We catch up with Gresham Harkless, the founder of CBNation powered by Blue 16 Media. He shares his expertise in web design and SEO, sharing some personal lessons along the way.
Tell us about yourself and what your company does, & how long you've been working on it.
I founded a company called Blue 16 Media. An agency that focuses on web design and SEO. CBNation is B2B Brand that helps entrepreneurs and business owners be more successful. CBNation consists of blogs (CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). I've been working on CBNation for 8-9 years and Blue 16 Media for 8 years.
What inspired you to start your own company - tell us the story?
I always knew I wanted to start my own company but I just wasn't sure what exactly. I started CBNation as a passion project to focus on.
How did you decide on your company name and logo?
Blue 16 Media - Blue is a calm, peaceful and tranquil color. 16 represents change but was also my line number when I was in school and media represents that every company is a media company and in the media business. CBNation is a variation of CEO Blog Nation.
How long did it take from having the idea to your first customers?
I kind of had my first customer before I was even building my business.
Tell us about your first sale.
Mike Moss--he was my first sale for my current business. He was someone that I met and introduced me to the networking group where I even gained the confidence that I could grow and build a business. If it wasn't for him, I don't think I would have had the confidence that I have now that I can grow this business.
What's been a good way of growing your customer base and sales? Can you share a few success stories with us?
I'm a big believer in building a media company or in other words, you create content and information that is valuable to your target market. I've built and developed relationships through my blog and podcast that have been some of my biggest clients.
Can you share some insights that your customers often overlook?
The biggest is the challenge of digital marketing and how competitive it is. Especially because I work a lot in SEO. Theoretically, there is 10 spots per search term. Many people think that one podcast or one post or one blog post will result in instant success but don't realize how important it is in SEO but really all forms of marketing it is to constantly build and how it's not (most of the time) one thing that cause the overnight success but the work over years and years and years.
What did you wish you knew before you started your company? What advice do you have for first-time entrepreneurs?
The best advice is to probably continue to develop yourself. I think it's something that can be overlooked. I benefit greatly from the interviews, content and podcasts. I can't understate how much I've grown because of the audience around me.
What are trends in your industry that you are excited about?
I won't say excited as much because of why it has happened but I'm anxious to see this virtual world and what it looks like.
What are you looking forward to in the next week/month/quarter or year and what are your aspirations for your company?
I'm looking forward to growing and integrating the two brand more and more in the next year. I think this will allow us to provide more products, services and collaborations between the two brands.
Any particular books or podcasts you can recommend?
There's so many but I will go with the E-Myth and the One Thing.
What’s been your biggest challenge in life thus far and how did you overcome it?
Definitely this business. Starting everything at a young age--even though I read and heard a lot about how challenging it is. I don't think there's much that prepares you for the ups and the downs and things you juggle when running a business.
We want to thank Gresham Harkless for his contributions to this article, we love web design.
Gresham “Gresh” W. Harkless Jr. is the founder of CBNation and Blue 16 Media. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focused on increasing the business success rate through content including blogs, podcasts and videos. CBNation consists of blogs (CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). The brand focuses on helping entrepreneurs and business owners be successful for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. Blue 16 Media is a digital marketing agency providing digital marketing services including web design & SEO to small to medium-sized businesses and organizations. Central to his marketing philosophy is that You Are a Media Company: Developing a Marketing Strategy to Connect with Your Target and Reach Your Goals. Gresham is proud a graduate of Howard University & Georgetown University.