Do you have to be a professional in order to work from home? Some would say that working from home is only for someone who has the training, skills or education to do so. Lauren Novelle is a self-taught graphic designer who has built a successful business. Her story is proof that you can learn everything you need to know to work from home.
Tell me about your yourself.
I am from Benton, Arkansas, a suburb outside of Little Rock. I am married with two daughters, ages 11 and 5. Before starting my business, I was a corporate trainer for a bank and I developed and taught various classes such as Microsoft Excel, Mortgage 101, Stress Management, Resume & Interview Skills, and New Hire Orientation. Fun Fact about me… I am afraid of most dogs, except my own two (very large) German Shepherds. (And that’s a whole other long story) 🙂
What is your business?
Lauren Novelle Designs – wood signs, calligraphy, art prints, vinyl decals and graphic design.
How long have you been working with your business?
Graphic design – 3 years. I started doing it on the side while still at my previous day job.
Everything else – I formally quit my day job in May of 2017 to work from home full time.
Why did you want to work from home or work for yourself? What is your “why”?
Most people have dreams of what they would do for a living or where they would live if money/current situation wasn’t an object. And I noticed that there are two different types of people in the world… people who always dream, and people who turn that dream into a reality. I wanted to be the latter. This life we have is too short to spend it doing anything other than what brings us joy. So, despite the fear, I took the leap and put every ounce of me into what brings me joy. Creating brings me joy. Being more available to my kids brings me joy. Supporting my husband and home brings me joy. So I guess in short, my “why” is joy.
Why did you start this business? Did you look into any other business ideas? Have you tried any others before this one?
Yes, I have tried other businesses before. I used to be a massage therapist, and in 2007 I bought a massage clinic and school in Little Rock. However, the economy went into a recession in 2008, and massages are a luxury, not a necessity. So I had to call it a loss and go back to corporate work. My why for this is the same as the previous question, because it brings me joy 🙂
How many hours do you work every day or week? What kinds of things do you do to make money?
I have an Etsy shop and a booth at a local vintage market. I work 6 days a week, anywhere between 35-45 hours per week, depending on how high my workload is.
How long did it take to see your first sale? How long did it take to make a profit?
I taught myself graphic design by studying textbooks, reading blogs, and watching tutorials for a year before actually buying a program and practicing. Once I decided to start marketing myself, I got my first client within a week through some Facebook groups I was in. It was an accident really. I posted two projects for constructive criticism and critique… and I was so pleasantly surprised when I received not only words of encouragement but messages inquiring about my services!
In regards to the physical products that I sell, I received my first few sales from friends and family. I was making a profit within the first month, but everything I earn goes back into the business right now. I’m lucky that my husband makes enough to support our family on his income alone. Money is much tighter than it used to be (our income dropped by 50% when I left my corporate career). We’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices and only spend the bare minimum to get by, but we both feel that it will be worth it in the long run.
How do you help your customer? Why would they buy from you/work with you
I am a huge believer in exceptional customer service. I respond quickly, I make exceptions, I customize, and I insert compassion, enthusiasm, and heart into every encounter/ product. I believe in quality over profit margins, and strive to help the customer in any way that I can in a timely manner.
What do you like best about your business?
How would someone start a business or like yours or with your team?
Step 1: Find your passion while keeping your own personal strengths in mind.
Step 2: Educate yourself. Read blogs, watch tutorial videos, research the field, practice, fail, and practice again. LEARN and GROW.
Step 3: Look past your fear and START. Just begin. Even if it’s something small, just DO.
Startup costs – I think this will be different for everyone depending on their vision. I already had a MacBook Pro, but I bought my textbooks, programs, etc. one by one. I did plenty of research before purchasing, and bought items used or on sale. Any profits I made, I used to buy the next item/supply/tool I needed most.
Activities to make money – I initially just marketed myself to friends and family, who in turn would send business my way through word of mouth. Then I made a Facebook Business Page, because that’s free, and I like free 🙂 I also have an Instagram account and try to share my work as often as I can.
Renting a booth at my local vintage market has helped a lot. They do all the marketing and bring in plenty of traffic. I keep business cards there to connect potential customers to my Etsy shop as well as to inquire about custom options.
What do you do to help your new customers succeed?
I think about the person and their needs and cater to that. I hope I never view my customers as a number or a box to check off. Yes, it may take more time and energy and effort, but in the end, it’s always worth it.
What kinds of expectations should someone new to online business, working from home, or working for yourself have?
It’s a lot of hard work and it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. I no longer have “nights and weekends off” for one. Be prepared to be self- disciplined enough to be your own boss, set your own schedule, and accomplish tasks and goals. Balance is important, if you don’t keep a healthy work/personal life balance, then you can either get burned out or not see any progress.
Anything else you would like someone to know about you or your business?
My number one piece of advice for others is to look past their fears, make a plan, and DO IT. Whatever IT is for you, whether it’s starting your own business, asking for a raise, moving to the beach, or just applying for that job you’ve had your eye on…. make a step by step plan and take ACTION. My favorite quote is “Life begins at the end of our comfort zone”. If I stay comfortable, then I’m not growing. If I don’t push my limits, push past the fear of feeling uncomfortable, then i’ll never know all that i’m capable of.
How can someone connect with you?
- You can find me on Facebook or Instagram, or contact me via email. You can also view my Etsy Store.
Thanks Lauren! If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please contact us!
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