Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Daniel Grissom, Founder of Kids Cartoon Academy, located in Chattanooga, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Kids Cartoon Academy offers convenient monthly memberships and weekly live, online drawing classes so that children can improve their art skills and grow their confidence. We help busy parents by providing a one-stop shop for their creative children who love to draw cartoons and want to level up their skills. We offer large and small group classes, monthly shows and tells, weekly shout-outs, bonus classes, a private Facebook group, and more.
Tell us about yourself
I loved to draw when I was a kid, but in middle school, I stopped. My school didn't support the arts (or at least not cartoons), academic pressures increased, my peers stopped drawing, and art didn't seem like a viable career path. Like many of us, I abandoned my creative and imaginative side as I grew up and focused on other things.
I became a middle and high school teacher (of English Language Arts, Spanish, and other subjects… interestingly, not art). But as I taught these different subjects, I saw the same dreadful pattern over and over in my students. Even though they told me about their wildly imaginative childhoods, by the time they got to me, they had stopped reading, drawing, or being curious about the world.
Meanwhile, about six years ago, I took an art class on a whim, which changed everything for me. It reawakened my long-lost childhood passion for drawing. Since then, a hobby has become an obsession and, ultimately, a business.
The pandemic was the turning point. When the schools shut down and we were teaching remotely, I loved being able to take walks with my family between classes, leading from the beach, or spending more time with my kids in the morning before the morning commute. I wondered if there was a way to make more room for this—for the family time, the travel, and my art. It turns out there was.
So not only does Kids Cartoon Academy allow me to pursue a free and flexible life, but it helps children do the same concerning their creative ambitions. As I did, the programs ensure that kids don't abandon their creativity as they grow old. We provide that they know their quirky creative selves have essential contributions to make in this world. And that they can make beautiful art drawing the things they love, pursuing a creative and curious life.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm most proud of going from a classroom teacher on a teacher salary with no background in business to an entrepreneur making six figures, all in just one year, while reaching over 2000 students with the power of art.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Learning to say no, knowing what opportunities to turn down. Figuring out how to develop a laser focus. These have been the hardest things I've had to learn. (Oh, and figuring out health insurance 😅) There is no shortage of ideas and dreams for a creative entrepreneur, but there is a shortage of time. So to best serve my students and grow my business, I have had to say no to many opportunities to give my best efforts to my current obligations. Starting is easy, but growing is hard.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- First, it's essential to get started. I like to read and research. That's what I do for fun. So I can feel like I'm working, but it's just entertainment unless I'm taking action. And an idea is essentially meaningless if it stays in your head. So you must act, and act early and often. Plus, the learning you get from taking action trumps the knowledge you gain from research every time.
- Iterate. This builds off of the previous tip. You might have a dream or a vision, but once you've put it into practice, you will know how viable it is. You'll sometimes fail, learn new things, and adapt your projects as you go. The third iteration of your business venture will look a little like the first or the idea in your head, but it will be way better for you and your customers.
- Say no. There will be endless opportunities for new projects, side hustles, or offers, and you'll have to turn them down if you want to see your business grow. Focus on optimizing your current offers, for example, instead of creating new ones. Also, you would be successful at all 20 unique ideas in your head, so go all in on the one or two you love the most and ignore the rest. For now, anyway. You'll only see your business grow if you focus on what you want. Figure out what part of your work is the most productive and gets the most results, and focus on that. Eliminate or outsource tasks earlier than you think you need to.
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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