“Get business insurance!”, With Douglas Brown and Kronda Adair of Karvel Digital

Get business insurance! Especially if you’re a woman of color or part of a marginalized community and you’re in the United States. Getting sued is more common than you might think, and having a team on your side to deal with it will keep you from getting derailed when building your business. As a part […]

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Get business insurance! Especially if you’re a woman of color or part of a marginalized community and you’re in the United States. Getting sued is more common than you might think, and having a team on your side to deal with it will keep you from getting derailed when building your business.

As a part of my series called “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started My Consulting Business ”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kronda Adair.

Kronda is the CEO of Karvel Digital, an agency that helps mission-driven service-based businesses automate their marketing to create a predictable sales pipeline.

Her latest project is Content Bootcamp, a 12-week online intensive to teach overwhelmed entrepreneurs how to create and use content as an asset that saves time and sells for you.

When she’s not working, she can be found enjoying time at home with her wife, two cats, and Vizsla puppy, reading dead-tree books, riding one of her five bikes, or enjoying the postcard vistas of the state of Oregon.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was working as a project manager at a tiny marketing startup, and I had a meeting with a freelance web developer for one of our projects. As soon as the meeting ended, I had a lightbulb moment. I realized that the developer could work anywhere, on his own time, and was probably also making at least three times as much money as I was. I went to my desk and immediately started researching how to become a developer because I wanted to own my own business someday.

I got my degree and worked for a development agency for a couple of years before getting fired for ‘culture fit’ (yes, he actually said those words). That is not an unusual story for Black women in technology. I took it as a sign, and after taking some time off to regroup, I started my business and went looking for my first customers, and I haven’t looked back.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

I’m incredibly outspoken and was once asked how I manage to get clients since I’m so blunt on my social media accounts. I even got into a fight on Twitter earlier that lead to a 1000 dollars consulting client. This person had seen the argument on Twitter, knew the other person involved, and didn’t have a favorable opinion of them. This exchange led him to my blog, and he eventually reached out to me for professional help. So let your freak flag fly. Your people will find you!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve had many great mentors over the years, but Chris Davis from Automation Bridge is one of the smartest marketing minds on the planet. He helped startups like LeadPages and Active Campaign raise over 100 million dollars in funding. I joined his mentorship program last year, and what I learned there was instrumental in helping me more than double my revenue over 2019, even amid a pandemic.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have a tweet pinned to the top of my account that says:

  1. Try to do good
  2. Fuck it up.
  3. Apologize
  4. Try not to make the same mistake again.

That’s the job.

I think we get into trouble when we forget that no matter how hard we try, we’re inevitably going to screw up, whether in life or business. What’s important is that we do our best to repair harm and learn from our mistakes. This philosophy grew out of my frustration of dealing with unconscious racism from white people who shrink away from any kind of correction or calling out of their behavior. The tweet was my way of reminding people that no one expects you to be perfect. The problem comes when you deny responsibility or don’t learn from your mistakes. People still reference and retweet this quote after six years because it’s still relevant today.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

Service-based business owners either struggle with marketing or struggle to keep marketing after getting clients because they’re busy delivering their service. A website alone won’t help unless you have a clear understanding of your offer, audience and messaging, and have a strategy in place to convert visitors to customers.

My Content Boot Camp is a 12-week program that helps service-based business owners develop messaging that works. Then I help them automate and systemize their marketing to be consistent and bring in consistent clients and revenue.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I am a writer who became a developer who became a marketer, and this puts me in a unique position. I understand how to create effective strategies and which software tools you can leverage to put that strategy in place. It’s so overwhelming for many non-technical business owners trying to figure out what tools to use. I have a proven technology stack that has not changed much over the past five years. That knowledge base saves my clients from decision fatigue, wasting money on inadequate tools, which allows them to focus on implementation.

When you first started the business, what drove you, what was your primary motivation?

Being in the tech industry as a Black woman sucked. I watched my women friends in tech burn out over time. They would either leave the industry or stay, make lots of money, but be miserable doing it. I did not ever want to go back to working for sexist, racist tech companies with terrible culture, and in general, I’m just not cut out to be an employee.

What drives you now? Is it the same? Did it change? Can you explain what you mean?

I have always loved technology because of its potential for connecting people, and that’s never been more critical than now when we literally can’t meet safely in person. I love helping business owners go from stressed and overwhelmed about technology and how to get clients, to showing them a path, helping them implement and actually get results. It never gets old. We have a mission to help 150 business owners reach 20k / month in their business this year.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Entrepreneurs tend to over-focus on the next ‘new’ thing. The things that excite me are the things that create ease and success, which are also the things that most people find boring and unsexy. We are focused on improving our boot camp’s customer experience. We are creating and optimizing the systems and processes that allow us to deliver that experience. Our only new project is our podcast, Begin as You Mean to Go On, which launched in October of 2020. I’m excited to add a new dimension to our content delivery to make it accessible to even more people, and the early feedback has been fantastic.

Does your company have a sales team? If yes, do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?

Our sales team is me, and I was doing 1:1 sales calls with potential clients until this year. Now I need to shift and spend more time doing CEO stuff. We’ve streamlined the process by relying heavily on marketing content to educate and qualify prospects (which is what we teach, after all) and created a group sales process that mimics our boot camp experience.

My advice for improving sales is to become obsessed with your market, understand the problem as they see it, and think about the solution. Then create content to educate them about your solution and how it can benefit them. If you are marketing effectively, you don’t have to ‘sell’ people on your offer. You just need to show them you can solve their problem and let them know how to get started.

In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?

Keep it simple and have fun! I love automation, but some of the most effective things I’ve done have been when I’m just having fun. I made a Facebook live video from my backyard, merely talking to people about my journey and what I do. It got over 2000 views and brought in 3 new clients within a few weeks. I do things like involve my puppy in my marketing (#puppymarketing), and people love it. There’s no marketing principle I can’t illustrate with a dog training analogy. My clients enjoy our work together because they get the same person they see in my marketing.

Based on your experience, can you share a few strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

People think of automation for marketing, but it’s also a fantastic tool for delivering a great customer experience. Some examples that we use are:

  • Immediately sending out the client agreement via Zapier and then giving them access to the membership site once they’ve signed using Zapier, Active Campaign, and MemberVault. This way, when someone is excited about getting started, they don’t have to wait hours for a human to gain access to the learning material and get started.
  • Throughout the program, setting up automated check-in emails inviting reflection on what they’ve learned and allowing them to give feedback.

If you take the time to think through the touchpoints as people go through the customer journey, you’ll inevitably find places where you can automate while also keeping things personalized based on the data you have about them.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started My Consulting Business”. Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Being a CEO is a personal growth program that you get paid for. The more you grow, the more you earn. The failings and limitations in your personal life will also affect the business. If you’re scared to ask for the sale, you won’t make money. If you’re afraid of conflict, you’ll get clients who run all over you. Learn to embrace discomfort and challenges! Become whom you need to become, take the actions you need to take, and you’ll reach your goals. It wasn’t until I got firm with clients and took charge of the website process that I started having large successful projects.
  2. Get a mentor as soon as possible. There is so much to figure out when running a business, and many times, you won’t know what you don’t know — having someone who is, further along, to help you steer clear of common mistakes will pay for itself many times over.
  3. Get business insurance! Especially if you’re a woman of color or part of a marginalized community and you’re in the United States. Getting sued is more common than you might think, and having a team on your side to deal with it will keep you from getting derailed when building your business.
  4. Don’t let mistakes or decisions that don’t work out be a reason to quit. I’ve had many mentors over the years, and some were better than others, but there’s always a lesson I can take from the experience. Develop an attitude that “you win or you learn,” and you’ll get better at making decisions, and more of them will work out.
  5. Price your services like a business. Many people price too low when they’re starting out and then wonder why they’re burnt out, can’t make ends meet, and resent their clients. Know your numbers so that you understand what it costs to run your business and price accordingly. As someone who started out making 500 dollars websites that helped no one and 20,000 dollars websites that tripled revenue within months, I know what I’m talking about. Sell people what they need to get the outcome they want, which might differ from what they may think they need.

Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My movement would be to inspire people to begin as they mean to go on. To make more decisions based on your vision of where you are going instead of your present circumstances. This philosophy can apply to business, buying software, relationships, or politics. If we made more hard choices based on the long-term results instead of the quick fix, who knows what we could accomplish?

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’m torn between Serena Williams and Beyonce. They both have incredible drive and work ethic, and it would be amazing to find out more about the things they have endured and survived to get where they are.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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