You’ve Asked, We’ve Answered!
A little while ago we put out a call to folks in our online community to send in questions they’ve been dying to ask us. We got a great response and it’s been really fun for us to find out what interests you most! We’re excited to hear so many of you are starting businesses and hope some insights from our journey will be useful. We got too many questions to address them all here, so we picked the hottest topics to highlight in this community Q & A.
Q. How did you start your business?
A. This question is so layered, so we’ll cut to the chase since it seems that most folks asking want details of the logistics and financial investment.
The long and the short of it is that cash is king. We learned this very early on when we had absolutely none of it. We had to figure out a way to get money ourselves because we weren’t interested in partnering with an investor, which can be a great way to get money when you’ve got a good business plan. Instead, we worked the slow and steady route. For the entire first year of our marriage we lived with my parents to save my salary in order to afford to buy a 1-acre lot outright and have a down payment to build our first home (ya’ll might remember we shared the process on silverfoxandgoldilocks.com). Kara’s dad owned land that he sold to us at a family price, so as long as we didn’t overbuild our home we knew we could make money on the sale and start our business.
We sold that home five months after we moved in. We couldn’t wait a second longer and made enough money to buy our next piece of property and pay off debt. Again, we lived with my parents who were gracious enough to let us live rent free and put everything we had into our next house. The first day it hit the market, we had three offers and within a week we started getting calls from would-be clients looking to work with us on custom projects.
Q. How do you balance working together and being married?
A. This is something we’re constantly working on and giving attention to. We feel very strongly that when you decide to go into business together you have to actively work on making intentional time for your marriage. We ultimately live our best life by creating together, but the grind of running the operations of a business and raising three young boys can easily take precedence over the most important relationship...ours.
Our tip: carve out time that works for you! Maybe it’s every night after the kids are in bed or just one really great date night a week. Whatever it is, I think you’ll find that taking care of the two of you, takes care of everything else!
Also, don’t forget to use your words! It’s easy to place your focus on working hard for your partner and family, but verbalizing your love is just as important.
We’ve found that a simple “You look really nice in that” or “dinner was so delicious, thank you” or “dang, your butt looks good!” all go a long way in keeping us connected and grateful.
Q. How do you value your time? (i.e. how do you price your projects?)
A. Each of our projects is unique, so we don’t use a stock standard fee. For every project, we have to sit down and ask ourselves a few questions before we can calculate our fee:
- Does this project require one or both of us?
- What is the time commitment? How many hours, weeks, months?
- Can we meet the client’s expectations?
Pricing our services correctly have required a little bit of trial and error and we’ve had to revisit the topic as our business has evolved and our services have expanded. Our one piece of advice for when you are just starting out is, whatever your fee, own your number confidently and communicate it clearly ALONG with a detailed description of the service or product you’re providing. These two have to go together. It’s a pitch, and you’ll be much more comfortable if you practice it beforehand!
Remember, you can grow and change. It’s most important to start and make a ton of notes to revisit after your projects wrap.
Last tip: if you can’t meet your client’s expectations for whatever reason, it’s best to decline the project. In business, saying no is probably more important than saying yes.
Q. Are you both creative?
A. I thought this was an interesting question and wanted to get Brett’s perspective, too...
My take: Yes, we’re both creative, which I find to be unique. We’ve found that many other working couples have one spouse with more technical strengths, meaning they’re great with numbers and operations. We share in the operations and finance responsibilities, but our favorite is creating beautiful things together.
From Brett: We come from different frameworks. We both have to get an inordinate amount of stuff done that isn’t always in our strength zones, but I’d day I’m a bit more big picture, holding the overall sense of where things are going, while Kara is more tactile and experiential in her creativity. In every sphere, we refine each others’ perspective of what could be to bring forth the best outcome.. Almost like a sharpening experience.