For those who are not familiar, can you tell us a bit about how Go Live HQ got started?
After marrying my husband Brian in 2009, I decided to skip out on the corporate world and go out on my own as a freelance graphic and web designer. Following the rapid success and high demand, I assembled a design team in 2012 and we began hosting in-person events to help creative entrepreneurs by the masses to build, design, and launch their website in two days flat.
As the team started expanding, I felt like it was appropriate to move the name from Promise Tangeman Creative to something that people would want to join and work for. We adopted the name Go Live HQ because I love that we started with our workshops and launched quickly - something really needed in the industry. It really became our MO and way of operating here.
Now, in 2018, the business has transformed into a website template shop and custom site design resource. We create tons of resources and education for entrepreneurs and small business owners on our blog and in the form of Clarity Calls.
Did the vision for Go Live HQ change as the company grew? Is there anything that surprises you about how the company has evolved over the years?
The vision for Go Live has remained the same: to launch quickly. I will say that it has been interesting to see our clientele group grow and expand. Originally, we did start off working with a lot of work for photographers since that was the niche I started off in. Now, we’ve grown in a huge way working with small businesses, bloggers, coaches, authors, you name it! And that’s really just because the internet has expanded to be able to create online businesses for just about anyone.
It’s also been fun to work with influencers and big names in the business as we’ve grown and gotten more and more attention. We have found that designing for big-name clients with an influence is the best way to continue to get clients and customers. It really trickles down.
Can you describe the philosophy behind your business?
We believe in serving creative girl bosses quickly so that they can get out from behind the launch and the setup that holds them back from doing what they were made to do. Launching quickly means you can be in business faster and get to doing what you love faster. Our designers are dedicated to the client full-time for the entire Design Week - clients will get that one-on-one attention that gets them a site within 5 days. When we sell a Website Template, we are empowering someone to completely change their lives, have more freedom, and ultimately do what they love.
Most other design firms take 6 months to a year to brand and design, and honestly, we don’t believe in waiting for that in 2018. Your website is your digital front door. You can’t wait that long to open. Our fast process is what sets us apart.
What does a typical day in the office look like?
Is there a typical day?? As the CEO and Creative Director, I’m most often managing my team as they kill it from all corners of the continent, and that can look so different depending on what we’re working on! If I’m working with my Brand Strategist, Danielle, we are working with our custom clients and our designers and moving them through our intake and onboarding process. If I’m working with my Communications Strategist, Hunter, we’re working on blog, social media and marketing content for the whole year! I also take on Clarity Calls with people who need more direction in their business, so I block out one afternoon a week to take those call to talk design, marketing, and business strategy. Oh, and then there’s that pesky email inbox.
How do you create a positive office environment and team culture while keeping everyone motivated through big projects?
Easy **holds up a glass of wine** :)
We always have good music playing in the office, for one! But, in order to have a team culture that you love working in, don’t hire lazy people! I need to have do-ers on my team. I hire people who I know will work hard and take responsibility for their tasks. I also make sure that none of us are above any task. Since we’re a small business, we believe in having all hands on deck if necessary even if that may seem “below” your position or not in your wheelhouse. We just work to get the job done! At the same time, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
I’ve also found in managing a team that I’m really not a manager. That’s not my leadership style and it’s not my passion to monitor and manage people. I’d rather hire people who feel like they are working WITH and ALONGSIDE me than for me. My biggest tip in finding people like this is to hire people that you would want to work for.
When you work with clients, do you typically see repeat clients or do you tend to only work with them once? Why do they hire you? What kind of projects are you working on?
People who hire us are typically looking to pull the trigger. We’ve heard people who go through a year or more of branding and design and then don’t even end up loving the final product, or by the time the final product is finished, it already needs changing. We believe in the words of Amy Poehler, “Great people do things before they are ready.”
Most often, we work with clients on a one-time basis as we don’t offer website maintenance. We specialize in a fast 5-day design week that gets the client launched and live within a week. We will, however, have clients come back to us a few years down the road who are looking for a rebrand or a brand lift as their business, target market, or product offerings have changed. We love taking on these projects because, in the world of web, you do have to expect to almost constantly be changing and adapting.
At the end of the design week, we always have a website training session with the client - no matter how big they. As an entrepreneur in today’s world, you have to have the power and the wherewithal to change your website in the moment and to make edits as your business grows and expands.
I really loved working for GirlBoss and Workparty. Not only was the design process fun, but we love working with people, companies, and movements like this. They really champion women in business and women entrepreneurs and that’s exactly who we work with.
When you design a custom site for clients, what does the workflow look like?
We love workflows at Go Live! We just have been in the process of refining and buttoning up our client processes with Dubsado.
Typically, a client will contact us via a contact form on our website, and we’ll get in touch with them for a call to make sure we’re a great fit for them. Once we have determined that we are a good fit, they start the party with our 5-Part Brand Assignment. For clients who need more direction, we have them hop on a strategy call with Promise to figure out the best way to position their brand or business. They fill out everything we need to know to create their site from their business name to what they want on their menus to their copywriting to their photos.
After they complete the Brand Assignment, our Brand Strategist checks out all of their submissions. Once that’s completely ready to go for the designer, we set up our client with one of our amazing in-house designers. They start the week with a complimentary wordmark logo and a mood board to get everyone on the same page, and then move onto the big task of the homepage. After client approval, we move onto the interior pages and finish out the design week.
What do you think the 3 most important aspects are to a successful business?
Only 3?? This is tough. I’ll go with 5.
Mission - the heart of your business had to be right and worth it
Integrity - you have to treat people the way you want to be treated and do things the right way
Hard Work - especially in those early days, you have to work hard and hustle to get your dream off the ground
Scalability - this is a more technical thing, but you need to make sure it’s feasible for your business to expand and grow beyond just your time. If your business is only custom work, your business will reach a stopping point because you aren’t able to expand your time. Maybe that’s selling smaller, templated products like we do, or selling some other form of byproduct.
Uniqueness - You either have to be unique or find a unique niche to sell to
What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
Helping people launch what they love and ultimately being able to - with a website - make changes to someone’s business which makes a huge impact on someone’s life. We’ve heard about how our templates or our custom work has helped single moms triple their business and provide for their families, or help women quit the job they hate, pursue what they love, AND their husband gets to quit his job he hates and join his wife’s business - all while making more money and having more freedom. How amazing is that??
What is the most challenging aspect of your business? How do you overcome, learn, and grow from it?
CONSTANT change. I used to say, “I can’t wait to get to the place where my business doesn’t feel like it’s in transition.” However, I’ve now come to realize that’s never going to happen with an online business. When technology and the internet change constantly, your internet business has to also shift and change with it.
Tell us about the most common challenges you see creatives facing. What steps do you recommend for overcoming them?
I think one of the challenges creatives face is fear. They are fearful about just starting out and going for it! If we could encourage anyone, it would be to just start even if that’s on a small scale. If you’re trying to be a graphic designer, start designing! Start designing and start posting about what you’re doing, and once people see that you’re actually working, that’s when they’ll hire you. If you’re a photographer, run out with your camera and take photos when you can on the side and post to make it look like you’re busy! People want to see that you’re actively doing what you say you’re doing.
What advice do you have to give creatives that are feeling insecure or unsure about their decision to forgo the corporate world for something more freeform and entrepreneurial?
Not to be a Debbie Downer here, but working for yourself is NOT for everyone!! If you haven’t jumped ship yet, I would recommend not jumping in cold turkey. Start your side hustle. Get it to the point where it could take over your fulltime job, and then quit!
What makes me nervous about people who just quit their steady job are the people who have not even tried or started doing what they want to do creatively, so they don’t even know if they will enjoy working for themselves. Being a creative entrepreneur is no joke and no easy road. You are managing your own time and managing your own team if you’re there. You bring your work home with you. You’re constantly thinking about it all the time. It can tend to be all-consuming.
Is there anything you wish you had known at the start of your career as a creative entrepreneur?
This might be another Debbie Downer one :)
In the early days of working for myself and people asked to collaborate, I was way too trusting. I found that when money is involved, you really have to watch your back because people don’t have your best interest in mind. You want to think they do, but often they don’t! If someone is extending an opportunity to you, there will always be more to gain on their end.
As a smart businesswoman, you just have to be smart about making decisions, and then make sure to offer the same respect that you hope to receive to people you reach out to. Some people could be really bitter and jaded toward that, but that’s something you have to recognize is real and then be an agent of change.
As a last bit of advice: it’s essential for any business owner to craft a Brand Bio. This is seriously the tip we give every time because we just believe in it SO much. It’s a formula to craft a concise statement that explains exactly what you do - whether that’s personally, or for your brand or business. We recommend putting this little statement EVERYWHERE - on the top of your site, on your social media bios, etc - so that people know what you do within moments of landing on your website or socials.
Promise Tangeman is the CEO and Creative Director of Go Live HQ, a website design company that builds easy-to-use customizable website templates and fast-launching, beautiful custom sites. She’s a professionally trained graphic and web designer (with over 10 years of experience) and a certified digital marketing strategist. You can usually find her working at her desk blasting LANY on her Spotify with a La Croix in-hand.
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