If Jade Buford could describe herself in one word, it would be persistent.
Jade is a persistent, successful, Huntsville business owner. As a branding and web designer for small business owners who want to establish their online presence and attract their audiences to convert them into customers, she makes this business look fun and simple. But what Jade wants people to know is that becoming a business owner takes hard work, patience and persistence.
Jade kickstarted her career as a web designer several years ago, but her business has just begun to grow over this past year. She began with one client about a year ago, and now she has four. She officially launched her business this year and gained her LLC, which is her proudest accomplishment. But her passion for working with business owners was solidified from the beginning, after working with her first client.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Jade. Both of her parents are business owners, and they have instilled in her that everything she wants for herself she can make happen, but only on her own terms. It’s a mentality that provided a strong work ethic, and it is how her passion for small businesses came about.
Jade began to first take initiative of what she wanted for herself by creating a lifestyle blog.
“I just kind of needed a creative outlet to do something for me that felt like it fueled my creativity,” she explained.
And she was her own guinea pig when she first started out. She learned as much as she could for a couple years, and she has translated everything she learned from college, her job experience and her personal experiences into her own work. The experience certainly helped her. She now knows what others want because she did it for herself first. She persistently built her own website herself and laid it out there for everyone to see.
Persistence Means: Never Giving Up
Jade’s upbringing and life have certainly shaped who she is as an entrepreneur. She learned the basic principles of marketing, advertising and design from her undergraduate education at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and her business-owner parents. At SCAD, she was pushed out of her comfort zone and gained her independence by meeting new types of people she never would have met in rural Alabama.
While her life seems to be laid out perfectly in front of her, Jade experienced several obstacles before arriving where she is today.
Jade’s first hurdles came from not having enough time for sleep or leading an active life. She has also had difficulty putting legal aspects in place, such as starting an LLC, learning how to file her taxes, bookkeeping, and how to price her design work. In addition to all of that, she is also still learning the life-long lessons of website management, which include issues she may run into along the way. Jade is constantly and persistently working on improving systems, refining holes in websites, finding out what works for every person and protecting herself and her clients in her contracts.
Since Jade has experienced the hurdles of starting her own small business, she wants to be able to help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out by giving them advice.
Jade’s first piece of advice? Make investments and see the value in what you are doing.
Even if you cannot afford to make investments in the equipment you need, there are free podcasts, YouTube videos and articles. You also need to invest your time and find people who will invest and believe in you.
Many people will not see the value you see in your work because they may see it as new and risky. Business owners must know their worth and be persistent in proving their worth to other people. Nobody will believe in you or see the value in your work unless you first see the value in yourself.
One of Jade’s mentors compared someone not valuing their work to going to a fancy restaurant.
“It’s kind of like going to sit down at a nice restaurant, and they bring you out the menu. And you’re like, ‘Well I’m only going to pay twenty-five dollars for this meal,’ after you’ve already eaten it.” It’s a metaphor that makes Jade laugh, because people not valuing hard work happens much too often in her field.
“The right people see the value that it brings to their business, and that is something I really have to shift my perspective on,” she explained.
Her second piece of advice is to stop planning and start doing.
Some people just plan everything, and that’s good. You should have a plan. But you can plan to the point where it isn’t productive. Jade did not begin her business social media account until this year. She got her first client a few years ago by posting facts about her skills as a graphic designer from her lifestyle blog.
Jade wants people to know that you get to decide how you live your life, and your dreams aren’t just dreams. If you keep planning them, that’s exactly what they will be. So don’t just plan. DO!
Her last piece of advice is pertinent when you feel down and unsuccessful: You can’t be an overnight success.
You just can’t. Be patient. You will see people who appear to be immediately successful, but their overnight success was actually 15 to 20 years in the making, which is why you’re just now hearing about them. You must be persistent even if you aren’t getting the results you want, and you will eventually get to where you are supposed to be.
Jade then mentions author, motivational speaker and blogger, Rachel Hollis.
“She’s a huge sensation and has gotten so much attraction this year from her book. To other people who have never heard of her, she looks like an overnight success, but this was her seventh book that she wrote, and her businesses have evolved over the years.”
Rachel Hollis is a perfect example of being persistent and continuing to pursue what you want even though it might take a while.
If you think about giving up or are having doubts, comparing your insecurities to someone else, Jade says you must have a why behind what you want to do. You will get burned out and stressed, but if you have your why, you will keep going. This could be that you want your children to see they can be anything and set an example for them. This could mean finally keeping a promise to yourself. It could even mean shooting for the stars and doing something incredibly huge for yourself. If you get burned out, step away for a while. Go for a drive, take a shower or do something for yourself.
Jade relays a message she learned from her parents and life: “You get to decide how you live your life and what you want to pursue. You are in charge of your own happiness.”
Be persistent and work hard toward your goal. Because only you can make that happen.
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