Meet LaunchHouse member Chris Weigand, the president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC. Chris always had a passion to become an entrepreneur and when a company-wide layoff cost him his job, the spark was ignited.
What services do you / your company offer?
We are retail experience consultants. Our creative services help brands connect with customers in physical retail stores. We primarily design displays, fixtures, store interiors as well as conduct market research, track trends and provide clients with advice and strategy. As needed we work on graphic design, branding, and packaging as well.
What is your role in the company?
I am the President, but that’s just a title, I’m the primary consultant. I work with other professionals as needed for a project. This year we had our first paid intern so we’re making progress.
What inspired you to start (or join) this company?
I had always wanted a design firm of my own. When I was laid off from a large company, I needed to work and we didn’t want to leave Northeast Ohio so being so being my own boss was a great option for me. I really enjoy helping brands tell their story in stores. The variety of projects we work on is amazing. One day we’re working on something for high-end headphones, and the next house paint. But ultimately it’s about understanding customer needs and making that connection that says “this brand is right for you”.
What inspired you to join the LaunchHouse community?
LaunchHouse helps me connect with other people, network, and possibly develop new working relationships, but even without all that it’s about having a community that I can reach out to. No one wants to work in a vacuum without real humans to bounce ideas off of or socialize with.
The best advice you ever got:
Two things: One, there’s always something that needs to be done; people aren’t always going to tell you what needs doing. And two, if you’re focused there’s no reason you can’t get everything done in eight hours a day. We all need balance, even if we work for ourselves.
What has been your biggest learning experience from starting your business?
Learning to cope with the reality that you’re basically on the tightrope by yourself. Luckily organizations like LaunchHouse provide a bit of a safety net, allowing one to walk a little faster and with more confidence. I’ve learned more in four years of being self-employed than I did in 15 years working for corporate America. It’s the difference between living in a zoo and living in the jungle. In the jungle, there are just so many more things that can go wrong, and survival is solely on your shoulders.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
It’s worth it. Life finds a way; one way or another you’ll survive, you’ll make it happen. Don’t be afraid to scream, cry, and laugh. You don’t know as much as you think you do. Your network is your salvation. Don’t go to networking events alone, people don’t talk to random single introverts. Anyone can do what you’re doing—know why this is good and bad. Get a pet cat.
Did you always have aspirations to become an entrepreneur? Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.
I always wanted my own design firm. Probably for selfish reasons, but I think it would be awesome to work with a great group of people, working for kick ass clients on really engaging, meaningful projects. I’m a creative person at heart but I also like looking at the big picture and building something greater than me. I’d like the idea of putting together a great team to do extraordinary things, and then if I can stay out of the way or contribute in my own little way all the better. Life is supposed to be fun and meaningful. Working for myself allows me the freedom to do something great that I hope can last long after I’m gone. I want to leave things better for my kids and other people’s kids. I’m currently evolving from singular consultant to finally realizing that dream of a real design firm. So not only can I help entrepreneurs, I’m going through the journey as well. Hopefully, that lets me empathize with them a bit more. We’re in the same boat and I’ve got an oar in my hand too.
Knowing what you know now, what would you change or do differently when starting a business?
That’s tough to answer because I’m not sure what I could change. Working for myself, every day is a new set of challenges and opportunities. A lot of it is just survival and staying on the path toward my goal. Maybe I would have printed less marketing materials had I known. I have a cabinet full of post cards I never used.
How do you define success?
Is the world a better place or is someone else better off because of what you did? Are you happy? If yes, then you’ve succeeded.