Sometimes we start down one path, set our intentions and goals, work hard to achieve them, then somewhere along the way, end up on another path.
It’s called Life as a Boss!
It’s a constant flow of energy, ideas, goals, momentum and results….most of all it’s a journey. The great news is, you’re not alone on your journey.
There’s so much we can learn from each of our experience’s and so much knowledge and value gained from a community of like minded Bosses.
So I would like to introduce you to the first article in a new Interview Series called: Goal Setting Like A Boss.
Through the interviews in this series we’ll learn about the different journey’s that Business Owners just like you from all over the world and all from different industries and stages of business have enjoyed.
So get comfy, brew a tea, read through the interview and feel free to leave your comments at the end of the post.
Goal Setting Like a Boss with Nikki Nuckols of Doodle Dog. Doodle Dog is web design and brand design firm based in Dallas and Austin, Texas.
I’m a wife, a mom and a business owner.
I am married to my best friend, who I met on the first day I moved to Texas (from Iowa) for college.
I have a 5 week old baby girl named Olivia, an awesome three year old little dude named Colton, who keeps me laughing (and on my toes) constantly and a 10 year old all white husky named Ringo.
I started Doodle Dog unofficially in 2008 while freelancing for a couple friends of friends, while working at an ad agency, and quickly realized I loved working directly with clients to help their businesses grow.
After about 2 years, the couple freelance projects had multiplied to quite a few more and I took the business full time in 2010.
Now, 6 years later Doodle Dog is a team of dedicated designers, developers and strategists that help small businesses come to life and expand to new levels!
We create smile-worth concepts that capture personality and inspire brands.
After freelancing in college, I always knew I wanted to work for myself, but just didn’t know how to get there right away.
As a senior in college I was hired full time at an ad agency to be a Junior Art Director. It was a great place to start, but I never really felt like it was right. I always thought it was a bit underwhelming to be such a small piece of the end product that we were delivering to the client, and I wanted to get more involved with the business’ goals as well as their design and ROI, and in order to do that I was going to have to work my way up to a much higher ranking position – or set out on my own.
When I started on my own I was freelancing a couple projects for friends of friends that I didn’t expect to go anywhere, while focusing on marketing Doodle Dog on selling custom invitations and launching an eCommerce store with stationery and signage.
I did a couple of custom stationery orders for brides and a lot of very small orders for other customers – but soon realized I didn’t really have a passion for creating invitations or stationery like I did the stuff I was doing as freelance for business owners.
I was passionate about helping the small businesses and growing their brands so the stationery soon fell to the side.
I also noticed that I was spending 80% of my time creating and promoting the invitations side of the business but making about 20% of my income from it – while I was really making the bulk of the income from the branding and webdesign freelance that I was doing.
That’s when I knew it was really time to refocus the business product, the goals and the direction. We needed to focus 100% of the energy into the part of the business that was generating income and growth.
Tell us a little about what your business looked like when you first got started?
One online stationery shop with about 30 products in it and some info about custom invitations.
It was just me and a website!
I went to every networking event I could and met a ton of people in the wedding and event industry – which ended up being a great move – since eventually I began to work with a lot of those business owners on their businesses as opposed to working with their brides on stationery, as I originally intended.
I remember when I first started, I sat down with the lovely ladies of Sage Wedding Pros and put together a business plan for my stationery business.
At this time, I was trying to achieve the same salary that I was making at my full-time ad agency job so that I could go full time.
We talked about how many orders I would need and how many hours a day/week/month I wanted to work on the business to achieve that goal. This was a great place to start, but since that time 6-8 years later, my business has changed and so has every goal that I had for it at the time.
I started with no cap in how many hours I wanted to put into the business – this was something I’m really happy I did – it helped it take off – but now that I have a family, I have strict business hours and try not to upset the work/life balance.
My monetary goals have also changed. I now have employees and office space rent and a lot more costs associated with day-to-day business than I did when it was just me and a website.
Lastly, when I started, I had such a different direction that my overhead had to do with printing, supplies, assembly assistance, and more – now we are strictly digital – no printing, no assembly, no supplies other than each employees computer for the most part.
Overall, we are creating a product that is now an investment for a company as opposed to a single small element for an individual consumer.
What has been the results of your goals changing and what does your business look like now?
We craft and launch about 50 brands and websites per year.
We are a small (full-time/in-house) team of 4. We have hundreds of successful clients that we are proud of.
We’ve built our own proprietary client portal which allows our clients to have a much different branding and web design experience than our competitors and we have a ton of goals for the next 12 months that are not only helping us focus on our existing niche market within the event industries – but also helping us expand to new markets that are similarly creative and could use our help!
We love what we do and take a great pride in our work!
I have never regretted adding to our team.
When I was trying to decide whether or not I was ready to bring on the first employee or even the second, I was very hesitant to do so. I knew I had people depending on me, depending on Doodle Dog, but with every hire, our business has improved.
Not every person has been a good fit – but the ones who have, have really helped us get to the next level, and the ones who haven’t have definitely taught us a thing or two.
I’ve also worked very hard to encourage anyone on our team to take pride in OUR business. Sometimes being a part of a small business team, makes it feel like you’re just working for someone without a lot of room to grow since there aren’t a lot of steps up the ladder or position title changes, but creating a sense of ownership with every employee has not only been beneficial but very rewarding to me and everyone on our team.
For anyone considering changing goals and direction, what advice would you like to share?
Be smart – don’t just add services or change your direction because it’s trendy or seems fun.
Look at your numbers, if you truly intend to grow a sustainable business you need to do what works for the business.
I see people adding services left and right that don’t always make sense to the consumer. So, look at what is working for your business. What are your customers coming back to you for? What is generating an income for you and has a future to take your business to the next level?
Thank you so much to Nikki for sharing so many awesome insights! It sounds like it has been an amazing journey so far, one which is far from over.
So here’s a few things we can learn from Nikki:
- Focus 100% of the energy into the part of the business that is generating income and growth.
- Plan and work to your goals; but know your goals can change as your business grows.
- Your team can be your best asset – invest in having all team members on board with your goals and your vision.
- When you’re thinking about changing goals and changing direction, look at what’s working for your business ad your customers.
You can learn more about Nikki’s business Doodle Dog here.
If you would like to share your business journey so far please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below!