We had the good fortune of connecting with Sophia O’Neal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sophia, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
I am a firm believer that Graciousness is undervalued in business. It’s been two years of pandemic craziness – we are all tired, overwhelmed, and working a lot. I work to approach situations with kindness and consideration, expecting the best. It’s completely changed my outlook from a sales mentality to a service one.
Plus paying people on time and in full! That sounds so basic but in the world of agencies and freelancers that it’s not always the case.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
**What sets me apart is that my first question is always “Why?”.**
I am genuinely intrigued by the way people become who they are. That perspective makes it a lot easier to understand and tell founder stories, but in life, it enables me to have genuine deep connections, which I treasure.
**I’m really excited about the fly wheel energy between my side projects and my agency work.**
The [hyper freelance model](https://www.supercreative.design/blog/hyper-freelance) (as described by Ben Issen) is when you
– take clients so you can understand a specific group of people’s pain points very deeply,
– then build tools to solve those problems at scale,
– then teach people how to solve their problems on their own.
Once you start doing that you can become the expert in your niche. That approach has become really powerful for me since going out on my own because it cuts down on the work I have to do for each new project because I laid the foundation working on a different project.
I’ve recently built [Tangram](https://www.ignorenomore.agency/tangram-lifetime-launch), a marketing plan creator that:
– suggests the 3 channels you need to reach profitability,
– step-by-step instructions on how to succeed in each channel,
– and a daily marketing to do list that takes <15 hours a week
It started out as an internal tool, and now I’m looking to grow it as a SaaS alongside working with clients. Seeing it all come together thrills me!
**The lightbulb is continually going off, but some of my biggest learnings have been:**
– Be kind, clear, straightforward and upfront in every communication
– Always have an airtight contract
– Focus on the end goal instead of getting stuck in the day-to-day weeds
– Use a Gant chart so you have a clear view of everything that needs to be done in a month so you don’t overbooked yourself and end up overwhelmed
– Decide what you need to refuel and do it with the same regularity you do business activities
**I am building, iterating, and experimenting like a startup founder, not “playing it safe” like a typical agency.**
When I launched the agency I couldn’t use most of the work I’d done in-house for my portfolio, it was all under NDA or hadn’t been publicly released yet.
So I offered to [build 4 brands in one week each for free on IndieHackers](https://www.indiehackers.com/post/i-will-build-your-branding-marketing-strategy-website-for-free-254a0e97cc), complete with a brand identity, landing page, and 3-channel marketing strategy.
While things didn’t go quite as planned (only two ended up being good fits and one week was completely unrealistic for all those deliverables!), building [Legendsverse](https://www.ignorenomore.agency/project/legendsverse) and [Growform](https://www.ignorenomore.agency/project/growform) [in public](https://twitter.com/SophiaONeal11/status/1473336109904113667) was a huge learning experience in SOP’s, audience building, and shipping fast. It really put me through the paces the way a traditional client-agency relationship wouldn’t have.
I’ve also committed to launching a new product every month, whether that’s [a landing page copywriting guide](https://ignorenomore.gumroad.com/l/conversionlovingcopy), or the [marketing plan builder](https://www.ignorenomore.agency/tangram-lifetime-launch). It forces me to understand my client’s problems up close and personal and never be distant from the startup process or mindset.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve never been to Atlanta but it’s on my shortlist of trips for this year! Does the airport count?
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Three huge influences come to mind.
The first is [my mom](https://www.linkedin.com/in/linnetteo/) who always encouraged my entrepreneurial bent by allowing me to experiment with companies since I was a child.
The second is my first boss in college, [Nancy Grden](https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancy-grden-6780356/), who has mentored me through all of the startups I’ve had over the years and connected me with the right people at the right time. She’s such a huge cheerleader.
And third is a family friend and serial entrepreneur. She’s one of the first black entrepreneurs I met and serve to provide a wonderful soundboard on the intersection of life work and starting your own company. She’s like my second business mom.
Misty Saves the Day