Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ari Krzyzek, Co-Founder of Chykalophia, located in Evanston, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Chykalophia is a woman-owned minority creative and web agency helping Femtech DTC and women-led brands transform their websites to unlock business opportunities. Through our proven process, we get them the clarity they need to craft a brand that delights their customers beyond pretty design and delivers a no-brainer UX. We build the underlying web framework and tools that enable them to sell at scale. It leads to growth once it is implemented.
Tell us about yourself
In 2011, I packed one suitcase and left the comfort of my home, family, and friends in Bali to pursue my love and dream. At the time, my husband and I were freelancers doing our own thing. I mainly take on design projects, while he works on web development projects. We used to take on freelance projects through websites like UpWork, 99Designs, and Freelancers.com.
A few months after we got married, he proposed to me to be his partner in business and build a company together. I thought it was a great idea and said yes. I clearly have no clue what I was doing. Not knowing how to start the process of building a business, we did what most millennials like us do: Google it. We found SCORE and attended their business 101 classes to build our business plan, file an LLC, and put our website together.
Our company, Chykalophia (pronounced see-ka-lo-fia), officially opened for business in October 2011. Being newlyweds and new business partners, our personal and professional relationships had no boundaries. We were stepping on each other's toes, telling each other what to do with our clients and what's the right or wrong way to get our ducks in a row. It was hurting us. However, with the help of our mentor, we were able to set boundaries for both of our relationships and slowly put things in order for the business.
When we built the business in 2011, we didn't have any funds to support the company. We bootstrapped it along the way. Because of that, I ended up taking on a full-time position at Sears Holdings from May 2014 to June 2016 to help fund the company and take on a part-time role on the projects at Chykalophia. It was not until June 2016 that we were able to see some traction and growth in the company. I knew that I wouldn't be able to juggle everything after delivering my first child. I chose to officially join the company full-time again in July 2016.
Since then, I have worked with my husband to build our business together to where it is today, where we have 15 team members working collaboratively to help our clients succeed and achieve their goals. My daily motivation is to build an agency where we excel at both creating and building, as well as delivering impact for our clients and improving the lives of their target audience.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This year, my business partner and I published a book! Together, we have over 27 years of experience in the industry. Time and again, we have seen businesses overlook leveraging branding, user experience, and web strategies to get in front of the right audience and increase conversions.
This is why we decided to write the handbook for entrepreneurs and marketing directors to help them build a successful website. After 14 months of writing the book, we have finally launched Made to Sell: Creating Websites that Convert. The book was named the #1 New Release in Web Design prior to launch week.
Link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BGQPKK3F/
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As an unconventional business owner who had no idea about building a business, the hardest thing for me was to figure out what resources I needed. It's challenging to find a resource or solution for things that I genuinely have no clue about at the beginning. However, being part of the local entrepreneurial or business owner communities really helped guide my journey over time.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Forget your business plan and focus on understanding your business pillars, like your target audience, your unique selling proposition (USP), and who you are as a brand.
- Apply for business programs like Goldman Sachs 10K Small Business or another business accelerator program to help you understand what it takes to run a business.
- "Your network is your net worth." Never underestimate the power of networking; people do business with people, and many successful ventures are based on good relationships.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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