88. Embrace slow growth with Sarah Lewis

Do you feel like you should grow as fast as possible?

In the fast-paced world of business, the concept of slow growth may seem counterintuitive. However, Sarah Lewis, the creative mind behind Slate and Brush, has found success by embracing a deliberate and sustainable approach to business expansion. In a recent conversation, Sarah shared her insights on the benefits of slow growth, the importance of multiple revenue streams, and the significance of building strong systems and client relationships. Let’s delve into her thoughts and discover how her strategies can inspire entrepreneurs seeking long-term success.

Sarah Lewis is a watercolor artist, overly obsessed dog mom, and pizza lover who started Slate + Brush Design Studio in 2018 after wanting to create a special wedding gift for a friend while working her day job
as a costume designer. Fast forward five years and she is now a full-time artist who has worked on over 100 weddings and events, has sold thousands of products in person and online, has painted many sweet pets, and continues to grow and scale her business every day. Her goal is to always bring a smile to her customers’ faces (usually with a pun) and to make her pieces one-of-a-kind and memorable to everyone who sees it!

Word-of-Mouth and Instagram

A Powerful Duo Sarah’s journey began with an impressive accomplishment – she achieved 100% word-of-mouth and Instagram-driven growth for her business. Through the power of referrals and the visual allure of her work showcased on social media, Sarah managed to establish a solid client base without spending a single dollar on advertising. This organic growth strategy not only highlights the value of a remarkable product but also emphasizes the potential of leveraging social media platforms effectively.

The Power of Multiple Revenue Streams

COVID-19 posed a significant challenge to many businesses, particularly those reliant on specific industries like weddings. However, Sarah’s decision to diversify her revenue streams proved to be a game-changer. By offering products such as cards and art prints alongside her core services, she was able to tap into a new market during the pandemic. This flexibility allowed her business to thrive even when certain sectors experienced a temporary decline. Sarah’s experience highlights the importance of exploring different avenues to ensure stability and adaptability in the face of unpredictable circumstances.

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Balancing the Seasons of Business

Sarah also emphasized the importance of finding balance within her business. By analyzing the seasonal fluctuations in her industry, she discovered how different aspects of her business could thrive during specific periods. For example, while the demand for artwork might be lower in January, the wedding season picks up, creating a natural balance between different revenue streams. By understanding these patterns, Sarah ensures a more even distribution of workload throughout the year, reducing the risk of overwhelming busy periods or slow seasons.

The Art of Slow Growth

In a society that craves instant gratification, the idea of slow growth may seem daunting. Sarah, however, argues that rapid expansion can be risky, as it often leads to a lack of preparedness and the potential for costly mistakes. Slow growth, on the other hand, allows entrepreneurs to establish robust systems, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, which becomes essential for managing clients, contracts, invoices, and project timelines. This deliberate approach ensures that the business can scale efficiently without compromising quality or customer satisfaction.

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Start with Mastery, Then Expand

Sarah’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to focus on mastery in one area before expanding into others. By honing your skills and delivering exceptional results, word-of-mouth referrals will become a powerful marketing tool. Sarah’s success lies in her ability to offer a specialized service that resonates with her target audience. It is through this process of refining and perfecting her craft that she has built a loyal customer base and gained a reputation for excellence.

The Patience Payoff

Impatience and financial uncertainty often tempt entrepreneurs to take on projects that are not the right fit. Sarah advises against this approach, urging entrepreneurs to trust their instincts and say no to opportunities that do not align with their vision. By staying true to one’s brand and focusing on ideal clients, entrepreneurs can create a positive and fulfilling work environment. The initial financial sacrifice is outweighed by the long-term benefits of building a strong reputation, attracting the right clients, and maintaining a genuine passion for the work.

Sarah Lewis’s journey with Slate and Brush showcases the power of slow growth in achieving sustainable success. Through her deliberate approach, she has built a thriving business that relies on word-of-mouth referrals, strategic use of social media, and multiple revenue streams. By embracing the seasons of her industry and finding balance within her business, she ensures stability and adaptability. Sarah’s emphasis on mastery, patience, and saying no to opportunities that don’t align with her vision demonstrates the importance of staying true to one’s brand and building strong client relationships. As entrepreneurs seek long-term success, Sarah Lewis’s insights serve as a valuable reminder that slow growth can lead to sustainable and fulfilling achievements.

What Sarah wants you to know

Even though slow growth isn’t flashy or as “fun” as some people post about on Instagram, slowly creating a business that you absolutely love and creating a community that fully supports you and refers you to everyone they know is way better in the long run!

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Free Resources from Sarah

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Ingvild Kolnes is the host of the Sustainable Photography Podcast, an educator for photographers, and is ready to help you with your photography business. 

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88. Embrace slow growth with Sarah Lewis
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Ingvild-Portrett

hi, i'm ingvild

This podcast is all about education and inspiration for photographers. A sustainable business is profitable and lasting. Instead of short-term wins you want to make sure you’re doing things that matter. Both to yourself, and to create the business you want. The goal of this podcast is that it will help you build and structure your business around your life, instead of the other way around.

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