Established 2009

Lessons Learned Since Starting My Own Business

Posted by Kelly Chen in Business

We’ve covered some basic tips for starting your own business, and we recently reached out to some colleagues to answer this question: “What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your entrepreneurial journey?”

Here is some great advice from five truly inspiring ladies in the creative industry who decided to be their own bosses.

(Some quotes have been edited for length.)


Kathy Ager
Kathy AgerKathy Ager Branding & Design

It’s important to price your work fairly. I’m realizing a lot of people undervalue themselves and get stuck working hard for little money. You’ve put in the time to build up your skills, experience, client base and resulting reputation. Learn to say no to potential clients that can’t afford you unless it’s something meaningful to you. It will save you a lot of misery. And it doesn’t mean more work won’t come down the line (which was my fear) – on the contrary, it keeps you open for the work you really want.

Going out on your own doesn’t have to mean going out on your own. I’ve never been much of a collaborator or one to be outspoken in the design scene, and it’s been extra challenging getting started in a foreign country far from design friends and old colleagues. But by seeking shared work spaces I’ve made some amazing connections with designers, programmers, project managers, entrepreneurs who are all in the same boat. If you need help, you have it, and if you don’t need help, you just have some great friends with equally flexible work days.

Jaime Ward-Yassin
Jaime Ward-YassinYassin & Ward

Get really picky about your clients. Establish what type of clients you want, what niche you’d like to work within and what type of relationships you’d like to have with those clients. Once you’ve established that, start asking for those kinds of clients. Don’t be afraid to turn down jobs because your clients don’t fit the description and don’t be afraid to fire clients. This has not only made our business more successful, but we’ve also created some wonderful, long lasting relationships and fewer headaches.

Adriana Koc-Spadaro
Adriana Koc-SpadaroAdri Creative

Stop thinking and start doing!

Nova Hopkins
Nova HopkinsNova Hopkins Studios

Find your purpose (other than money). I found mine on a fortune cookie note—be helpful to others. This purpose drives my business.

Create a set of goals and write them on a piece a paper that you can look at every day. You will be amazed how doors open and make them a reality.

I was once asked if working for yourself is lonely. I recommend that you make sure you have a solid network of people around you to bounce ideas off of and to lean on for support.

Always step back from a situation and ask yourself “what you could have done” not what the other person should have done.

…And remember, it always works out.

Freyja Barnwell
Freyja Barnwell

One lesson I’ve learned is to set reasonable client expectations right from the start of a working relationship. This is a great way to make sure you don’t end up working until 3am just to please a client that gave you content two weeks late and still expects you to keep the same deadline!