Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Bryant Holt, Founder of Innovative History, located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Innovative History is an online education platform that provides teachers, students, and history lovers with fun 3-minute history cartoons. By definition, Innovative History is an oxymoron. It's a new way of studying the old. In today's world of interactive content, endless social media scrolling, and short viral videos, you can't expect a dusty old textbook to engage students anymore. I launched Innovative History to share my passion for the past and to provide students, teachers, and history lovers with a better way to engage with historical figures and events.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Bryant, and I've always had a passion for history which led me to pursue a history degree at Vanderbilt University. I vividly remember the questions I used to get when I told people I was majoring in history. "What are you going to do with a history degree?" or" How are you going to make money?" Questions like these would make me wonder if following my passion was the right decision. However, studying history ultimately gave me all the necessary tools to succeed in the business world. I learned the power of research, critical thinking, analyzing sources, writing, and presenting. Because the degree didn't have a clear-cut path, I had ample opportunity to explore many different directions and ultimately find multiple jobs and projects I enjoy doing today.
There were two main reasons that led me to launch Innovative History.
The first was that I wanted to start something that would give me an outlet for my passions. The second was that I continually heard my mom, a fourth-grade teacher, comment on how hard it was to engage students with old-school history lessons. So, I taught myself some basic design and animation skills and started Innovative History to create a more fun and engaging way for teachers to deliver history lessons to students.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My sense of accomplishment comes from helping people. This comes in the form of all the messages that Innovative History viewers share with me. I'm most proud of all the video comments and emails I've received from students thanking Innovative History for helping them pass a test, learn something new, or discover a historic figure who looks like them or inspires them. The same goes for all teachers who've used Innovative History to make their classes more engaging and help pique their students' interest in the past.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the amazing things about today's day and age is that it is easier than ever to start a business. You could spin up a website, YouTube channel, or eCommerce store today if you wanted to. While that's a huge benefit for all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, it also means that much more content for the average person to sift through. That also means it's even harder for businesses to reach their audience. One of the biggest challenges that I face with Innovative History is continuing to grow my audience and stand out against the ever-growing amount of content that gets generated each day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Failing is part of the journey; it takes time to build something. Excuse my history-related themes, but I want to remind all the entrepreneurs out there that Rome wasn't built in a day, and Henry Ford failed at multiple entrepreneurial endeavors before successfully launching the Ford Motor Company.
- Success isn't always what it seems. Christopher Columbus might be remembered as a famous explorer, but he died a penniless outcast. Henry Hudson was so hated by his crew that he was left behind to die in Canada after discovering Hudson Bay. Ferdinand Magellan is famous for leading the first circumnavigation around the world, but he died halfway through the journey after instigating a war with local inhabitants. (This list goes on and on). Not doing things the right way or growing your company the right way will likely translate to failure in the long run. Don't beat yourself up trying to compare your growth to other companies.
- It's important to be passionate about what you are doing. Some of the greatest companies in the world have taken a long time to build and only succeeded because the founders stuck it out. That's why it's so important that you find something you are passionate about doing, as it makes it easier to stick with it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Check out some of Innovative History's cartoons on the YouTube channel. Learn something new today! - https://www.youtube.com/c/InnovativeHistory
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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