We are excited to be starting a new blog series called, “Boss Moments.” The inspiration for starting this series is to celebrate all of the moments, good and bad, that come with running your own business. Before working at Dubsado, I was a freelance photographer. I quickly discovered that running a business can become an isolating experience. I often wondered how other creatives were running their businesses and if they were experiencing the same successes and failures as me. I was eager to learn best practices from peers and glean from their experience. With this blog, I am hoping to gather and share stories of everyday entrepreneurs to equip you with encouragement, inspiration, and advice to grow your business.
I am excited to share our first interview with Carmen Vermillion, a brand and website designer. Carmen left her corporate job to dive into entrepreneurship full time, and has been a designer for 7 years now. Also a mother of three, she has learned many things in the last 7 years and has some great insight into how to grow your business, focus on what’s important, and how to overcome hurdles to achieve your goals. Without further adieu, I introduce Carmen Vermillion.
B: What is the most pivotal or defining moment in your career?
C: I remember working with a friend on a freelance project (she owned her own web dev company) and we were going over some design projects I had on my plate. I was working a full-time job as an Advertising Executive and designing on the side as a freelancer. She was talking about bringing me on as a "partner" and went over what she currently was bringing in. That moment I knew if she could make enough to replace my corporate America job then I could do it too! She was instrumental in helping me get started on my own and encouraging me along the way!
B: What is the most successful decision you have ever made?
C: The most successful decision I made for my business was making it a priority to build up my freelance client base to a point that I could walk away from my career and transition into entrepreneurship without a dip in pay. It took a year of planning and working hard to make it possible but it was and is what has continued to drive my success. My clients are 90% referral and 10% organic reach. The business model didn't happen overnight and there were many times I was fearful it wasn't going to happen but the month my 3rd child turned 1 I was officially a full-time business owner!
B: What has been the biggest hurdle(s) in running your business and how has it grown you and your business?
C: The biggest hurdles I have had have been trying to do all the things and also not setting "business" hours. I am a work from home, homeschooling mom of 3 so setting business hours didn't come easily for me. I was burning out trying to be on my game 100% for everyone and everything. Setting my hours helped me prioritize my day, get things done faster, better quality and more quality time with my children!
B: Do you have a favorite failure moment?
C: Yes because it brought me to Dubsado! My favorite failure moment is when I forgot to send a contract to a client which meant their name/project completely fell off my radar. I figured out I forgot to respond to the customer nearly a month later going through my chicken scratch notes and realized IT WAS TIME to invest in a system that worked for me. Now I get notified of upcoming lead calls I have booked all through my workflows doing the initial capture, follow up and scheduler before I even have to get involved! Yay!
B: Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently in the early stages of your business?
C: I would have made it a priority to have systems in place like Dubsado when I went full time into business ownership. Since I can't hire an employee just yet I have found Dubsado to be my virtual assistant many times!
B: What is the best advice you have received in regards to running your own business?
C: Oh this is actually a recent one from the Hailey B. training- to narrow down your focus to 5 or less "items" or "areas" because 80% of your time is wasted in moving from one type of project to another. THIS has been a true eye-opener and has allowed me to work faster, make more money and spread the work and love to other Dubsado Directory designers for projects I just don't have in my focus at this time.
B: What is some bad advice you have heard from others in and around your career?
C: That you have to go to school and get in debt to be a designer/developer. I do white-label work for some of the largest agencies in town and when I made them aware I may not be as proficient in areas because I was self-taught the head of development said: "me too"! In this day and age going to school for certain types of careers may actually put you behind the ball because things are changing so quickly now!
B: When you feel uninspired or unfocused, how you get back on track?
C: I have learned to walk away from my work if I am having a creative block. It does me no good to work on a project for hours when it should take me less than 30 minutes if my mind has clarity while designing. Playing with my kids, going for a walk. Anything active and different helps stir up my creative juices better than anything else!
B: What is something you have to constantly remind yourself?
C: I often find myself comparing my skills to other designers who I want to be as good as. BUT my clients would hands down say I have a skill - to get in their head and somehow design exactly what they were looking for. So- reminding myself to continue to learn, try new things and stop comparing myself to others.
B: In regards to growing your business, what is one habit you wish you would have developed?
C: Asking for feedback after every project. I believe I can only get better and improve my client experience by getting honest feedback and I am just now starting to implement this.
B: What is the best investment under $200 you have made for your business?
C: Quickbooks - I had one issue where a client paid a deposit and claimed I didn't deliver. Since I keep a very detailed record for each client and communication is always saved I was able to send my proof to Quickbooks and they fought the client and his credit card company and we won.
B: Other than Dubsado, what app do you use most frequently for your business that you think others should use?
C: Artful Agenda because it satisfies my passion for planners digitally and helps keep me organized with all the things. Color coding, stickers, all the stuff that makes a paper planner fun but digitally! Time blocking is huge for me since I homeschool and work from home so I cross reference my Dubsado projects/calendar and block off my Artful Agenda planner to work on similar type projects at the same time.
Thank you to Carmen for being willing to share your journey as an entrepreneur with us! If you have a story you would like to share, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or share your story by tagging @mydubsado on your socials along with #BossMoments.