5 Years In

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5 Years Ago…

I had recently received my divorce papers from Corporate Americas. It was during a time in which my personal and professional lives were beating me down. I needed a change, and I needed it quickly. 5 years later, it has been one of the best experiences of my life.

I started VOQUS Digital (or what was once Cassie Rachel Designs) back in 2017 to help people who I knew that needed help with web designing and branding. I listening to others and that was a big mistake. Word of mouth gained me a few customers, but keeping clients was a no go. Once I cut cords with certain people and developed my dream client, things changed in a positive light. Over the past 5 years, VOQUS became my sole focus, and it has been an amazing experience.

Before I knew it, I had invested in my business and my brand as well as myself and my education and I was determined to book more dream clients, up my prices and have a blast while doing it. Please believe the wait was deserving.

Often, the things that don’t get spoken about are the things that didn’t quite go so well and the lessons that we learned, and boy, did we learn a lot in five years…

Set Those Boundaries

I’m the first person to tell designers and business owners to have a tight contract and not to let their clients walk all over them. But it would have been great had I listened to my advice 5 years ago. Yes, creating a trusting and friendly relationship with your clients is important, but it should never impede the professional practices that ensure that your business runs smoothly. I learnt this the hard way after a few projects ran over by 12 months because of late response times and me not enforcing the contract. Clients who become “friends” would call me at 1 am for “emergencies”, even though I recommended for them to handle it months earlier. It was a mess.

You Don’t Owe Your Time To Your Clients

I used to tell my clients that they would receive ‘x deliverable’ in 1 week and then work myself stupid to get it done. It was so much pressure that this person was waiting for me to do my job, so I did it as quickly as possible – we can all see the problem there right? So I took a step back. Started giving longer estimations, longer timelines and spacing my projects out more so that I had time to breathe. Now, my clients don’t expect more of me than I’m physically capable and I give myself enough time to complete tasks without feeling like my to-do list is 5 million miles long.

Being Self-Employed Doesn’t Equal To A Healthy Work/Life Balance

Listen! Finding that balance between a career I absolutely love and my life outside of it was an incredibly hard thing. Sometimes I would feel guilty for taking a single day off and other times I would tell myself ‘it’s fine to take the entire week off because I set my own hours’. People often talk about working 24/7 and never taking breaks when they run their own business, but they don’t talk about the other side. This was extremely difficult, especially with bouts of anxiety and Crohn’s episodes. There is no right or wrong way to do things. If you’re the type of person who functions better when working 3 days a week, then who’s telling you otherwise? Similarly, if you enjoy working 7 days a week, why should anybody stop you? As long as you’re prioritizing yourself, it’s nobody’s business when you do or don’t work.

Trust Your Gut, All Money Is Not Good Money

And I mean this from the depths of my soul. There’s not much I have to say about this one, as it’s pretty obvious. That client you had a ‘feeling’ would be a bit of a nightmare and caused you 5 years’ worth of stress in one week? Those who attempt to negotiate pricing refer them to Fiverr. Listen to those feelings.

Manage Your Finances

I don’t have the first clue about business finances, taxes, accounting or anything that comes under those categories. I have a degree in business tech and I have never studied finances (seriously) in my life. So I put it on the back burner. Until the middle of 2020, when I got my life together and hire an accountant. I spent hours going over my bank statements (crying) and trying to wrap my head around what on earth dividends and VAT were. And while I’m (openly) still not the most confident person at managing my business finances, at least I have a system in place, and I recommend you do too!

Take The Damn Risks

The biggest lesson that I learnt over the past five years has been to take risks. Every idea that comes into your head, no matter how big or small, write it down, access the potential outcomes, and put a plan into place. You will fail. And that’s ok.. I truly believe that I would not be where I am today if I didn’t try new things. In fact, I decided one evening that I was going to start a ‘build a brand in a day’ service and in a matter of days, I had the sales page up and running. And to let you in on a little secret, to this day, it has generated a significant amount of profit. Not bad for a quick idea that I had, huh? Nothing good ever comes from staying in your comfort zone.

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VOQUS Digital is a female-led design studio and marketing agency, driven by a love of creativity. Founded by Cassie Rachel in 2017, VOQUS is proud to bring thoughtful and intuitive design practices to conscious businesses world