Sublime Creations circa 1994

Sublime Creations circa 1994

It’s been my dream to be self-employed since I was 19 years old. Sublime Creations was born from my experiences at the Art Institute of Colorado. Living in downtown Denver during the mid-90’s heavily influenced my first logo. Street art was everywhere and I loved how rebellious and playful these murals were.

I wanted to work with these edgy, artsy people who pushed boundaries and didn’t care what other people thought of their work. I wanted to break into the photography, design and art scene but working in a photo lab (yeah, I’m old) wasn’t getting me anywhere.

The Art Institute of Colorado had taught me how to effectively use Photoshop 2.5 (yeah, no layers baby), and color and design theory provided the education I needed to break into print design and layout. That’s also when I discovered the world wide web (remember folks, it’s 1995 in this story), thought, “I need to jump onto this bandwagon”, started teaching myself HTML and loved it. The rest is history.

From Corporate to Small Business Owner

I’ve had the great fortune of designing and developing websites and email campaigns in various industries including, medical equipment manufacturing, electronics distribution, cable and entertainment and web hosting / domain name registration, as well as across departments such as marketing communications, information technology, customer service and creative services. After 20 years in the web industry, I felt I had enough knowledge and experience to branch out on my own and finally escaped Corporate America to support myself as an entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur has been the most rewarding experience of my professional career. It allows me the freedom to create my own schedule, work in my pajamas all day, and network with other entrepreneurs and small business owners who all share the same passion and commitment to their craft as I do mine. It’s boosted my self-confidence in my work and is profoundly rewarding when clients see their amazing new website.

Being an entrepreneur has also been the most challenging experience of my professional career. I’m not just the web developer anymore. I’m also the project manager, customer support, technical support, the designer, coder, marketing, sales and the quality assurance tester. I manage my time, my client’s time and online schedules. The 9-5 day does not exist anymore and I find it’s more like 24/7 with my business.

The Devil is in the Details

With all these balls in the air, it’s only natural that I’m going to drop one every now and then. It’s just me running this business though I do contract work out and hire service providers when it’s appropriate.  At times, I find that I’m too anxious to help a new client and I focus on the proposal or services I provide instead of focusing on the customers needs.

It can be easy to put new clients into a one-size-fits-all box and that’s why the devil really is in the details. I make careless or sloppy mistakes when I’m too worried about “closing the deal” and not worried enough about the clients’ needs. It’s easy to forget that my work speaks for itself and I get lost on the journey to impress potential clients.

Not a Superhero

Sometimes it feels like I’m a superhero at my business. I rescue clients with a website in distress and redesign it so the client also feels like a they are a web superhero. It’s very empowering to have a website that is working for your business! However, I’m not a superhero. I’m human and I make very human mistakes: I tend to put my foot in my mouth. I’m awkward and just not great at sales. I want to give away all my services and stumble when I have to justify my prices. I’m too generous with my time and probably don’t charge enough for it.

These are all the very reasons many of my clients love me. I don’t over-promise, over-charge, or fail to deliver on my tasks. I provide personalized one-on-one service to all, I’m a wealth of knowledge and experience and I have a 98% client satisfaction rate.

I’d love to hear your small business owner confessions. Tell me what you love about being and entrepreneur and some of the struggles you deal with being a small business owner or solopreneur in the comments below.

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