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Eckardt's story on... using happy people as your barometer of success

“From a young age, I was always drawn to entrepreneurship and the idea of building something for oneself and being able to do this on my own terms.  Along the way I was fortunate enough to cross paths with great businesses and mentors who exposed me to varying industries, opportunities, ways of doing business, and fellow entrepreneurs which all shaped my decision to enter entrepreneurship later in my professional journey.”

Eckardt’s employee circumstances changed when his employer relocated their business to international shores.  With a baby on the way and their home being hit by a natural disaster (the Knysna fires), this time in his life afforded Eckardt a pivotal moment to pause and reflect.  He had the push he needed to begin the entrepreneurial journey and what began with dipping his toes into consulting waters, soon grew into something much bigger.  Today Eckardt is the Founder and CEO of a full-stack digital product agency creating end-to-end experiences for clients across the globe. His business designs, develops, and transforms brands, products, and software. Servicing both early-stage startups and established businesses alike some notable clients include Uber, Harvard and the Department of Health.

“Starting the entrepreneurial journey can be one of the scariest and also one of the most fulfilling things you can do.  If you are the type of person that likes a challenge, there is no greater challenge in my mind (professionally) than stepping into entrepreneurship. And when you make the jump, don't stop pushing, know you are not alone, and seek out help when you need it most.”

In the journey to get here, Eckardt became accustomed to the fact that despite having goals and a plan, there will always be things that come along to disrupt them.  He therefore emphasises the importance of Founders honing their ability to remain agile.  In addition,  he also suggests investing in processes and systems early on. ‘Often we are trying to build the plane as we fly it and that causes a lot of pain later down the line’. Despite the twists and turns that is entrepreneurship his goal remains unchanged: to create exceptional work, to surround himself with amazing people and to create an environment where they can thrive.  This is why he has consciously chosen sustainable growth for his business.  While some of his counterparts in the industry have gone for rapid growth, Eckardt is all about taking as long as it takes to slowly grow with zero compromise on quality, people who produce quality output and find joy in doing so.  

Eckardt is both creative and rational, able to draw on these opposing strengths to his advantage in business. Throughout his career, he has managed to successfully blend two areas of expertise and experience: front-end engineering and product design. It comes as no surprise that he finds inspiration in architecture, a discipline that also offers this dichotomy: both the engineering aspect and the artistic or design aspect.  A little closer to home, his daughters offer an ongoing channel of inspiration and perspective, reminding us that inspiration is both outwardly and inwardly accessible.

“I have a healthy respect for what I don't know.  I find it easy to admit when I don't know something and I welcome other perspectives.  Luckily I am surrounded by amazing people and it is people who form a fundamental part of entrepreneurship.  PEOPLE are the real source of inspiration.”

Eckardt speaks to what he believes to be myths in entrepreneurship.  One being that entrepreneurship does not HAVE to be lonely, there are plenty of people who you can call on to pedal uphill with, if you choose to be open to bring in the help and support.  He has found that when you start talking about the hardship or challenges you are facing, the amount of people who can relate and those who have great solutions will surprise you and the advice and support they offer will amaze you even more. The second myth being that one has to be born an entrepreneur.  He believes a lot of entrepreneurial skills can be learnt and acquired  BUT one needs to be inherently curious and honest with one's shortcomings.  There are many people who believe they simply cannot be an entrepreneur and this is unfortunate.  

“You cannot pour from an empty cup or expect your team to draw from you when your cup is empty.  Your personal and mental health is so important, and finding joy in what you do is right at the top of priorities.  If your team is happy, your clients will be happy, and you will deliver great work.  Unhappy people are a great barometer to check.” 

Eckardt holds self-awareness in high regard when keeping mindful of maintaining the balance between business and personal life.  With the responsibility of keeping our business and personal relationships strong, it starts with being good to ourselves first and foremost. Thank you Eckardt for reminding us that self care is where happy entrepreneurship starts.

“Solving niche challenges Founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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