Hassl Chats with Jade from The Brain Child
Welcome to Hassl Chats, an in-depth interview series with fellow Hassl users to get a quick behind the scenes view on how they use Hassl. Through this, we hope each user we interview will resonate with more of our Hassl user base and help you gain some new tips or tricks with your own business. Today we’ve got Jade on with us, who is the brainchild of…well, ‘The Brain Child’.
Originally from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Jade now lives 15 minutes South of Wollongong with her son and daughter. Jade is a graphic designer; using her skills to design beautiful websites, craft brands and build strategies for small businesses. When we found out she used Hassl as her rock — we knew we had to jump on a call to find out how she set it all up!
First impression? Her Hassl board was already looking a lot better than mine, for sure. With custom templates for each of her projects and services, complete with an onboarding process and help resources, Jade has turned Hassl into an absolute powerhouse for project management and planning allowing her to work 4 days a week.
I can only imagine how great it must be as a small business owner with two kids, to be able to only work 4 days a week. Sounds like success to us over here at Hassl — and also like something a lot of us would want to work towards. Jade has a firm grasp on how she wants to work, which ultimately leads to her being able to balance her work and life.
Burnout, stress and being overwhelmed are all too common amongst business owners. So, it was great to see someone who valued their mental health and lifestyle enough to set up their business to work for them, rather than rule them.
Alright Jade, let’s get into it. How did you start your business?
I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, with The Brain Child being operational for five. At first, I was working for free and wasn’t charging anyone because I loved what I did.
I began to build up a client base and then they all just became my cheerleaders. Through word of mouth, I gained some amazing clients. Now I have two other people onboard too! Using a project management tool like Hassl just frees up so much brain space, allowing me to just focus on the work rather than spending hours planning and doing admin.
I also love seeing the percentage of how much of the project is done. It’s like a little reward for me. But sometimes it can also make me feel sad when you know that you have only completed 10% of a project!
What led you down the Design path?
I guess I’ve always been very creative. I went to art school after school but that kind of ruined me – I wanted to be an illustrator. It scared me from wanting to pursue a path in art. So I worked retail, marketing, sales and every job description you can think of. I moved from Melbourne, to Sydney, and then to Wollongong.
I began doing some design and marketing work at the company I was working for. I just loved it.
I thought about starting my own business but I just didn’t have the self-belief.
It wasn’t until I had my first child and the company I was working for sold the business that I had to interview for my role again.
And I absolutely hated that — I hated that someone else had control of my life.
I wanted to be in control, to be able to pick my kids up from school and not have to ask someone to get the day off. I found what I’m meant to be doing. It was just believing that I could.
How do you plan? What are some of your tips and tricks?
I use Evernote for everything, it’s like my second brain. Evernote, if you haven’t used it, is like a digital notepad. You can have a notepad for shopping, for social post ideas and clients. Every client of mine has their own notepad and each meeting, I add everything to that.
What about weekends? Are you working most days?
I try not to work the weekends. A few years ago I had a really bad panic attack because I just had too much on. I had to put boundaries in place. I do have the occasional late night during the week but I only work four days a week too. Running your own business can be really overwhelming, especially while trying to juggle family and other commitments.
It’s amazing that you took that step. But how do you manage to get everything done with only 4 days a week?
Having systems in place. I’ve got the process all written out in Hassl and I share that with my clients and they can see what’s coming up next.
I have made projects for all of my services so that when I onboard a new client I just need to duplicate and share the project with them in Hassl. That removes a lot of planning, questions, and back and forth.
The more organized I am with my processes, the more time I can work on projects instead of being stuck doing admin.
I’ve got a template for web design, one for branding, one for strategy, and then one for web design with branding and so forth. It took me a while to set up but now it is so worth it. Hassl is really a lifesaver!
Why did you start using Hassl?
A friend tagged me in one of your posts and I thought, “This looks cool and the price is right.” I was originally on Asana and I thought it was the best until I found Hassl. Now I’m a huge fan of Hassl and I’ve put a few of my clients onto it too.
I haven’t looked back since moving everything to Hassl. Honestly, it is so good. From the notifications my clients get to the instant chat, it’s been a huge benefit to my service.
Are there any little tricks you use to make the onboarding process even smoother? What about clients asking for things all of the time?
Each project has comments. I’ve added links to my website for resources and frequent questions so that the client can get the information they need on their own. It works out better for both parties that way. No one likes to bother someone and no one likes being bothered.
All my clients can then just jump onto their project, message me, and download any files they need.
What’s some advice for solopreneurs?
There is always the feeling that you should be doing more, and comparing yourself to other people in your position that might have six kids. And you beat yourself up for feeling like you do. Like you should be better or working harder. You really need to let that go.
The comparison is what gets me and the pressure is mostly from myself.
So setting up processes and setting boundaries helps reduce that feeling because you don’t have to worry about it.
I set strong boundaries. Texting and calling me is not the best way to get me. Because that really overwhelms me when I’m in the flow of a task or project. I will explain to clients the best ways to communicate with me along with my hours, because they’re not really traditional.
I find having that balance of being able to just step away from the computer and realize it’s not the be all and end all helps so much.
What does Hustle vs Align mean to you?
Being busy isn’t a good thing. There is this toxic culture around thinking that if you’re not busy, then you’re not doing your job.
Having some space around projects is the dream. Who wants to work all the time and work yourself to death? Not me. I would like to have space between projects, is what I mean by align. Align your work and life. Set boundaries and stick to them.
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What is a handy tip to make sure you’re not working at all hours?
One of my boundaries is to not reply to clients, after hours.
If I am working late at night, I’ll schedule my emails to send in the morning rather than late at night. A few years ago, I was replying because I felt like I had to. In doing so, I’m giving them the green light.
When I started my business it was so I could be able to be at my little girls’ school event and not have to ask someone if I could have a time off. I wanted to work when I wanted to work. You can run a successful business without burning yourself out.
Any advice for designers wanting to go out on their own?
It’s really scary and I can visualize how I felt. I guess my biggest advice is just to back yourself. Don’t feel like you have to have it all together. No one does. It just takes time and the only way you can learn is if you take the leap. I cringe at the mistakes I made 10 years ago but that’s just what you have to do to learn.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t feel like you have to have it all together and just do it.
Yes, you might lose some things, like job security but you’ll gain so much more too. That was the biggest eye-opener for me was, I did lose that sense of security but I gained freedom.
And remember that even if you fail, it’s not the end of the world, you can go get another job or try something else. You may as well give it a crack!
Best advice for small business owners?
Investing in your business, whether that be a strategy, rebranding, financial plan or a website. The confidence that it gives you as a business owner is worth so much more than the actual document or website. You’ll have a greater understanding of your business and it will provide the platform for you to grow, instead of stagnating.