Seven years ago, my sister, Felicia, and I embarked on our creative business journey— With just one client under our belt, we ventured into the world of business while juggling full-time jobs. The moment we secured that first client for our own venture was a celebratory life moment—it marked the inception of a dream we were determined to shape according to our vision, and made it official. Little did we know that this humble beginning would quickly snowball into an exhilarating ride, allowing us to bid farewell to our full-time jobs in 2018, and open our first physical studio in 2019, all momentous milestone in our business journey.
However, let's not sugarcoat it—the road we initially envisioned as straight and direct took us on a winding path to this seven-year milestone. As we celebrate our lucky number 7th birthday, here are some reflections and insights to those embarking on their own entrepreneurial journeys or clients seeking to understand our guiding principles.
The Relationship is Everything: Our business has thrived 100% on referrals, an impeccable reputation, and our commitment to prioritizing client relationships. Our clients have become long-term partners, staying with us because they believe in the recurring value we offer. Invest in nurturing relationships, your network, your community, and tap into the power of your network's network.
Resilience is Key: Be prepared for the plan to evolve continuously. Roadblocks will appear on your journey, demanding adaptability and agility. During the pandemic, we launched a completely new food discovery venture—a testament to our belief in turning challenges into opportunities. Check your emotions at the door and stay committed to figuring it out, one day at a time.
Just Listen: Leave your ego at the door and engage with your clients with the intent to listen and learn. In our early days, we made the mistake of presenting concepts we believed met potential client needs, often leaving them confused and not connecting our concepts to a problem. Instead, understand the problems your clients face and craft solutions tailored to their needs.
Dependability: Completing deliverables on time and demonstrating your understanding of the task is paramount. Dependability is a trait that can take you far in building trust and enduring relationships—and is surprising not as common as you think.
Show Up For Your Clients: Embrace your clients' products and services, becoming their most enthusiastic brand ambassador. If you genuinely believe in them (which you should if they're your client), champion their cause within your network.
Start Small: When initiating new client relationships, begin with small projects to incrementally build trust. This approach allows you to assess the fit of the relationship, showcase your value and insights, and propose larger and ongoing projects as trust grows.
While talent and expertise go without saying, let's be real and acknowledge the competitive landscape filled with equally skilled individuals and companies. When a potential client chooses to work with you, it often boils down to the trust, rapport, and likability you bring to the table. Keep putting yourself out there, be visible, and shine bright! By embracing these six guiding principles, you'll position yourself ahead of the competition and foster lasting success in your endeavors.
We’d like to say a special thank you to all of the clients along our journey that have trusted in us, displayed loyalty, and have brought tremendous value to each other that has allowed for all of our mutual growth. From this 7 year vantage point and harnessing the wisdom we’ve earned, we look forward to the possibilities that lay ahead of this winding road.