So the birth of my daughter in 2001 subsequently led to the birth of my business—now called SECOND + WEST. As a creative web design and development studio, I work with a small (but mighty) team, to collaborate with clients and other creative agencies to create beautiful websites and marketing assets.
I first started out as designer, creating event flyers for Michigan State University—the school I attended in the late 1990s. Eventually, the design asks became a little more technical, as I started to receive requests to build complete websites. At that moment, I decided to shift my focus to development.
Figuring I needed a degree to get into the field, I went back to school and studied Web Application Development and fell in love with the craft. For about half the time I owned my business, I focused mainly on design. Eventually, I moved completely into development and have since wrapped myself around an incredible team of both designers and developers.
By starting my business in 2001, the web was just beginning to take off. Early on, I took on a lot of agency work to get my foot in the door and, since then, I haven’t looked back. I’ve had the business for 16 years—endured 3 name changes in between, and experienced incredible growth.
Throughout the early years, I used multiple tools to keep my business running. But I constantly ran into the same problem: I didn’t have one complete solution to take care of all my business needs.
At first, I used a not-so-intuitive invoicing software, and still had to keep track of other parts of my business, like accounting, reporting and contractors—to name a few. That’s when I turned to the Internet, typed in a search and found FreshBooks.
I used multiple tools to keep my business running. But I constantly ran into the same problem: I didn’t have one complete solution to take care of all my business needs.
As a creative, I often find myself recommending FreshBooks to other freelancers and business owners just like me. I get it, you constantly have your hands on different parts of your business. With FreshBooks, I’m able to invoice, keep track of my time and create project estimate for each of my clients, all in one place.
FreshBooks is like a one-stop shop for all my invoicing needs. I’m able to build invoices in seconds, send to my clients and receive payments online without having to wait for checks in the mail.
I do track time on projects—even if it’s a flat rate. I lay out all my ongoing projects in Time Tracking, and track just how much of my time is spent on different tasks. Also, I’m able to invite my contractors in to track their time on FreshBooks too. This allows us all to better manage our workdays and move projects along faster.
When I’m working with ongoing clients, I don’t have to worry about sending a proposal every time. If a client requests work, I can simply jump into FreshBooks and send out an estimate in no time.
Entrepreneurship comes with its challenges—any business owner can tell you so. You have to be disciplined to run your own business and work for yourself. Earlier on for me, self-discipline was a huge challenge. I would put projects off to the side or regularly pull all-nighters to get work done.
Being a small business owner is a balancing act. While it’s great to have all the flexibility and freedom (like being fortunate enough to watch my daughter grow up), I also have to make sure all aspects of my business are running smoothly.
As a long-time FreshBooks customer, the platform has helped tremendously with the business side of things. I’m able to focus on creating, collaborating and developing amazing websites, while FreshBooks handles the invoicing and accounting.
As SECOND + WEST continues to grow in the years to come, with FreshBooks, I can easily add new contractors, assign them projects and invoice them. I’ll continue to be able to grow my business—with FreshBooks right by my side.