Hey goal achievers, Kristin here! Recently, I had a conversation with Macey Miller, the incredible woman behind my brand, on Elite Achievement. Macey is an expert in branding, website and design. She has been in business for two and a half years and she and her husband Blake are welcoming their first baby this January.
Macey and I immediately jump in with shared excitement to “nerd out” and talk all things branding, websites and businesses. I always get fired up when Macey and I have calls together. She keeps me in check and is exceptional with helping her clients focus on one thing at a time, in order.
Macey responds that focusing sometimes means going slower, but there is value in doing one thing at a time then slowly building from there. And shares that it is the same process she used to build her business, Be Bold Design Studio. I ask her to talk more about the journey of starting her brand.
“I was somebody who never wanted to be an entrepreneur with my own small business,” Macey begins. “Heck, no, that sounds stressful, I thought. I’m too nervous of a person to do that. And, here I am two and a half years later! I started my own business in March of 2018 and I officially went full time in September of 2018. It took me about six months to get up off the ground and establish savings and a consistent clientele. Before that, I was in various marketing positions, so I have extensive experience in the professional agency world as a graphic designer. I also have experience in the b2b world as a marketing manager. Those positions really played with the left side of my brain. But I realized that as I was working full time for these people, doing their marketing, getting leads, and designing, that I needed to play with the other side of my brain – the right side of my brain. I always say that I was made to create, and I just needed to be creative. So, I used friends, family and acquaintances for my inspiration and started doing small websites and branding. And slowly, it just kind of picked up from word of mouth to the point to where I was like, maybe I should have a website. And then, maybe I should make this official and tell the world. It went fast – six months is pretty fast to go full time – but it’s literally my dream job. And I could not imagine doing anything else now.”
As I listen to Macey, I can hear the passion in her voice as she talks about her work and the impact she makes with clients. And I’m curious how she overcame the initial nervousness to become an entrepreneur, even when she didn’t consider herself one. I ask her to share more on how she worked through those nerves to get to where she is today.
“Honestly?” Macey starts. “I shoved them down. I think the most nerve-wracking day in my business was when I posted on my personal Facebook that I had a business. I was so afraid of judgment. Two and a half years later, I have a little bit more perspective. I’m proud of myself! I proved that I could do this and I’m making about 30% more than I made in a salary position – and that’s expected to grow! And I have freedom. I’m working half as much as I did in a corporate job and I get to really establish goals for the future. There’s so much more freedom that I have now. For example, my husband and I just went on a four-day trip, where we spent as much time as possible outside, on the beach, on a boat, and that would have been impossible before because we planned with less than two weeks’ notice. So really, I shoved the nerves down, and I just did it. I used Mel Robbins Five Second Rule, 54321, and announced the freaking website! I also understand and have a really solid why, which helped beat my nerves. Because if I could see that by conquering this fear, I could have all these positive things in my life – then like, why the heck not?”
I love Macey’s explanation! We all have an opportunity to shove those nerves down a little bit further. I go back to the wonderful trip she mentioned with the hubs and am curious how they are getting ready to welcome a new baby. Specifically, how she plans to manage a new business that is growing rapidly while shifting business perspectives and priorities to welcome their first child.
Macey shares that it completely rocked their world because their daughter wasn’t planned. “But,” she says, I realize that it’s rocked our world in the best way possible. It’s shaken me out of some really bad habits and made me take a step back in my business and look at some of the habits I had and what my priorities are. Because when you work for yourself, it’s so easy to work all the time. I found myself working 10 hour days and taking on job after job because I enjoy it so much! But I was working myself into the ground. And there was a bottleneck going on in my business where it was just me doing things. When I found out that I was pregnant, I actually had a very rough first trimester. Between exhaustion and all-day nausea, I could barely work on a computer. And that lasted about eight weeks. And so that shift, from working 10 hour days to two hours, at most, actually made me more productive. Because one it was like, okay, what do I really have to get done today? And then it shifted my priorities. Because now that we have a child coming, a family is becoming so important to me. And I realize that I can’t keep up at this pace. In my business, if I want to spend more time with the family and take maternity leave or take care of our child part-time that’s a different lifestyle. Decisions are going to have to be made. I was operating my business as a one-woman show and it changed that too. I do think everything happens for a reason and I’m so thankful for this. But yeah, the first trimester was pretty rough mentally and physically.
Macey’s experience takes me back to when I was pregnant with Scarlett. I remember questioning what business would be like when she was here. At the time, I was in a corporate role, and I wondered if I would still be able to get ahead and maintain the same level of respect and ambition. Pregnancy creates a lot of mindset questions and curiosity.
For people like us, the most difficult part is that uncertainty. We love details. We love plans; we love agendas. I have definitely grown as a mama and motherhood is absolutely a journey, just like building a business is a journey. But as I’ve grown, I have learned to give myself more grace. As Macey is experiencing, priorities become clearer and you work with a lot more intention. I’ve figured out my work and my family is truly an integration – it is difficult to separate the two of them. So I’m excited to follow Macey’s journey as she welcomes this new little baby! How awesome that another fierce woman is going to be coming into this world.
I shift gears to talk specifically about Macey’s business. She works with a lot of clients, establishing a brand, creating their social media presence and building websites, so I ask her how she thinks we can be more consistent with our brands.
“Branding can be hard to define because it’s such a big word. It is not just a logo, colors and fonts. Branding actually begins from the very first touchpoint that a customer or client has with you. How you interact with that client, to the way that your copywriting is on your social media. Branding is really the entire experience that a client or customer goes through. The best example that I have for that is the difference you feel when you walk into Target versus Walmart. When you walk into Target, there are friendly faces that are smiling. Target has such a strong training program, and the colors are positioned in a certain way, the layout is designed a certain way. That entire experience is branding. So, when we ask how do I have a consistent brand, there are things that you can say and processes that you can put into place without even investing in a professional designer. That creates consistency within your brand.”
In some of my early conversations with Macey, as we were establishing my brand, I remember powerful lessons she taught me around content creation. One of the lessons was that you don’t always have to create new content. It can be really powerful if you have a couple of key messages or key ideas that you continuously promote because there will always be new followers. I ask her to talk a little bit more about continuously promoting your brand and showing up with those consistent messages.
“One of the questions that I ask my clients is a very general life focus question. It is simply, what do you want to be known for? What do you want your business to be known for? For me, that is design/branding, website design, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Those four pillars guide any kind of content or social media creation that I do. When you go to my Instagram or my website, you’re going to notice that the content there is very focused because it taps into those four different pillars. And it’s important to do that because by creating consistency, and only talking about those four pillars, and everything that has to do with them, you become an authority in that space. You start to build credibility and be seen as an expert. That is the goal when we’re trying to convert clients and customers. We have to establish you as an authority in your space so that the client has 100% confidence in you. Once you jump on that phone call with them, you don’t even need to sell yourself because it’s already been sold. Consistency can really create authority.”
I love this concept of consistency creating authority and I am curious how Macey would recommend identifying those four pillars, especially for people who are newer in their entrepreneurial journey. I ask her to share any strategies for figuring out what messages I want to put out in the world consistently.
“You have to take an inventory and it takes some time to reflect,” Macey starts. First of all, what is your business? That can be a hard thing for people to decide. I have some clients who come to me and they’re like, I’m a podcaster, blogger, coach, speaker and I own master classes. And I’m like, whoa! So, I ask, how can you sum up your business and what you do in one sentence or less? For example, I am a brand and website designer for female entrepreneurs.”
She asks me to sum up my business and I share that I am a goal achievement coach for individuals who want to achieve breakout performances. Macey explains that when you create that mission statement, it becomes a beacon for everything else you do.
“Number one is figuring out your mission statement,” she says. “And then number two, what is the vision that you have for your business? Where do you see yourself in five years? And actually, in my plan, I saw myself as a part-time mom and a part-time business owner. So, she came a little early, but that was in my plan. Asking where you see your business in five years is super powerful because it also helps guide you on any decision you want to make for your business. And then the third key question is, who do you want to serve? And I’m going to be a little bit tough, but you can’t serve everybody. There are certain clients that I have to turn away because they aren’t the right fit for me. But I know that the clients I do say yes to, I can give 110%! I’m going to serve them fully, and they’re going to be so happy with our services.”
This is a critical talking point and I pause to go deeper. I work with a lot of small business owners, and some of them are in the newer phases of building their business. And they have this belief or mindset that they have to serve everyone. I know it’s hard to say no, so I ask Macey how she got comfortable as an entrepreneur herself, saying no to clients that didn’t align with her ideal client profile.
Macey acknowledges the difficulty, especially because, as new entrepreneurs, money can be hard to turn down. “I realized where I find the most joy is when I can take my client from a blank canvas to a fully established brand and website – the full package,” says Macey. “And so, I had to get comfortable with saying no, and sometimes that upsets people, or sometimes they don’t understand. But I knew that if I could get the exact amount of clients I want with my key package, it would make me more money and get me closer to my goals. So, I was guided by money, but just in a different sense.”
As Macey talks, I recognize that she figured out where the big-ticket items were coming from and how to replicate more of that work that drives revenue and energizes her.
“Exactly!” she confirms. “Once you figure out that key component, it can still be hard to say no, but you have to trust in yourself and in your business because it does take time.”
I’m curious, now that Macey has been in her business for a couple of years, about the times when she had doubt in her business. I ask her how she worked through negative mental narratives to stay consistently focused on the activities necessary to grow her business.
“So,” Macey starts with a smile. “You’re asking how the heck did I get off the LinkedIn part-time jobs page? How did I quit thinking about going back to something easier? Because I definitely had a few days like that. The biggest thing that helped was going back to what I love the most about my job, which is my clients, designing and the creative side of things. When I started questioning whether or not this was worth it, I would take a look at what I had done already in that previous year, to see all the wins that I’ve had before. Then, taking a look at the testimonials that I had received and the impact that I had been able to create with my clients. That was a big factor. And honestly, taking a break. Usually, when I wanted to quit, it was because I was overwhelmed. And I never want to be overwhelmed in my business. I always want to come from a place of peaceful productivity. Whenever I would question whether I was suited for this, it was usually because I was stressed, wasn’t making enough money, or I upset a client. All of which happens. And so, a lot of times, I would take a break, and I’d close up my computer for the day. Nothing is that urgent. I’d go on a walk. I’d go see a movie. And then I would begin the next day with a fresh start. I’d have my favorite cup of coffee, open up that laptop, and get back to work. The best advice that I have for any entrepreneur is do not quit, keep pushing through and be patient. Because you will be able to reap the rewards of your hard work.”
Consistency is such a critical component. I know that so many times, as entrepreneurs, we might want to stop, or we don’t see the results right away. And it sounds like great advice from Macey. When you feel frustration, that’s a trigger to take a break. She is a great example of discipline to take an afternoon or a day off versus letting that break turn into weeks or months. It is so important to understand how we tick, what gives us energy and how we can get back to our mission and serve clients.
I ask Macey to share more about her clientele since she mentioned working with female entrepreneurs. I’m interested to learn from her perspective what things we do that hinder our progress and what we should avoid as we’re building our brand.
“I think the lack of confidence,” Macey shares. “So many times, we’re afraid to go with something. I was talking with a client today and she couldn’t decide between two lead magnets. They were both amazing ideas, so I was like – just start, just go! Many times, it’s like, I can’t post consistently on social media, because I’m going to seem annoying or I can’t do this one lead magnet because somebody else has already done it. There are so many limiting beliefs that we encounter. And yet, I’ve noticed that most females who see other females doing the work have this form of respect. So, I don’t know why we’re so worried about what other people think of us. I’m speaking from my own experience. Once I got over myself and just started posting on Instagram, I realized there was a reaction and I was getting engagement. I was hearing from people! And, you know, they were listening to what I had to say, which I would have never known or realized if I hadn’t started.”
I am so glad Macey took us to the topic of confidence because it is one of my favorite talking points. I remember the first time I posted an Instagram story. I recorded and deleted and recorded and deleted. And now I’ve gotten to a point where I just start posting and putting it out there. And the more that I’ve shown up as imperfect, the easier it becomes.
“It does,” says Macey. “I had to really give myself a rule. I had to say, okay, I need to post three stories. And I need to freaking talk. Because it is super important when you’re in social media marketing for people to see your face. They’re investing a lot of money into you. It can be an inhibitor if they don’t know what you talk like or what your personality is. And so, I definitely would be like, okay, I’m going to post one story today. And I’m going to do it three times this week. Start off slow – you don’t have to go guns blazing and launch a website, post ten blogs, and then be consistent on stories and Instagram posts and Facebook. Just focus on one little thing that you can do and do it well. Once you’ve got the hang of it, add to that, and then that can really help create consistency.”
I smile and realize that Macey is speaking to my soul! I remember a lot of our early convos when I wanted a website, great social content, a blog, a podcast and 1,000 clients. Macey was there to say, “Kristin, simmer down” when I needed it. I think it goes back to something many women struggle with, an all or nothing mindset. I either do all the social posts, or I don’t have a social media strategy. Macey has helped me stay very grounded and come from a place of focusing on progress, not perfection. I ask her to share how she arrived at this space in her business and avoid the all or nothing mentality.
“I found what works for me in my business and I’ve slowly tried one thing after the other. I’ve been on Facebook. I went on Instagram. I tried Pinterest. I slowly added each one of those on and watched how they performed. I then analyzed every quarter and realized which ones performed the best. I then pivoted and focused on only those. One thing for me this year was my Instagram. I thought I wasn’t getting any clientele from it. But then I realized, no, I do get clients from it. I just haven’t been consistent. So, I hired a social media manager because I had the bandwidth in my finances to do so. I wanted to test it out. Well, she’s been amazing. She’s made me about $10,000 in three months. And so, knowing okay, this works, I can now hand her over the reins – same thing with Pinterest. I did Pinterest myself for two and a half years. But once I saw that it really worked, I focused all of my efforts on Pinterest. So, I think starting one thing at a time, so that you can evaluate and see what works best is better than an all or nothing mentality. Because if you do the all or nothing method and you do everything at once, how do you know what worked?”
As Macey shares, I think how what she is saying applies to my business. We believe we have to be experts at all the things right out of the gate, which doesn’t serve us well. We feel overwhelmed. We constantly feel behind. And to her point, we have so many irons in the fire, we can’t figure out which one is driving revenue or getting us clients. There is such value in taking a deep breath, picking one focus, going deep on that focus and doing it consistently over time. And if it works, great! Layer on a new focus. And if it doesn’t, pivot!
As we wrap up our incredibly insightful conversation, I reflect on talking about being a mom, establishing a brand and ask Macey what she is most excited to accomplish this year.
“I am most excited to start a small team and establish a form of passive income through my template shop,” she says. “By doing these, I will be able to take maternity leave and not have a ginormous pay cut. I’ll be able to keep my business running on autopilot while I’m not there.”
Her response inspires another question. Because when you’re expecting and planning for maternity leave as a business owner, it’s different than if you’re working a corporate job. So, I ask her to share some of the other strategies or ideas she is working on to pause her business and enjoy maternity leave.
“So, one thing I did, and I’m not sure if this is abnormal,” she starts. “But baby girl is due at the end of January and Christmas is less than a month apart from her, so I am actually stopping all client work at Christmas. And I’m going to focus solely on my business and creating content so that while I’m gone, whether it’s you know, two months, three months, four months, heck six months, I have that content in place so I can ease back into my business whenever I please. Another thing I’ve done to help me ease into my business is I’ve slowly started to add team members to my business. I said earlier, I added an Instagram marketing manager to do all of my Instagram and then another person is a Pinterest manager. Because again, Pinterest has been amazing for my business and Pinterest would be an awesome avenue to promote my template shop. The very last person I hired and that I plan on using until baby girl is here is my design assistant to help me manage smaller things, take care of loose ends, and double-check my work. Now that I have these three amazing women on my team, we are going to get a lean, mean machine going so that I have full confidence when I leave, I can come back to a thriving business.”
Our time is coming to an end, so I ask Macey to share where others who are inspired, like I have been, can continue to follow her journey and learn more about her work. She suggests her website, www.bebolddesignstudio.com and Instagram, www.instagram.com/macey_miller.
With that goal achievers, keep celebrating your weekly wins, learning from your lessons and identifying your priorities. So, you can consistently pursue progress in the direction of your goals.