Kevin Adelsberger is the owner of his own Jackson-based marketing company, providing graphic design, website design, e-mail marketing, social media support, and marketing strategies to small businesses and organizations in the area. Below is a conversation we recently had with Kevin where he shared with us about his big year in 2015 and his plans to replicate the same kind of success in the new year.
2015 was a big year for you. Can you tell a little about what you are involved in now that might not have even been on your radar this time last year? Well my story really starts about a year and four months ago – when I put in my two weeks notice at the job I was previously at. September 1st was my first day as a “solopreneur”, and my wife and I agreed that we were going to give it a year to see if it was going to work. Well, by Christmas last year, we knew that this would work. We recognized quickly that there was a need in the market, and it was really nice getting larger checks back from projects and being able to think, “I could just keep doing this for a little while longer!” I had two primary clients at this time last year, both of which came through referrals from theCO, and I was working to meet deadlines on projects for both of them. Since then, because of the new business I have gotten through positive referrals from those two clients compounded by simply being a member at theCO, people have continued to come to me for work that I love to do. So yes, 2015 was a great year, I just hope that 2016 can be better.
How was it tackling the risks involved with that transition on the front end? Well, I’m a planner – meaning that I think through things pretty seriously before I act on them. “What’s the risk analysis here? What’s the benefit of making this decision over that one?” Whenever I was first having that conversation with myself I thought about how nice it would be to not have to deal with an organization and the drama that comes along with that. I also love to learn and I love talking to people about their businesses, both of which my job requires weekly. For example, I know way too much about pet cremation, but that’s one of my clients’ companies! And I think they really appreciated the fact that I wanted to learn about their business so that I could communicate what they’re doing to other people.
There certainly are risks of walking away from a steady paycheck, benefits, coworkers. But once I compared the numbers of billable hours I need to work in order to bring the income that I want to, I thought that it actually wasn’t unreasonable. Being an entrepreneur requires making a lot of consistent sacrifices, but [my wife and I] have managed those pretty well and so far I haven’t lost any sleep over being running my own company. That day may come, but it hasn’t come yet.
Separate of the fact that you’re drawing a paycheck from doing something you enjoy, is there any particular inspiration you’ve pulled from in the past year that’s helped encourage you to pave your own way? Sure, there have been several people whom I have looked to as examples. I’m a big Dave Ramsey fan and have listened to him a lot on how to carefully start your own business. Seth Godin is a man among men and writes a blog every single day that’s incredible motivating. He recently authored a book entitled What To Do When It’s Your Turn.
I’ve also been around some entrepreneurs who’ve been incredibly encouraging. William Donnell, who is a CO:founder at theCO, has a similar life story to me in that he didn’t go to school for what he’s doing now. But he’s doing amazing work. I saw him as an example, along with people live Dave and Seth, and thought, “you know what, this is worth a shot.” I’ve always had a desire to be an entrepreneur, but it was never something I took seriously until I was almost forced to take this opportunity.
And looking back now, it almost seems as this was something that I’ve been preparing for my entire life. Video, which is apart of my business, was something that I learned to do because of working for a missions organization one summer and having to make the videos for everything involved with that organization. I had worked some on the production side of things, but I had never learned how to do the labor-intensive work of editing before being responsible for everything that summer. I had not picked up a camera in six years, but when I saw the need for video, I realized, “Oh, I already know how to do all of this stuff! I just haven’t done it in six years.” So I dusted off my camera, and guess what? I didn’t lose so much of it! It turns out that there are a lot of latent skills I have that I just wasn’t using, and I think a lot of people are like that, but you’ve got to be able to consistent enough and brave enough to charge people to do something.
Certainly. Going along with that, are there any new ideas or areas of interests you’re hoping to explore more? One of the struggles I have right now in my business is that I do so many things at once, essentially offering everything a business would need for their marketing: graphic design, websites, photography, videography, social media marketing, email marketing, ad buying…all sorts of stuff! Anything I can do to help my clients I’m interested in, but I’ve got the basics down so from here I’d probably be adding people to explore some of those other areas.
Does living in Jackson affect the way you think about what you do? I love the city of Jackson. I came here to go to school at Union, but since graduating and getting to know the wider community, I’ve learned to see Jackson and have a value for it that causes me to want to stay here and work for myself. I think one reason for starting my business is so that I could provide services for smaller businesses that can’t afford to work with larger firms for their marketing needs. So I see my services as helping to increase those businesses’ sales and revenue, requiring them to hire more people, which will put people to work; all great for our city. I have a big value proposition for me where I’m helping businesses grow so that they can then help our city grow. The city of Jackson is great backdrop for my life.
With 2016 newly arrived, any dreams you’ve identified for your company? I’m currently struggling with whether I want to continue being a solopreneur or if I want to start bringing on staff, and right now I’m leaning towards staying a solopreneur. It gives me the freedom and ability to charge an affordable rate that would not be possible if I had multiple staff people. I’m hoping to buy a drone sometime in the next year to use for video (laughing).
And In 2016, I’m hoping to boost my revenue and increase my skills. I’m really hoping that next year I will dedicate at least half a day a week to personal development: skill building [Treehouse, SkillShare, reading], planning, pursuing more opportunities to speak and teach in the area. I enjoy working with churches, and churches are not usually good with social media and web-platforms, so I’m hoping to provide some resources to those communities. Yeah, I’m hoping to use 2016 as a time to truly grow in the seven or so areas I’m already working in.
There’s something to be said for not being content with where you’re at. Yeah, there’s a struggle of contentment for sure. I’m happy where I am, but I also know that there’s more that I’d like to achieve. And it’s not just a race for money, but to be the provider for my family that I want to be. If 2016 goes as well as 2015 did, it’s going to be amazing.
Written and transcribed by Joseph Smith.