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Over 3 years I was fired from my job, turned my freelance sidehustle into a 6 figure agency, Doubled my income every year,

and reduced my workload to 4 hours a day.

I mostly did it by reading, implementing and copying other people much smarter than me.

Over 3 years I was fired from my job, turned my freelance sidehustle into a 6 figure agency, Doubled my income every year,

and reduced my workload to 4 hours a day.

I mostly did it by reading, implementing and copying other people much smarter than me.

Solopreneur [noun]

an alternative to the traditional 9 to 5 or venture-backed entrepreneur

An entrepreneur who works alone, “solo,” running their business single-handedly. They might have contractors for hire, yet have full responsibility for the running of their business.

About Page

Hi I’m Nicholas Robb A.K.A “The Design Hero”
I run a multi award winning 6-figure marketing agency, by myself from the middle of nowhere in Scotland.
I work 4 days a week, with no permanent staff, no premises, and low overheads.
we’ve worked with best-selling authors, national charities such as Scottish Autism, and celbrities
I took a very roundabout route into my current life. For years I worked like an absolute dog trying to get ahead in a 9-5 and I walked away from several promising careers to pursue freelancing with no guaranteed prospects or pay. Like many freelancers, clients ruled my life. I had a side hustle in the evenings and weekends too just to make ends meet.
I read that an estimated 60% of people work in jobs they are unsuited to or unhappy in. They just take the trajectory that life throws at them. But my ethos is that you only have 1 life, and it’s pretty short. You’re going to spend a lot of it working. So it’s better to design and plan the life you want.
I spent years reading about how the most successful entrepreneurs designed lifestyle businesses, experimenting and optimizing my business, and putting everything I’d learned into practice.
As it turns out it’s quite simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, like everyone I’m still working things out as I go, and we’re all at different points in our journey. But I see a lot of freelancers work crazy hours and are still stuck earning less than they would in a low-stress 9-5 job.
The goal for me is a highly systemized lifestyle business that earns £10k/m on a 3-day workweek WITHOUT all the burnout.
So now I produce free content for freelancers on my Instagram @the_design_hero and I coach other freelancers on how to design a solo business with profit, freedom, and stability.

From fired to 6 fig freelancer

How I went from getting fired to running a 6 fig solo business….
bullied in school
Left architecture
difficult decision

series of sucky jobs

learned a lot about what I didn’t want to do.
I still found it incredibly awkward to talk about money or request raise, like most people. I think a lot of bosses count on that.
Soapbox. Loved the work and team, but I wasn’t paid enough. I had actively raised the amount of £ they charged per project. the type of clients we were doing sites for was changing. But in the end they just told me flat out they couldn’t pay me what I felt I was due which was fair enough.
Daw Signs shitshow culture. I couldn’t even get a meeting with the directors to discuss it. So I just walked out 1 day before my probation period.
This whole time I was still doing Design Hero. not marketing it much, mostly just referrals.
From my notes “If I can make just £2.5k/m then I can quit my job”.

DH matched my wage

I hit this target, but I still didn’t jump.
I had moved jobs and was quite happy there. Which was a problem, though I didn’t realise it at the time.
I felt comfortable. I was being paid more. The Boss was a really nice guy and a hard worker.
Though in hindsight it’s absolutely wild to me now, how underpaid I still was.
I was helping build a 7 fig businesses startup.
My roles included….
branding, project management, web design, web development, SEO, social media, business strategy, email newsletters….
yep that’s x8 full time job roles 😂
During this job DH had actually eclipsed my full time wage and I started thinking, yeah I’m going to have to leave soon.
But still something held me back… I kept setting these targets and saying “When this happens, or that happens then I’ll quit”

Getting fired

Were about to move house. had applied for a mortgage.
the day I was going to ask for a raise…. fate or destiny?
not proud
never lied about DH, just didn’t talk about it much.
My boss was thrilled with my results right up until that point.
He said he felt I was living 2 lives…. he wasn’t wrong.
During the day I was helping him build a 7 figure business.
Evenings and weekends I was building my own thing.
and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Most of the skills his business benefited from during the day was stuff I’d been learning in my own time for decades.
So I justified it as was making up time later so I felt it was ok.
But I’m really not proud of it, it makes my cheeks burn even thinking about it now.
Important lesson for me when I became a leader:
your team will have sidehustles, it’s the new normal.
If you want them to stick around, bring them into the open, support their sidehustles and coach the gap to help them grow.
He was really great about it in the end, and actually asked if I could come back.
If you’re listening now, overall you were a great boss and I’m still very sorry.
So I left. at that point my annual salary was 32k before tax. 2 years later, and I there was a period where made that every month for 3 months in a row.
Once I dedicated my attention and focus to Design Hero full time
It wasn’t because I was spending more time on it.
I basically just stopped working 24/7 and replaced my day job with DH.
The difference was mindset.
The rest of the time that I had been working I filled with reading.
I had this massive shift in mindset and saw a quantum leap in progress.
my income doubled every year for almost 5 years in a row.

DH income doubled year on year

note this goes all the way back to 2012
But what you’ll notice here is the effect of diminishing returns.
I hit this point where it started getting harder to scale my income.
Because my whole business was built around 100% me.

So Design Hero was ticking along.

I hit my target of £10k/m
2 years before this would have been a pipedream.
Things were good.
But I was miserable.
Was having weekly midlife crises haha.
Was working a lot. felt antsy, head was fizzing. Didn’t feel the sense of fulfilment.
What I’ve learned about myself is that when things are running smoothly I get bored shitless and starting doubting my whole life.
Honestly, I think it was borderline depression.
When I’m growing I moan a lot and feel a bit stressed, but I’m driven and have purpose. So the truth is I need the challenge to occupy my mind.
There’s a balance to be had.
No matter what the gurus tell you, you can’t grow and have record months forever. it’s too stressful, you’ll have a meltdown.
But for a certain kind of person, coasting is another form of death and you’ll feel bored and unfulfilled.
So you have to do it in sprints. A burst of growth, followed by planned downtime for mental recovery.
This also ensures you don’t get wrapped up and abuse other parts of your life; your health, your partner etc.

So enough is enough.

I had always worked pretty hard and long hours. at a certain point, once you are comfortable for money you have to ask WHY?
Every I know making 5 figures wants to make 6 figures. But everyone I know making 6 figures is trying to figure out how to get back time.
I followed the heroes in my books and started trying to design myself out of the business.
Designing automations and systems.
My ethos is if you’re going to do it more than 3 times in your whole life, try to automate it.
It takes much longer initially.
That 10 second task, you do every day: It takes 2 hours to build a system for it or whatever.
But removing that mental tax, that clutter in your brain of remembering to do that thing is priceless.
My brain has always been geared this way.