Kelly Davidson on the Challenges of Entrepreneurship and Focusing on Your ‘Why’ | MP 13

Kelly Davidson on the Challenges of Entrepreneurship and Focusing on Your 'Why' | MP 13

What are some challenges of entrepreneurship? What message does your brand convey? What are some questions you can ask yourself that will give you insight into how you can improve your brand?

In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks with Kelly Davidson on the challenges in entrepreneurship and focusing on your ‘why’.

Meet Kelly Davidson

Kelly Davidson is the founder of Front Porch Studio, a Boutique Branding & Design Studio based in Toronto, Canada.

Kelly Davidson’s design career began like most young designers, in the world of advertising. She worked at some of the top agencies in the industry on huge corporate brands. After working on existing brands, always wanting to push things a little further, Kelly decided to make a change. She moved from agency life to a small boutique branding firm in Atlanta. This is where her love for design and branding grew, and she was lucky to work with and learn from an amazing team. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Kelly then hit that point in her career where she was ready to take things out on her own. This is where Front Porch Studio was born.

Visit Kelly’s website, connect with her on Instagram or get in touch kelly@frontporchstudioca.com

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship
  • The most enjoyable parts of entrepreneurship
  • What branding means
  • How to improve your brand

Navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship

Entrepreneuring is a lot like parenting a toddler. You have a beautiful vision of how things will go, but then the wind blows and someones crying and everything sticky.

As the case is with most designers, Kelly is a control freak and letting go is a daily struggle. No matter how much you plan your day and draw up to-do lists, something will happen and you have to totally adjust and pick up the pieces because no one else is coming to save you.

The most enjoyable parts of entrepreneurship

Most of these business and projects are all built from so much passion.

  • Learning about other entrepreneur’s life experiences.
  • Working with other passionate entrepreneurs.
  • Building connections.

What branding means

Branding is finding those core values that your company represents and portraying them in a visual way.

Good branding helps your business grow, it helps you stand out and it helps attract your dream clients. Branding is not just your logo it is any perception that your audience has about your company. It’s the feeling someone gets when they hear your business name, or enter your space. Branding can make or break a business especially in today’s visual society.

How to improve your brand

Why are you doing this?

When looking to improve your brand you need to ask yourself certain questions. Figure out why you’re doing this and is it communicated through your branding?

  • What is the meaning behind your business name?
  • What are your goals?
  • Why did you get into this business?
  • Who are the people you’re speaking to?

Useful Links:

Meet Sam Carvalho

Samantha Carvalho DesignSam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.

She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!

Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work. To work with Sam, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Podcast Transcription

[SAM]:
Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you will discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.

Hi, everyone. I’m so glad that you’ve joined us today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. We have a very special guest here today. Her name is Kelly Davidson and she is the founder of Front Porch Studio, a boutique branding and design studio based in Toronto, Canada. Kelly Davidson’s design career began, like most young designers, in the world of advertising. She worked at some of the top agencies in the industry, on huge corporate brands. After working on existing brands, always wanting to push things a little further, Kelly decided to make a change. She moved from agency life to a small boutique branding firm in Atlanta. This is where her love for design and branding grew. And she was lucky to work with and learn from an amazing team. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Kelly then hit that point in her career where she was ready to take things out on her own. And this is where Front Porch Studio was born. Hi, Kelly, thank you so much for joining us today.

[KELLY]:
Hi, I’m so glad to be here.

[SAM]:
Yeah, thanks so much. So, reading that bio, we’ve obviously already gathered a bit about your background and how you ended up in branding and design. But I’m interested in you mentioning that you come from a family of entrepreneurs. So, can you tell us more about that?

[KELLY]:
Yeah, so I grew up with a mom and a dad both running their own business. And that actually stemmed off of my grandfather, starting his own business. And I think that pushed them to do their own things. And I think, especially for me, being a female, it was pretty amazing to see my mom create something and run a very successful business. And I think as a kid, for me, I really… I didn’t even understand what was going on. I mean, even in high school, you know that they’re the boss and they make all the decisions, but it’s been interesting now, in running my own business the last couple years, asking questions to both of them like, well, did you struggle with that? And how your perception of everything as a kid… you just think, well, everything’s going great. So it’s been an interesting shift in all of our relationships, I think as a family, just being able to ask those questions and know that they had challenges as well because it’s not an easy thing to do. So yeah, I think that also having both of my parents as a good example, for running their own business, it seemed like the natural shifter for me because they were always the one in charge. So, I just assumed, well, that’s what you do. You get to your 30s and it’s like, okay, it’s time to start your business now. So, that’s where it happened, after we moved back to Canada.

[SAM]:
Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s so cool that you had that example, as you say, growing up and witnessing that and thinking that that’s just the norm. But even more that you had that support. Now, I mean, people are literally paying consultants to guide them in the entrepreneur journey, and you have your family backing you, which is really awesome. So, I know that you share a lot of your entrepreneurship and business tips on Instagram. And there was one post that you did recently that I loved. And it was, it was a bit of a humorous take on entrepreneurship. So, it goes: entrepreneuring is a lot like parenting a toddler, you have a beautiful vision of how things will go, but then the wind blows and someone’s crying and everything is sticky. So, I thought that was such an apt description of how entrepreneurship can be at times.

[KELLY]:
Yeah.

[SAM]:
Yeah. So, can you just speak into some of the things… some of the main things you’ve learned in your journey of being an entrepreneur and how you’ve navigated through the stickiness.

[KELLY]:
So, I think for me, my biggest challenge is I, like most designers, are, are control freaks. And so, letting go is… I struggle with it daily, but adjusting to… I mean, exactly that, like, okay, you set your to do list at the end of the day and then, okay, say I’m gonna work on this brand, I’m going to finalize this website page, and then I’m gonna launch this new post on my Instagram or send out this E-blast. Whatever your list is, all of a sudden, I feel like something will happen; if it’s an emergency email that comes in, which doesn’t happen for me that often – I am thankful for my clients, but at the same time, even if you… your kid’s sick and you have to totally adjust, no one’s really there to pick up the pieces. I don’t remember what I was watching the other day but it’s kind of like that point where no one else is coming to save you because you are the one in charge. There’s no one else.

[SAM]:
It’s the realization of adulthood.

[KELLY]:
Yes, exactly. Which is a lot like quarantine – there’s no, someone else will fix it or there’s someone else to ask. There’s definitely a lot of people that I lean on. But for me it’s trying to let go and really just taking each day and each week, and those times that that wind blows my sister and I always laugh because one second my son will be totally happy and then the wind blows and he’s having a temper tantrum which… Sometimes you get that email and then all of a sudden, [unclear] a whole day.

[SAM]:
Yeah.

[KELLY]:
So, yeah, it’s just really not getting stuck in the bad and just trying to… you know what, you’ll make it happen in the end, and just day by day.

[SAM]:
Yes. I think that’s great advice. So, can you share, now that we’ve kind of gone through the challenges of entrepreneurs, what do you love about what you do?

[KELLY]:
What do I love? I love most, I enjoy working with entrepreneurs in general. I find it so interesting learning what everyone is so passionate about, and why they’re getting into this business. I think that entrepreneurs especially, you’re giving up your personal finances for one thing; your time and so, most of these businesses and projects, or whatever they are, they’re all built from so much passion. And so, I love learning about so many different people’s life experiences, their paths that lead them this way. And then diving right into the logo design itself, which I always start with a really in-depth strategy upfront, which is where I learn about these people, and really focus on why they’re doing what they’re doing. A lot of my clients actually become really good friends. I think so many people say, working, especially in the design world, can be isolating, and alone. But at the same time, I mean, there’s people that I would have never connected with, even through social media, and people that if I met them in normal circumstances, we may not be friends, but the fact that we have that entrepreneurship connection, and I just… I don’t know, I feel like it’s such a unique thing. So, I think that’s what I love. I love working with people on their passion projects, basically.

[SAM]:
Yes, yeah. No, that’s… I can totally relate. It’s really awesome. Especially when you get to collaborate with someone and build up the brand and something that they, as you say, have put their heart and soul into and they’re so passionate about it and you get to come alongside them and help them take the next step and help them introduce it to the world, which is really awesome. So, on that, getting to the branding and marketing side of things, I always ask what are your three to five points on branding – your perspective on it – branding and marketing, to share with our audience.

[KELLY]:
Yeah, that is… I think everyone is really different when it comes to this. For me, I really feel like branding is, it’s so different than marketing. It’s not advertising, which is hard to almost tell your clients themselves, because they don’t really even understand it. So, for me, I find that when I’m talking about branding, you’re really focusing on your goals and really targeting your audience and not necessarily… In advertising, you’re really just trying to like, okay, let’s be the coolest, you know, the coolest ad or let’s talk about something completely unrelated to our overall company’s core values or something that’s not… it’s not always related. So, for me, branding is really focusing on finding those core values that your company represents and portraying them in a visual way. So that can be from your logo, your website. It can be any sort of thing that’s out there in the environment; the way you answer the phone, the way you send an email. So, it’s really just any sort of visual or feeling that you’ve got about your company.

[SAM]:
I think that’s awesome, how you describe it as a feeling as much as visual – I think that’s so true, that branding extends into so much more than just the look. It’s also the feel that you give. And if people come onto your website… For example, our audience is obviously private practice owners, so, people will come onto their website and book an appointment with them and straightaway get a kind of feel of who they are, and what their brand personality is. And it’s so important that that then gets carried through into the waiting room and into the personality of the actual therapists that they then see. It’s so important that there’s consistency throughout. And so, I really like that when you are addressing your branding, it’s not just the visual things. It’s the, as you say, how the receptionist answers the phone and things like that. That’s really great advice.

[KELLY]:
Yeah. 100%.

[SAM]:
So, if I’m our audience members were to take action on improving their brand, what are some of the first things that you think they should look at?

[KELLY]:
So, this can… Also, I think every designer is different. For me, I always start with a questionnaire of just getting to know my clients. And like I was saying initially, this is… is asking, those questions are, what are your goals? Why did you get into this business? Who are the people you’re speaking to? What’s the meaning behind your business name? If you don’t have a meaning, then why did you pick that business name? Maybe we should find something that has a meaning. So I give my clients a lot of homework upfront and a lot of the time they get overwhelmed but in the end are always so thankful and they just find some sort of clarity in themselves as well, while they’re going through this process. And so, I think the big thing for me is asking the ‘Why?’ You know, why are you doing this? So for private practices, you know, a lot of people obviously want to help patients and oversee health and all that but also, it’s about those relationships and, like you’re saying, you book an appointment online, but going into the practice itself, that’s an experience too. So, you need to make sure that it comes across, as to the care and why you’re doing this, every time.

[SAM]:
Yeah, that’s so good. I think a lot of people, when they decide to work with the designer, will think of the design aspect of the business as an addition onto their business, when actually, it’s so at the core of the business and as you say, you need to ask those core questions. And if you haven’t yet, when you’re working with a designer is definitely the time to do it, as we make sure that that is all communicated through your brand identity that you end up developing. So yeah, that’s great. And for everybody listening, I think it’s a good challenge to extend to yourself, to… do you know why you’re doing this, and is that communicated through your branding? And as we said, just now, is it communicated through your office decor or the way your employees interact with the clients. So that’s a really good thing to look at.

[SAM]:
So, what are some design trends that you are in love with at the moment?

[KELLY]:
Oh, I feel like that changes daily. I feel like the world always has… I always call it the Pinterest problem. It’s like your mind bounces back to that. Every time I go on there, I feel like I need to redecorate my house. Normally, I’m always drawn to minimal even… I feel like it’s been a trend but that’s just my style and that’s what I’m always drawn to. I love that bold colors are coming back. Because I do love color as much as I love whitespace, the bold colors, and I also love illustration and I know that’s been back for a while as well. But just different styles of illustration, and especially for private practices actually, that’s a big use because the imagery is tough when it comes to marketing any sort of… in the medical field itself, because you can’t really show your patients… a lot of the stock photography all is, you know, it’s pretty cheesy. But if you can convey that style through some sort of graphic or icon system, that’s giving yourself your own style. But other trends would be… really, I mean, I think color and bold type is always great. It’s funny, the print world is becoming smaller and smaller, unfortunately. But for medical, at least it’s still around. So, I would love to see that come back. As green as I want to be, I also want to print everything. So, that’s one thing I also love as well. I don’t know if that answered your question, but…

[SAM]:
No, absolutely. I was just thinking it’s so funny because I ask this question to a lot of people that I have on the podcast, and the funny thing is that I love minimal design and have invited people who I follow on Instagram and the only reason I’m following you is because I like your designs, and because most of your designs are minimal. So, that question is pretty much always going to be quite similar, but I mean, you can never get enough of minimalism. So, that’s okay. But yeah, that’s awesome. So, I know you mentioned that you ask a lot of questions when bringing a new client onboard and I think I saw in your website as well, that you do offer a brand style guide, is that correct?

[KELLY]:
Yeah.

[SAM]:
So how important do you think that is, to establishing a company’s branding?

[KELLY]:
I think it really depends. I think a general style guide is definitely important for any company that is going to be recreating anything in-house; if it’s an email template, if it’s a letterhead that they decided to do on their own. But at the same time, I really believe that, unless you’re a major corporation, brands these days are so broad, at least the way that I work with my design itself, you know, you’re not creating one single logo. You know, here’s your primary mark, here’s your secondary mark, here are three to four icons or different iterations of your logo that can be used on social media, on overall print design. So, I go back and forth on this. I definitely think a… some sort of version of a style, that is very important, because you don’t want people going rogue here. But at the same time, I think with a deep understanding of, the strategy we’ve set in place, the brand that we then set up together, it’s a pretty mutual understanding of how we want this all to come to life. So, we’re creating it together. It’s very much a collaboration even though I actually operate a little bit differently, with just a one-concept method. But at the same time, at the end of the day, I’m making sure that if the clients decide to work with someone else, they’re an entrepreneur, I want to make sure that they have a full guide and can take that and run with it on their own.

[SAM]:
Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I think that’s something that people sometimes lose sight of is, they think a brand style guide isn’t necessary because, you know, they know what they want, and you know what they want. But yeah, exactly that; I think if they happen to work with a different designer in a few years, for whatever reason, then I think having that brand style guide to refer back to, to keep that consistency going, is really important. So, what is your most favorite project that you’ve worked on to date, and why?

[KELLY]:
This is a hard one. So, I have a few projects that aren’t out there yet, but I think my favorite to date that is out there is… it’s called The Workaround, and it is a parent-friendly, co-working space in downtown Toronto. And coincidentally, this was one of my very first projects after officially becoming a business, and it really… I loved the team. And I just loved what it was doing for the city. It was a place where parents could come… for entrepreneurs, and then also a lot of creatives because, you know, it’s hard if you’re a photographer; you don’t want to pay for full-time childcare. So, it was an hourly childcare when needed. So I just… it was such a community-driven space that the brand, we just had so much fun with the brand and I just, I know I talked about how working with the people are what I’m so passionate about, but this project, especially, really, it just hit home and it felt like it was doing so many amazing things for entrepreneurs, for parents, and just for Toronto itself. So, I am so proud of them. They have done very well. So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well for them in the future.

[SAM]:
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s such an honor that you were able to do that, you know, work on that with him. And I think as much as designers pride ourselves in being able to handle a variety of companies, I always know that when I work with someone who’s doing something that I’m even a bit passionate about, or I’m interested in, it always makes the work that much more… you get into it so much more, you enjoy it so much more. I know recently, I designed a logo for a private practice who is called Grey Cat Counseling, and I am a huge cat lover, and I got to illustrate the sleeping cat on the couch. I loved it and I enjoyed it so much. So, yeah, that’s awesome when you get to work with a company who resonates with you like that? Awesome. So, Kelly, how can people connect with you?

[KELLY]:
So, you can reach out on my Instagram, which is @frontporchstudioCA, or email, it’s kelly@frontporchstudioca.com and my website, again frontporchstudioca.com. So, I’m always… pretty much always available. And I have quite a few different groups as well. So, if anyone wants to jump in and just brainstorm for ideas; I just love talking to different entrepreneurs and hearing what they’re dealing with. If they’re having one of those days where they’re on the floor, or if they’re having one of those days that are… you know, they’re celebrating all the wins. So, I’m just always here for a chat.

[SAM]:
Awesome Yeah. Guys, I’d really encourage you to follow Kelly on Instagram. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not just her design work that she shares, she also shares some tips and advice on her entrepreneurship journey and on how to run a small business. So, I think that’s really valuable for our audience as well. So, Kelly, just to wrap up, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?

[KELLY]:
I want them to focus on their ‘why’, as I said. Why you’re starting this business? What problem are you trying to solve? And really make sure that they’re passionate about what they’re doing, because at the end of the day, you’re spending the most time with your business and you have to love it. And you have to… you really have to remember the why of why you’re doing it because some days are harder than others. And so just realizing why you’re doing it makes a world of a difference.

[SAM]:
Awesome. Thanks, so much Kelly. We’ve really enjoyed having you on the Marketing a Practice podcast.

[KELLY]:
Thanks for having me, Sam. This was such a delight.

[SAM]:
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want to have a print file designed, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.

Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests, are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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