought your brand was, what would they say? It may give you a good idea if you are hitting the mark, or not.

You really can’t have a website – a $999 one, or a $150,000 one without a clear understanding of who you are as a business and who your clients are.

Spend the time and do the work. I promise you it will be worth it!

BUT…don’t let it paralyze you. Websites are mean to be fluid, to grow and change just as your business does.

JUST START.

And if you need help, reach out. I’ll fire 9 million questions at you that will help you get there.

Your People

Thinking about entrepreneurship?

Who are your people?

YOU NEED PEOPLE.

Starting out people. Cheerleader people. Hard truth people.

Search them all out, you’re going to need them.

Starting out people….

this one’s a bit scary. There’s trust, insecurity, and doubt issues. You’re fragile. You need people who can give you advice, maybe an inside look at what you are about to invite into your world. And you need to trust them because it feels a lot like your heart is on the line when you’re ready to leap into entrepreneurship. Does that mean you need to heed all their advice?

GAWD NO! Don’t do that. Never take all the advice you're given...especially if it dims your light. Click To Tweet Take what you need, and leave the rest.

Cheerleader people…

oh man, you need these ones. The ones that can get fired up and excited for AND with you! The ones who will pull out the pompoms right when you’re feeling like you just can’t do it. They’ll do wonders for your ego, drive and motivation.

Hard truth people…

the ones who will give you the straight up. It’ll sting. There will be pouting. But you need them. Criticism is important. If you only have cheerleaders you’re going to walk around thinking you’ve got this. (Here’s an insider’s tip…you’ve never fully got anything ;)) Hard truths help you grow.

Find your people and keep finding them. Meet new acquaintances and put yourself in awkward situations.

Awkward situations are where all the start-up, cheerleader, and hard truth people hang. 😉

Make more money

The only way to make more money is to print it.

Ok, that’s counterfeiting…stay with me here. After years of working by myself and never taking the time to sit down and write out EVERY STEP of what I do, I finally did it. EVERY. SINGLE. STEP. My entire process, every single action no matter how big, or how seemingly small.

WHOA.

What a game changer for my business! Writing out the whole client experience from initial contact to final delivery, to follow up, has done 3 things:

  1. Made it clear what I need to hire out. What was wasting my time and delaying the delivery of projects.
  2. Enabled me to stay on track throughout a project and not miss any step.
  3. Forced me to track my time to the minute, for each stage in my client journey.

And that my friends, has increased my bottom line. That process, however painful, has made me more money.

Don’t wait 8 years to do this like I did. Now’s the time. Map out your clients’ journey, hire out what is not your jam, or taking too much of your time, and charge for your time.

Well mapped out processes are my new favourite thing so shoot me an email or give me a shout, I’m happy to help provide some direction on where to start.

Entrepreneurship 101: Hire out your joy-sucking tasks

I can do this myself.

I have no doubt! What’s that saying… “you can do anything you put your mind to”. The question is, SHOULD you do everything you put your mind to?

I used to say if I can do that work myself, WHY would I pay someone? Why would I pay someone to do my bookkeeping? My invoicing? My graphic work? My administrative tasks?

It wasn’t until I reached 50 clients in my books that I was looking after. Fifty. Just me. Invoicing (late), marketing (barely), creating graphics, keeping up with the maintenance. So my job had become doing all the boring, albeit necessary, tasks.

Yuck. All that is is a fast track to burn out and hating your job.

The thing I LOVE about my job is getting to know what a client is all about, why their business is so awesome, and creating a website that reflects that. The thing I loved about my job, I was getting less and less time to do.

It’s hard to come to terms with putting out money when you know (think?) you can do it yourself. But once you start, and see how you’ve not only freed up time, but your ability to fully immerse yourself in the parts of your business that bring you all the joy.

Review your processes. Are there time consuming things you do that someone else, maybe more apt at doing so, could do for you? Are there parts of your process that suck the life right out of you?

Hire a professional. Reap the rewards. In another post I’ll tell you about how finding a Virtual Assistant has been AMAZING for me and the process I used to find my perfect fit.

What task do you absolutely dread in your business?

The lonely entrepreneur

When you need help but don’t want anyone to know you need help. Does that sound familiar to you?

Why we struggle with this is really soooo ego eh? When I started my business almost 9 years ago I was so closed off. Had 5,243, 242 questions but didn’t want anyone to know I didn’t know the things I didn’t know. Um…of course I didn’t know all the ins and outs of domains, hosting, moving a site, mobile friendly design, creating backups, and maintenance, I was in civil engineering for 10 years and jumped into this new career!

I wasted a lot of time figuring things out, learning along the way, and getting burned. So much unnecessary struggle to learn it all on my own, and do it all on my own.

Now I have mentors. Mentors in web design. Mentors in business.

I have a successful business with over 50 clients, many of them repeat clients.

I am confident and feel secure in my business decisions.

Entrepreneurship is hard, don’t let anyone tell you any different. But it doesn’t have to be polarizing. Find someone in your industry you trust to bounce things off of. And even if you can’t find that? Find another entrepreneur to connect with on a regular basis. Join a networking group. It provides accountability, motivation and inspiration. You NEED this, especially if your are a solo entrepreneur like me.

Nobody does this alone. Find your people. Drop the ego.

Have you found yours? Shoot me a message, I’d LOVE to know how you found your mentor and what it’s done to help your business.

What redesigning an entire website taught me

I never used to ask my clients the right questions.

When I started this gig, my biggest learning experience and kick straight to the heart was having to redesign an entire site. The one and only time and it made me feel like a failure, doubt myself, and think “how can I call myself a web designer?!” But I did it, I redesigned the whole site, from top to bottom, and learned two valuable lessons.

  1. Be confident in WHY you do what you do, tell your clients why you chose to deliver the product or service the way you did. You are unique, be proud of that and communicate that uniqueness in a straight forward, non-defensive, non know-it-all way. If you educate them into why you made the decisions you did, you may just see them do a complete 180. In this case, I was brand new, I knew why I designed the layout of the site the way I did, but I wasn’t confident to explain that to them. We 100% could have met in the middle had I spoke up.
  2.  Ask the right questions of your potential clients/customers. Be sure your product or service IS the right answer for them. Because you can’t always be the right fit for everyone. Ask
    • Will it solve their problems?
    • Will it make life easier for them in any way?
    • Will it save them time?
    • Money?

Knowing your demographic, and more importantly, knowing your ideal client will ensure you are directing your marketing, and your product/service to the people who want and need it.

My mistake

In this case, I didn’t pay attention to the clients’ demographic. It was a site for primarily senior citizens, and I designed it for 30 year old nature lovers. So the whole thing was directed to attract younger viewers, not the people that were actually engaging with their site. 100% my fault. I was so excited to do the project and flex my creativity, I designed it for what I wanted. Rookie mistake. And I instantly knew I had totally missed the mark, I hadn’t designed to appeal to their audience.

there’s more…

The other mistake was not educating on what I did know.  And I did have a great handle on the navigation and usability of the site, but because I wasn’t confident enough to explain WHY it was the most user friendly way to have things laid out the way I did, I just did things exactly, to the tee, what they told me to. I pushed aside what I knew to be right and best for them.

So my advice to you is to spend the time educating your client or customer via your website, your marketing, your face to face interactions. They need to see and understand the value you provide.

I 100% get what it feels like to feel like you are so new, how can you say “Hey, I know what I’m doing, let me tell you about it”, but chances are good, if they are coming to you for a product or service, they really want to know YOUR solution to their problem Don’t leave them wondering why you had no advice or information to give.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost 9 years and some days I still feel like why would anyone listen to me? My hope is that they do because they can feel my love for working with other entrepreneurs and business owners and want to provide the best possible result.

Be confident. Show up. Educate. Ask the right questions. You got this. Click To Tweet

 

 

I’m happy to report, these same clients hired me a couple years later to do another site and it was a resounding success, for both of us. 😊

How much is this going to cost me?

How much is this going to cost me? Straight to the awkward question, because awkward is what I do best.

Unlimited BS works with small to mid-sized businesses and non profits – starting up to scaling your business. I chose that niche because I LOVE the enthusiasm of new ventures and the excitement of taking your business from one level to the next. It’s palpable.

So I’m your match if you fall in that category. I understand the budget restraints, but I also have the knowledge, experience, and skills to provide a website that will get you business.

And the awkward answer? You are looking at a starting cost of between $5,000-$7,500. And that can run upwards of $15,000. Ya, that’s a big range, but sites differ so much in what they involve, features they have, whether or not you are selling products on your site, and how much you are providing to the process (content, images, etc.)

I take on a maximum of 2 clients per month. So if you are considering a site, and I’m booking a couple months out, now is a good time to reach out. We can meet (in person or virtual) and chat about your business. You’ll get a free detailed quote and then can decide if you want to book and get in the calendar.

So what are you getting for this investment?

  • a mobile friendly, USER friendly website that works in all modern browsers.
  • a website properly set up so it can grow with your business and continue to function properly for years to come so you aren’t looking at a rebuild every few years
  • a website you are proud to send your clients to.
  • a presence on the internet that makes you stand out from your competitors because it speaks to your niche, your demographic, your people.
  • a web designer that works WITH you, and continues to do so well after your site is launched.

Trust me, I get the challenges of starting out, and of taking your business up a level. I’ve been there. I know it’s scary and I know it’s freaky making the investment. But at almost 9 years in, I can tell it’s totally worth it.

Take the first step and at least know what your project is going to cost. No obligation. Shoot me a message via email at brenda@unlimitedbs.ca, or set up a discovery call below and let’s take that first step!


What’s your problem, and how can I fix it?

That is what it all boils down to in the grand scheme of marketing your business, isn’t it?

What is your solution to someone’s problem?

  • Are you providing a product that eases a pain point in their life?
  • Are you providing a service that removes something from their plate, making their life easier? More productive?
  • Are you saving them money?

Frame your website’s purpose with just that question, “What is your problem, and how can I fix it?” Look at your ideal customers through that lens and you will be able to make the emotional connection that makes the sale.

What does that look like?

  • Making sure your marketing is aimed at your ideal customer’s pain points, make them see you as the solution they have been needing.
  • Make it part of your business motto, maybe your tagline, or your mission statement. “We make your kids LOVE picking up after themselves with our one step program” <—because that would be dreamy, right? SIGN ME UP. That’s a problem I want solved and you nailed it right there, in your tagline. Gold.
  • And 100% make it apparent in all your web content, here’s how:

About page:

Whether you despise talking about yourself, or maybe you love sharing your hobbies, your kids, your adventures a weeeeee bit too much 😉, this section can be overwhelming to some. They get caught up in telling their readers about them.

Wait…what? Isn’t the About section meant to be about you?

Not really. To put it harshly, no one cares about you, haha! They care about about how you can help them. Frame it in that context on you’re well on your way!

Services page:

Lay it out, dumb it down! Don’t assume people know your lingo, know your product, know what you do. The more straight forward you can make your content to digest, the more likely you will engage them enough to take the next step – which equates to business for you.

Don’t be too broad, consider your market, and keep who are you trying to reach at top of mind. How do they absorb content? In what tone?

Give them enough information about your service or product that they feel like they’ve got a good handle what you or your product/service can do for them.

Because remember… That's what people ultimately want...to know what you can do for them. How is your product or service going to benefit them? Click To Tweet

Contact page:

Don’t forget to remind them that you are the solution! Site visitors might be coming only for your contact information so don’t lose that opportunity to tell them how you can help.  Think of your contact page as your connection page – connect them to you!

There’s many ways to communicate how you can help your target audience. Always remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them and go forth and give them the solutions!!

 

So, now you know how businesses are targeting you, here’s my question for you…

What is your problem, and how can I fix it?