How I Left My Full-Time Job To Start An $8K/Month Web Design Agency

Stephen Ashcroft
Founder, Fruity Llama
$8K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
3
Employees
Fruity Llama
from Darwen, UK
started January 2022
$8,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
3
Employees
2.84M
alexa rank
145
followers
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How I Left My Full-Time Job To Start An $8K/Month Web Design Agency

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, my name is Steve, and my wife Stephanie started a Digital Marketing Agency ‘Fruity Llama’ based in Darwen, Lancashire. Our main services are web design, SEO, and Branding.

Our goal is to create amazing web designs that stand out from the crowd, and that are user-friendly. Offering the best customer service to our clients and being on hand before, during, and after their project is completed.

We are only 3 months into our business journey and currently make around £7,000 per month.

fruity-llama

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Art has always been my passion from a young child, I could sit for hours on end drawing, and this lead me to choose a graphic design to study at college. My college education landed me my first job as a graphic designer for a cardboard box manufacturer. It was there that I learned many skills and mastered the whole Adobe program, I was quite happy learning over the years and stayed in that position for 8 years.

It was around 5 years into my job that I and my wife Stephanie decided to start a side hustle, and it made sense to do something that we knew. My wife has run her hair and beauty business since the age of 19, which is very successful, and was very keen to grow our business portfolio. We came up with the idea to set up a Facebook page and sell graphic design services - Logos, leaflets, printing, etc. We decided that this income was purely just for luxuries and help towards holidays and possibly even car payments.

We then had to come up with a catchy name, that we wanted to be able to build a brand from, so Fruity Llama was born!

From there we made a good extra income working evenings and weekends, for clients found just through social media. It was great as we had no outgoing costs, and even managed to buy a new BMW with the money we made.

As time went on, and Covid-19 came along, our wants and needs changed massively and we were no longer content working for other people in a 9-5 job for the rest of our lives. We wanted quality of life and time to spend together as a family, with our two young children.

This is when we asked ourselves ‘How can we evolve from a side hustle to full-time with Fruity Llama?’

Between us we spent around 6 months putting together our new business plan for Fruity Llama, turning it from graphic design to a digital marketing agency. We were inspired by many Youtubers at the time that had built their empires, and we wanted to do the same.

The process to go from Facebook selling to an agency was long hours after work and weekends, planning and building our website and processes until we could launch our site and were ready to go.

Clients like that I attend in-person meetings, not just Zoom calls, which helps to seal the deal as they get to know me, this also helps me to upsell and work with them in the future.

fruity-llama

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

In November 2021 when we both booked off a day from work was the day we fully committed to handing in my notice at my full-time job, we decided the new year was best and to start 2022 on our new journey to success.

In one day we officially registered our business as an ltd company, set up all our social accounts, registered our business banking account with Stripe, and hired an accountant. It was an exhausting yet exhilarating day!

From here, we then waited it out until I could hand in my notice in January, from that day I had a long 8 weeks of notice to work before we could start, which felt like the longest 8 weeks I have ever experienced. Spending my days doubting myself and all my decisions and also very anxious that I wanted to do so much towards my business but still couldn’t do it all.

Our start-up costs were relatively low, currently, our business is run from our home office, which means that our only costs were getting a new Apple Mac and signing up for relevant online services to help run our business;

All of our start-up costs were funded through the money we made previously from Graphic design services that we had saved up ready for this new launch, so everything we made we re-invested into our new business.

We kept it as simple as possible and tried to limit our amount of outgoings, making it easier for us to keep track of profits, as this was our main worry when starting as we didn’t take out any business loans as a backup.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Our official launch was the first day I left my job of 8 years, it was a really strange feeling and I felt like I had the week off work and was going back to work the following week. It took me a good month to get rid of the Sunday evening blues.

The Fruity Llama website started to gain decent views as we got past month 2, we were happy to get 1 or 2 customers to contact us directly through our site, which turned into a sale and that got us through to cover our costs and pay my wage.

We had no start-up funds, credit cards, loans nothing. Everything was on the line if didn’t bring in the money! Before I officially left my job I spend time messaging local business owners through LinkedIn, this landed me jobs that brought in money before we officially started, which gave us a small amount in the business to help.

Our biggest lesson from launching, if we could do it all again would be to attend as many networking events as possible, leaflet drop,s and get advertising signs up pre-launch to get more initial interest in the business. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time or the budget for this, but if we did that is something that would have greatly helped.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

When building our new website, we spent a lot of time researching our local competition and the companies we aspired to be. We then used all the information we had acquired to build a website that included the information, services, images, etc we thought were needed and better.

Our goal was to make a website that would perform better than our competitors whilst also having a beautiful design and quick loading time.

All my customers have commented on my super quick response time, and this is exactly what we found also when doing competitor research, no one answers the phone, and companies take a long time to respond to leads. This is where we differ, we aim to reply to all our customers within the hour, and this has got us a lot of our jobs.

Clients also like that I attend in-person meetings, not just Zoom calls, which helps to seal the deal as they get to know me, this also helps me to upsell and work with them in the future.

We have gained our first clients through a mix of LinkedIn, google searches, and also networking events. So far we have not spent a penny on paid online ads! Instead, we have invested in LinkedIn sales navigator pro to help us reach out to customers and go to as many networking events in the local area as we possibly can, just starting a conversation with other business owners and asking how their business is going. We feel this is the best way to set off if you do not have huge funds to put into paid ads and promotions.

So far the most important lesson that has been learned is to always ask the clients BUDGET, this is somewhat of an uncomfortable question to ask. So far every client that I did not get the budget from, I have lost the sale!!

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

3 months into our official full-time business and we are turning a good profit and just completed the process to hire our first remote employee to do website design and development, which is exciting that we are hitting our business plan targets.

Our next move is to keep growing our team and hire an SEO expert, this will allow me to spend less time fulfilling the services and get out there to sell, network, and build my agency in other areas and focus on company growth.

Overall our goal is to be a full team within the first 12 months with 5 full-time employees and an office where customers can come in and meet the team.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

So far the most important lesson that has been learned is to always ask the clients BUDGET, this is somewhat of an uncomfortable question to ask. So far every client that I did not get the budget from, I have lost the sale!! This is the most frustrating feeling in the world, not all customers will give you a budget, so in that case, I now give a range of cost options. That way they can choose for themselves the money they feel willing to invest in their project.

Another great tip is to get in touch with other local businesses, we have gained a lot of work reaching out to other like-minded businesses. We have recently teamed up with a local gin distillery to build their website, we also got the chance to create our Fruity Llama gin.

The best decision so far would be leaving my full-time job, leaving my comfort zone, and stepping into the unknown!

fruity-llama

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The first investment we made was getting the Semrush subscription, which helped us when researching our competition, we have since upgraded and it is a tool that we use daily. There are so many functions, that we are still learning all of the capable possibilities, from keyword research, backlink gaps, and even content creation.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I have learned a lot from various books, podcasts, and youtube, here is a list of the main ones that have made a difference to me when making my decision to start this business.

Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion
Taught me the power of influence and how marketers use this knowledge to win clients.

The Introvert’s Edge - Great guide for people with introverted tendencies when it comes to selling.

GaryVee Podcast - Fantastic podcast that inspires and motivates every time.

Chris Do- Futur Youtube (Design) - Design tips and how to turn the design into a business.

Finsweet/ Webflow University - Webflow lessons and best practices - Vital for anyone starting Webflow.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Our biggest piece of advice is to step out of your comfort zone, no business plan can tell you the future. You need to push yourself into situations that you don’t like, this will help you grow as a business owner, moulding you into a confident successful person. Working on you is the best investment you can make for your business. Learn to sell, learn to speak confidently about what you’re selling.

Another tip we have learned in the delegate, delegation allows your company to work whilst you spend time growing the business, getting the next sale, networking, and setting up new income streams.

Self-doubt is not a bad thing, it means your trying something new that scares you. But if nothing scares you, nothing will ever change.

fruity-llama

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

SEO Specialist

We are looking for a Senior SEO Account Manager to work alongside our website team to complete SEO strategy, setup, and monthly retainer management.

On a day-to-day you’ll be liaising with clients, producing keyword research, and content recommendations, optimizing on-page content, setting up google properties, and producing reports and SEO strategies.

Essential Experience

  • At least 5 years as an SEO Account Manager
  • At least 2 years of experience leading client projects
  • Building strong client relationships
  • Extensive knowledge of the digital marketing ecosystem
  • Expert experience working with up-to-date tools (SEMRush, ScreamingFrog, AWR, Google Analytics, Google Search Console)

Role

  • Managing the SEO at our agency
  • Have the ability to oversee and drive multiple SEO strategies from varied industries
  • Leading internal and external SEO projects
  • Create monthly reports to provide feedback on the performance of the SEO department
  • Support our team to ensure projects receive the correct level of SEO input
  • Be our source of knowledge on everything SEO, proactively sharing ideas and recommendations on the latest SEO trends
  • Working on our internal SEO and gaining rankings on our website
  • Using multiple CMS technologies to action your strategies
  • Site analytics (reporting and setting goals/events etc)
  • Ability to produce top-level keyword-rich content
  • Maintain all SEO documentation and ensure its kept up to date

Personality

  • Organised and a self-driven person
  • Communicate confidently and easily with clients
  • Eager to learn
  • Excellent written and verbal communications
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong problem-solving skills

Location

  • Lancashire (Required)

What we can offer you

  • Salary £30,000
  • 20 days holiday + 8 statutory public/bank holidays
  • Pension contribution
  • Regular office socials / events

Benefits:

  • Casual dress
  • Company events
  • Company pension

Schedule:

  • Monday to Friday 9-5 pm

To apply please send your CV and cover letter to [email protected].

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

-  
Stephen Ashcroft, Founder of Fruity Llama
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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