Y'all know I'm a fan of short, sassy, snarky, swear-loving creatives. So it will come as no surprise when I say that I've been a big fan of Morgan's for as long as we've been connected on Twitter. (Which feels like forever.)
Morgan — a veteran in the entrepreneurial space — gets real with this interview. She talks about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, the struggles that are commonplace when you're self-employed, and how finding your true calling isn't always the end all be all.
Just when you think you can love her (and her propensity for telling it like it is), she ends with this #truthbomb: Failure is always a possibility, but so is success. And many times you will only know success through repeated failure.
Now go and read the interview. You won't regret it.
For those that may not be familiar, tell us about yourself and what you do.
I’m a little creative — both literally and figuratively. I’m a tiny human and the one-woman creative force behind my business. I provide strategic brand identities and design for big-hearted, sweary entrepreneurs, helping them build the visual language of their brand to thoughtfully and creatively share their story.
I used to be a scientist, so I’m not a traditional “creative” in that I have a strong analytical side as well as a creative side. I have an enthusiastic, life-is-a-party attitude, and a straight-shooting, no-bullshit approach, which people either love or hate (I ain’t for everybody and everybody ain’t for me). I’ve got a deep love for all things carbohydrate, happy hour, and the internet, and have a full-time love/hate relationship with my dog.
You've been at this in some form or another for the past 10 years. What has that journey been like for you?
I can only describe it as a crazy, wild roller coaster. One that is sometimes exhilarating and super fun and at other times, scary as hell and a ride I’d like to raise my hand to get off of immediately. My truth is that I never wanted to have my own business. I never wanted a CEO level of responsibility. But I was laid off from my job and the longer I worked from home with the ability to set my own schedule, hours, and rules, the less I wanted to go back to a traditional job. So as of now, I haven’t. I’ve considered it and looked but haven’t found anything that’s entirely the right fit. So I keep on keepin' on as they say.
We know that the road to entrepreneurship isn't always filled with unicorns, rainbows, and puppy dogs. How have you managed to navigate the ups and downs?
I’m extremely lucky to have a husband who carries me financially, which is the honest truth. Because let’s be real, if I was single and supporting myself, I’d have moved back in with my mother years ago (God help us all).
As a one woman show, you’re doing #allthethings, which, unless you’re an actual unicorn, is fucking impossible. And there are no less than 100 articles about outsourcing shit you’re not good at or don’t like, but I have yet to read in any one of those articles that talk about how to outsource that shit when you’re not generating a stable income. Which is what I see as one of the biggest problems of entrepreneurship, or freelancing, or whatever it is the kids are calling it these days.
Diversifying your income is a great way to ensure you always have money coming in. Whether that’s selling the art you make, working part-time at a “regular job”, creating product, or something else entirely. Having more than one revenue stream helps to navigate that roller coaster of ups and downs.
Also having some people. Your people. Those that really get you and are in your camp. They celebrate you when you’re up, lift you when you’re down, and are just generally helpful and fun to be around, even if you only connect with them online.
As a self-proclaimed ambivert who is also a solopreneur, how do you manage the constant push and pull of needing alone time and also needing to connect with others?
This is a constant shift for me. Most people who meet me can’t believe that I identify as an introvert. But I straddle the line on every personality test I’ve ever taken and am much better in a small intimate setting than I am in a large group. The longer I work independently, the more I find myself longing to work with others; more collaboratively as part of a team. I find that working with others and sharing my work helps push me creatively and also nourishes my soul as I really enjoy recognizing others and lifting them up.
So because of that, I’ve joined a shit ton of different local groups — some on Facebook, some on Meetup, and others that myself and a few friends or similar industry people have started. And occasionally I co-work with one or two other people to get out of the house and put on real pants. But not a whole lot of actual work gets done for clients, so it’s more like co-working on my business rather than in it, which can be a good thing.
Aside from that, I walk my dog twice a day where I listen to podcasts, chat with my husband, or just enjoy being outside getting lost in my thoughts. And my typically nightly routine is having dinner with my husband then plopping down in front of the TV. I’m like a little old lady—I’m up at sunrise and in bed around 9:30 every night. I love eating dinner between 4-5 pm (early bird special, anyone?) and don’t answer the phone after 8 pm. Even on weekends, the schedule is the same. I’m a homebody at heart and wouldn’t have it any other way.
What has been the biggest blessing of running your own business?
Most definitely the ability to control my own schedule. I am a weirdo early bird person. I get up at sunrise (my favorite time of day) and really like to finish up early and head outside in the afternoon before dinner. And while I live and die by my schedule, I so appreciate the ability to run some errands in the middle of the day or duck out early for a matinee or happy hour. I don’t believe in the old-school “butts in seats” mentality of working 8-5. I’m a believer in when the work is done, you leave. My husband and I love to travel and most of my friends live in other states so being mobile with the ability to do my work wherever I am is the greatest asset.
As a 10-year veteran in this space, what, if anything, has kept you in the game for as long as you have been?
I didn’t do well when I was in corporate. I am incredibly outspoken and honest, often to a fault. And in a corporate setting, or more traditional “job”, that’s not often appreciated, much less encouraged. So needless to say, it wasn’t a place I excelled. So maybe it’s fear that I’ve stayed as long as I have?
Part of it is that right before I left my full-time job, a friend of mine passed away—very suddenly and unexpectedly—and it rocked me. I had never experienced death like that before and I suddenly became very aware of my mortality and how short life really is. Since then, the idea of work, work, work (or “hustle”) is a big turn off. I’m a designer, sure, but it’s not like I knew I was going to be—or even wanted to be—since birth. It’s not who I am, it’s just what I do, it’s my work. And I work to live, not the other way around.
As I said above, I’ve looked at going back to a traditional job, but for me it has to be the right cultural fit, which is really difficult to uncover just through an interview process.
If you had to do it all over again, would you choose to be where you are or would you have made a different choice for your life and work?
That’s a hard one. I don’t like to have regrets, so I don’t want to say I would have made different decisions. Because if I had, I likely would have a very different life than I do now. And I’m very grateful for the life I have. However, I think about what sort of life I would have had had I made different decisions.
There’s always going to be things you’ve said or done that you could have done differently. But it’s not worth it to hem and haw over them. You can’t undo what’s been done, you can’t change the past. But sometimes you do get a second chance and if you’re so inclined, you can resolve to do better (or differently).
Famous last words... What advice would you give to women who are questioning where they are in their lives and careers?
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Life is too damn short to be unhappy. Find a job (or do something) that you enjoy and allows you the financial wherewithal to live the lifestyle you want. This doesn’t have to mean that you jump out of bed every day like you’re living in the Sound of Music and tell everyone you’d still do your job even if you didn’t get paid. That’d be nice to have, but it’s not a reality for a lot of people. Just find something that doesn’t suck your soul and focus on making your life a happy one. And if there’s something you feel called or driven to do—DO IT. Take that chance, that risk. Failure is always a possibility, but so is success. And many times you will only know success through repeated failure.
There’s a lot of life questioning as you get older and it seems to change with each decade. Know that you don’t have to have it all figured out because no one really does.