5 Lessons in 5 Years

Wow. I can’t believe it. 5 years ago today I founded Fuchsia Design. That’s 1825 days. Or 43,800 hours. Or 2,628,000 minutes in case you were wondering!

During this time, I’ve learned some valuable business lessons, so today I’m opening up and talking about what’ I’ve learned along the way so learn from my trial and error!


Top Business Lessons from a Creative Entrepreneur


YEAR #1:

Working out of an extra bedroom in my home that I converted into a lovely office space, I spent the first two years growing my business from that corner of my house. I had one VERY small closet that held all of my resources and client samples, and my coworkers were my two dogs.




During these first two years, I learned two important business lessons. The first year I learned to say ‘no’ to projects that didn’t feel right. I remember sitting down for my yearly professional development day after my first year of business and coming to the realization that I was designing 17 homes at once, and only 4 of those homes were my ideal clientele. I think it’s natural during the first year of business to happily take any work that comes your way, but I quickly realized that my schedule was so full, that if a dream client came along, I didn’t have the availability to work with them. I learned to trust my intuition and to step away from projects when they didn’t feel like a good fit in order to make room for clients that fit the vision I had for my company.


YEAR #2:

The second year, I learned {the hard way} that I should have been on a salary from day 1. As a small business owner, it’s not uncommon to ‘take home’ the money you make, so each time I got a check, I put 70% of it in my personal checking, and saved the other 30% in my business checking for year-end taxes. It was great! I was consistently making money, and some months there was extra money for ‘fun money’. This was all well and good until I started saying ‘no’ to projects that didn’t feel right (ie – the lesson learned in Year 1), and I found myself in a few back-to-back slow months. Suddenly,  my cashflow stopped, and I quickly realized that I should have been making a consistent paycheck each month and been putting the extra income aside for slower cash flow months such as those. It was a good wake-up call to have, and I’m grateful to have not had to encountered this stress since then thanks to learning this lesson {semi} early.


YEAR #3:

It wasn’t long before life afforded me the opportunity to grow, and I moved into my first 800 sq ft brick and mortar office in Cascade,  Michigan. I was finally able to take in summer interns, and I had an assistant at the office a few days a week.


During the third year, I had a huge lightbulb moment while out for an evening walk with my husband. While it felt like a first world problem, I was frustrated about how many projects I was having to turn away and wondering if I was being too picky. My husband said, “if you don’t want smaller projects, why are you pricing yourself at a rate they can afford.” Suddenly, it was so clear. My company’s expertise was vast ranging from high end, full-service interior design to 3D renderings to interior architecture and construction management. If I wanted to intentionally curate a clientele of custom homes who valued unique design and luxury products, why was I pricing myself at a rate similar to an entry level interior designer? I began doing a lot of research on other firms in the area,  and I nearly tripled my hourly rate to be more in line with companies of similar expertise. It was a scary move because I instantly convinced myself that no one was ever going to hire me again and my company was going to crash. However, the opposite happened. I began attracting my ideal clients and my quotes were in line with other firms bidding their projects. Turns out, when you value yourself and your work, others will too.


YEAR #4:

During my fourth year of business, I learned a lot about the PR game. I use the word ‘game’ intentionally as oftentimes that’s what it feels like. I was fortunate to land myself and my work in 6 publications during this year including a 14 page story and a cover, but I was surprised to learn that being featured doesn’t always come free. Often times, it’s assumed that you will purchase expensive advertisements in the magazine in order to have your work featured. It makes sense – advertisements are how the magazines make a majority of their profits, so it’s not that they are trying to be sneaky or rip anyone off. But, you might just find that the more ads you buy, or the bigger your advertisement is, the larger your story will be.  


YEAR #5:

My fifth year of business has been the most exciting yet. I had the opportunity to grow our office space and combine spaces with my husband’s consulting firm, Fox Consulting Group. We moved into a 2100 sq ft space on May 1st of last year, and we couldn’t love it more. We were able to transform the building into a beautiful space that fits both of our brands, and the high ceilings and natural light feed my creative soul. There’s room for my team to continue to grow, and I can’t wait to see what the next 4 years bring in this office space.


During this past year, I was honored to be recognized as a 40 Under 40 Business Leader and the Top Woman Owned Business through the Grand Rapids Business Journal, and I worked with some incredible clients to top it all off. The biggest lesson I’m still working on this year is grace. To all my fellow type A, driven perfectionists out there, you know what I’m talking about. I push myself hard and I have very high expectations for myself. At times it can be overwhelming to accomplish so much in such a short period of time because it’s hard to know where to go next. I’m learning to give myself grace, continue to trust my gut, and see where the wind blows Fuchsia Design.

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I’m beyond grateful to every builder, vender, and client who has put their trust in Fuchsia Design over the last 5 years. I’m excited to continue to serve clients building their custom dream homes, and can’t wait to see what the next 5 years has to offer!