How I Started a Marketing and Branding Agency

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brit miller
Team Size

6

Revenue

$10k+

Location

Kansas City, US

STart Date

Nov 2017

Our female entrepreneur today is Brit Miller, a founder of SAGE + FRANK from Kansas City. Brit founded SAGE + FRANK after working 10+ years in the design industry. She felt a need to contribute more to the world and make an impact through her creativity and that’s when she decided to start her own business almost two years ago. 

SAGE + FRANK is a female-focused marketing and branding agency that helps female entrepreneurs with their branding needs, as well as web design, graphic design, social media, and much more. Brit and her team are there not only to support businesses but also female business owners through mindset coaching and support in the areas of confidence, relationships, money, and fulfillment. Read on to find out more about Brit and her interesting journey.

sage and frank

INTRODUCTION

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED.

I was always the “artsy kid” and when it came to college I decided to go with Graphic Design because I thought it was a way to be able to create art AND get paid AND make a huge impact on the greater community through advertising! I thought I was so freakin’ smart! Little did I know that the world of graphic design was not going to be the fun, free artistic thing that I had built it up to be in my mind.

After graduating in 2007 I hopped from job to job, wanting to try out everything. I worked in all kinds of design – freelance graphic design, corporate print management, large format printing, a small specialized agency, the list goes on. What I had REALLY wanted to do though, was land a job at a local ad agency that I was totally fangirling over for years.

By chance, I did end up there, and it was exciting! THIS was going to be the place that fulfilled all those artsy dreams that I had when I was younger, THIS is what I went to school for!

Wrong. I found myself working long hours, missing kids’ activities, not being home for dinner, and just now being able to participate in my life like I wanted to. Not to mention I was working on ads for brands like Applebees and Cargill… as a vegetarian. I had wanted to make an impact, and I didn’t feel like I was contributing anything to the world. I had a big empty space that I had been trying to fill and I thought this was going to be the thing, but it wasn’t.

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After a loss in our family, a switch flipped and I knew I had to make some changes. That change turned out to be quitting my job two weeks later and venturing into the world of entrepreneurship.

WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?

Typically I work Wednesday through Friday. My son is in middle school and my daughter is in pre-school, so those are the days I have childcare.

This sounds cheesy, but how I start my day is with gratitudes and getting myself pumped up. Before I even get out of bed, I think some really lovely thoughts about the day and do some positive self-talk. 

I get the kiddos ready and off to wherever they’re headed and start work by 9 am. And by start work I mean refill my coffee much, burn some sage, and sort through whatever emails have come in. 

After that, I head to Trello to see what’s on my plate for the day and get to it! 

I practice time blocking and take calls at certain times and have other times totally blocked off for client work and it helps to keep me sane! 

Keeping off of social media for the most part during the workday is really helpful in staying productive. I will check Facebook and engage at certain times, or pull up a chat to communicate about projects, but I try to stay away from getting sucked in.

THE JOURNEY SO FAR

PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.

When I left that ad agency I was working for I actually swore off working in any sort of marketing. I started a business creating bath bombs and started a business directory for my local community, but the design kept calling me back.

I’d get people recommending me, inquiries about branding and websites, and I realized it wasn’t something I could turn off. I was really at a crossroads because I didn’t want to be a part of “the evil marketing industry” but I still had this pull to keep doing what I had been dedicated to for the past 10 years. 

And it just clicked at one point. I realized that I had the power to do it differently. I could use the skills I had in a positive way and work with businesses who were making a real impact on the lives of their clients. This was a way I could find the fulfillment I had been craving. 

The SAGE + FRANK name was born from my personal practice of burning sage and frankincense when I sit down to work in the morning. It’s my little ritual that gets my mind in the game and gets me ready for the day.

I put together the site, I got my social pages up and I just got to work getting involved. I talked to as many people as possible about my services. I shared it as much as possible. I did whatever I could to just get my name popping up for people and bootstrapped the crap out of everything.

I feel crazy lucky to be able to start off my business with a strong brand and strategic website since that’s what I do. There is no way I can downplay the benefits of a clean professional brand and site and how it affects people’s trust in you as a professional.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?

The biggest challenge that I’ve overcome was, and still is, myself.

When I entered this world I had NO IDEA that I, as a person, was going to be so changed by it. Not only did I underestimate the amount of personal growth work that was going to be needed, but I also didn’t know it was going to be a factor at all.

Getting in our own ways and letting our beliefs about ourselves and the world is the biggest thing that holds us back from REALLY going for it in our businesses and it’s something that I constantly work on.

Having said that, my greatest accomplishments come from helping clients do the same. When I see clients go from being hesitant about marketing themselves because their brand or site is embarrassing, to shouting who they are and what they do from the rooftops, it’s SO rewarding.

I had one client who wouldn’t even send people to her site, so she was having to screen inquiries and schedule new clients only through DMs on Instagram. She was so frustrated and was wasting so many hours on back and forth conversation that may or may not turn into a paying client. 

After working together to create her perfect brand, site, and business processes, she got 345 new clients within 7 months, ALL automated. She didn’t have to DM or go back and forth with a single one of them.

With all the freed up time, she got more clients and had the opportunity to focus on opening her own brick and mortar.

That’s an insane transformation that I’m crazy proud to have been a catalyst for.

WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?

I think it goes without saying that brand building is and was my focus. 

Social engagement was a HUGE part of my brand growth strategy in the early stages of my business. I got out there and talked to as many people as possible. This builds brand recognition really quickly, and brand recognition keeps you in people’s minds. I also invested my time into building up a Facebook Group where I could give massive value and engage 1:1 with my audience. 

Once I had gotten things going my focus shifted on how I could work on myself so that I had the confidence and was in the right frame of mind to get the kind of success I wanted. I worked with a mindset coach and that was instrumental in making it to 10k months. I didn’t realize how much I was holding myself back with my own hangups.

I also am in a couple of higher level masterminds and having an empowering community of women to bounce ideas off of is key to finding my way through this adventure.

WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?

My big vision is to be the leader as far as positive advertising. I want to not only work with bigger clients to create a greater impact, but I want to help other marketing professionals learn how to do this as well. Team expansion, new processes, new programs, I see this as a constantly evolving thing that keeps moving toward the greater purpose of positive change in our communities, whether that be local or online.

RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS

ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES OR TOOLS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS THAT HAVE HELPED YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS?

Getting the right systems set up can be a lifesaver in your business (remember that story about the new 345 clients?)!

Investing in Dubsado early on turned out to be a huge time and energy saver. Something that has contracts, invoices, and scheduling all in one place is like a little piece of heaven.

Quickbooks online is also another biggie. When I finally started using it, I was totally kicking myself for not using it earlier.

Coaches and masterminds have also been things that got me to where I am and places I don’t hesitate to invest in.

WHAT OR WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE IN BUSINESS AND WHY?

My biggest influence has really been my drive for fulfillment through making positive change, my entire business is built around it and every program or package that I create has that in mind.

Cathy Olson with Funnel Gorgeous has been a huge influence. Not only is she an amazing designer who built a spectacular business, but she’s a great example of how to take that and scale it. Also, she has a similar mission in marketing with heart and it’s so refreshing to see that in the industry.

Cati Winkel is a Mindset Coach and is a huge influence on how to stay in integrity while growing your business.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?

 

Do something you love and don’t waste a minute of time doing something you don’t feel excited about. You might think you need to do things, even though they make you miserable, but the real growth comes from building on what your passions are.

WHAT BUSINESS IDEA DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?

Ooooooo! Ok, if someone could create a waterproof tablet that you can write on that feels like paper and translates my writing into typed notes, that would be great! I do some of my best thinking in the shower and have tried waterproof paper, using my waterproof phone, etc. but nothing would beat writing and having it digitally transcribed.

Also, a houseplant coach. This needs to be a thing. I need someone to tell me where each plant will do it’s best and how I can fit even more plants into my house. That would be AMAZING!

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?

Whatever you do, make it come from your heart and stay true to who you are. If you don’t know who you are, go find out – you won’t be disappointed in the amazingness you find!

Violeta Semenova

Violeta Semenova
Founder
theBizLadies

Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!

If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.

By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.

If you are interested to share your own story on the Biz Ladies LET ME KNOW!