Pop Quiz, Monday with Kevin Wenning
The Pop Quiz, Monday, is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise, after all, since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.
I want to introduce you to our guest today, who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.
1. Can you please tell everyone your name?
2. Tell us about your business and what you do?
I have founded two businesses that were initially unrelated but overlapped neatly. With EmployeeArtProgram.com, I go into companies with a lot of office workers and decorate their offices with photographs and artworks created by the employees. We create personal meaning and interest in their workspace, build organizational networks, and foster creativity between colleagues. My other business is IntentionallyLost.com, built around travel where we learn and practice photography in exciting destinations around the world. So many guests return home from these trips and have no meaningful outlet to share and enjoy those photos they created. Intentionally Lost started first and was the seed of the idea for Employee Art Program.
3. Why did you want to become an entrepreneur?
My favorite reason for entrepreneurship is that I get to use all of my skills. More importantly, I can foster businesses and projects that utilize the skills I enjoy practicing. I can always bring in help for business disciplines where I need an expert, but otherwise, I can focus my time on work I enjoy doing and outcomes that enrich both my clients and me. Likewise, nobody is involved in my projects because somebody assigned them to be there; everybody is an eager participant.
4. What are the challenging aspects of running a business?*
The biggest challenges unique to my business are momentum and measuring outcomes. Since my core clients are large businesses, connecting with the right stakeholders to start the program and then to generate adoption of the program, companywide takes both time and persistence on my part.
Measuring the return on investment can be challenging to quantify. At the most basic level, I provide an employee incentive that’s similar to free coffee or gym membership, which are investments in employee’s happiness and quality of life. The tangible outcomes I produce are personalized art on the walls of a business. The joy of time spent in a creative endeavor and relationships built between colleagues are only apparent when that aforementioned momentum has carried the program through to completion successfully.
Buy-in from all levels of an organization is critical so that positive momentum doesn’t get killed off. The bulk of my work is finding the right clients with an organizational culture where Employee Art Program is a natural fit.
5. What do you love most about your job?
I love the rewards that come from seeing something through for the long term. Art creates connections. During the course of a program, many things happen that would never occur in a strictly day to day business environment. People realize they have a shared interest with colleagues they’ve never talked to before, exploration and failures are encouraged, new perspectives are discovered, and original ideas are born. A company is strengthened by these connections between its employees that happen organically rather than being forced by business pressures. When the personal artworks are displayed in the offices, those connections made outside of work hours spill over into the hallways, offices, and relationships during the workday. That’s when the measurable outcome we talked about previously can start to be felt in a real way.
6. How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
I’m a pretty serious person by nature. The fun comes in being curious and exploring creatively. Photography and art give us space to be curious and play, which are minimal opportunities in our professional adult lives. There’s a space in our online community where everyone is encouraged to show things they’re experimenting with or that they feel are failures. I get even more joy from that space than I do from seeing successfully executed artworks.
7. What would be one piece of advice that you give to a new business owner?
Make sure always to keep the main thing the main thing. Especially as a new business owner, you’re not sure yet which efforts will truly make your business thrive. It’s tempting to pursue advice from everyone who has an idea to offer. If the idea doesn’t support your main product or service offering, then write it down for future consideration but don’t spend time or money on it now. “That’s not part of my business model,” is a perfectly acceptable answer to give to a client who is pushing you to offer something you’re not comfortable with. You can take on stretch challenges once the core business has been mastered and is profitable, but not before.
Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web: