As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Bain from Shannon Bain Digital.
Shannon is a Website Designer who helps purpose-driven solopreneurs become in-demand service providers. Since launching her business, Shannon Bain Digital in April 2020, she has connected with hundreds of independent professional, coaches and consultants where she has helped many of them systemize, start-up and scale up their dream businesses using the exact strategies that have allowed her to build her digital agency from the ground up. Her method of combining website design, digital strategy and powerful attraction-based marketing techniques has seen incredible results for her clients and business alike.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thanks so much for having me! I’m Shannon and I am a website designer, digital marketing consultant and owner of Shannon Bain Digital. I got started with my business in April 2020 (yes, at the peak of the pandemic) because I saw a lack of support for service-based business owners around online marketing and digital strategy.
A lot of these businesses were suffering at the time due to their lack of skills and knowledge in this area, so I knew I could help.
I could also see there were a lot of website designers out there, a lot of marketing consultants, a lot of advertising agencies, but no one was providing effective strategies that made actually sense based on their individual goals while supporting their long-term success.
I wanted to create a service that looked at all different aspects of their online systems and marketing to ensure every area was working towards a common goal, rather than the sporadic, disjointed approach these business owners were accustomed to.
We would look at how the way they were showing up online, the way they were generating leads, their branding, messaging, market perception, the customer experience, social media and website just to name a few, then address areas of opportunity that we could leverage in order to expand their digital touch points, create more brand awareness, drive better results for their business and get them closer to those long-term goals.
In order to solve the problem of such a lack of support, I created Shannon Bain Digital — and the rest is history!
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
My ‘aha moment’ was when I realized there were thousands of small service-based business owners out there, who were basically running their business systems blindly and their marketing strategies were non-existent.
Showing them that they too could access high-level digital marketing support, and quality web design which was previously believed to be reserved for big corporations and million-dollar organizations, has been a game changer.
There was a gap in the market for someone who could combine design, digital strategy, and systems for long term success for those that didn’t have the big budgets.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made was thinking that people would judge me for starting my business, but for having a fear of speaking on camera and sharing my knowledge around marketing & digital strategy. I was afraid of what others would think.
It took me a long time to get over this and looking back now it is funny because the response the exact opposite to what I had made myself believe it would be, in fact many people have reached out to say thank you for showing up online and that I have either given them hope about starting their own business or provided a new perspective on how they can improve their current one.
What I learnt from that was to remember no one judges you more than yourself, we are all in our own heads too much when it comes to taking action. I can guarantee that when you face what you are afraid of head on, you will look back and wonder why you were ever afraid at all.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
Vision and purpose are so important! Without knowing our ‘why’, we can’t push forward in a way that will really make an impact, because we won’t know what we need to focus on today in order to achieve those big goals. We just don’t have any direction otherwise.
My purpose when starting Shannon Bain Digital was that I wanted to make an impact in the lives of small business owners, helping them create more space, freedom and fulfilment in their lives by running a successful business that doesn’t rely on outdated sales tactics to get clients. I also saw this an opportunity to create a ripple effect of positive change through the people they were serving as well.
On a personal level my core values are freedom, growth and connection, so the long-term vision was also to have a thriving business that would support my lifestyle goals and allow me to live a life aligned to those values.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
Our company values are openness, reliability and consistency.
We demonstrate this to our clients through their experience engaging with our business, everything from our communication style, the way we are showing up for them and the care we provide around our delivery of services.
These values all culminate together to drive a strong partnership between Shannon Bain Digital and each client who chooses to work with us.
One of the biggest values I strive to instill in the company culture is that we are open and honest. A big part of offering a service is the ability to align your customer’s expectations with your delivery of services. Too many business owners have been burnt by service-based businesses over-promising and under-delivering, so I am here to change that. Our goal really is to develop a trusting relationship and collaborative partnership to support their long-term success.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My number one principle that guides me through the ups and downs of running a business is that mindset is everything.
When things get tough, I always remind myself that you need to have more than just willpower, you have to have way-power. This means you believe in the extent to which you can find a WAY to shape your future, that no matter what happens, you will work out a WAY to turn things around.
This is really at the core of taking every experience to be a lesson to learn from and being confident in your ability to figure out the challenges that come your way.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I never considered giving up. There was never a doubt in my mind that this was what I was meant to be doing. But yes, of course there were the hard times, being a perfectionist with a strong-work ethic, I would burn myself out working long hours on client projects and experienced an over-whelming sense of urgency to reach expectations I had placed on myself with complete disregard of my own health.
I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and sometimes wondered if I was in over my head. I questioned myself, suffered from bouts of imposter syndrome and had to work on my own self-limiting beliefs and long-standing fears.
But I didn’t doubt my business or think of giving up, and that was because I remained very self-aware, worked on my mindset, knew my purpose and focused on my long-term vision.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
I could not be prouder of how far Shannon Bain Digital has come since launching in April 2020. Our success has been a result of utilizing the same marketing strategies we teach our clients and implementing systems to drive the business forward. But most of all it is the result of consistent action taking, not making excuses, or waiting for everything to be perfect. You just have to go out there and make things happen.
Our values have made a huge impact on our ability to achieve sustainable growth and remain focused on that long term vision.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service-based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
Systems — A company without systems is unstable and likely to crumble on any attempt to grow. Systems aren’t just about creating SOP’s for your team to follow, systems come down to the way that you operate your business on a day-to-day basis and ensuring you have a reliable, consistent and scalable way of generating business.
There are so many moving parts within a service-based business such as marketing, sales, client support, retention and of course the delivery of your services. Systems not only give us the ability to scale easier, but they will also save you time and mental energy, drive better results and ultimately determine the difference between running a successful company to just wanting to make a few dollars outside of your day job. If you have big goals, you need systems and structure in place to support them.
Mindset — Business really is 80% mindset, those 6 and 7 figure business owners didn’t just wake up one day and decide to run a successful company, they put in the work to develop a success mindset. Reading would have to be the number one thing I can recommend in order to build a better mindset; it makes a huge difference. As service-based business owners, we give a lot of energy to our clients along with running a business, so it is important to have a set routine in place that supports our physical and mental wellbeing so you can serve them at 100%. Our mindset will determine how we make decision, and these decisions can be an important factor in our overall success.
Marketing — Marketing is the most under-utilized tool by service-based business owners right now. So many clients I work with have spent years building their skills and experience, but they aren’t getting clients, and that is because no one know about it.
This is where marketing comes in, as it assists in building the bridge between the needs of your audience and the problems you solve. I believe in using attraction-based inbound marketing that helps to position you as an expert in your industry and communicates your authority and value to the marketplace, growing brand awareness across multiple channels and utilizing systems that generate business automatically. It is the most simple and effective strategy that I have seen work particularly well for service-based businesses.
Innovation — The market is changing rapidly, with new technologies and competitors taking market-share faster than ever. What works today, may not work next year and so it is imperative you review and optimize your offers, business structure and systems, as well as continue to upgrade your own knowledge regularly.
Innovation doesn’t mean latching on to the latest gimmick or overhauling your entire business, it means understanding that business requires constant, never-ending consistent improvement and you need to stay nimble and prepared for changed. Try not to be stuck in your ways just because that is how you have always done things.
Customer Experience — Customer experience is everything in service-based businesses, from the way your audience is made aware of your business, to engaging with your brand, becoming a client, communicating with you and beyond. Each step of this journey shapes their perception of you and your company.
Your customers perception and experience will impact your success beyond any other factor. Service-based businesses (and busines owners in general) often focus too much on the sales and marketing side such as how they can get more leads or clients, and not enough on the actual service-delivery and experience factor. I can guarantee you are leaving money on the table through referrals, upsells and cross-sells within your current client base if you are not thinking about elevating the customer experience and quality of service after the initial conversion.
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?
I have an incredibly supportive partner who has always pushed me along the way. I often get carried away with that next big idea or project, and even if he has no idea what I am talking about he will still nod his head in agreement. When I was starting Shannon Bain Digital he would cook me lunch and dinner when I forgot to eat because I was so focused on work and celebrated those little wins and opportunities that came along in the beginning.
I think it is important to have someone that kind of gets your craziness, that listens and celebrates with you as if it is their own achievement.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. :-)
Screen-Free Sunday! Once a week, no one is allowed to look at a screen (phone, computer, laptop etc) so we are forced to get outdoors and connect more authentically with each other. If everyone could do that, I think it would change the world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Follow me @shannonbaindigital on Instagram or go to my website, shannonbaindigital.com