Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing and design but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Pua Pakele, Owner, and Designer of Pualena Digital Design, located in Honolulu, HI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I own a website and online course design company for impact-driven entrepreneurs who want to leverage the power of online courses, memberships, and coaching programs. Our customers come from all walks of life and converge in the online space with a calling to provide a life-changing transformation to their clients, customers, students, and audiences. We work closely with our clients to gain a deep understanding of their business, mission, culture, and suite of services so that their digital space becomes a thriving ecosystem to serve their audience at various levels. Our goal is to create a branded, automated, unique digital environment that allows our clients to do what they do best rather than living with daily tech burnout.

So many business owners, especially "solo-preneurs," are wearing a hundred hats - and by the time they've done all the email follow-ups, billing, customer support, accounting, content creation, video editing, and crying in a corner, they're left with no energy actually to serve their clients! Our team is specialized in automation and funnels, so our clients can feel confident that their website is working for them. Leads are nurtured, upsells, downsells, and cart abandonment emails are automated, and our epic customers get to finally take a deep breath and get back to the parts of their business they LOVE!

Tell us about yourself

Since 2014, I've been designing websites and graphics for online course creators and small business owners looking to build, grow, and scale their businesses. It is my mission, passion, and joy to create custom digital spaces for entrepreneurs to express themselves, connect with their customers, and share their gifts and services with the world. I have always been drawn to roles that support small businesses, entrepreneurs, and humans with big dreams to provide solutions and change the world. Over the past 15 years, this has taken many forms, and many of them didn't quite make sense to me at the time. I've worked in medical billing for an occupational therapy clinic, done community management and event coordination for multinational corporations like Yelp and Kaplan Test Prep, served as a US-China liaison for an international agricultural marketing firm in Shanghai, and spent years in the trenches with small local startups, learning the ins and outs of business growth, marketing, advertising, customer experience, inventory management, lead generation, and relationship nurturing. Infusing these experiences with my innate love for design has led me to create the business I have today, and I couldn't love it more!

Our clients are the reason I jump out of bed each morning, and I don't take for granted that this is my reality. To work with entrepreneurs means I'm surrounded every day by passionate, impact-driven, gritty, relentless humans who have chosen a life of entrepreneurship - a lifestyle that is not for the faint of heart. I'm inspired, motivated, and humbled by their stories, their services, and their missions, and I am deeply grateful they chose to work with us.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Being a business owner is an epic adventure! There are high highs and lowest lows. A life of failing forward is something that all business owners become accustomed to. For that reason, I celebrate every day that I'm still here! To have a thriving business that can employ incredible team members and provide the energy, time, and financial stability that I need to live a fulfilled and happy life, it's an absolute dream come true. While there will always be challenges and puzzles to solve, these are, hands down, my greatest accomplishments as a business owner.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Being a business owner can be a lonely world, especially if you're a one-woman show! Before this business, I co-owned a company with an amazing business partner. I loved being able to make collective decisions, brainstorm together, and talk through challenges. As a solo business owner, it can be overwhelming when it feels like all the decisions and actions (or inactions) need to be made by you.

Thankfully, that is not totally true! Seeking out a community and finding specialized support, like a business coach or mastermind, can be an absolute game changer for business owners! Thankfully, the blooming tech space has provided a myriad of options for creating and finding communities of like-minded, inspiring entrepreneurs to connect with. I also LOVE connecting with entrepreneurs, bouncing ideas off one another, and having high-vibe conversations about our limitless potential as entrepreneurs...and as humans! If you're feeling lonely in the world of online business, please feel free to reach out!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't quit your day job...yet! There's a LOT of guidance out there founded on "the power of broke" as a motivational tool to take massive action and build your business quickly, so you don't have to eat ramen and live in your parent's basement for the rest of your adult life. This is probably the worst advice I've ever heard...and followed. You can't serve from an empty pitcher. You can drive on an empty fuel tank. And you sure as heck can't survive the uncertainties of business ownership when you're broke, overwhelmed, stressed, and maxing out all of your credit cards. Hold on to your current sources of income, even if they aren't ideal, and look at them as investors in your future business. Do what you can to build your business quickly and strategically, and know that you're still able to cover your costs and enjoy things like dinners with friends or weekend trips!
  2. Start small and grow WITH your business. Yet another mistake I made early on was investing a huge chunk of my savings into costly platforms and services before I needed them. I wanted to set myself up for success, but without the actual clients and revenue coming in, these quickly drained my bank account and forced me to take several steps order to keep moving forward. Failing forward, yet again! There are a ton of really affordable resources for business owners that are designed for growth, so it's worth doing some research to find the right platforms for where you're at right now. When you're ready, take the leap to the next best thing! If you'd like some suggestions for great starting platforms, feel free to reach out!
  3. You probably saw this one coming, but it's worth repeating: Fail forward. Make mistakes. Lots of them! You don't need to make them on purpose (I hope that goes without saying) but don't be fearful of frequent fumbles. Make decisions, take inspired, strategic actions, and try to look at success or failure as data rather than a reflection of your character and humanity. I know that's easier said than done, but it's SO worth practicing! Collect the data, analyze it, adjust it, and take action again. I think you'll surprise yourself when you see how much you can accomplish when you remove the fear of failure from the equation (or at least minimize it).

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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