For this week's Our 1871, we chat with 1871 mentor Ari Krzyzek, Co-Owner of digital design company Chykalophia. Chykalophia helps companies build beautiful, effective brands online and off.
How did you get started in your career?
I originally started my career as a graphic design assistant when working for one of the top tourism and entertainment companies in Bali, Indonesia. In 2009, I decided to try freelancing on design projects when my fiance (now husband), who was shocked that I was only paid $250/month. After working as a design freelancer in both Asia and Europe, I decided to join my husband and build our design and digital marketing company together in 2011 here in Chicago to help other entrepreneurs and businesses create an impact through their brand.
What did you have to learn the hard way?
1. Having a mentor is a must. There's got to be one or two people that you really admire in your industry. If you can't find a mentor in real life, find other ways. Think of podcasts, video series, or books to be other sources of mentorship.
2. It's ok to say No. Sometime in your professional life, you'll find many great opportunities coming your way. It's ok to be selective and to even say no to some great opportunities that are not a great fit.
What do you know today that you wish you had known when you first started in business?
I wish I had known how important it is to create a system and processes for our project and client on-boarding.
What skills are the most important for an entrepreneur to have?
Networking, knowing when to pivot, and sales negotiation.
What book would you recommend every entrepreneur read?
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller and She Means Business by Carrie Green are the two top books that I found to be very useful for entrepreneurs in both the early stage and for when they are in the phase of growing the business.
What do you consider your greatest success?
Many entrepreneurs can probably relate to me on this: leaving my full-time corporate job to go full-time with my own company. When my partner and I started our company in 2011, the first two years of our business was a rocky road. I decided to get a full-time job and was hired by Sears Holdings for their Digital Designer position. Building a company and having a full-time job was doable for a few years until our business started to get more revenue and more steady work. So, after three and a half years hustling between the two gigs, I decided to take the leap to work full-time in the business with my partner. A few years after that, we're able to hire great talent to work alongside us. To me, that's my greatest success yet.
Follow Ari and Chykalophia on Twitter here.
1871 is where Chicago's entrepreneurs come to build a great business, providing education, inspiration, workspace, and unparalleled startup resources.