Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Johan Harvey, Co-Founder of Skyclimb.tech, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a co-founder of Skyclimb.tech, a small team of digital designers and developers that specializes in consulting, development, and support services for business owners. As a full-service, non-traditional agency, we take a holistic approach to delivering those services, which run the gamut from brand development and web presence optimization to custom software development and platform integrations. This typically results in ongoing partnerships with our clients through retainer-based work, though we do take on occasional work-for-hire projects.
Tell us about yourself
I still occasionally marvel at what brought me to where I am professionally today. I always say that everyone should spend at least some time in the hospitality industry, and I did my due diligence! After 15 years in and out of restaurants working front-of-house, I would like to think I came away with a good deal of social intelligence. You learn to read people quickly and spark up instant, meaningful interpersonal relationships in mere moments while also developing a thick skin - it comes with the job. Concurrently, I spent some years as a touring musician, which is where I first started gaining ground in the world of branding, marketing, publicity, and online presence. My band toured the East Coast heavily for about four years, and while it was far from glamorous, and I'll never get those lost hours of sleep back in this lifetime, I wouldn't trade those experiences and lessons learned for anything in the world.
Though it seems like a long bridge to cross, the music industry actually led me quite organically into the world of graphic design, website development, and digital marketing. A few years and a few online courses down the road led to me sustaining a fully work-from-home lifestyle (in 2019, before it was "cool"!) for a handful of international clients. Oddly enough, shortly before finally hanging up the gigging life, I connected with a fellow musician in town who, along with being a spectacular guitarist, also happened to be a remarkably gifted software developer. We conjured up Skyclimb.tech together over the course of two or three conversations, and the rest is history.
What motivates me each day? Being in full creative control, not just of the work we do for our partner companies, but how we work, from the setting of expectations during introductions to maintaining and growing up on the subsequent working relationships and dynamics with our clients. Also, being surrounded by people better than me, as Chuck Palahniuk quipped, "as the stupidest person in the room, I always had the most to gain."
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Easily, the biggest accomplishment was assembling an amazing team of individuals that I love and trust! That, and that we've grown every year since conception.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Starting out and getting the whole machine into gear. It takes a lot of faith, trust, and investment in yourself and your business partners, and holding to a shared vision of philosophies and processes - arguing away the negative internal voices and fear of the unknown, constantly questioning, "am I doing the right thing creating this company? What if it's a failure? Am I wasting these hundreds of hours and everyone else's?" Before we got the word out and started getting clients (another one of the hardest parts of owning a business), to quote Ben Horowitz, "as a startup CEO, I slept like a baby. I woke up every 2 hours and cried."
You quickly learn that owning your own business means if you don't get out of bed, nothing gets done, and you have to keep pushing your passions out there because nobody else is going to push for you. At the same time, I've learned to slow down - it's too easy to burn out. Long-term energy comes from recognizing and aligning the subtle energetic differences between anxiety and inspiration.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Specialize and differentiate from the point of conception. If you try to appeal to everyone, you'll end up appealing to no one.
- Stay consistent and have patience in the beginning when you're dealing with your first prospects. Clearly define what you can do and what you can't do - don't try to change your core identity and processes to fit the needs of your first prospects just to try to convert them into clients. That way lies madness.
- I cannot stress the importance of surrounding yourself with a great team enough.
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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