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Budgeting – A Real Life Example

February 15, 2010

I have been getting a lot of support in this phase of my blog launch from Angela Ferraro-Fanning, a graphic designer who runs her own business in Wisconsin. I came across Angela’s website last summer when I was researching the Marketing Chapter of my book. I found an article on Angela’s Blog about creating a social marketing plan. I was impressed by the design of her site, with its appealing background patterns and colors. More importantly, Angela struck me as someone on her game, both from the way she presented herself and her willingness to share her knowledge freely on her site. The clincher was how friendly she looked in her photo.

So I sent her an email introducing myself and explaining the book project I was working on, and asked if she would have time for a 30 minute phone interview to talk about her business. We had a lovely conversation about how Angela started her business, marketing strategies she used to grow her client base (which were low-cost AND effective), and what her business was like now that she was significantly past the startup phase. One of her low-cost marketing techniques is included as a ‘Success Story’ in Chapter 24 of my book.

Quote for Today:

The beginning is the most important part of any work … for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression more readily taken.  ~  Plato (The Republic)

I re-connected with Angela just a few weeks ago when I realized I was spending more time contemplating my blog than actually putting one together. Her company, 13thirtyone Design, helped create the look of this blog. Angela understood that I wanted something simple, low-cost and really soon. I love the result; I got exactly what I wanted without investing a ton of time or money into the project. I could focus on what I really wanted to do which was to start posting content.

After Angela Ferraro-Fanningwriting yesterday’s post on Budgeting, I wanted to follow up with a real life example of a successful business that had begun as a low-cost startup. Once again I called on Angela, with a hunch that her design and business savvy were extensions of a practical approach to all aspects of running her business, including management of costs and containing overhead. Fortunately for me, my hunch paid off. Here’s the 411 on how Angela managed her budget during her startup period.

Q: What motivated you to start your own graphic design business, 13thirtyone Design?

A: I was working for a larger marketing design firm as an employee. I enjoyed the work and my clients, but I was getting burned out from my long work day which included a 45 minute commute each way. I also believe that the  foundation for good design work is a close and direct working relationship with clients, which is more easily achieved in a one person design firm.

Q: How did you manage to make the leap from full-time employment to self-employed entrepreneur?

A: After I left my full-time design job, I took a simple, part-time job locally to give me an income stream I could count on. I worked 5 hours a day, from Noon to 5pm, five days a week for several months. This gave me enough time to build my business and a small cushion that provided a financial safety net.

Q: Can you tell me what equipment and supplies you had to purchase in the beginning?

A: I was really lucky because most of my design work requires creative talent as the main ingredient, so there weren’t a lot of startup costs. The most expensive item I bought was my computer. I shopped carefully on the site to find a refurbished MAC which I still use today. It cost about $1,500. (Check out available refurbished MACs at Apple Store)

Q: Did you buy your software at the same time?

A: I already had some software and basically purchased upgrades of packages over several months’ time. That way I could use the cash flow from my business rather than coming up with all the money in the beginning.


There are always reasons, within the control of a business owner, for the ultimate success of a company.


I was excited about how neatly Angela’s story of a choosing a refurbished MAC  dovetailed with yesterday’s list of The 5 Best Tips for Keeping Startup Costs Low.  But I was not surprised. There are always reasons, within the control of a business owner, for the ultimate success of a company.  Ultimately the only reason a business fails is because expenses exceed revenue.  By starting out with a written, bare bones budget, you can ensure a much greater likelihood for moving past startup and creating a successful company.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 12:49 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful article, Gail! I appreciate you asking me to help with your blog and for including me as a guest here. Congratulations again on the book and blog launch – it’s all very exciting!

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