A childhood spent constantly on the move, which included stops in Michigan, Atlanta, and New Orleans, fostered an entrepreneurial spirit in Chad Everett Harris that has carried him through a successful 30-year career in the green industry.
During that time, Chad has been involved in several noteworthy landscaping and design projects in New Orleans and across the United States, including the Longue Vue House & Garden Discovery Garden, the New Orleans Sculpture Garden, and the Audubon Park Golf Course. More recently, Chad was on the move again, heading to Rockland, Texas to help construct one of the largest data centers in the world.
Chad now leverages his marketing and business acumen to help other entrepreneurs and companies achieve their own success. He has also launched his own scholarship program to help budding entrepreneurs acquire the skills and expertise they need to make their dreams a reality.
Today, we talk to Chad Everett Harris about his storied career, the changing face of entrepreneurship, and the importance of empowering the next generation.
How did you get started in this business?
My entrepreneurial endeavors and the drive and motivation that powers them date back to my early childhood when I would launch my own little projects to make money. Being a child with limited skills and resources, I did many of the same things that other highly motivated and hardworking children do, like run lemonade stands and mowing lawns.
What did you learn from those childhood gigs?
Having that early exposure to the business world was invaluable and gave me the confidence to continue developing my skills and pursue my passions, which lead me to where I am today. I learned how to deal with customers, how to haggle and reach compromises when there were any disputes over services or price, and how to handle and invest the money I had made.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I had high expectations for myself, which could occasionally work against me when something went wrong, so I would say don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Despite all of your best efforts, mistakes will happen. More important than the mistake itself is how you respond to it and what steps you take to ensure similar mistakes are less likely to occur in the future.
If you could impart one lesson on today’s young entrepreneurs, what would it be?
To always put your best foot forward and never become complacent. There is more opportunity out there for entrepreneurs than at any time in history, but also a lot more competition. The landscape is changing so rapidly in many industries that last year’s leaders and innovators can quickly become today’s old news. Only by continually striving to become more innovative, efficient and productive can you hope to remain an invaluable asset to your clients and customers.
What would you say is the most important attribute of being a good entrepreneur?
Having the ability to quickly adapt to changes in the marketplace is really important. It’s one big advantage that entrepreneurs have over larger companies, allowing them to more quickly fill small niches and take advantage of new opportunities. Moving around a lot as a child definitely helped me in that regard, as I had no choice but to continually adapt to my new environments and to keep my focus squarely on the things that I could control.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Email marketing is very effective and is highly underrated in the business world, with many companies focusing their efforts on social media outreach and Facebook ad campaigns. Nearly every internet user has at least one email account which they check every day and data shows that marketing through email can generate more and quicker sales than through social media.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
There are many elements to it, but I’d say hard work and empathy are probably two of the most important factors. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of your customers or clients and tackle challenges from their perspective is key to finding the optimal solutions to whatever obstacles they’re trying to overcome. And hard work is the glue that binds everything together; without it, even the most ingenious entrepreneur will fail to reach their full potential.
What business books have inspired you?
Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People had a big influence on me and helped me prioritize and develop some lifelong habits that have been a great boon during my career. One of them, which I’ve since learned is also common among many of the most successful people, is to wake up very early every morning, usually by 5:00 and no later than 6:00. That gives me plenty of time to work out, eat a good breakfast, and get some reading in before my workday starts, at which point whatever free time I have left is largely out of my control.
What inspired you to start a scholarship and how can people apply?
I was helped along on my entrepreneurial journey by many great friends, colleagues and family members and wanted to honor them by doing the same for the next generation of entrepreneurs. It’s a small sacrifice on my part that could make a huge difference in another person’s life, which is incredibly rewarding.
The scholarship is open to Canadian and U.S business students and interested applicants can visit the scholarship website for all of the details and to apply. The current deadline for applications is May 7, 2020, and we’re seeking 500-word essays on how technology has contributed to the changing entrepreneurship landscape as part of the application process. I wish applicants the best of luck and look forward to hearing from them.
Any final words of advice?
Your environment shapes and molds you into the person you’ll become, dictating your values, your goals, your habits, and nearly every other aspect of your life. Positive influences will lift you up and inspire you, while negative ones will drag you down. The people you surround yourself with and the kinds of entertainment and media you consume have a huge impact on that front, so choose them wisely.
Thanks to Chad Everett Harris for taking the time to answer our questions and share a little of his personal life and business acumen with us. For more insights and to follow the latest happenings in his life, be sure to check out his website: www.chadeverettharris.com
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