Paige Wiese is learning every day
Running a business

Paige Wiese is learning every day

In honor of Pride Month, QuickBooks is spotlighting the LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who play a vital role in creating an inclusive and vibrant small business community.

Name: Paige Wiese

Location: Denver, CO

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Business: Tree Ring Digital

Tell us about your business.

We are a top-ranking, Denver-based digital marketing agency that specializes in WordPress website design and development, website maintenance, search engine optimization, social media, and reputation marketing.

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started?

It was 2008 and we were in the middle of the great financial recession. I was fresh out of college and had been recently diagnosed with epilepsy. I was looking for work that I could do from home and so I decided to learn how to design websites. I taught myself the ins and outs of the processes, applications, and components.

I was doing a lot of freelance work just to make ends meet but quickly found steady success in utilizing all of the tools that I had mastered. The workload began to grow into more than I could manage by myself and so I hired one employee, and then another. I watched the company grow and the business more or less found me.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year?

It's all about the hustle and what you put into it. I would take calls at midnight; I would make sure things were turned around quickly; I did whatever it took to make sure the clients were happy and that I was still learning. I said yes to taking on projects even when I wasn’t sure of what I was doing; I was getting an education while getting paid. I had a lot of eagerness and commitment, and there were long days, and there still are, but I love what I do.

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It’s all about the hustle and what you put into it.

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner?

I think the ability to manage emotions and the ability to really look at the bigger picture. There are going to be hurdles, times of uncertainty, and things won’t always go as planned, but there is light on the other side. You can’t control everything but it’s how you handle your emotions that is most important.

What is an aspect of running a business that you needed to learn more about when you started? How did you learn about it?

Every day, every month, every year there is something that I’ve learned and I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning about how to run a business. I took the approach when I first got started that I’m going to learn and understand how to do all the roles which now makes me much more aware of everything going on in the business. I delegate stuff out willingly and happily but now I know how to lead a team of a dozen employees confidently, and when I’m not sure, I rely on mentors or people I can trust who will provide a different perspective. 

How does running your own business make you feel?

Fulfilled. I absolutely love what I do and I get to provide salaries to employees who get to do what they love. The more I learn, the more I want to learn and the further into the business I want to dive. I see limitless opportunities for the company, and I’m so open to those things for us, but I also get to work with clients and watch them reach their goals. 

I’m doing what I want to be doing; I'm following a passion; I know I'm going in the right direction and that’s why I would say it’s truly fulfilling.

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome as a business owner?

When I first started, I remember just feeling like I was falling off a cliff every single time that something happened. If a client called and complained, I felt like I was falling off the cliff. If an employee said they didn’t like something, I felt like I was falling off a cliff. Now I feel more like I'm just walking, and I may hit a crack in the sidewalk, but I continue walking. Sometimes I catch myself and sometimes fall harder than I would like—but I no longer feel, in business, that everything is just like falling off a cliff. You're going to hit cracks, or rocks, or whatever along the way but you can continue moving along in the journey. 

What are your proudest moments?

Seeing what we've been able to help clients achieve is definitely a proud moment for me and something that I enjoy. It was a blank slate when I got started and I had no big, corporate contacts, so some of the big clients we’ve worked with is another one.

Another proud moment I’ve had is being named a Power Winner by the Colorado LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce because of the work we do for the community in both providing representation as a lesbian business owner alongside the work we do in giving back to resources like The Center on Colfax (Denver’s LGBTQ community center).

What are the next big plans you have for your business?

Our goal is growth and expansion within the agency, so we can house more than 25 employees, as well as grow and solidify our national footprint. I would also like to continue to grow my own individual development and business ventures. Whether that’s acquiring other businesses or starting other businesses—I’d like to utilize everything I’ve learned. There’s a lot of exciting things to come. 

What are three things that you feel have contributed to your success as a business owner? 

Having a strong ability to listen, having the ability to shift and adapt, and having the ability to educate myself and those around me. Additionally, I would say having the ability to separate work and what’s best for the business from personal emotions and feelings about situations and circumstances.

What challenges do you feel are unique to small business owners in the LGBTQIA+ community? Have you come up against any bias? 

I think visibility is one of the biggest challenges. We have a support system, but we don't. I think there can be more business owners who could be an active part of the LGBTQIA+ small business community so there would be even more exposure. We also need to work more closely with one other. When LGBTQIA+-owned small businesses utilize the services of other LGBTQIA+-owned small businesses, we’ll be able to shape a stronger network and provide a younger, queer generation with the knowledge that they, too, can be successful. 

However, another challenge is having the ability to be confidently out. While I haven’t faced any explicit bias, there may have been people who chose not to work with me because of my sexual orientation or how I identify. I know of a lot of people who choose not to disclose out of fear of losing business, so while I can’t say for sure that being LGBTQIA+ has been a challenge for me and has impacted my business, I can see how that may be a challenge for others in the community. 

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Living a life of authenticity, passion, and hard work is worth it.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in the community?

Things will be difficult at times and you’ll wonder how you’re going to get through it. But no matter what, as long as you’re true to yourself and acting with integrity, you’ll be able to overcome the obstacles and come out better for it on the other side.

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going? 

Thinking about how proud I am of how far we’ve come and remaining optimistic that I can get through a rough day, situation, or experience. Instead of dwelling on the negative or what’s wrong with a situation, I really harness strength in knowing that I’ve already faced hardships and I can get through just about anything.

What’s your “power song” and why? 

I would say Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me.” Mainly because that's just seven minutes of full power music and everyone wants to sing along.

Any final thoughts?

I’m proud to be an out, LGBTQIA+ woman with a disability who owns a small business that is growing and thriving. For anyone who may feel they can’t overcome the challenges in their lives due to internal or external factors, I want to encourage them to pursue their dreams because living a life of authenticity, passion, and hard work is worth it.

To learn more about Tree Ring Digital and support the business, visit their website or them out on Instagram.

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