Kelly-Exeter-Artful-Business-PodcastKelly and her husband, Ant, own a very successful graphic design company, Swish Design. They currently employ five full time staff as well as some part time staff and contractors. This year Kelly has stepped away from her role in the business to take on a part time role as Editor at Flying Solo.

This part time position has allowed Kelly to be more available for their two kids as well as find more time to flex her creative muscle and work on her writing.

Audio Track

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Video File

 Show Notes


One of the biggest challenges Kelly talks about in her business journey is the hiring and managing of staff and the cash-flow needed to sustain those staff.

Every time we took on a full time staff member it was always just before we could really afford it, but we couldn’t afford not to.

Another major challenge we discuss is that Kelly had originally built a business that could not run without her constant input and management. The business model she was working with also meant she had no time to do the creative work. Her staff where doing the work she loved and she was focused on the invoicing, chasing clients and other jobs that did not fulfil her.

When she did get to step in and do any client work it was always rushed, on a tight deadline and no time to play.

You need space as a creative person to do things wrong before you get to doing them right

This lack of creativity and the stress of running a business she wasn’t even enjoying caused Kelly to lose her confidence as a designer and feel burnt out and overwhelmed.

Thank to her husband stepping up and taking over much of the management side of things Kelly has since learnt to step back a little and put less pressure on herself.

Part of this lesson was finding ways to say no to people. Not an easy task for most business owners.

I am helper person and I find saying no really difficult – but being able to recommend someone else or give by giving them an alternative I am getting better – it is a much nicer way to be say I can’t do it.


For Kelly the thing that gives her a buss in the work she does now is the connection she can have with her readers and community. A lot of her work at the moment involves writing, content creation, taking ideas and putting them into words and sharing them so having those ideas touch someone and resonate with her community is what inspires her to keep going.

Building and nurturing a community who are very respectful and who can think and discuss ideas in an open-minded and respectful way is another part of her work that makes Kelly buzz.

Lessons learnt

Setting boundaries and helping helping to do things for themselves rather than defaulting to just doing it for them is a lesson that  Kelly has learnt the hard way. She believes if you can do that from the get go you will have a much easier time of things.

If you can train yourself to do that from the start, your inbox will thank you and your brain will thank you.

Last year Kelly was working the 5am-7am shift, then doing the 9:30-2:30 shift as well as the 8pm-11pm shift once the family were in bed. this year she decided she needed a role that would fit inside school hours.

Now if I get up at 5am, which I still do, it is time for me to focus on my writing

She is now more available to her family and has more time and energy to create and to write.

We all need white space in which to breathe – because that’s where our best work is going to come out of.