Most of my life was spent in sales and small business management. I was good at it, really good. By the age of 26 I was married with 3 kids, and my family of 5 was taking a piece of the American dream when we bought our first home in 2007. Things were going great.
In 2009 I went through some knee surgery and had been off work for about a month when the recession hit the area. It effected my industry, but not nearly as bad as the hit my family took in October 2009 when our house caught fire. We lost almost everything we had. Clothing, furniture, my wife’s wedding dress, our home… and my sense of direction with it. Our insurance claim was denied, leaving me with a family of 5 to care for, a sense of defeat, and a sales management job that demanded too much of my time. We had no place to live, no money to rebuild what we lost, and no idea where to go next.
I was fighting 2 court battles to get my home back, one against a national insurance company, and another against a national bank. Worst part is I had to do it Pro Se (representing myself). So I spent a lot time learning about contract law, the litigation process, and legal documentation. I was also spending any available time tearing apart and rebuilding the house piece by piece. This left me with almost no time for my family.
In January 2011 while at a management training meeting in Indiana, the Regional VP was reviewing a few marketing pieces I had put together for my sales team. I remember his exact words to this day:
“Ryan, if you were not such a great sales manager for me, I would say you were in the wrong business. You should be in marketing.”
I took his words to heart. If I were to start my own business I could have the extra time necessary to rebuild my house, learn the legal system and fight in court for my home, and still be able to spend time with my family.
In Jan. 2011 I took the dive and started a business. Initially RyCOM offered graphic design and digital marketing services. Things grew slowly that year, but soon I had moved out of my basement to a small office in Downtown Rockford. In 2012 I had tripled my 2011 revenues, and in 2013 it grew by 200%. Things were going great for the business.
Unfortunately, I was still fighting in court to get my house back, and laboring away on the house rebuild. Plus, I was completely wrong about having more spare time. I was running a business – spare time was non existent. I had a choice to make – my house, or my family.
Through this process I was locked into getting back what was taken from my family. Rebuilding the walls of our house is how I envisioned restoration. I was wrong…so very wrong. The entire time I was spending at a construction site, in a courtroom, at my office, or in meetings – my family was desperate to spend time with me; to connect with me; to recover with me.
By the end of 2013 I had finally realized that I was fighting for the wrong things. By starting my own business, I wasn’t giving myself more time to rebuild my house, I was building a future for my family that wasn’t going to rely on anyone else – not an insurance company, not a bank – nobody but us.
So – I expedited some resolution to all the unimportant dealings. Since then, RyCOM has become a great company that helped me reconnect with my family, recover from our loss, and to establish roots in a community that we love. Needless to say, we don’t live in that burned down house anymore – but my business, and more importantly my family… we are doing great!
Family isn’t an important thing. It’s everything!
For the past 4 years, we have been working with HCHS on their IncubaterEDU program. As a coach and mentor, I have had the pleasure of teaching many aspects of the Entrepreneurship lifestyle, and what it takes to start and grow a business. I love doing it… so much fun!
The first session we teach each year is about Branding & Positioning. Each year I am reminded that, although I am teaching these concepts to High School students, many business owners have no clue about the topic either.
I plan to do a seminar on this topic for the local business community, so I won’t spend a ton of time on this now, but I did find an article on Entrepreneur.com that is a great teaser about the basics of branding.
Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?
Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from … Read More
Hononegah Community High School District #207 has undergone a rebrand with a new visual identity. The district, students, parents, and the community can expect to see the new images on all new apparel, uniforms, and materials.
After a long research period, and in cooperation with RyCOM Creative Corp., a marketing & design firm in Rockton, HCHS logos have a new crisp, clean, and strong look. HCHS has a proud history as the Hononegah Indians, and their new images reflect this pride.
Over the years there have been many versions of the Indian head, spear, and other logos, but with the new branding, it will evident what is or is not truly Hononegah.
“We noticed a lot of different versions of our logo floating around, some of which were actually not ours at all, but people were using them to show school spirit. We don’t want to use someone else’s protected artwork, so we hope that these new images will be used by everyone who loves Hononegah and wants to show their support,” says Dr. Kim Suedbeck, Assistant Superintendent.
There is a new typographic logo that many people may have already noticed on some materials, and this logo will be on the new Fieldhouse as well. The newly designed Indian head and spear are both sharp and modern while still feeling historic. The spear head was combined with the traditional branded “H” to create a new school icon that everyone is loving.
“We are honored to work with HCHS on this rebrand. As a designer and parent of Hononegah students, it’s something I take a lot of pride in. The spear and “H” logos were something I took extra special care on. They are used on hats, vehicles, shirts, uniforms, jackets by thousands of people. They had to be representative of Hononegah’s history while also modern enough to be relevant for decades. I am really happy with the final designs.” – Ryan Rydell, President of RyCOM Creative Corp.
The HCHS Indian head remains a part of the school’s identity. Previous versions have looked hand drawn, cartoonish, or had too many colors to reproduce accurately. The new Indian head is crisp and clean while keeping the historic look of the traditional Indian in his head dress.
About Hononegah Community High School District
Hononegah is a public school district in Rockton, Illinois, located between Rockford and the southern border of Wisconsin. The District serves over 2,100 students from the towns of Rockton, Roscoe, Shirland, and parts of South Beloit. The District provides an inspiring and challenging educational experience that promotes reflective critical thinking, civic engagement, and personal development.