When Angela Welsh learned that the office complex in which her business is located was slated for demolition, her world shifted.
Angela, who owns a hair salon and spa, immediately started searching for a new location. Unfortunately, rents in Bellevue, Washington, are comparable to “Park Place” or “Boardwalk” on the Monopoly board.
Sure, she could go back to renting space in someone else’s salon, but when you’ve owned your own successful salon for the past five years, that prospect isn’t exactly appealing.
Soon after Angela learned about the pending demolition of her business, she discovered she was pregnant with her second child (she and her hubby also have a toddler).
These two events spurred Angela to make a decision she’s long been contemplating: She decided to let go of salon ownership and to pursue her long-time passion of professional photography.
Giving up the salon didn’t mean letting go of her skills as a hair stylist. Not by a long shot. Instead, Angela is combining those skills with her talents as a makeup artist, accessories designer and photographer to create a new business model.
Inventing a brand
Her business, Angela Welsh Designs, retains the same name (minus the “Salon & Spa” part), the same logo, the same pink-and-silver color scheme, and the same website address, AngelaWelshDesigns.com.
She’s still creating gorgeous updos for brides. Only now, without the constraints of a brick-and-mortar store, Angela will travel to her clients, offering a package that I suspect will be irresistible for many brides-to-be.
Imagine this, girls: You’re planning a wedding. What could be more enticing than to have one extraordinarily talented person style your hair, apply your makeup and design a custom hairpiece, headband, or belt?
In some cases, Angela does all this AND takes the wedding pictures!
Angela’s skills didn’t materialize out of nowhere. She’s been applying makeup since the age of 3 (I kid you not; read her story on her website.)
She’s been photographing portraits for years, as well. Portraiture was one of those latent skills that emerged as Angela began experimenting and people told her, “You’re really good at photography. You should take pictures professionally.”
Why share Angela’s story with you?
Angela isn’t afraid to take risks.
(Or, perhaps I should say, she is afraid but she takes risks anyway.)
So often, would-be entrepreneurs wistfully confess:
“I wish I had the courage to follow my dream… I wish I could turn the activity I love into a business.”
Angela is doing those things – with a toddler at home, a baby on the way, a store that’s about to be torn down, and a husband whose career keeps him at sea six months out of the year.
She realizes that much of the work she’s done to date – establishing meaningful, long-term relationships with her clients; honing her photography skills; creating an Etsy shop to test the types of accessories that sell best; reaching out to the top wedding planners in her region – add another layer of expertise and prepare her for the next step.
She knows that people do judge a book by its cover, and that presenting a professional “face” is imperative in her highly competitive industry. When she commissioned the Blogging Bistro team to create her custom website, Angela thoughtfully selected images that would showcase her skills and give visitors a glimpse of what it’s like to work with her.
Angela understands the value of investing in her business.
When she and her husband got interested in photography, they didn’t buy any old camera. They bought a top-of-the-line professional-grade camera.
Angela had a website for her salon, but that site was no longer viable for Angela’s new business model. So she hired us to build a custom, responsive (mobile-friendly) site that can grow with her.
We already had a five-year relationship with Angela, having designed her logo and a variety of marketing collateral for her salon. For her new website, we created intuitive navigation that divided Angela’s “Photography” and “Weddings” services into two sections.
While sliders (slideshows that usually display at the top of a website) are out of vogue among web designers, they are appropriate for Angela’s visually-oriented business, where images sell the service. We built an easy-to-use system in the admin area of Angela’s WordPress website so she can quickly add, delete, and re-arrange images in sliders.
Angela has loads of testimonials from her clients, so we put a different endorsement on each page of her site. Website visitors rarely visit pages that are a long list of testimonials, but they’ll likely read one testimonial that directly relates to the content on that page.
On her blog, Angela plans to feature her own creations – recent photo shoots, hairstyles and accessories – along with tips for how to prepare for a photo shoot.
Following Angela’s lead
Angela’s can-do attitude inspires me as I develop the new, online course division of Blogging Bistro. Because I struggle with fear, too.
But I’m following Angela’s lead – thoughtfully investing in top-notch technology that will enable me to deliver my courses; learning from other professionals; working with our graphic designer to create appealing marketing materials; gathering testimonials from clients; connecting with an accountability partner so we can encourage each other to continue moving forward.
Discovering pain points
When you’re starting a new business or revamping your brand, it’s smart to interview potential customers to identify their “pain points” – their questions, headaches, or challenges. You can then customize your services or products to meet their specific needs.
Angela and I have a head-start on some entrepreneurs who are expanding their business model, because we each have a strong client base, and we ask our customers the “pain point” question every day.
Pain Point: “I hate having my picture taken!”
Angela knows that many people hate having their picture taken. They feel stiff and unattractive in front of the camera, and they’re worried that the blemish on their nose will make them look like Rudolph on Christmas Eve.
Angela offers a service where she’ll apply your makeup before your photo shoot, which helps you look your best and feel confident in front of the camera (I speak from experience; Angela recently shot my business portraits, and she did my makeup and hair before our photo shoot).
Pain Point: “I want a professional website, but I’m on a limited budget.”
When prospective clients contact Blogging Bistro to inquire about building a website for them, 100 percent of them lead with:
“I need a new website. How much does it cost?”
I walk them through a series of questions that help them clarify the goals, audience, structure, and design of their website.
The cost of building a website is a huge factor for most entrepreneurs. I realize that not everyone can afford to have us create a custom website. “Plan Your Dynamite Website” – an online video training course – will be a self-paced, lower-cost way for entrepreneurs to plan how you want your site to look, feel, and function. The course will cover all the fundamental steps you need to take to create a great website, whether you do it yourself or hire help.
Survey your customers
If you aren’t sure what your customers’ pain points are, I recommend surveying them through a service such as SurveyMonkey.
Here’s a one-question survey I created for my upcoming online course, “Plan Your Dynamite Website.” (I’d love for you to answer the question, particularly if you’re planning to launch or redevelop your website this year).
Click the orange button below or text INTEREST to 44222 to sign up for the “Plan Your Dynamite Website” interest list. I’ll keep you updated about how, when, and where the course will launch.
What brand are you developing?
If, like Angela and me, you’re branching out into uncharted territory, I’d love to hear about it!
- What new brand – or new aspect of your existing brand – are you thinking about developing?
- What things are you good at and love doing that you could offer to others to help relieve their “pain points”?
- What’s your biggest fear about your project?
- What are you doing to overcome the fear that may be holding you back?