Name: Stephen Larmer
Business Name: Stephen Larmer Design
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Describe your business:
I guide mission-driven coaches and entrepreneurs through a strategic process of creating an authentic brand so they have the clarity and confidence they need to market themselves effectively, generate massive revenue and impact more lives.
Tell us about your self-employment journey.
I’ve been self-employed for close to 30 years, and it’s included many highs and lows, learning experiences and pivots.
I started my solo journey after a three-year run with one of the most successful ad agencies in the Philadelphia area. I moved on from there to start my own design studio, which I operated for about 25 years, serving an interesting mix of Fortune 100 clients, non-profits and entrepreneurs.
Being entrepreneurial myself, I also co-founded a few other businesses in parallel. One was a self-discovery assessment business, and the other was a marketing audience understanding and data company that segmented large consumer audiences by psychological types.
A few years back, I stepped away from all of it to focus on what was closest to my soul – supporting people who want to have a massive impact in the world by helping others heal and grow. The entire journey taught me a lot about myself and the importance of being authentic, knowing who you are, what you want, and staying focused on the goal. And in the end, since business is based on problem-solving for people, those genuine relationships that developed along the way are the most influential part of success and ultimately the most fulfilling.
What area of your business are you most passionate about?
Seeing the excitement my clients feel when they realize they are ready to introduce themselves to the world, make the money they desire and have an enormous impact.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned early in your career that has contributed to your success?
Early in my career, I learned it’s not about your success; it’s about your client’s success. Without a clearly defined and intentional brand that communicates how you create success for your client, you’re confusing your potential clients instead of winning them.
How are you pivoting your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The most substantial pivot I’ve made during the pandemic has been focusing on serving the massive uprising in the marketplace of new coaches and entrepreneurs, who are shifting from working for someone else to starting their own thing.
In addition, I’ve shifted my own business framework. I now deliver my services through One-Day Design Intensives, where I work exclusively with one client for a day of collaboration and creation, resulting in extreme focus, momentum, tons of positive energy, and tangible results based on pre-defined goals.
What’s a recent project that you’ve worked on that you’re really excited about?
One of my favorite recent projects was creating a brand for someone transitioning from a decade of being a judge into being a coach, speaker, and author. We developed her authentic brand by capitalizing on her unique perspective and approach to coaching based on her past professional and personal experience.
We packaged her brand as Preside since she is coaching, teaching, and helping others preside over their own lives to move from being Spectators to being Stewards.
Creating a brand for her that she felt so comfortable and excited about getting out into the market was extremely fulfilling. We’ve since designed her book jacket, website, and social media and will be helping her create her presentations and ultimately build her digital course.
Are you a part of any freelancer communities? Which ones and how do they support you?
I’m a part of the Adobe and Behance communities, which provide creative inspiration. I’m also a part of David Bayer’s community which provides mindset and business coaching.
What advice would you give other self-employed people?
Don’t DIY everything. When you bump into a roadblock, the question isn’t always “How do I solve this?” but sometimes it’s “Who can I find to help solve this?” It saves time, money and moves you out of overwhelm.
Also, be honest about your results. Take the time to regularly evaluate where you’re truly at and what you need to do to consistently get the results you desire and adjust accordingly.
How has forming an S Corp helped you level up your business?
It’s allowed me to stay in my lane and focus on where my contribution to the business is most effective. It’s also helped my wife Kimm, my business partner and copywriter, who has always had to take care of the books.
Knowing that Collective is here to support us through what is typically not our favorite part of running the business is invaluable. It’s also allowed us to level up knowing that we’re taking ourselves seriously, respecting and valuing our own time, and investing in the right structure and professional support.
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