This is a follow up story for Buddy Web Design and Development. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Buddy offers services including website design and development, logo design, graphic design, branding, web content writing, e-commerce, blogging, and search engine optimization (SEO).
Our primary focus is quality, quality, quality -- in outstanding aesthetic design, top-notch technical work, and excellent customer experience. We work with businesses across a wide range of industries that are looking for a high-quality, differentiated online presence to establish themselves as a leader in their space.
Providing quality products or services will gain you fans and advocates that will help you grow your business
We’ve been continuing to grow and evolve, and are tracking to bring in revenues in the 6-figure range this year again. Perhaps equally important to us, we’ve continued to work with new clients, and earn excellent online client reviews, and our repeat business and referrals have ramped up substantially in the last year.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
Fortunately business has continued to grow year over year, but month-to-month there are constant ebbs and flows. Interestingly, it seems like calendar year-end and the first part of the year is typically a time when things get really busy, whereas, during spring break and summer vacation from school, things tend to slow down a bit.
It’s influenced our marketing strategy to a degree, knowing when we need to push harder on the sales and marketing front, and when we know we’ll need more bandwidth to keep up with demand.
As far as our team evolution, we had a growth spurt about a year ago, and we’ve since settled in a bit to find a good balance of how big we need our team to be able to keep folks sufficiently busy, while also having enough capacity and keeping our overhead expenses manageable.
On the sales and marketing front, we’ve been continuing to plug away at our SEO strategy, and we’re continuing to see progress regarding our domain authority, Google rankings, and inbound leads.
Additionally, one big change has been the volume of repeat customers and referrals have started to ramp up and snowball. That’s fantastic, obviously, and we’re hoping that just continues to increase. Our marketing approach has always taken a long-term view, in that for each client we want to do an excellent job, and get great reviews, and thus, good chances for repeat business and referrals. It seems like that’s panning out.
One new thing we’re working on, and will be rolling out pretty robustly mid-year, will be an email marketing campaign. Behind the scenes, we’ve been putting together a lot of learning materials and resources for potential clients, and we aim to offer those for free in exchange for an email sign-up, and then offer additional, more substantial resources as low-priced options, with the intent that some who use these will convert to web development customers.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
The biggest challenge in this past year has been the ups and downs of new client work. Despite working in this space for several years now, while there do seem to be some correlations between certain times of the year and business being busy or slow, there’s still some variation that I can’t necessarily predict or explain.
To help with this, I’ve been increasingly focused on building up cash reserves to cover fixed expenses through ups and downs, and also managing our team so we have the right people available when we need them.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I think along with the answer to the prior question about challenges and building up cash reserves, I’m always experimenting with new marketing approaches to see what works the best.
This past year I tried Google Ads for a bit. I didn’t work with an agency, as I didn’t want to invest the amount of money that would have been required -- I just wanted to dip my toe in the water to try it, so to speak.
Google Ads didn’t pan out for us. I’m sure some web development teams are using it effectively, but our experience is we burned through cash without any substantial results. So, we’re using that money elsewhere now.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
For 2023, our main focus is just to focus on the basics: continuing to work hard on the sales and marketing front, and as opportunities arise, only taking on projects we know we can knock out of the ballpark. That leads to happy customers, great reviews, more awesome projects to add to our portfolio, and future opportunities for repeat work and referrals.
Also, we’re continuing to focus on SEO, and we’ll be adding email marketing as a large component of our marketing mix.
For the next five years, I’m confident that if we continue to focus on these things, we’ll be in really good shape. We’re seeing happy customers and more referrals, and our revenues have been trending up year over year, so I think we’re on the right track.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
One of my personal goes for this year has been to up my own game on the web development front. As Buddy has grown, the business has evolved from where we started -- myself just working as a solo freelancer -- to now a more robust team.
But, just for team bandwidth, and also to manage personnel costs, I’ve gotten back into working hands-on on client projects a little more, lately. But that said, the quality of our work has ramped up over the past few years, so I need to up my own game, as well!
Accordingly, I’ve been subscribing to a lot more YouTube channels from experienced graphic designers to learn about their design approaches, and borrow ideas. It’s helped to learn from really talented folks this way!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I think my first tip would be -- probably not surprisingly -- to focus primarily on doing a great job in your work. Providing quality products or services will gain you fans and advocates that will help you grow your business, whereas not doing a good job will set you back, and lead to bad reviews, and negative word of mouth. You’ve got to do what you can to provide excellent work and influence the impressions others will have of you and your business.
Then second, you’ve probably heard the saying “cash is king.” Operationally, this takes the form of managing cash flow. Granted, when you’re first starting a business, you’re managing cash at a day-to-day level, typically.
But, as soon as possible, try to start thinking of your cash flow as a monthly plan. Get a good grasp on what your monthly expenses are, what revenues you have coming in, and when, and how long those will keep your expenses covered.
Along with revenue and profit, another useful metric is how much runway (time-wise) you have before your cash runs out, and along with that, how much can you afford to pay yourself, while still giving yourself that cashflow cushion? Thinking this way and focusing on growing these metrics will help you ensure you can keep the business running through ups and downs, and you can keep your paycheck consistent.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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