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Designing her dream job: Webs by Deb

Webs by Deb, Debra Axness

Title / Role: Owner
Location: Minnesota
Formed in: 2020
What do you do?

I help small and micro businesses and organizations make an online impact on the internet. My clients mostly consist of small and micro business owners and solo entrepreneurs, and I just signed on to my first nonprofit organization.

What inspired you to start your business?

At the start of the pandemic, I was laid off – so I thought that was the best push to make this idea for “Webs By Deb” a reality. I had already worked in the corporate world and thought it was time to make my own dream come true.

What's special about your business?

I love working with my clients. I listen to the clients and give them what they need and what they want rather than trying to sell them services. I’m not going to sell people things that they really don’t want or can’t afford.

Also, there is a lot of misinformation about websites – a business owner can’t just put up a website and keep it on autopilot. A website is organic – its environment changes over time, and a website that stays static becomes a security risk, or it may break altogether. I do quite a few “makeovers” on stale websites. Security is a big issue that I weave into the creation or makeover of all the websites I work on.

What have been the high and low points of being a business owner?

A real high is just being my own boss. I love having the flexibility to make my own schedule. This business venture is something I can work as much or as little at as long as my brain is active. I love having a sense of direction in knowing how to help other business owners with their websites and marketing.

Low points would be the necessities such as accounting, insurance, and taxes that a business owner has to do, but are not much fun.

What influenced you to seek help from SCORE?

I started attending SCORE workshops early on and learned a lot about small businesses and how they need to be run. I’ve also met some great people there. SCORE helped to mesh things together for me. I attended webinars and I got a business mentor through SCORE. The sticking point right now is finding the time to update my business plan and make sure that my financials are up to date.

How SCORE helped.

I attend a few webinars every month and find something of value in each one. The webinars are outstanding, and the variety of topics is great. I think SCORE does a good job of putting good content out there, both nationwide SCORE and Minnesota districts within SCORE. The presenters are top-notch. I think the tools are all there and offering terrific things. It is really a matter of self-discipline to attend and then follow up with what I’ve learned.

One of the big successes was being able to pay myself a salary. I’ve been doing that since January and I think that’s awesome. I kept going back through the numbers like “Yeah that’s right, I do have enough money to pay myself now!” I did a podcast interview with John Ray of Business Radio X. I was also featured as Member Spotlight for the Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota last December.

 So my networking has been helping to promote my business. I have also been awarded a TradeMark by the US Patent and Trademark Office for Webs By Deb ™

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business?

If the business owner is a woman, I would strongly advise them to go through the Women Venture Small Business Essentials class. Be prepared to spend a lot of time and don’t think “Oh geez, I put 60 hours this week into my business, and I didn’t get anything. What’s my minimum wage here?” You can’t think in terms like that. If you don’t get a lot of traction, listen to people. Do informational interviews. Make sure you’re out there on LinkedIn, posting regularly. Get a website. If you don’t have a website, you’re not really considered to be a legitimate business. It lends legitimacy to the brand you’re trying to develop.  If you’re going to network in person get business cards with a QR code to connect with you so they can have something tangible to take away from their meeting.

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner?

I’m an introvert, and now I’m doing things that are a little out of my comfort zone. A business owner has to go out there and, as my dad would say, ‘blow your own horn’ and I’m not comfortable with that all the time. Networking is essential; find your own networking circles and keep your online marketing fresh.

There are some great women business owners whom I have met and continue to network with. I schedule half an hour with them and chat on Zoom, or in person.

Additional media
2021 E Hennepin Ave STE 220
Minneapolis, MN, 55413-2724
(952) 938-4570

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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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