small business

Introducing Process to Profitability

Introducing Process to Profitability | Lemon and the Sea

I'm starting a podcast!

On Process to Profitability, I'll be chatting with creative entrepreneurs and small business owners in every industry about the tools, strategies, and processes that they've used to serve their clients and grow their small businesses.

Since starting my business, Lemon and the Sea, over two years ago, I've discovered the key to building a business that you love and that is profitable is serving your clients and customers really well. 

This is something that I have implemented in my own business and that I've helped my clients set u pin their businesses. Now I'm excited to show you how you can create a business that showcases your heart to serve and still allows you to grow and build a business that fits you and reflects who you are.

Each episode will feature either a guest or will be a solo show with me talking about the processes that I use in my own business. I'm going to encourage to listen and then take what you've learned and apply it to your business in a way that's going to match what you do and the people you serve.

Every one of us is on a unique journey, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from each other. So I'm excited to bring on some amazing guests who can teach you what they have learned over the years and how you can apply that to your own business in a way that works for you.

New episodes will be published every Thursday and I have a great lineup of guests that I'm really excited to share with you.

The show premieres on June 1st and I hope you join me on this journey from process to profitability.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


Why Customer Service Always Matters

Why Customer Service Always Matters | Lemon and the Sea

I looked long and hard for a client management software that fit my needs and was within my price range. For two years of my business, I did without because I couldn’t find something that worked with my process. Then I found Dubsado and I fell in love.

Now this post isn’t about Dubsado – although you should check it out – but about why I decided to sign up with them so quickly. Because it wasn’t the normal reasons I choose a service – I had a system that was working for me and my clients – but because when I signed up for an introduction webinar to walk me through setting up my account, it was led by Becca Berg, one of the creators of Dubsado.

And not only did she lead the webinar, but Becca and her husband Jake are also the people you hear from when you ask for help (in their Facebook group or the Help Center). It was the amazing customer service that I received right from the start that sold me – and reminded me how important serving my clients well really is.

Your Clients are the Basis of Your Business

Whether you’re running a service- or product-based business, your clients are the reason you’re in business. They are the ones who see your talent and recognize that they need you to help them. And they’re the ones how will help your business grow – through referrals, reviews, testimonials, and just sharing about you.

But that means that your clients are also the ones who can bring your business down if you aren’t delivering what you promised. (That sounds ominous, but it doesn’t have to scare you.)

Of course, you will never be able to please everyone. We all have customers who won’t be happy no matter what we do, but if you have a solid base of fans, those few negative voices won’t have nearly the impact you’re afraid they will.

Serving Well Comes before Making Money

My clients are important to me – which is why I’m so passionate that serving them well is more important than making a huge profit. (Plus, clients who enjoy working with you will be happy to pay you.)

Yes, there are those who make lots of revenue with not-so-good customer service, but those are usually short-term gains, especially online where there are so many services to choose from. When a business gets a reputation for treating their clients badly, it spreads quickly and can ruin a small business.

The good news is that great customer service will lead to profitability in your business – but it shouldn’t be your main focus.

Balancing Serving Well and Setting Boundaries

Here’s the problem that most small business have when it comes to providing great customer service – we don’t know where (or how) to draw the line between going above and beyond for a client and being taken advantage of.

Good customer services sets boundaries so that you can do your best work and your client knows what to expect. You can start by setting these boundaries early and continue to reinforce them throughout your time with a client so that you can avoid issues down the road. Consider making your boundaries clear in these areas:

  • On your website
  • In your welcome documents
  • In your contract
  • In your emails (signatures are great for this)

Not sure what kinds of boundaries you should be setting with clients? This is a good place to start:

  • Hours of availability
  • Types of communication (don't give out your cell phone number unless you want clients to text you)
  • Number of revisions
  • Non-refundable deposits
  • Consequences for client not following through
  • Consequences for you not following through
  • How and when you get paid
  • Scope of work
  • How to hire you for additional work

You’ll add your own boundaries as you work with clients and find areas in your business that need to be protected. (For more about setting boundaries, check out this episode of the Being Boss podcast.)

Find a Service Focus

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to be the best at every part of customer service (don’t you wish that was possible), so choose what areas of customer service you will focus on (this will depend on how you like to work and who your dream client is).

  • Extras and gifts
  • Working hand-in-hand with clients
  • Education
  • Becoming friends with clients
  • Connecting people

Your service focus is how you’re going to stand out from the crowd and find your dream clients – because they need exactly what it is that you’re going to help them with.

But remember that even if you focus on serving in one area of business, there are still things that must be done well, no matter the client or business. Efficiency, communication, knowledge, leading your clients, and meeting your commitments are the basis of great customer service and are non-negotiables. (You wouldn’t believe the number of clients who tell me that their previous designer took their money and totally disappeared on them.)

As you become known for your customer service, people will want to share your work to their friends. And when difficult times come – when you might fall behind or miss an email – clients are more likely to be understanding because they know it’s out of character.

To-Do for You: Evaluate your current customer service and see what areas you could improve. Then find ways - like automation and templates - to make that as easy as possible.

* If you're interested in trying Dubsado, you can get started for free. Then, if you love it, get 20% off your first month or year using the code lemon (and I get a free month as well)! I wouldn't recommend it, if I didn't love it.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


Why You Need a Professional Website for a Word of Mouth Business

Why You Need a Professional Website for a Word of Mouth Business | Lemon and the Sea

Have you ever looked up a restaurant you heard great things about only to find an out-of-date website (or no website at all)? I know that I have. And while I may be more picky than most, I usually choose not to eat at that restaurant. It’s not that I don’t trust the person who referred me, but that I like to check things out for myself.

Recently, a client came to me in need of an updated website. Her business was thriving and she was booking new clients faster than she imagined through word-of-mouth referrals, but she wanted to appear more professional when people searched for her online.

Referrals are great – and my business is built on them – but it’s important that you don’t let a word-of-mouth business tempt you into letting your website remain less than professional. (If you’re just starting out, I totally support your DIY-ing it until you’re ready to invest in working with a designer.) You want your website to support the recommendations you’re receiving.

These are a few reasons why having a professional website is so important:

Have a Home

Your website is the online home of your business. And in an age where everyone is searching online, that home needs to reflect what you do and who you work with.

If you’re currently building your business based only on social media platforms, you really need to create a website as well. While social media is a great way to build community and share your work, it doesn’t belong to you. Facebook can shut your account down at any time, even if you didn’t do anything wrong, or they can decrease your reach so you have to pay for ads to continue growing.

A website is something you own and you can change it as needed to reflect your business. You can also use your social media to direct people to your website where they can more easily get in contact with you so that you can find more of your dream clients.

Build Trust

People judge a business based on it’s website. There’s no way around that, so you need to have a website that looks professional and trustworthy.

Your website should reflect your brand, be authentic to your voice, and provide value to visitors so that they can know and trust you before they even get in touch with you about working together.

Building trust can be done is many ways, including:

  • Creating and sharing content
  • Posting consistently
  • Sharing images of yourself (head shots and at work)
  • Featuring testimonials and projects
  • Making it easy to navigate

The best websites will have all of these things, and you should be checking every few months to make sure they are all up-to-date.

Find Dream Clients

A well-designed website will show your dream clients that you’re the perfect fit for them (and it will turn off those not-so-dreamy clients so you don’t have to).

This is where your portfolio becomes really important – you want show work that you want to be hired for, not just every project you’ve completed. Here are a few tips to help you curate a portfolio that gets you hired:

  • Only share work you loved and want more of
  • Include a testimonial from the client along with a head shot
  • Talk about some of the details of what you did and how that benefited your client
  • Include a link to a blog post with more of the story if applicable

You can also make it really easy for visitors to know who it is you work with by telling them who your dream client is. Making a list of things your dream client loves, believes, and does is a great way to do.

The overall goal of your website is to get your dream clients to hire you and to turn others away for you so you don't have to say no.

Share Important Information

We all have information that we would like our clients (or other vendors) to know before they work with us and it can be exhausting to share that each and every time someone asks.

You can use your website (especially your blog) to education clients about the most important information, answer your frequently asked questions, and let people get to know who you are before they hire you.

By sharing this information freely and openly, you let visitors know that you’re an expert in your industry and that you provide even more value if they hire you.

Move to the Future

You can grow and expand a website as your business grows and changes.

They are easy to update (especially compared to paper documents), help you reach more potentials clients, and can help you build an audience over time so that you always have people supporting you.

While you may not know what services you want to offer in the future, a professional website will be able to expand with you so that you aren’t limited by the platform.

To-Do For You: If you don't already have a website, look into Squarespace. It makes it really easy to DIY a website until you're ready to invest in a working with a designer.

If you have a website, but you think it needs some improvements so that you can get hired by your dream clients, book a FREE website assessment with me. During this 20 minute assessment we'll

  • Review your website together
  • Talk about ways you can tweak your website to attract your dream clients
  • Come up with three simple updates you can make today

Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


Why Your Brand Needs to Reflect Who Your Are

Why Your Brand Needs to Reflect Who You Are | Lemon and the Sea: Your brand is so much more than a color palette or logo - it's how you share what you do and how you work. And when your brand is authentic, it's easier and more enjoyable to work in and grow your business.

Your brand is so much more than a color palette or logo - it's how you share what you do and how you work. And when your brand is authentic, it's easier and more enjoyable to work in and grow your business.

Authentic is a big buzzword right now and it's gotten muddled up in lots of ways, but to me, being authentic means that you are being yourself - no faking, no pretending - in everything that you do. Sure, you should probably dress up to meet with clients instead of wearing your yoga pants, but there is no reason to wear a suit if that's not what you spend most of your time in.

As creative business owners, we spend most of our days in our brands.  We're always representing our message - on social media, in our content, while networking, during client communication - so it's vital that your brand be authentic to you.

Your Brand is Sustainable

So why is an authentic brand important? Because it's much more sustainable over time than a brand that doesn't fit you.

When your brand reflects you, it's sharing your bigger why, your message, with the people who are coming into contact with you. It's something that you can talk about for hours because you're passionate about it.

Your brand shouldn't be something you chose because it's trendy or seems like it's what people want from you - those brands fail quickly because the people behind them don't really believe.

And when your brand message is true, you have so much more flexibility in what you're doing because the why stays the same. You can go from offering one-on-one services to courses, or move from client work to education because the basis for what you're doing never changes.

You Brand Supports You

I recently had a meeting with a potential client who is a little different than the people I normally work with. It would have been easy to change my brand and my process to make myself fit into what I thought they wanted, but instead I decided to stick with what I do best. When they asked me to send a proposal, I spent a little time tailoring my sales slides to their needs, but I stuck to my message, my way of working, and my brand.

I'm sure they weren't expecting a teal and gray document full of branded images because most design proposals are fairly boring Word documents, but I knew that if I booked this client based on a proposal that wasn't authentic to my business, I would be starting our working relationship out the wrong way.

The best part of running your own business is getting to decide how you want to work. You set the hours, decide how communication will take place, and set the schedule so that you can serve your clients well. And your brand should support that.

You do a disservice to your potential clients and yourself if you change your brand to fit what you think people want in order to book that big client or attract that wholesale account you've been eyeing.

When you stick to your message, you're going to attract people who believe in what you're doing because they know why you're doing it - and they'll respect you because they know that you're an expert.

Your Brand Doesn't Dictate Your Life

When your brand reflects who you are, it fits into your daily life. You don't have to worry about having the perfect house or always wearing stilettos if that's not you. It also means that if you want to have a Tutu Tuesdays just because you love wearing tutus, you can because it's a part of your brand.

An authentic brand also allows you a lot of flexibility in your business. You don't have to follow industry standards or do what everyone else is doing - you get to decide what works for you. You can shift and change as your business grows and as you learn more about what you're truly passionate about.

And when you show up as yourself in your brand, people know what they're getting when they meet you. We all know people who act one way in front of certain people and another when they're somewhere else (personally, I think that would be exhausting). When you're always putting on a front, people don't get to know the real you - the one that will come out in client meetings or late night emails. But when you're true to yourself from the very start, people feel like they know you before you even meet.

What is your message?

If your brand isn't feeling like a good fit, ask yourself a question.

Is it my brand visuals or my message that aren't authentic?

I've found that often when I'm struggling to feel like my brand reflects who I am, it's has less to do with my logo or color palette and more to do with the fact that I've lost my why.

I want to be known for helping my clients communicate who they are through brands and websites that are authentic, for a process that makes it easy for them to get what they need so they can focus on what's most important - family, and for educating and empowering my clients to have control over their brands.

And it's those three things that help me decide what services or products to offer and how I work to serve my clients and myself best.

So, what is it that you want to be know for?


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


How Lemon and the Sea Got It's Name

How Lemon and the Sea Got It's Name | Lemon and the Sea: The story behind the name Lemon and the Sea

Almost every time I mention the name of my business - Lemon and the Sea - the other person asks me what it means. This happened when I had my first freelance client start writing checks (yes, they still do that) to the business instead of to me, when I registered my LLC, when I opened my business bank account (and found out that the only other company with the name Lemon in the state of Virginia made cookies), and all the time at coffee chats and networking events.

I don't have a big story or grand meaning behind the name - no grandmother that it's named after or childhood business that I played make believe too - so usually I give a generic answer.

"It just came to me."

"I like the way the two words don't seem to make sense, but still fit together so well."

And those things aren't untrue, they just aren't the whole story.

My First Business Name

In 2013, after I graduated from Clemson and was still hoping to find an architecture internship, I decided to create my own portfolio website and name it [SAM]designs. I even still have the html files saved on my external hard drive. Sam is my nickname and my initials, so I thought it was the perfect name that would allow me to share all kinds of design - from my architecture work to the side projects I was doing since I graduated,

I was all set to launch that website, but when I went to buy the domain (my very first), [SAM]designs and all it's variations were taken. I knew enough then to know that I couldn't have the same name as someone else, so I made a simple website on Wix, launched it, and kept working as a administrative assistant.

How Lemon and the Sea Really Got It's Name

Then in 2014, because I was always reading blogs and doing DIY projects for our apartment, I decided to start a blog (my second - the first had one post about my review of Romeo and Juliet). I loved the idea of creating a little extra income by sharing my projects online and hoped that I could share our journey through unemployment (I clearly had no idea how making money from blogging worked).

As I was laying in bed thinking about all the projects I could share, the name Lemon and the Sea popped into my head. I honestly have no idea why those words or that timing, but as I kept thinking about creating that blog, I couldn't get the name out of my head.

God had given me this name and I knew that I had to use it. I started with a logo - I sketched out the lemon and wave design, chose colors I loved, and kept playing with it until I loved it. It was the most difficult thing I had ever designed in Adobe Illustrator up to that point, but I created a logo I loved and that fit me.

From DIY Blog to Business

Once I had a logo design, I decided to jump in with both feet and actually purchase a domain and start posting through Wordpress. My first blog post was about some how I had painted candle holders as Christmas gifts.

At the time, I didn't have much to post because I was living in Pennsylvania working and searching for a job so that I could join my husband in Richmond. 

Eventually, after six months of living apart, I decided that it was time to join Jay even though I didn't have a job yet. Instead, I started freelancing for the company I had just left and starting researching how to make money online. In a small apartment with no room for a workshop, I knew I couldn't keep up a DIY blog, but I started sharing all kinds of posts - recipes, design, home decor.

Over time, I learned - from webinars, reading other blogs, and trying things out - how I could turn my little blog into a real business by offering graphic design services. In the summer of 2015 (right before I left for a week long vacation with my family), I got my first inquiry from someone who was interested in a logo design.

That one didn't work out, but I was hooked. I knew that I could turn my skills and passion for helping other people build businesses that supported them into something that could support my family and that I would be excited to spend time on every day.

And the rest, as they say, is history

Just kidding. Running my own business is a constant experiment. I'm learning how to market my services, how I can best serve the people I want to work with, and refining my skills in design and administration.

But the name Lemon and the Sea has kept my going through it all because I know that God gave me the name for a reason  and that He's still at work in my business and my life. That's why I haven't considered changing the name or giving up when things get tough - I know Lemon and the Sea has great things to accomplish.

How did you name your business?


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.