Understanding Your Dream Client with Steph Davis
Today Sam & Karyn are joined by their guest, Steph Davis to share how the Making Website Magic School of Business and her past experiences led Steph to confidently run her web design business and serve her ideal clients with the services they truly need.
Episode 33: Identifying vs. UNDERSTANDING Your Dream Client with Steph Davis
The balance of honoring your own availability while understanding and respecting the seasons of your clients’ business as well.
Karyn Paige, Steph Davis, Sam Munoz
Steph Davis 00:00
The main things that I think of for designing a nonprofit website is one, what you need for small businesses, your call to action, which a lot of cases it’s to donate. And so if you want people to give you money to help further your cause, you need to make sure that they know what you’re doing that they connect with you on a personal level, that they really get the emotional element to it. So having those photos showing what you’re doing what you’re trying to accomplish, you know, having it clearly stated what you’re trying to accomplish in a way to make that connection in that very short amount of time that they’re on your website. And so I think that, I guess that would be the difference for a small business. Maybe you want you’ll get an emotional connection, but that’s kind of gained other places where people are much more likely to donate and support your cause if they feel that connection.
Sam Munoz 01:05
Welcome to Making website magic where we empower women to step boldly into their web design businesses follow their intuition and claim the success they’re worthy of. I’m Sam Munoz.
Karyn Paige 01:15
And I’m Karen Page, where the Tech Wizards behind Sam Linnaeus consulting and the making website Magic School of Business. Were two women here to talk about what it actually takes to run a web design business that’s aligned with your vision.
Sam Munoz 01:28
Spoiler alert, it probably isn’t what you think it is ready to hear about everything from refining your business vision, networking with intention and creating a magical client experience.
Karyn Paige 01:37
Let’s do it.
Sam Munoz 01:44
Hey, there, it’s Sam. For today’s episode, Karen and I interviewed one of our mentees from the making website Magic School of Business. Steph Davis. Steph is a former preservation engineer turned web designer for nonprofits. She also owns and operates a bed and breakfast in Maine. During our conversation, we discussed the value of deeply knowing your ideal client, how you can pull any of your life experiences into your work for greater value and centering your clients experience to guide them towards a buying decision. During the mentorship Steph made a full return on her investment and some and is currently working with her dream client on a project she’s super excited about. I absolutely cannot wait for you to listen to this one. So I’m going to stop talking so you can dive in. Hello, Karen. Hello, Steph.
Karyn Paige 02:32
Sam Munoz 02:33
Yeah, that’s right. It’s three of us today. We’re so excited. We have the lovely Steph Davis from our mentorship. And I mean honestly, not just from the mentorship. We’ve known Steph for a long time now, which I know we’re going to get into as we’re interviewing you. But Steph just completed cycle one of our six month mentorship all for women, web designers and developers. And it was such a joy watching her grow and all of the fun things which I really, really want to talk about. And I can’t wait to just introduce you all to Steph, she’s awesome. In fact, why don’t we give you the opportunity to introduce yourself. Tell us your story. Tell us about you all of the fun, exciting things you have going on. And just to give our listeners a little peek into Stef Davis.
Steph Davis 03:20
Write a quick summary. I guess. I’m Steph Davis. I spent 14 years in a career as a preservation engineer. And that is what I went to school for and had my master’s degree from England and all sorts of fun stuff. We have a five year old girl and my husband is from Maine, we were living outside of Boston, and my husband wanted to move back to family. So two and a half years ago, we bought a bed and breakfast in Maine and moved relocated. I continued working as a preservation engineer part time while we were commuting back and forth to Boston. And then last February, I left my position there. And I needed something else to do because you know, having a five year old and running a Bed and Breakfast isn’t enough. So I decided I wanted to do web design. I designed the brand new website for our bed and breakfast and I really liked it. I’ve been a part of multiple nonprofits and my current I’m on a board of women in restoration engineering. And I managed the website there and so I’ve had that experience. And so I I like I can do that. That sounds fun. So that’s how I got here. Yeah. Oh
Sam Munoz 04:43
my gosh, can we just take a moment and just like dwell in stuffs like sheet of awesomeness here you show you’re so impressive. You’ve done so many things. You have so much life experience, and I would really love to talk about that on this podcast today. Just about How like your story fuses into the work that you’re doing and all of that, but it is just so insane how many different things that you’re doing and doing them? Well. I mean, I don’t know what it was the other day, I was just thinking about you owning a bed and breakfast. And I actually would love to just know a little bit about what that’s like. Because I think that that’s such a unique thing, don’t you think? Karen, have you known anyone to own a bed and breakfast?
Karyn Paige 05:23
Not personally, I’ve stayed up bed and breakfasts and spoken with the owners. But that’s like, not the same thing. You know?
Sam Munoz 05:29
Yeah. So can you tell us what that’s like? And we’ll tie it back, we’ll make a nice little segue back into web design. But they’re all related and connected. So please give us a little like, inside.
Steph Davis 05:39
Yeah, so there’s the the main elements that everyone knows, I run it by myself, my husband still works full time, at his job remotely. And so it’s just me during the summer, in part of the winter, my mom helps clean rooms, we have a four bedroom Bed and Breakfast, so we can have up to 10 guests. And so I’m there, you know, checking the people in, and then I cook breakfast in the morning. And then obviously clean the rooms, wash, a lot of linens like, unbelievable amount of my washer runs a lot. But it’s it’s really fun. It’s really funny because I drive by this one spot, kind of down the road from us. And it used to have this falling apart old hotel type building. And I remember it wasn’t until we moved back up here, like in the past year that I remember telling Mike that How cool would it be to own that place and run it as a hotel like this was like 12 years ago, I would say, since I’m about building, it’s been demolished, and it’s not there anymore. But it’s like weird little things like pop up like, oh, maybe like, this wasn’t such a random idea as I first thought it was. But you know, like through COVID, we didn’t, we had some guests and then COVID hit and we didn’t have guests, because we bought it six months before lockdown started. I think we’re all surprised how much we missed having guests in the house. I mean, we live in the house, it’s our house, which then the guest rooms are part of it all. So you know, we are literally having strangers stay at our house. And you know, you missed hearing them chatting in the morning or sitting out at the deck on the deck in the evening and stuff and just getting to know them a little bit. Mike and I are both definitely introverts, but we very much enjoy having like getting to know other people and chatting with them. And they’re always very interesting and fun to have. So we like it.
Sam Munoz 07:43
Yeah, that is so cool. Thank you so much for sharing that. I just, I was always so curious about what that looked like and felt like and so kind of bringing it back into the other facet of what you’re doing, which is running a web design business. Like how does the how does the web design kind of fit into your world? Because you are you are very busy. Like you said, you have your daughter, you have family, you have this bed and breakfast that you’re running? How do you make time for building the business doing the websites. And I know obviously, I know from behind the scenes in the mentorship that this was something that you’ve been working through. But I’d love for you to just share a little bit about your experience managing multiple things and wearing so many hats.
Steph Davis 08:26
Yeah, so it’s, it’s an ongoing challenge. We’re working through it. I don’t know if I’ll ever have it down. But it’s getting better, more manageable. The interesting thing was, I went from you know, being an employee and owning a business to just owning two businesses. The time management changed drastically on you know, how I had to figure things out, versus kind of having set hours and having a bit more flexibility. But we’re getting through there, I’m I’m working my current plan that I’m testing out is kind of having more designated days for each tasks like each. So like on Mondays after guests have checked out for the weekend, I focus on cleaning the rooms and getting them ready. And then the other days of the week, I’m able to sit at the computer and do website work and whatnot. I think that’s about it. I think it’s just something that’s gonna be figuring out every time seasonally the work levels are going to change. So like our summers are busy, and we’re hoping our ski season is going to be very busy. So the bed and breakfast is going to be a lot more work during those times. So I’ll be busy or cleaning, but at the same time I will be here so the cleaning element won’t be as heavy on me. So it’s just going to be coming and going in waves and figuring it out. I think as I go, but we’re getting there. I feel less like I’m drowning than I did six months ago. So we’re we’re making progress.
Sam Munoz 09:57
That’s That’s so great. So taking all of that, and I love that you shared that it’s a continual process, I’m actually kind of thinking for anyone that’s listening that either has a job that they’re working, or maybe they have their own business. And they haven’t quite seen a lot of growth yet in the web design space. A lot of people, interestingly enough, do like other things online first, like maybe they do VA work, or they try copywriting or all these different things, and they’ve got like some money kind of coming in over here. And then they’re like building their web design business on the side, and then like, eventually, kind of moving over to one, you know, moving over to web design. Do you feel like, you know, whether it be seasonally, you know, one takes over over the other between the b&b or the web design stuff? Do you feel like there’s a vision for where you’re going with that? Or is it kind of like, do you see it as one? Not one business, but like, one thing that you do? Or do you see them very compartmentalized, if that makes sense?
Steph Davis 10:59
I don’t think it’s something that I can compartmentalize. It’s all just kind of like, inter woven, you know, I’m sure, especially as I get into it a bit more. While I’m cooking breakfast on 6am, I’m going to be thinking about the website I’m working on. But my, my intent is, the summer, especially when my daughter will be home from school is going to be very busy for the bed and breakfast side. You know, like this past summer, we were booked every weekend, and you know, had a few during the weekdays and stuff. And so that takes a lot. I’m basically working seven days a week. So I’m kind of intending to plan my projects as they come in, that I will not be taking on new projects, or starting new projects during those summer months, specifically July and August, so that I can focus on the rest of life. And then you know, kind of pick it back up in September, September will be iffy, too, we have a large fish agricultural fair that I’m sold out for the full week. So that whole week will not be web design. I can’t do any web design that week.
Karyn Paige 12:14
I just want to like take a moment and and really notice something that is so fascinating. Right now with your story stuff. Like everything you’ve said, you got a bed and breakfast, you’ve got a web design business, you’ve got a family, we’re raising a daughter who has a very specific schedule, like the theme of like scheduling, time management seasons is like so prevalent in your story, right? And I want to applaud you on the awareness that you have about the seasons of your life and how your business is fit into that, right. Like, I really feel like we should normalize this idea that it’s okay to have multiple ventures and multiple projects, and multiple, like a life chapters that we’re going through all at once. That’s okay. And also, you can make it work by really understanding when something fits in and when like something has to kind of move to the front and another piece has to like, move behind it. And that’s okay. Right. And so, thinking about all that, like, I’m just so pleased to hear how like aware you are of like, okay, well in the summer, I’m going to be focusing on this, which I would hope is like the flip side of that is, so I get to let go of focusing on this other thing. And that’s okay, you know what I mean? It hasn’t been a terribly long time since the mentorship has ended, right? And you’re already like leaps and bounds in this like competence place of like knowing how to manage your time, which is so impressive.
Sam Munoz 13:46
Yes. And I want to circle back when we are getting more into the professional side, which is where I want to kind of go next, I want to circle back to that idea of knowing your availability and like honoring that and how effective that can be for selling and all that I’d love to talk more about that with you stuff. But first, I think that it would be move us to talk about your business in terms of like who you serve. And I love that, that every part of you connects to your business. So I’d love to invite you to share your identity statement, or however you you know, your tagline who you work with, however you want to do it. But just take a moment and tell us you know what your business is about?
Steph Davis 14:32
Yeah, I guess in the tagline element of it is I design websites for nonprofits. So I have experience on multiple boards and just know that the tech side the tech skills are normally not involved a skill set of nonprofit organizations. And I’d like to assist in providing a nice, clean, straightforward and simple website that they can further their mission, assist in their mission and really move forward with what they’re trying to accomplish in helping improve the world at large. That’s awesome. Love it.
Karyn Paige 15:11
And what was that process like for you to make that decision in, in your business,
Steph Davis 15:16
I knew going in that I didn’t want to just design websites for anybody and everything. And it feels like there are not that I couldn’t fit in. But it feels like there’s already a number of people who design websites for like small businesses. And so I was thinking specifically of doing the bed and breakfast for the nonprofits, because I just have experience on the other side of it. I have experiences on how they’re run on what really what the owners and organizations need them to accomplish. And in one of my nonprofits, we hired somebody, to design a website, it was a lot harder to find somebody that worked with nonprofits could provide what we want, and work within our budgets and stuff than we would I would have expected. And so it just felt like there’s a larger need out there, or web designers that just focus on those nonprofit organizations.
Sam Munoz 16:17
So it was very much like there was a need, and you had experience beyond just the website, stuff that you could add to the value of what you’re providing. And I feel like that is something so important. If you are listening, and you’re trying to figure out who you want to work with, if you have decided, you know, I want to go down like the dream client route versus like the dream project route, understanding your story. And that’s like, the first thing we do in the mentorship, right is like, what’s your story, what are like the things about you that you like, already know, different experiences that you can pull from that will add extra value to your client and to your work, and honestly, kind of help you sell it as well, right? Because you’re like, I not only know the web design side of things, and I can help with the back end, but I understand the problems that you’re facing, because I’m a part of that world. And I speak your language and your ideal client stuff with nonprofits is different than a small business owner, right? Can you describe the differences between like a nonprofit client and at least your perception of like a small business client? Yeah.
Steph Davis 17:23
So I’m going to focus more on how a visitor to a nonprofit website views the site or what you’re trying to accomplish, rather than focusing on the differences, just because I don’t fully have the experience on working on small businesses. And so I don’t know exactly like I could make assumptions. And I could get there. But that’s just not where my experience is. But I think the main things that I think of for designing a nonprofit website is one which you need for small businesses, your call to action, which a lot of cases it’s to donate. And so if you want people to give you money to help further your cause, you need to make sure that they know what you’re doing that they connect with you on a personal level, that they really get the emotional element to it. So having those photos showing what you’re doing what you’re trying to accomplish, you know, having it clearly stated what you’re trying to accomplish in a way to make that connection, in that very short amount of time that they’re on your website. And so I think that, I guess that would be the difference for a small business, maybe you want, you’ll get an emotional connection. But that’s kind of gained other places where people are much more likely to donate and support your cause if they feel that connection. And so designing the website in a manner that you get that very quickly, I think is really important. And also having that clear call to action on what you want them to do, very clearly stated is very important to
Karyn Paige 19:03
boom, Sign me up. I want to start a nonprofit so that you can build a website like you just sold me I’m like, yeah, yes,
Sam Munoz 19:11
I was like, are we on a discovery? Oh, yeah, I’m sorry. Like, what you did was you described the motivating factors of why a nonprofit needs a website. Right? And not only to describe that, but you described, okay, so one of your motivating factors for website and one of the things one of the ROI eyes of having a website is that you could potentially get more donations and oh, by the way, I build those websites that I just described. And that right there everyone listening is Steph fully understanding her ideal client. She understands what they need, what motivates them, what packages actually makes sense for them, right. And that’s something are you okay with us touching on this a little bit stuff, this idea of like, sometimes we might make assumptions about what our ideal client needs and We don’t know if they actually needed or not. So for example, like, we could create a great membership site for a coffee shop, but if what they really need is just a map on their website to get people to go to the coffee shop. And we create all these packages around like, well, I want to make a membership site for this coffee shop. And it’s like nobody, that ideal client doesn’t need that. And so it’s like, not confirming our own biases, but rather letting the data kind of lead us. Do you want to touch on that a little bit? Yeah,
Steph Davis 20:30
I think I think it’s important to remember that not every nonprofit is going to have events. So therefore, you don’t need an event calendar, maybe some are small. And really, the only objective is to collect that money so that you can then buy the food for the food bank, or whatever. So it might be really only need a page, you don’t necessarily need five or six pages to get your mission and to make that quick connection. But there are nonprofits that do need the event page that they do need to be able to sign up and collect the money for all of these events that they’re doing, that they have a membership portal, that they do stuff, you know, their objective is to connect with their members and support the members versus collecting money to support the community, you know, each nonprofit is going to have have it a little bit different I know we’ve spoken about this before is it’s knowing does the money go from the donor to the organization and then back to the donor in some way, like providing a class? Or is that money from the donor going into the organization and then going out to the community, because you’re going to connect with that person, and who’s visiting the site very differently, because the community, their support probably isn’t going to come to your website. So you don’t, you know, obviously, you need to work with them. But it’s really your donors that you’re trying to attract and connect with. And so you’re going to design that a bit differently. Or you need something differently than if you want them to come like you’re trying to directly support your members and your community that way.
Sam Munoz 22:19
Yes. Is this the kind of stuff that you talk about on a discovery call with potential clients? Cuz How do you create a proposal for a project without knowing the answers to those questions? And like, what is your Do you have events? You know, do you ask those kinds of things on a discovery call?
Steph Davis 22:35
Definitely. Yeah, definitely go over that. What are they? You know, some of it, they might not necessarily know. But it’s like, okay, what are you trying to accomplish? How are you trying to support your mission? You know, they might already have a website. So it’s like, do you feel this is converting for you? Are you getting the donations that you want? are you attracting the correct people? I know, I looked at one website I had a discovery call for and the way their website was designed, I totally misunderstood who they were trying to connect with, just because of the design of their website, like, I was off base on what was going on, it’s like, and they were in the process of fixing it. But, you know, it’s very important to know that you are an organization, and you’re trying to reach out to high school students, or you’re trying to reach out to medical professionals, you know, to support them that it’s gonna look different. Like that website needs to look different.
Sam Munoz 23:36
Yeah. I love how when you’re talking about all of this, like, yeah, we you pull in the tools, you pull on the website stuff every now and then. But like you’re, it’s so centered on the client’s needs. And that is how you sell your services. Because it’s not about us. It’s not about like, our, you know, we’re using WordPress and Divi and all these things like, that’s great. And really understanding your ideal client, right? Because we have another mentee who we’ve interviewed, and her ideal client is web designers. And so those kinds of things are absolutely important for her to mention and talk through with her ideal client, but your ideal client, nonprofits, they don’t need to know that they just need to understand the whole like, what’s in it for me, you know, what’s in it for our organization? What’s the ROI for us? How do we achieve our goals, and that’s, you know, in order for you to create a proposal for them and do all of those next step things that actually move them towards a buying decision. You got to know the answers. I love that stuff. You just know that person so well. And I I have to believe that a part of your story and your background and your experience is definitely a part of why you are so clear. Plus, you’ve gone out and you’ve talked to a lot of people. Yeah,
Karyn Paige 24:47
yeah. Okay. So again, staff I really just need to like, point out this obvious theme and like just celebrate you on how deep of an awareness you have of your clients like you really, really know them. And so much of that is based on your past experiences. But also again, in the mentorship, we’ve had these conversations where you are extremely aware of your ideal clients seasons in their organizations, right, like, you know, when they’re available to talk to, and when they’re probably not going to be terribly responsive, because they’re off, like fulfilling their mission, right. And so there’s this like, through line of view, having an awareness of your own availability, and how your business fits into your own life. And also this, this really kind and compassionate awareness that you have of your clients. And when they’re in the season for maybe taking on a new website project. It’s so awesome.
Steph Davis 25:40
Yeah, I think one of the things that we were just in the mentorship talking about recently is, you know, planning ahead. And, you know, trying to get ready for 2022, and getting those projects lined up and getting it done now. So, you know, I can have a calmer holiday season, it while we were chatting, it came to me that, you know, these nonprofits are just about to start their GivingTuesday campaigns, and they’re in this huge push to get all of those fundraising done before the end of the year. And they are not going to have time to think about a new website, where in January, they’ll have you know, potentially have that extra money coming in from their fundraiser that they don’t necessarily know what to do with it might be a bit more open to finding to putting that money towards improving their mission and getting those more of those donations next year with a new website.
Karyn Paige 26:37
So can we talk for a second about like how you are even finding these nonprofits to talk to how you’re getting on Discovery calls, how you found the client that you’re working with currently, specifically, like before you started working with us, and then now and keeping in mind that like, a lot of our listeners are women, web designers, right? And something that they’re truly struggling with is like, I don’t know where to find clients. I don’t know how to talk to people. So what was your journey kind of like in finding people to talk to before the mentorship until after?
Steph Davis 27:10
So I’ll start by getting into this that we didn’t mention is a year ago, I was chatting on Instagram with Sam trying to decide on the name of my business. I was I didn’t have a business. And they Sam and Karen graciously agreed to work with me to help me get started at the beginning of last year. So in January and February, I had lots of fun. One on One calls like this with with you guys. And so at that point I didn’t have I didn’t have a business, let alone clients, like they didn’t exist. You know, a year ago, I was debating like, okay, am I going to do the nonprofits? Am I going to do the bed and breakfasts or am I going to try and do something different. So come a long way, in this past 12 months. And since then, through the mentorship, it was a lot of trying to figure things out on where to find this. But through Instagram and getting on social media, I found very excitedly found a group like this whole community of nonprofit consultants who help with Financials, they help with coaching as executive directors, they do lots of things to also support these nonprofit organizations. And I’ve had some awesome coffee chats with a few people, one of those coffee chats turned into a discovery call for a project that didn’t go through. But it was my current client was a referral from you guys, actually. But I think a lot of these nonprofits are unlikely to just go out and find a web designer. And so I’m looking forward and working on cultivating those industry collaborator connections that have been you guys have discussed and working with them, a couple of them them have coaching groups that I want to reach out to them and see if you know I could do even like a 15 minute talk are 30 minutes to answer questions that their clients have on, you know, what their website needs or what they can do. Again, just giving, giving some advice without receiving just to get out there. And you know, it’ll definitely benefit me and getting out there and really talking to more of these nonprofits.
Karyn Paige 29:32
Yeah. I just get so excited to hear one that you have this really clear vision of like how you want to find your people where they could be there in communities, right, like, which is not shocking, because nonprofits are all about community, right? And also, it’s like, when you started you were like, Yeah, I was on Instagram like once or twice. And then when you continue talking like nowhere in that, that answer was like I’m still on Instagram. I’m still creating posts. I’m still doing this stuff. It’s like you made these connections through one on ones through coffee chats, through referrals, through having an awareness that there are community leaders that have access to the types of nonprofits that you want to work with. And you’re like, this is I’m going over in this direction, you know, so I think that’s, that’s very exciting. And I hope that someone who’s listening to this resonates with that and is like, oh, there’s lots of different ways to connect with my dream clients that maybe has nothing to do with some of the things that I’m trying or that I’ve been taught, etc, you know, what I mean?
Sam Munoz 30:34
I really like to think about how you, we just need to get in the vicinity of our dream clients, right, we just need to get a little bit closer, and then connect with people who are connected to them. And then that’s it. That’s the magic, right? We don’t have to do we, when when you do it like that, there’s all that built in trust, we had an entire episode about like the beauty of the referral based business. And, as you mentioned, stuff like collaborators are referring you. And that’s how you decided to kind of approach networking, at least so far, right. And that might change, you might decide to do different things as your business grows. And, obviously, that’s the beauty of running your own business, you get to decide all those things. But that’s what’s working right now. And that’s so cool to just move in the direction of what’s natural move in the direction of what’s working, and just keep doing the things that are already having a return on your investment of your time investment. And I love that you mentioned, you know, going into these very specific communities, right, this isn’t like a giant Facebook group with a bunch of random people in it, you know, your ideal client, you deeply understand where they are, what motivates them. That’s like step one, if you don’t know that yet, you can’t really do the next step, which is like going and getting into these spaces and offering value. And so you saying like, hey, I’ll just give like a 15 minute talk. Like, I just think that’s such a great way to build up more of your expertise, and you’re owning the space, and all of that stuff. And then to your point, you were like, I’m just going to do it, I’m not going to worry about the results, right now, I’m just going to be consistent in the areas that I know will move me in the direction that I want to, and they will pay off because that’s how things work. And again, like you couldn’t have gotten there, if you didn’t first identify like, I want to work with nonprofits, and then do that deeper understanding of like, but where are they? And who are they talking to, to make decisions about their business? Or about their organization? And you know, what motivates them? And what are they looking for on a website and all of that deeper stuff? Like I think a lot of people skip that step. And that’s the step that’s like the critical part to really making the sale and like understanding, right, because we can just declare, like, I work with these people. But if we never fully understand them, then it’s really hard to move forward in that direction. So I applaud you for doing that work. And also, again, for making it kind of easy for yourself in some regards. Because you’re like, What do I already have experience in, right? Because at any point, you can decide, like, I want to work now with dentists. But let’s say you don’t have any knowledge of dentistry, okay, that’s totally fine. But like maybe your understanding of your dream client is going to take you a little bit longer. And if you want it to be more efficient in terms of like growing and starting your business, maybe start in a place that you already No, and then we can expand to the dentist when we are fully ready. And we’ve got a nice referral network and all that stuff. Does that make sense? Like this is this is just kind of connecting the dots for me on that. But like, you really just took the thing that you already knew and ran with it. I think that’s so efficient and smart. Yeah. Do you think that that made it a little bit simpler stuff? Because it was like I already have this knowledge of nonprofits. So you’re not like learning a brand new thing to fully understand what they need? Yeah,
Steph Davis 33:47
definitely. I mean, even I’m just thinking in my head of examples of my previous job as a preservation engineer, I spent a lot of time on construction sites and working with contractors. And although I, I got to know, these contractors and stuff, I don’t know, fully understand their business. So for me to suddenly say, okay, you know what, I’m just going to design websites, construction companies, I would have to do a lot more work to get ready for that. Like, even though I have experience in the industry, I wouldn’t feel confident in my skills to provide them the best value for their money and provide the best website I could, because I just don’t have that experience like that back office experience of it.
Karyn Paige 34:34
Yeah, but like even you just said, Okay, you have experience talking to contractors, right. And in a way that is something that you can transfer into your web design business, because you are essentially, like a contractor for a nonprofit like they need you to provide them with this thing. They need you to build something for them that they can’t do. So like somewhere in there. You can draw on the experience that you have in like a dynamic type of relationship. Tip with contractors, and then be like, Okay, well, let me, let me let this inform the experience that the people who hire me to build websites, what I know can inform this experience for them almost like flip side of the coin type thing. You know me, I’m always like, Steph, I got visions, I got ideas for you here, take this one, add that one in. Here’s another idea. I’m already like, I have this vision of you giving a presentation and literally repeating what you just said about what nonprofits need for their websites to like a group of like, nonprofit folks who and then they come up to you afterwards, and they’re like stuff. Can we talk to you? Can I talk to you about my nonprofit? Can I talk to you about mine? I’m probably like, I literally see that for you. So yes,
Sam Munoz 35:45
can we transition a little bit into talking about your experience in the mentorship and we can even include you know, your time working. So it was basically like a private mentorship with, you know, you and Karen and I, so I’d love to talk about, you know, you said before, you’re just getting started, right, this is your first introduction into web design, as a business. So what do you think, motivated you to say, I’d rather not try to figure this out on my own? I’d rather work with mentors that are experienced in this area.
Steph Davis 36:19
Yeah. So I, again, going back in a little bit in the history of, I’ve been following Sam. And I’ve gotten to know Sam, over the past few years, I actually had a call with her about my nonprofit website, or web designer provided the website, but it still wasn’t right. And so Sam helped me troubleshoot that, that was all great when you were really getting started. And like really your business blowing up. So I’ve had the benefit of kind of getting to watch you grow, and definitely thinking like, Oh, if I ever had a business, I would want it to be run like Sam, like Samsung, this awesome job, like, definitely looked up to you in that regard. And also, like with your website skills, and such, I think that just starting from scratch, I just knew there was so much that I didn’t know, like, how do I honestly find that first client? And okay, yes, I can build a website, but how do I really get that process down on the onboarding, and actually, you know, scheduling out the project and knowing when to do what, and figuring out all of the details of that element, I think was really my biggest concern, a lot of what the first part of the mentorship is about on getting that identity statement, and working on my actual website, was something I was lucky enough to do previously with you guys. But you know, I still was able to tweak things, I reworked my values, because they weren’t quite right. And, you know, getting to rethink about that going through the pricing was huge. I had no idea how to price how much this was, how long this was going to take me to do anything. And so I’m sure those numbers are going to get tweaked. But, you know, when I sent out a proposal I felt comfortable with that I could defend that number if somebody decided to question me about it. And they kind of did. It was a membership site, it was way more than anybody else that they got proposals for. And I’m just like, I can’t do it for less like the amount of time and energy I’m going to be putting into that site. That’s my price. And the fact that I didn’t get it, like I was fine with that. It was like that wasn’t going to be the right site. For me, it wasn’t going to be a good project for me. And I, I hope that they got a good project with whoever they worked with, you know, so like, I wouldn’t have had that confidence on that number. I wouldn’t have had that confidence on like, okay, it wasn’t the right project. It’s fine. We’re moving on kind of thing. And, you know, going into the mentorship, and just working with you guys in general like I that was information I did not have and I knew that there’s amazing women out there that have the experience that can break it down and explain it like so. Why should I take three times as long to get it right when I know that I can find somebody that can help me through it and get it down pat? A bit more the first time.
Sam Munoz 39:36
Wow, Steph, thank you so much for sharing that experience and all of those like little nuggets that you took. I would love to spend a little bit more time around the pricing part just because I’m fully understanding that this is a huge hesitation and issue for women who want to either make more money in their web design business or one actually sell their services. There’s this huge mindset block around, like sending out a proposal that’s like $3,000? And do you think that I’ll just give like a behind the scenes of the mentorship a little bit. In one of the classes, we talk about packaging and pricing, and we break down exactly how to price your services. And we do it in a couple different ways, right? We’ve talked about how much do you want to work? How you know how much you want to be paid an hour, just to kind of give you a relative ballpark range? And do you think that doing that process is a part of why you felt more confident with that number? Because I remember you not really, there wasn’t you were just like, this is the price. And I think that that’s so powerful? And do you think it was also because you were like, This is why it’s the price like that data kind of helped to the for the justification?
Steph Davis 40:49
Yeah, definitely having it broken down, I think discussing, you know, having the opportunity to brainstorm with both of you, as well as other mentees on, you know, how long things would take at that point, I was kind of in the middle of a project. So I had a better idea on a little bit of a better idea on the timing time that I would need. That’s important, too. Yeah. And so, you know, I still, I’m going to be working out the number of hours that actually takes me to get things done. But yeah, it was definitely just being like, Okay, I am going to guess and overestimate that it’s going to take me this many hours to do this part of the project, and this many hours to do this part of the project. And I follow in your footsteps and provide a Knowledge Library with video tutorials for all my clients, so that they don’t need to come back to me with questions that should already have been answered. And that’s gonna take time, and I’m not doing that for free, I am gonna have calls for this, like, you know, just kind of putting it all together and figuring out okay, you know, like, ideally, this is what I would like to get paid, I will honestly say that I have a goal of like, hourly rates that I want to work up to. But I think a lot of that is going to be, at least in the beginning, me getting more efficient, and being able to do the project in less time, and thus, my hourly rate is going to be higher, versus charging them more.
Sam Munoz 42:25
Sure, what a great way to think about that. Thank you.
Steph Davis 42:28
And so it was just having that numbers, you know, I’m an engineer having it broken down, where, where it is, and knowing that, you know, I did estimates for construction projects all the time. And so, you know, taking the the quantity and the values and adding in buffer, because you’re never going to get it right. And I liked having those and being able to say, Okay, I I’m comfortable that this is at the very least it might take me longer, but I’m willing to say I’m going to do it in this amount of time. And if I need to put in extra hours, I’m okay not getting paid for it. Because that’s my growing experience, you know, and having that part of the project, maybe my hourly rate works out to be less versus, because I know on the next project, I will meet that hours. And on the next project, I will do it in less hours, because I will get better at things.
Sam Munoz 43:27
Your mindset is so expansive, you were like, I will get better the projects will come like there’s not even a hesitation around that you’re like, you know what I mean? And I just I love that stuff so much. I would love to ask you about, like, what were some of your favorite or biggest accomplishments, in the mentorship that you feel really proud of? Maybe light bulbs, aha moments, things like that, I think.
Steph Davis 43:55
And I love how you guys take the time at different points to really dig into what where we are in in the business and how we’ve grown and stuff. And, you know, I know we discussed this, but towards the end, looking at the numerical numbers on my current projects, how much of the marketing and reached out I’ve done, you know, I was a bit disappointed with myself that I didn’t have more of those results, like they kind of had stayed consistent. But one season of my life, my daughter started kindergarten and my hours changed the bed and breakfast was very busy at times. And so I didn’t have the I might have had the time but I didn’t have the mental energy, I think to commit to doing it. And then you know, I really dug into the back end prep work. You know, I I took the time and the opportunity to really do various versions of my proposal. So I now have this template for proposal that I I can send next time and I know, you know, Sam and Karen have given it the seal of approval, we do have a seal. And I laid out in, I created this whole click up list with dates on how long I think different parts of the project will be. And laid out my whole project timeline from onboarding to offboarding. So that as soon as that next client comes, because I’m going to be positive, and we know it’s going to someday, you know, I can just pull that board up and tweak it to fit, you know, vacation schedules or the projects, not as involved or it’s more involved, and I can make those adjustments to it. But I have those that good base. So it might be that I’m not leaving the mentorship with a lot of active clients. But I feel very comfortable that when the next discovery call happens, that proposal is going to go out and I’m going to feel comfortable with the number on it, I’m going to feel comfortable with the presentation of it. And then I have the everything lined up so that when they say yes, we’re going to do it, here’s the deposit, this is our starting date. And I can I have started working on you know, the base welcome emails, and this is what we’re going to do and go through that whole process that I don’t have to I can tweak it, I don’t have to come up with it from nowhere. And so I think that’s, you know, it, it took a bit of a mindset switch to really come to terms that that is a lot of work. And that is a very big success. Even if it’s not currently bringing in money into my bank account, it will in the future. Yes, staff
Sam Munoz 46:48
that’s like straight up honoring the journey. And like all the things that you all the knowledge that you have learned all the seeds that you’ve planted, that will just continue to flourish. And you’ve already obviously seen some of the sprouts, and it’s just like, they will continue to be cultivated, and grow as you move forward. I love that. Thank you so much for sharing all those things.
Karyn Paige 47:10
So Steph, I’m gonna ask you this question because Sam and I have seen so much growth in you, right. And we have a lot of ideas, and we have a lot of insights into you. But I’m very curious about like after the mentors, mentorship, like what did you learn about yourself?
Steph Davis 47:29
Karen’s always there with the hard question.
Karyn Paige 47:31
Is it a hard question about the introspective? Okay, yes, I received that
Steph Davis 47:37
I’ve always loved the Zoom calls, like you just see Karen space, and you’re like, there is a good question coming up. Or something profound is about to be said,
Karyn Paige 47:47
Steph Davis 47:49
I don’t feel like there’s a tangible element that I’ve left with, I think, I guess I’m just gonna say this, because I, I think that’s what I come to, as I’ve thought about recently is, it’s been a different year for me, for sure. And I feel happier with life and where I’m at, I feel less stressed. Even though I’m running two businesses on my own, you know, life just seems very good. And I’ve been able to take the different tools and skills that I learned 14 years as an engineer, and apply it to this, you know, the various all of the nonprofits I was involved in, or have been involved in work professional nonprofits, so I wouldn’t have had that experience if I hadn’t, you know, chosen my career path, you know, so I had a lot of the building blocks. And I’ve, you know, I worked for a very small company. And so I saw how businesses are run, and, you know, had that background. And so I’ve been able to apply it to this new venture, and bring in all of those aspects of it. And even during COVID, my husband and I are like, Oh my gosh, we are living in this giant house that we can’t make any money off of to pay the bills, but it’s okay. Like, this was the best decision, we wouldn’t have changed anything, even if we knew what was going what was coming. And I feel like this is the same thing. Like, you know, this is where I meant to be, and it’s been, you know, I still have a lot of growth to do in the business a lot to accomplish or that I want to accomplish. But you know, I’m here and this is good.
Sam Munoz 49:34
Wow. That’s such a you know, you just honored your, your story so much in that right. Because I think there’s so many times where we’re like, Oh, I did this career path or I did this thing before and it like, now I’m doing this other thing and so all that time was wasted and you know, that’s like a mindset that we can have is like we just wasted all this previous time. And that’s not the case, like you said, everything that you’ve done has kind of led you to this and to be prepared for this moment of stepping into owning your own web design and development company, right? Every piece of your story is coming into play here. And so it’s all applicable. And wherever you head and the next year, the next five years, this moment, the things that you’re doing right now are going to be applicable then. And they’re going to have stretched you and helped you grow and help you learn and all of those things. And I just think that’s so beautiful to be mindful of that and remember how valuable your history is, like who you are, and how you’re just continuously evolving as a person.
Karyn Paige 50:41
Everything that you just said, could be a message to Stef Davis one year ago, right? Like, hey, when you’re ago, self, XYZ, everything’s gonna be fine, right? And like, this is like an exercise that you could even say, like, 2022 2023 2024, Steph Davis is gonna come back and tell Steph Davis today like, hey, message from the future, you haven’t been doing so well, let me just tell you where you are, where we are right now, you’re not even gonna believe it. But just keep going and stay committed. And we’re gonna celebrate. That concludes the message from the future. Like
Sam Munoz 51:23
I love that. So many
Karyn Paige 51:24
awesome things are in store for you stuff and you, you’re on your way to meet them and receive them, you’re taking action, and you’re committed. And your outlook is so fortified. So that is going to serve you so well as your business continues. And you’ll be ready to receive everything that comes with it.
Sam Munoz 51:43
Yes. Okay, Steph, to wrap this all up. Why don’t you let everyone who’s listening, know where they can find you and connect with you. Because of course, you set it yourself. You are open to collaborations you’re open to meeting other industry, you know, collaborators, leaders, people that are in the nonprofit space, people who work with nonprofits, people who are tangential to nonprofits, people other you know, other web designers. So why don’t you let everyone know who’s listening where they can find you and connect with you and maybe get on one of those awesome coffee chats with you?
Steph Davis 52:16
Yeah, so I think the easiest place to find all of the links is on Instagram. My handle is it’s underscore Stef Davis. And there if you go to Lincoln bio, I’ve got links to coffee chats, Discovery calls to my website, to the bedroom breakfast and in my nonprofits, if you want to check out that stuff during me. Yeah. I love that.
Karyn Paige 52:42
Yes, stuff. Just another congratulations to all your success and everything that’s in store for you. And thank you so much for sharing your story with us. And I know that it’s going to really resonate with our listeners. So thank you for that. Thank you. Yeah, thank you.
Steph Davis 53:00
I definitely would not be here this at this point in time without your guidance this past year. So very much appreciated. So thank
Karyn Paige 53:09
you. Thank you for our letting us be there on the journey with you to support you. Thank you.
Sam Munoz 53:14
Yeah, we appreciate it.
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