Always dreamed of starting your own business? Jesseca Stewart did – and in August 2018 she finally took the plunge and quit the 9-5 to take her design company full-time. She discusses what it’s like to run a company after years of side-hustling, and how to stay motivated as a new business owner.
Tell us a little bit about your company – what is your business in your own words and how long has it been running?
I’m the freelance graphic designer behind Lola Design Company, specialising in creating unique and beautiful brands. I’ve enjoyed working with lots of different clients, from small businesses to fellow creative entrepreneurs. I’ve been freelancing as a side hustle for about 6 years whilst at University and working my 9-5 job. In August 2018, I finally decided to quit my full-time gig and start my own company!
Was there a ‘lightbulb moment’? How did the idea for the business come to you?
There hasn’t been a ‘lightbulb moment’ exactly, I’ve pretty much wanted to have my own business since I could talk. I guess I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset! If I wanted something I would make sure I got it.
Were there any big ‘pain points’ when you were starting up the business?
My biggest pain point was initially wondering if ‘I quit my full-time job, will I be able to sustain myself?’ It was an ongoing battle with myself for at least the last year, but a weight was lifted when I finally took the plunge.
And the highest point so far?
Winning my first big client of course! I’ve had a great first few months, and although there have been ups and downs, I’m incredibly happy that I started my own business.
Has there been any low points, and how did you overcome them?
Motivation was the hardest thing for me, and although it’s not a particular situation, it’s difficult to work alone 24/7 without getting stressed and miserable. I pulled up my socks, started networking and heading out to coffee shops to make sure I had a reason to get up each morning – whether that was an early non-refundable exercise class to keep me motivated or one of my new accountability partners. I managed to get through and learn how to cope with the change in routine to be my own boss.
Did you get any support along the way – or was there anything that you found useful when you needed help?
I just read lots of books, listened to a number of podcasts and talked to a lot of people. I believe in the ‘all-in’ approach. I don’t think you can make a decision like leaving a 9-5 job lightly. Since I moved to London in 2015, I was a sponge and absorbed as much as I possibly could about business. I took a few online courses, and felt much more educated when I came to making the plunge!
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
Being able to do what you want when you want. I can eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired and work when I feel like it. Don’t get me wrong, if I have client work to do, it’s 100% my priority. But I can’t describe how much happier I am, now that I’ve freed up time and get to spend more on myself.
Has your life changed since starting your own business and what were you doing before you started?
I have more time to spend with family, friends and look after myself. Moving to London was hard for me, and so by not working full-time, I feel like I have a bit of freedom back and I can enjoy the city rather than being tied to the rat race.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting up a business?
JUST GO FOR IT! Okay, so that’s not exactly advice. But it’s basically what one of my fellow girl-ganger told me. She believed in me and my passion for what I do, and that’s it. Believe in yourself, stop comparing your life to Instagram and just go for it!
What are the plans for the future? How do you hope to progress with the company?
I’ve currently got some short-term goals, securing a certain amount of clients, releasing an ebook and podcast. I have lots of ideas that I can’t wait to get started with, it’s just having the time currently to manage it all myself!
What’s the one thing you wish you knew in the beginning?
I wish I knew how hard it was to establish a routine; I found it hard to pick myself up some days. But I got over the tough patches and remembered why I started my business. I love my job, and things will always be difficult, but you 100% need to put in the work to support your passion.
What’s been your proudest moment in your career so far?
Taking my business full-time of course!
Would you say there are any particular qualities needed to run your own business, and what are they?
Positive, goal-orientated and persistent. You can’t just go after the money, you need to love what you’re doing, otherwise you’ll be working forever. Chase goals, not gold! You will be much happier and feel more fulfilled.
We love your blog posts around design and social media! Have you always loved blogging?
I’ve always loved writing, this is the first time I’m trying blogging! I remember getting confused when my tutor at college told me I had to choose one course at University, design or English (pause for ignorance) and I really struggled with the decision. Spoiler alert – I studied design and still get to write. It’s the best of both worlds!
What do you like to do in your spare time – what helps you to wind down?
I love to exercise! I run most Saturdays and go to pilates classes on Sunday evenings. During the week it’s super busy, so I try and fit a spin class in where I can. I’ve been travelling around a lot lately too (which is a great perk of being a freelancer!) which allows me to explore new places, take my books, listen to podcasts and enjoy the surroundings. I’m a very ‘less-is-more’ kind of person, I just love to be in nature, grab a coffee with a friend or do the occasional pub quiz! But, I’m also eager to try new things where I can!
A big thank you to Jesseca for sharing her story – we can’t wait to see what’s next for Lola Design Company! If you would like to find out more or are interested in their design services, visit the Lola Design Company website here. You can also follow on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
If Jesseca’s #StartUpStory has inspired you to delve into the world of business, take a look at our company formation packages here.