The Harpoon Blog

Customer Spotlight: Isaiah Gillis

by Ryan Battles in Customer Spotlights

For this customer spotlight, we focus on Isaiah Gillis, owner of Good Design Marketing. You can find Isaiah on Twitter at @igillis.

What do you do for a living, and why did you make the jump to self-employment?

I create top-notch web presences for businesses that get them more and better customers.

I’ve worked several jobs to make an income and pay bills, but I’ve got this creative gift that keeps nagging me to use it. I feel stifled working a 9-5 someplace just to make ends meet. Since I’ve got a limited number of years here on Earth I want to make the most of them and being self-employed seems to be the avenue I need to take to do that.

I want to do the most good that I can in whatever I do. That’s why I’ve named my business Good Design Marketing. Ok, and maybe I have a grain of confidence in my design abilities.

What’s a big challenge you’ve had with running your own business, and how did you overcome it?

When I first seriously started focusing on graphic design as a career choice everything I created was fuel for my ego. “Behold my mastery of color and hierarchy and Photoshop and the pen tool!”

Looking back, my inflated ego helped a lot in developing some of the skills I needed as a designer, but when I was finished with college it didn’t get me very far and ended up working against me.

I’ve tried more than once to be successful as a freelance designer, but there was always something missing from my work. I wasn’t happy designing a killer identity for a client, handing it over to them, and that being the end of it. How did I help them in a meaningful way? They’ve got a nice logo and website, cool, but are they getting the most out of them? I had lost my enthusiasm for graphic design and was looking into other career options.

It took some time to realize it, but I knew I needed to adjust my focus and let “Why?” inform “What”. Given the skills I have, online marketing was a natural choice. It allows me to take the nice logo and website I designed for my client and put them to work, making them more money. Isn’t that what’s at the heart of hiring a designer to create a logo or website—being more visible to get more customers and make more money?

What advice would you give to those who are just starting out on the journey of running their own businesses?

Understand why you do what you do. Working only for money or to stroke your ego will let you down.

If you don’t know why you do what you do, spend time by yourself in silence and search for an answer. Things will get hard and you’ll need to have an answer for that voice that tells you to just give up.

Where would you like your business to be three years from now?

I’d like for Good Design Marketing to be the premiere place business owners in Western North Carolina think to go when they’re ready to grow. I also want to be a force for good in my community. How that will manifest I do not know, but I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for when opportunities present themselves.

What quality, habit, or decision has contributed to the success of your business?

Loving others. We’re all in this together.

About Isaiah

Isaiah Gillis is the owner of Good Design Marketing in Hendersonville, NC. Learn more about Isaiah by following @igillis on Twitter.

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