Tough times in business come in many forms. I don’t know about you but I immediately think about being low on projects or having a bad month of revenue.

But there are also other tough times that come in the form of internal or external business challenges.

In this podcast episode, my good friend Shannon Mattern of The Web Designer Academy shares her insight on how to navigate tough times in business, both when new web design projects are sparse and when things get tough on other sides of the business, sharing openly about a huge challenge she’s currently facing with her payment processing platform.

We’ll be sure to post an update when she’s out of the woods with what she dubbed as “the most challenging situation she’s ever faced in business.”

A special thanks to Shannon for being so open and transparent whereas a lot of entrepreneurs like to keep the hard stuff close to the vest or hidden altogether. Yet another reason why I appreciate her openness and consider her a great friend in the web design industry where so many great people flock.

Enjoy the convo and hey, send Shannon some love if you would.

You can connect with her on instagram @shannonlmattern or at shannonmattern.com

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
03:07 – Greeting to Shannon
05:15 – Challenges of business
09:09 – Navigate the failures
11:00 – Skills and strategy
15:31 – Seasons of muscle building
19:17 – Having courage
22:33 – Be proactive
29:32 – Be creative
32:31 – Give then ask
36:33 – Don’t be a commodity
44:04 – Check your stripe account!
56:55 – Leaders go first
1:03:13 – Don’t victim blame

Pricing Mindset Workshop for Web Designers


Connect with Shannon:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #260 Full Transcription

[00:00:00] Shannon: Sometimes things come so easy to you, like designing a pretty website that you don’t really understand, like you’re not thinking past, just like what you said, what that creates for the client. So you can shift into all of the things that you just said about like a case study and evaluating it. If you talk about it like it’s just a pretty website, you are positioning it as a commodity and you’re in control of repositioning it as something really, really valuable.

[00:00:32] Josh: Hey, friend, great to have you here for this episode of the Web Design Business Podcast, episode 260, where we’re gonna dive right into it because we’re talking about tough times and more specifically, how to navigate tough times in business. Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about tough times in business, typically I immediately go to just like a bad month of revenue. Or maybe you’re low on clients and we are gonna address a lot of that in this conversation.

[00:01:00] Josh: But we are also gonna get into the other side of tough times in business, which is just business stuff. And I’m so excited to bring on one of my really good friends in the web design industry, Shannon Mattern. And Shannon’s been on the podcast a few times recently in episode 2 0 1, talking about pricing.

[00:01:17] Josh: I’ve been on her podcast, a profitable web designer podcast. Uh, Shannon is also a fellow web design business coach, and. Is just a truly great mind when it comes to the business side of web design. And what’s interesting about this conversation is the first part, it, it’s kind of a two part conversation.

[00:01:34] Josh: The first part is addressing what to do when you’re low on clients. And we’re gonna give you all sorts of strategies and tips and things you can implement today if that’s you, if you need a boost in sales. But the second part of this conversation is actually something that Shannon’s going through right now in her business.

[00:01:49] Josh: And it’s an issue with Stripe and their payment processor. And you’ll hear all about what’s going on. But Shannon really got to a place recently where, um, she admits this. It’s like, is this worth it? Is my own running my own business worth the challenges that it comes with sometimes. Thankfully, yes, it is.

[00:02:06] Josh: And Shannon really explores how she got through that and is continuing to get through it because as, as you’ll find out, it’s a tough season in her business, the toughest that she’s ever faced. So I do wanna say publicly, thanks to Shannon for being very transparent. It can be so easy sometimes seeing people who are.

[00:02:21] Josh: A little further along on the journey, and it just feels like everything’s clicking. And, you know, it doesn’t seem like there’s many problems, but I think we all know, um, what we see on social media are the highlights, and people aren’t always posting the hard times. But Shannon really gets transparent on what happened, how she’s getting through it.

[00:02:38] Josh: And, um, thankfully she’s actually working with Anne Kaza. My, uh, my student who was on the, uh, podcast recently. Uh, she is my web designer slash attorney, so they’re actually working together to help this get resolved. We’ll make sure to update with, uh, update you, excuse me, on, uh, this situation with Shannon.

[00:02:55] Josh: But for right now, let’s talk navigating tough times in business, not only with getting clients, but also just in business in general here, Shannon.

[00:03:07] Josh: Well, Shannon, again, welcome back to the show. I feel like it wasn’t that long ago, but I feel like it’s been too long already.

[00:03:13] Shannon: I know, I agree. It’s really good to be back and to get to talk to you.

[00:03:18] Josh: And we really don’t have like an exact topic on this one. You and I were, uh, about due for just a, a catch up in business in general, and I think both of us were like, why don’t we just talk for a while and record it and see what happens?

[00:03:30] Josh: And, um, something that I think you, you’ve been through more recently with a lot of changes in your business and, um, that I’ve gone through more recently and in my past, and that everyone goes through as a business owner are tough times and how to like, navigate through those tough times, whether it’s being dry, like in a dry period of clients, whether it’s technical issues, whether, uh, you go through personal stuff.

[00:03:52] Josh: So yeah, I think, uh, that may be the moral of the story today if that sounds good.

[00:03:57] Josh: Yeah,

[00:03:58] Shannon: I am. I love. It sounds weird. I love talking about that stuff, but I really do because, you know, it happens to everyone. And if we act like it doesn’t, I feel like we’re doing people a disservice to think that like it should always just be easy.

[00:04:15] Josh: Yeah, and I think everyone, including myself, I think we all know that on social media, what you’re primarily seeing is the filter and the good things. Um, aside from that, like one family member that always posts something negative on Facebook, like you’re, you’re generally getting the, you know, the success, the successes and stuff like that.

[00:04:34] Josh: But at the same time, we all know for every success there was like 10 failures that led up to it, or like 10 really hard lessons learned to get to it. So I do think it’s a good timely thing because I’ve heard more and more from students recently and just from other people in, in web design who are struggling with whether maybe it is a drive period in clients or maybe it’s industry changes or maybe it’s.

[00:04:55] Josh: Um, with just a flooded market of web designers, there’s more competition, so I do feel like there are some maybe new challenges. That are at the forefront right now. I don’t know if you’ve seen that with your students, but that’s certainly something I’ve seen. Like I’ve seen a lot more, uh, folks being a little discouraged and I thought maybe yeah, we could, let’s dive in and see how we can help somebody today.

[00:05:15] Shannon: Yeah, totally. I mean, I have heard from, you know, our students that it’s taking more work for them to get clients. Like what used, what used to be easy and what used to be like, oh, I didn’t have to do anything. Referrals just came to me, or I only had to have like a couple consultations and I, every one of them booked at a hundred percent.

[00:05:39] Shannon: What I’m hearing now from some people, not all, some people are still like, you know, having the same consistency that, that they’re, that they’re used to is that it’s taking more conversations than it used to to get a yes. Um, and that it’s like, oh, referrals just aren’t coming, coming my way. It that feels unsettling to me.

[00:06:05] Shannon: What is happening? Things are drying up when it’s like, okay, now it’s time to learn the skill of being proactive. And I feel like this is something that like it’s inevitable that it is going to happen at some point in your business journey. That the what was working is going to change and that you have to adapt to that change and not make that change means something bigger than what

[00:06:33] Josh: it is.

[00:06:35] Josh: Hmm, good point. Yeah, cuz sometimes it’s, sometimes it’s outside of our control potentially. But I feel like actually most of the time it’s in our control. It’s just one of those things where, like you just said there, the big term is being proactive instead of reactive. Cuz referrals are great, but referrals are like rain.

[00:06:53] Josh: It’s gonna rain at some point, but it’s, you never know. Exactly. So it’s like you do have to get to a point, I think, in everyone’s journey where when it comes to referral-based stuff, you’ve got to be proactive. And, and honestly, some of it just comes down to asking for referrals. Um, because I, I’ve seen the same thing with a lot of my students.

[00:07:10] Josh: Some are still status quo, like all, all is good. Some it’s the same. And in some students are thriving right now. And one thing that I have seen as, as I look at some of my students who are a little more established, who may be five, 10 years in and they’re, they’re still thriving. What they are doing is innovating and they are.

[00:07:29] Josh: They’ve really worked at more retention style stuff with, with current clients. So I think the challenges may be different from somebody who’s established and has a pool of clients versus somebody who’s starting, and maybe, I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but maybe the folks who are more early on in the journey.

[00:07:43] Josh: It is taking more conversations is, um, taking a little more thoughtful marketing and sales techniques when it comes to like, uh, results based kind of stuff. But that’s kind of what I’ve noticed as far as some of my students versus, you know, some of them who are struggling right now or maybe in a dry period versus some who are still thriving.

[00:08:02] Shannon: Yeah, I mean, same, and, and it’s different for everybody, you know, what their, what their unique challenge is and. If I sit and think back to like 2016 when we started the web designer academy all the way through here, like all the way through now, like there have al like there have always been these conversations and I, I am curious for myself as to why I personally feel more sensitive to them recently than maybe I have in the past.

[00:08:38] Shannon: And I’m so curious to know what you think about this, Josh. And I don’t know if this is just like my own personality quirk, but like, like I have a tendency to hear when my students are struggling like that. I have to like jump in there and just fix it for them. And that’s something that, um, that I have to really resist a lot of the times because it’s like, it is dis, it’s disempowering.

[00:09:09] Shannon: To like, you want to teach someone how to develop the skill to navigate it themselves. You want to teach someone the skill to like look at like, what might I be thinking or doing to, you know, to, um, hold myself back in certain ways. Like, how can I navigate this? How can I push through this? And when I do, I will feel so resilient on the other side and I have to like, check myself to not put so much of that on my shoulders as like the.

[00:09:43] Shannon: As the coach and the teacher, and I’m just super curious how you navigate that.

[00:09:49] Josh: I love that you asked that, Shannon, because I, I just told you before we went live, I recorded with, uh, the, your, somebody on your team, uh, Erica, that who is your client of success, uh, or client success. Uh, she’s coo, success role coordinator.

[00:10:03] Josh: Yeah. Thank you. I was really having a hard time with that one. And, uh, we said the same thing. It was like you can’t let your students failures and you can’t let their successes right on your shoulders. Like, you can give them the skills and the tactics and the strategies, but at the end of the day, they have to go out and get a client.

[00:10:22] Josh: Like I’m not calling somebody on their behalf. So, yeah, as a coach, that is really tricky because I, I try not to take business personally, but inevitably we do. And, and, and the same thing is true for web designers who make a design and your client doesn’t like it. It’s like heartbreaking and super infuriating.

[00:10:38] Josh: Uh, but the reality is, in that case, like I have learned to try to give them maybe strategies or insights they haven’t thought of or just spark some confidence in, uh, maybe even just some momentum and, uh, just some energy. Because what you can’t, like, you can teach strategy, but what you can’t teach as much is, well, I don’t know, maybe you’ll disagree with this or agree, I don’t know.

[00:11:00] Josh: But I don’t know if you can teach skill as much. I feel like, I feel like skill and strategy is different. So I can give people all the strategies in the world for getting clients, but the skill comes into play for that person, in this case, that web designer, to actually employ them and do like what works for them.

[00:11:17] Josh: Because what I do and what you do, Shannon, and what we did to grow our web design businesses may not work for everybody. And that’s based off personality, energy management, time management schedule, like, so that’s kind of how. As a short answer to that, that’s how I deal with that is like, I will give you as much as I can in the way of insight and strategy and maybe, hopefully some of these things help you build that skill for navigating tough times.

[00:11:42] Josh: And I mean, we’re really talking about problem solving. Um, so maybe it’s that, maybe it’s figuring, helping people figure out the skill of like problem solving. Like, and maybe that’s stepping back and looking at, well, what’s really not working here. Um, I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but that’s kind of my take on that.

[00:11:58] Shannon: I love what you just said about like the difference between strategy and skill. I’ve never like thought about it like that before where like strategy is like, here’s how to do it, here are the steps. Um, and skill is like what is like what you develop as a result of implementing those steps and learning.

[00:12:19] Shannon: You know, learning from those steps and gathering data of like, okay, what worked, what didn’t work? You know, what are my, um, theories about why that didn’t work? Like what might I need to, where might I have gaps that I need to develop some more skill? What am I making this outcome mean that may or may not be true?

[00:12:41] Shannon: Am I like applying this situation broad and broadly generalizing about everybody or myself? Yeah. Which is what we see a lot when people are like, um, nobody, like nobody’s hiring web designers right now, or whatever. And it’s like, you might have gotten two or three nos in a row, but you can’t make a broad generalization like that because someone over here just booked two new clients and so.

[00:13:10] Shannon: How can you notice how you might be getting in your own way when you do feel discouraged and get really like analytical about it and like, look at the skill. I just love how you, how you differentiated that because yeah, like we can give you every strategy we’ve ever thought of, ever, and you’re gonna bring your background, your personality, your niche, your thoughts, all of it to your interpretation and implementation.

[00:13:40] Shannon: And you’re gonna do it differently than everybody else. And it might go one way, it might go another, and then you get to tweak based on you. Until you get it to work. Like that’s the whole thing. It’s like, yeah, you have to keep going. It’s usually until you create the outcome,

[00:13:58] Josh: and it’s usually just one win that will, yeah. Put things on the right trajectory and it, and it’s very common, like heads up for everyone in business, you’re gonna get a lot of like nos in a row. There’ll be seasons of that, but then you’ll have seasons where you’ll get like 10 yeses in a row and then you’ll feel unstoppable. But one thing that I, I think will help with the skill portion of this as far as like building a, a business muscle, for lack of a better term, is to expect there to be downtimes.

[00:14:23] Josh: So I say that to say it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’re in a period where you’re pretty low on clients. Like I had plenty of those. Now, I was never to the point where I had zero clients, but I did get to the point where I was like, oh man, I haven’t done like any, Promotion or any outreach at all.

[00:14:39] Josh: Like I’ve got, you know, a couple projects and once these are done, hopefully I get some more. And then inevitably through my networking group and other stuff I was doing, I would have more come, come on board. And it seemed like the referral train always came at good times to balance things out. But I say that to say expect those times.

[00:14:56] Josh: Like don’t be surprised. And I think if people have bad expectations and they think business is just always gonna be up until the right or up until the right, if you’re watching on YouTube, um, you’re gonna get to those points where that may completely derail you. Cuz you just one season of bad business, then you can be like, oh my gosh, what am I doing?

[00:15:14] Josh: And if you’re not used to that or prepared for that, I think that’s a, a skill that we all need to, to. To have and, and you’ve probably learned that Shannon and I have too, where I have really good months in this business and I have really bad months, and I’ve learned to be okay with that. Um, it’s like a, it’s like a, that skill is like a muscle. I guess that’s kind of what I, the way I interpret that

[00:15:34] Shannon: as. Yeah. I think, you know, I have, I’ve definitely gone through those seasons where everything’s just working amazing and like, but that, that doesn’t last for forever. And I’ve also made the mistake of like overcorrecting when there are downtimes, you know, right.

[00:15:51] Shannon: Where like you make that downtime mean something that it doesn’t really mean, and then you go changing a bunch of things that don’t need change and you like perpetuate it. Like I absolutely do those things. I am, I’m human. Um, I, I, like, I sometimes like let the let those old feelings of when I was just starting in business and feeling like scarcity and vulnerable and all those things like creep back in and cloud my decision making and I’m absolutely human.

[00:16:28] Shannon: I think what I, what happens differently for me now than in the past is I didn’t have mentors or coaches to be like, wait, like why did, why are you thinking that? Is that really true? Like, you know, and to really help me like get out of those things way faster than just trying to go it alone and believing everything that you think.

[00:16:53] Shannon: Cause it’s like everything that you think isn’t necessarily true. And if you don’t have someone to question you yeah, about it, then you can make mistakes that will perpetuate the problem. Which I am absolutely guilty of, and I’ve also run a really successful business, so, and it’s not gone perfectly.

[00:17:16] Josh: When I had Amy Porterfield on the podcast back in, uh, episode 180 5, 1 of the takeaways I had from my chat with her was that exact quote.

[00:17:23] Josh: She said, you can’t believe everything you think. And I think in the case of down times in business, that is probably the number one thing to remember is all of these thoughts don’t take them all to heart. Like maybe there’s some that are actually good, like maybe it is time to update your website, update your portfolio, tweak your services if needed, or, or freshen some things up.

[00:17:44] Josh: But it doesn’t mean that you need to change your entire business model particularly. I I love that you said like you don’t want to over course correct, because that can be detrimental. Like you could accidentally take yourself into a whole nother business model and then not serve your current clients really well.

[00:18:01] Josh: Uh, very timely. I just had a q and a with all my students earlier today, and, uh, one of my students, Nicole said she felt a little discouraged because she had, I don’t know how many leads she had that were like this, but she said she had one particular lead that didn’t go for her quote and said they only had a budget of $300.

[00:18:18] Josh: And so she was feeling really discouraged that she didn’t get them. But I told her like, Nicole, That is not your ideal client and you shouldn’t be letting leads in particular affect you at all. So there’s a really big difference between leads and clients, like the people who pay you and who have been clients, your client pool.

[00:18:37] Josh: Those are the people you should, you know, listen to when it comes to any sort of feedback or input. But the people who are leads who are just not good fit it fine, like peace out. It, it doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person, but they’re just not a good fit for you. So I, I hope at least that point is encouraging to folks to remember that you cannot change your business for bad fit leads.

[00:19:01] Josh: And that’s so easy to do in down times when you’re a little dry because there’s that one good client that you may screw over your opportunity for, you may take on 10 bad fit clients in that one really good fit client who’s gonna be a lifetime client. You don’t have time for ’em, or you change something on ’em.

[00:19:17] Shannon: That takes courage. I think when you are in that space of like, I feel a little desperate, I feel a little like nervous. I feel like I have to make something happen now. And when you are making decisions from that place of, and I don’t know that if your student did this, but I get this question all the time.

[00:19:39] Shannon: Like, should I try to come up with an offer that will work for them for $300 or should I lower my price, or yeah. All of these things. And my question is, is my answer is always like, you get to decide to do whatever you wanna do. I’m never gonna tell you to say no to money if you want to make money.

[00:19:58] Shannon: But the trade off here is that exactly what you just said, you know? Make, make an informed decision about what you’re saying yes to and what you could potentially be saying no to. And it does take courage and belief to say, to not pursue something that is not a good fit just for money and hold out and go after and believe that you really can like that, that next perfect client is on the way.

[00:20:34] Shannon: It’s, it’s not comfortable. It’s just not. Yeah. Yeah. But it takes

[00:20:38] Josh: courage. Used to be, You gotta be used to being in some uncertain times. I guess that’s really the, the moral of the story. Like you just gotta be used to getting through the lows, which is easier I think, when you build confidence and you have experience and uh, where you just like, again, I expect there to be some downtime so it doesn’t freak me out when I get in those.

[00:20:58] Josh: Now I still am very proactive during those times and try to be sharp and look at what’s working and if I need to tweak anything. But to that point, like what we were just talking about, let’s say in this case my student makes a $300 offer. Well when a $10,000 client comes through the door and they’re like, well is she doing like $300 websites?

[00:21:16] Josh: Cuz that’s not what I want from my business. We need like a real website. That’s an investment that’s gonna make us a lot of money. That, that’s a prime example of how like pivoting to cater to bad leads could really hurt moving forward. Um, Yeah. So, gosh, such good stuff already with this, Shannon. I do think so.

[00:21:34] Josh: We’ve kind of bitched about it enough. Let’s talk about some tactile things we can do in this season. Like, what can we do? What are some things that you’ve seen work? I’m happy to share some things that I recommend, uh, but I’d love to hear from you, like, what do you tell students when they’re in a dry spell?

[00:21:48] Shannon: Yeah. First we, we, our very first step is like, This is our step when you’re in a dry spell or when you’re wanting to create clients or whatever. Like first, we just want you to like actually look at what proactive things that you have been doing. Like let’s take an inventory of what the actual situation is.

[00:22:11] Shannon: Because I can do this to myself. I can be like, I’m doing all the things and nothing’s not working. Like let’s say I want to like work on my fitness. I’m like, but I’ve been doing all the things for like three days and nothing’s changed. You know? So let’s get a real picture of like, what is what, what’s been happening?

[00:22:31] Shannon: Like have we been connecting with people? Have we been explicit in like letting people know what we do? And have we been asking for referrals? Like gather some actual data because if you can, I feel like there’s a relief in thinking. Clients have dried up and then looking at like, oh, but I actually haven’t done much to create clients, so therefore what I am thinking might not be true.

[00:22:58] Shannon: I can now just go be pro proactive and see what happens. And there can be some relief in, in realizing like, oh wait, I really actually haven’t been doing much to create clients, so let’s see what happens when I go, go do that. So take an like objective, look at what you have been doing, don’t use it to judge yourself or be like, oh my gosh, I should have been doing that.

[00:23:19] Shannon: And that’s, that is just not a good use of your time, but just, just gather some data and then once you have done that, just be like, okay, great. Like. Let’s make a list of all of our clients and reach out to them to let them know that we have spots open for them, and would they like to just hop on a call to talk about their business and what’s going, you know, what’s possibly happening in the future.

[00:23:45] Shannon: And, you know, just connect with people. Have some conversations, even if they’re not consultations, just to touch base and see how you might be able to support them in the future. Ask them for referrals and then make a list of anybody who’s not a client and reach out to them. And, you know, just, just start doing those things.

[00:24:07] Shannon: And that can take you so far to like creating, getting your next project than just like waiting for referrals and saying things have dried up.

[00:24:22] Josh: Yeah, the worst thing you can do is just like sit in your office alone hoping that things will change because no matter what it is in life, that’s literally the worst strategy for anything.

[00:24:32] Josh: Um, yeah, you’re totally right. It does. I think the trick is to be proactive, whatever that looks like. All those strategies you said right there. I totally echo. Those are things that I recommend. One thing that I learned being in a networking group is it didn’t matter whether I was in a season of low clients or I was so busy that I could barely have time to go to the meeting, but I went.

[00:24:53] Josh: And what that did for me is because that was my only source of like outbound network or outbound marketing. I wasn’t on social media aside from a Facebook page that I updated every once in a while and I didn’t do email marketing shame on me. So I say that to say what it taught me is no matter what my week looks like, either good or bad, busy or not busy, I am going to do this task, which is a sales task.

[00:25:15] Josh: And it didn’t take that long. It was an hour and a half per week. And so what I would say is for people who are flying really high right now and things are good, don’t forget. To feed your sales machine, whatever that is, whatever that looks like. And if you’re in the downtimes, then that’s the perfect time to amp this up.

[00:25:34] Josh: Now, you don’t wanna be desperate and salesy, but it is the time to connect. It is the time to have more phone calls. It is the time to go to maybe some networking groups or business meetups. Go to a chamber of a commerce meeting, post more on social media, do a tutorial, whatever it is, that’s the time to be proactive.

[00:25:49] Josh: But what I would say is just remember, good or bad, have a weekly outlet for client acquisition. And the cool thing is for, for folks who don’t go to a networking group, that’s fine. But what I would say is like, maybe it is a blog post and one blog post a month on your website would be fine, particularly if you’re doing social media and email marketing.

[00:26:10] Josh: You could like once a week, you could work on a social media post and then that could take over for a couple weeks. As far as your outbound stuff. The next week maybe you’re doing an email to your, your client list about like some trends and some new things and things you could help with. Maybe the week after that you’re working on a blog post.

[00:26:27] Josh: If it’s a big blog post, you could work on that for a couple sessions once a week, and then before you know it, in a span of a few months, you’ve got like potentially 10 or 12 outbound marketing pieces. So I think when I think about this, one thing I’ve learned in this, and I didn’t really think about it till now, is to not turn off your sales.

[00:26:47] Josh: Strategy it, you know what I mean? Like you can lessen it, but don’t turn it off because you’re gonna Yeah. In like three months when you’re really busy, like what happens? I, I’ve seen this all the time with designers who do the booking, cuz I don’t, I never did the booking model and I don’t necessarily re, I mean it works, so that’s fine.

[00:27:03] Josh: But I do what the, the common hurdle I see with that is people get booked out for three months. They disappear from social media, from email and anything, and then three months later they’re like, oh my gosh, I have no work. So that’s the thing you gotta avoid in those down times happened. Okay. I was wondering.

[00:27:18] Josh: It died very sharply too. So Shannon is back. Yes, Shannon is Back. Back. Laptop died. I got worried because it just, uh, Shannon went blank. There was no, I just disappeared from the earth. I was just talking to myself and uh, I was like, oh, hold up. I’m getting into some good stuff here. So let’s wait for Shannon.

[00:27:34] Josh: So we’re back. We’re we’re talking about just the, the downtime connecting and uh, for anyone who doesn’t want to do a YouTube channel or forum or Yeah, whatever. One thing you can do is this idea of an interview series, which could be as simple or as complex as you wanna make it, but I had a client who was an insurance agent who did it when he started his business and he talked with like, I think a dozen or so business owners and it really helped him.

[00:27:58] Josh: And he just published them on Facebook. He would tag their business and share about it and then that spread. And I saw that work for him tremendously. And that’s the only one he is ever done it. Like it was one of the things that helped. Catapult him in our community. So I actually did the same thing, and I’ll put, I’ll make sure we link this in the show notes for this episode, but back in 2018, uh, I just looked, so it was five years ago, I did an interview series before I started a podcast, and I just interviewed 10 or nine divvy specific web design business owners, and I did this little interview series.

[00:28:31] Josh: And one thing I learned, because I learned from Ed that my client who did that, when I did this series, I had the same approach. I was like, I’m just gonna connect with people and just ask them what it took to build their business. And that not only did I learn so much from that series, and it’s still working, it’s, they’re still out there today that people can reference.

[00:28:49] Josh: But more importantly, like. It gave me momentum, it gave me some authority and trust with people who watched that. And then the most important thing is I was automatically exposed to all of their networks, which was really big because some of them had big audiences and then a lot of their audiences b came into my audience and became students all from that little nine week scaling divvy business series.

[00:29:13] Josh: So I would definitely consider that, um, you know, you could keep it simple, but it’s something as a, and a side, a strategy that is not just like, well just post more on social media kind of thing. Um, I would definitely consider that. So I What would you, would you say just get creative too with like what works for you and what, what you can build momentum on?

[00:29:32] Shannon: Yeah, absolutely. And I, we may have talked about this before in many of our conversations, but I did the same thing when I was just starting now. I was like, I don’t know how to market this business or how to get in touch with people who, like, I wanted to serve women entrepreneurs and women’s solar entrepreneurs who had online businesses.

[00:29:50] Shannon: And also I was very introverted and like, um, not really wanting to put myself out there in a way felt just kind of awkward. I did. Email series and email interviews. I’d reach out via email, I’d send them questions, they would respond. I turned it into a blog post. I like, I never actually, like, had a one-on-one conversation with several of these, um, awesome women, but I developed such long-term relationships with them from, from the series that resulted in clients and referrals.

[00:30:23] Shannon: And I did the same thing. I was like, I wanna talk to women who, um, have online businesses who, who built their own website with WordPress and, you know, talk to you about your business and. And, and here’s a, another, uh, like trick I guess that worked really well, as I said, who are like, who else do you follow?

[00:30:45] Shannon: Who, who are some other businesses or, you know, resources that you use in your business? And then I would post on social media and tag those companies to be like, Hey, Rebecca, Tracy shouted out so-and-so, and I would tag them so that they could see that they were mentioned in this article. And that would like lead me and it would give me more ideas of people to reach out to as well, to be like, oh, hey, Rebecca mentioned you.

[00:31:12] Shannon: I’m gonna reach out to you because she said you were a great resource for this. We just did this interview. Would you like to do one too? Everybody says yes, they understand like, It’s a win for them. And the value of connection. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like, so yeah, just get creative.

[00:31:29] Josh: Yeah. Like no one’s gonna be like, oh, I really don’t feel like promoting my business typically.

[00:31:33] Josh: Like they’re, yeah. Maybe not everyone might do an interview, particularly if it’s a video interview, but most people will, if you, if you tell somebody, Hey, can you tell me about your business so we can help grow it? They’re like, oh, f yeah, let’s go. So, I love that idea. It’s like a different interview style.

[00:31:47] Josh: I didn’t think about that, but yeah. You could 100% do a written. Style interview. And it still is the same concept of build your own table. Because in the case of these divvy business owners, I wasn’t like, Hey, can I come on your podcast or Can I join your show? Or can I do a training in your group? It was, Hey, I’m doing an interview series and I’m featuring people who built their web design business.

[00:32:09] Josh: Uh, would you like to come on and just share about some lessons you’ve learned and I’ll be happy to share it with, with my growing audience and everything. And they got to connect with other guests. It was all, it was awesome. So I love that approach. Shannon, I, I hope some people take this to heart because this is something that is, yeah, it can be time intensive, but it will pay dividends for potentially years

[00:32:29] Shannon: down the road.

[00:32:31] Shannon: Yeah. And if you’re an introvert like me or you worry about like being pushy and salesy and all of those things in the early days of your business before you kind of clean that stuff up and realize like, oh, I’m helping people. Um, that’s, um, that strategy is like, it’s a give before you make an ask. Like, it always feels like easier to reach out with a give than to reach out with an ask, um, or at least in the beginning.

[00:32:57] Shannon: And so I just, it’s one of my favorite strategies that is like my go-to tried and true. It doesn’t matter, like platform agnostic. Like it just

[00:33:09] Josh: works. I love that you just mentioned the, the give versus ask it. In my world, I would say help versus sell. Um, I love it. So when you get, when you get to a point where, yeah, you’re dry on business, I think the first inclination typically is to just like publish more and sell and do a promo, do an offer.

[00:33:29] Josh: And I think, you know, there may be a time for that maybe, but I would encourage people to figure out like in what way can you serve your current audience? So first of all, I always recommend don’t forget your current clients because they may be in need of a redesign or some more work, or they may have referrals.

[00:33:46] Josh: You just need to ask them cuz they forget about you cuz they’re busy. So that’s typically my first step in, in my recommendations on these dry spells, which is to just. Don’t forget your current client base. They might pay you and they may have people who will pay you for stuff, but the next step is what can you do to like, help and give some free value?

[00:34:04] Josh: Because inevitably that leads to sales. So maybe it is a webinar, maybe it is a workshop, or maybe it is just a, a consult type of call if it’s one-on-one. But I love that you said that because in the times where we are tempted to sell, that may just be the time to serve and to, and to help. And give some free value because it’s the best sales tool.

[00:34:25] Josh: We’ve talked, we talked about that before with pricing and stuff. Like it is the number one best way to sell is to just share what you know. And here, good news for everybody in web design, particularly those who are students of you, Shannon, and me. Like we’re staying up to date on trends and things that are happening.

[00:34:40] Josh: So everything our students are learning and including what we’re talking about on the podcast, you can literally take this content, make it your own, and make a blog post out of it, or share it with your customer base. Like, don’t be afraid to do that. Don’t plagiarize us please. But, um, you know, make it your own and share it with your clients because you’ll suddenly look like an expert and super helpful in those times.

[00:35:02] Shannon: Yeah, like when you are demonstrating that like, hey, I’m connected with this community of incredible web designers run by Josh Hall and we stay on the cutting edge of things. And here’s something that Josh was sharing with us about navigating slow times and I thought you guys would want to, you know, some of these concepts might be helpful to you, like you can just, it demonstrates that you are like such a professional that you are like not just some random, like.

[00:35:37] Shannon: Person flying solo, that you invest in your business, that you’re on the cutting edge, that you’re connected, that you’re sharing strategies. I mean, just even saying that you’re a part of a program like that is like sets, sets you. Sets you apart from, it’s like one of those intangible signals that like, oh, this person’s legit.

[00:35:57] Shannon: Like they are, yeah, they’re, they’re like investing in their business. So it’s like a win-win win. Yeah. All the way around when you can do that, they’re taking

[00:36:06] Josh: their, they’re taking their craft seriously too, which is in turn gonna help me. Like yeah, I 100%. If I was a client with a web design like a webmaster, I would want them to stay on the up and up and do training and to share what they’re learning cuz I don’t have time to figure out what the heck’s going on with accessibility and privacy and all that stuff.

[00:36:24] Josh: So yeah, by all means that’s you. And honestly, I love that we’re diving into this area of this topic now because the true trick is to just not be a commodity. Like you can’t just be a design, a web designer who builds somewhat pretty sites and that’s it. It’s, that may have been fine back in 2010, but now you do need to have some sort of value add other than just a pretty website.

[00:36:49] Josh: Um, And some people actually need to go back to that. I found some people are like really good at some other stuff. I’m like, oh my God, your design is terrible. We need to like backtrack and at least get the design aspects in in line. But that is a biggie because I think the enemy, and this goes back to what we were talking about earlier, the enemy of like standing out from everybody else is you just have to be the designer who is not a commodity and is not doing what everyone else is doing.

[00:37:13] Josh: So if you can do anything like that to separate yourself from everybody else and give clients ideas, pump them up, make them aware that you are staying on the up and up and you’re taking this seriously, that separates you immediately. And uh, I think in those down times, what a perfect time to, to share this stuff.

[00:37:32] Josh: And you could share it in a number of different ways. You don’t have to do a consult call. It could be an email, it could be social media, it, whatever it looks like for you. Yeah. Share what you’re learning, I guess, is the key to not be a commodity.

[00:37:46] Shannon: I also feel like, you know, it’s not that you, you probably have like, uh, so much that you know and do and can talk about that already makes you not a commodity, that you’re just not That’s true.

[00:38:01] Shannon: Saying it that way, like that you’re just, that you’re still kind of stuck on, oh, the thing I sell is a five page website with X, Y, Z, and if you can just stop thinking of yourself that way and you can really start thinking about yourself and what you do and what, like the real value of what you do for your clients in a completely different way.

[00:38:24] Shannon: You don’t have to change your whole business to. Reposition yourself. Yeah. You just have to change the way you think about what you do. And of course, you wanna have the skills to back that up or the resources to, to back that up if it’s not your skill. You, you’re connected to people that have that skill.

[00:38:45] Shannon: But I would, I, I wonder what you think about this and what you see with your, your students that they, like they already have it, they just don’t see it.

[00:38:54] Josh: Yes. And I’m so glad you said that, Shannon, cuz now I’m kind of kicking myself for saying what I just said because my intention was not to say that you’re not a valuable web designer where you are and you’re just a commodity.

[00:39:05] Josh: If you’re not, you know, Sharing some other insight and doing that stuff. I think definitely staying up and up are things that you can add to to how you help your clients and make sure they know that. But you’re right, every designer and website designer listening to this right now is probably a hundred times more valuable than you think you are and you know way more than you think.

[00:39:26] Josh: You know, sometimes it just takes talking about it or teaching on it or sharing about it. And, and going back to what I said earlier, again, this is kind of where I’m like, I don’t know if I should have said that, cuz a pretty site is still extremely valuable. If it converts. So let’s say you are that web designer that doesn’t know that much about other stuff, but by golly you can make a nice looking website.

[00:39:47] Josh: Well, maybe that website is nice because it’s converting really well, so you don’t need to do anything new. You can just look at what you know, works for websites with, maybe it’s good headings, maybe it’s strong call to actions. Maybe it’s design principles that work really well. Maybe it’s homepages structures that you’ve seen that have like lower bounce rates and work for clients.

[00:40:07] Josh: You’re probably doing things that you could 100% look at and make that a valuable piece of like educational content for clients. And you could do case studies, like maybe you have 10 clients and two of them, their website is killing it for them. So guess what? There’s two case studies. You could, you could talk to them, you could interview current clients and see what’s working.

[00:40:29] Josh: And um, talk about the project, the before and afters. If you do that, put it on your portfolio, make a blog post out of it, share it. Suddenly you’ve got. Tested results and tried in true practices that you can share all based off what you’ve off of what you’ve already done. So yeah, I really appreciate you sharing that cuz I, I, I by no means meant to make anyone feel like, oh, I’m a nice designer, but that’s not enough because you probably are 100% more valuable than you think you are.

[00:40:57] Josh: Yeah,

[00:40:57] Shannon: I totally agree with you. And the fact that like, just designing a pretty website is not enough. Um, I, I, I a thousand percent agree with you. And I think that, I think that, like designers, I think just what you said, like we think sometimes that that’s all we do. And like, do we,

[00:41:18] Josh: is is it just the way of, the way we phrase it, is that the problem?

[00:41:20] Josh: Yes, exactly.

[00:41:21] Shannon: Like maybe this is how we present it. It’s like, oh, I make pretty websites or I do this technical thing and like, we just think of it as like, this is the service I provide and I. Like, I agree with you that it’s not enough, but I also, it’s not enough to talk about it that way, I guess, is what I’m saying, because I think I am totally in alignment with you there, and what I wanna invite people to do is like, they’re, sometimes things come so easy to you, like designing a pretty website that you don’t really understand, like you’re not thinking past, just like what you said, what that creates for the client.

[00:41:59] Shannon: Yeah. So you can shift into all of the things that you just said about like a case study and evaluating it. If you talk about it like it’s just a pretty website, you are positioning it as a commodity and you’re in control of repositioning it as something really, really valuable. So I think we’re in alignment on that conversation.

[00:42:19] Josh: Ah, I’m so glad you mentioned that, cuz that is, that’s the struggle and, and I think it’s, it’s very natural when you know something well, to undervalue it because Yeah, you just get it, you understand it. You can probably do things pretty quick, but your client doesn’t understand it. They can’t do it pretty quick and they may have to go through years of training to do what you do very quickly in 15 minutes.

[00:42:40] Josh: So yeah, don’t, don’t devalue. What you know and what you can do really well. Uh, and I, I think in your probably situation now as an entrepreneur, Shannon, I know I’m learning this, it’s, it’s that same mentality and for anyone who’s more established, you gotta get to the, if you haven’t already, you’ll get to the point where your information and your expertise and your value is way more important than your time.

[00:43:03] Josh: Like, your time doesn’t matter at some point. It’s what you know and what you can help people with very quickly. Um, so yeah, I feel like early on it’s, it’s easier to understand the value of something when it takes forever to learn it and do it, but then you, you quickly forget that as you get more experience, I feel like.

[00:43:20] Josh: Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to ask you too, um, so we talked a lot about like the dry spells with clients and stuff, but I do think as far as this idea of navigating tough times, we do need to be prepared for like, issues in our business, um, particularly when it comes to technical stuff. You recently had some fun with Stripe.

[00:43:40] Josh: I don’t know how, uh, I love that you’re an open book always. I don’t know how much you’re, you can share, but do you wanna talk about that? Because like we do, I think have to remember there are gonna be times in business where shit happens. Uh, and from a technical standpoint, uh, not that you can prepare for a hack or something like that, but you do have to just know like there’s gonna be some of these things. Would you care to expand on that? Like what happened with you guys? Oh

[00:44:04] Shannon: my gosh. So yeah, I’ll try to make this. You need a drink or something? Succinct as possible. Possible. I might need a beer. This, in the beginning, no. So I, a couple weeks ago I got an email from Stripe saying that they were closing my account due to fraudulent activity.

[00:44:21] Shannon: And I was like, wait a minute, what are you talking about? So I log into the account and I’m looking at my account and I’m seeing nothing. I’m seeing, I’m seeing all the payments that are successful are legit. All of the payments that have failed are like, you know, my customers like, you know, having. Like a failed payment, like on their payment plan or something.

[00:44:43] Shannon: Like everything looks on the up and up. So I’m like clicking around and I’m like, what is this? And I click on in the Stripe dashboard of like, when you log in from your desktop, you cannot see this in your, in your app, there’s a, um, a menu item called Connect. So I click on Connect and I see, uh, six connected accounts.

[00:45:08] Shannon: Connected to my Stripe account. Um, four of them seem to have no activity on them. Two of them are, uh, the name Albert Dawkins of netflix.com and both of them have seven $35,000 worth of successful fraudulent credit card charges on them. And oh my gosh. So I click into those accounts and I see Albert Dawkins netflix.com and I’m like, how did these even get here?

[00:45:39] Shannon: How did this happen? Like, I’m looking, you can see like all of the login locations to your Stripe account. It’s all my house. Like, you know, there’s no evidence of anyone else logging into my account. So I reach out to Stripe and I’m like, um, You’re closing my account, but this person, like my account has been, uh, unth, like fraudulently, acci, like unth.

[00:46:08] Shannon: How am I trying to say this? I get so worked up about it cuz it’s like such a situation. Someone has fraudulently accessed my Stripe account. And I send this to customer service, and they’re basically like, sorry, we can’t help you. There’s been fraudulent activity on your account. We’re closing your account.

[00:46:26] Shannon: And they’d shut my account down. And I was like,

[00:46:28] Josh: why? They actually shut it down like

[00:46:30] Shannon: current. Not only did they shut it down, they started clawing. Okay, so these, let’s talk about where this money went. These $70,000 in fraudulent transactions were paid out to a prepaid debit card via Stripes instant payment.

[00:46:45] Shannon: Uh, feature. So not only did these connected accounts get connected to my Stripe account, I got no notification that these accounts were created. I was never got, I never got any notification, like was never asked to approve them. Mm. No Notification of successful payments, failed payments. That payout options were added.

[00:47:05] Shannon: Zero email notifications of any of this. Now I use Stripe for my business. I get emails about every successful payment on my account. Yeah. Every day. Like that’s how like I see them come through. Like, I love seeing Do you two factor on too? I have two-factor authentication. Um, so finally, after. Many, many days and hours and banging on doors, I finally get a response from Stripe and they say, oh yeah, we rolled your a p i key.

[00:47:39] Shannon: This can happen if your a p i key was exposed. Uh, and, and you are also liable to pay back all of this money to these people that was never paid to you in the first place, and that you were stolen, that was stolen from these people that we never paid to you. But we’re gonna start clawing it back outta your bank account even though we never gave it to you in the first place that we paid.

[00:47:59] Shannon: And these weren’t out to all these, these prepaid debit

[00:48:02] Josh: cards. These weren’t students of yours. These were like random. Nope. It

[00:48:05] Shannon: was card testing, right? So, A fraudulent account set up somehow. My a p i key was exposed. Josh, I’ve used the same, I’ve integrated stripe one time eight years ago with my, with my company.

[00:48:22] Shannon: I’m like, how did my a p I key get exposed? Wow. I don’t just like have it like saved, like somewhere. It’s a, oh, like a. So this, you’re

[00:48:32] Josh: really making me like, wanna go through all my stripe settings Please. And this is probably good reminder for everybody to make sure every security measure use

[00:48:39] Shannon: this. Yes. Go check to see that there are no connected accounts because you will get no notification of this happening.

[00:48:47] Shannon: Wow. Stripe even confirmed to me that they don’t need my login to that. So a bad actor does not need my Stripe login to, to do all of any of this. So was,

[00:48:56] Josh: was that money going into your bank account? Nope. Nope. I guess I’m confused at like what that

[00:49:03] Shannon: money It’s a, it’s like a sub account. Yeah. So it’s like a, a connected account.

[00:49:07] Shannon: I did not know these existed until this happened. Because Yeah. Had be one

[00:49:10] Josh: thing. You’d look in your bank and you’re like, whoa, I’ve got some students here. A serious,

[00:49:14] Shannon: no, they never, the money never came to me in the first place. Okay. The money was like, the money came into this a connected account and it was paid out to a prepaid debit card, Josh.

[00:49:30] Shannon: That this Albert Dawkins character, who’s not real by the way. Cause I filed a Please Report and they like tracked him down, you know. Oh, nice. Yeah. Fake name, fake number. I’m sure. Fake email address. I’m, um, yeah. So Stripe paid out all of this money to a prepaid debit card, and they’re saying it doesn’t matter, but because you use our platform, you are liable for any fraud and we are taking this money from you.

[00:49:57] Shannon: So I disagree with that. I don’t think that’s how that should work. Um, so I am currently, uh, working with my bank to prevent them from debiting me and working with an attorney. Oh, so you’re still in it filing a police report, filing. Um, and I’m, I’m trying, this is the situation though. I’m trying to like figure out like who can help me?

[00:50:19] Shannon: This is where like the challenging part of business happens because, There’s not like a blog post you can read to be like, okay, well what do you do when this happens? And so, so I’m kind of gathering all these resources and I’m, I’m at the time of, uh, this recording, I’m kind of in the middle of Yeah. Like

[00:50:37] Josh: timely this out topic for, we were supposed to talk last week just for reference, but Shannon emailed me and said, going through this, I cannot Yeah.

[00:50:44] Josh: You’re like, I just, if you gonna be

[00:50:46] Shannon: my I’m See now I was like 10 times more. Can see, I’m sure last week, like, I was like, I literally felt like I was gonna lose my whole business last week. I, oh my

[00:50:55] Josh: gosh. And this is wild. Um, so I wonder, uh, a uh, somebody who’s recently on the podcast, who’s a member of Web Designer Pro, and she is a, she’s the only person I know who is a web designer slash attorney.

[00:51:09] Josh: Um, so I wonder, I might get you connected with her if you’re interested, because I wonder if she would’ve some insight on this from like the legal standpoint of like what you are liable for. So after this I’ll connect you guys. Um, yeah,

[00:51:21] Shannon: and this is why I’m like, I’m just telling everybody because I literally don’t know what I don’t know in terms of like who could help me. My local bank has been amazing, like connecting me with resources of, I’m obviously like not using Stripe. Um, I got them to reinstate my account. Okay. I was like this, it was not me. This fraud wasn’t me. Yeah. Cause I got them. Is that where most of your payments? My account. But. Yeah, well see, because they are, they’re paying, they’re, they want me to pay back this money.

[00:51:50] Shannon: Any, uh, payments that they’re taking, they’re just holding in reserve and not remitting to me. Hmm. So I just stopped them from like taking payments for our payment plans. And I am now set, I have now set up a merchant account with my bank, which apparently. Is way different than using a company like Stripe.

[00:52:10] Shannon: Oh. I had to go through a, I had to go through a credit check to get, uh, yeah. An account with them. There’s so much more security.

[00:52:17] Josh: Yeah. I remember that when I was in, when I was in a band, we used a merchant account with Chase and yeah, it was like a whole completely different process. Yeah.

[00:52:26] Shannon: Well, it’s not the easiest thing to like work with, with how I run my business, but I’m so glad that I know how to do this because I was able to like, get everything swapped out and be able to, um, process payments again pretty quickly through this merchant account and we’re just getting our students like moved over to this.

[00:52:44] Shannon: Okay. Gotcha. Um, talk about the value of your skill as a web designer to a business. Um, right. You know, when something like this happens, but. It is just shocking to me that this could even happen. And they are like with, I don’t care if I left my a p I key sitting out for someone to see, which I didn’t. But like there are like the fact that it could happen with no notification, right. To me, as the main account holder is appalling. And

[00:53:16] Josh: so I wonder, I wonder if there’s a way to like prohibit connections within strife or something because now I’m looking at that there’s

[00:53:24] Shannon: there’s not a way to turn it off that I can find. If you find it, let me know. Well, I just look that’s what’s going on.

[00:53:30] Shannon: Wow.

[00:53:30] Josh: Gotcha. Shannon. I mean, honestly, in all honestly, this is a good reminder particularly for like the payment gateway that you have. Like make sure, and I’m not saying you didn’t do this, but make sure every possible. Door is closed and, and yeah, but just double like two factor identification, even though it’s a pain, all the things that we can do.

[00:53:50] Shannon: Have two factor. I have all of these things. I have, you know, I have connected stripe to two, um, like two features or whatever. In the whole eight years that I’ve used them. Literally never had an issue. Yeah. No idea how my a p i key was exposed. Um, you know, it’s not like I’m constantly connecting password things to Stripe.

[00:54:17] Shannon: Do you have any password? I don’t even have my a p i key in a pa in my password manager. Yeah. You know, cause I know like

[00:54:22] Josh: last pass was compromised, which is lovely. That’s what I use. I don’t, this last pass. I know I’m about to pull everything out from there. So

[00:54:28] Shannon: it’s like, it’s like literally I know. It’s like I, here’s, let’s talk about challenges in your business. Like you can. If you, you can go down these rabbit holes of like, how did this happen? Why did this happen to me? And you spent so much mental energy on it that you can like exhaust yourself. Yeah. And

[00:54:49] Josh: well, I’m sure you question yourself. I’m sure you question, sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off, but I’m sure you know, as, as a web design coach, it’s like, how could this happen to me? I’m supposed to be a leader in the tech person. Like when my site got hacked, uh, while I was on my honeymoon back in 2015, and I remember feeling so embarrassed because I didn’t understand security very well at that time. And I was like, I’m here selling websites and my site is hacked. Like

[00:55:12] Shannon: I, ugh. You know what is interesting? That is not a feeling that I felt at all because Oh really? I feel like I absolutely. Like, ha have done everything that I,

[00:55:24] Josh: that’s probably a difference. I

[00:55:25] Shannon: felt like I didn’t, in my, um, in, I, I feel like I had done everything. And I do feel like, and you know, I do feel like Stripe holds some responsibility here. Yeah. In terms of their system allowing with one a p i key keys to the whole entire kingdom with no notifications. Like, that’s not how that should work. Like when I go to connect the things that I use with Stripe, I have to actually like, log in and do like a oh, like a, you know, I don’t, it’s not just plop your a p i key in and like magically things are talking, like there’s authentication that has to happen.

[00:56:04] Shannon: Yeah. And so,

[00:56:07] Josh: I don’t. That’s interesting. So I just looked at the Connect feature. I know we’re getting into the weeds on this, but hopefully this is helpful. Yeah. For everyone using Stripe, which most everybody is on my desk, please

[00:56:16] Shannon: go look at that, connect and see. Hopefully you see nothing in there. I

[00:56:19] Josh: have to enable it. It says get started with Connect, so I don’t know.

[00:56:24] Shannon: Well, mine was already enabled. Interesting. I don’t know. And how someone was able to enable that. I go in and there’s just six accounts sitting there too. Wow. For netflix.com charges from, you can tell it’s card testing cuz they started like 17 cents all the way up to $5,000.

[00:56:44] Josh: Interesting. Wow. Well, We don’t have to go too far down this for the podcast sake, but, uh, yikes. Shannon, I mean, is this one of the worst things you’ve been through as a business owner?

[00:56:55] Shannon: Yes, a thousand percent. And I will share, like as I’m navigating this, I’m thinking about how can I help other people, like a, prevent it b navigated if it happens to them?

[00:57:07] Shannon: Because what is so challenging is even getting someone at Stripe to help me, to listen to me, to see that like I am also a victim in this, uh, scenario. Yeah. Not just the people who had money stolen from them. Um, and to get even to the right person there to to, to guide me to say, how can I dispute this? Um, and they’re like, wait, yeah, you told me they were just not possible.

[00:57:37] Shannon: And, and to just say like, I understand that like a lot of what we do as web designers and online businesses and everything like. Everybody integrates with Stripe and, uh, just so that you’re aware, like this can happen even if you’re like, I really ha, I really did do everything to protect myself. And it still happened that you have to navigate challenges in, in business sometimes.

[00:58:09] Shannon: And I literally, Josh, I was like, why do I put myself through all of this stress for this business? Like, I had the moment in that period where I was like, why do I even do this? Like, I was like, A day job would be easier than this. Mm. And then I was like, snap out of it.

[00:58:27] Shannon: What are you thinking? Like my, I had a coach tell me, or a friend and a coach. Alicia St. Jermaine. She’s like, leaders go first and. You know, if I have to like go first through like one of the most challenging times in my business and figure out how to navigate something like this for the first time so that people can follow behind and like, navigate like the fear of I’m gonna lose everything.

[00:58:56] Shannon: This my, you know, this could be a devastating blow to my business. Um, how am I gonna pay my team if, if I have to like, pay back this money that was never given to me. Like trying to like, solve the problem of like, how am I gonna run my business financially if, if they, if Stripe drains my bank account to pay back the victims of this person who stole from them and just all of that. And I was in a really low place last week and I’m like, okay, well you can either stay there or you can. Stop the bleeding and figure it out.

[00:59:35] Josh: Yeah. How long has this been going on Shannon’s? So we’re recording this on April 20th. Um, April 10th. When did this start? 10 days ago. April 10th. Oh wow. Not even, okay.

[00:59:44] Josh: Okay. LA Literally last week. Okay. Yeah. You know, can I add a silver lining as far as please, the timing on this for you at least? Absolutely. Thank God this didn’t happen during the summit and during your big push when you, oh

[00:59:57] Shannon: my gosh, Josh, because you, I know you just did not totally, I totally agree with you. Here’s what, and let’s just be very transparent, that launch didn’t go as I expected. I did not come anywhere close to my goals, and I think it was supposed to happen that way. Does that make sense? Because what if I was, I don’t know. I’m just like, I would not have the space to deal with this the way that I have.

[01:00:28] Shannon: To be able to I guess this, I needed this to be able to like create the resilience to navigate that keep going and the space I’ve literally dedicated the past 10 days. Not to anything in my business other than showing up for coaching calls, but I calling, going to the bank, calling, you know, all of these things.

[01:00:50] Shannon: And like that would be very challenging to do if I was like, Hey, welcome new students who’ve been here for three weeks. And by the way, like I’m a hot mess express right now.

[01:01:01] Josh: Good boy. Yeah, that would be like

[01:01:03] Shannon: one of the worst things been enroll are like very amazing and like so awesome about it. But like, if it was the number. But if it was on a

[01:01:13] Josh: level of scale, that would be, you know, like if Yeah. Like a normal C circumstance. If you would’ve had to devote most all your time to that new wave, then this would’ve been 10 times as hard probably.

[01:01:24] Shannon: Um, oh. Imagine. Like, oh, hey, all brand new people. I need to convert your payment plan over to something new. You’ve literally just joined. Right, right. This is your first experience with us, and now we have to like go through all of this. Yeah. Wow. So I, I totally agree with you. Silver linings. I have had a lot, uh, uh, like these things bring up your worst fears and then you have to just face ’em if you’re gonna move forward. Like that’s where I’m, that’s

[01:01:51] Josh: where I’m at. Well, I didn’t realize you were still in the thick of it, Shannon. I was hoping by this chat that you would just be past it. So I think by the time this comes out, if it’s resolved, I’ll mention a little update just to, to give everybody an update. But, um, yeah.

[01:02:06] Josh: Well thank you so much for being transparent about that. I mean, this is, yeah, this is a live look. This is like a live case study of, and, and it’s, and again, the, the thing that sucks about this is like, whereas when my got, when my site got hacked in 2015, I didn’t have enough security measures in place and I was also on blue, blue host hosting.

[01:02:24] Josh: Um, you did have all the measures in place, but the reality is I hate to break it to everybody. An online world, you can only do so much. Nothing is ever fully secure. Like, it, it doesn’t matter. Um, I have a. A colleague who’s like kind of a website security expert and he said like, you can get 99%, but there’s always gonna be some sort of vulnerability somewhere for any, anything online.

[01:02:50] Josh: So with Stripe being so popular, yeah. Whew. That’s terrifying. It’s also a good reminder to be good and support if clients are in a tough situation. Um, cuz like you said, you told me Stripe support was not helpful in the slightest. So I’m excited to see your Stripe support sucks blog posts after this, um, to see if that’ll see.

[01:03:13] Shannon: Yeah. And you know, I think one of the most important things in, um, in a situation like this is like, don’t victim blame. You know, like that was one of the, that was one of the responses that I got from Stripe is like, you must have given a bad actor your a p i key. And I’m like, I’m not an idiot. I did not do that.

[01:03:35] Shannon: Yeah. Like,

[01:03:35] Josh: you know, you Yeah. You’re like somebody who, you’re probably of all striped customers, you’re probably on the up and up with. Absolutely.

[01:03:42] Shannon: I’m little more savvy than that. Like

[01:03:44] Josh: Right. You know? Yeah, yeah. On the savvy side. Right.

[01:03:47] Shannon: If, you know, as web designers, like we, we do have a lot of knowledge and we do see our clients making mistakes that, um, that we would advise against. But I would say like, if there’s, if there’s one thing, if someone comes with you and says that they have a major problem and they caused it, you know, I, I still wholeheartedly. I’m like, I did not cause this, but if I did, like, could you have some compassion for that person? Right. It’s not like they did it on purpose, right?

[01:04:18] Shannon: It’s not like they’re, you know, they’re already going through something really challenging and you can be there and be compassionate and guess what? That’s gonna create more clients for you than being like, oh, this idiot. They shouldn’t have pushed the button. Right? Like that type of thing, which I’m sure my clients and your clients, like, we don’t have to say these things to them.

[01:04:40] Shannon: They’re gen like. They’re, they’re good people. But I think that that’s just like the other most infuriating thing of, of this is like, you can see them putting like a hundred miles between like me and their liability for this situation. And well, that makes, that makes sentence that they say,

[01:04:59] Josh: yeah, that makes me wonder if this is a common thing. Like it’s, it sounds like this. If this is a prevalent thing that is going on, then maybe they’re trying to avoid lawsuits and stuff. So yeah,

[01:05:10] Shannon: all, it’s fascinating when you start to read trust pilot reviews and better business bureau reviews. Like how I’m like, oh, huh, fascinating. This does happen way more than, um, than people think that it does. And you know, I just didn’t know. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I signed up with them eight years ago. I’ve never had an issue. Well, who doesn’t? I use

[01:05:30] Josh: Stripe. And here we are. Like it’s, it’s the primary payment gateway that I use. Like Circle. Yeah. Which is what I use for Web Designer Pro. That’s, you use Stripe.

[01:05:39] Shannon: Yep. That’s all they offer. Yeah, probably, I’m

[01:05:42] Josh: guessing as of right now, I think they’re working on some, I still have a lot of, I have some subscriptions through pa, uh, PayPal, some previous ones, and then, um, yeah, on my site you can do credit card or PayPal, but um, yeah, this is, yeah, this is fascinating here, Shannon.

[01:05:57] Josh: I, um, yeah, I don’t wanna keep on dragging this on for you, but I really, I really appreciate you sharing. Um, yeah, we’ll put a cap on this one as far as, yeah, navigating tough times both in dry, keep posted, like, yeah, please keep me posted. And you’re, um, and you’re, what you’re going through, which again, technical problems like this do happen.

[01:06:15] Josh: Uh, it does, and it, and the thing about this is, it doesn’t matter if you’re in web design or not. If you had a dry, cleaner shop, this could happen. And you take credit card, you know, like it could happen to anyone. So, um, yeah, I feel like I need a beer after this. So, uh, I think it’s about time, it’s about, you know, it’s about time here where we are.

[01:06:32] Josh: So, uh, definitely Shannon, we’re, we’re in due for an in-person meetup, so bye golly. Maybe the next one will be at somewhere where we can grab a beer to cheer. So the end of your strike problem sounds great’s done. So let’s plan on that. Well, for right now, for this round, Shannon, thank you so much for your time.

[01:06:46] Josh: And, uh, look, look, the cool thing about you is if I didn’t know you were going through this, I wouldn’t have known, like, you’re not, like, you’re not somebody who is, uh, you’re a seasoned pro. You can tell because you were still able to have this conversation for talking, sharing advice, sharing your tips and stuff, and it was not clear that, uh, you’re going through as much distress as you are. So I have to say, this is a good example of staying pro, uh, when you got some stuff going on.

[01:07:15] Shannon: Yeah. Thank you. And I will share an update because, you know, I do just want everybody to know, like, if this happens to you, here’s what to do.

[01:07:24] Josh: Yes, yes. Well, like I said, I’ll get you in touch with Anne here to see what, uh, basis on the legal front you, you know, you, you’re entitled to and stuff. So this will be coming out next month, so hopefully, hopefully within a month, uh, you’ll have this resolved and we get a positive update. Yep. Cool. All right. Well thank you so much Shannon. Always appreciate you. Everyone in my audience does, and the next talk we’ll have, I hope you have a crazy successful launch and no stripe problems. How’s that sound?

[01:07:50] Shannon: Thank you so much.

[01:07:51] Josh: We’re putting it out there.

[01:07:52] Shannon: I appreciate that.

[01:07:52] Josh: Putting out there in the universe.

[01:07:54] Shannon: Yes.

[01:07:55] Josh: Alright, Shannon, talk soon.

[01:08:01] Josh: There it is. Friends, thank you again to Shannon for being so open and so transparent about what she has went through, what she’s going through, and how she’s, uh, at the tail end of what I hope is the tail end of this situation. We’ll be sure to post an update. Uh, if you haven’t already, make sure you follow me on Instagram, Josh hal slash Instagram.

[01:08:21] Josh: I’m sure we’ll do an update and refer back to this episode. But again, tough times in business. They happen to all of us. Sometimes it’s minor tough times. Sometimes it’s major tough times, whether it’s the type of situation that Shannon’s going through or whether it’s those times where you’re just low on clients.

[01:08:36] Josh: So I hope everything that we talked about help you and those of you who are maybe doing good right now, but eventually you get to a point where you’re low on clients. Hopefully you can remember to refer back to this episode, josh hall.co/two 60. Uh, we’re, we’re diving into these navigating tough times.

[01:08:52] Josh: If you wanna connect with Shannon, make sure you do. So you go to her website, web designer academy.com. You can also go to shannon mad.com. Uh, we’ll make sure those are links linked to the show notes. And again, thank you friends for joining on this episode. Hey, if you enjoyed this, and more importantly, if you feel like some of your friends need to hear this, if you know somebody who’s going through a tough time, but you feel like there’s just light right there at the end of the tunnel, please consider sharing this episode with them.

[01:09:16] Josh: It would mean a lot to me, and I really hope it helps some other people out. So, um, yeah, I think that’s it. Thanks for joining. See you on the next episode.

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