How I Launched a Six-Figure Company as a Queer Woman in Tech During the Recession

In 2012 the recession was still raging on.  I was working for an SEO firm and we had been bought out.  I could see the writing on the wall.  I was going to get laid off.  I had to do something.

Why I Started a Business

I didn’t start a business because it was a recession.  In fact, I was too stubborn to even consider that we were in the biggest bear economy since the Great Depression.

I started a business because I hated the feeling that someone else owned my time and livelihood.  Knowing I was about to be laid off due to no fault of my own felt like shit.  I never wanted to feel that again.

The Beginning of my Tech Company

So I took what I knew — content marketing, search engine optimization, and website development — and started bartering for these services around town.  This gave me the chance to learn to code, discover what messaging resonated with people who needed my services, and develop a portfolio.

Then I got laid off.

Not only did I get laid off.  My brother and my dad got laid off in the same week.

The first week of December.  Merry Christmas to all of us.

It was time to go pro.  It was do or die.  I had to start charging for my services.

The Moment I needed to Scale

That went alright for the first two years.  I made ends meet, got off unemployment pretty quickly, and started getting regular referrals for work.

The thing was, I hadn’t learned to market the company, and this meant I was working many more hours than a typical work week in order to hustle up clients from networking events and business gatherings.

I also was doing all the work myself.  I was thinking of myself as a freelancer instead of an entrepreneur, which left me running around like a chicken without a head (check out my video where I explain this in depth).

I had a choice — scale my business, or burn out and return to the workforce.

Well, the workforce just wasn’t an option in my mind.

So I started to learn about scaling.

A Rebrand and Business Model Shift

I didn’t want to scale a business that used my name as its brand.  I knew someday I would want to sell the company, and so I rebranded to GreenCup Digital.  I explained to our existing clients that we were poised to grow and bring them better services as a result, so the name was changed to encompass those new values, and they were on board.

Great.

The next major challenge was to stop the hectic schedule and shotgun approach.  I had been hustling for projects only.  This meant I never knew when the work would come in, and that was fuh-reaky.

So I revamped my packages to include ongoing maintenance.  It really was a no brainer, since getting clients to the front page of Google required upkeep since Google’s policies had changed.

Plus, clients just don’t want to have to mess with tech.  They wanted it handled at an expert level without the expense of hiring someone in-house.  So they hired us on retainer.

Hiring

At this point things were getting better.  Was I still dealing with sexism in the tech industry?  Yes.  But my stress was reduced by the changes I’d made and the new business model garnered me more respect.

The connections I was making were more serious and treated me better.  I had a business that was running like a clock, with replicatable systems.

That part was critical.

The systems had to be spot on before I could hire.  I didn’t realize this at the time, and my first hire and training was messy at best.

But I learned.

It was obvious that if I wanted to hire and have the team do better work than I could on my own, I had to be able to hand over the existing business systems without a whole lot of lag time.

Systemizing reduced training time.  It optimized my team.  It kept me in control without micromanaging.  Hiring was the moment in which I went from a 70-hour work week to a 10-hour work week, the perfect position to sell a business.  Which I did, in 2018, so I could teach clients the business systems I didn’t have so they grow faster, widen their impact, and escape the clutches of imposter syndrome once and for all.

Curious how I sold my company?  Join my free webinar where I explain more.