Steve and Gemma Law, owners of Mission Bell Communications and RevWeb Online web services, got into the worldwide web because they saw that churches, ministries, charities and small businesses were struggling with “terrible websites built by motivated and well-intentioned people,” says Steve. “We liked what they were about, but they really needed help.”
With Mission Bell, the Laws are helping clients in Canada, the United States and beyond, with Steve working on site design and development and Gemma doing administration and project management. “Typically, we are working with ten organizations on their websites at any given time, so there’s a lot to keep organized and moving forward,” says Gemma.
“We also have two part-time contractors – one here in Stratford, one in St. Catharines – and a business development rep in Atlanta Georgia selling the RevWeb services.” (RevWeb Online is a broader range of self-serve web services that the Laws bundle with the US company.)
Starting Up in Stratford
Like many local entrepreneurs, Steve grew up in Stratford, moved away for a spell (in his case, 14 years during which he met Gemma and adopted two Mexican children) and then decided to return to the area to raise the kids. “I always loved this area and my parents are still here,” he says.
To re-start this season of life, Steve got a job working nights in a local factory but in his spare time started a blog and helped friends re-do their websites, which led to referrals that by 2015 led to paying business projects. Steve and Gemma launched Mission Bell in 2016.
The Laws approached PCF in the summer of 2017 for financing to go full-time with Mission Bell and to develop and launch RevWeb Online services, which went live in January. Through a personal connection, their RevWeb sales partner is working on the southeastern US market. “Those services are online, and the goal is to build recurring, almost passive revenue,” says Gemma, “but in our market personal connection is still important to get started. So you need someone in the area to meet prospects and cultivate new working relationships,” says Gemma.
Plans and a Future
“Creating the business plan for the Perth Community Futures application was good for us,” says Gemma. “It forced us to be forward thinking and articulate our vision and goals. It’s one thing to think about it in your own head, but when you have to explain it you realize how much clarifying you need to do.”
Most recently, the Laws incorporated. “It was a business expense, but we find it is healthier to have that boundary between our personal incomes and the company’s,” says Gemma.
Steve agrees. “It also means a consistent pay cheque and we aren’t comingling clients’ and suppliers’ money with our own, which can be a real trap in a small business,” he says. “It also prompts us to plan long-term and not keep thinking project-to-project and hand-to-mouth.”