Episode 16 // Launching and Running a Debt-Free Business

April 21, 2015

In today’s episode of Being Boss, Emily and Kathleen talk about how they build successful businesses with little money and NO investors because as much as they believe in investing in your business and hiring talent to help your business, you shouldn’t have to spend cash you don’t have.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"Get something up and going first. Get the experience. Start making some money and then invest."
- Emily Thompson

Discussed in this Episode

  • Different debt and credit mindsets and how it can affect your business and life
  • The first things we invested in/necessary tools when starting our businesses
  • Thinking of employees as an investment
  • What to invest in first if you're not a designer or developer
  • Trading services and winging it to find your start
  • Using caution when making an investment—knowing you're going to use it and that it will help your business grow
  • Things we invested in after a year in business
  • Investing in networking events, conferences, and courses/continuing education
  • Things we're investing in now
  • How we're doing with Being Boss: what we've invested in to get started!

Resources

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.

Transcript

Kathleen Shannon 0:04
Get your business together, get yourself into what you do, and see it through.

Emily Thompson 0:10
Because being boss is hard. Planning work and life is messy. Making a dream job of your own isn't easy.

Kathleen Shannon 0:18
But getting paid for it, becoming known for it. And finding purpose in it is so doable. If you do the work,

Emily Thompson 0:27
being boss, a podcast for creative entrepreneurs, from Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon, welcome to Episode 16. Launching and running a debt free business. This episode is brought to you by fresh books, cloud accounting.

Kathleen Shannon 0:44
So I think there's this conventional wisdom out there that you have to spend money to make money. And I think as much as you and I, Emily, believe in investing in ourselves and hiring talent to help us make our business totally boss. I think that there's something to be said for launching and running a debt free business. And I feel like you don't have to be spending cash to build a successful business. You don't have to be throwing money around like crazy to make money. And so today, I really just want to talk about how we did it with little money and no investors.

Emily Thompson 1:26
Yeah. Hi, fi for us, by the way. Hi. Do you ever just like me? I'm getting real proud for the moment. Do you ever just like sit and like, look at what you've done and realize that you paid cash for all of it?

Unknown Speaker 1:39
Um, no,

Emily Thompson 1:42
but you know, I don't.

Kathleen Shannon 1:45
I don't think I think of it in the same way that I think you're like the money person. Ama. And I'm kind of more like, I guess, if I start if I, you know what, here's what it is. I'm a future dweller. Like, I think that there's some people that like, constantly go back to the past and like rehash and even regrets or what they're proud of, or what they've accomplished. For me even like, once it's done, it's done. Like I don't even get nostalgic about my wedding. Or, you know, like, I'm just ready to move forward, I get more excited about my next vacation than I do about like reliving the past anyway. So I think that that's what keeps me from really looking back and thinking like, Oh, yeah, that's awesome.

Emily Thompson 2:27
Right? Well, let's see, your mind is not so much looking back. And maybe it's because like, I have the studio. And we'll definitely be talking about like, I don't know how we did it in a minute. But just the fact that there have been a couple times that I've literally like, stood in the studio, and even with David a couple times and gone, you know, like, we've done all of this on no credit. And like what that actually means to be able to say that and having like, we have multiple computers in here, and like all the furniture and even like, I don't know, even the things like at our house and stuff. But regardless, just there is such such a great feeling that comes from knowing that you've worked your ass off so hard that you owe no one for what you've built, which I think is obviously what we're going to be talking about today. But it's really such a huge accomplishment. I think it's important to just sort of note that. I don't know you can do it and it feels good to do it. So yeah, at least give it a go.

Kathleen Shannon 3:18
Yes. Agreed. Okay, so so reading that free business, like let's just start from the beginning. Let's do it. And I don't. I don't Oh, well. Okay, I recognize. Here's what happened. A lot of people in our Facebook group, they're like, I need specifics, like what did you do from the beginning? That got you to where you are now because everything feels intangible. And I feel like we're constantly sharing our story. And we're constantly sharing what we did from the beginning, and trying to get as specific and detailed as possible. But they're just, I mean, when there's not a formula I wish there was

Emily Thompson 3:56
make it easy. It would make it really easy, but then we'd all be super successful making lots of money. Oh, we shouldn't be though we should be. So

Kathleen Shannon 4:04
I guess what I was thinking is okay, I What, what really has gotten me to a place where I kind of feel rich and financially free and successful. And I if I had to start from the beginning, I think it's never taking out a loan. Never even in some ways accepting money from investors. I'm never getting a credit card. Yeah, and going into debt. And so if I had to go even further back, I think it comes from my just Midwest upbringing. My parents are they both work for the state, and they have pensions and retirements and they are savers. And and in high school. I remember my mom got me a credit card. I think I had a $300 limit. It's kind of like okay, you You can have a credit card, but it only has 300 on it. And that doesn't mean you have $300 it means that you will owe $300. If you put money on this card, it looks just the basics of how money works. She taught me from an early age. And then I remember, like one of the biggest financial decisions I ever made or felt empowered to make is going to college. And my parents told me, if I went to the University of Oklahoma, which was like, pretty much in our backyard, they would pay for my tuition. And they would also pay for like housing and food, that sort of thing. Or if I wanted to go somewhere like NYU, that's that they would help as much as they could, but that I was going to have to take out loans and go into debt, and do that sort of thing. So I had this like big fat book, this is kind of it wasn't pre internet, but there weren't sites on the internet where you could compare schools. So I have this fat book of all the art schools. And I bought at a Barnes and Noble, and I was looking through it. And at the topic of like, just, you know, the basic overview of how big the school is, what kind of art programs they offer, how big their library is, and how much it costs. And I remember looking at NYU versus Oh, you and NYU is something like, I want to say 30,000, either a semester or a year 30,000. And then oh, you was like 3000 a year. I mean, literally, I think my tuition was 15 $100 a semester. So it was super cheap. And I, I thought you know what, I'm just going to do that it was kind of I don't have many regrets. Like I was saying earlier, like, I don't live in the past. Sometimes I wish I had gone to like a cool fancy school like NYU, but I have friends that are still paying off their debt. And we're in our 30s from student loans. And we're in the same place. You know, it didn't stop me from starting my own business and running my own business. So anyway, that's just to say, I made the decision to go to the cheaper School, which was still great. And I graduated with no debt. So that is like huge. Like, that's the first big chunk of it is not having student loans or student debt. And I think I just carried this philosophy with me even in starting a business. So I never even thought about opening a line of credit, until I was hanging out with a couple of my guy friends who also own a design agency. Shout out to Dustin and Brian. Because they listen to the podcasts or in our Facebook group. Oh, hi, guys. So anyway, one day they were mentioning, you know, a line of credit, we're just kind of talking shop. And I was like, wait, you can do that. So I remember going home and I was like Tara, maybe we should open a line of credit. Not that we even need to but there's something about like that idea that that made me think maybe that's the more legit thing to do, like maybe going into debt is the legit thing to do. And anyway, so I'm just saying, we didn't really like the thought never crossed my mind to take out money, or to get a loan or to get investors because we just hit the ground running with launching a product that can make us money.

Emily Thompson 8:09
Yeah, I think it will. And I think that's a really, really smart way to do it. My, my beginning was a little different, hugely different. So my family is like his lower middle class and has struggled with credit their entire lives. So like, as a kid, I watched my parents go into debt constantly my like my entire childhood, and I saw sure of the wreck that credit could have on someone's life. And then whenever I did go to college, I did get student loans, and those are things that I'm still paying off. Like, we're really close though, and like reasonably just paid off a whole one. So like, it's something that we're still doing. But um, but yeah, I grew up with this sort of fear of credit. And whenever I was in, in college, I behaved badly, I guess with credit. And, and but quickly, like one of the lessons shut everything down and have not opened a line of credit sense. And David and I have even joked multiple times, like, we've not really even joke like I'm totally games do it this idea of living your entire life without ever using it. Because it's possible. It's just it's not something that normal people do ever anymore. But it's something that we've sort of just sort of joked around about because we have done so much without using credit that why would we keep going? Or why wouldn't we keep going?

Kathleen Shannon 9:32
Okay, wait, can I can I tell you why you need credit or? Okay, so my brother, the sideshow performer who I've mentioned before, so my I guess my parents never trusted him with a credit card. Like they never gave him that $300 credit card, right? But literally, he has no credit. So he has a hard time. Like whenever people were in credit reports on him because he has no credit. It looks like almost like he has bad credit. Yeah, okay.

Emily Thompson 9:59
Let's see, that is a total thing, right?

Kathleen Shannon 10:03
So and then too, and so that might affect your ability to buy a house or things like that. And then or if you do ever need to, I guess this goes against the point, it's like if you ever need to apply for credit,

Unknown Speaker 10:14
right,

Kathleen Shannon 10:15
you know, it's kind of a catch 22. But um, I was also going to say another good reason is, so we have a mileage plus card. And so we put everything on our credit card, and then we get free miles. And so we basically get a fly for free to place. Yes, because we put everything on the credit card, we still treat it kind of like cash, because we don't, we never go into debt, we just pay it off at the end of the month. In fact, this last week, our payment was due and it was a day late, just because it fell through the cracks I I get it. I'm not in charge of that. But it was a paid a day late. And so my husband, Jeremy, and he called and he was like we're never late, can we get the late fee taken off, and they took it off. So that's another trick. If you just call your credit card company, you can ask for lower interest rates and for them to waive fees like late fees, if you're always really good about paying it. So anyways, I do want to share a couple of good reasons to have credit.

Emily Thompson 11:19
Sure they are. And it's not something that Dave and I have totally just just, like marked off the list. And we're actually in the same place where David has never needed credit, like his parents paid for his college. And he, I don't know, he's just he's always been a hard worker and never like needed credit cards. And now that we're old enough to actually need things like cars and houses like he screwed over at the moment, because also just banks and how credit like lenders work these days. He has he's never put anything on it. So now he can't get anything put on it. So it is like credit is I'm not here to talk about credit today. This is not what I'm trying to do. The point of this is that, that I learned very differently about credit and really went into my business with this idea that I couldn't get it or I wouldn't get it because I least come from a family where everyone had really crappy credit. And I didn't want to fall in that line. So I just said, You know what, I'll do it without it. And so was able to build everything that I have without ever putting a penny on a credit card without ever borrowing any money from anyone for any of my equipment, or anything that I do and is totally possible. So whether you come from a place like castling super responsible barons who, who do all the right things, or someone like me, you just were never taught how to like correctly handle credit. And building things without it, then there's hope for you either way is totally doable. And now I think we're going to talk about how it is that we did it right. Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 12:56
let's do it.

Unknown Speaker 12:57
Perfect. All right. All right. Let's

Kathleen Shannon 12:59
talk about Oh, snap.

Unknown Speaker 13:02
You want this one Jinx.

Kathleen Shannon 13:04
You owe me a Lacroix. No, you go you go.

Unknown Speaker 13:08
Alright, so

Emily Thompson 13:09
let's talk about the things that we we invested in, like when we started our business. So like the first things that we put money into, because you and I talk a lot about investing in your business and how important that is. And what was your first investment? And when was it

Kathleen Shannon 13:27
my computer? Uh huh. And I suppose so I was still working a day job. And I, it's hard to remember. So I had like an older laptop that I had bought while I was working my day job that was just like my home personal computer. And then I bought a 27 inch iMac whenever I quit my job. So I can't remember how much those were back then. But I want to say it was like around 2000. That sounds right. And somewhere between 2003 $1,000 I was still using a stolen version or not stolen. I shouldn't say that. I hope that my old agency isn't listening to this, but I was still using some design software from my old agency. So my Adobe Creative Suite. Or, you know, maybe is even still using like a student version. I just remember it wasn't legit. But then probably shortly after I got my computer, I went ahead and invested in a real version of Adobe Creative Suite. And I felt like a grown up. Yeah, but here's what I wasn't buying. And so I started as a graphic designer. I was using a blogspot template for my website. I was using fonts that I had, like I was hardly for right now every client that works with us, I'm usually buying at least one or two fonts for them so that we're using something fresh and new even though I still have my favorites anyway, and I was just using the fonts that I already had, which were from school like someone had a CD of fonts So probably stolen fonts watch like me, like watch Adobe and right, they're

Emily Thompson 15:05
gonna come after us. Every other creative on the planet, please like don't piss everybody they're

Kathleen Shannon 15:11
locking down on it. So I remember investing in creativity. And that was an erase freelancing. So then starting braid was some of the first things that I invested in starting braid. Oh, I'm trying to remember. Um, well, I guess an employee. So we hired a part time employee, probably three months after we started. And that felt like a huge, really big deal. We had a friend do our website, he hooked us up. Probably then our next big investment after that was actually hiring you to do our E course. Right? And then hiring you again to merge our website with our ecourse. So everything was on one platform, like that was a big investment. But that wasn't even until we have been in business for maybe

Emily Thompson 15:56
it was at least a year.

Kathleen Shannon 15:58
Yeah. So we were Meanwhile, we're making money, like we're selling what we do, we're making money, and then we're able to kind of reinvest it back into the business.

Emily Thompson 16:08
That's good. I also I like, I want to point out what you said about employees and about employees being an investment. Because I feel like that's something that a lot of a lot of our crowd like, see employees as a cost, like it's something it's going to cost them money, to have someone do something for them. And with that said, that was on my list employees are an investment, there's something that you you pay into both time and money. And if you do it well and do it right, and you choose the right people, they will give back, like multiple fold what you have put into them. So high five employees are an investment.

Kathleen Shannon 16:45
Yes, but it is a big chunk of money. The nice thing about employees, though, is that it's not a huge chunk of money at once that you would pay for someone like a contractor. And what were some of the first big investments that you made.

Emily Thompson 17:00
Computer computer was one of mine. And I remember the first big project that I got was about two months after I like launched freelancing I got I got a web design project that was like $2,000. And I, literally the same week, and this is like universe is telling me what to do. My computer crashed. I had like an old like Dell desktop computer lost tons of baby pictures. Like it's like I literally get sick to my stomach just talking about it now. But my computer crashed, right like two days after I booked the biggest project I thought I was ever going to get at that point. And so I took that money and a little bit of savings and went and I got a 21 and a half inch iMac. I think it was like 2300 bucks, somewhere around in there. brought that home. I remember I remember the day I set it up. It was like one of those like proud moments like both in my life because I just graduated college. And but also like as a business like it was my first computer and I still have it still sitting right over there. It's ready to go. If anyone wants a computer. I'm selling my first iMac. But, but I think computer is really important. For any online business. I think if you are running a business online, you have to have the tools to run a business online and for for creatives. Like it's a computer or online entrepreneurs, it's a computer if you are creative in nature, and that you need, like a good computer to actually like do your skill computer, like don't work off of a crappy computer that was one of the first or was the first thing that I invested in. Also software like I use the student version of Adobe for a little while. But then I did invest in the full one. I remember doing well the productivity stuff like to do.com or whatever that like t

Kathleen Shannon 18:55
UX. Oh, but that's like $5 that's a $5

Emily Thompson 18:58
is it is but it's still like that's even small things like that. That's investing because a lot of people have a hard time getting nickeled and dimed like that over these recurring things. But that was one of the first things that I invested in $5 to make me more productive, was a great $5 investment. Or like these days, apps on iPads are one of those things that most people are like, a 99 cent app, which if it's gonna make you more productive, then you need to spend 99 cents on that app. So productivity tools, were one of those things that I invested in early because I had no ad agency experience. None like I had to make myself productive. So productivity skills or tools were really big for me. Six months into it, I I invested $1,000 in to being a partner of Adobe Business Catalyst, because they have a partnership program for their developers. And that for me, I realized immediately how important it was to have that additional like revenue stream so i was putting all of my clients on business catalyst in the way and by investing and being a partner i got 20% back on the hosting fees that they paid and that wasn't much i mean i'm talking like $4 a month for like each of my clients or something like that

Kathleen Shannon 20:18
yeah i'm like how much money are you making off me

Emily Thompson 20:22
so much i mean like well i think like an e commerce site it's like seven bucks a month or something so like not enough to like that's like a happy meal or something like i don't know how much happiness cost but um but it's very it's very small amount of money but in the past five years i've been paid 10,000 oh yeah so like oh yeah i invested $1,000 yes i invested $1,000.05 years ago and now it's 10,000 that's just been coming in $500 increments as it gets up so so investing in a way that you can diversify your revenue stream do it early because it'll end up paying off in the long run

Kathleen Shannon 21:07
okay let me ask you this is there anything that you didn't buy in the very beginning

Emily Thompson 21:13
i probably i probably should have invested in employees sooner

Kathleen Shannon 21:19
so like one thing that i did early on or that tara and i both did we got hired to record a brand video for one of our clients and they literally recorded it on our iphones record client when we did one for you to emily

Emily Thompson 21:35
you did my first brand video was done by braid on an iphone

Kathleen Shannon 21:39
yep so okay so here's the deal is that we would tell our clients who are usually in the same place that we are like kind of scrappy and they're starting we would say okay we can hire a film crew which we were used to we've shot commercials with six figure budgets so we know how to do that sort of thing or you know so we can we can do this and it's going to cost a lot more money or we can just do it on our iphones for you we don't offer this at all anymore but by the way we work with some great people for their for brand videos if you ever need a brand video choate house in oklahoma city they're amazing anyway so we just work with them mostly now and we have a couple of other partners that we use so anyway but we were shooting brand videos on iphones now i could have gone out and bought i was also shooting a lot of photos for blog posts and things like that so i probably could have said well i need a canon mach three mach five whatever is out at the time you know i need that number is d seven d five anyway i need to spend a ton of money on a camera which like i like nice things and so i wanted to do that but i didn't and those videos were great like they served all of us well for for what they were we ended our own video i'll include a link to it i'm going to include a link to our very first iphone video that got us so much business it's about a road trip that turn i took to texas and there's this like cow that was born and it was amazing i loved it

Emily Thompson 23:15
it was one of my favorites

Kathleen Shannon 23:17
and it's it's also pre locks so you guys will get to see what my hair looked like pre locks so anyway i will post that in the show notes but all that to say you can do a lot with a little bit of equipment another example my brother i'm calling you out donnie so he's a sideshow performer and he wanted to start a podcast he's so jealous of our podcast by the way cuz he wants

Emily Thompson 23:42
his mustache

Unknown Speaker 23:46
i'm jealous of his life

Kathleen Shannon 23:48
he gets like swallow swords for a living and travel the world so anyway he um he was like oh i want a podcast i remember a few years ago even he was like okay i'm gonna do a podcast and we went i was visiting him in brooklyn and we went across the street to the target like the target in brooklyn and found a microphone it wasn't a yeti mic like ours it was like a little ball i don't remember the exact brand anyway we bought him a mic and he was like i'm gonna do a podcast and it's kind of like i don't know the equivalent of buying yourself an expensive pair of jeans that's the size too small so that you can like lose weight you know incentive right i think that sometimes that works but i like to do the opposite because my brother never recorded a podcast he never used that expensive microphone that he bought so i think it's like better to shoot on the iphone or to record a podcast using your iphone microphone buds because it works it's fine you don't need the fancy stuff so i would say like prove it to yourself that you're actually going to use this equipment that you want to buy all the time or use this equipment that you want to buy prove it to yourself that you're going to use it all the time. I just jumbled that up. You know, I'm

Emily Thompson 25:05
saying, we get it.

Kathleen Shannon 25:07
So yeah, prove it to yourself first that you're actually going to use it and then buy it. And I think again, that comes from like my Midwest upbringing. Like, I would tell my parents, I want to keyboard I want to keyboard so bad. And they're like, Okay, why don't you play the piano that we have in our dining room first. And if you play the piano every day, for, you know, a month, we'll buy you a keyboard. Did I play the piano every day? No. But I did go out and like skateboard every day. So they had no problem buying me rollerblades or things that I would actually use. So I guess this is like, how can you prove it to yourself that you're actually going to use something before you invest a ton of money into it?

Emily Thompson 25:47
Yeah, definitely. Will. And going back going, I want to talk for a second about an elephant in the room. Hmm, not really, I don't even think I use that correctly. I probably didn't. But the idea that you and I both designers. Yeah. And I develop. So like, in a lot of ways you and I kind of have built in skills that are amazing for building an online business. So let's jam for half a second. Yep. On, on how people who don't know how to design and develop what they should be spending their money on first. And at what point do you invest in designing and developing?

Kathleen Shannon 26:26
Well, they shouldn't be spending all their money on us. Of course,

Unknown Speaker 26:30
Doug, guys.

Kathleen Shannon 26:32
So actually, I tell a lot of people I say, you know what, you need to wait a year, like come back to me in a year. Because a lot of people are hiring us like they're one of the first big investments that they make is with us. And so I think, well, one, like if someone says, I want to start a blog, can you brand it? I'm like, No, you don't need to spend 1000s of dollars branding a blog. And do you even know if you like blogging? Right? You know, a lot of people haven't even started writing. So I guess like, that's how, how I can think of it is I started blogging first. And I was blogging on a blogger template, you know, and then slowly, and even though I'm a designer, I would just design myself a little header. But I still wasn't spending any money on it until like recently. So anyway, I guess for their amazing templates out there. Now, I don't know how you feel about this, Emily? No, like,

Emily Thompson 27:32
I agree, I use templates like if we can, alright, started on templates, like before I really knew how to develop as well as I can develop now. My first like web design blog was a template, because because then that sort of the the stickler there with the difference between web design and web development is at some point I didn't develop as well as I designed. Now I think design or I develop better than design, but whatever. So So yes, I use templates. And I agree with you, I think I think that you should, you should get something up and going first, yes, get the get the experience, figure it out exactly who it is that you want to work with. And that comes from experience, like getting something up and trying it out. And start defining and narrowing in on what it is that you want to do and who you do it for. start making some money. And then best because that's the key there. The key there is that neither of us ever spend any money on our business until our business made us money. Exactly. Amen.

Kathleen Shannon 28:32
I mean, so I keep telling my clients this, and I think it's, I think the problem is that a lot of my clients or potential clients have really good taste. Yes, they're smart, they have really good taste, they just don't have the skills to do it themselves. And they see all these beautiful things, including my website, which I had infinite resources to do, because I'm a designer, I have, really I have access to you, I have access to paid for you. But like I also I'm designing and then I'm bouncing off of you because we speak the same language. Right? And they see my brand video. They see my e course. Yeah, and they went all of that stuff right out the gate and I get it, I totally get it. But you're gonna spend 20 to $30,000 getting all of that stuff out the gate. Yeah. So what I would say is start with the thing. Like, don't think about your brand. Don't think about your video, don't think about your digital product. Think about the thing that you do, why you do what you do. And I think it's Simon synnex I'm not sure if I'm saying his name, right. But um, I he has a book on why I'll include it in the show notes. I can't remember the name of it, but he also has a TED talk as well. So we'll include that in the show notes. But it's start with the purpose. Start with why you're doing what you're doing. What is it what do you have this so what is your service or what is your product and so if you do have a product use something like etsy you know there are so many templates and sites that you can use and start there and then once you prove it to yourself once you make a little money you can then reinvest that back into your business

Emily Thompson 30:18
yeah my first web design projects were sold from etsy they were not sold from my own website that i designed developed myself they were sold from etsy like using what you have available to you is so important but i also like want to want to make the point that like some people are leaving a side hustle or no leaving a day job with savings or with a want to jumpstart something because they're leaving a day job and they want to go into a job that's going to be making them like relatively good money right off the bat and from that like i want to i do want to express that because we are doing a podcast yeah pod this is a podcast right because we're doing a podcast on how to run a debt free business doesn't mean that you shouldn't that it's completely unheard of to invest in your business right out the gate kaeleen and i are actually we're finishing up an indie burn project but it has been launched for a while with a client of mine who who came to me not really wanting or not knowing and not knowing exactly what it is that she wanted to do but she was able to invest in her business with money that i mean guessing she already had that i don't even know but regardless she was able to able to invest in the services that we offer right out the gate and in nine months has built a business that took me three years to build

Kathleen Shannon 31:44
that's true sometimes if you can spend that money right up front you're gonna grow much faster much faster that just scares me for people with that is is that if you haven't had any if you haven't had any clients or any experience through grassroots efforts or on the ground efforts before you ever even have anything ready to go

Emily Thompson 32:06
yes how

Kathleen Shannon 32:06
do you even know if you like what you're about to do

Emily Thompson 32:10
yeah there has to be some level of experience that like you don't quit a day job and then decide to start an ice cream business one day and then see what happens like that's definitely not the course that where we're at so

Kathleen Shannon 32:22
it's like you would have the day job you would have your kitchenaid mixer with your ice cream attachment and you would probably start with one batch of ice cream

Emily Thompson 32:29
yes

Kathleen Shannon 32:30
right and then that's really good and then slowly you're like okay you know what i'm gonna make a leap i'm going to buy a food truck because that's cheaper than a restaurant so then you invest in a food truck which is probably a whole lot of money and the permits and all the stuff that goes along insurance all the stuff that goes along with that but like you start there and then that's really successful and then you launch a restaurant that serves ice cream i was recently in marfa texas with a bunch of really rad ladies and i got to meet maria mills who is a swimsuit designer in fact and so sophia i can never say her last name gara yes yes so she's on the cover of vogue right now wearing one of melia mills swimsuits yeah so i got to sit right next to her her and her sister and they run their business together which is called millia mills and i was asking her thinking about our listeners in mind i was like how did you start and she said i started with one swimsuit you know you start so she started sewing with one swimsuit got one customer and slowly over time over years probably 10 or 15 years for her and she's been able to open 14 stores and her online site so i mean she's huge but um but it started with one swimsuit and one customer and then one store and one store turn into two stores so i guess i'm just trying to say like start small and then build your way up as far as investing in branding and web design from the get go yeah a lot of our clients like we are their first big investment i think it's important for sure but i also think that there are ways to do it yourself for a while and it can be a costly mistake like if you invest okay here's the deal like let's say you want to invest in branding but you're not quite ready i would say spend $100 on a template like on a good template and you're just typing your name out and it's just kind of clean it's good enough rather than spending $3,000 or you know maybe even like $1,000 on a designer who you've kind of feel like mad about but they're the cheaper option that's still $1,000 instead spent like 100 To save your money until you can spend the 6000, or whatever it costs to get the real deal, or to get the person that you really want doing the job to do the job. And I don't think that like me personally, I don't think I made any really costly mistakes in my business. But I've had a lot of friends spend a lot of money on website development, and there hasn't been, you know, maybe it was not clean code, or whatever. And then someone else has to go in and clean it up for a lot more money.

Emily Thompson 35:31
Yeah, those sorts of investments, those sorts of investments can be scary. And I think that's, that's one of those things, when you when you are an online entrepreneur, like you're doing business online, you have to learn how to, like, see quality work in the tools that you'll be using. Because that's that's exactly what you should be investing in like, as as you go along. It's tools. Like that's all it is, and like you wouldn't hire a plumber, and then let him walk away if your sink is still dripping. And so like being able to tell those things, whether it be web development, or or branding, I don't know what we're going to talk about ourselves all day today. Or, let's say that you were wanting to invest a lot of money and getting like in production of a product or something. I have heard nightmare stories of people who who have the chance to to buy up. I don't know a whole bunch of a product that they have designed or, or developed in some way. And then they're stuck with crap, tons of inventory.

Kathleen Shannon 36:31
Okay, this is a good example, because you and I are going through this right now. Yeah, so we want to create product for our being boss listeners. And so we're thinking about mugs, and some notebooks and maybe some t shirts, all these things. So I was Emily and I have been talking about it. And I've been talking to my printer about it. And I was saying, Okay, how do we do this? Like, are we printing on demand? That's not incredibly efficient, because basically, you're printing one thing at a time. So it costs a lot more money to do that. So I thought, what if we did a pre sale, like a subscription, where people are really paying to support the podcast, but kind of as a thank you, they get a mug or they get these notebooks. And then we can do a preset like, so we do an entire campaign around this thing. And and then we're just printing what has been ordered. So that way, we're not left with a bunch of inventory. I know that that doesn't work for people whose business is specifically product, but maybe like maybe there's a way to gauge interest and see what's going to sell and what's not before you place your order.

Emily Thompson 37:44
Yeah, there there are tons of ways to do that. Um, well, I don't know so much about product, I do have a little bit of experience Jessica Swift. If anyone knows her, she's a cool chick. And I met her whenever she decided to zap to design rain boots, and she put them on Kickstarter. And that was how she did she had this great idea to do to design like really cool but also like with inspirational messages, rain boots, and but didn't want to spend like 10 grand or whatever to like order these rain boots from China. So God three years ago, I guess she did a Kickstarter was like, I think one of the one of the earlier like cool creative Kickstarter campaigns and did it and then then was able to get her products. And instead of investing tons of money on this dream, she gauged interest by doing a Kickstarter campaign. It was fun that she was able to order them. And then she designed rain boots, and they were all over the country, which is way cool. There are ways to work the system. Like there are ways if you want to, if you need something planted out, tell the universe. And then in some way it will come to actually Jessica is Jessica story is a perfect example of this, because she wanted to do rainbows and then this guy on LinkedIn found her who like had relationships in China that could help like the manufacturing connections that she needed. And it just ended up sort of snowballing. For her example number two informational products is instead of hiring out someone to to develop your ecourse and plan your content and write it, put up a page and tell people to go sign up if they're interested, they'll get a freebie and you can gauge interest on a particular topic before you put out sometimes 10s of 1000s of dollars for a massive development project to test your new program or your new ecourse or your new coaching offering whatever that may be there. There are less costly ways to test ideas, then investing lots of money before you know what the interest is.

Kathleen Shannon 39:51
Alright, let's pause for a second and talk about our generous sponsor freshbooks freshbooks is easy to use invoicing software designed to help creative entrepreneurs get organized, save time invoicing and get paid faster. But I like to think of freshbooks as my personal accountant, you guys, I actually use and really love freshbooks I first started using freshbooks when I was first freelancing as a solopreneur, about four years ago. And I remember it made me feel so much more legit in my business, I knew I needed to track my income and expenses. And whenever I researched all the different accounting software out there, freshbooks just felt the most intuitive and easy. But since using freshbooks, the functionality of it has grown and it is very legit and robust. So even as my business has grown freshbooks has always been able to accommodate my business needs. So now we really use freshbooks as the financial hub of our business. Stay on top of your business with a clear picture of its financial health. Try fresh books for free today by going to freshbooks comm slash being boss, and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section? All right, back to our show.

Emily Thompson 41:06
Okay, so past the first year of investing, we know it's important starting out, invest in your necessary tools, like what tools do you have to have to do the best job that you can? And then other than that just winging it in a lot of ways get templates, trade people for services, like a bunch of newbies getting together in trading says how magic? I mean, I

Kathleen Shannon 41:32
think that we worked in trade.

Emily Thompson 41:35
Actually, yes, my breathing was in trade for ecourse development.

Kathleen Shannon 41:39
And I usually don't we don't work in trade anymore, though. We're like no trade cash, just because our were so tricky. Now. I mean, just as far as like

Emily Thompson 41:48
everything, though, David would spazzed out. It wasn't with cash,

Kathleen Shannon 41:53
it's easier to keep track of cash as like an exchange of effort and time and is to keep track of what we're actually doing.

Emily Thompson 42:02
Does that make sense? It is at least for you, and like big enough businesses now that it's simply easier to do it in cash and to worry about, okay, like, do I have to monitor my time that much like, that's more stressful for me now. But in the beginning, we were both in a place for sure we had some extra time, like, I'll do that project for you, you can do it for me. And it was even tried and it worked out perfectly. So I think like in the beginning, that's a completely viable solution for getting the necessary tools and just pieces of your presence that you need to to really rock it out. Because the goal number one is not to blow out all of your cash. Goal number one is to get experience and start getting clients because it makes your parish I know because then you'll start making the cash that you can use to actually invest in other things in the future. So a year in Kathleen, what did you invest in?

Kathleen Shannon 42:52
Okay, a huge one I was trying to think of like the most expensive thing I invested in. There's a few things that I can think of one was a brand video, and that was a little more self indulgent, I guess. Like I just I wanted this thing. Yeah. So I invested some good money in that. And then another huge thing that I invested in that felt riskier was my Martha Beck coaching training, right, that was $7,000. And I remember going to Tara, and being like, and, and my husband, I have to like ask both of them for I want to ask them for permission, but you know, and tell them that I want to do this thing. And I said I want to do Martha Beck coaching training, I will pay for it myself, like braid creative doesn't have to pay for it. And my sister was like, No, we'll pay for it like this, because I think it can help our business. We didn't even quite know how it was going to help our business. But it has. And so that was huge. And it more than anything, what I paid for, there was the confidence to be able to coach other creatives, and know that I had some proper training under my belt and I had some tools in my belt that I could really use and draw on to help these people. I made my money back in like three months on that one. And so I made it back fast and I continue it now it's it's invaluable. Like I can't even put a return on that investment. I guess I could look specifically at just my coaching clients. But I bring that training into everything. I bring it into our podcasts. I bring it into the Facebook group, I bring it into my branding and consulting clients. I bring it into everything. And then after that the most recent big investment that I made that also felt scary, was hiring a content coach. So our friend Erica midkiff

Emily Thompson 44:54
will she it by the way. She's amazing.

Kathleen Shannon 44:56
She's great. So we had actually done Her branding, I find this to I usually end up hiring my clients. Not all of them, of course, but right, I hire a lot of my clients just because once I take them through the braid method, I believe in them. I'm like, Yes, like, I need this. So we took her through the braid method did her branding. And then we decided that we wanted to consolidate our E courses, we have three of them. It is a lot of content. And we also wanted to bring in some of the best of our blog posts and the best of our newsletters into that ecourse. And so we hired her and it was it was a good chunk of money to like, have her consolidate all that stuff. Now that we're in the thick of it, we're almost done. We're going to be launching this new ecourse in June. Choose that right.

Emily Thompson 45:45
That's what's on my timeline, Kathleen. So

Unknown Speaker 45:48
I know we're launching it in June. And now,

Kathleen Shannon 45:53
I mean, we've probably been working on this for what, almost six months now, by the time that we launched. Yeah, we've been working on consolidating this. And I'm like, you couldn't pay me enough. You know, like, I feel like I owe Erica, my firstborn child. By far. Erica, I'm just I'm fedexing. Fox over to you.

Emily Thompson 46:14
Yeah, we'll put holes in the Oh, no. Okay.

Kathleen Shannon 46:18
So anyway, that was a big investment. And, you know, I'm not seeing any return on that yet. Because we're not selling our E courses yet. So again, it feels like a riskier kind of like, Ah,

Emily Thompson 46:28
yes, Soon. Soon. It'll be launched soon. And then you will begin seeing that return. Um, are there any other things you invested in, like, about a year in

Kathleen Shannon 46:37
another employee? So we hired Yeah, okay. So we hired my best friend Liz, who I worked with in advertising is one of my favorite people, by the way, just to throw that out there. I love her says love. I love her so much. So she's already my best friend. She's quitting her job in advertising. And I told Tara, I said, we can't afford to not hire her. And so yeah, Liz, and we continue to invest in her like, I try and hook her up with arrays as much as I can all the time.

Emily Thompson 47:13
Yeah, this is fantastic. She was a very good investment. I think I say that all the time. Every time I have a meeting with Liz, I'm like, gushing over how amazing she is. So employees was one of mine to like, about a year. Yeah, a year in definitely. And then and then just sort of growing from there. Employees was big networking events.

Kathleen Shannon 47:36
Oh, yeah. conferences.

Emily Thompson 47:39
Yep, conferences. And I

Kathleen Shannon 47:41
say like, that feels like a frivolous investment. It feels like it. But it's because you're traveling. And so for me buying a plane ticket was always equated with vacation. So I always felt bad. Yeah, just now have I gone over it. But I always see a return on conferences and networking events, because I always end up getting jobs or opportunities from it.

Emily Thompson 48:06
I mean, we met at one like, like, and that was actually, I think that was the first big networking event that I ever done, and has proven obviously to be one of the best things I ever invested in. So So networking events, I think is super important. I think that that's a good thing for a year in I think a year in you should be like focusing on gaining that experience and like and getting clients and like really figuring out what it is that you want to do. And then beyond that, like start growing your reach by doing networking events. Or like courses, things like making sure that you have some badass, like social media strategy, under your belt, like learn the ropes of actually running the business side of things, once you know what your business is doing, I guess.

Kathleen Shannon 48:58
You know, I think it comes back to like, crunching the numbers, which we've talked about before in some of our other money episodes, but like just looking at what's going in? What's going out. Again, fresh books. I mean, yeah, I mean, they are a sponsor, but for real. I use them to look at what's going in and what's going out and to really get an assessment of how much money I have to spend.

Emily Thompson 49:22
Yeah, so spend more than you make. Exactly. It's kind of as easy as that.

Kathleen Shannon 49:28
It really is. It really is. And so make some money. And even if I mean, I know that a lot of people as one on our Facebook said, you don't make money in your first year. I was like I did. I did do. So that's a that's a myth. Yeah, you don't have to go into debt and you can make money in your first year. You can make good money in your first year.

Emily Thompson 49:51
But let's talk about like, money mindset. And we have I think two podcasts on this at the moment like go back and look at our other podcast because money mindset is so briefing, I went into my business, having to make money. I graduated college, Dave and I graduated the same same time. He was he wanted to do the grad school route, which meant, and he had like a research assistantship, which made a little bit of money, he paid the rent, his job paid the rent period. So I knew that I had to do everything else. And because of that, I hustled my ass off, and I made money my first year. So I didn't go into this with this idea of you have to make money or have money to make money. I didn't even think of that, like that was so far from my like, thinking space. Um, that was that never came up. And it never stopped me from hustling. Because I think a lot of people use that idea. You have to have wanting to make money as an excuse to not go work your ass off to make some money, so you can spend it to make more money. Snap. Oh, I'm sorry, that was Emily's Tough luck. Because it's true. Like it is simply that mindset, that's going to make the difference from the very beginning. Because you can go in this to make money or you can go in this sad because you're not making as much money as you want to in the beginning. I also really invested and had a lot of fun investing a lot of money in my workspace about a year, right? Yeah, because I worked from like, oh, man, for a little while, I had one of those wire racks, like in the basement of our house in the mountains that I worked off of. And like by computer, if you touched it, it probably would have fallen over because it was like it was a wire rack. And about a year into it. I went to IKEA and went on a shopping spree. And it was so much fun to be able to a year in not immediately, like that was not something where I was like, I'm going to start a business. So I need a new desk. It was me started business, I don't work from what I have. And then a year in, I took the money that I had made. And I went and invested in a nice comfortable workspace and a chair that I still have. It's still sitting right here. Sometimes I still use it for fun. Um, but doing workspace like investing in a workspace and enjoying doing it. You worked your butt off for that money. So go like buy some things that you want need. But then that just made me more productive, because then I had a workspace that allowed me to work productively.

Kathleen Shannon 52:20
Yeah, I am. I've spent some money on some fun things that were not investments at all. Like they're just straight up fun,

Emily Thompson 52:29
we'll say and fun is an investment.

Kathleen Shannon 52:32
Yeah. But like, but I didn't do it until I had the money. You know. So again, it goes back to whatever having the money does do it. And okay, so running at that free business. Again, I think that it also comes down to doing the thing, like, what is the thing that you're doing? What do you have to offer? What do you have to sell? Are you telling people how to hire you? Yeah. Like sometimes I feel like our podcasts like, I just want to say that in every single one. But are you just for them outright? But are you telling people how to hire you? Yeah. Because sometimes that's all it takes. And you know, so let's even look back at some of our guests, Elise and Scott from a sweet pea. Elise hadn't even started a business yet and just kind of like threw the idea out on Twitter.

Emily Thompson 53:22
She told people how to hire her.

Kathleen Shannon 53:25
Yeah. Or she said, Would you be interested in hiring me? If it's kind of like, when are you want to ask a boy out? And you're like, if I asked you out, would you say yes. You're not even asking. You're asking.

Emily Thompson 53:37
You're asking if you can ask? Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 53:38
you're asking if you can ask. So um, remind people how to hire you, and have something to offer, like have something to sell. So I think that that's a huge, huge part of it, too. And then you're making money. And then you can spend money. If you have a different situation or different circumstance, whenever it comes to spending money and making money and investing a lot of money or going into debt from the beginning. And that's worked for you. I would love to hear from you on our Facebook group. So we'll leave a link to our Facebook group on the show notes. But right now we have over 1000 members, and there's such good conversation happening in there. So in fact, before we did this episode, I asked our Facebook members, what were some of the things that they invested in from the beginning, whenever they launched their business. I asked them if it was a worthwhile investment, what they would have done differently, and if there's anything they didn't invest money in that cost them in the long run. So a lot of people responded with software and technology, the same things that we talked about. And I know that as photographers especially so one of our Facebook members, she said in my industry, there's a lot of investment gear, she does videos and photography, all the gear. I don't impulse upgrade cameras, but there's the point where your gear is getting in the way of you actually making what you want to make and so that's the thing is that she waited until she her skills had surpassed her gear and then she leveled up and someone else said let's see the best decision so far that also took a year to reap the benefits of was purchasing quality business cards so like you can go to moo.com and get really nice business cards and they even have where you can design it in the software there and so getting quality business cards and joining my local chapter of ai ga through that i've been able to network with local creatives found my next job and some of my tribe and that came from erica in our facebook group

Emily Thompson 55:48
yeah i did the same thing i guess about a year in like i joined a jumper of commerce like just to sort of like start some of that networking stuff because we had just moved to the town in the mountains i think investing investing in those networking things which not even just events but your local things can be huge huge huge so good invest in those things yes

Kathleen Shannon 56:11
and one other person said ashley said investing in branding logo design and web design is always always worth the investment and trying to cut corners will waste money in the long run just save up and do it right the first time aim so we weren't wrong for talking about ourselves and what we do being like a good initial first investment but we're not the only ones who do it there are a lot of people who do design and branding and web development and so yeah i agree but i don't think that that should hold you back from doing the thing i know so you can still do the thing while you're saving up for that brand and so anyway it was really cool hearing from our facebook members all the things that they invested in as well now i do want to talk a little bit we don't have a whole lot of time we have a

Emily Thompson 57:03
few minutes okay important

Kathleen Shannon 57:04
okay i was just talking about like being boss for example as a side hustle that we're not making any money on right

Emily Thompson 57:11
we're also not investing very much money in it like well

Kathleen Shannon 57:17
okay so what we're hosting yeah we're paying for hosting we're paying for when we did our own branding and development so we were lucky they're i suppose that i'm still editing them

Emily Thompson 57:29
there's no investments or we're not paying anyone to to do anything

Kathleen Shannon 57:34
well we pay our assistants so your do your assistant helps us manage our emails and my assistant helps us with our show notes

yep and so and we're paying them but it's out of our own like braid creative is paying for my assistant and indie shop while your fee is paying for your assistant so it's still not being boss

Emily Thompson 57:52
right um and then really like when you think about that i'm doing that as an indie shop biography employee meeting to hand that all exactly so that i can do my client work like that's not just saying i'm gonna hire you for being boss because i'm too lazy do the shit myself it's because i have client work

Kathleen Shannon 58:10
right you have work to do that's actually making you money so anyway i just like even approaching this as a business that we're setting up like i think that i'm approaching this much more as that like if we if we didn't have the skills that we had we would be in debt right now

Unknown Speaker 58:26
right so either we'll probably wouldn't have done exactly i

Kathleen Shannon 58:29
see we say when this podcast won't exist right but to like i'm about to maybe start another project with someone where i know for the first year it won't make money you'll because everything that we make will be putting back into the business and i feel like that's what being bosses right now everything that we make from sponsorships or membership drives is going back into the podcast to grow this thing and

Emily Thompson 58:52
but even knowing what we know now and being deep enough into each of our businesses that we have the capital to invest in making being boss awesome we also know that we don't have to put money into being boss for it to be awesome

Unknown Speaker 59:07
exactly

Emily Thompson 59:08
which i think is such an important thing to think about like if you have the skills and you have the content and you have the want which is if you legitimately have the want to do something you don't need the money you simply need to do it and the money will come

Unknown Speaker 59:26
i think that's a good place to end

Emily Thompson 59:29
agree well really quickly though i want to know what kind of things that you're investing in now

Kathleen Shannon 59:34
okay so i'm about to hire a lawyer

Unknown Speaker 59:37
oh

Kathleen Shannon 59:38
yeah so good things like protecting our intellectual property trademarking copywriting i haven't done any of that operating agreements so even for us emily like we don't even have a we're not legit yet

Emily Thompson 59:55
no

Kathleen Shannon 59:56
so like getting that set up so it's it's gotten to a place we're now four years into my business i finally need a lawyer yep because i'm wanting to do other partnerships and figuring out how all those agreements work i just need i need help with it and so that's a huge thing that i'm about to professional services

Unknown Speaker 1:00:15
yeah

Emily Thompson 1:00:16
huge i i want to like shine a light for half a second on how important investing in continuing education is so courses and coaches and consultants and mentors like whatever it is that you need to invest in to continue learning so that you can continue like up leveling yourself in your business what

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:36
are you taking what course or coaching are you doing right now

Emily Thompson 1:00:41
so i have my sales coach kendrick i also yesterday i bought into that course that elise and scott were talking about on the hey sweet v episode yay

Unknown Speaker 1:00:49
create awesome on how much is that

Emily Thompson 1:00:52
it's 100 it's $97 a month for 12 months so 1200 bucks ish yeah over the course of the year and so i'm thinking you're doing a course like a big crazy course we'll see i'm gonna get through it see how the energy is flowing

Unknown Speaker 1:01:09
let's do what are being boss

Emily Thompson 1:01:11
i don't hate that idea

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:14
i invested in like a moon goddess course oh five like that's just for fun totally redo

Emily Thompson 1:01:22
this shit well and again i also in fun like i'm investing in a lot now i've i've worked my ass off i've hustled it out five years into it i can invest in in self care for my brain and that means like doing fun things that i really just want to do to make me happy so you can get out like once you have your computer or your your tech like the pieces of the puzzle that are necessary for building a business and then you get things designed and developed so that it is you and so that you can sell to the masses that's the point when you can start putting money into like just general self care and happiness because you did the hustle you did the work and now you can have fun but regardless you can do all of this all of this without going into any debt if you learn how to work this systems

Kathleen Shannon 1:02:17
amen get that trial get that trial of fresh books and just have your three clients

Emily Thompson 1:02:23
just archive and unarchive as needed until you can afford to do it free trials i still operate off free trials

Kathleen Shannon 1:02:32
all the time i got one today to record the podcast

Emily Thompson 1:02:35
good a free trial i think free trials are magnificent i also think that payment plans are the creative entrepreneurs best friend yeah um it's totally possible so i don't want to hear it from anyone that you have to have money to make money because that's a load of horse poop because kathleen and i are prime examples and hopefully our facebook group will have tons of people giving tips on how they have done it themselves because lots of us do it

Kathleen Shannon 1:03:01
all right thank you for listening to being bossed from Emily Thompson and kathy and shannon find show notes for this episode at loving boss calm listen to our past episodes and subscribe to new episodes on itunes soundcloud and stitcher and if you like our podcast show us some love by reviewing being bought on itunes so actually i have to say the other day on our facebook i asked our facebook fans to leave us a review on itunes and they did and it launched us into the number two spot on all of business in itunes so we're just under pat flynn so pat flynn if you're listening to this we would love to have you on as a guest on our show so

Unknown Speaker 1:03:44
that we can get in the number one spot

Emily Thompson 1:03:46
just for a day like just let us in for this day

Kathleen Shannon 1:03:50
we can find out whenever you're releasing your podcasts that we can release ours on different days we're not competing so we can get into number one

Unknown Speaker 1:03:57
so anyway yes

Kathleen Shannon 1:03:59
show us some love by reviewing king boss on itunes and share it with a friend let your friends know about this podcast do the work be boss and we'll see you next week

i opened my lacroix

Emily Thompson 1:04:27
oh good free