Entrepreneur Spotlight focuses on amazing ladies who are rocking their online businesses.
This week we have the awesome content creation & online marketing specialist for solopreneurs, Nikole Stephenson.
Hi Nikole, What’s your business name and what’s your business all about?
My business is Computer Blue Media. I do content creation and online marketing for solopreneurs in the “helping” and “healing” fields–think therapists, health and wellness experts, coaches… that kind of thing.
My business name is sort of funny….I knew from the get-go that I didn’t want to use my name, although I can’t really articulate why. I had this huge list of possible names, but they all sounded like I was trying way too hard to sound clever and I was also afraid of pigeon-holing myself. My partner was like, “Why don’t you just use something simple like “Computer Love”? I didn’t love that name so much, but I definitely took his point to heart. It made me immediately think of a Prince song I’ve always loved–Computer Blue. I also happen to live in Prince’s hometown so it felt appropriate in that way.
And, because I’m obsessive about the meanings of things, I googled the meaning of the phrase, which first referred to that blue screen you get when your computer crashes, and then, in the ‘80s, became slang for when someone is moving onward and upward from something that wasn’t working for them. I kind of loved that, plus I’m a total child of the ‘80s so it works for me.
What was your “Big Why” that drove you to start your business?
OK, confession time: I completely fell into this entrepreneurial life by accident. I had recently quit my previous job to stay home with my daughter full-time, when a dear friend of mine (also an entrepreneur) asked me if I’d be willing to help her optimize her YouTube videos. It sounded fun and I really needed some mental stimulation outside of motherhood, so I said yes. Then, she told a few colleagues about my work and those colleagues told other colleagues and the next thing I knew, I was filing for an LLC and paying our rent from this accidental business I had grown.
But now that I have my business, I really love to see my clients helping their clients to improve their own lives, and to help them reach more people and make a bigger difference in the world. Ultimately, that’s an important goal of mine–making the world better. I also love the freedom and flexibility it affords my family as well.
What lights you up about your business?
When a client tells me things like they’re suddenly booked up with clients, or that I nailed their copy or design, it’s the best feeling in the world.
I genuinely love each of my clients. I see their passions and am so inspired by what they do. So, to be able to use my creativity (something I really have to be able to do on the daily regardless) and to use it to further their message, and watch them succeed as a result…it’s really incredible. I feel lucky.
What do you get to do in your business that was not possible in your 9-5?
Goodness…can I say “everything”? I feel like this is the only job I’ve ever had where I really have to apply everything I’ve learned in every previous employment experience I’ve ever had, not to mention my personal and educational experiences. I draw from it all, so I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders now.
Also, obviously, the flexibility I have now would be damn hard to find elsewhere. I can decide to take the day off and take my kiddo to the lake when I want to. As long as I have wifi, I can work from anywhere. If my partner (who is in grad school) needs me to be more present at home so he can focus on his work, I can pivot in my schedule pretty easily. Also, I’m the only one who can determine how much money I make. There really aren’t any limits, except for the limits I place on myself.
What daily habits do you without fail, that make a positive impact on your business day?
Truth be told, I’m still working on the self-discipline bit. So, my schedule and habits are almost constantly in flux. But one thing I do without fail is an evening ritual: I do a daily review with myself. I mark down all the things I accomplished, the things I didn’t accomplish, what is working, and what isn’t. I do it without judgment as much as I can. I also do weekly reviews on Sunday evenings, and monthly reviews at the end of the month. This really helps me to keep my eye on the prize, so to speak, and refining my methods.
If I’m having one of those moments where I feel like I’m not crossing off any of the to-do’s I’ve set for myself, I make a list of all the things I actually did do while I was busy not crossing those things off, no matter how trivial it might seem. By the end of it, I’m always amazed at how much I actually accomplished. Like, maybe I didn’t nail that revenue goal this month, but holy cow, I managed to stay on task with that big client project while my daughter was sick and my partner was out of town! That actually is pretty incredible when you really think about it!
I think it’s so important to keep things in perspective. Our business lives don’t happen in a vacuum, especially when you’re a solopreneur and there’s a real blurring of the lines between work and home life.
Would you say you’re living the “freedom lifestyle” and how does it look and feel to you?
I would say yes, but that I’m still working on mastery, if that makes sense. I have the freedom in my schedules and limitless potential to make more income, but I’m still relatively new at this. I’ve only really been in business for myself for about two years. I still make mistakes and I’ve not hit the revenue goals I’d like to reach yet. But I’d say I’m definitely on my way and that really feels good. There are times when it’s definitely scary–the lack of structure or the ups and downs in cash flow can be panic-inducing if you’re not doing the inner work to withstand it all. But, I can safely say it would be incredibly hard for me to shut this thing down and work for someone else again. I’m in it for the long haul.
Where do you see your business in two years’ time?
I’d love to see Computer Blue grow into an agency model. I’d like to have a virtual team working for me so I don’t have to do everything. There are so many incredibly creative and talented people out there and I really feed off of that kind of exchange. In my ideal mind, I’d love to see Computer Blue become worker-owned also, but I’m in no hurry to make that transition. Those relationships have to be forged organically I think and I really need to make sure that everyone involved really jives together.
I’d also love to establish an online academy-style online marketing membership and establish some sort of giving-back program, be it via donating funds to organizations or establishing a mentorship for other would-be entrepreneurs, but I’m still fleshing out those ideas in my mind.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to give to a woman who’s considering starting a business, or who’s finding the initial set up of her business longer or a little trickier than expected, what would it be?
Leap before you feel ready and operate out of a genuine interest in helping others.
I didn’t even have a website for my business until a couple of months ago. I did just fine with a Facebook business page and my LinkedIn profile. You don’t have to have everything figured out or all the pieces put together before you launch. Just get going and do the work. Wow your clients.
Old-fashioned word-of-mouth is by far the best marketing you can ask for even in this crazy digital age, so do right by your clients and they’ll pay it forward for sure. I think it also helps to have a certain amount of obliviousness to the possibility of failure. In the beginning, I never once thought about what would happen if this gig didn’t work out. It was going to work because it had to, plain and simple. I didn’t have time for what-ifs.
What’s your favourite motivational phrase/quote/mantra?
“Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.” ~ Marie Forleo
You’re never going to miraculously have an a-ha moment by stewing over it or waiting for it to tap you on the shoulder. This is equally true in business as it is in life. Not sure if that someone in your life is “the one”? You’re never going to know by just sitting with your indecision. Not sure what you want to offer in your business? Start somewhere and refine as you go.
On a related note, I also love, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Thanks Nikole, for sharing your business vision and mission with us on the Entrepreneur Spotlight. All the very best for your ongoing and future success, Sharon xox
If you want to grow your business, check out this blog post: How to get the mix right for your winning business recipe