Every business venture involves a journey, and ours is no exception! Here are five important lessons we’ve learned along our journey at Ashley & Malone:
1. Nothing is ever 100%. Whether it’s finances, a client proposal or a logo that a client fell in love with, we’re always prepared for changes in our business. We might have a whole year where every client pays on time and then boom….three clients are late in a single month. While this isn’t an ideal scenario, we always have a backup plan. This consists of savings, hiring well and only when we need it and living a “somewhat” modest home life. We never want to overextend ourselves so that our business (i.e. our livelihood!) can’t function.
2. Design with purpose. This is something we have explored deeply as we’ve gotten more experience under our belts. It’s not always about what looks pretty, it’s about how it functions, the meaning behind the design and how clients perceive it. This was actually one of the reasons for our last rebrand. People always told us how fun and pretty our brand was, and to me that just wasn’t enough. We wanted to communicate more about our business than just the aesthetic part.
3. Adapt. We’re continually changing our business, always for the better. Our ultimate goal is an exceptional client experience. So, with that in mind, collecting thoughtful feedback from our clients is of the utmost importance. We sit down after EACH client’s project and review what went well, what could have been done better and what comments the client had about our process. As an example, a client may have been confused about how they launch their website or about printing prices….it’s these little things that we adjust along the way to ensure the client is always receiving flawless communication.
4. Ignore your competitors. This one is such a weird subject. From a business perspective, you have to know who your competitors are – it’s just smart. From a solopreneur standpoint, being constantly aware of your competitors is entirely draining – emotionally and creatively. I’ll admit when we first opened Ashley & Malone, almost three years ago, we didn’t have too many competitors. Since then the online design world has grown drastically, and it’s easy to get sucked into what others are doing. I personally find this especially exhausting on Pinterest, with the never-ending stream of everyone’s brand boards and styled mockups. So I just don’t follow anyone! Instead, I get my design-nerd fix by browsing websites like Dribble or Behance, reading magazines and working on my craft through drawing on paper.
5. Do what works best for you. Running a business is hard stuff, and it’s SO easy to see what others are doing online. How they book clients, how many they book and how long they spend with each one. So you find yourself thinking, “I can do that too – if it works for them, it should work for me.” Well guess what, it might not. Everyone’s process, business and clients are completely different. Over the years we’ve evolved our own intake process, payment schedules and timelines to meet our needs and best serve our clients. No one knows your business better than you, so make sure your processes suit you perfectly.
With all these lessons learned, we’ve become more streamlined in our business and more in love with our work than ever! If you’re planning a brand overhaul next year or are planning to launch something new, we’d love to work with you – please reach out if you’d like to chat about how we can help!