Name: Wilian Iralzabal (he/him)
Business Name: Zabal Media
Describe your business:
Zabal Media is a UX/UI Design and Low-Code Development agency that helps early stage founders and SAAS companies get to market quicker by using design as a business advantage and Webflow to develop these solutions.
Tell us about your self-employment journey.
I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship and making something that did not previously exist. Early on, I gravitated towards working at startups in Silicon Valley, so that I could learn the foundational layers that are required to scale a business.
I was lucky to have great mentors at these early stage startups that shared with me how to build businesses that earn money, not cost money. During this time, I was also building digital products/apps with people in my network in the evenings and on weekends.
Two of the three startups that I worked for as a full-time employee were acquired by Google in 2015 and 2017. And I went to work at Google for two years as a Lead Product Designer. After two years at Google, I decided to go independent full-time. I started my own freelance company as a solopreneur.
After the first year, I realized I needed to scale my practice because there was simply too much work to do and not enough time in the day to do it all. Once I determined how to best bring in clients and deliver on their expectations, I was added to the Webflow Enterprise Partnership as an expert agency.
While leaving a comfy full time job at Google was scary, I’m glad that I put myself in a position where I had to execute or fail and cultivated a set of complementary skills. If a part of the business is broken and needs to be fixed, I’ve been in the shoes of that person or process in the past and can step in to help.
Being a practitioner. Mastering sales, design, development, and operations are what’s keeping me and my business running so smoothly.
I’m delighted to be able to start a business – and have Collective’s help with the area that I know very little about. Without Collective, it would be very challenging for me to do what I do best.
What area of your business are you most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about creating systems internally, and for my clients, that help make repetitive and unnecessary time wasters more efficient and scalable.
Once the systems are complete, I find a lot of joy stepping back and watching it all function seamlessly.
Creating these systems allows me to focus on what’s most important, which is to continue to hire talent around the world in order to create economic advancement for other peoples’ families – and my own.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned early in your career that has contributed to your success?
If I communicate an idea, someone will listen. If I communicate an idea and show the idea in the physical form, then they’ll believe me. Talk is cheap and will only get people excited.
The biggest lesson I learned early in my career is that building my ideas, and iterating over time to improve them, is how most successful founders worked. I learned the formula. Followed it religiously.
How are you pivoting your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
My business exploded with new sales leads and closed deals during COVID-19. Every business realized that they needed to have a digital presence in the marketplace. My company partners closely with business to do exactly that.
Are you part of any freelancer communities? Which ones and how do they support you?
I partner with the companies that own communities and digital products that empower freelancers. For example, my company partners with Webflow and Adalo who are two major players in the No-Code development space.
What’s a recent project that you’ve worked on that you’re really excited about?
Zabal Media has been working with some amazing partners this year. While most of them are under NDA contract, it’s exciting to share that we have been working with some big names that you may know of.
What advice would you give other self-employed people?
Early on, it’s all about providing value by giving more than you take. Once you build a reputation, you must learn to endure success. Anyone can become successful. The goal is to remain successful.
How has forming an S Corp helped you level up your business?
I’ve been able to save a lot more money on taxes. While I’m still learning all that is involved in forming an S Corp, it’s clear to me that this is a great decision from a business perspective.
While I continue to learn more about what it means to have an S Corp, I’m picking up new knowledge that I had no idea about. I was mostly focused on providing the services that my clients needed.
Having an understanding of what different types of business you can form has been instrumental for me. My S Corp further fuels my curiosity to become more well rounded around taxes, law and investments.