How Accidentally Letting My DBA Expire Helped My Business

Today is a big day. It is the launch of my new business! Welcome!

freelance business
Across the internet, you will find perfectly styled, clean, almost sterile desks. I'm keeping my images real with glimpses of my kids's presence, which I have stopped trying to micro-manage. Do you see what I am talking about? 

 

Name Change 101

For 12 years, I have freelanced from my home office, all while raising a family. I was a "client-work" centered business, squeezing in time for multiple clients. Day after day, I juggled work and kids. Things got more challenging 5 years ago, when I started homeschooling my kids.

My days weren't as free as they were to take client's calls, resolve design and/or printing issues, or to even network to grow my business, let alone have any meetings. 

Last year was a very difficult year. A family tragedy forced me to cut back on the number of clients I had. In fact, I was only able to keep one. After the dust settled, I realized that I had missed a piece of mail. An important piece of mail. 

My husband found an unopened envelope. Inside was a letter from the Recorder's office, stating that my DBA (fictitious business name) was up for renewal, but if we didn't answer before the end of April, it would expire. This was in June! 

MorningStar Creative Studios was gone. I couldn't have it on websites, on my voicemail…anywhere. 

So I had to come up with a plan B.

I thought I'd just save money, and so as not have to re-register, I'd name the business after myself and skip the DBA. It didn't quite feel right, but it was the path of least resistance. 

So that is what I did, until I needed to open a bank account. I found out that to open a business account, you need a DBA registered with the County. So after the nice lady at the bank pointed me to the Recorder's Office, I decided something. 

If I have to register the new name, I am going to make it a good one!

So, on that short drive across the street, I started to brainstorm. I remembered a time on Pinterest when I was noticing names of other design studios and I realized that the ones that I was quick to click on, were cute or clever. I knew I needed a great adjective to start off my new name and BAM! Sweet Blue Bird it was. Blue Birds represent happiness and hope. After much grief, this was perfect.

When I went back to the bank with my DBA paperwork in hand, I happily sat down with a different gal to get me a new bank account, with my new name. She needed help, so she called over the nice lady that helped me earlier. She was reading along on the screen and said: "Oh, what a CUTE NAME!" 

(This is the part where I fist bumped the air in my mind.)

Why A New Name Inspired a New Business Plan

Before I changed the name, I started to build a new website. For years, I built websites on Wordpress. It was so time consuming that I stopped offering this service. 

This year, I started hearing a lot of buzz about a newer platform called Squarespace.

After trying the 2 weeks free trial, I was hooked! I can't believe how hard Wordpress was compared to this platform! Now I offer website design again. 

Armed with about a year's worth of ideas that seemed to suddenly settle into a plan that was perfect for my business, I set about designing it. I had to stop wishing that I could put on a stellar pair of heels and work at a corporation with other adults. I had to get more organized, more streamlined and I needed to NOT have all my eggs in one basket. Having one client is not good business practice, so I built in a branding process that is super-organized and time saving, for a limited number of clients per year.

The Passive Income Solution

I had heard a lot about passive income, but never thought about it for me. 

That's where Pat Flynn comes in. He has a great website with lots of information that would appeal to most anybody in the freelance business.

Since my time for client work is limited, I starting researching how I could use passive income to generate more profit, WHILE I create brands and homeschool the kids. 

Right now, with all that I had to do to get my website and new business going, I will be adding passive income elements a little at a time. This seems to be what the marketing gurus suggest anyway. Building a following with a blog is a smart first step to future sales. I want to be consistent with my blogging, so that is where my attention will go first. 

I'll be honest, all of this can feel overwhelming. And, I think that not wanting to try something that is overwhelming and foreign, like an online business, is normal. Many people don't get past the point of overwhelm, especially solo business owners. If you feel this way and are ready for a change, don't do nothing. Please, I encourage you to try one new thing online that will grow your business. Business growth and personal growth take work and you know what, it is so worth it! You can do it!

Launch Time!

Treating your new website and brand like an event is a game changer, for you and your audience! Up until a few months ago, I had never heard of "Going Live" or a "Brand Launch". I went to design school during the 90's when websites were for rich people. I never learned this strategy, but I could kiss my computer for all the free schooling I have received while being a mom, at all hours of the day…or night. KISS. KISS. KISS!

I found this great website Go Live-HQ and learned all about the power of a launch. They have two day workshops that I wished I could have afforded. Hanging out with other ladies (Do you get the vibe that I would love to get out and socialize more? Well, it's true! Sigh. Someday…) taking professional head shots and building a website sounds like fun doesn't it? 

A good second-best solution was to buy their Launch Kit. It was a well spent $32. I am really happy with it and I definitely recommend it. It walked me through the days leading up to going live with customizable images and copy suggestions for social media.

This process doesn't seem to just be for your audience. I saw that it got me more excited for the big reveal, instead of overwhelmed with all that I had to get ready. I have revealed websites without LAUNCH WEEK (as I called it) in the past and would not do it any other way. It builds excitement on both sides for the exciting BIG DAY!

Building An Email List

Last, but definitely not least…EMAIL LISTS.

Let me just say, it has been years since I had one and now I am starting from scratch.

I have always wanted to use Lead Pages to grow my clientele online, but this too was outside my budget.  

He had an article about growing your email list and recommended Lead Pages (what he uses) and then listed Launch Rock as a second-best FREE service. He had me at free, so I tried it this week, feeling my way through the process like I was blind. I was unsure of what was what because I had never used this platform before, but I worked through the little pangs of fear and came up with a pre-launch landing page that I am very proud of. See it here: http://lnc.hr/mAB4z and feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter. I will leave the link up after launch day so you can see the example.

I created my newsletter in MailChimp. I LOVE this email service and will talk more about it in my next blog. 

If you are not sure where to start, if you are changing your business or starting a new one, I hope my experience and suggestions will help. Improving your skill sets puts you ahead of the competition and doing the above made me more confident, organized and ultimately more creative.

Setting up schedules and systems will save you time in the long run. 

What have you done that took a lot of time to set up, but in the long run has actually saved you time?