Thinking of quitting your 9-5 in search of more freedom and flexibility? That’s exactly what Morgan Ringrose did, and her story is giving us all the inspiration we need. With a talent for web design and social media, she said goodbye to her full-time job to pursue her own business dreams, and as she says herself, “[I] haven’t looked back”. If you’ve been wondering how to start taking on clients and running your own business, Morgan’s Startup Story is exactly what you need to read right now.
Tell us about your business, Morgan – what do you do?
How long have you been in business, and what were you doing before this?
I took on my first client in February 2017 but my clients were very scattered, and I continued to work as the Executive Assistant at a Real Estate Brokerage. This past March was when I chose to pursue my web design career full time and haven’t looked back.
What made you decide to take the leap and become self-employed?
I grew up with a single mother that started 3 successful businesses, so I was raised watching a strong woman take charge and that stayed with me into adulthood. I have 2 children under 10 and the flexibility of being self-employed allows me to be there for school events, stay home with them when they’re sick and have a routined, structured home life. Aside from this, I love the satisfaction of my name becoming a brand. It’s such a high to see my visions come to life and to see my clients light up at their new website.
What does your typical work day normally look like?
I sit at my desk around 8.30 to browse my social medias, answer messages, respond to emails and prepare for meetings. I like to write out a list of my current projects and the tasks I need to complete for each of them. I find seeing the work laid out for me is super helpful and crossing items off the list is motivating. Unless I have to leave for a meeting, I sit at my desk until 1:30 and then I am done for the day.
Tell us about the process of setting up your business – what steps did you take?
Setting up my business was pretty simple. All I really need is my laptop and a nice pen. When I first started out, I followed a lot of freelancers on Instagram and tried to take a page from their book. I had originally started a blog site to write about my journey but – surprisingly – after working on clients’ sites all day I didn’t have it in me to keep up with my own site.
After I started taking on higher paying clients, I started my account with Square to handle my invoicing and an Instagram for work related posts. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve had a Facebook page and website of my own for my services.
Where do you find clients?
I started my career on the site Fiverr. I got my first paying clients there for $20 a site. Those clients started hiring me to run their websites and social medias which was when I really got into the virtual assistant lifestyle. It was around July 2017 that I was contacted by a local agency that pairs businesses with freelancers. Through them, I’ve built a large portfolio and clientele which has now brought clients to me organically. There were only 3 clients I went to myself to cold drop a proposal to, the rest have come to me or been paired with me through the agency.
How do you stay organised during your work week? Any tips and tricks?
This is something I still struggle with occasionally. As I mentioned before, writing out a task list for the day is super important for keeping my day on track. I prioritise my projects based on due dates, and only write out as many tasks as I know I can handle. The downside to lists is adding too many tasks and it’s defeating when the day is ending and you didn’t finish the list. Another thing is to have background noise. For me, I put on shows such as The Office in the background to cut the silence. When it’s too quiet I start to gravitate to my phone for interactions. Working from home can get lonely but having other voices in the room keeps me focused.
How important is work life balance to you, and how do you maintain a healthy balance?
I started this business for myself and I work as hard as I do because I’m addicted to the freedom it gives me to spend time with my family. When I start to feel defeated and think about applying for jobs I remember how my children get picked up by their mom every day, have supper made for them and are put to bed by both their parents instead of just one or a babysitter. Growing up, my mother worked from morning until after I was in bed because she had to, and I don’t want that for my kids. My current lifestyle motivates me to push myself and go outside of the box for solutions.
What is the number one piece of advice you would give to someone who wanted to start a business like yours?
Lay the foundation for your career before leaving your job. Most people decide to go out on their own because they’re unhappy with their job or need a change. Use that unhappiness or urge for change to motivate you to start your business, but don’t go all in until you have traction. Unless you already have money tucked away to support you as your business grows. For me, I didn’t have savings or any finances to fall back on, so I had to wait until I had income coming in from my business before I could leave my job.
Do you have any website or social media tips for small brands who want to get noticed?
Don’t post for the sake of posting. Make sure your content has a theme and has quality. When small business handles follow me on Instagram and I see just quotes or reposts from Pinterest, I don’t follow back. I need to see personalised content that’s on brand. Don’t sell yourself short because you think post count matters. Research hashtags as well for relevance to your content.
What is the next step for your business?
My next step is to become a full package deal. So far, I have contracted a photographer and a logo/graphic artist. This has been so beneficial for getting bigger clients as I have the connections and ability to do project management from one location instead of sourcing out.