Danielle Roberts and Shea Kucenski, Co-Founders, Tail of Two Creatives
Welcome to part two of our two-part podcast series that’s shining the spotlight on successful entrepreneurs who hail right from our very own Foundr community!
If you haven’t listened to part one featuring Gavin Symes, you can check it out right here.
Today, we talk with Danielle Roberts and Shea Kucenski, courageous entrepreneurs who started a marketing agency while working full-time jobs. Roberts and Kucenski took all the action steps laid out in our Foundr courses and in two months took their business from slow and stagnant to closing 20% of all proposals, doubling their earnings, and reaching their first $10,000 month.
In this inspiring interview, you will hear about Roberts and Kucenski’s journey to success, how they overcame their perfectionism and fear of failure, and how they land high-paying clients while managing busy schedules.
We are extremely proud of Danielle and Shea’s achievements and we are happy to share their amazing story with you!
- How to push past the fear of failure and start moving the needle for your client-services business
- Roberts and Kucenski’s main focus that helps them seal the deal when they prospect for clients
- How they manage their busy schedules (they both have full-time jobs) and keep the business running smoothly
- How to get started consulting or freelancing and get your first client
Full Transcript of Podcast with Danielle and Shea
Nathan: The first question I ask everyone that comes on is, how’d you guys get your job?
Danielle: Well I would say that we’re building and growing into our dream job right now. As of right now we both still maintain our full time jobs. Myself, I’m pretty risk averse, so I only plan to make a transition to running our business full time when we’ve reached particular financial goals and have a bit of a safety net. But on my end I’ve always been a natural born leader, and thought I was meant for a little bit more than the mundane nine to five. My love for communication started all the way back in middle school, but I started to fall in love with marketing and strategy during my studies in college. My first job out of college was with an advertising agency, and I fell into a social media role there when we landed a big national social media client, and that they didn’t actually have any full time social media people.
And it’s honestly one of the best things that could have ever happened for my career, and from there I focused heavily on social media marketing and digital content strategy. And then Shea has been a marketing manager for God, probably pushing a decade now. After we met we realised how much our skillsets complemented one another and after we figured that out it was a no brainer. I focus mostly on strategy, and Shea is the more creative one that brings all of our ideas to life.
Nathan: Awesome. So Shea, I’d love to hear from you. How did you and Danielle meet?
Shea: Actually we met through mutual friends, and we realised that we had a lot of the same interests. We went to the same school even. We were a couple of years part in college, but she was more PR and advertising, and I studied photography and graphic design. So we have a lot of the same core background skills and goals. So we just hit it off from there.
Nathan: Awesome. And I’m curious, because this is an interesting interview because we don’t do many of these in the trenches pieces, which is heavily requested from our audience, hearing from more early stage startup founders and entrepreneurs that perhaps a lot of our audience can relate to. So one thing with me when I started Foundr, and when I was wanting to start something, I’m curious, how long were you guys talking about starting a business together, or starting a business? How long did it take you to actually put that into life before you actually launched? What was that time period like?
Danielle: So I think we started talking about it maybe six months before we actually established our LLC in September 2017. And then over the past year, I guess it’s been pretty much like a grassroots effort of getting all of our stuff off the ground and trying to figure out our own marketing and what our core values were as a company, and what we wanted for ourselves, and what we wanted to provide for our clients. And then once we came across the Consulting Empire course, it just skyrocketed very quickly. So we didn’t want waste too much time just theorising about what we wanted to do and refining our website over and over again. We really just wanted to hit the ground running.
Nathan: Yeah. That makes sense. The reason I ask that question is I find, and myself included, it’s very easy to dream. It’s very easy to fantasise with the idea of starting a business, but it’s actually quite difficult and always takes a very, very long time to actually start. And I think that’s something the no one ever talks about, right.
Danielle: Right. And I think it’s really hard as well, because there’s so much information out there online that there’s always something to learn, and you’re always putting off or finding an excuse to not execute. And I think when it comes down to it, once you start picking up the phone and getting yourself on sales calls, that’s when you start to see the most progress in your business. It’s really easy to get caught up in the, “Well, I need to be on social media. And I need to do a blog. And I need to do all this email marketing,” rather than just focus on getting clients and refining as you go.
Nathan: Yeah, so I agree. And that’s the stuff that moves the needle, right. Because it’s easy, yeah, to just create the logo. It’s easy to create the website. It’s easy to create the social handles. It’s easy to do a couple posts. It’s easy to research things. But the stuff that actually moves the needs can be actually difficult when you’re first getting started but is what is the most important. So I’m curious, like, you said this is a side hustle for you Danielle, is that the same case for you as well Shea?
Shea: So right now yes, it actually is. We’re trying to just maintain our current bills that we have and play it safe for the time being. We don’t want to dig ourselves into a hole. We’re adults. We have mortgages and we have all that kind of fun stuff to take care of. But as we see ourselves grow we’re getting more comfortable in that setting up a plan where it’s, all right, by this date my goal is to be out of that nine to five job, and just focus on what we want to do.
Nathan: Yeah. Amazing. And I think that’s one of the best ways to start. Same as you guys, I’m super risk averse. It took me about a year starting Foundr before I could actually go out there and focus on this thing full time, and it became much more than just a passion project, but actually something, a product that I was building, and in the end, we’re building, that’s becoming something of significance, right. So it just takes time. So I respect what you guys are doing from that sense. So talk to me around, I guess, your first client. So you know, you followed the Consulting Empire Course, you guys have had tremendous success, I think. Please do share with me the success, but yeah, how’d you get your first client?
Talk to us about that, because I think that one thing that we’re found at Foundr is there’s so many different kinds of businesses that you can create, but probably one of the easiest is you want to get started, if you want to … You’re not satisfied with the work you’re doing right now and you want to find work that you’re passionate about, you can use skills that you already have and because of the internet, because of online, you can create an agency, or you can create a side hustle, or you can do freelancing or consulting on the side, which is exactly what you guys are doing, and it can become something full time. And that’s what Sabri, who is a master at … That’s one of our teachers for Foundr courses, in particular the Consulting Empire course, this is what he teaches. So I’m curious, how’d you guys get your first client? Talk to me around your success so far, and you guys are doing really well for just getting started.
Danielle: Well thank you. I think before the course it was very much like a, we looked at as a freelance way to bring in some more money here and there, but then once we started implementing of lot of Sabri’s different trainings and going through the worksheets, we started seeing a pretty quick and steady line up in our revenue. So when we started the company one of our core values is to give back to causes that we care about, and one of those things are LGBTQ initiatives. So as we were getting started, we wanted to make connections in the community, build a network and also build out some portfolio pieces that could help us better market ourselves.
So we wound up connecting with a local LGBTQ organisation and built a pro bono website for them, and it went so well and they were so ecstatic with what we created, they actually referred us to a member of their board whose company needed a new website. We’re currently partnered with them, and we continue to make connections through that organization’s network, and just with that one connection alone, in October we were just shy of a $10,000 month.
Danielle: Whereas before we were scraping the bottom of the barrel for landing just like a $200 project. So I think those numbers speak for themselves.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. So one thing you’ll find, and I’ve even learnt this as well, because I don’t really know this space that much, but when … I work quite closely with Zach, and also Sabri and also Dave, some of the get in the team to bring together this product, one thing I’ve found is it’s … With the stuff that Sabri teaches, it’s actually much easier than you think with some of his methods to actually get clients. You just got to be able to have that confidence to put yourself out there, which can be tough, but once you get started, and you can build that momentum, you really can see it all coming together.
Danielle: Yeah, and I know one of my flaws in the past has been that fear of failure, or just a constant pursuit of perfection. And when I was going through the course I was like, you know what, I’m going to start actually executing on these worksheets right away rather than just sitting and thinking about them. And once you start actually putting everything into action and forgetting about the things that might make you fail and instead focus on the things that are making you successful, that just pushes you and propels you forward. And then you realise, “Oh, I actually can do this. And it’s not as hard as I’m making it out to be.”
Nathan: Hmm. So talk to me guys on, I guess the delivery side of things because that is something that a lot of people don’t talk about. They talk about I guess, servicing clients, and the amount of money you can make, but you actually have to do great work too. So what are you guys doing, and what have you guys have in place to make sure you do great work for your clients when you’re building out your agency and continuing to grow?
Danielle: So I think that we have a couple of different streams in place, but one of the biggest things when we are trying to communicate with our clients is we place a huge, a lot of prominence on a front end evaluation and strategy meeting. We provide that completely free and we spend several hours talking to prospective client and even current clients about what their challenges are, what their concerns are, and their goals. And once of the things that I think has helped us convert is we’ve taken that traditional pricing model that you see with a lot of digital marketing companies, you know, you generally see that three tired retainer model, and in essence you pay, say like a thousand dollars and in return you get a premeditated plan that can have like 30 social media posts, couple of blogs, an email sequence, what have you.
We wanted to instead focus on the value that we could provide to our clients. So we took that model, and we are approaching clients differently by saying, “Okay, you’re going to pay for a certain amount of credits which can be used towards multiple digital marketing avenues.” So we put a tonne of prominence on that initial evaluation, and then in that first month, we use their credits to develop a 12 month strategic infrastructure specifically suited to their needs, and then plan our recommendations for how to best spend those credits throughout the rest of the contract, whether it’s six months or a year.
So I think one of the big things that we focus on up front is to communicate the value to clients, and we don’t throw around buzzwords and vanity metrics that really mean nothing to them, they don’t understand. Instead we clearly communicate, “We’re doing X. This is how it’ll get you to Y, and we’ll show you how it’s working by Z.” And that way they know it’s money well spent. And of course we have different contracts and different software that we use to make the onboarding process as seamless as possible.
Nathan: Yeah. What tools? Tell me about the tools. Everyone loves to hear tools.
Danielle: Yeah, so for our software, we use Hello Bonsai for invoicing, sending out proposals and contracts. And then we use Infusionsoft for some of our email marketing.
Nathan: Oh got you. Okay. Interesting. Yeah, we use Infusionsoft too, this can be difficult to manage and quite complicated, but a very powerful tool nonetheless.
Danielle: Yeah. Once you get it down.
Nathan: Yeah, okay. Awesome. Interesting. And talk to me about how do you guys juggle, and I’d love to hear from you as well Shea, just how do you guys juggle having two jobs essentially?
Shea: I mean, it’s really not that easy obviously. You’re kind of pulling two full time jobs almost. So we come home and we have weekly meetings just where the two of us, we go to … There’s a brewery right down the street from our house, and we sit for a couple hours and we just go through the plan of what we want to accomplish for that month. And then we assign tasks to one another and we just keep each other on track. It’s really a team effort, which makes it a lot easier than when you’re sitting behind a desk at a full time job, you’re doing your own work, but when we’re doing this, it’s definitely the two of us in it, working together, so makes it easier.
Danielle : And to piggyback off that, you have to be at a desk all day nine to five, so you stretch out the amount of work that you take to complete in eight hours. But if we only give ourselves two hours to complete one really high priority thing that’s going to make the most impact, we find that … Yeah, we get it done. So we try and focus on the highest priority items, rather than creating a mile long to-do list.
Nathan: Yeah, got you. So you would say do you guys do anything in the morning, or usually after work you catch up? Monday to Friday, or Monday to Saturday, or do you have any time to relax? Yeah, I would love to hear, and please be as honest as possible.
Danielle: So we are not morning people.
Shea : No we’re not.
Danielle: And I think that’s one of the great things about building a business is that you can build it around the life that you want. So in the morning we just, we do our thing, we take our time and go to our jobs, but our most productive actually in late afternoons and throughout the evening. So we focus a lot when we get home from work, and then throughout the weekends we’re spending most of our free time. But we do make time, we carve out time so we don’t drive ourselves insane just working nonstop. So yeah, you definitely have to do that so you don’t burn out. But in other cases we do … We’ll have a work meeting at a brewery so we can design-stress but also still be as productive as we can.
Nathan: Yeah. That’s pretty cool. And when it comes to I guess, managing client requests, because you give the freedom and flexibility to utilise the credits and you guys offer a few different services, how do you manage that. Have you got to going through email that they email you, phone, do they call you, or does that side of things work?
Shea : So it’s really kind of a combination of both. A lot of the people that we work with, I mean now most people prefer email or texting. Everything’s digital. So it’s really more of what the customer is comfortable with. And we’re not even opposed to the customers who are local, we go, same thing, we’ll go and sit with them, have a drink, grab a coffee, and just talk through what they want to do over the next month for their plan. So it’s really more geared toward the client and what they’re comfortable with, to make it easier on them.
Nathan: Yeah, okay. That makes sense. Just because like that might get overwhelming, right, the more clients you get eventually. Do you guys have a plan for that?
Danielle: It’s definitely something we need to think about. I took a tactic from Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Workweek, that was one of the first books that I read when I was seriously thinking about starting the business, and how he only
Nathan: Yeah, as all of us.
Danielle: Yeah, yeah, so he only checks email very specific times and then turns it off otherwise. And I think that’s something that I try to apply. It’s not always easy, but we’re able to at least again, focus on getting through the important task of making sure all of our client concerns are met, but also managing expectations up front saying, not everything is an emergency. So for example, if they have a problem, or they want content changes on their website, that’s not necessarily an emergency, but, “Hey, you submit it. It’s part of your plan. We’ll have it done for you in 24 hours. But by all means if your website, for some god awful reason has gone down, then definitely call us or text us and we’ll see to it right away.”
Nathan: Yeah. Got you. And when it comes to, for anyone listening that perhaps has a skill that they know they can provide as a service to somebody, or they can freelance, or start consulting or build an agency around, what would you say would be the best thing to get started? We can We’re not going to sell this course, but it’s there to help you if you want to. But anyone’s listening, what could they do to get started? What would you guys recommend?
Shea : It’s tough. Obviously everyone’s different, but I think even what you said earlier, just you’ve got to start somewhere, so even if it’s just, alright you have a name for your business. Get that name on social media. Buy your website domain. Do the easy stuff first. That way you have that under your belt, and then you can start to develop that strategy that you want to follow.
Nathan: Mmm. And what about getting first client, what would you guys recommend to do? I know you shared how you guys got your first client. Yeah. I’d love to hear. And how you guys are continuing to get clients as well.
Danielle: So if I can tie this back to the course, when Sabri mentioned the Loom videos, that has been game changer for us, because it adds the extra element of personalization. You actually give them some actionable insights into how to make their webiste or their social media or email marketing better. And you do it all for free. And you provide that tremendous amount of the value up front and focus on the value that you can provide rather than the paycheck that you’ll get from it.
Nathan: Mmm. Yeah. That’s been a really good one. That’s multi modality outreach, and you can do that, not just for B2B clients, like Sabri teaches you how to do it for B2C clients, like if you’re a health or wellness coach, or let’s just say you’re an accountant that you want to find people to do their individual tax returns. Yeah, he’s got strategies. We’re just about to release new content that around B2C as well. And yeah, that one we’ve seen a lot of people absolutely kill it with, just that alone. Like have you guys touched any of the Facebook ads stuff or anything that he talks about there? And the next level funnels and stuff?
Danielle: So we definitely implemented some of the funnels when we signed up for Infusionsoft. Facebook ads we’re not in yet. We’re putting our budget into some more, some other different marketing tools that I think are going to be more fruitful for us right now. But I’ve had, gosh, seven or eight years in social media advertising experience, so I know that once we do, we’re going to scale very quickly, and I just want to make sure that we’re prepared for that on the back end.
Nathan: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. That makes sense. So talk to me guys, like what’s next for you? When do you think you’ll be ready to be able to leave your day jobs and go full time on this thing. Is somebody going to go first and then a probably weeks later, or a few months later, somebody else? How have you guys worked this part out?
Danielle: Yeah, we actually just talked about this this week?
Nathan: Oh, awesome. That’s exciting.
Danielle: So Shea will take the leap before the end of this year. And I’m giving myself my deadline of my 30th birthday in April.
Nathan: Oh wow.
Shea: Yep, so right around the corner.
Nathan: Awesome. That’s really exciting. And tell me like, what’s next for you guys? What’s the vision? Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years and what’s the plans?
Danielle: So I think we definitely want to continue on with the digital marketing stuff because that is something that we’re really passionate about in general. But we also know we’re going to need to scale at some point and produce some additional revenue streams, and maybe some passive income. So we just started talking about developing an e-commerce store that’s aligned with our core values, and the ultimate goal would be for us to be able to work on the road, since we can pretty much work wherever we want, as long as we have a wifi connections. So we want to travel and pursue our passions, while we have a job that we’re passionate about.
Nathan: Yeah. Amazing. Yeah, look, there’s a massive trend for I guess what you’ll call digital nomads. There’s a lot of people, even within the Foundr team, at least, a lot of people on our team are digital nomads, and they freely move around, and they’re just working on just Foundr, and it’s incredible, right. Yeah that is I guess a really big good perk that you can get when you have an online business. Awesome. Well look. We’ll work towards wrapping up guys, but it’s been great chatting with you and just really understanding how the hell you’ve done all this stuff, and it’s really impressive what you’ve done in the short amount of time since you’ve gone through the course and been working on everything with your agency. So guys, where’s the best place people can find out more about your agency and yourselves?
Danielle: So definitely find us online, www.tailoftwocreatives.com. And you can sign up for our email list and continue to get communication with us through email.
Shea: And it’s tail as in T-A-I-L, like tail of a dog.
Nathan: Awesome. Fantastic. Well look, thanks so much for your time guys. I really appreciate it. And we can wrap there.
Danielle: All right. Thank you so much Nathan.
Shea : Thank you.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Danielle and Shea
- Learn more about the Tail of Two Creatives