Today’s guest is Reggie Holmes, the owner and creative director of Enthuse Creative LLC, a branding and design firm based in Tysons, Virginia. Enthuse Creative is a strategic creative partner for businesses and organizations and specializes in brand-focused strategy consulting, brand design and brand management.
Reggie is also a graphic designer, but he’s a strategist first, with his clients and the projects he takes on.
Today, Reggie talks about how, even though he’s essentially a one-person business or a freelancer, he positions himself — and thinks like — an agency. He talks about how and why he embraced that mindset and what it allows him to do with his business.
Being a one-person agency means Reggie often works through partnering with other freelancers or one-person agencies. He sees these people as collaborators, not competitors. And this allows him to bid on larger projects, presenting as a team.
It’s also a mental thing — Reggie aspires to be a bigger agency one day and has found embracing that mindset now helps him move toward his goal.
In the past, at networking events, Reggie would introduce himself as a graphic designer. But a business coach taught him that that’s limiting, that he can do so much more for his clients. “Graphic designer” was “comfortable and convenient” but did not communicate the full scope of value he could bring to clients.
He knew he had to position himself mentally first, believing he was an agency, before he could go out and promote himself as an agency and a strategic creative partner.
It took Reggie awhile to realize there was enough opportunity for everybody — that freelancers should not look at each other as competitors. He began to think about partnerships and collaborations to provide services beyond the skills he personally could do. He now looks for ways to work with friends and colleagues in his freelance network.
Partnerships also are helpful during downturns in the economy, providing more opportunities for work and larger projects. In turn, he’s also creating opportunities for other people, which is important to him.
Reggie says he’s in the “people business, not the pixel business.” He has more opportunities because he builds relationships and has developed a network.
Don’t worry that you’re only one person but are using the corporate “we” as an agency. Speak for your business, with a business name, and what value you can bring.
Reggie also thinks about his company culture, even though it’s just one person (and an intern) right now. He is setting the foundation for his agency with employees down the road. Thinking about your company culture as a company of one helps you know who you want to work with, the type of work environment you want, the boundaries you need to set.
Reggie gets a lot of his work through referrals and LinkedIn outreach. He is strategic about his networking (virtual networking now) and the events he takes part in. You can’t be everywhere. He used to be “wide but not deep.” Now, he takes part in fewer events but does so consistently, thinking of networking more strategically. He is connected with a networking group that meets twice a month and also his local chamber of commerce, where he chairs the marketing committee.
Reggie says it’s also important to maintain connections, especially during the pandemic, with previous clients. He emails them to see if their needs are changing and if he can help with anything new.
Reggie has also been intentional about focusing on strategy, not just design, not only because it’s more lucrative but so he can be involved in the project earlier. (The graphic designer is often brought it after strategy has been decided.)
Position your business and price your projects based on the value you provide, not an hourly rate and not based on a rate sheet that someone else created.
Biz Bite: A project has to meet three criteria: I need to willing, able and available.