I am so excited to bring another guest on the show today who had a skill/passion for something and after years of switching careers has found a way to turn that into her fulltime career. Today I am joined by Stacy Aguilar, a graphic designer who helps entrepreneurs with their branding and web design. We first talk about Stacy’s background in public policy, where she was focused on helping people but found she was super interested in design and the visual realm, but she didn’t know the best way to combine the two! Then she talks to us about how when she was working in ad agencies, and wanted to focus more on helping people, and took (what was at the time) her dream job as a graphic design teacher at an all girls private school.
While teaching she continued with side projects, including teaching courses and creating products, but realized its time consuming and hard to scale. We talk about the hard decision of making a leap to the unknown and the fear of it not working out. Stacy talks about how she reached out to her network to help her, how she finds boundaries through the struggles of working from home and how COVID affected her and her business. She finishes up with an AMAZING time management skill — one that you wouldn’t normally think of!
I love being able to speak with mothers who have skills that many of you may have, to help give you the confidence and tools to jump out on your own (or make it a side hustle) if you are thinking about it. Stacy’s stories is so common, which I hope gives that extra push to have faith and trust in yourself. Make sure to head to Stacy’s feed and page to learn more and connect with her!
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As a teacher-turned-entrepreneur and full-time mama to two little girls, Stacy Aguilar is no stranger to the balancing act that is running a business or side hustle! Stacy is best known for her bright, modern design aesthetic and her uncanny ability to knock out a project during nap time. Call it the educator in her (she taught middle schoolers for 5 years!), but she cares deeply about encouraging, championing, and empowering others to lean into their creative passions and get more of their meaningful work out into the world. She’s equipped countless leaders with the design strategy and support they need to chase their dreams with confidence—from design education to mentorship and custom design, Stacy helps educators, coaches, and course creators build profitable brands, create beautiful websites, and design sales pages that SELL!
Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first, I would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham, and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did. As the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans. I made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn into when I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos. Okay everybody welcome back to another episode of amidst the chaos. My name is Dana Graham and I am here with another special guest this week, here to tell her story all about how she became an entrepreneur amidst the chaos of her life. So welcome Stacy Aguilar is here to tell us all about her business and her story. So thanks for coming on.
Stacy: Of course. Thanks for having me. I’m excited.
Dana: Well give us just a quick overview of what your company does and what you do as of today, and then we’ll back all the way up to tell the story of how you got there.
Stacy: Yeah, so I am a graphic designer. I work with a lot of online entrepreneurs, especially a lot of teachers that have a teaching background and so I work with a lot of teachers who some are just starting their entrepreneurial journey, but a lot of them are course creators or coaches and have kind of shifted into that world. So I work with a lot of coaches and of course creators as well doing branding, web design, a lot of sales page design and things to help promote launches and programs and things like that.
Dana: It’s so awesome. And I you know, I know a little bit about you, but I’ve heard listeners to I don’t think I’ve mentioned several episodes but when I first started this podcast, I did a ton of research right and I would like go and I don’t know creepy everything about your life. I thought that was the job was the interviewer but for me, I then would forget that I knew things that you didn’t know, right that the listeners didn’t know like, because I had done all these deep dives. And so now what I do before engines episodes to crap just for anybody listening is you know, obviously we find you and we make sure that you’re a good fit for the podcast and I just heard a little bit about your story, but I usually don’t even follow on Instagram. I like look at your website one time. And that’s it because going into this conversation, how you got to where you are and your brand is so much a part of the conversation then if I already know those things, the audience really doesn’t understand how you’ve done that. Yeah, you’ve kind of sells it to me, wouldn’t it? So I found it to be much more beneficial for the listeners that way. That being said, I’m super pumped because when I started this podcast, one of the things I wanted to do is really find people who had service oriented businesses to highlight several, you know, lots of episodes on because not that you’re replaceable because you’re not at all but it is a replicable business. It’s something that someone would say, oh, like I actually do have a lot of those skills and a lot of that background like that’s really inspirational how she did this. Obviously, their business wouldn’t be the same as yours, but it is inspirational. To know that if you have a skill, you could go to business like there’s something that you could do to an offer to be successful. entrepreneur world.
Stacy: Absolutely. I’m always encouraged people that I meet and like, You should do that for business. Like I’m always telling my friends. Like that’s a really good skill you should rock it up or whatever. So I’m definitely with you.
Dana: I love it. Okay, so tell us about your life. So how did you get into this field? Like tell us all that before you became a graphic designer in a in a private capacity? What did your life look like career path wise?
Stacy: Yeah, so I I kind of took a little bit of a windy path for my career. I like to tell people I think I declared my major in college, like six or seven different majors. I was very non committal to what I wanted to do. That kind of reflected itself in my career journey. But I just had so many interests. I like so many things. So I went through college and then I ended up going to graduate school to study public policy, because I studied sociology and I wanted to have a career where I was helping people or kind of giving back in some capacity. So I went to school for public policy in New York. And while there, I started studying public policy educational policy, those are kind of the areas I narrowed in on but I was also really interested in design. And I like graphic design more of that like visual realm and there wasn’t like an obvious place for me to join those interests. And I’ve since discovered lots of opportunities for that crossover. But you know, when you’re trying to figure out a clear path, and sometimes there’s just not that clear path, right? Especially if you have your creative mindset with very entrepreneurial ideas and everything you kind of have to forge your own path. So while I was in New York, I started interning at some ad agencies and some mission minded kind of organizations thinking okay, maybe I’ll do communications and design for kind of a nonprofit or, you know, something like that, but I didn’t want to stay in New York long term. So I kind of was like, alright, well, I need to move back to Texas and where am I gonna land and you know, I moved back to Texas and started I just got a job with some ad agencies and I was kind of working in that space. And I liked it but I really still I’ve always had that feeling that I wanted to give to my work to be helping people that was kind of just like always in the back of my mind and you know ever advertising does but in the capacity that I wasn’t I wasn’t really enjoying that like ad lifespan that ad life I guess, advertising life and so I quit that and kind of didn’t know what I was going to do for a little bit and ended up just kind of honestly back ending into this amazing teaching opportunity. I was decided, Okay, I’m going to go into teaching. I really always loved teaching I’ve said educational policy and had a passion for education and wanted to kind of understand the classroom better. And so I ended up getting a job as a graphic design teacher at an all girls public school. With just really, so many of my boxes. Really, it was like, Yeah, inspirational educational design. It was really like this perfect opportunity. It was downtown like 10 minutes from where we lived in Fort Worth. And I could walk there sometimes it was wonderful. It was it was a perfect job. And so I did that for five years. I did that for for a couple years. And then I had my first kiddo. And then I ended up leaving after I had my will right before my second was born. So I was pregnant with my second and then the school year ended, and then I left the classroom. But yeah, that’s kind of my journey to teaching. And then throughout teaching, I always had a lot of like side projects and just always had stuff going on, like lots of projects and I started an Etsy shop when my first was born, and then ended up doing like workshops and just lots of things like that just very in the community and would do some freelance, particularly freelance gigs and stuff like that all in the design kind of world.
Dana: So is your Etsy shop at that time totally for design.
Stacy: No, it was totally separate. I do. I have like a lot of cuts. So I started which actually my Etsy shop was cool because it gave me an opportunity to learn to like promote my business and to really understand the online business space. That was the first time I really got a taste of running an online business networking. I got some wholesale opportunities from it. I was doing sewing like baby birth. The birth cloths you know the Yeah. Or, like teethers and things like that. So like baby stuff, you know, I had a baby and I was like, yeah. And so I got some connections with my local boutiques and kind of, you know, learn the life of small business owner. So that’s what I was doing. But then I I took a hard left turn and I was like, I want to start weaving because a weaving was really popular. Like I’ve always been the type of person who could I look at something was like, I think I could do that. And then I learned how to do it. And then a little bit later I’m like, Okay, now I think I can teach people how to do that. So then I started hosting workshops. And like in a local coffee shop, like pie shop you have, I would do weaving workshops, and then pensionable workshops, which is another kind of fiber arts thing. So for a lot of doing Etsy shop and do that creative path, but for anyone who has like a product based business, you know that it’s really time consuming. It takes a lot of effort to handcraft each one of those things, and I was like oh my gosh, cannot do this. Like I like doing this, but I’m gonna hate this eventually. And I wanted something that I could scale and so I just knew design was more of the scalable thing that I really enjoyed. So yeah, but I started focusing on design and that was kind of towards the end of my when I was thinking about leaving the classroom is when I was like okay, I really want to focus in on this space.
Dana: So during this whole time you started your family, your family was growing, how did all of your family members feel that you leave in the classroom like what came to that decision because I feel like leaving any job is hard, right? A lot of times like you are friends with your co workers like you have a commitment to the company like especially, you know, people who love their job, but just want to have a little bit more flexible time and a little bit more freedom, like it’s a hard decision to leave. So how is that conversation with your family members and for you personally?
Stacy: Yeah, so I’m sure if there’s teachers listening they they know like being a teacher and everything classroom there’s like an actual level of guilt involved in it’s, you don’t really feel like you’re you’re letting your school down in your students down and it’s hard. It’s really hard to decide to leave. I kind of get on my high horse about how teachers are treated and a lot of other things about the education system. I definitely think that teachers should be compensated more and treated with more respect and as professionals and lots of things. But there’s a lot of guilt leaving you felt like this is you’re on mission to help these kids and yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard decision. But at the time, I guess my daughter was one and a half so she didn’t have much input. My husband, you know, he was I think he was probably a little concerned just financially. Like can we do because I wasn’t it’s not like I was leaving for another. Like, I knew that I could shift to a full time, you know, home gig. It was just, I had a hunch that I could use my skills to bring in income is basically what when I was leaving, I was like I know that I have marketable skills. I’m going to networking, I know, I could do something in coding. And I remember having a conversation with my, like teacher bestie whoever in the hallway between classes or during off period or something. Because we were both kind of in a similar position. We were trying we were both pregnant actually. We were both considering leaving and we just remember having a conversation like basically not wanting to be afraid of what could be not staying just because we’re afraid of what could be out there. Because a lot I mean, my whole career has been kind of a series of random connections and random opportunities and like I never thought that I would be a teacher at our amazing all girls public school like unless that is going to happen you know and so right I feel like there’s a bit of faith involved and just like knowing it would work out or you know, this is a season of life. There just be a couple you know, if anything in four or five years ago back when my kids are in school, so it’s kind of a, let’s just see what happens. We knew that I had skills that I could use and if nothing else, I get this time with my kids, which is really what I was wanting.
Dana: So it’s so interesting that you say that about having faith that things are going to happen, how they happen, right and it’s so true, like to just say, okay, like, I know that like good things are gonna come and this is all for a purpose, but it doesn’t negate the fact that like you have to work hard. You know, make it happen and all the things that brought you to that amazing teaching opportunity. Like I’m sure you weren’t like just sitting in your living room watching, like Netflix, you know what I mean? Like you write putting yourself out there and, and making things happen too. And I think that there’s so much that goes into it behind the scenes and it’s a great combination of hard work and luck that make all those things happen. So when you are leaving and you’re trying to make this decision financially, I know that we’re people get held up and why didn’t their businesses never come to be because they don’t take that risk and make that leap and I love that you’re confident in yourself to know okay, I have these skills. I know I can make them work. But I know a lot of the reason for this was to spend more time with your kids ultimately. So we’re either kids in daycare, they obviously your daughter was when you buy my older one he was like I guess she was two and a half when my my youngest was born.
Stacy: So yeah, she was in full day preschool or whatever is called got it got it. So did you pull her out to be able to stay home or did you use that time to like, work work work like crazy? No, so that happened. So it worked out really well that my second was born like a week after school was out. So I took the summer to be with them and I think my oldest went to school like twice a week or something we should pursue a more of a Mother’s Day Out program. My oldest has been in some kind of daycare her whole life. You know, she’s always had something two or three day Mother’s Day out or something. And so, yeah, I spent like about two or three months just kind of being newborn mom. You know, shifting to the stay at home. Life to was a big change for me. Especially someone who was like, you know, it wasn’t like I didn’t want to leave the classroom to be homeless like I’m leaving the classroom to create my own business and my own way of life. Sorry, very motivated, right to have a business that worked for me, but I also knew I needed to pause and enjoy the newborn, you know, months. So I’ve got through the month of the summer and then but I felt like I was ready to kind of start working again. I reached out to a former client that I had done some stuff for and I was just like, hey, I just wanted to start a conversation. I didn’t even know she needed me to help her work but I was like, in the past I did some stuff with you. I’m you know, going to be home now and wanted to chat to see if there’s any opportunities, just kind of like reignite some old networking things and I’ve always tried to do that. I always just try to talk to whoever like just you never know what conversation may become right so even that person she had reached out to me initially to just create my baby goods, my Etsy shop stuff in her store. I’m talking with her later on. She was like oh, you actually have all these other skills that might be helpful. So like that Etsy shop, get shifted into my first like graphic design opportunity. Which is really cool. So I always just try to keep my you know, keep options open. And so I reached back out to her and said, Hey, I’m starting back and can’t remember or I’m you know, I’m shifting on the classroom. But if you remember my youngest went I don’t think she went to school at that. First year. I think I just worked during like the naptime hours and stuff like that. Or I did bring her with me sometimes because it was a very, like low key environment. I could bring her in like just stuff like that. So it was a nice.
Dana: Yeah, that’s great. So you spent that first year with your second child home, and how like, how did that work for you mentally? Like did you do okay with having to do all the things like I know that especially for someone who’s trying to go to business and not something that you really wanted to do? It can be really frustrating to be like, Oh my gosh, they only slept 45 minutes and this is supposed to be an hour and a half nap. Like I struggled with that to the point where I was like, Well, I’m just gonna wear him because he’ll sleep longer if I have him in the sling. And then it affected his sleep and that got me into a hole down into a spiral. So how did you manage actually building this business with a child home?
Stacy: Yeah, I feel like honestly that like frustration I feel more as they’ve gotten older, which I could speak to later but like in those early years, I felt like my youngest slept really great during the day my first and not she took like little 45 minute cat naps. It was awful. And so that really wouldn’t have been helpful, but my second would take like, ginormous three hour naps. So that really was nice. Yeah, yeah, that helped. And then eventually she stopped but I mean, she did that for a pretty good amount of time, so I was able to get some good work in in the beginning. I didn’t have a ton I’m getting out some the beginning didn’t have a ton of work. I mean, I just kind of I had a couple days a week that I did work for this one client and kind of was just getting my feet wet and I still have an Etsy shop at the time. So I just would kind of work when I could it was much more low key as I was getting going and you know, there was a there was definitely a shift mentally when she then went to school with her second when she had when I had like at least two dedicated days, you know, before COVID hit. Like there was like one year where they’re both in school and it was a little bit of time to sit focus. And then I eventually had a couple other clients. I did stuff for but both of these, all of those opportunities, were really understanding of your mom and you have your kids around and it was helpful that they were flexible, but at the same time just like what you’re saying it’s it’s really hard. I think that’s one of the hardest things is trying to work from home with kids is that mental struggle of wanting to get things done, but they’re meeting you and you’re like, Okay, go watch TV or whatever. And there’s like that struggle, but at the same time you’re like but I’m I chose to be home to like be raised. There’s skill involved and and so finding those right boundaries is extremely difficult. And I mean, I still struggle with it now. But nowadays, my girls, my oldest is in kindergarten, and then my youngest goes to Mother dad three days a week. So she’s there Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I tried really hard to just work in those days, those three days in the nine to three range, but still, I’m still long story short if I’m not mentally, like if I’m having not slept well or if I’m trying to cram too much in or if I’m setting improper expectations on myself, then I get frustrated. So it’s really just me being disciplined, which is hard because that there’s a lot of adulting involved. There’s just a lot but it’s more like setting proper expectations on myself with what I’ve accomplished in the timeframe in trying not to you’re so right so so beat up on myself if I can get it done.
Dana: No, it’s so true.
Stacy: Like I actually noticed that in the last probably the last two months like on the days where I have just way too much going on where I knew this was going to be way too much like I knew I was setting myself up for disaster either playing you know, procrastinating and having too much to do with last minute or just thinking oh no, we can fit that in, you know, two months prior when then you get to the time and you’re like, oh, no, no. Yeah, this is a disaster. And that’s when I am not as good mom. Like that’s when I take it out on them. And they didn’t do anything except for be loud. I mean, yeah, they’re good. So that’s kind of what they do. But you’re totally right. Like if I manage my expectations better and I sit down and think okay, what is a real expectation of our situation? What can we actually manage those days then I don’t have not frustrated with them. We have better days as a family you know, so it takes time like I want to encourage people out there kind of in that phase still, like it takes time for you to understand how long it takes you to do things. It takes time for you to put the right systems in place for like customer communication and like just your flow of work. So like it might feel chaotic for a little bit, but it will settle down. I feel like if you kind of just Yes, reflect on what’s working and give yourself more time than you think you need. Just like you know, it’ll settle down if you’re like in tune with what’s happening, but it is going to be a little bit frustrating at the beginning. As you’re figuring things out.
Dana: Yeah, absolutely. I I’m with you 100% there because it really is and when you don’t you don’t know how long something’s going to take. But then also like you are trying to build your business. You don’t say no to stuff at the beginning, which is also a problem that a lot of entrepreneurs have, but to be able to manage those expectations. And you know, get through that season of hustle like you really it really will even out eventually when you kind of can manage it a little bit better. Okay, so what happened? Tell me about COVID hitting like what happened with your family and your business? Like how did y’all get through that and how are you still getting through it? Because apparently it’s never gonna to ever end. We’re recording this like, the week after the overpriced interview.
Stacy: I know my daughter just got her vaccines. I was like, Yes, we’re getting there one day like the next week. It was amazing. Of course. Yeah. So let’s see. I’m not gonna like COVID is not great, obviously. But there was some shifts that happen during that season. That I feel like what? Well, yeah, I think a lot of it like, I mean, the obvious is that so many people shifted online or were shifting to online businesses. And so there is more flexibility, more connectedness more, you know, just lots of things benefiting folks who have online businesses is really what happens if I’m looking back. So my oldest you know, she neither of my kids are going to school anymore, and they’re just mothers out programs, but still, that was like, giving me like, check up on him. Yeah. And so, you know, my oldest is she’s very clever. She wants to be like, she’s like a sponge. She always needs to be she needed to be fed information. And so I needed to like figure out what to do with her. And so I ended up signing her up for a ton of our school classes, which are these like, it’s like an online classroom portal for kids and you can sign up for different classes and they vary from like educational to like fun stuff. And so we did a lot of those. And in the process, I was like, I should be doing this. So I started teaching again, on out school, like I started what I started teaching graphic design classes on our school. And so that’s awesome. You know, I kind of dusted off my old curriculum from when I taught or stuff that I had kind of worked on. And I had like some pretty lucrative months like I one summer month, that was like pretty good. And so it was kind of working again, and that was good, except my youngest started dropping her naps. And so it became increasingly difficult to do classes during that time. But what was cool about it was, it reconnected me with my teaching background and just my love of teaching, and I kind of rediscover or discover this whole world of teacher entrepreneurs. And this whole I don’t think it was such a big deal when I was teaching or maybe I just didn’t know about it, but there’s just like a huge community of teach entrepreneurs who have like, there’s this website called Teachers Pay Teachers who are allowed to sell their online like resources. And things and just all kinds of awesome things. So I kind of rediscovered my teaching background connected with a lot of teacher entrepreneurs. And then my business really took off at that point because I, I kind of found my niche finally, you know, as a graphic designer, there’s a lot of graphic designers out there you can be you can’t be everything to everyone. And so when I kind of started focusing on a certain group, and like having a passion towards teachers and educators like I have, it was just this perfect combination. And so I was able to network with a lot of amazing people and start doing work in that space and then and then just has, I’ve had more and more connections through that and lots of opportunities. So I kind of, I don’t feel like I would have ever I’m not sure that would have ever happened if COVID Wasn’t the COVID Right. So it’s kind of interesting is like thing and so there was definitely difficult days trying to get things done while they were home and we tried to do quiet time like people say, But that quickly devolved socially when I was doing social when I was doing my out school classes where I really needed them to be quiet. And so I put them watch TV and stuff. And then that would just become lots of television and I’m very much pro television and it’s just it got to a point where I was like okay, cool. figured this out. And so that was more on me having to shift my workflow to like, yeah, it’s just a constant balancing act, right?
Dana: It totally is.
Stacy: But yeah, so that’s kind of how COVID impacted.
Dana: So with COVID happening, and obviously you’re a graphic designer, you build websites, you build brands, like have you seen so many people like starting brand new from scratch businesses like they are just starting and they’re looking to you to build up their site or has it been more businesses who had a business prior to COVID. But then you did pivot like tell me a little bit more about your clientele in the past. I don’t know 18 months? Yeah.
Stacy: So well to be 100% of a lot of teachers who are like I don’t want to go back to the classroom or were struggling with that decision or who were in the classroom and they’re just like, I need a shift or or just like a lot of people that I work with, like, their online job was kind of their passion project and they wanted to do that more because that’s where they really felt comfortable and happy and, and, you know, also with teachers, they don’t make a lot of money in the states and so they wanted to have another financial, you know, stream and so it was a lot of people. I have a membership goes well right now and it focuses on like supporting teachers in the basic design, like very beginning like design principles and how to how to like, design better so that you can really position yourself professionally online. And so that’s kind of where I help a lot of like people starting out just a lot of like education around design, because that’s my background. It’s right teaching how to design and so I’m ready to help people feel more confident designing for their business. So that’s one aspect of people who are getting started it’s just supporting them in that journey of you know, maybe you can’t hire someone at the higher level but you you want to start a business and so I provide a lot of educational opportunities and things to help people feel more confident designing for themselves. And then a lot of the folks who I do like the branding and the sales page design and that kind of stuff, like a lot of those clients were ones who had an online business and it was doing well especially during COVID. And then they started really leaning in to their courses and wanting to scale and so they’re at a point where okay, I already have my passive stuff going on. Now I want to like, you know, turn it up, like let’s throw fire on or was the phrase turn? I don’t know, maybe maybe get bigger and scale it you know, just, you know, so that’s kind of the two main audiences.
Dana: I love that. I think that you know, like you said, COVID made everybody really aware of what the online market had offering and there are so many people out there who really took advantage of the situation I think people were kind of a shell shock at first, but now there’s been so many more opportunities for small businesses and online small businesses to really grow. I think this past like, you know, crazy Black Friday, Cyber Monday, whatever all the deals that are happening. I know so many more small businesses promoted than I ever have, and not not just because people are like Oh, small business, but because it’s so much more accessible and with all the supply issues and getting things to you like to have a small business that it’s on something online that you can go ahead and have in your inbox immediately or it’s something that you know, is easily shipped from not so far away because it’s a small business in the seats. I think it’s been really great for so many small businesses, especially just in this past even even in the past six months, even when we thought we were going to kind of come out of it and then just kidding. Well, and there’s a lot of things that have happened just culture like oh, like a lot of thing was just like people being more comfortable on Zoom are people like them. It’s not confusing, like most people know how to use this technology now. And so, like my, one of my clients is a fitness coach. Like in the past, people may have been hesitant to engage with a fitness coach online because they’re like, How the heck are you going to help me but now she has she does online, like zoom sessions with them, and she can contact them through her app, and she does all this stuff, you know, remotely. And I just think there’s a lot of things that have happened during COVID that has shifted people’s mindsets towards, you know, opportunities online and stuff like that. So that’s been pretty Yeah, and it widens your net a ton. I mean, it makes it so much easier for you to find like minded people that really not only want but value your services and value what you have to offer because your geographical area is only going to give you so many people that really fit your ideal client right and so as a as any sort of content creator or service based business, finding your people and the people that value what you do and really love what you have to offer is difficult. I mean, it’s difficult when you’re working in only a geographical location. But if you can, then take that and when you use the internet to meet new people, it’s amazing. And also it’s not weird to just message somebody on Instagram anymore. That you don’t know. That’s not that we’re not necessarily your services but just to say hi or be like could connect and we could be friends you know? Yeah, kind of tell that with with you know, especially places like Instagram, you can realize that I might have been friends with you if we’d ever lived or cross paths anywhere close to each other. So I think just having accessibility and being able to find clients that are actually who you want to be working with, you know, you’re the prime example you found all these teachers and you’re able to use everything from your past in one place. So talk to me about how you are managing your time. Like how are you managing all these things? And managing it with small kids because your kids are so small, like what are some top tips you have in that department?
Stacy: Well, I think it’s still it’s still you know, work in progress. But I do think that over the past like six months or so I’ve really been doing a lot of working with like creating systems in my workflow like just trying to create I use honey book is my and I know you do as well as my client management system. And that’s really I just started recently using templates for emails and stuff and like questionnaires and things that you use on a very regular basis. Setting up those kinds of systems are really helpful and really kind of the SOPs, right the standard operating like your how you how you do things, right, just kind of trying to really lock down I’m kind of obsessed with observing. This is kind of a tip I was gonna say earlier for people starting out like, I always observe how people run their businesses, like just even like how to set up a talk with somebody like their process for it. It’s like, oh, they use Calendly but then it rerouted to here. Like I’m always like, looking at the URLs to kind of figure it out, you know, just to see if I can improve my systems. I’m always trying to like figure out ways to make it easier and better. And so I’ve been doing that a lot over the past six months to try to just save time where I can and then this is what I kind of sound weird, but I’ve raised my prices to a point where I feel like I’m not having to do so much work to like, you know, it’s taken a while to feel confident in that especially I feel like as a small business person or someone who’s like, Oh, it’s just a side hustle or I was a teacher and this is just like a thing I do now like it’s kind of a mental it’s a mental thing to be able to feel comfortable charging what like is the going rate or like what’s comparable to other people? Right? And I feel like that might be a weird thing to talk about for like time management, but I think if you’re doing try to do five projects at x rate or Yeah, charge higher do one project that just saves you time, you know, so figuring out that right balance for you and your business is big. I’ve tried lots of systems like Asana or other like tools, but I honestly just go to my notes a lot. I have a good notes app, and I just make every day I make a list like what has happened is every week I make a list of the week like Monday when Monday Tuesday was a Good Friday. And I just kind of move things around I just had I have a notes thing that I keep track of I look at my calendar for the week and then I kind of put it into my notes and that’s kind of where I do my running like throughout the week. I kind of shift things around. But it comes down to it. Like I said, try not to put too much in one day setting proper expectations. I’m notorious for working really late into the night like 130 in the morning. I’m a big night owl. Yep. But But I also know that I think that as I’m getting older my body doesn’t like when I do that because I yeah I will get sick if I do that too much. I used to not but now like oh, I will start it will it won’t work. So I have also like figured out I need to just manage my time but like yeah, in part of also raising pricing is that also creating enough space between your projects and like really understanding what it takes to accomplish things so that you’re not scrambling all the time to try to get things done and then getting mad at your kids and all the stuff like it’s a lot of just like taking a breath and giving yourself the space to do your work well. I feel like that is a huge part of time management is just giving yourself space. If you can I know at the beginning you’re trying to hustle and do everything possible. Yeah. But I think once you can get past that and just be comfortably like yeah, I would love to do that for you. I can do that. You know in three weeks, like let’s get by on the calendar and like give me don’t be like Oh yeah, I’m going to do that in like, three days knowing that that’s gonna stress you out, like, be honest. And I think when you are confident in what you say in your presence and all that, like people will respect you as a professional more, versus somebody that they can just kind of walk over. Yep. So I don’t know about other professions. But in the graphic design world you could definitely be either the pixel pusher that’s what people say like, just do this do this and I want like this and like being told what to do versus like coming in and like the person who’s like, No, I know what I’m talking about. And this is the time I’m we’re gonna follow and this is the process and, you know, so kind of coming confidently into that on your timeline in a way that you know, you can do it well, in a healthy mindset and all of that. Yes. And positioning yourself as the expert makes the whole conversation so much different with a client than just saying, oh, yeah, I can get that done. You know, of course I could do it. I can do it by tomorrow. I can I can understand the other like, it is so much more appropriate to come in a situation as the expert even if you don’t know that you are for sure. You know, yeah, you don’t feel like you are. I promise if they’re coming to you for help you know more about the situation than they do. When you’re getting started. You can just say like create like, Okay, I’m all about vacancy make it like Oh, yeah. Like if someone approaches you to do a project, like yes, I would love to let’s talk I get your email and then I’ll send out a follow up so we can map out a proper timeline. Like you don’t have to just be like, yes, that looks fantastic. Let’s you know, just maybe even have like a contact for me. Like I would just say like for all my clients, even if they’re your first say for all my clients, I direct them to my contacts. Okay, please fill this out. And I’ll get back to you 24 hours with a timeline and next steps. Something as simple as that. It’s like, you’re more professional, you know, even if you do yes, it gives you a second to catch your breath and you’re like, Okay, what realistically can I do instead of just immediately emailing back, you can always immediately email back saying exactly what you did like give me 48 hours and we’ll get you know, have all the details to you, you know, communication and some kind of system that gives you the space to like, manage your time better. And I’ll also say my other tip is order groceries when you can and do to drive through pickup. That’s another thing about COVID that I really have liked as I always would say, I just wish that everyone would do like curbside delivery so I didn’t have to get out of the car with kids. And now I’ve I’ve been saying that since my daughter was born. I was like why isn’t everything a drive thru? Like why isn’t it a drive thru? I don’t get it.
Dana: It’s funny in Turkey in Ankara, at least not that I found I don’t know there for like three minutes but you don’t drive through anything. Like there’s no drive thru fast food there’s no drive thru for others I know Americans Yes, however there is delivery there’s insane delivery and it’s fast like you get it but you can deliver any cheap like you can get something delivered but for me like sometimes the drive thru the pickup the groceries or even just a drive thru like AAA, especially during COVID When we were really locked down and we really like this is our activities. Do you have like a video chip like we’re gonna get ice cream because that’s what we will do today. I know and I you know, we’ve had a couple of days with adjusting to the international germs. It’s been really and my kids were not in preschool for the whole COVID year in the States. Their preschool shut down. And so they’re now my son’s never been to preschool ever and he’s always had a babysitter or a nanny and so he’s ever been around a ton of other talk. He’s just this poor kid just getting Oh yeah, just say an attack because like, you know, again, so many sick days. It has several sick days and there’s nowhere to dry to just, you know, you don’t care. So I do I do appreciate I’m like I’m also going to look away and I will pick like no we’re using the drive thru here to marry Yeah, like that’s a week. But yeah, I am with you in that like leaking anything easier and it is hard. And I will say like the trade off. My business isn’t bringing on enough money to justify extra daycare or to justify extra hours with a sitter or to justify the and now they’re really Facebook for their word grocery delivery fees like for me like finding that line of what is going to be the most bang for my buck of like which of these tricks is going to be most cost effective for me that isn’t pulling a ton of a ton of money away from us without it with really no reward business wise. Right? And I agree like the grocery pickup the grocery ordering definitely doesn’t and then you save money too because you’re not wandering the aisles aimlessly. Yeah, yeah. Is there any are there any other tips of like, so where does that line for you like how did you when you’re first starting out and building your income and building your business in general and also in education? Like what do you recommend for your students? Like how do you justify making expenditures to be able to better your business like what? on a on a small business level talking about that?
Stacy: So there’s a lot of free resources you can use, like I really think you can. Canva is a huge design resource, right? I do recommend getting the Camera Pro. It’s only like $12 a month. It’s one of the most important things I think you can invest in for your business. But even if you do the free one, you can do some really simple designs. Like I mean you can do a lot in Canva for free. And then I would just say it depends on what you’re doing. Some things are gonna have more upfront costs if you’re doing like a product based business, right? But if you’re doing a services based business, you can really do a lot you can what I would say if you’re trying to get started is either you know, ask whatever. I think, honestly, what you need to do is try to get clients right, if you’re trying to you’re trying to get clients and trying to get some sort of steady income. You want to get some clients and to do that there’s some minimal things I think you should do for your like online. Online brand. I think having an online like an Instagram account or someone where you can showcase your knowledge and your your work and stuff like that as important. I think the missing like Canva so you can make some simple designs and things to showcase what you have. You can make a website on Canva for free. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it because you can’t like know now, that’s a new thing. And they look good actually. But you can’t like have your own URL and you can’t like your email like it. There’s some workarounds. But, you know, minimum you could like have an Instagram account for free. You can use blow desk as an email system that’s like now they raise their price to like 38 a month but that’s still really affordable for an email system. And then you could just have you can do a landing page for like a free resource and start building your email list. So then you can start emailing clients like I think that ultimately narrow in on the main things that you need to do to get money. This kind of does sound a little like cutthroat but like what are the what do you really need to do to start cultivating an audience is to get those first clients and then once you kind of get that moving then you can kind of like okay, well in our word I want to invest in you know, some of its going to be you know, a little bit of a you’re investing in something so you might not have the whole like if you can pay it all out of pocket and that one time that’s great for you might be investing in something like a course or program. You just need to kind of be comfortable with the wind loss, like just kind of, you know, don’t go in over your head, but at some point, you know, like I invested in a coach this year. And that was a really big decision for me to do that. But I do think ultimately it paid off and you know, but that was a big decision. And so you’re just kind of you have to kind of decide for yourself where that line is but also there are some simple things that you can do to try to get those initial clients and I would say one thing is you need to have as much social proof and referrals as possible. And so I would say you know, do some projects, I’m going to say for free, but if you have to like some free stuff for like friends just to get some initial social proof and by social proof, I mean like people saying like oh my gosh, it’s been so great to work with you and just kind of you know, I always telling people, if someone says anything nice about you at all ever online, take a screenshot of it and say like, it doesn’t matter what they’re saying, like they can just be like, Oh my God, you’re awesome, like, screenshot that and save it. And then yes, later on, use that in promotional graphics, your website, emails, anything, but you’re wanting to try to build that initial. It’s like a snowball effect, right? But you want to build that initial kind of database of people talking good things about you and referral and it’s gonna be word of mouth at the beginning and we got once you kind of get that moving then kind of decide, okay, well, what do I need to invest in next, like what are the what’s the skill that I want to learn now? Like at one point, I wanted to get better at sales calls. I was not really comfortable about pitching in so I knew I wanted to invest in that so I’m really kind of narrowing on certain skills that you want to get better at.
Dana: Yes, and I love what you said like in the very beginning about like, picking it by the things that are going to make you enough money because then you’re going to be able to invest in the other things like if you pick up things to better your business like courses or any kind of education that you’re paying for, if it is something that you eventually will need in your business but isn’t actually helping you in the present to gain your mind that is going to debt that’s going to debt and you really quickly like that is doing what’s going to end you pretty fast. So making sure that when you’re making a purchase for a course or for your business or a tool, it’s going to be something that you’re going to use right away. That’s going to make your business better judgment and don’t just buy it because it’s on sale. Right. I’m a total like a course like Black Friday like yeah, yes, yes, yes. 100% That’s the i My husband says you could sell me sand on a beach. So I just I’ve learned from experience like do not buy just because it’s on sale and we’ll come back around if you need it for your business right away then absolutely. But I love that that’s it’s so true that you have to think about it that way like finances first too.
Stacy: And that’s hard for creatives. It’s hard. Yes. When you’re like, Okay, if someone’s really good at their sales page, and they’re pitching, you’re like, oh my gosh, I do need this right now. So you know, you need to realize they’re like they know that they’re talking to you. They know that they’re, you know, I do a lot of sales page design and work and you know, the whole point of the sales page is to talk into your pain points into what you struggle with. And so, you know, I don’t want to get you you’re not ready for her but I’m like, let me get me here. I want to do want to say to like going back to the time management thing. I used to spend a lot of time on stuff that wasn’t making me money. Like example, my social media Instagram account like I I really like for my account to be pretty. And so I spent a lot of time creating things to make it look nice. And that’s not a bad thing, especially if you have like a visual business. But I think if I’m sitting down and during work, and I look at what I need to do that day, I need to do the things that are going to be most likely to generate income first. And not that like it’s okay if I don’t post every day if instead I’m getting out a proposal, or you know, or it’s okay if I’m not posting more than three days a week. But then last but if I’m instead spending time really understanding my messaging and on speaking to and crafting really good content that sets me up as a thought leader in educating my audience. That’s time better spent. So really thinking about your how you’re spending your time. What are the tasks that you’re doing? That’s generating revenue? I think that’s an important thing too. I love that. Yeah. And then you start falling like this is just happened to be like, in the past couple of months. I had started following like social media managers and marketers and then they’re in your head being like, hey, you haven’t posted today? Like, that’s gonna make you money. You know, I’m so funny. Yeah, exactly right. But then just like they’re trying to sell something, do you know so you have to be really focused and like, stay off the internet like as much? Because honestly, like there’s always somebody out there that’s gonna be telling you whatever choice you made, they have a better one right?
Dana: What do you have for I do have two other two other texts? I was making sure
Stacy: Yeah, please. Like, I should have made a list in my head better. I love one thing that I one thing I did start doing was I tried to keep my email tabs closed when I’m working. I don’t like to have any email unread on that person, you know their views of the person that’s like 45,000 emails unread, or like zero emails. Yeah, I’m the zero. And so I’ll just come from like, open open response. And so I have to keep that close. And then to be honest, if I open it like 30 minutes later, and I have a bunch of emails, oh my gosh, I’m so killer, but it’s mostly junk. It’s mostly junky with the confidence because two people are like contacting me. But then the other thing that I’ll do, I do this often if I’m like, struggling to get started on something, I’ll just start very small aspect of it. So like say I’m trying to start like a new project proposal or like a brand strategy doc or whatever it is, if I don’t want to work on it, but I know I need to get started. I’ll just like create the document and like get it started. And maybe I’ll do one step like I’ll put the color palette together, or just like kind of the initial like title it whatever it is. A very small effect. Or for you maybe it’s like okay, I’m going to get my folder setup, so that I can download the pictures. Yeah, like that. Just a very small aspect that will help you get past that hurdle of like, yeah, getting it starting.
Dana: Yeah, I love that. Again, the snowball effect because then you can like just jump in the next day and you don’t have that hang up. So those are a couple of things that started No, that’s those are really, really helpful. And I think so important when you’re first starting and you’re like, It’s that constant struggle of like, okay, what’s the most important like, where do I start? Which ones are going to because I have all these things that I feel are the most important and especially when you don’t have your website up yet and you’re now you’re starting your email lesson you have all those beginning things like also know that the sun does shine again, like yeah, we’ll be like it comes back around. So Stacey, thank you so so much for doing this and it’s gonna be so helpful for so many people. And again, like I said, like graphic designers it’s such a place for so many creatives that you can hop right in and really invest in to get education and and get a business off the ground. So I love that you shared your insight. Tell us where we could find you your website, social media, all that.
Stacy:Yep, so I’m most active on Instagram and you can find me at Staceyaguilar.com. So Stacy, I go on Instagram and then the same thing for my website.
Dana: Yes, that makes it so easy. I love I love when we got all the things in one place.
Stacy: Yeah, it’s always a good tip when you are starting a business is to try to make sure that all of those handles and things are consistent if you can help.
Dana:I love it. I will thank you so much. And we will talk to you soon.
Dana: I am so honored. You spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos and any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you heard any more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidstthechaospodcast.com For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired to me and my family if you take the time to Thanks for joining me, Amidst the Chaos.
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