Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in graphic design but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Khamo, a freelance graphic designer based in Menifee, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I create Christian-focused graphic designs, and I think what sets me apart from others is my ability to incorporate design elements in my artwork that are not typically tied to Christianity. I am excited to continue using this skill set to expand my reach as a designer. A huge catalyst for my passion in this area was birthed while working within the church walls. And I believe it serves as a big reason why I am here today, offering church-centered graphic design.
Although my business has been thriving, getting to this point has come with its own set of challenges. Learning to work with different types of people, execute visions that are not your own, and submitting to creative authorities has taught me to be agile, diligent, and extremely patient within this field. My job is to work with the client to achieve their design goals while staying true to my creative style. My hope is that people will see excellence as a standard in my artwork.
Tell us about yourself
My uncle was a graphic designer, and Corel Draw was the first creative software that I interacted with when I was a kid. Years later, I volunteered at my church under the in-house graphic designer and was amazed by Photoshop and Illustrator and wanted to do that. I really liked his desk setup too, with the double monitors. I loved it so much that this made me switch my major from engineering to multimedia design when I was attending university at San Diego State and received my bachelor's degree in 2012.
In 2013, I landed my first internship designing e-commerce websites. Fast forward to 2016, I became the Art Director at the Rock Church in San Diego, CA, where I managed the graphic design team and oversaw all of the different graphic design projects for the church.
In 2021, I left my full-time job and started Michael Khamo Design, where I offer services in graphic design, web design, cover art, social media marketing, digital media, and art direction, ultimately helping others bring their design needs to life. My passion for graphic design and my desire to see people, churches, and businesses convey their vision in the most excellent way fueled me to launch my own design business, taking all of my wisdom, experience, and sheer love for art and walking out the creative journey God had designed me to live.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment was leaving my full-time job and making that jump into being my own boss. It has opened many opportunities and great partnerships that I will forever be thankful for.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is working against yourself. You have to actively rely on yourself to create work opportunities in order to meet your financial needs every month. At the time when I left my job at the church, my wife and I had just had a baby, and we had a mortgage to pay. The questions, "Will I make enough every month to support my family and pay bills?" "Will I get more or lose clients when I make the jump?" "Do I have what it takes to do this?" ran through my head every time I was thinking of officially going full-time freelance, and this numbed me for over a year. I was holding myself back by allowing fear to creep in and not allowing God to work through my life and my career.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Use your full-time job to catapult you to start your business. Save yourself a lot of headaches and stress by having your ducks in a row as best as possible before you start.
- Have at least 3-6 months of monthly living expenses saved as an emergency fund.
- Work hard and never stop believing in yourself and the gifts that God has blessed you with.
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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