My Goals for #HOWLive/#CFConf: @jennypoff

Creative freelancer, Jenny Poff, on her goals for HOW/CFC this year…

Last year, CFC 2013 logoHOW Design Live 2012 was an incredible experience for me.

I went in not knowing what my business meant, who it serviced, where it was going, how much to work, or even what questions to ask.

While listening to the Marketing-Mentor podcast before I left my husband and two little girls at home for the first time, I started to get a better sense of how to formulate a business plan. I had looked at templates many times in the past, and quickly dismissed them when I became frustrated with the question, “What is your 5-year plan?”

I didn’t know what I was doing in six months,
let alone in five years.

I left HOW 2012 feeling empowered to ask questions not only of professionals in my creative field, but of myself. To really dig deep and figure out what is my “why.” (Thanks to Dyana Valentine from the International Freelancers Day Conference)

  • What did I want to do?
  • What did I want to create?
  • What kind of time did I have to commit?
  • What kind of quality of life do I want for my professional career and personal life?
  • Who do I want to service?
  • Where do I want to work?
  • Do I want to grow?
  • Am I talented enough to grow?
  • How do I plan to grow?

Big questions right? I’m proud to say that 9 months after HOW 2012, my business earned 60% more income then ever. Why? Because I stopped just doing whatever came my way, and figured out my specialty, my niche. Once I committed to working with start up businesses and independent business owners, a new-found confidence arose.

Now, when I go to networking events or run into people I already know – I am able to position myself (my new brand) and I am able to say clearly what I do and who I do it for. With confidence.

Currently, I’ve added a new team member who is as committed to seeing Presque Isle Designs grow as I am (living her dream with the marketing angle we are now offering).

And now I’m faced with even tougher questions:

  • How do I grow?
  • How do I build a solid pipeline of leads?
  • How to work best with subcontractors?
  • How can I make retainers work?
  • Can I really achieve my dream — my own firm and studio — which for so long felt impossible?
  • How do I do it?
  • Are there grants available?
  • What are the best networking groups and events to participate in? (Some of these questions are getting answered in the currently developing marketing plan for Presque Isle Designs).

Along with that, I’m entering the “speaking circuit” — which for me is easy, I have no problem talking to a crowd of people. My concern is my intention and what I want from it. I want to help people not only understand that branding and marketing is essential for start ups, but that it can be affordable.

In doing so, I’m building street-cred. Erie PA is a medium-size community: 280,000 citizens and over 5,000 independent business owners. Once I get in front of higher profile networkers, I’m confident it will not be long for free marketing to spread around Erie about what I can offer.

So many people already know I’m a graphic designer – I already have some high profile clients and projects, but they don’t know that I’m not just a designer. I’m a strategist, a planner, and when I learn about my client’s big picture – magic happens. It’s really goosepump quality the way ideas and plans get developed when a client lets me into their dream goals for their own business. In the end, I end up falling in love with their business as they have, which results in the best quality design I can I offer (vs. just making things pretty).

In heading to HOW 2013 in San Fran this week, I’m leaving my husband and kids for a longer time (sadly, they did really great in 2012). I’m going with a new light and a new direction.

As a wife, mom, Girl Scout troop leader, director of an annual golf tournament benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, coordinator of the DESIGNERS ROUNDTABLE, brand manager and educator, speaker, and business owner — I’m ready to tackle that 5-year plan. I’m ready to get the business statistics down to grow my solo business into a small design firm.

How do I plan and grow to take care of the employees that will help my business be great? When those next questions are answered, then I’ll feel ready to tackle new prospects with Ed Gandia’s ‘Warm Email Prospecting’ class I purchased right after HOW 2012 and have had no time to implement.

Then I’ll feel confident to invest in software like Function Fox, or Basecamp, or …. Then I’ll feel ready to write a blog or newsletter monthly to publish on my new website (currently still under another round of revisions).

My marketing plan (which is currently under development) will really help me align when those questions/answers get implemented. It’s really a phenomenal tool that my marketing partner and I have developed – including a market analysis, calendar and budget.

The other day I drove by some vacant land that a local developer is marketing for business suites built to suit. (I’m also a wannabe real estate investor.) Before, this type of property would not catch my eye. But now, after growing with solid resources and defining my purpose on this planet, this property caught my eye.

Also watching Jenn David Design grow as fast and as well as she has — I know I can follow in her footsteps. I could see those spaces as a home for Presque Isle Designs maybe in 2-3 years.

So come and introduce yourself to me at HOW in San Fran this weekend. Ask me about the DESIGNERS ROUNDTABLE and how this free peer/accountability group has helped me and other solopreneurs, and let’s cheer each other on as we all grow in our business and our dreams.

See you there? It’s not too late to sign up. Get $50 off with promo code “ILISE” here: