Welcome to another edition of the Unusual Entrepreneur Interviews and today I am very honoured to have gotten this Unusual Entrepreneur in question. His name is Matt Cheuvront. He’s a 26-year old entrepreneur and the co-founder of Proof, a full service branding and design firm based in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
They specialize in everything from logo, web, and print design, marketing strategy, copy-writing and PR, and do all of these through the lens of branding, helping businesses, organizations, and individually think strategically about their brand on a holistic level.
If you are just joining us for the first time, this is the unusual entrepreneur interview series. It is a parade of unusual entrepreneurs who are changing the world and profiting from purpose. Profiting from purpose by changing the world isn’t an impossible dream as many tend to think of it, but a realistic one as many unusual entrepreneurs have extraordinarily proven.
It is my life mission to understand the unusual qualities of such unusual entrepreneurs and inspire as many others to profit from purpose by changing the world. If you’re not yet familiar with our philosophy of unusual entrepreneurs, kindly download our free ebook: The Entrepreneur’s Journey. This is the official manifesto for anyone who wants to change the world and profit from purpose.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Interview Questions Part One
ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Awakening the Spirit of business
1. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your business? What do you do?, how do you do it?, why do you do it and who do you do it for?
My name is Matt Cheuvront. I’m a 26-year old entrepreneur and am the co-founder of Proof, a full service branding and design firm based in Nashville, Tennessee. We specialize in everything from logo, web, and print design, marketing strategy, copy-writing and PR, and do all of these through the lens of branding, helping businesses, organizations, and individually think strategically about their brand on a holistic level.
2. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey into the world of business?
Brief. Though it doesn’t seem like it. I feel like I’ve been at this a long time but have to continually remind myself that I’m still very much a noob at this – but given my situation and how I got here, I’ve had to learn a lot, and learn fast, on the fly. Trial by fire, if you will.
Out of college I spent a year working for a large national Ad Agency in Nashville. From there, I moved to Chicago with my then fiance and worked in the web marketing world for a healthcare company. After my short stint there, which ended with me getting laid off, I embarked on this journey we call entrepreneurship. I haven’t looked back since…
3. Where there any key incidents or life changing events that inspired your decision to become an entrepreneur?
Yep. I call it the day that changed everything. And that day was the day that I got fired from my day job. It came out of nowhere, but honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I’d been toying around with the idea of leaving my nine to five for a while, but honestly, didn’t have the balls or the faith in myself to take the leap. So kudos to getting let go, which gave me the kick in the ass to at least give the whole entrepreneurship thing a try. Fortunately for me, things picked up (very) quickly and over the past few years, I’ve just been trying to keep up.
4. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your key driving force?
Good question. At first, I transitioned from freelancer to business owner as a means of financial security. I honestly thought, when I was first starting out, that working for myself would simply be a means to an end that would carry me into a structured nine to five that I actually liked, not just a paycheck. But once you get bit by the entrepreneurial bug, it’s VERY difficult to even fathom working for the “man”.
When we started Proof (which technically was my second business launch) our vision and mission was to help turn ideas into realities. We work WITH, not for, our clients, partnering them in helping to realize their vision, and then carry it out. At my core, I am a creator. There’s something rewarding about each day, the diversity it brings, and being able to say, when the sun came, this didn’t exist – and now look at what I’ve made…
5. What is your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they naturally love to do?
It’s critical, but I think can be misconstrued. It’s not necessarily about doing something you love 24/7. Work is still work. I’d rather be playing golf than answering emails, there’s no denying that. But you need to love, and I mean LOVE, the big picture. Your big picture.
For me, that big picture is freedom. Financial freedom, professional freedom, but most importantly, personal freedom. Not being constrained by my job is one of my most important personal values. I want to live the life I want to, and not be encumbered by having to work.
I want freedom, and I’m willing to do a lot, work my ass of, even if the tasks themselves are less than stellar 100% of the time, in pursuit of that ideal. It’s important for every entrepreneur to embrace what really matters, and remember that every day of work is in pursuit of that, or those, goals.
6. What is your personal life mission as an entrepreneur? That is; what contributions do you want to make with your life or what would you like to be remembered for as an entrepreneur through the businesses you create when you die?
I want to have an impact. The size of the impact doesn’t matter. But having an impact on the life of others does. At Proof, we have an impact on the professional lives, and often times in the case of startups and entrepreneurs, an impact on the personal well-being of our clients. This means something. This means everything. Doing work that matters, that contributes to a bottom line that isn’t purely about dollars, is the single most important aspect of the work I do day in and day out.
7. What would you describe as the purpose of entrepreneurship? That is; what role do entrepreneurs play in the world?
Entrepreneurs create opportunities. For their clients. For customers. For people looking for work. For ideas. Entrepreneurship is beautiful because it opens the doors to possibilities we never knew existed. Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t have sat down in front of a computer. Imagine if Steve Jobs never started tooling around with Steve Wozniak. Where would we be? Ideas + Hustle create opportunity. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about.
8. How are you changing the world through the business, products or services you create?
By creating those opportunities I preached about previously for our clients. We may not be changing the world as we know it, but we’re changing the way our clients interact with the world – how they interact with their customers, fans, and supporters. We play a critical role in the communication and success of people all over the country, and even overseas. Seeing that kind of impact, day in and day out, makes it all worth it.
Interview Questions Part Two
STRATEGY: The unusual execution of business best practices
9. What would you describe as your secret formula for business success?
There is no secret formula. Quote me on that. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: Success comes down to one thing: Hustle. Hard work. Doing more than the other guy. Going above and beyond. When you do this, REALLY do this, every single day, you won’t have anything to worry about. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but what I lack in ingenuity and innovation, I more than make up for in my capacity to hustle. To do more than is expected. To work harder than the guy sitting next to me. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s making shit happen and getting things done.
10. How do you identify business opportunities and what metrics do you use to measure their viability?
It’s funny because we’re just now getting around to being deliberate about seeking out opportunities. We’ve been carried thus far 100% by word of mouth referrals – which is golden – but isn’t something I’m comfortable counting on consistently. It’ll always be a huge part of our business, without question, but this year especially, we’re focusing on actively pursuing opportunities, and are making adjustments to our team to support that pursuit.
11. Do you have mentors, business coach or external consultants that you work closely with to grow yourself and your business? If yes, to what extent would you describe their impact on your business? If no, are there any particular reasons?
I’m constantly in touch with the world of entrepreneurship around me. And while there isn’t one mentor or consultant I can point to, I will say that the support overall from the online entrepreneurial community is overwhelmingly positive and extremely helpful. If there’s one thing I always tell young entrepreneurs, it’s to not be afraid of putting yourself out there and to absorb as much knowledge as you can.
12. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
Organization is so important for any entrepreneur. I’m a little bit analytical with it, not gonna lie. I am a bona-fide to-do list junkie. I list everything I have to-do the next day at night before I go to bed, so I can wake up and know exactly what needs to be done.
A couple words of advice:
1) Wake up earlier. This is my main piece of advice to anyone who complains about not having enough hours in the day. I get the bulk of my work done between 5-7am each day. And there’s something extremely satisfying of crossing things off the to-do list before the rest of the world wakes up.
2) Relax. Or in other words, don’t schedule everything minute by minute each day. There’s going to be things that come up. Stuff you didn’t expect. Don’t panic. It’s part of the grind. Make sure you allow some flexibility in your scheduling so you can put out fires and deal with the things that need to be dealt with, without feeling guilty that you didn’t accomplish all 3749853987 things on your to-do list.
13. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
Again, I’m a believer that good work speaks for itself. I’ve proven this and we’ve proven this over the past couple years. If you do good work, people are going to talk about it.
More than anything, though, we try to create an experience for the people who work with us. We want to deliver a great final product, of course, but we want our clients to sincerely, from top to bottom, enjoy working with us. We do everything we can to make sure that our clients walk away saying that the best part of working with us, was working WITH us.
14. Many entrepreneurs complain about not succeeding in business due to lack of adequate funding, what is your take on this matter and how do you cope with funding issues in your business?
Having bootstrapped my company 100%, I can’t speak much to the pursuit of funding. I will say this – for those who may be considering starting a business, don’t let money hold you back. I bet if you stop and really think about it, you don’t need as much as you think you do. Maybe, you don’t need anything at all. Money is the best and worst part of running a business, but don’t let it define you – and certainly don’t let it hold you back from pursuing your dreams. It may mean cutting back a bit or getting (very) creative, but if it can be done, it will be done.
15. When starting out a new business, who are the likely possible partners or professional service providers you would recommend every entrepreneur work with?
Well I’d love to say working with us would be beneficial for any business looking to get themselves up and running, in terms of the tools you need to house your brand, especially online.
That being said, as I mentioned previously, don’t be afraid to simply put yourself out there. Ask questions, pick other entrepreneur’s brains. Learn. Grow. Evolve. Don’t be afraid of hearing “no” or asking the wrong questions. Everyone, even the people and companies you look up to most, had to start somewhere.
16. The pricing of products/services is always an issue for entrepreneurs, what unusual approach do you take when it comes to pricing?
I actually think our pricing structure is very fair and on part with the industry. More importantly, it’s on part with what we value ourselves at. Business owners don’t need to worry about charging too much. The only way you’re charging too much is if you don’t believe in the value you offer. If you’re confident in your value, you’ll be confident in your pricing.
Interview Questions Part Three
MISCELLANEOUS: Resourceful Recommendations, tools, books, and ideas for entrepreneurs
17. Where there any particular questions you expected me to ask that is beneficial to entrepreneurs and I didn’t? Kindly share with us such questions and their relevant answers here.
In short, there is NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW to pursue starting your own business. Even in a slumping economy, there’s one thing that’s recession-proof: Innovation. You have the opportunity (you, meaning anyone reading this) to do something amazing. Don’t let money hold you back. Don’t let the obstacles around you hold you back. But most importantly, don’t let yourself hold you back. Running your own business is hard. Damn hard. But 100% worth it.
The most unexpected thing I’ve experience since running my own business is the sheer power of hard work. I’ve learned that it’s rarely the most skilled or most educated individual who sees the most success, and that it really comes down to who’s willing to hustle and do the work. That, and you have to get over the fear of marketing yourself. No one will find you if you don’t make it easy to be found. Put yourself out there and hustle, two of the most important takeaways for anyone reading this interview.
You’ve met Matt, what did you learn from this unusual entrepreneur?
Share your views below in the comment section.
Thank you for your time!
ONE LAST THING!
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