Hi, my name is Ashley Ball. At age 23 I became a teacher and co-founder of a digital marketing agency. This is my story in business.
Studying at TAFE
Back in 2013-14, I studied computers and Web Technology at TAFE QLD. While attending the great classes offered, I found an absolute passion for web design.
There was a balance between creativity and problem solving that drew me to designing web pages. I found my “thing”, which was validated by my teacher who gave me constant, glowing reviews.
After the course, my web technology teacher even forwarded me a job opportunity as a lead web designer for Australia Zoo. This opportunity made me panic, and was overwhelmed with fear.
I’ve had a long battle with nerves and social anxiety, so pursuing my career in web design went on the back burner for what ended up being years.
Instead, I went on a 2-3 year travelling adventure with my family. Bali, America, New Zealand and Thailand – we had some fantastic times!
I met a lot of good people and experienced life-changing events. Now, I always recommend travelling to my students or anyone younger. It changed my life and brought so much happiness and positivity.
While travelling, I worked in various cleaning and manual labour jobs. Eventually, landing back to web design come late 2015.
First Business Experience, The Partnership
If I remember correctly, It was a friend I made at the time who wanted to meet up and talk “web stuff”. Hesitant at first, we ended up having a good startup dynamic, which lead to a strong network of clientele.
We were so green at the time, figuring out what CMS to use and what design software to commit too. We had no idea what we were doing. Then, to sell our service to real businesses, it was a miracle we took on clients.
Once we were asked to present at a ladies-only business event, now that was an experience. It was our first time creating a slideshow intended to teach and sell our business.
The experience we gained was endlessly beneficial. We learnt A LOT! Most of my business knowledge came from learning as I went along, which was a balance of terror and satisfaction.
I owe a lot to that friend, if it wasn’t for him, I’m not sure if I would’ve ever gone into business. I never had intentions of starting anything because of family reasons I hated the idea of business.
Unfortunately, the partnership did come to a somewhat sudden halt when plans didn’t align. We eventually went our separate ways taking a split of clientele, which led me to freelance.
Freelancing Solo In Web Design
In an endeavour to learn from my first business, I focused my efforts on providing more quality services and marketing via local face-to-face networks. I realised there was an opportunity to teach a lot of the skills I developed over the last few years.
Every business owner had a website, but no one knew what to do with it. No one understood what a website even was, how search engines worked. You can see where teaching comes into the equation, but that’s still a year or so away at this point.
I joined a networking group called Noosa Business Connect (NBC) with one of my clients at the time. He ran a social media marketing business, and we both found a good fit in the networking group.
We ended up sharing a lot of referrals as our services complement each other, which led to regular catch-ups. After months of regular networking, we had contact from a duo interested in forming a digital marketing company.
After multiple meetings together, we all concluded it was the right fit. They had experience in large corporations which complimented our small business attitudes. We also brought in a graphic designer and long term business coach.
Our Supergroup – The Company
Come 2018 with a few years experience under my belt and plenty of client stories, it was time to take things to the next step.
The goal was always to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals who prioritise quality and bettering each other. The focus was on bringing all our separate services under the one banner to make it easy for clients.
Feeling apprehensive at first, we quickly controlled our internal and external roles. We meet a lot of challenges in our first year. The fact that we overcame everything and still have had a consistent goal as a group, really says a lot to us.
I’m pleased to say the company is still under operation and going stronger than ever with no reason for slowing. We’re still learning along the way and tuning our methods.
The partners in the company have become vital people in my life. I’ve learnt a lot of lessons and language I use to this day. We’re excited to see where it all goes next!
Around the same time, the company started, I was contacted over LinkedIn by my Web Tech teacher back from when I was studying. She explained there might be a future opportunity for me as a teacher.
Becoming A Teacher in TAFE
My now boss explained that in order to qualify, I needed a Training and Assessing Certificate (TAE). I quickly began googling what the heck a TAE is and where I can get it.
Luckily for me, Impact Training Coolum offered the Certificate IV as a condensed course. The trainer was incredible and a pitch-perfect model of what a good trainer should be. Within a month I learnt all the necessary technical jargon to qualify and met up with the creative centre director, my web tech teacher.
I’m in debt to my new boss. If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be where I am now. And the team I work with daily are an absolute solid unit. My mentor has become a great friend, helping me in so many facets of my life.
Where Am I Now?
Everything’s really happened in the last two years for me, so it’s really maintaining my role in the company and teaching at TAFE.
Obviously, this website is an ongoing passion project/portfolio piece. It’s always been a hobby to run my own professional development site.
I’ve also stumbled into volunteering via the GetOnlineQld initiative. It’s a great program supporting a lot of the same ideas I have.
I’m also doing more public speaking and workshops. It’s something I’ve always wanted to pursue and hope to do it more in the future.
And lastly, I’m planning to develop and release some web-based products completely separate to anything I’ve ever done before. They’re currently ideas and are fairly ambitious, so I can’t wait to keep going with them.
All things considered, I love reflecting. It makes me appreciate my life and the valuable people around me. I really wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for all the amazing support.