Sioux Falls Leadership Summit 2021

The SME Sioux Falls Board of Directors and the Sioux Falls Leadership Summit Committee did an amazing job putting together the Sioux Falls Leadership Summit that was finally able to take place this month! It was a HUGE success with an outstanding amount of attendance.

John Maxwell, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, world-renowned leadership expert and headlining speaker of the event was full of life tips, shared years of knowledge and inspired the entire audience. He especially reminded me that everything worth working hard for is an uphill. It’s not easy. Not only that, but consistency is truly key. Consistency … although, not a sexy word or most attractive trait, it is most important when working for your life goals. Consistency compounds. You need to not only work hard, but you need to work hard EVERY DAY.

John was very careful to speak to the entire audience, but also hinted at his underlying beliefs with his strong faith as an evangelical Christian. This made me relate and understand his message on an even deeper level.

I thoroughly enjoyed the event. It was inspiring – leaving me refreshed and motivated to work even harder.

It was a great event and I am already looking forward to SME’s next event!

Moving Forward After the Pandemic

If there is one lesson that entrepreneurs quickly learn, it’s to keep moving forward. This last year has been a tough one to get through. However, as the relentless creatures entrepreneurs are, many have found ways to actually benefit from the situation or have already started rebuilding from it.

Being resilient and learning to go full throttle during tough times is how I was born and raised – and is how I run my businesses today. For example, during the pandemic my family and I had to put our heads together for our bar and restaurant here in our local small town. We were forced to close our dining area, yet we actually increased profits by offering pick-up and then adding delivery as a paid service. We used the opportunity to create a whole new menu and we used our off-sale beer license to deliver beer at our customer’s homes and businesses! We came out with higher profits than we would with our dining area closed, we earned an extra stream of income from delivery service charges – and we even received hefty tips! I was so proud of how we handled the situation, something I will never forget. Now we have since opened our doors and business is back running as usual. However I wonder if we should have ever got back to normal, every time I go to any fast food restaurant I’m still amazed to see their doors to dining are still shut and their drive up is packed with cars wrapped around the block. Brilliant actually. They are now operating with less staff, less house keeping and less menu items that allows them to cut their cost and increase profits on a huge scale. We might not all be happy about it as customers, but as long as the franchisees can get away with stretching their profit margins – we will definitely not see it change any time soon. Other businesses, especially in the health industry, have done very well as a result of the pandemic.

However, there are other businesses that have not done so well. Some of our non-profit organization clients, for example, whom completely rely on fundraising events to survive have almost gone extinct. Even if they could create an event environment with all the precautions to allow for people to feel more safe at the event, the chances of getting volunteers to put themselves at risk are little to none.

In my opinion, one of the worse effects of COVID-19 that I have seen is the devastating plummet of unemployment. According the the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) the unemployment rate has dropped 30%. This has resulted in shortages in food, manufacturing and household income across the nation. Not to mention those businesses that are already struggling – are now struggling to find employees. This puts a huge halt on the rebuilding process.

My digital marketing company has had it’s struggles too. Because of the instant loss of income from clients forced to close doors, I was obligated to lay off my full-time employee. Shortly after, I chose to leave my full time office building because all the meetings have gone online – and with no employees it was overhead that I just didn’t need. I picked up all the work myself … again (as I’ve done off and on for twenty years in the business, sometimes having employees and sometimes not). But the positive side was with the amount of money I’m saving, profits of course have increased.

So now, it’s time to move forward. That will mean different things to different company owners. Perhaps we now recognize ways to cut costs and increase profits. Maybe we created new products or services we can offer. Or perhaps we found a completely new path to take for our business. Whatever it means, we need to keep moving forward in our personal life – and our business. This reminds me of Walt Disney’s quote stated before the credits on the Disney film “Meet the Robinsons” –

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

No Support from Tech Leaders Slows Workflow

COVID-19 has thrown almost every small business in an unpredictable whirlwind. Downtown Design, LLC is no exception. Our staff and myself has struggled with keeping up with the demand of clients needing emergency COVID-19 responses on websites, keeping some of restaurants and shopping center clients alive by adding online ordering, not to mention our own personal lives making time to homeschool children and help our local community – but the most challenging part is the much slower response we are getting from our tech leaders that play an everyday vital role in getting our client’s projects done. We have had multiple tech and support issues with Google, Paypal and Facebook. Some of these issues include being unable to reach support, extremely slowed servers, connectivity issues, being unable to post – and even unable to login entirely. We are working around the clock to keep up with our demand, however with these leaders not being able to be responsive constant troubleshooting causes much more time and energy, therefore increases wait times and overall costs. We ask that our clients are patient and understanding during this time. Rest assured we are working around the clock to respond to as quickly as possible. We thank all our clients for their business, it means everything to us. We wish everyone to stay safe – we believe our business and entire economy will come out stronger than ever.

Creating Opportunities During a Pandemic

“Is this real life? What is happening?!?” The global pandemic COVID-19 seemed to come out of nowhere and sent us for unbelievable whirlwind of very unexpected turns. High hopes for the new year of 2020 has quickly turned upside down to gloom and doom. People are dying. Stock markets are plummeting. Shoppers are hoarding. Individuals are quarantining. Events are canceling. Schools are closing. Finally, businesses are shutting down. Employees are being sent home. Many are losing their jobs. The small business owners take a huge it – some aren’t going to make it. Everyone seems to be effected. Many of us that were not taking this so seriously in the beginning are finally being taken down with the storm. We are all scared. Seems like so many of us were doing so well just a week ago. It was so sudden. Our businesses are losing the battle. My clients are scared, they are weeping in anger and fear. This was not in our first quarter plan.

So now what? As a business owner of three very different types of businesses, I really saw first-hand how much damage an epidemic could do. I don’t want to get into too much detail, but we have been cutting major costs, problem solving and crunching numbers around the clock to see what we could do to stay alive. Everything took such a huge hit, I wasn’t sure if we would be able to recover. The absolute hardest was our restaurant and bar. The county mandated for doors to be shut down. Not being able to serve our customers meant absolutely no income for weeks, maybe even months. How could we possibly get through this? Within a couple days, I watched each restaurant in our small town having to shut down, closing their doors … one by one. I was determined that there was a way we could come together and make this work. I knew there had to be a creative solution. Then like a ton of bricks … it hit me. We can do DELIVERY. Now this was not new. I quickly researched the companies that already existed that did fast food delivery. However, none of them available in our small town, but with my website abilities I knew there was a way to create one. That’s when “Local Diners Deliver” was born. I was fired up and in three days had the plan, the brand and the website done. I wanted others to join but started with our own restaurant first … we launched and it was an immediate success! We are now open for business and ramping up our online sales for pick-up and delivery. We have had great feedback and we hope to continue to grow.

I truly believe you can take almost any situation and make it good. Sometimes it takes some creativity, but if you look hard enough, you’ll find that new opportunity.

Check out the website at: www.DinersDeliver.com

Top 10 Website Designer of Minneapolis Award

We are so excited to announce that we have been chosen to receive the “Top 10 Website Designers Serving Minneapolis” from Expertise! They scored ux designers on more than 25 variables across five categories, and analysed the results to find the list of the best ux designers in Minneapolis, MN. They base their results using 5 main factors: reputation, credibility, experience, availability and professionalism.

1. Reputation

A history of delighted customers and outstanding service.

2. Credibility

Building customer confidence with licensing, accreditations, and awards.

3. Experience

Masters of their craft, based on years of practical experience and education.

4. Availability

Consistently approachable and responsive, so customers never feel ignored.

5. Professionalism

Providing service with honesty, reliability, and respect.

We came in at as one of the Top 10 to be chosen, thank you so much to the team at Expertise for putting this together!

https://www.expertise.com/mn/minneapolis/user-experience

Anoka office plans to move to Elk River, MN

The Anoka office is on the move again. Last month MNDOT announced the reconstruction of the Hwy 10 and Main offramp reconstruction. These plans would include taking down our current building to place a new, safer offramp from Hwy 10. No one knows for sure when the construction will actually take place, but we’ve decided to be proactive and move out in the warm months to make the transition much easier. We plan on finding a smaller, shared space in Elk River but for now we are still working in between our Clark and Minneapolis office … and any coffee shops in between. We are lucky to have a business that we can work from almost anywhere. We are also starting to do much more work onsite at our client’s locations. This helps our clients to be able to have their entire team involved without leaving their office. We found this lowers the end costs, increases production and saves a ton of time lost in the communication time of replying back and forth. It’s a great solution, but we still want an office as a basecamp and we feel like Elk River is a great place for that new location.

You can learn more on the City of Anoka’s Project Overview page: https://clients.bolton-menk.com/hwy10/

Best Website Designer in the Business

One of the biggest things that makes Downtown Design the best in the business is our friendliness, honesty and integrity. Our account reps are not the pushy sales types, using scare tactics to demand loads of money from our clients – we simply listen to our clients needs, offer our suggestions and deliver what we promise. To accomplish this with every client, every time -we have a full-time project manager to make sure every project moves smoothly; full-time talented website designer on staff; and a variety of account representatives that follow-up on every project to assure that we are meeting and going above and beyond our client’s exceptions. We have perfected a step-by-step process to complete each project successfully using clear communication from beginning to end. This is why we gain many clients from our competitor’s clients reaching out for a better solution and after we earn their business we proudly hold a 98% retention rate.

This is why are tagline is, “Big City Quality & Small Town Service”

Website Design Agency Now in Minneapolis

We’re excited to announce as of October we now have an office space for our website design company in Minneapolis, MN! It’s a shared space with other creatives, named “Fueled Collective”. It’s located in Minneapolis right in the heart of “Nordeast,” the city’s vibrant arts district nestled within a historic, century-old restored building. This sunlit, productive shared workspace offers both private suites and semi-private campsites perfect for meeting with potentially new and existing clients, as well as dedicated desks for for us to work at during the day. There is WordPress Wednesday to share knowledge among experts plus other creative marketing events for all of us to learn, share and grow. Additionally, there are microbreweries, art galleries and ethnic restaurants abound in this part of town, making it a solid social destination as well.

We’ve always marketed as a website design agency in Minneapolis – so we love this opportunity to be able to play … ahem I mean work … with others in the industry in such a creative and inspiring work environment right downtown. This also offers convenience to meet with clients located closer to downtown and the southern suburbs.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Original website designer of Clark, SD – Showcasing new office at Potato Days!

Since May, 2018 Downtown Design, LLC has quietly created a second home next to Backroads Floral in the heart of the small town of Clark, SD where I grew up and also where our new amazing and talented administrative executive, Nichole DeLauriers lives with her husband and children. Not only does this allow for me to work during extended visits back to my hometown and allows for our admin to have a basecamp for working and to host meetings, but also I am hoping to bring affordable, technical and professional marketing options to the local businesses in the area. I’m not sure how well it will go over, but if we can help the businesses here to grow, I would love to continue to pop-up in more rural areas in the midwest.

The particular building surely feels like a home, as it once was … but has been used as an office for the Clark Abstract & Title Company location for the last couple decades. Reidburns, owner of Backroads Floral has purchased the building upon moving on the block, as it is nestled between their beautiful store and their newly built quaint little greenhouse. We have been working on giving it a facelift, painting the walls and we plan on getting new flooring in a couple months. It’s really worked out to be the perfect location that we were looking for, making it a great local place to come to work everyday.

This last weekend was Clark’s famous ‘Potato Days’ event and we were fortunate enough to be included in an event that allowed many to walk through the door so they could take a look at our office and I could explain who we are and what we do, ask them to follow-us on Facebook and give us any referrals for business owners in the area. The event had a great outcome, I couldn’t have asked for a better turnout!

I’m just so glad I have spent as much as the summer as I can here in Clark, but this fall I will be going back to stay in the cities with my husband, coming here for smaller periods of time including weekends. Thankfully technology allows Nichole and I to work just as effectively using chat and video throughout the day.

Now that the Clark, SD office is up and running, it’s time to go back and finish getting my new Anoka, MN office up to speed. The Anoka office is our main office so I have big plans for that location that include collaborating with other creative professionals, hosting training events for local business owners, growing our personal team and finally changing our huge sign from “Sign Station” to “Downtown Design” – the future is exciting!

– Christy Huisenga, Owner
Downtown Design, LLC

Original Website Designer of Anoka, MN – Celebrating 3 Years in Anoka!

Since Downtown Design, LLC (previously named Phoenix Web Design, LLC) moved to downtown Anoka in 2015, I’ve absolutely loved getting to know the hard-working and passionate business owners in the area. Whether it be a business to business, or a business to consumer venture, being an entrepreneur has is ups and downs. Trust me… I’ve had them both! But at the end of the day, the business location is about the community. My business has been located in several locations over the past couple decades including Maple Grove, Coon Rapids and Ramsey, MN – but I’ve always been passionate about Anoka, MN. It’s high-energy, rustic and corky personality attracts all walks of life, especially the Halloween loving artist like me. The last 3 years we’ve bounced around from Jackson Street, East Main Street and now we’ve landed on West Main Street, across the Highway from Greenhaven’s Golf Course and right next to Pinewski’s Ski Shop. But now we’re not the ONLY web designer in town, two more website designers popped up in both of our old locations – a little awkward, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?! I guess. However, our third and hopefully last move made perfect sense. Not only was it the economical choice for us, but I fell in love with the stand-alone building, without being charged for parking tickets, because … those get out of hand quick … but we also were able to rent from – and sublease with direct clients. To top it off, the biggest plus was the best exposure to Highway 10 and Main Street in Anoka. So we really got the best end of the deal. We are so happy there and we’re excited to stay as the original website designers of Anoka, Minnesota and plan on being here for years to come. If you are interested in learning more about creating a new website or building a ground-breaking marketing campaign for your company, please call us at 763-401-4141.

– Christy Huisenga, Owner
Downtown Design, LLC

 

Featured Image: Christy (myself) excited about moving my company on our first office in Anoka on Jackson Street in 2015