From Freelancer to Full-Time Business Owner
I am going to start this by saying, I actually have no clue how I became a business owner. I don’t have a college degree, I was on track to perform & write music for the rest of my life, and I am only 26 years old. My business has kind of felt like an accident. This whole web design thing started out as just a side gig to get me by financially while I pursued my career in music. 5 years later I wake up and find that I have a full-time business built on referrals and am able to employ my husband. It actually sounds crazy to me saying it out loud, and honestly I am still trying to figure out how in the world I got here.
In the fall of 2016 I decided to take a break from music and pick up a few more design clients. By Fall of 2017 I decided to complete set music to the side and finally consider myself a full-time business owner and boy, did that change things.
Let’s rewind a bit. I moved to Nashville in 2012 as a 20 year old. I made my primary income doing web updates & data entry for a company in Seattle. All of the html and web design skills I had acquired up till then had been the one Wed Design class I took as a 7th grader. At some point after about a year of living in Nashville, word started getting around that I also built website. I still LOL at that and I remember at the time I also LOL’d at it because…I was a “web designer”? What?
SO then I was like ok, cool, I can be a web designer, sure! Let’s do it. And with that attitude I booked my very first client in Nashville. I recall Googling “What is Wordpress” while I was on the phone with her giving her pricing to build a Wordpress Website for her. L O L
Once I started gaining some confidence in myself and honing in on my skills a bit, I started taking a few more clients here and there. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was laying the ground work for my business that would start blooming a few years later.
I made a lot of mistakes in those first years. I let people steal money from me. I didn’t have a clue how to say no or that I could even say no. I worked on projects for very little pay and I didn’t know how to speak up for myself very well. I also realized I didn’t have a college degree so I kind of always felt a little dumb. Which was dumb.
In March of 2018, just a few months after I fully committed to my business, I felt lost. I had been working from home for almost 4 years and I had absolutely no sense of community. So on a Sunday night at 1am I created my very first resume ( performing was how I made a living since the age of 12) and sent it to one of the biggest companies in Nashville. My resume was weird and totally off beat, but I thought it was a long shot anyway so I sent it. First thing Monday morning I received an email that the company wanted to interview me and I just about died. What. The heckkkkk. I went through 2 rounds of interview over 2 weeks and ultimately I did not get chosen to move forward. BUT PLOT TWIST, at that very same time my phone started blowing up with all kinds of new clients. I also started thinking, is the trade off of having freedom with my schedule worth the security of a corporate job? I wasn’t full convinced. So on a Monday morning after returning to Nashville from a trip I made a decision. In order to grow more my business and feel like part of a community I needed to get a workspace. It was then that I realized a WeWork was built across the street from my condo and as scared as I was, I agreed to start paying $300 / month to have my own space to work apart form my home. And boy, again, did things start changing for me.
Since I decided to invest into my business (WHICH IS SO SCARY) I increased my yearly income x 3. I took a risk on myself and it worked. I plugged into a community even though giving up that $300, which felt PRECIOUS to me, was so hard. Having my own workspace enabled me to build a community, network, look & feel even more professional and set amazing boundaries for myself as a business owner.
OK, so you might be thinking, but HOW did you find clients? I am going to tell you that now…
I worked for 4+ years building relationships with my clients. Working my butt off for my clients. I pulled over on the side of the road and fixed web emergencies for my clients. I worked countless 16 hr days for my clients. I worked weekends for my clients. My clients, my clients, my clients. I have loved and LOVE my clients. My clients refer me to their friends. My clients pass on my information. My clients shout me out. Most of all, my clients trust me.
That is how I have built a successful business.
So many successful people look like it just “happened” to them one day. The webinars that our going viral, the people with 100K on their email list, the businesses with 2.1M followers. All of that has taken time. Even in the music industry most every one is a “10 year overnight success”. It doesn’t happen over night, and if it did, our stories would honestly be pretty boring.
If there is anything I have learned through this whole journey so far it’s that patience creates a space for peace. There have been weeks where I’ve sent out 10K in client proposals and then a Monday will roll around and my email inbox is as quiet as a church mouse during Sunday service. Talk about a ROLLER-COASTER. The only way to get through our entrepreneurial journey is with grace for ourselves, patience with the process, persistence in our passion, and consistency with setting & meeting our goals.
The high of success is definitely going to feel high in the moment happening, but when you wake up the next morning it’s back work. And that’s honestly the best part! When we achieve big goals, it doesnt’t end there. We get to continue to set higher goals, kill those, and create more. Sometimes I think “Ahh I’ve made it!” but then there’s another beautiful view point another 10,000 feet up.
Maybe your journey is looking complete different than you thought it would. And maybe that’s really exciting, or maybe its really confusing for you still. I’ve experienced both personally, I worked for 10 years building a career in music and then pivoted to having a full time business created websites and cheering on other entrepreneurs. That blows my mind!! I heard someone say once, “I pray that if one of your dreams ever runs out, that God will give you a new one.” I dealt with a lot of mourning when I switched career, I felt a lot of shame, confusion and disappointment. But ultimately, once I started to walk down my new path, so much of that went away. I didn’t know I could love something like I love music. And I do. Getting to work with and encourage others in pursuing their dreams brings me so so much happiness and fulfillment. And that is nothing to be ashamed about.
I don’t have a college degree, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I started my business, I made a lot of mistakes and have cried many times while eating bags of chips to console myself. If I can build a business on a 7th grade Web Design education then you can build your business, too.