How I Started a Web
Development & Brand Design Business
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi! I’m Jennie Powell – Designer, Developer and Founder of Tree Duck Design. We bring small businesses to life with logo design, branding, print design and web development.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I believe life ought to be interesting, not to be lived entirely in one routine nor one style. Life should be full of spice, fresh fish from the Mediterranean, and beautiful adventures. I bring this philosophy right into my clients’ designs.I love the cohesive process of fully realising my client’s visions come to life through my designs.
My passion for design started in Buckinghamshire as a young girl. This was long before I attended Glasgow School of Art where I studied design and photography, and then received my Master of Design.
Since then, I was appointed Head of Design at Drummond at Fairbridge and The Prince’s Trust.
Since 2012, I have been based in Surrey and using impactful design to help new businesses stand out in the chaos that is the Internet. During the past eight years, I’ve also learned how to become both a designer and developer. Giving my clients the best of both worlds when building their branding, website, and designs.
When I’m not sipping on a decaf flat white in a cafe working away on websites for startups or creating designs that convert, you can find me dancing Ceroc with my husband Mark, or adventuring with our two sons as we explore the UK and Europe.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
The main challenge for me, in the beginning, was thinking I had to do everything myself to become successful. As a female entrepreneur I have come to realise there are so many parts to running a business. The actual job of creating beautiful designs both online and in print for startups is the easy bit for me!
Once I reached out and made some fantastic collaborations I felt so much more supported. Today, I am part of an amazing group of women, who are willing to help each other out within their own areas of expertise. So, my advice is, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Who is your target market?
I work with startups to create a strong visual identity to promote their business and stand out from the crowd.
If you have a great business idea the next stage is to realise your dream and launch with a logo design, business card and letterhead templates, social media visuals and a bespoke WordPress website. I can help!
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
I use organic growth on my social media accounts. The most useful way to find clients, I would say, is to engage in Facebook groups and on LinkedIn and offer help and advice, so you become known as an expert in your field.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
The best way to attract clients has been to be consistent with social media posting. 80% help and advice and 20% selling. Be helpful and people will remember you next time they need your product or service. It’s really important to work on your Know, Like and Trust factor in a world of internet chaos.
I love to build great relationships with my clients, so we will work together throughout the course of their business. Obviously a startup’s needs are different from an established business but there are some crossovers because every business needs a cohesive suite of promotional channels both online and in print.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
I love freelancing for the very fact that I can work anywhere. I often like to change up my office backdrop and find lovely old castle cafes or rambling old hotels to work in. As long as there is wifi, I’m good to go!
Zoom calls have become the new norm, since lockdown, and I have found that my client sphere has grown dramatically and I now work with clients around the world, from the USA to The Ukraine!
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
I use Asana, which is a project management tool plus Trello boards. I also use Wave for accounting software which is free. Zapier is also a great tool to automate a lot of features. There are so many out there to help you automate the repetitive tasks. I’m a big fan of Google Drive as it makes it really easy to share files with clients.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Firstly, as a female starting up a new business, you don’t need permission! If you have a dream, go for it and don’t let anyone stop you. It will be hard work and there will, no doubt, be times when you feel like giving up, but I recommend surrounding yourself with people who will support you.
You don’t have to be an expert in all areas of setting up your business and it really is okay to ask for help. You never know what kinds of relationships you’ll make and what great collaborations can come from them.
Take it one step at a time. First get your processes in place. This will help streamline your business and save you valuable time. I didn’t do this at first and I wasted so much time. If I did it all again I would automate all my processes – anything and everything that is repetitive!
I have learnt so much since starting my business and now consider myself to be a life-long learner. It certainly keeps life interesting!
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur is working for myself and being the master of my own destiny. I can say no to projects if I don’t believe in them or they don’t bring me joy. I also love being able to work hard anywhere.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My least favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur is not being able to walk away from work at the end of the day. I’ll often work 16 hour days because Im loving what I’m working on, but it is hard to switch off.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
Two great books I’ve read recently and totally recommend are:
- ‘Everything is Figureoutable’ by Marie Forleo
- ‘The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time’ by Allen Gannett
I listen to a couple of podcasts. Being Freelance is an inspirational, but realistic peek into the lives of various freelancers. The business side of a freelance creative lifestyle can often be stressful and isolating, so this podcast by Steve Folland goes some way to connecting designers who are struggling with similar hurdles. Conversation topics include how guests got started, where they find clients, and how they stay productive. Casual and straight to the point, this entertaining podcast appeals to creatives from all walks of life.
If you’re interested in the business side of graphic design, Mark Des Cotes’ Resourceful Designer is a must. It’s aimed at helping home-based graphic designers and web designers streamline their business, with plenty of advice, tips and resources to help you get things right. Each episode covers a specific theme, such as home office essentials, tips for mastering your emotional intelligence, how to save money, dealing with deadlines and what to do when you mess up a project. And as well as the podcast, Resourceful Designer also has an in-depth blog plus a useful list of design resources.
The other thing that I recently started to do, is watching TikTok videos for design tips – as they are really short it’s easy to consume lots of great tips on Indesign, Illustrator and other design programmes really quickly. The only downside is that it is hard to stop watching them and before you know it you’ve watched them for an hour!
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I’m aiming for 5-figure months so am scaling up.
I’d also love to see my Startup clients begin to fly, with a strong brand identity and website that I’ve designed and developed for them, so they can make a success of their business.