Her CEO Journey™: The Business Finance Podcast for Mission-Driven Women Entrepreneurs

Weekly show where my featured guests and I explore the financial and business challenges women face on the entrepreneurial journey to success. You'll hear them talk about the money side of their businesses in ways you've always wanted to know about, but wouldn't dare ask. They openly share their disappointments, failures, successes, and everything in-between as they grew sales ranging from 6 to 9 figures. Knowing where your business stands financially helps you make critical decisions with confidence. It's simply the best way to be sure you grow a business that fuels the life you want to live.

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episode 115: Growing Your Business through an Accessible and Sustainable Website - The Journey of Alisa Herr (Growth Marketing Series) [transcript]


A website can be a bridge between your business and a potential client despite miles of distance. But people come from various walks of life — their abilities, needs, and wants all differ from each other. How can you pique their interest in what you have to offer? 

Joining us is Alisa Herr, CEO of Unity Web Agency. Alisa starts by sharing her journey and struggles to start Unity. She aims to show how important it is to create an accessible and sustainable website. Alisa also shares how her company implemented an equal-pay policy and what this means for her employees. Through all of this, you also need to remember that it’s vital to know your financial numbers so that you can make well-informed decisions for your company’s growth.

With Alisa’s knowledge, you can equip yourself to face these challenges head-on. You now have more tools to grow your business and still look out for people and the planet. 

If you're in a position to make your business more accessible, this episode is for you.

3 reasons why you should listen to the full episode: 

  1. Gain valuable insights from Alisa’s journey to start her own web design business that promotes inclusivity.
  2. Learn how you can have an accessible and sustainable website.
  3. Find out what goals you can set to create a better and more inclusive environment for your team and your clients.

Episode Highlights

  • [05:50] Alisa’s Journey to Starting Unity Web Agency
  • [08:54] The Difference Between Unity and Other Website Agencies
  • [10:32] What an Accessible Website Means
  • [12:53] How to Make a Website More Accessible
  • [17:19] What a Sustainable Website Means
  • [20:59] Partnership with Ablr 
  • [22:56] The Key Components of a Functional and Well-Designed Website 
  • [29:14] Unity’s Equal Pay Policy
  • [34:30] Ensuring Business Profitability and Sustainability
  • [36:38] Setting Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
  • [40:07] Initial Struggles When Establishing the Agency

Enjoyed This Podcast?
Write a review and share this with your friends.

Connect With Me
Ready to transform your purpose into an impactful business financial story, profit, and joy? Schedule a chat with me at any time.

Resources

  • Reimagining Business Finance: How a Holistic Approach Can Help You Improve Your Business
  • Download this Action Guide to help you re-assess the value of an accessible and sustainable website as a part of your growth marketing strategy.
  • Episode 112 - A Deep Dive into the Importance of an SEO Strategy
  • Episode 113 - Paid Advertising with Ecosia
  • Connect with Alisa: LinkedIn
  • Unity Web Agency: Website | Twitter
  • I Earn the Same Amount as My Employees - and That’s Okay by Alisa Herr
  • Whole Grain Digital
  • Ecosia 
  • Ablr


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 2021-05-13  44m
 
 
00:25  Christina Sjahli
At some point
00:25
in our business journey,
00:27
especially when we are in the
00:27
growth stage, we need a website
00:31
for our business. However, do we
00:31
realize that having a digital
00:36
footprint means we contribute to
00:36
the negative impact of climate
00:40
change? We also may not realize
00:40
that our website is not
00:45
accessible to all people,
00:45
especially to people with
00:48
disabilities. As we are growing
00:48
our social impact businesses, it
00:53
is important to consider how can
00:53
we make our website more
00:58
accessible and more sustainable
00:58
as part of our growth marketing
01:02
strategy. That's why today I
01:02
have Alisa Herr with us, the
01:07
founder and CEO of Unity Web
01:07
Design, a B Corp certified
01:11
business that focuses on making
01:11
the internet radically
01:15
inclusive, one website at a
01:15
time. If you want to find out
01:19
more about how you can be a B
01:19
Corp certified business, I
01:24
invite you to listen to Episode
01:24
101. You can find this specific
01:29
episode at
01:29
christinasjahli.com/herceojourney.
01:32
Over the last few weeks I've
01:32
been featuring B Corp businesses
01:38
as part of this Growth Marketing
01:38
Podcast Series. This podcast
01:43
series is curated to highlight
01:43
the different marketing
01:46
strategies you can use to grow
01:46
your business from your first
01:50
million to the next growth
01:50
milestone, and to show you how
01:55
finance, marketing, and branding
01:55
strategies are connected.
01:59
Finance is not a standalone
01:59
process. And you can listen to
02:04
Episode 111 to find out more
02:04
about this concept, that finance
02:10
is not a standalone process.
02:13
In case you missed the last
02:13
three episodes of this podcast
02:16
series, let me share a recap
02:16
with you. The first episode of
02:21
this Growth Marketing Podcast
02:21
Series was all about search
02:24
engine optimization, and how SEO
02:24
is connected to finance. The
02:29
second episode was about paid
02:29
advertising with a green search
02:33
engine, and how you can use
02:33
marketing metrics to plan the
02:36
financial future of your
02:36
business. The third episode was
02:40
about branding and
02:40
purpose-driven partnership
02:43
strategy, and how you can use
02:43
brand impact metrics in your
02:47
financial forecast. You can find
02:47
all of these episodes at
02:52
christinasjahli.com/herceojourney.
02:57
You're listening to Her CEO
02:57
Journey the business finance
03:00
podcast for mission-driven woman
03:00
entrepreneurs. I'm your host,
03:03
Christina Sjahli. If you are new
03:03
here, a big warm welcome. If we
03:09
are not connected on LinkedIn,
03:09
please reach out and say hi,
03:12
because that's where I hang out
03:12
and share my business finance
03:16
steps. If you have been
03:16
listening to this podcast for a
03:19
while, and you are a regular
03:19
listener, I want you to know I
03:24
appreciate you. My podcast won't
03:24
be around without your support.
03:28
This is a free weekly show where
03:28
my guests and I want to inspires
03:33
you to balance between mission
03:33
and profit, to create an impact
03:37
in this world, and to achieve
03:37
financial equality through your
03:41
business for good. If sometimes
03:41
you are thinking this podcast
03:46
episode is great, and now there
03:46
is an actionable guide I can
03:50
download for each episode and I
03:50
can write down key lesson
03:54
learned. But I have more
03:54
questions about the topics
03:57
discussed than answer, how can I
03:57
get the answer? Well, you are in
04:02
luck because now, you can get
04:02
answers to your questions.
04:06
I have joined forces with an
04:06
impact brand strategist, Holly
04:10
Greiff, and co-founded the
04:10
Purpose to Prosperity Club in
04:14
Clubhouse. This is a club where
04:14
social impact businesses
04:17
purpose-driven founders, we all
04:17
get together to grow our
04:21
business to the next level. We
04:21
host a room every Thursday at
04:25
noon Eastern Standard Time, or
04:25
9am Pacific Standard Time with
04:30
an expert guest and we want you
04:30
to join us. The next event
04:34
inside the Purpose to Prosperity
04:34
Club is scheduled for May 20th.
04:39
And we will dive into branding
04:39
and partnership strategy with
04:42
Shelley Meyer, founder and CEO
04:42
of Ramp. Shelly was the guest of
04:47
this podcast in Episode 114.
04:47
This is your opportunity to come
04:53
on stage and ask the burning
04:53
question you have about branding
04:57
and partnership strategy to grow
04:57
your business to the next level.
05:01
To give you more information
05:01
about the Purpose to Prosperity
05:05
Club, check out the one-pager
05:05
link included in the show notes.
05:09
In the meantime, if you are
05:09
interested to reimagine your
05:13
business financial process and
05:13
how you can connect the result
05:17
of marketing and branding
05:17
strategy to your financial
05:21
strategy, let's chat. Book a
05:21
time with me at
05:24
www.christinasjahli.com/let-s-chat.
05:24
Now let's find out Alisa's CEO
05:31
journey. Alisa Herr, welcome to
05:31
Her CEO Journey. Before we get
05:37
started talking about building
05:37
sustainable and accessible
05:41
website in more details, let's
05:41
start with your journey. What
05:45
moment intrigued you to start
05:45
Unity Web Agency?
05:50  Alisa Herr
Well, my story is
05:50
very pretty, pretty winding
05:53
path. When I was a kid in middle
05:53
school, actually back in the
05:59
90s, I learned how to make
05:59
websites. So I learned HTML. And
06:04
it became a huge hobby of mine
06:04
for, throughout high school,
06:10
college, graduate school. It was
06:10
always a hobby. But as a woman,
06:14
it was never presented to me as
06:14
a career path that was even
06:19
possible. I got my undergrad in
06:19
psychology and then I went to my
06:24
master's degree and I got a
06:24
library science master's degree.
06:28  Christina Sjahli
Oh, yeah,
06:28
that's not a web design at all.
06:30  Alisa Herr
No, it's not! But I
06:30
love, it's all part of me. It's
06:34
all things that I'm passionate
06:34
about. And when I graduated in
06:39
2009, for my master's program, I
06:39
wasn't able to get a job. But
06:44
one of my friends sent me a job
06:44
posting for a junior web
06:47
developer job. And I was like,
06:47
"Well, I don't really have job
06:51
experience with that." And I'm
06:51
overqualified for everything
06:55
that I'm applying for. About six
06:55
months after I started that job,
06:59
the senior web developer, the
06:59
only other developer there at
07:03
the company, he left. And so I
07:03
had this big sink or swim moment
07:06
of like, "Okay, I'm smart,
07:06
either I figure this out, or
07:11
they're gonna hire somebody over
07:11
me." So I ended up figuring it
07:15
out. And so by the time I left
07:15
that company, I, gone from
07:19
junior level of developer to the
07:19
lead developer, and oversaw
07:23
three other developers on that
07:23
team.
07:26
And when I left, I had just been
07:26
offered one of those positions
07:30
that you can't turn down. And it
07:30
was as the CTO of a brand new
07:36
media nonprofit, that was, the
07:36
mission was really to support
07:42
and promote public education in
07:42
North Carolina. And it was such
07:47
a deep passion of mine. I worked
07:47
there for a couple of years. But
07:52
my job was starting to go more
07:52
towards journalism and less
07:56
towards tech. And I started to
07:56
really miss working with a
08:00
variety of different kinds of
08:00
organizations and staying, you
08:04
know, what are what is their
08:04
mission? So I made the crazy
08:07
decision that I think a lot of
08:07
entrepreneurs are familiar with
08:10
have that thought that like,
08:10
it's gonna be, it's easy to
08:15
start a company.
08:16  Christina Sjahli
You had to
08:16
leave your job as a CTO, and you
08:20
just started an agency?
08:23  Alisa Herr
And the way that I
08:23
started my agency, having worked
08:26
at an agency before, I'd seen a
08:26
lot, and it was a very small one
08:29
as well. I know what it was like
08:29
working there. There were some
08:33
cultural things that I didn't
08:33
really like. And I wanted to do
08:36
it better. So, yeah.
08:39  Christina Sjahli
So when you
08:39
went through this process of
08:42
building your agency, and then
08:42
put your unique spin to it, how
08:48
did you differentiate Unity from
08:48
any other website agency?
08:54  Alisa Herr
Yeah, that's
08:54
actually a great question. When
08:56
you start a company, you're
08:56
like, "I'll do anything if you
08:59
can pay me, and I can do it,
08:59
then that's what my business
09:02
does." So we started as Unity
09:02
Digital Agency, and we did some
09:08
branding work. We did websites,
09:08
business cards, we designed
09:14
emails, all kinds of stuff.
09:14
Anything digital, anything that
09:19
had anything to do with digital,
09:19
we would try it. We didn't do
09:22
that great on the things that
09:22
weren't web. And so after a
09:25
couple of years of trying that,
09:25
we really realized that our, our
09:33
niche and our core focus, really
09:33
of what we are good at is the
09:37
web design part.
09:39  Christina Sjahli
You were doing
09:39
everything. And it's not until
09:42
later that you figure out
09:42
website is your jam. Yeah. But
09:46
how did you figure out that all
09:46
the other things don't work?
09:50  Alisa Herr
Failure, unhappy
09:50
customers, stressed-out team
09:54
members, losing money left and
09:54
right like all of it.
09:59  Christina Sjahli
And that's why
09:59
you rebranded?
10:01  Alisa Herr
That is why we
10:01
rebranded. Yep.
10:03  Christina Sjahli
So you're
10:03
saying your jam is building
10:06
sustainable and accessible
10:06
website? I'm gonna be honest, I
10:10
don't understand what it means
10:10
by accesible.
10:13  Alisa Herr
Yes, and that's
10:13
something not many people do, so
10:16
you're not alone.
10:17  Christina Sjahli
What is
10:17
accessible mean? And what is the
10:21
sustainable mean in website? And
10:21
what are the sign for
10:26
non-accessible and
10:26
non-sustainable, non-inclusive
10:30
website? Curious about that.
10:32  Alisa Herr
So what
10:32
accessibility is on the web,
10:35
actually, I'll start in physical
10:35
world. So accessibility in the
10:39
physical world, you know, if
10:39
somebody has some kind of
10:43
physical difference that, like
10:43
say they use a wheelchair or
10:49
something, they can't get up the
10:49
steps, because they're in a
10:52
wheelchair. They need a ramp.
10:52
It's very similar on the web,
10:56
where there are physical
10:56
structures on the web, code,
11:00
that, and design too, and also
11:00
the words on a website. All of
11:05
these things can be present as
11:05
barriers to people getting to
11:10
access to the information that
11:10
they need. So really, when we
11:15
talk about web accessibility, or
11:15
digital accessibility, it's
11:19
about designing and creating
11:19
websites in such a way that the
11:25
information that you're trying
11:25
to convey on your website or on
11:29
your social media, or anything,
11:29
is available to everybody
11:34
regardless of their ability.
11:37  Christina Sjahli
Maybe give an
11:37
example, that is accessible
11:40
website, and then when it's
11:40
non-accessible, so we can do a
11:44
comparison.
11:45  Alisa Herr
Maybe I should start
11:45
with what's not accessible. A
11:48
lot of times, people who are
11:48
designers, you know, or have a
11:52
vision for how something should
11:52
look, if they don't have the
11:57
skills to code it, they will
11:57
make it in a picture. So like,
12:01
they might take a photograph and
12:01
overlay some text on top of that
12:06
in a really pretty script font,
12:06
and then save that as an image
12:10
and upload it to their website.
12:10
And that's a image embedded on
12:15
the website that has text on it.
12:15
And if you can't read with your
12:22
eyes, you're not going to be
12:22
able to know what is in that
12:26
image, including the words in
12:26
it. And so sometimes that
12:30
happens with headings, some
12:30
sections of a website will have
12:36
a pretty heading that separates
12:36
content, rather than finding
12:40
like a web font that has that
12:40
look, they'll make an image and
12:45
then just save that and put it
12:45
up. That's just like one very
12:48
small example, and probably a
12:48
pretty prevalent one.
12:53
The things that would make that
12:53
accessible, more accessible. If
12:57
you had to use an image with
12:57
text, making sure that the alt
13:02
text on the image clearly
13:02
describes. It either says what
13:07
the words are in that image, or
13:07
just is a clear description,
13:12
saying, what is it trying to
13:12
convey? It's also being able to
13:16
navigate on the website. A lot
13:16
of times if a website has a lot
13:19
of drop down menus in the
13:19
navigation, sometimes those are
13:23
coded so that you have to use a
13:23
mouse to hover over it to have
13:27
it drop down. And so, a big
13:27
thing that we're doing when
13:30
we're coding a site is making
13:30
sure is it keyboard accessible?
13:33
Can you use your tab button on
13:33
your keyboard to navigate
13:38
through the website, to click on
13:38
all the links with your
13:41
keyboard? For example, one of
13:41
the assistive technologies is
13:45
called a screen reader. And it
13:45
is a device that is on Macs, it
13:52
just comes on, it's called
13:52
Voiceover. And it's some
13:55
software that you'd have to
13:55
purchase on other operating
13:58
systems, but it reads out the
13:58
text on the screen. And so it
14:03
actually, it's really neat,
14:03
because you can change the speed
14:07
of it. So like, it's really
14:07
amazing.
14:09
My friends that are blind who
14:09
use screen readers, it talks so
14:14
fast, I can't understand it. So
14:14
it's really cool, because it's
14:18
like, you know, we, people who
14:18
have like, are sighted can read
14:23
really fast, like speed read.
14:23
They're like speed reading with
14:26
the screen reader. And the
14:26
screen reader works by just
14:31
reading the content on the page.
14:31
And when it gets to an image, it
14:34
reads alt text. And if there
14:34
isn't alt text, it'll read the
14:38
actual URL of the image. There's
14:38
things that, if you don't look
14:43
out for them, and you're not
14:43
aware of issues that can be in
14:50
place, you might not intend to
14:50
make it non-accessible. You
14:55
might be doing some things
14:55
really well, and others not, and
14:59
it can be present as a
14:59
completely stop barrier that
15:04
makes people stop and not be
15:04
able to proceed. So in terms of
15:08
our inclusion, we're trying to
15:08
do is making sure that we are
15:13
just constantly learning and
15:13
being aware of what are people's
15:19
experiences.
15:20  Christina Sjahli
When you talk
15:20
about accessibility, I thought
15:23
that it's more on how we allow
15:23
people with disability to be
15:30
able to access every website.
15:30
That's what I thought, but it
15:35
seems like that's not it.
15:36  Alisa Herr
That's at the root.
15:36
That's the initial cause of
15:40
like, the action of making a
15:40
website accessible. But the
15:44
result is that it's better for
15:44
everybody. It's not better for
15:48
just people with disabilities,
15:48
or providing access for just
15:51
people with disabilities. It's
15:51
really making it better for
15:55
everybody. There are a lot of
15:55
technologies that, in the
15:59
physical world, were created for
15:59
people with disabilities that
16:02
everybody uses. Things like, oh,
16:02
gosh, I'm gonna have to go back
16:07
to the digital world, because
16:07
the only one I can think of
16:09
right now is my third grader who
16:09
has a hard time typing and
16:14
spelling things. He uses of
16:14
voice to text on his computer,
16:19
for typing up long paragraphs
16:19
that otherwise would take him
16:22
hours. He's able to just turn on
16:22
this voice-to-text thing and say
16:27
what he wants to say. And then
16:27
he goes and edits it to make
16:30
sure that the right word, you
16:30
know, that kind of thing. And
16:35
that wasn't made for for him,
16:35
but it certainly is benefiting
16:39
him.
16:40  Christina Sjahli
So basically,
16:40
what you are saying when a user
16:44
is using a specific website or
16:44
visited that website, the
16:48
experience that the user is
16:48
going through when they click on
16:53
the different icon or reading,
16:53
it has to give them a great
16:58
experience? So it's giving the
16:58
best user experience for the
17:03
website visitor. But also
17:03
thinking about it from a
17:07
perspective of people that has
17:07
or have disability.
17:13  Alisa Herr
Right.
17:14  Christina Sjahli
Because when
17:14
you say a sustainable website,
17:17
what do you mean by sustainable
17:17
website?
17:19  Alisa Herr
This one blows
17:19
people's minds. So there's
17:22
actually a B Corp in London
17:22
called Whole Green Digital,
17:27
that, they're the experts in
17:27
this and they are really leading
17:31
the way for the entire industry.
17:31
This whole, everything being
17:36
online, it is one of the worst
17:36
carbon emitters in the world.
17:43
Everything being online means
17:43
that there's more and more
17:47
servers around the world that
17:47
have to be used for, for
17:51
computing power. And it's
17:51
incredibly harmful from a
17:56
climate perspective. So what we
17:56
do, and we're really trying to
18:02
follow Whole Grain Digital's
18:02
path here, but trying to make
18:07
sure that the way we're building
18:07
websites is using the least
18:11
amount of energy as it can.
18:13
So making sure that the website
18:13
loads quickly, that there aren't
18:17
gigantic images on it that are
18:17
just bogging down the, having to
18:23
download twice the size of an
18:23
image that that it would need to
18:28
be there on the page. It's
18:28
really about minimal code, just
18:32
not wasting megabytes. So the
18:32
other thing, the other part of
18:38
that is that we are using a
18:38
server that purchases three
18:44
times the number of renewable
18:44
energy credits to what they
18:47
consume from the grid. So
18:47
they're trying to really buy
18:51
back and power the the
18:51
alternative energy grid. So when
18:56
we can't completely neutralize,
18:56
our business wouldn't be around
19:00
if there weren't websites, so
19:00
that there's going to be
19:02
websites, we're going to have to
19:02
be using servers. And so because
19:07
we're doing that, we're trying
19:07
to do it in the best way
19:09
possible. And something that
19:09
we're starting to explore is
19:12
buying our own carbon offsets
19:12
for our company as well.
19:16  Christina Sjahli
Hmm. Have you
19:16
heard about Ecosia?
19:19  Alisa Herr
Yes, I use them.
19:19
They're great.
19:23  Christina Sjahli
I just
19:23
interview Ruby Au, which is the
19:26
head of North America, actually,
19:26
yesterday. She is part of this
19:31
marketing series as well. Do you
19:31
know that they are actually
19:35
carbon positive?
19:37  Alisa Herr
Yes, I found, I
19:37
don't remember when I found out
19:40
about them, maybe a year or so
19:40
ago?And I started using them for
19:44
my search engine everywhere,
19:44
like my phone and my computer
19:48
and everything. And I share it
19:48
with the team and yeah, we're
19:50
big fans of Ecosia.
19:52  Christina Sjahli
Yes. And then
19:52
they even built their own solar
19:56
plant.
19:57  Alisa Herr
Wow.
19:58  Christina Sjahli
Yeah. Isn't it
19:58
crazy? So that's why they are
20:03
carbon neutral.
20:04  Alisa Herr
Yeah.
20:04  Christina Sjahli
No, not even
20:04
carbon neutral because they are
20:07
carbon positive.
20:08  Alisa Herr
Yeah.
20:08  Christina Sjahli
It's amazing.
20:08
It's amazing the story that she
20:11
share. Anyway, I'm excited for
20:11
that.
20:13  Alisa Herr
That's incredible. I
20:13
can't wait to hear that episode.
20:15  Unknown
Yes, it is. We've
20:15
talked about paid advertising,
20:18
but the way they do paid
20:18
advertising is also completely
20:21
different. Which is, I think
20:21
it's gonna resonate with a lot
20:24
of B Corps and even with my
20:24
audience that are more conscious
20:28
entrepreneurs, right? Because I
20:28
think that's the whole goal. The
20:31
whole goal of this is, what are
20:31
the different ways of doing
20:34
marketing? The different ways of
20:34
building a website that are
20:38
different than the normal
20:38
practice out there, while we can
20:41
still help the planet, make it
20:41
better? Now, I know that you
20:46
just got into a partnership with
20:46
a company that I cannot even
20:51
pronounce the name, Ablr. What
20:51
is that? Okay, so what is that
20:57
partnership all about? Because
20:57
it's recent.
20:59  Alisa Herr
Yes. So it's called
20:59
Ablr. They are really the
21:05
compliance arm of what we do. So
21:05
they do accessibility audits and
21:11
testing, and the compliance
21:11
aspect of it in terms of
21:16
creating reports that are
21:16
necessary. And they have
21:20
trainings and a disability
21:20
inclusion program. And they're
21:25
just, they're doing such amazing
21:25
work. We thought, okay, well,
21:29
rather than hiring within our
21:29
own company to do this work,
21:33
they're already doing it perf
21:33
like, great. They're using, a
21:37
lot of places that do
21:37
disability, or accessibility
21:40
testing and those kinds of
21:40
services, they're using
21:43
automated solutions, they're
21:43
just using technology that can
21:46
scan a website to see. They're
21:46
actually employing people with
21:50
disabilities to do the testing
21:50
themselves. And so it's true
21:54
usability testing by people with
21:54
disabilities. And so we became
21:59
one of their first partners. And
21:59
so they're the experts in terms
22:04
of the testing part. And we're
22:04
the experts in terms of
22:07
remediation and the design and
22:07
building of accessible websites.
22:12
And it's really, truly only
22:12
because of our partnership with
22:16
them that we can be as good as
22:16
we are.
22:19
So they basically doing audit of
22:19
different website?
22:24
Yes.
22:24  Christina Sjahli
And they
22:24
figure out if those website are
22:29
accessible. And if it's not
22:29
accessible, then those website
22:37
can be fixed or remediated by
22:37
Unity?
22:40  Alisa Herr
Yes.
22:41  Christina Sjahli
Oh.
22:42  Alisa Herr
Yes, exactly. And
22:42
that's a whole new service that
22:44
we're just now rolling out.
22:46  Christina Sjahli
That's
22:46
awesome.
22:47  Alisa Herr
Yeah.
22:48  Christina Sjahli
Great
22:48
partnership there. I know we
22:50
talk about accessibility, we
22:50
talk about sustainable, we talk
22:53
about inclusive, but what are
22:53
the key components of a
22:58
well-designed and a functioning
22:58
website that my audience can
23:03
think about? My website is not
23:03
well-designed. Well, it's not
23:07
functioning, let alone It's
23:07
accessible, sustainable and
23:09
inclusive. But at least, what
23:09
are the well-designed and
23:13
functioning, incorporating all
23:13
those components?
23:18  Alisa Herr
It really comes down
23:18
to making sure that your website
23:22
is speaking to the audience that
23:22
you're trying to reach and
23:25
making it easy to access, not
23:25
necessarily in a whole
23:30
accessibility way. But really,
23:30
accessibility is about
23:33
usability. So is it easy to find
23:33
the content on your website that
23:39
meets your customers' or your
23:39
audience's needs and their
23:44
goals? That is where we start
23:44
anytime we're doing a website
23:48
redesign, is really thinking
23:48
about like, okay, what are your
23:52
goals as a company? But then
23:52
also, who is your audience? And
23:57
what kinds of needs do they have
23:57
and the goals that they have?
24:01
And how can your website be
24:01
constructed in such a way, both
24:05
in terms of well, not just both,
24:05
but in terms of all of content,
24:11
design, and functionality,
24:11
making sure that all of those
24:14
are working together to meet
24:14
your customers' needs?
24:19  Christina Sjahli
Is there any
24:19
example that you can give from
24:21
recent clients?
24:23  Alisa Herr
The first one that
24:23
popped into my head was actually
24:25
a proposal that I was working on
24:25
recently, where they came to me
24:30
saying, we are having this
24:30
problem with our website where
24:34
there's some functional issues
24:34
with it. But we also added an
24:37
online store six months ago, and
24:37
we haven't made any sales. And
24:41
they wanted our help with
24:41
improving that. So I started
24:46
down the path of like, "Okay,
24:46
well, there's these are the
24:49
things that we could do to help
24:49
drive traffic to the store." But
24:54
as I was working on the
24:54
proposal, I realized, do their
24:57
customers even want to purchase
24:57
online or is that a whole waste
25:02
of money for them to commit to
25:02
paying another agency, another
25:07
chunk of money to fix this thing
25:07
that might not even be valuable
25:11
to their customers? So we're
25:11
proposing during part of the
25:14
project being redesigned, but
25:14
another part of the project, not
25:19
around this. The redesign
25:19
wouldn't be with the store. But
25:21
it would be starting with the
25:21
homepage and going from there.
25:24
But while we're doing that part,
25:24
serving our customers to find
25:28
out what is it that they, what
25:28
do they want? What do they need?
25:32
Would they even value it? Or do
25:32
they just want to be able to
25:34
contact your sales team?
25:36  Christina Sjahli
What would be
25:36
the next step, when you're
25:38
redesigning it?
25:39  Alisa Herr
This is where I get
25:39
really excited my background in
25:41
library sciences, I love
25:41
organizing the information. So
25:46
we always go from understanding
25:46
their goals to a whole content
25:51
audit. Looking at what are the
25:51
pages on their website? What are
25:55
the ones that would be valuable
25:55
to bring forward and make sure
25:59
that they're highlighted? And
25:59
what are things that are
26:02
missing? And what can be
26:02
removed? Really getting a feel
26:06
for the entire landscape, the
26:06
website and figuring out where
26:10
can we go from there to make the
26:10
content make sense. And it's
26:14
really about starting with the
26:14
content, and everything else
26:19
follows from there. Depending on
26:19
our client's budgets, we also
26:23
can do what we call our
26:23
ecosystem analysis, where we
26:27
look at the competitive
26:27
landscape and their partners and
26:30
other people in the same
26:30
industry, whether or not like
26:33
friendly competitors or
26:33
otherwise, and how are they
26:37
doing? Are they successful? Do
26:37
they have the same kind of
26:41
audience?
26:42
And it also helps us understand
26:42
to that audience, what are they
26:47
used to seeing online? Like what
26:47
are, what is their expectation?
26:51
It helps us really strategically
26:51
position this website that we're
26:56
designing in a place that is
26:56
better than their competition.
27:02
That's the goal, right? And so
27:02
we do that analysis to really
27:07
help with figuring out what's
27:07
the baseline? And are there
27:10
ideas that some of these
27:10
companies might be doing their
27:13
websites that we could leverage
27:13
or make sure that we're
27:16
avoiding? All of that. And so we
27:16
come to it from that perspective
27:22
into the design and into, not
27:22
only the visual design but also
27:26
the technical design. Is there
27:26
any functionality that we need
27:30
to design for?
27:31
And we also, our best projects
27:31
are ones where there's a company
27:39
that has a creative team or
27:39
somebody on the design side
27:45
inside their company that has
27:45
created a brand guide, and can
27:49
help us take the both from not
27:49
only a brand person inside the
27:56
company, but also a marketing
27:56
team, so that we can, we can
28:00
work with them to bring their
28:00
brand onto the website in a way
28:05
that makes sense, both from the
28:05
communication side of things,
28:09
the marketing, what's the
28:09
language, all of that. But then
28:12
also making sure that our
28:12
translation of their brand onto
28:17
a website is really truly in
28:17
line with where their brand is
28:22
going as a company. Because you
28:22
can only get so much from the
28:26
brand guide, when we're able to
28:26
say, "Okay, well, here's what
28:29
we've interpreted from your
28:29
brand guide." And then we're
28:33
able to talk with a designer to
28:33
say, "Those dots are too big for
28:38
our brand." That's not something
28:38
that we would be able to get
28:41
otherwise. And so it's really,
28:41
it's really helpful when we're
28:44
able to work with companies that
28:44
are like that.
28:47  Christina Sjahli
So basically,
28:47
you're saying that they already
28:51
need to have an established
28:51
brand, so you can design a
28:57
website that align with their
28:57
brand overall?
29:02  Alisa Herr
Yeah, exactly. Yeah,
29:02
we work with more established
29:05
companies that are really
29:05
looking to level up their
29:08
websites and make sure that
29:08
we're taking them to the next
29:12
level, for sure.
29:14  Christina Sjahli
You wrote an
29:14
article recently, and the title
29:18
of this article was, I Earn the
29:18
Same Amount as My Employees
29:23
and Thats OK. So, you touch on
29:23
a little bit about your
29:29
experience, about gender
29:29
inequality in pay. But you
29:34
specifically experienced that in
29:34
terms of gender when I read that
29:38
article. So what other
29:38
experience that you had that
29:42
helped push you into this
29:42
decision?
29:46  Alisa Herr
Well, I'm sure some
29:46
of your listeners will be able
29:49
to relate the best but as an
29:49
entrepreneur, I was definitely
29:55
underpaying myself to the
29:55
extreme. I think we all do this
30:00
where, if there's a rough time
30:00
coming, or we're in a rough
30:04
spot, we won't pay ourselves.
30:04
And I did that a lot. And there
30:09
were times within in the first
30:09
few years, where I probably was
30:15
making under $25,000 a year. And
30:15
last summer so just getting
30:25
quickly to the, to the moment
30:25
when we decided to enact this
30:28
equal pay it had been a year
30:28
and a half since my operations
30:33
manager came to work for me. And
30:33
she is incredible at figuring
30:39
out ways to squirrel away money.
30:39
So our biggest expense are our
30:45
employees, our team members, and
30:45
there's not many ways for us to
30:49
save money, but somehow she
30:49
figured it out.
30:54
And it aligned right with the
30:54
improved branding for ourselves
30:59
and this amazing increase in in
30:59
business that we were getting
31:04
from that, all during the
31:04
pandemic. And even though we had
31:09
some expenses that we ended up
31:09
having to pay last year, like
31:12
our office that we haven't been
31:12
able to use still in over a year
31:16
now. We're still paying for it.
31:16
But we came to a place last
31:21
summer where we were looking at
31:21
the pay that all of our we're
31:27
like, we did a labor rate
31:27
analysis to figure out like,
31:29
"Alright, well, how, how is the
31:29
money being distributed
31:33
throughout our company, and how
31:33
much does it cost us to pay
31:38
people?" And we noticed that
31:38
everybody was paid roughly the
31:43
same, except for me, I was paid
31:43
way less. But even though
31:49
everybody was roughly the same,
31:49
there was still, the men on our
31:52
team were still paid more than
31:52
the women on our team. And it
31:55
just blew my mind.
31:57  Christina Sjahli
And you didn't
31:57
even realize that until you did
32:00
this analysis?
32:00  Alisa Herr
Right.
32:01  Christina Sjahli
Okay.
32:02  Alisa Herr
Because the problem,
32:02
the reason I didn't notice it,
32:05
because it seems like it'd be
32:05
really obvious for me as the
32:07
owner to know these things, but
32:07
we're talking in the order of a
32:11
few dollars in like a month,
32:11
probably. And it was because
32:16
some of our team members are
32:16
full-time and some of them are
32:19
part-time. So being able to
32:19
figure out, how do you make that
32:24
equal across full-time,
32:24
part-time? How do you factor and
32:29
benefit differences between
32:29
full-time, part-time, all of
32:33
that was a big math game, trying
32:33
to figure all of that out.
32:38
But this equal pay
32:38
policy that we enacted, actually
32:38  Christina Sjahli
I'm sure.
32:42
gave I got the biggest raise
32:42
out of everybody because I was
32:48
so underpaid. And I still
32:48
haven't caught up from the years
32:52
that I that I docked my own pay.
32:52
My team was thrilled to know
32:58
that I was finally paying myself.
33:00
So, did they
33:00
know that you were underpaid?
33:06  Alisa Herr
Some of them did. My
33:06
Operations Manager did. We've
33:10
been practicing an open book
33:10
management for a while. So yeah,
33:13
I would say a lot of them knew.
33:16  Christina Sjahli
Does everybody
33:16
now got paid the same amount,
33:20
exactly the same amount?
33:21  Alisa Herr
So everybody is paid
33:21
the same amount on an hourly
33:24
basis. So we have, how much that
33:24
is for our hourly workers, and
33:30
then what that translates to in
33:30
salary. And the only way we were
33:34
able to really do that was by
33:34
making sure that the benefits
33:39
for everybody was als, were
33:39
also prorated in terms of how
33:44
much paid time off they were
33:44
able to get, all of those
33:47
things.
33:48  Christina Sjahli
It's a lot of
33:48
math exercise, I can only
33:51
imagine. I understand that
33:51
agency, the biggest asset is
33:57
really people. For you to be
33:57
able to create this pay
34:02
equality, people are probably
34:02
thinking, how is this possible?
34:07
How can we pay everybody all the
34:07
same? When you look at your
34:11
financial planning for the
34:11
long-term, how do you even know
34:16
that your business continue to
34:16
be sustainable and profitable?
34:23
Are there like steps or system
34:23
that you are using that you can
34:28
share with my audience?
34:30  Alisa Herr
But actually, you
34:30
made me think of is that there's
34:33
a big cultural component within
34:33
our team that supported this
34:37
from the beginning. So nobody
34:37
got any pay cuts. Everybody got
34:42
a raise. Some people just got
34:42
bigger raises than others. Some
34:45
people, it was maybe a couple of
34:45
$100 over the year. But we also
34:51
made sure to increase the
34:51
benefits for everybody as well.
34:54
And so I think that the only way
34:54
that this was successful is
34:58
because of the team culture that
34:58
we have. And I was feeling
35:04
really insecure. And I still
35:04
feel pretty insecure about the
35:08
amount that we're paying
35:08
everybody. I've always felt like
35:11
it was too low. And I've always
35:11
had this insecure feeling of,
35:15
who would want to work for me,
35:15
and only make that much when
35:19
they can work somewhere else to
35:19
make more?
35:21
And I've had to do a lot of
35:21
personal growth of my own side
35:25
of and really understand that
35:25
there are reasons beyond the pay
35:31
that people want to work at a
35:31
certain place. So in terms of
35:34
the long-term planning, our goal
35:34
really is to increase this for
35:39
everybody. And it could be that
35:39
at a certain point, maybe it's
35:43
not an equal pay for everybody
35:43
scenario. It could be that once
35:48
the team grows, and we get
35:48
older, and we get put more money
35:52
in our savings account, that
35:52
we're able to just enact a
35:56
minimum. Gravity Payments is a
35:56
ig inspiration for me, for
36:01  Christina Sjahli
Oh yes, Dan
36:01
Price. Right?
36:03  Alisa Herr
Is that his name?
36:03
Yeah.
36:05  Christina Sjahli
Yes. Dan
36:05
Price. The lowest salary in his
36:07
company is 70,000.
36:09  Alisa Herr
Exactly.
36:09  Christina Sjahli
And then he
36:09
cut his own salary from million
36:14
something to something lower, so
36:14
everybody will get a pay of
36:20
70,000. That's the lowest.
36:21  Alisa Herr
Yeah.
36:22  Christina Sjahli
Because he saw
36:22
one of his friends that made
36:26
less than 70,000, were not able
36:26
to had a decent living.
36:32  Alisa Herr
Yeah.
36:32  Christina Sjahli
Right?
36:33  Alisa Herr
Yeah, I was so
36:33
inspired by him.
36:35  Christina Sjahli
Yes, I know.
36:35
Me too.
36:38  Alisa Herr
And so if we could
36:38
get to 70,000, I would be so
36:42
proud. We're not there yet. But
36:42
it is a goal of ours. So we have
36:48
a ten-year target. And that
36:48
doesn't have any financial
36:53
goals. But then we've got a
36:53
three-year goal. And that has
36:56
some financial goals associated
36:56
with it. We have a one-year
37:00
goal, which is a little bit more
37:00
of a realistic target. The
37:03
three-year one is like shooting
37:03
for the moon. But the one-year
37:07
plan, that's a realistic one.
37:07
And then we have quarterly
37:10
goals. And every week, we are
37:10
meeting to track our progress
37:15
towards those quarterly goals.
37:15
It's a commitment.
37:18  Christina Sjahli
And then you
37:18
share this with your employees?
37:21  Alisa Herr
Yes.
37:22  Christina Sjahli
So they all
37:22
know what are the quarterly, the
37:26
yearly the three years and the
37:26
ten years. Even though the ten
37:30
years, I know ten years is too
37:30
long for financial, especially
37:33
given what is going on, like
37:33
three years makes sense. Even
37:36
though you're sharing that you
37:36
are shooting for the goal,
37:39
shooting for the moon on the
37:39
three years, don't feel that
37:42
way. Because you can also do
37:42
scenario analysis, because
37:46
that's the whole purpose of
37:46
having a long-term plan, you can
37:50
change this based on the economy
37:50
situation, based on the growth
37:55
that you are experience. Or
37:55
maybe if there is no growth,
37:58
then you can always adjust this.
37:58
But it's always great to see,
38:02
especially for an agency.
38:02
Because especially that you want
38:06
to do good for your people. For
38:06
your employees. It's so
38:10
important. Because you want to
38:10
make sure that they are
38:13
well-taken care of, right?
38:14  Alisa Herr
Right.
38:14  Christina Sjahli
And then
38:14
everything that you do with your
38:16
employees, increasing their
38:16
benefits, increasing their
38:19
vacation, whatever it is, that
38:19
will impact your pricing as
38:23
well.
38:24  Alisa Herr
Yeah, yeah. And one
38:24
of our three-year, one of our
38:24
Yep.
38:24  Christina Sjahli
Right?
38:27
goals. So we've got profit
38:27
goals, revenue goals, but we
38:30
also have the qualitative goals
38:30
for the three years, and one of
38:34
those is being the best place to
38:34
work.
38:36
Exactly.
38:38  Alisa Herr
That's a big one
38:38
that we're tracking towards. And
38:40
that's another thing that we're
38:40
measuring, and that's part of
38:43
the equal pay.
38:44  Christina Sjahli
You know what
38:44
like, I mean, you need to have
38:47
the non-quantitative driver or
38:47
goal. Because it's really a
38:52
combination. This is the thing,
38:52
like, when people think about
38:55
finance, they think finance,
38:55
it's all numbers, but actually
38:58
it's not. It's not all numbers.
38:58
You need to have a different key
39:04
drivers. Let's think about the
39:04
driver that you just mentioned,
39:07
you want to be the best place
39:07
for your employees, right? But
39:10
when you think about the best
39:10
place for your employees, at the
39:14
end of the day, the decision
39:14
that you're going to be making
39:17
within the company, even let's,
39:17
let's say that you realize, "Oh
39:20
my god, you know, my pricing is
39:20
not aligned to where my goal to
39:23
be the best place for my
39:23
employees. I'm not doing any
39:27
good for my employees if I keep
39:27
keep cutting back my pricing."
39:30
Right? So it's really you need
39:30
to have that combination of
39:34
quantitative and qualitative
39:34
drivers. It's not all about the
39:39
numbers.
39:39  Alisa Herr
Right.
39:39  Christina Sjahli
Finance, it's
39:39
not only about the money.
39:42  Alisa Herr
Right.
39:42  Christina Sjahli
I just want to
39:42
put it out there because I think
39:44
people when they hear about
39:44
finance, it's money, money,
39:46
money. I'm like, No, it's not.
39:46
It's a process. It's a business
39:49
process just like marketing,
39:49
just like sales, just like human
39:52
resources. We touch on financial
39:52
process. What were the beginning
39:58
struggles that you wish you have
39:58
known so you wouldn't be doing
40:03
all of this project that are
40:03
not, that losing money?
40:07  Alisa Herr
I would say that a
40:07
big thing that I was reluctant
40:11
to do for a couple years was
40:11
time tracking. A big part of
40:15
their culture that I did not
40:15
like the previous agency was
40:19
feeling like a rat in a cage of
40:19
like, I had to track every
40:23
minute of my time, and if I
40:23
didn't meet a certain number of
40:26
billable hours per week, that I
40:26
was not doing my job. And I
40:32
hated it. I did not like that
40:32
feeling. And I didn't know how
40:35
to implement time tracking at a
40:35
place without having that
40:39
happen. And so I was making
40:39
financial decisions, such as
40:44
what our hourly rate was, how
40:44
much to pay people, what I could
40:49
afford to do for, I don't kno
40:49
, lunch, even. Everything
40:56
was guesswork, because I didn'
40:56
know how much time we w
41:00
re spending on di
41:00
And I finally got over myself.
41:00
And we started tracking our time
41:07
and have been able to make
41:07
data-informed decisions about
41:12
our hourly rate, or pay how much
41:12
time we can devote to hourly
41:17
work each week. We've made a
41:17
decision, because we want our
41:23
work culture to be great that
41:23
we're only looking for, I think
41:29
it's 75%. So 30 hours per week
41:29
of billable time. And the rest
41:36
is non billable.
41:39  Christina Sjahli
Yeah, doing
41:39
administrative stuff or doing
41:41
research that is maybe part of
41:41
it. It's billable, but it's not
41:45
like 100% billable.
41:47  Alisa Herr
Yeah. And it's also
41:47
talking with your friends at
41:49
work.
41:49  Christina Sjahli
Yeah.
41:50  Alisa Herr
And going out the
41:50
bathroom and taking
41:52  Christina Sjahli
No, God.
41:52  Alisa Herr
Like all end zoning
41:52
out sitting there for the first
41:55
30 minutes just drinking your
41:55
coffee and staring at the
41:57
screen. Like that's part of it.
41:57
And we wanted to build that in.
42:02
Because we know that's just how
42:02
people are.
42:05  Christina Sjahli
And the reason
42:05
I laughed so hard when you spoke
42:10
about time tracking, I work for
42:10
an audit firm, that is like the
42:15
first 10 years of my career. I
42:15
have to keep tracking my time.
42:21
And the more you get higher up,
42:21
the more restricted I felt.
42:28
Because even though they lower
42:28
the billable hours for a manager
42:34
level, but still as a manager,
42:34
because of that, because you are
42:40
a manager, you're trying to
42:40
maintain relationship with
42:42
clients. That is non billable,
42:42
but it's important to the
42:46
business.
42:46  Alisa Herr
Right. We're not
42:46
tracking time to track people's
42:49
billable hours, we are tracking
42:49
time to make sure that our
42:51
planning is not going to burn
42:51
people out. You know, we want to
42:56
make sure that our estimates for
42:56
how long it takes to do X, Y and
43:02
Z make sense so that we're able
43:02
to go for it.
43:06  Christina Sjahli
Yeah.
43:06  Unknown
So then our projects
43:06
become more profitable and that
43:09
we're not scheduling too much on
43:09
our team members plates so that
43:13
they end up burning out trying
43:13
to meet unrealistic deadlines.
43:16  Christina Sjahli
Alisa, where
43:16
can people find you?
43:18  Alisa Herr
So our website is
43:18
unitywebagency.com. And I
43:23
welcome you to visit the
43:23
website. You can also connect
43:26
with me on LinkedIn.
43:28  Christina Sjahli
Thank you so
43:28
much, Alisa.
43:30  Alisa Herr
Thank you so much,
43:30
Christina. I really value being
43:33
here.
43:35  Christina Sjahli
And that's
43:35
brings us to the end of another
43:37
show. Thank you so much for
43:37
listening to another episode of
43:41
Her CEO Journey, the business
43:41
finance podcast for women
43:45
entrepreneurs. If you want to
43:45
create a proactive financial
43:49
plan and process for your
43:49
business so you are ready to
43:53
weather the financial storm over
43:53
the next few months, let's chat
43:57
and see what's possible for you.
43:57
Book in a time to speak with me
44:01
at
44:01
christinasjahli.com/let-s-chat.