Solopreneurship isn’t for everyone and deciding when to go from a one-woman show to a team leader is an individualized decision. For Gillian Sarah, the transition happened in 2020 after running her website design service alone for years. Now, with her plate full instead of overflowing, she’s been able to not only focus on expanding her repertoire but offer advice for those who want to do the same too.
Ahead, the SHE Media Collective member shares why she hasn’t had to advertise her service in years, the branding trend she sees taking off, and why leaning into a niche is worth the risk.
Did you start out with a team? If not, how did you know when it was time to expand and hire other people?
I worked the first three years in my business as a one-woman show. It was only at the beginning of 2020 that I decided I needed a team behind me. In the past two years, we have expanded to include 13 staff members, six full-time and seven part-time. I knew it was time to build a team when I couldn’t physically take on any more work. I was completely maxed out and making as much as I could without expanding or significantly raising my pricing.
What are some of the tools and/or strategies you have in place for your business finances?
My favorite tool is FreeAgent. it’s a piece of software similar to Quickbooks that my business bank account gives me access to for free. It’s a great way of getting a P&L overview for the quarter and keeping me on track. I also use Quickbooks for my own self-assessment taxes, it’s a lifesaver.
What is the most requested service on your site?
My most popular service by far is my custom blog design package. I work mainly with home and lifestyle influencers that fall into more of a ‘farmhouse’ niche and I absolutely love this. The reason this service is so popular is because of my clients. I love them all to pieces and we get on so well.
This helps me build a great referral network. My clients do so much of my marketing for me. So much so, that I haven’t had to advertise my services in at least two and a half years. If you provide exceptional service, then the word will spread and you’ll start to dominate your niche.
Are there any visual branding trends you see becoming more popular?
I can see the modern sans serif font taking over this year, which I’m really looking forward to as it’s so neat and clean and completely my style! This paired with a more neutral color palette. Pretty much the complete opposite of the foil and watercolour bold scripts we saw a few years ago. I’m expecting it all to be refreshingly modern.
What’s your advice for someone who needs to build a clientele from scratch?
Pick your niche! If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll be memorable to no one. Choosing your niche and sticking to it really allows you to dive into specific elements that those type of clients want to see. Would you rather hire someone who specialized in exactly what you were looking for, or someone who did a little bit of everything? Stay in your lane and be as authentic as you can and your people will find you, trust me!
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