I know that usually the “year summaries” are published before christmas, so you can say we are late with this post. But we decided to leave it for January… as our first blog post for 2017. Basically this is a look back to our year at CREATIVA, a good exercise for us to see what went good, so we can keep growing our beloved business.
The slow first semester…
The year started with high expectations and clear goals, we though “this is the year!”, and to be honest the first semester was a test to our perseverance and commitment. The six first months were very quiet in terms of projects; we had just enough to “pay the bills” and have some pocket money, as I like to call it. We kept going and tried to make new connections, looked for networking opportunities and activated our social media strategy.
It is always said that the first couple of years are the most difficult when you create a business, and it is true… sometimes you get to a point where you start doubting and considering getting a part-time job to cover you up (and Vera and I did actually applied to jobs around June/July 2016).
And then July came…
Something happened in the universe… the planets aligned or something. We got some calls, some referrals, from people that heard about us or were recommended. Suddenly we got really busy! Not because of a large number of projects, but big ones, projects for Branding and Web together.
Around September I found myself managing five different projects at the same time, Vera was managing a few more as well, we even had to work on the weekends, and we were super happy about it, we didn’t mind it at all.
So, what happened this second semester? what made the difference? (I didn’t actually believe on the planet alignment).
Connections and Networking
Networking is still one of the most important aspects of your business promotion. People want to make business with people they know and trust, and it makes sense. When you commission work to be done on your house, you tend not to bring complete strangers into your home… you look for recommendations, testimonials, referrals… you make sure this person/company is good at their trade before asking them to do the job, right?
The same happens for businesses. We have been running for more than two years, and despite the fact that I prefer to sit alone all day in my office doing what I love, I still need to get out, meet people, talk about me and my business and look pretty :)
We’ve been doing this since we started back in 2014. The quality of our work and our connections started to “talk” for us, we see people recommending us because we did a good job for them, or we get new clients because a trustworthy network told them we were good.
Another big part of our success this year was facebook… yes, facebook. And I’m not talking about our facebook page, I’m talking about facebook groups.
When I started feeling really discouraged about the company’s situation I wrote a post on a facebook group I was in. I wasn’t in many groups a that time, but this group was for Web Developers and Designers who work with the same WordPress Theme I use (Divi Theme). I told them I was struggling to get local jobs, and many of the professionals in the group advised me to “go online” and not focus so much (or only) on the local market. Many of them are very successful and they work with people all over the world. This was a crucial game changer moment. I thought: “That is what I want! I want to go international” – And I did.
The key was to join facebook groups were my target audience was, or groups with people that do what I do because they are happy to give you advice and ideas. It’s amazing that even though we could be tagged as competitors, there is an amazing spirit of collaboration on these groups. In our field there is still enough jobs for everyone, and we don’t need to fight for it, that’s makes us feel like a community, supporting and looking after each other if we need some help.
And the idea is not just joining the group and letting the magic happen, as it is in the offline networking you have to interact with others, join the conversation, give your advice when someone else needs assistance, make questions, create interaction. Showing that you are there, that you care, and you are an expert on what you do. In the short or long term, when you do it right, you will start getting enquiries and more questions about you and your business.
From these groups I got some contractor jobs for other designers and developers, and I also got a lovely logo+website project for a lady in Brisbane, Australia. Plus a few other connections that could lead to something good.
Before or after launch I have a training session with the client and I show them how to login, make content updates, upload photos, etc, so they can manage the website themselves. I show them all the different areas behind the website and I make sure they feel comfortable using WordPress. I have a lot of experience on training sessions, as in my previous job I have to do training all the time for all kind of people.
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