Episode 47: Meet Rhonda Negard – Her Story Becoming a Business Owner, Leaving Corporate to Build a Business & More!

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This week Rhonda Negard joined me to talk about her journey and provide advice about starting your own business. How many people are at a corporate job right now and have dreamed about being in business for themselves? She shares her advice on how to make that transition and be prepared ahead of time.

Of course, in between there you’ll find many other nuggets. From networking, not being afraid to take advantage of an opportunity if you don’t know everything, learning from doing… we share our own stories when we lost a job and transitioned into something else. How do you start if one day you just find yourself without a job? So many nuggets.. enjoy the listen!

Rhonda Negard

Rhonda Negard started her business for "extra" income.

Rhonda Negard started Fat Dog Creatives, a boutique design strategy business, in 2003. Because life included deployments (husband), moves, and her career in the backseat, she started her business for “extra” income. In 2015 she transitioned to full-time business owner and started learning the real meaning of business owner, focusing on who she really wanted to serve, diving further into design thinking, and continually reworking business processes. 

In 2020 she joined the adjunct faculty at the Art Institute of San Antonio to help the next generation and those transitioning to a second career learn and refine technical skills while integrating real-world experiences and lessons. Rhonda has settled in San Antonio, TX for now, but enjoys returning to Seattle, WA, and Bethesda, MD, to connect with friends and clients.


  • Intro
  • Doesn’t call herself an agency anymore.. why?
    • Does referrals – client direct contact w/ resource
    • Business Owner / Branding & Web Designers PLUS
  • Knows her limits
    • Example – Analytics
  • Her Origin Story – How did she become the “Business Owner”
    • Winding path..
    • Back in High School – Computer math.. was just BASIC programming, Apple 2e
    • Seeing patterns, similarities with HTML
    • Discovering the purpose of a website?
      • Looking at all these things I can do!
    • Got into Speech Writing .. but kept playing on the web..
    • Fell into marketing .. print design.
      • Learning Adobe Page Maker ..
    • THE LESSON: Presented with an opportunity.. you know a little.. do you take it?
    • Why she hates the “Fake it until you make it..” mindset.
      • Reframing it.
  • Knowing everything .. ?? Are there people that think we know it all?
  • Networking with your peers ..
    • Who do you have on your phone? :slight_smile:
  • Just because someone is speaking in front of the room..
    • They were just the people that says, “Yes”.. maybe they aren’t even claiming to be an expert.
  • Authenticity from talking to what you are ‘doing’..
  • Commonality with other guests on this podcast ..
  • Being overconfident when you go from working for a company to starting your own business.
    • What you don’t know starting a business..
    • Structure and support is gone.. it’s all you.
  • The catalyst(s) that moved her towards starting her own business..
    • Family of entrepreneurs.
      • In her blood
    • Had always freelanced ..
      • Print to web,,.. back and forth
    • Worked for a company.. that got restructured. A casualty of that..
    • Moved to Washington State ..
      • Trying to figure out what to do ..
      • Freelanced ..
        • Contacts on LinkedIn ..
      • Stayed longer than she thought ..
        • Started hitting the pavement .. not knowing anyone.
        • Networking.. made mistakes and some good friends.
  • My story about Hexater .. and not being in control of it’s destiny when I worked at RCI.
  • When you lose a job..
    • Reinventing yourself.. starting simple.
      • Starting with WHAT I KNEW.
    • The lessons you can learn from working for someone else..
      • You can use those as you strike out on your own.
    • At a job.. as long as you are learning and growing, you’re good.
  • Her story was similar..
    • Things that she had to now learn.
    • Started with WHAT SHE KNEW.
      • Branding ..
      • WordPress – what makes you a PRO.
      • .. and the benefit of hiring a PRO.
      • How much she valued getting a good website done.
    • She learned WordPress and learned how to do it with others after someone built her site.
    • Discovered Beaver Builder..
  • Learning my working on your own websites and DOING IT YOURSELF. Learn by doing!
    • Working through your own problems, you can solve your clients problems.
  • She’s constantly learning:
    • From her friends
    • Interactive Design Foundation
      • Takes all the classes she can
    • Copywriting classes .. so many.
  • UX – taught one quarter at Art Institute (graphic symbolism and advanced layout)
    • Let go when Covid came along ..
  • Called by recruiter to teach UX again.
    • Learned that she ‘knew this stuff’
    • Got the position ..
  • Wrapping things up:
    • MAKING the leap from a Job to working for yourself. Her advice.
      • Not happy..
      • Have an idea to start a business..
    • Lessons from things she did right..
      • Was able to freelance while working..
      • While employed, find your dream.
      • Treat the freelance money like it’s your only income.
        • Treat it like a business.
      • Learn the business processes.
        • How to run a business.
      • Create the runway first.
      • Start networking while your employed.. make connections.
  • Starting Matt’s Painting & Repair while still working in Insurance..
    • Then turning it into my full-time, only gig.
  • Until we meet again..
Rhonda Negard's quote

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