…it’s crucial that business owners do NOT try to design and build their new website alone. They need to focus on growing their business elsewhere. When it came to my website, I thought, “This will be simple and straightforward.” Not the case. We are our own worse critics and I spent way more time getting it up and running than I needed to.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindy Nowak.
Lindy Nowak began her graphic design career directly out of college, finishing her double degree in design and advertising at Michigan State University. Her career, spanning nearly two decades, involved Lindy working across multiple industries including the agency side, brand side, and most recently publishing. She spent over a decade as a creative director in New York City across multiple industries and brands including L’Oréal, Entertainment Weekly, and Women’s Health.In 2018, she founded Lino Creative, a branding and marketing agency. Lino Creative past and current clients have included notable brands and businesses such as Getty Images, IMG, L’Oreal, Women’s Health, and Nascar Heat amongst others. What started as traditional agency offerings, quickly evolved into what Up in a Day™ is today — a new-to-market marketing service that specifically focuses on getting small business owners, entrepreneurs, independent operators, and side hustlers who need fast, affordable and high quality digital marketing services.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I lived and worked in New York City for 15 years working as an art director then as a creative director for corporate brands including L’Oréal, Carol’s Daughter, Entertainment Weekly Magazine and Women’s Health Magazine. During this time, I fell in love with the idea of coupling my design and branding expertise together with my passion of helping brands to cross channel market to their desired audience. I always had a dream to start my own agency. I grew up in a huge family of artists and entrepreneurs and I was the only one to go down the corporate route… in New York City no less!
In 2018, I founded Lino Creative, a traditional boutique branding and marketing agency. Not soon after we were off and running, and doing quite well, we started coming across many small business referrals who were desperately seeking digital solutions that were affordable, fast, and high quality. As a small business owner myself, I understood the frustration of waiting for elaborate proposals tied to website development or digital advertising services only to find that they were usually far beyond our budget. As a new small business or an individual who is pivoting, time is of essence and the budget is fixed. There wasn’t a streamlined process for small businesses to find straight-forward services with great design and dedicated support in an affordable timely way. I couldn’t let go of the thought of how many small businesses were out there that really wanted a high quality online presence but couldn’t afford the big marketing agency rates. They want something they can afford and get it delivered quickly and that’s what I really wanted to provide for them. I realized there was an opportunity in the market and decided to fill that gap. And Up in a Day™ Marketing Services was born.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Being completely comfortable telling potential clients that Up in a Day is not right for their business was a huge learning curve for me. I was so accustomed to saying yes to all potential business at my former agency, Lino Creative.
As a new-to-market service product, it was crucial in the initial phase of Up in a Day that my team and I understood AND stood true to who we are, who it’s for, what we offer, and most importantly, how we communicate that clearly to our audience. I literally had “what Up in a Day is and what it is not” notes pasted on my monitor and throughout my apartment because I had to change the way I was thinking and the methods of which I was running and leading the agency going forward.
The Up in a Day client turn around time is highly transactional. I designed a proprietary one-day build-out process in order for my team to be able to finish the service in one day. We design simple and elegant Squarespace websites and set up high performing Instagram, Facebook and Google ads campaigns but at the the end of the day, we review with the customers, make minor tweaks, then send them off with the tools they need to easily manage their website or campaign. Outside of a subscription service, we rarely see them again. So it’s very transactional in this sense and it is what makes our product truly unique in the market.
The other interesting thing about living the Up in a Day world is that traditionally, you research over time and work with your clients to get a deep understanding of their brand, their team, and business goals. At Up in a Day, we have a 30 to 45 minute project kickoff call and start the build out from there. Our team is so incredibly talented because they are able to get a true understanding of the client’s needs and with that they’re able to implement through design, and advertising immediately.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was designing the Up in a Day website when I realized that no business owner should be designing their own website… they should be focusing on growing their business! I mistakenly, and now funny enough, found myself here… In fact (lesson learned) I came up with a tagline from it, “Let us handle your website so you can go back to focusing on your business.” Catchy and true!
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?
While I’m grateful to have a tight-knit network of business support, my business coach has been crucial in guiding me with the knowledge, strategies, and tools I need for smart, exponential growth of Up in a Day. This business coach also happens to be my husband so I get the best of both worlds! His focus in helping entrepreneurs grow from local to national coupled with being a trusted sound board who has a former career working in my industry is a rarity and blessing. When it comes to talking about the business he is unbiased, professional and strategic while being very cautious about my wellbeing and success. I feel very fortunate to have a business coach and life partner rolled into one.
According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I don’t think there is a lack of female founders necessarily. All around me, I see motivated, driven women starting companies, and here just in Miami alone. In fact, being inspired by these women is one contributing factor to my business’ success so far. I hear their stories, their struggles, their wins and watch them grow and reach their benchmarks and can apply it to my own experience. I do believe and agree that there is more of a struggle for women to get venture funding and that’s what those numbers represent. I believe it so crucial for women to be on the same playing field as their male counterparts in both financial and executive leadership areas.
This might be intuitive to you as a female founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
1. Having a women at the table offers a different experience than men and can contributes to alternative perspectives that may open opportunities for business innovation and better decision making.
2. Increases the representation of women as founders in a more male-driven founder society within the US.
3. Opportunity for a woman to make a greater impact on her community, society, or the environment through founding a company or organization.
4. Women are incredible leaders and thought-provokers. By having more women founders, there could be new and innovative opportunities for companies to make a positive impact on society and/or the environment (something that is needed right now).
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder. Can you explain what you mean?
- Myth: You work 24–7
Reality: I think this is a choice dictated by the demands of your product or service. It’s important to implement a work-life balance plan and stick with it. One of the reasons I chose to start Up in a Day is to make our processes simplified and easier so that we can hopefully have more time outside of the office.
- Myth: The initial direction is the holy grail
Reality: It’s crucial to have a solid business plan but sometimes, ideas evolve into something new and fantastic. Product and service development can change in all shapes and sizes along the way. This is how I got to Up in a Day from Lino Creative. I felt the pain of small businesses looking for easier, more affordable, and faster digital solutions. I wanted to help them and the more the ideas developed, the more I got excited about the company, to try something completely new, and have the opportunity to fill the gap in the market. Obviously this is easy to do when you’re not working with funding.
- Myth: Founders are constantly looking for funding
Reality: Not all founders need funding. We were lucky enough that as a service-based company, our overhead and start up costs were relatively low.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
Great leaders come in many forms. Both as founders of companies as well as leaders of large organizations and even down to a small team.
I’ve been an employee longer than I’ve been a founder and the experience I received working as an employed designer and marketer for companies, has everything to do with who I am as an entrepreneur and founder today.
I believe that it is a choice as well as an opportunity to learn from and experience everything you can from being an employee. For example, I took advantage of as many leadership training courses L’Oréal had to offer. I took public speaking and communication courses at Time Inc. I learned from all of my mistakes. I took note of how to work with other teams and individuals who differed in ideas and decisions. I learned workflow processes, leadership skills from my management team (and not so leadership skills from management), and most importantly, I eventually learned that I did not want to work for someone longterm. I believe that if someone knows in their gut, this very thought, then perhaps, they too, are very likely to become a founder of a company themselves.
Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. “Be ready to talk about your business… all of the time… to everyone.” My personality is one of insulation. I do not like to talk about myself. However, I had to learn very quickly, a different “me.” Now, I talk about Up in a Day and myself as the founder as if I’ve never been without it… every single day. It’s great because this practice has pushed me out of my comfort zone and build the confidence to not only start the company, but show that same passion when I speak about it.
2. “Starting a company can’t be rushed. It takes time, due diligence and patience.” It’s so exciting at the beginning; you’re eager to accomplish all of the tasks so you can truly get down to business. But It doesn’t work like that. The process of business building takes time, your business will evolve and you’ll grow to adapt alongside those changes.
3. “Partners can be great to have when starting a company” It would have been helpful to have a counterpart to bounce ideas off of in the initial building phase of Up in a Day. Someone to help you implement the business strategies. I still survived just fine with my strong network of peers and business coach.
4. “There are a so many business and networking resources for entrepreneurs — nationally and here in Miami.” It wasn’t too late in the game, but my eyes opened when I learned of all of the strong networks of entrepreneur groups and organizations that exist in Miami, where my company was founded. It has a real entrepreneurial spirit and the city welcomes and supports entrepreneurs from all industries. There are even free national business networking groups and public speaking clubs to get involved with within your community. With the tech industry booming in Miami, these organizations and opportunities will only continue to grow.
5. “Hire a creative agency to build the Up in a Day website.” As I mentioned above, it’s crucial that business owners do NOT try to design and build their new website alone. They need to focus on growing their business elsewhere. When it came to my website, I thought, “This will be simple and straightforward.” Not the case. We are our own worse critics and I spent way more time getting it up and running than I needed to.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment 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.
Tyler Brulé, entrepreneur and the founder of Monocle Magazine. He speaks entrepreneurism and so does his publication, Monocle. He has grown Monocle from the ground up and throughout its lifespan, it has never strayed from being smart, sophisticated, small-business focused, environmentally impactful, and completely inspiring.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.