Did you see the response Liz Strauss gave to my latest one2one conversation question? I asked her how she keeps clarity in her business?

clarity in business and in life comes from knowing where I've been, where I'm going, and what I value on the days that tragedy strikes…

It’s a great read.

So what question did Liz ask us at the end of her post? Well, it’s a goodie…

What do YOU wish for your business when it grows up?

one2one-sm.gifHave you ever thought about it that way? Have you ever considered that your business, like your life, goes through stages of development?

A mastermind partner asked me a few months ago where on the human development scale I considered my business. I told him that my business was in its late twenties.

Having been a web designer for more than decade, I’ve certainly grown from infancy and toddlerhood. About 4 years ago, I’d say, my business was in its early teens – where I was growing out of just being a child and now taking on greater responsibility.

That’s also the time I was transitioning from being just a website designer to a full-spectrum, web-based business developer. And that’s what really brought my business into its latter teenage years. Now, rather than just building websites for my clients, I began teaching them how to use their websites to actually grow their business. That was a huge step in my development – just as our teenage years are.

I’d say it’s about two years ago, as I began doing more consulting, coaching and teaching – without necessarily building a website – that I entered my early twenties. Now, I had some direction and was branching out into something new, yet I was a bit raw in my approach.

Then along comes blogging and social media. Having been someone who built a successful business simply from growing and nurturing mutually beneficial relationships, it was natural to take to blogging. But the rate my business has expanded has been a surprise. It’s changing rapidly. That’s why I say my business is in its late twenties – time of the Saturn Return (I just wish there was a better name for it).

As my business prepares become thirty, I continue to refine what it is I can do most best for my clients. I’m a fine web designer and a pretty good coder – and I’ll continue to build websites for the foreseeable future.

Yet anyone I speak with quickly learns that my real talents are in consulting with, coaching and teaching my clients how to use the web to meet their business needs. After all, what good is having a website or a blog if it’s not producing results for you? What’s worse is what’s the point in spending lots of money for a beautiful design that gets you little or no return.

What I’ve found is that while most people have or want a website, few really know how to use it to grow their business. They buy a site, or put up a blog on TypePad, write some copy and wait. But there’s more to do – more to understand – than just putting out a website. That’s where I can help.

So how will this mature? Or in Liz’s question – what do I wish from my business when it grows up?

If I look backward from the future, I’ll have taught countless businesses how to use the internet and social media to engage in conversations with their target market that lead to mutually beneficial relationship and increased profits. While my focus market has been solopreneurs who are ready for a large increase in business, I’ve also helped a variety of larger companies create strategies for building stronger relationships with their customers.

Personally, I do most of my work by phone or computer (or whatever cool new device Apple creates) which has given me ample time to be a good husband and a very hands-on father. I have traveled a bit for work, though not too much and I often take one of my kids with me so they can see what I do (okay, really for more bonding time).

My home life is relaxing and gentle. I often begin my days with a brisk hike in the mountains behind our home or a paddle in the lake a few miles away. And more than anything, I have a nice separation between my home life and my office life. Though we do take longer vacations from time to time when I work a few hours while we’re away just to keep my clients moving forward.

I don’t see myself ever really retiring. Though at some point I’ll likely decrease the number of clients I work with at any one time. I’ve worked hard and made a nice, comfortable amount of money, but I haven’t sacrificed my family nor recreation to get there. Looks like I just found the next evolution of my business…

…Back to today, I do have a blog design to finish for a client who’s wants to hire me for the next six months as her blog coach. See how this all begins?

So, my question to Liz (and to you) is:

How can social media/blogging help businesses stay� customer-centered?

If you got this far in reading, I’d love to carry on this conversation in the comment box. I’ll kick it off, and please join me.�

Reader Interactions


  1. David Airey :: Graphic Designer says

    That was a great read, Dawud. It’s always interesting to go through these little insights into your business life, and I can fully understand why you’d make a great teacher.

    For me, teaching is all about engaging people. Allowing and prompting the interest to thrive within them. Your conversations here are testament to your methods.

  2. Jean Browman says

    How does Timothy Ferriss’ concept of passive income fit into your plan? And what about outsourcing? You have a great deal of expertise and experience now, what about hiring someone to turn it into a book so more people can benefit from your knowledge and basic approach?

  3. Carma Dutra says

    Dawud, this is an interesting analogy.

    My writing business is my second career and is in its infancy. I am just learning to crawl.

    However, I also have another business that has repeated the 12th grade for a number of years and if it doesn’t go on to college and perfect its trade, then it will be stuck forever more in the minimum wage pool and will have to rely on social security, which we all know will not sustain us.

    It is time to take it into the future but it is a little difficult to perform a balancing act between the two since I am favoring my writing career and want it to be one to fill in the gaps.

    My first business is my “day job”. Can’t quit that yet. 🙂

    So, I have to play favorites with my children and one will no doubt suffer from my neglect. I want to let the oldest child down gently and not toss it out like rubbish.

    I want my first business to be able to retire gently and I want my new business to surpass all the benchmarks of the first.

  4. Dawud Miracle says

    Thanks. Being able to teach people just seems to be something I have naturally. Of course I say that now and watch me fumble with the next couple of clients that hire me.

    What do you think the biggest gift you bring to your clients is?

    Ah, thanks for following along. That’s great.

    Is there something you can do, something small, each day, that will help propel your writing business? Give it some thought and let us know.

    Book…maybe. Really my gift seems to be in the interactions with people. I’m not sure how that could be captured in a book.

    I take a different approach to outsourcing and passive income than Ferriss does. I’m not looking to stop working directly with people – as most web-based business owners do. Instead, I’m looking to establish my expertise in a way that’s more and more refined. I see the value in outsourcing, but only certain tasks for me at this point.

    And, as I’ve said before, I never take an idea wholly. I picked what I like from Ferriss.

  5. LaurenMarie - Creative Curio says

    Dawud, one of the reasons I started blogging was to work on my writing skills (to make the message clearer) and to be able to communicate and understand design more effectively by teaching it. I probably wrote that down in my blog journal 5 weeks ago and here you are mentioning it as a seasoned writer! I guess I’m on the right track there.

    The life you’ve created for yourself both personally and professionally sounds wonderful, like a dream come true for you! Do you find it to be a bit of a struggle sometimes to put down work, especially if it’s pressing, to spend quality time with family?

  6. Jean Browman says

    I thought your kicking off the discussion by including your comment first was a nice touch.

  7. Katie says

    Dawud, though I am probably 20 years your senior, our work and home lives are surprisingly parallel.

    I started my business as a second career, and would say that after 11 years, it’s in its 40’s, and I find myself looking at some new directions and ideas lately.

    I live in a beautiful mountain town where I, too, start my days with a hike and get in some paddling as often as possible.

    I love how this working from home blends with my personal interests and goals. In fact, it’s because I am an individual contractor that I have been able to craft a business that is client-centered while still satisfying my need to have a lifestyle that isn’t dominated by my job.

    In the years since I have been self-employed, I have come to be grateful for the blessing that comes from living in a modest neighborhood in a home that is paid for. And to be driving a vehicle that gets my dog, my kayak, my hubbie (when he has time) and me here and there, from the lake and back.

    Learning to live a simple debt-free life as a result of a great client base gives me much to give thanks for. I guess both my business and myself ARE grown up, and it’s a good place to be.

  8. Dawud Miracle says

    My life is pretty good. And please, remember, it’s not without trials and effort. I think I’ve just learned over the years to manage my internal state as life throws its curve balls.

    I love your writing, by the way. What are you plans?


    Sounds lovely. I miss my kayaks and I miss climbing mountains. As my kids get older, I should have ample time to share in those joys with them.

    I’m still in my thirties, and I chose a late start on business. I took much of my twenties – unmarried, with few worldly needs – and ‘retired’ while I still had a young, strong, healthy body. I usually spent between 3-4 months climbing, hiking and paddling each year in my twenties somewhere in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, California and Washington.

    Now, with a family, a home, and kids, I’m working hard to bring my business to the maturity of its forties so we can all enjoy the fruits even more. Everything in time.

    What do you do, by the way?

  9. Liz Strauss says

    Ah Dawud!
    What fun it was to read this post and see your business as a young ‘un in it’s twenties — a vibrant still growing, yet capable and skilled endeavor. I’m smiling to thing of you guiding it and your clients. 🙂

    But even better was to go along with you as you described your real life. This was a lovely scene. My home life is relaxing and gentle. I often begin my days with a brisk hike in the mountains behind our home or a paddle in the lake a few miles away. And more than anything, I have a nice separation between my home life and my office life.

    Sounds like you have made a peaceful partnership with your business. 🙂

  10. Dawud Miracle says

    Looking back from where I see myself in the next couple of years – that’s true. The foundation is already in place, now just the execution. And it’s a big step going from web designer to full-time consultant and coach – which is why I’ll do it gradually. And, I know I’ll better serve my clients having more energy to devote to helping them build their businesses as I transition from design work.

  11. Katie says

    I still feel 30-something, even though I certainly don’t look it. When my kids were little (there are five of them, all pretty much grownup), my passions were cycling and backpacking. They never got into my interests, I changed gears to mommyhood, and, here in later life, I have developed new personal interests. All a part of the journey, I guess.

    You asked what I do: I am a web developer and project manager who ends up doing a lot of other office support tasks for my varied clientele.

    Known by some as a “virtual assistant,” and others as a “remote professional,” (and to some as just “katie”), I handle projects of all sizes and durations for my clients who are scattered all around.

    Right now I’m still in my hiking clothes from this a.m., looking out my office window at a rainstorm about to begin, listening to the cicadas tell me all about it!

    Fun getting better acquainted with you.

  12. Jean Browman says

    Of course, the reason I’ve been asking about passive income is because I’m curious about what part of Ferriss you find useful. He doesn’t seem to be advocating what I’m interested in, and my first reaction that you and he have very different interests, too.

  13. Dawud Miracle says

    Don’t you love it? I got to work today in very meager attire as it was in the high 90’s with raging humidity today here in Michigan. No A/C, but I also didn’t have to worry about how I was dressed as I carried on my day. What relief.

    I think it is all part of the journey. The one thing I’ve learned about life is that it’s always changing. Sometimes drastically, other times subtly. How we move with the change is often what determines our happiness.

    And I’ll keep calling you Katie.

    We do have different interests – and different businesses. He runs a wholesale business where almost all of his work can be easily outsourced. I run a service-based business where people want to interact with me because of my abilities and expertise. So we have different needs when it comes to outsourcing, for instance.

    More than anything else, I’d say Tim Ferriss has opened my eyes to what can be outsourced and made me really ask myself what parts of my business can I be a bit looser with without losing the quality of my service.

  14. LaurenMarie - Creative Curio says

    Thank you for the compliment, Dawud! The plan for Creative Curio is to build a space where both beginners and pros can learn. I think that’s accomplished by presenting an idea that is new to the beginner (that’s not too difficult!) but something that an old pro might’ve forgotten or doesn’t think about much and that can inspire his/her designs (and also not completely covering a subject so that the pros can chime in with their experiences). I really want it to have an atmosphere of learning and discovery.

  15. LaurenMarie - Creative Curio says

    Oh wow! Thank you for the promo! How honored I feel to be getting attention from such awesome authors/conversationalists (I know you don’t like to call yourself a blogger 😉 ) such as you and Liz! You’re the best!

    Sorry I haven’t been around too much lately. I just landed a new job (yay!) and getting started with CC is a lot of work, but I’m enjoying it and looking forward to the future!

  16. Dawud Miracle says

    Thanks. I don’t mind being a blogger. And I’m more than a blogger, so I ultimately don’t like the moniker. I find labels, in general, to most often be poor. But what can we do when we live with the limitations of language?

    Join the conversation when you can. While I love conversing with you and everyone else, I’m most interested to know that you’re gaining success in your business ventures. The blogging, really, should serve your business and not be in place of it.

  17. photoshop says

    I think I found some interesting concepts here about small business goals, and I also have to say that I was a bit surprised to discover that you actually have been a web designer for more than decade! (wow, considering the fact that the internet and the web is not that old, it’s a remarkable achievement on its own).


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