I’ve had the honor of knowing Ashley King for about four years now. In fact, it was very shortly after meeting her that I made the decision to go into business for myself. Seeing her success as a business owner was a major contributing factor to my decision.
As the voice behind Ashley’s Bride Guide – the first online source to cater to brides in and around Nashville, she built her business from scratch in 2006, created a great brand and was able to leave her corporate career to pursue ABG full-time.
I am thrilled to feature her as my very first W.O.W. (Women Of Wisdom) interview and hope you glean as much inspiration from her thoughtful responses as I did. Without further adieu…I present to you…Ashley King.
[Image Credit – Jonathon Campbell Photography]
Ashley, tell us how you discovered your passion for what you do.
When I got engaged in 2005, there was no online resource dedicated to helping brides and grooms plan a Nashville wedding. Instead, engaged couples resorted to using nationally based publications to plan their local wedding. These tools were great for inspiration but stopped short of helping a local bride actually plan her wedding – from who to hire in Nashville to which bridal shows to attend. They lacked a pulse on the local scene.
Leveraging my business and marketing background and my entrepreneurial spirit, I launched AshleysBrideGuide.com in 2006.
What services or products do you offer?
My site features daily advice and a directory of resources and events for engaged couples. In turn, I also offer bridal advertising services for wedding businesses.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Here are a few things that I have found to be helpful. 1) Delegate what I don’t love to others when I can; 2) Schedule specific days for meetings which keeps me out and about only one day a week and all other days are spent in my home office for working on my strategy, writing, client admin, etc.; 3) Maximize my productivity on key days where I work all day and then other days I can plan all day.
Do you have employees / an assistant / intern program? If so, how did you adjust to letting go of the work and entrusting someone else with it?
I have worked with interns and freelancers. I am wiling to trust others to help because I know that if things go well, I have more time to focus on generate more business or to spend doing personal things I love. If it doesn’t work out, there has typically been little risk, so taking a chance on others has been more beneficial than not.
What has been your best method for generating new business?
80% of my business has been from word of mouth; 10% has been from clients finding my site online, loving it and asking for advertising rates; 10% has come from marketing campaigns that I use very infrequently.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you’ve had to make because of your business?
My biggest sacrifice has been giving up my stable, corporate income. Operating a micro-business takes a lot of risk and usually takes years to replace the salary and benefits of a corporate career. Not having that income means that often I don’t qualify for lucrative mortgage refinancing or car loans or anything that is income based. The saying goes, “You can beat the tax man or you can beat the bank but you can’t beat both.” So, many of my legitimate business tax deductions reduce my income so that I no longer qualify for many of the loans available, even with great credit.
But, it’s all worth it! I miss many of the corporate perks – like bonuses, paid vacation days, etc. but I also love being an entrepreneur.
What aspect do you most enjoy about your business?
Constantly creating. I love that I can execute on an idea that I have and turn my dreams into reality. I also love making a difference in the lives of others every day, from helping a bride in California plan her Nashville wedding using my online guide to helping a local business launch their services to the Nashville bridal community.
What is your favorite thing about being self-employed?
Living every day creating like God did in Genesis. “In the beginning, let there be…” I do that over and over, with each new business or idea. I love creating my destiny. It’s challenging, risky but we have but one life and I want to use it turning my ideas into something tangible and helping others find the courage do the same.
If you could go back and give yourself one tip from day one of the business, what would it be?
Take baby steps and spend wisely! I’ve learned to break projects into phases and launch them slowly. Then, move into the next phase. By biting off more than I could chew, I sabotaged an entire project and wasted a lot of time and money.
Are you involved with any community outreach / non-profit organizations? If so, tell us about it/them and why you got involved.
I am not. I’ve had my head in the sand for the last few years. But, one of my goals for 2013 is to find causes that matter to me and to lend a hand.
Where do you go for inspiration? (Person, website, location, book, etc…)
I read The Tiny Buddha daily and watch Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Series. These tools remind me of the power and love I possess and my responsibility to help others. Occasionally, I read biographies and business marketing books.
What advice do you have for others who want to do something that scares them, like launching a business or starting a new project?
Doing something for which there is no blueprint or path for success is scary. I believe that if God has placed the desire in your heart, he will also give you all that you need to move forward. So, I often ask myself, “what’s the worst that can happen” OR “what would I regret most?” Asking myself these questions help me follow my heart and face any fears of failure.
How can we connect with you?
Wow, many thanks to Ashley for sharing these great nuggets of wisdom. It’s clear that there are many valuable lessons learned when you launch your own business, however, Ashley and I agree that the freedom and flexibility are truly worth it.
Are you thinking about starting your own business? Already have a business story that would inspire others? I’d love to hear about it. Until then, have a blessed weekend and remember…don’t let anyone with less ambition steal yours. See you next week!