Starting Evielutions Design
This month, I am launching “So You Want to Start a Business” – a series of blog posts and other content that is aimed at helping the complete novice start their own business. Some people have a dream to launch a new product or provide a service, but are overwhelmed with where to start, what to consider, and more. In each post, I will be addressing different topics to help a first-time entrepreneur hit the ground running.
Like many who were impacted by the housing bubble crisis, I was laid off from my corporate employment in 2009. After working several temporary positions, I realized I was no longer interested in working in a corporate environment. I had been sold a falsehood about the type of stability that the corporate workplace could provide and realized that my layoff was an opportunity for me to pursue a new and unique challenge towards freedom.
Armed with my work history, skills, and my laptop, I began working towards starting my own business. Although I had limited resources (limited budget, very limited staff – as in, just myself, etc.), I combined my existing skillset in technology with my passion for design and began laying the foundation for a branding company that would allow me to merge those two qualities together. I focused my energy into creating Evielutions Design and successfully established my company within the same year that I left corporate work altogether.
It took immense work, research, and even some trial and error for me to navigate the difficult and often times confusing aspects of running a business. I quickly learned some of my greatest strengths could also function as weaknesses. Having a keen eye for detail is an excellent quality when it comes to design. Unfortunately for some, it can also mean that they are more easily bogged down by minutiae and miss for the forest for the trees.
I also learned some of my weaknesses: I despise administrative work, I have difficulty with concrete or restrictive schedules, and I am often very direct. In hindsight, it should come as no surprise that I left the corporate world – I would have never been very happy with a strict 9-5 schedule or making small talk in meetings. Still, it has taken me even longer to learn that these weaknesses can also function as strengths in my business.
Because I dislike standard office or administrative tasks, I outsourced these tasks to others who can do these tasks, allowing me to focus on the aspects of my business that I genuinely love and am passionate about. Although I may never again have a consistent 9-5 schedule, my mental health is greatly improved by being able to set my own start and end times. And, I’ve found that my direct approach is often appreciated by clients. Instead of wasting their time padding every critique with compliments and niceties, I save their time (and mine!) by cutting to the chase. As a result, my clients can always trust that I will be transparent with them, and that trust helps solidify the foundation of a great relationship.
My goals for Evielutions Design have also changed and adapted over time. My original goal was to develop a sufficient client base that I would be able to pay bills and have a flexible schedule. As a single parent, it has always been important to me to be active in every aspect of my children’s lives. Aligning my personal goals (maintaining a close relationship with my children) and business goals was important for several reasons.
First, aligning my goals made it easier to see my overall values and priorities. It made it easier to set boundaries with respect to how my work life would influence my personal life. It also made it easier to focus on a strategy. When there are endless or vague parameters, it creates a sense that there are also endless paths to reach a goal. With so many choices, it can become easy to be overwhelmed, frustrated, and confused. By narrowing my focus and choosing a strategy that would satisfy by personal and business goals, I was able to find the path that I needed to take to achieve success.
Second, aligning my goals made it easier to see when and where changes needed to be made as my business grew and the environment I was operating in changed. It became easier to draw a line when, for example, my work inhibited my ability to prioritize my family. By being able to quickly identify when a strategy was no longer working for me, I was able to respond quickly to adapt and try a new strategy that could serve my larger goals. I learned that knowing when to draw a line or “call it quits” can be an incredibly stressful aspect of running your own business – but it is made much easier when your own boundaries and parameters are firmly established from the outset.
In a similar vein, aligning my goals has also forced me to rethink and redefine success – repeatedly and often. At first, success meant merely being able to pay the bills and spend time with my children. Although that remains one facet of how I define success, it is no longer the only measure that I use. As my business has grown, I continue to consider how I want to define success now, or even what I would consider to be successful in one, two, or five years. For now, continuing to meet my financial goals, maintaining a flexible schedule, and providing a superior service to my clients are my priorities and how I choose to define success.
In this blog post series, I considered so many of the questions that I faced as an entrepreneur and what hard truths I needed to face in order to start my business. Some of these questions were personal, some were related to the service I was selling, and others still were questions about the industry and whether my field would even be in demand in a post-economic crisis world. I recognize that many professionals are facing some of these same questions now, and I hope that this brief guide will help people think more critically about starting a business and perhaps put them on the right path for success – in whatever way each person defines that for themselves.