By the end of college the main focus is starting your career: Learning how to work for someone, and work towards your ideal position. What often times isn’t stressed, is the ability to diversify your income, and not be completely reliant on only one thing. This is where entrepreneuership comes in. Of course starting a business doesn’t happen overnight, working toward the goal can be a long process. A lot of people don’t have businesses that can be passed down from generation to generation within the family. So having the desire to create your own, and following through by learning how to do it, is an amazing accomplishment. I think the best advice one can offer are ways to profit from a skill, or put someone in a mentality to provide for themselves. These are main reasons why sitting down with Christopher Hamb of Chrisp Media was so beneficial and inspiring to me.
Hamb's business focuses on web development. "I maintain WordPress sites, I go in and I do workshops and train…and we will go in and help a company with their online strategy.” This includes helping them develop a website and training to name a few specific things. On his website, he asks various questions so that he can get an overall feel for the company to accurately represent their message.
What I learned from Hamb about his journey is that it started with uncertainty, and took a lot of hard work, mixed with trial and error, to make his vision come to life.
“I didn’t know anything about starting a business, owning a business, managing a business. I just knew I liked to do websites. But I just put a lot of hard work into it. I actually started using University resources to learn more and more.“
It was a shot in the dark, but he was able to follow through with it and make a living out of doing something he enjoyed. Entrepreneurship is a powerful thing; to be your own boss, create your own schedule, and manage your own income isn’t easy. Hamb seemed to have it down, but I wanted to know more about how he started off and what he learned in the process.
“You have to understand your value before anyone else will. When I first started, I was nickel and diming, charging way below what the rate was. I would tell people (what I was charging) and they would say 'Are you crazy? What’s wrong with you?' I just didn’t think I was good enough to charge what my competitors were charging, so it took me years to get over that. But that was the hardest but the most valuable lesson I have learned. I would tell anybody: figure out what others are charging and yes you’re just as good as them, so charge that area or range as well.”
And after knowing your worth, focusing on getting your brand out there and spreading the word is what Hamb advises next. “I think especially in today’s day; self-branding is everything. You would be crazy to think you’re doing what you do the best, and no one can match you. We’re now in this global economy. So yes, you might be local, but you’re competing- a lot of businesses can be done over the phone, or the Internet. People have to know who you are, what you do, and how to get in touch with you. So I’m constantly upgrading my skillset to meet the demand of my clients.”
I think can be difficult to find your exact angle. Like Hamb said, there are countless people likely attempting to do something similar to you. So it’s important to have a passion, and give it your all if you want to be successful. For some, it comes quick, and for others it can take some time. Chris worked at the U of I engineering library for years before he put his all into his business.
“When you leave your job, you have a lot of free time. Until I left my job, I really wasn’t a part of the community. I knew Champaign-Urbana existed outside of University walls, but I didn’t know who the mayor was, I didn’t know who any of the council people were. I didn’t know much at all. So that was a goal of mine, getting involved with the community. So I stared joining all of these organizations, becoming really involved. And through that I started to learn people and I met a lot of new clients that way as well." Hamb has been involved in many community organizations, including the Champaign County NAACP (seen in the cover photo), CUperstars and Canaan Men's SAFEHouse.
What could be considered the best piece of advice form my time with Hamb? Keeping track of your expenses and getting your tax breaks! You put your hard earned money into making your vision come to life, so make sure it doesn’t go to waste.