SOTM – Stockwell Strategy: A UX Research and Strategy LLC Solving Common Business Strategy Problems
Business can often be complicated, but if you have the help of Stockwell Strategy, it doesn’t have to be. Owner Amanda Stockwell formed her company based on common issues she saw, and her vision is to help business owners solve several problems:
- Who to market to
- Why customers behave the way they do
- How to encourage customers to behave differently
- How to design a product and marketing strategy
Ultimately, Amanda’s goal is to understand a company’s users and strategize about how to improve the business based on their individual needs. Below she shares her insights on her entrepreneurial journey.
1. What made you decide to start your business? What need did you see it fulfilling?
AS: To be totally honest, I got laid off. I had freelanced off and on for several years and loved it, but had been given what I thought was a really great opportunity to lead a team with one of my clients. When that didn’t work out, I did an assessment of where I was in my career and my life, as well as some informal investigation of the current need for my kind of expertise. Within a week I had two projects booked and several interesting conversations. So I decided to focus all my energy on building up my firm. It’s almost two years later and so far, so good!
2. What type of business entity do you have (LLC, S Corp, etc.), and why did you choose it?
AS: I have an LLC. I wanted the liability protection of incorporating, but I’m a sole proprietor so didn’t need the complexity of an S Corp. I also didn’t have any idea how to predict future income when I started, which made me nervous. I talked to a tax accountant, several friends, and read a lot of blogs; ultimately I decided that an LLC offered the best combination of simplicity and protection.
3. What has been the hardest challenge as a business owner and how did you handle it?
AS: My hardest challenge is getting a consistent flow of work. Because of the nature of my work, some projects are very small in scope and some are large ongoing engagements, while still others start small and bloom into something larger. It can be hard to predict when things will overlap. In addition, I work across industries, so I haven’t been able to figure out any patterns in when spending occurs or how needs arrive. It seems like some projects take months of discussions and some persuasion, but others appear with an approved budget and tight deadline. So far, nearly all of my clients have been referrals or past colleagues, so it helps that I often have an existing relationship. My method of dealing is to be super upfront about my capacity and commitments, but remain flexible about how I can provide the most value.
4. What have been the best parts of owning your new business, besides working for yourself?
AS: Meeting all the great people! In my line of work, I partner with lots of other companies and talk to tons of customers. I travel frequently, so I’m constantly learning about new places and new cultures. I have met the kindest, most interesting people who helped me see different perspectives and forge lasting friendships in unexpected places. To me, that’s an invaluable perk.
5. What advice would you give to new business owners?
AS: There are so many things, but it boils down to a few core items, especially for service-based businesses:
- Don’t stop doing business development, ever. No matter how busy you currently are or how well-connected, it is always good to be forging new connections. You never know when things you thought were a sure bet might fall through…which leads me to my next two points.
- Get contracts, always. Even if it’s a project with a friend and even if you trust that they wouldn’t screw you over, things happen in business sometimes. It protects both you and your clients if you have what you’ve agreed to written down.
- Expect the unexpected and don’t panic about it. Projects fall through, initiatives fail, and you’ll have patches where you feel like you’re not making progress or totally going to fail. That stuff is normal, so give yourself a moment to breathe or maybe vent to a friend — then carry on.
Are you looking to take your business to the next level? Do you even know where to start? Stockwell Strategy can help research and strategize with you to ensure your business’ future is bright. Don’t get caught off guard by a change in the market or consumer behaviors. Stockwell Strategy will work hand-in-hand to give you the confidence you demand in the marketplace. If you are interested in working with Stockwell Strategy, please reach out to via their website, email, Twitter or LinkedIn.