March’s One Successful Mama Profile: Jennifer Lyker, Inksplash Designs
March 23, 2015|Posted in: One Successful Mama
“Having control over my work schedule is HUGE when it comes to having young kids. I feel like I have found a good balance between Mom and Work.”
-Jennifer Lyker, Inksplash Designs
This month’s One Successful Mama profile features Jennifer Lyker, the owner of Inksplash Designs, a freelance website design and consulting firm. Jennifer and her husband Dan have three young children: Maggie, age 7; Audrey, age 4; and Zachary, 23 months. Jennifer strives to build websites that add value her clients’ businesses and provide her clients with the tools they need to manage their online presence. “I like to make things on the web look pretty & function seamlessly,” she explains.
As a thank you to my readers, Jennifer is giving away your choice of either one hour of design work (which can be applied toward the creation of a masthead or header, for example) OR 20% off of the total cost of a website or blog design. To enter the giveaway, simply scroll to the bottom of this post, click on the Rafflecopter link and submit your entries! Don’t wait – the contest ends Tuesday, March 31, 2015.
ONE COMMITTED MAMA PRESENTS: INKSPLASH DESIGNS
How long ago did you start your business? What led you to start it?
I started Inksplash in 2004. Website design had been a hobby for me since college, and after working for a few years as a research specialist (using my biology degree from college) and not being very happy, I decided it was time for a change. We were looking ahead to starting a family, and I knew I wanted something flexible and I had a strong desire for more control over my work future. So I put together a (very small!) portfolio and bought a domain name and Inksplash was born.
What types of services/products do you offer?
I design websites from scratch. Everything I do is customized. I don’t use templates (unless my clients prefer that), and I code everything by hand. I love figuring out how to take a design I’ve created that is just an image and make it work as a website. A list of things I can do: HTML/CSS coding, PHP/MySQL programming, WordPress development, blog design, logo design, ecommerce, social media consulting & branding, and website hosting. If it’s related to having a website, I probably do it!
Describe your first few months getting started. What were your major challenges?
For the first two years of my business, I was also working full-time, so I spent my nights and weekends working on client projects. So THAT was a big challenge! I was always working. Another hurdle was just learning the business side of things — managing projects, job proposals, contracts, communicating clearly with clients, accounting (UGH). There was a steep learning curve because it was SO different than anything I had ever done in the past. I still feel like I learn new things all the time, even a decade later. I’ve made mistakes along the way, and sometimes I look back and cringe over the way I handled some things, but all of it was part of the learning process.
What has surprised you the most about yourself when it comes to running your own business?
Probably that I just DID IT. I didn’t even hesitate, and I was just “Well. I’m unhappy with my career path. I’m going to do this now!” Looking back, I’m proud of myself for taking control and changing my situation. It helped that I had something I loved to do that could be turned into a business without much risk, but there was still a lot about the business-side of things that I didn’t fully understand, and I can’t believe I wasn’t more hesitant (I was clearly DESPERATE! Ha)
How has owning your own business benefitted you as a mother and wife?
Having control over my work schedule is HUGE when it comes to having young kids. My two youngest attend daycare three days each week, and my oldest is in elementary school. I’m able to go to school events, stay home with them when they’re sick without drama (not too much drama, anyway!), and I feel like I have found a good balance between Mom and Work. Sometimes it gets a little crazy when I’m trying to check my email JUST REAL QUICK and my toddler is climbing up my legs, but most of the time it’s a good system ☺
What do you enjoy the most about owning your own business?
Being in charge, making the decisions. I can say no to projects I don’t feel are a good fit, or that don’t interest me. And I can chase down projects that I’m excited about! If I was working for someone else, I’d just have to do whatever came across my desk from a manager and I don’t know that I’d be as motivated to do good work. I like to THINK I would be, and I’d probably DO my best work, but the Happy Good Feelings would probably not be the same. The feeling of ownership is extremely satisfying when I complete a new project. I can say: I did that. All me. That was fun. THUMBS UP.
What are your goals for the future?
I honestly don’t know yet! Right now, with most of my kids still being little/not in school, I just try to keep things simple: work on fun projects, be creative, make some money. I would love to expand my skills over the years even more than I already have, maybe take some actual courses on things I don’t know much about (jquery, maybe some illustration classes?). I’ve also brainstormed about having actual products to sell- WordPress themes, graphics for download, etc. I just need about 17 more hours in each day and I think I can make that happen! I don’t know if I’ll ever hire employees to work for me or have a storefront or office- that doesn’t really appeal to me right now. But who knows! I also never thought I’d ever have my own business, so I wouldn’t rule out anything.
What advice do you have for women who may want to take the leap and own their own businesses?
Don’t be afraid! But being nervous is okay, too! (Is that contradictory? Probably!) I had the safety net of an actual job when I started out, and I grew slowly, so that helped. So maybe start small to take the fear out of the equation. Talk with friends, make connections with people who might need your product or your service. Networking is invaluable to a small business. You don’t have to develop a huge, expensive marketing campaign right away. Get a few good customers who will share your business with their friends and see what happens!