“It’s a write-off”.
The four words every entrepreneur loves to hear but may be the exact mindset keeping us from financial freedom. It’s pretty easy these days to find resources on how to make money but much harder to learn how to then manage it well. Hello, that’s why I have a job!
It’s easy to believe that making more money is the answer to wealth and financial freedom, but making more money paired with some great financial habits is actually the key to financial success. Today’s guests are case and point.
Newlyweds, $100k in student loan debt, and entry-level jobs, how this couple used their side hustle to get debt free and gave themselves the gift of time and financial freedom. Now, more than ten years later they share all the ups and downs of working together, and how two people with very different money mindsets learned to find common ground in their finances.
When Davey and Krista became Davey and Krista, both in marriage and in business, they had no idea what was on the horizon.
“We got married in 2010 when we graduated from undergrad. That’s when all this started building for us.”
With Davey in graduate school, Krista did what most recent grads do: set out to find a job.
“I went to school for graphic design, and I interned at a studio that designed wedding invitations. I sort of fell in love with the design process and aesthetic and even started taking wedding photos for friends. I wanted to do more of that stuff, but it wasn’t enough work to support us at the time. So, I got a job as a website designer for a nonprofit and worked to build more of my own business on the side.”
While Krista worked her 9-5 job during the day and focused on growing her business after hours, Davey was putting in the work to earn his teaching degree. By the time he wrapped up the program and took a job as a high school teacher, Krista’s side hustle was picking up steam.
“Krista was doing this photography thing at the time and making more money on this side hustle than I was as a teacher. That’s when I really started to pay attention to our finances, our jobs, and all of that stuff to figure out if we could make this side hustle a full-time gig.”
But thinking about going full-time in business and actually being able to go full-time in business are two different things. For Davey and Krista, the choice to quit one (or both!) jobs and move into self-employment was hindered by one thing: debt.
“We were probably close to $100,000 in debt. We knew that we had to keep up with full-time jobs and this was a side hustle until we could pay off our loans and set ourselves up for a better future.”
And that’s exactly what they did! Under the Dave Ramsey plan, the couple set to work paying off their debt, working two full-time jobs and hustling with photography and design on the side. Within just a few years, they’d done it. With their loans gone and an emergency fund built for both their personal and business accounts, it was finally time to move that side hustle into main hustle for Krista.
“We had six months of savings in an account. We had no debt. I had a year’s worth of weddings booked. So finally, it felt safe to leave that full-time job and strike out on my own.”
Within weeks of leaving her job, Krista was working hard to not just sustain her new business, but keep it growing as well.
“I very quickly learned that what I was charging was way too low, even for somebody just getting started. It took some time, but we had to slowly increase our prices to hit that sweet spot for the number of clients I actually want to take on.”
Eventually Krista felt the urge to shift in the business. And thanks to the financial freedom they’d created for themselves, she felt the freedom to be flexible in making those shifts.
“We found some flexibility to pivot within the business—to do things like drop wedding photography and focus on web design. That was a risk, of course, because weddings were half our income. But it felt like the right call for me and for the business at the time, and having the financial security we’d worked so hard to gain made the risk feel less risky.”
With a new business plan in place, the couple made another major decision: to have Davey join Krista in the business full time.
“I tried for a while to manage both teaching and working on the marketing stuff for Krista, but I was pretty miserable doing both. It was clear I needed to pick one. Looking back, I can’t imagine not making this choice. I can’t imagine not being an entrepreneur.”
Now both fully engaged in the business, the couple scaled down to focus on what worked for them.
“We decided we wanted to make the business what is now known as Davey & Krista, the website design business. That’s where we were finding a lot of joy. It’s where we felt like we could make an impact for other entrepreneurs. It was our niche, and in order to do it well, other things had to go.”
Those other things included Rising Tide Society, a community of creatives the couple founded, working with Honeybook to create materials for other entrepreneurs, and shooting for the remaining clients on their photography books. With those things off their plates, the couple focused their full attention on building the brand they were passionate about creating.
“We started out as sort of a full-service agency, doing brand design, web design, SEO, copywriting, and basically all of it. But in niching down, we got really clear about brand website design being our thing. We really refined our messaging and marketing to speak just to what we felt was our niche.”
The result? An easier on-ramp for clients and customers to find Davey and Krista. With their eyes focused on brand web design, they built the business that did just that, slowly branching out into other offerings that fell under that umbrella. Soon, they were working on all elements of the brand design, offering everything from logo files, graphics, starter copy, and design templates.
“When somebody comes to us, they’re coming for a website, but what they’re getting is actually much more than that. They’re getting access to a team that understands how to build something beautiful with their brand in mind. So that’s what we try to sell in our messaging, and the results have been really incredible.”
As their business has grown, so has their family. With the birth of their first child, thecouple realized that things had to change in order for them to keep both their business and their family up and running.
“We needed help. We had to find the right support. So, we started outsourcing things we could take off our shoulders so we could focus on what we needed to at work and still get quality time with our son at home.”
Again, Davey & Krista fell back on their financial flexibility to help them as they built the team to support the business.
“I’m so grateful we had a buffer so we could be patient in building the right team. It ended up being one of the best things we’ve ever done for our business, and it only happened because we had the financial freedom and flexibility to do it right. That’s the value in knowing your numbers!”
To hear the rest of the story and what Davey & Krista are up to now, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.
Christian Healthcare Ministries Health Cost Sharing (this is what we use as a family as a health insurance alternative *this is our referral link*. It’s not the right option for everyone but has been a great fit for our family.)
Free branding guide from Davey & Krista
“S” is for Southern book (buy it! it’s awesome!)
Krista Jones is a brand and website designer. She is the creative director for all design projects at Davey & Krista. Davey is a marketer, content strategist, and relationship builder. He’s cofounded two agencies: Davey & Krista, a brand and website design agency, and the Till Agency, a paid advertising agency.
Davey and his wife Krista specialize in helping people create brands that book through custom branding and website design, and consulting. Over at the Till Agency, Davey and his team specialize in helping businesses scale through paid advertising.
December 8, 2022