"Make me a website and show it to me when it's done."
Many business owners believe they can simply hire a designer and tell them, "Make me a website and show it to me when it's finished." That approach doesn't work. The truth is that a successful website launch requires a close working relationship between the business owner and the design team. Rapport, teamwork and communication also play a crucial role.
I honestly don't like to go on and on about myself but I think it's important to share my story so my clients realize that I understand what it feels like to be a business owner and that I can relate to the challenges they face.
So, let's get to know each other.
My corporate career was rewarding but it was time for a change.
I spent the most of my corporate career at General Motors World Headquarters in Detroit, MI, directing information technology projects. It was my responsibility to translate General Motors' business needs into technical requirements, communicate those requirements to system developers, and finally oversee project implementation. I was also in charge of creating and delivering training for all of those initiatives. It was a rewarding job that taught me a lot about systems development, training, and project management.
My job at General Motors was amazing, but it required a lot of travel and long hours, which wasn't ideal because I had a young child. I recall waking her up one morning and seeing her expression when she realized I was leaving for a business trip again.
"Oh no, mom, you're not leaving again," was all I needed to hear. It was clear that something needed to change.
That's me teaching a class at GM Europe Headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
Look at the size of those laptops!
Owning my own business was a dream come true but it required skills I didn't have.
Shortly after hearing those words from my daughter, I was offered the chance to buy Computer Explorers, an award-winning franchise that delivered technology programs to schools, daycare centers, and community education sites. It was a dream come true for me to work with children and be in a classroom. Best of all, I wasn't traveling, and my hours were much more aligned with my daughter's schedule.
However, I quickly learned that running a small business was not as simple as I had imagined, and that I would have to wear many different hats. It required skills I lacked.
I had previously managed people and had some basic accounting expertise, so I felt I'd be fine. I was naive. I had no idea how crucial branding and marketing were to a company's success. Duh!
Regrettably, I had no prior marketing experience. I quickly realized I had a lot to learn about marketing, branding and promoting the business. I studied all I could, took classes, and so on, but I mostly learned by trial and error. At one point, we were the second highest-grossing franchise in the country, but then there was an economic downturn and my business really suffered. With the business struggling and me facing a divorce, I decided to sell the franchise and go back to a corporate job and a steady income.
Juggling the demands of family and work is difficult, but it is something that we must do.
After getting remarried, I was able to step back from the corporate world and focus on raising our blended family while also pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors. I began my freelance career as a web designer and went on to organize numerous philanthropic and community events, as well as direct an after-school dance program at our local high school.
I had a lot going on! Then one day, my husband made the decision to purchase a restaurant.
We juggled the demands of having four children, operating the restaurant, my entrepreneurial work, and his corporate career for several years. Yes, we believed we could have it all: own a restaurant while working full-time and raising a family. We were very busy and burned out! Owning a restaurant is one of the most difficult things you can do, and it is not for everyone. We soon recognized it wasn't for us and sold it.
Sometimes, you just need to set out on a new adventure.
We felt it was time for a major lifestyle change when the last of our four children left the house and we were empty-nesters, so we embarked on new adventures. We sold our Michigan home, packed up the dogs (most of our belongings went with the house), and relocated to Southern California. As a project manager and someone who plans everything, not having a solid plan in place wasn’t easy for me but that was part of the adventure.
I continued my freelance business while also volunteering for the Taproot Foundation, the world's largest pro-bono consulting firm. Taproot’s grant program provides business, marketing, financial and IT consulting services to non-profit organizations. I was responsible for leading marketing and technology projects in the Los Angeles area as a project manager and account director for Taproot.
When we moved to California, we were fully dedicated to the idea of "going on an adventure." We weren't sure where we wanted to live for the first couple of years, so we moved around a bit before deciding to move to the beach. We were fortunate to discover the lovely town of Ventura, California, where we have now made it our permanent home.
We also decided to take the journey a step further by moving onto our 50' motorboat. Boat life isn't for everyone but we love it.
All we need are our laptops and the ocean!
We moved onto our boat and then the world went into lockdown due to a global pandemic. During the lockdown, I had a chance to reflect on what I really wanted to do and decided to refocus my freelance business to concentrate on helping fellow female entrepreneurs succeed.
We love the sunset views from our boat and pretty much everything about living here. However, sometimes the barking seals interrupt our conference calls.