After graduating from university, Rebecca followed the traditional route and landed a 9-5 job before deciding that a significant change was in order. So, she moved from England to Barcelona with her partner, Peter. Together, they launched a T-shirt boutique on Shopify, and later, a skincare brand. Peter and Rebecca ended up selling both companies after Rebecca stumbled upon her true passion: working on Shopify design and development projects. The duo then created a design and development agency, Rainy City Agency, and has been doing that ever since.
Rebecca did everything 'right'. She went to university, graduated, and toiled away at her 9-5 job to collect steady paycheck and benefits. But something was missing. She'd lived her whole life in England - what else was out there? She and Peter were ready for an adventure.
Rebecca and Peter found the answer in Spain. Barcelona, to be exact. The couple packed everything up, and along with a new city came a new venture: entrepreneurship! Instead of applying to jobs and preparing for interviews, Rebecca and Peter instead opened up a T-shirt store on Shopify. Their success was immediate.
"Our shop made $176,000 in sales the second month after launching," Rebecca told me, "with no social media presence!" They eventually sold the company, but that experience gave Peter and Rebecca the confidence to try their hand at business once again. This time around, the duo ventured away from clothing and went in a different direction: skincare.
"To keep some cash coming in while we built the skincare brand, I started to work with a couple of VA's I'd trained to build some basic Shopify stores for clients," Rebecca told me. That turned out to be pivotal for Rebecca. She'd taken on that work on the side to make extra money, but through it, she discovered an underlying passion.
"I ended up loving working on Shopify design and development projects," said Rebecca, "so we sold the skincare brand, and earlier this year opened a 1300 square ft. office in Manchester and have grown a team of 13." This is Rebecca's new business, Rainy City Agency, "The ultimate Shopify Development Agency to help your brand grow, convert, and scale," according to the website.
It seems that success follows Rebecca and Peter everywhere they go, as Rainy City Agency is attracting the sorts of clients Rebecca had only dreamed about. "I think I've done a good job of always putting my customers and their results before anything," Rebecca told me. This dedication to her clients has served her well in her business, and it hasn't gone unnoticed. "I quickly rose to be the number one performing agency out of over 100 other agencies on an invite-only platform for Shopify design and dev experts," she said.
Here's another example of how Rebecca and Peter's hard work paid off. "I worked on the client ogee.com's Shopify design and development back in the summer of 2018," Rebecca said. "We built a great relationship together, and then Peter took over their Facebook ads. They went from doing $17,000/month to $503,000/month within four months, and their conversion rate increased to around 4% from 2%."
Although it seems like Rebecca and Peter seamlessly moved through the entrepreneurship process, Rebecca assured me it wasn't as easy as it sounds. The following were some of Rebecca's biggest hurdles, and what she wishes she'd done instead.
It was a bit of trial and error to determine the right employees for Rainy City Agency. "When I look at some of the people I hired two years ago compared to the team I have now, there's a huge difference," Rebecca told me. What changed? "Going through specialist recruitment agencies and giving test briefs when interviewing has been the main thing to allow me to start building a powerful team."
Rebecca also used to take on many different small jobs at once. While this may seem like a good financial idea for your company, Rebecca cautions against it. "Taking on small projects can hinder the growth of your agency because you get stuck in this turnover of jobs," Rebecca told me, "which can often drag out, so your money gets held, and there may be large fees, too, if you're using a platform like Upwork." Rebecca has since learned her lesson and found a better way to find clients. "It's better to outreach to clients you really want to work with after doing proper research on their brand," Rebecca told me. "This helps to understand the budget they'd have to invest in a project." From there, you can determine if they're a good fit."
A better grasp on the financial side of the business would've helped, too. "I'd have liked to understand accounting, finances, and taxes more," Rebecca said. "When you grow as fast as we have, you can get caught out with things which can stunt opportunities for growth, so being able to forecast and know your numbers while keeping it simple is the key to growth and making decisions to invest in team members and marketing."
As an entrepreneur, it's easy to want to have your hands in every single part of your company. Rebecca can undoubtedly relate to this. "I fell into the trap of working 'in' the business way too much," Rebecca told me. "Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was doing everything; project management, finance, sales calls, managing all the teams, client calls." That made it tough for Rebecca to focus her attention where it mattered: growing Rainy City Agency. However, she and Peter have since decided they need to hire more staff members to take care of these tasks, and Rebecca is looking forward to directing her actions toward building a 7 figure agency while Peter does the marketing.
To complete more tasks during the day and continue growing Rainy City Agency, Rebecca has had to change her work process. "I've worked a lot lately on how to get a laser focus on important tasks and get those out of the way first," Rebecca told me, "and not looking at my emails or any social media until later in the day." This way, she is less distracted and better able to give all her attention to the bigger, more important tasks rather than wasting time on trivial pursuits.
Shifting the way she thinks has been helpful for Rebecca, too. "I've started to focus a lot on mindset," she said. "Removing yourself from the operations of the business lets you focus on things that enable growth." Rebecca's goal is to have tunnel vision for expanding Rainy City Agency.
Rebecca puts a lot of emphasis on really understanding your target audience and everything about your competitors, then using this knowledge to make marketing decisions. How exactly should you do this? Rebecca has some tips. "Research your audience and the language they use," Rebecca told me. "Trawl through hundreds of reviews from your competitors, note the reviews in a word doc, and paste them into wordcounter.net to determine the most commonly used words and phrases used by your target audience." Then, you can distribute them throughout product copy, ads, marketing materials. Rebecca says this is the best way to connect with your audience and calls this their "true language."
Rebecca also has opinions regarding, well, your own opinions. "Always use data to make decisions and come up with ideas," she said. "Never do what you personally think is a good idea, because it's often not." That's exactly what she mentioned above regarding language use rather than writing the words and phrases you think your potential customers might use. It's essential to determine what they're actually searching for.
Peter and Rebecca focus a lot on ads, and for a good reason. How else will potential customers learn about your product or services?
"Invest in getting proper creatives prepared by an agency who understands Facebook ads," Rebecca told me. "These are the lifeblood of high-performing campaigns!" Rebecca also suggests straying from overly professional looking ads, and instead, shooting for more organic posts, because she's noticed that perfectly polished posts don't perform as well. However, this may not always be the case; according to Rebecca, it's important to continue testing different ads to determine what works best for your niche.
When analyzing which ads work and which don't, Rebecca suggests using the Chrome plugin 'Eboost Ad Spy.' "It's handy for seeing your competitor's live ads," Rebecca said. "The longer the ads and creatives have been running, the more chance they're winners that are doing well!" Rebecca suggests taking note of the ones doing well and using that information to inform your ads.
What does the future hold for Rebecca and Peter? More Rainy City! In addition to Rainy City Agency, they have one other business called Rainy City Consulting, in which Peter consults with brands that want to quadruple their sales. However, they don't want to stop there. Rebecca says she and Peter even wish to develop Rainy City Courses soon!
Rebecca's in a pretty good place. "I'm thrilled with how things are going now and have some big plans in place for the next few months," Rebecca told me. We can't wait to see what else Rebecca and Peter have been saving for a 'rainy day'!