This is a follow up story for Above 8000 Creative. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Mimi Council and I’m the owner of Above 8000 Creative. I started and own this business with my husband, Delaney. Above 8000 Creative was started as a side hustle to help us build our home, and since then it’s become my husband’s full-time job and we’re close to hitting six figures of yearly revenue.
We are a creative firm that offers photography, content creation, copywriting, graphic design, website design, styling, interior design, and Instagram marketing. We work with many clients within the food, outdoor, and lifestyle industries, but specifically a lot within the food industry.
We are always willing to take on a project where we can help someone transform something creatively. All the services we offer have that in the common, creative transformation which is what we specialize in. We have an eye for content, design, and style.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since last year, we have pretty much stayed the same financially within our business. We were building our home, which was why we started the business in the first place! So, taking on clients that we had time for and could give our attention to is always something we consider.
Set a goal for yourself to email potential clients, start with once a week, then go to a few times a week, then even a few times a day. The more you communicate, the more people find out about you.
This next year, I will focus more on growing the business more as we will have more time to take on more clients and work. My current marketing efforts are the same as they have been in the past, which is mainly Instagram, email marketing, and word of mouth. I have started setting new goals to send out more emails than I have in the past. It’s something that seems so simple to do, yet it does take up a good amount of time.
Reaching out to clients that I truly want to work with is something that I really focus on. As A8C started as a side hustle, I knew I only wanted to take on projects that I was passionate about because I didn’t have to do anything. Everything I was doing was a bonus already! And even as we put more focus on this business, that still rings true. Working with clients and brands that I truly care about is something that makes us stand out amongst other firms. Not everyone can say they do at their firm, as a lot of people are trying to make that money! But to work creatively with many small and even larger businesses now, I still feel that being excited about what they do is a huge part of being able to do the job.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned has been how to know when to let clients go. I am always passionate about all my client’s businesses, which is why I take them on as clients in the first place. However, sometimes a client can be way more work than they are worth, even if you are passionate about their business!
When you work freelance you do have a little more freedom than if you are working for a company. That’s one of the perks and one of the downfalls as work isn’t always as consistent. So, when you get work you get excited about it! But, sometimes clients just create more headaches than it would be to have less income. You need to know when that is and when to let them go.
Some telltale signs? When clients are constantly ignoring your professional opinions, (ie. the reason they hired you), that’s a good reason to let go because then they aren’t actually letting you do the job they hired you for. When clients change their mind from what you originally agreed upon, that can be a reason to let them go as the scope of work or the entire project isn’t what you agreed upon. That could lead to problems down the road and even getting paid. And when clients constantly ask you to do more work than was not within the original scope of the agreement, and they aren’t willing to compensate for it then that’s another reason to let them go.
As a business owner, you need to value yourself and your time. It can be really hard because getting the sale, the client, the work - can seem like the biggest challenge at first. But, if you don’t value yourself and your time correctly, you’ll never make a living with your business and that is the goal! It can be difficult to turn down someone or something because of some dollars. But, when you know what you’re worth and know you can do the job then you should stand firm. You’ll get there eventually, even if it takes you a few sales or clients to understand.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Plans are to keep going and keep growing! I’d love to work with more brands, more businesses, and especially more businesses from conception. Yet, working with small businesses from the start can be difficult as it’s hard to find them to get in touch before they have a website, haha! Brand identity is a strong suit of ours and I’d love to help more people with that aspect of design from the beginning.
We recently have started doing some interior design as well and doing more of that is something that is on my mind that I will try to promote and grow in the coming year. It’s something I am excited about for the future!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Yes, I just read You Are A Badass At Making Money. I highly recommend it to anyone trying to be their own boss. I love her funny, yet practical approach to thinking about money. I’ve never had a poor relationship with it, but I can see how many people do. Especially someone who might want to start on their own. But, having that relationship is so crucial to bringing in the money you want and need. Even as someone who’s had a good relationship with money, I still really enjoyed the book and got a lot of good takeaways from it.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Communication is key! If you’re not growing your business, then you’re not marketing, advertising, or talking about yourself enough. A lot of people don’t like to talk about themselves, but if you struggle with that then you will struggle with owning your own business. You need to communicate what you have to offer so people know. If you can’t do that then you will have a difficult time getting business.
If it’s difficult to do this in person, then make sure to send out emails to let new potential clients or customers know what you have. If you have a retail store, then use email marketing to grow your database and blast out emails every week! My favorite tool for my retail shop is Square as you can easily get customer emails by sending them a receipt, and then you can use that information to send them reminders, discounts, and more.
If you work more with a client base than a walk-in business, you can still market yourself daily. Set a goal for yourself to email potential clients, start with once a week, then go to a few times a week, then even a few times a day. The more you communicate, the more people find out about you. They may not want or need to work with you at the time you send the email, but they may get in touch later or put you up for a future project. And, the worst possible scenario is someone new just found out about you by seeing and reading your email, you just never know where that might lead.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
No, we are not hiring for any positions as I plan to keep our business just the two of us. I want to bring in as much revenue as we can handle ourselves as it allows us to stay hands-on with clients and also make sure the quality of our work is what we expect. Besides that, I mentioned in our last interview that having staff can complicate your business and if it’s not needed then that is ideal, for us and this business. I do love working with other agencies on projects to help clients through. You can always get in touch if you’re another creator or manager that needs help with content or design.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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