Q & A With Kevin McCormick: Making the Transition from Corporate to Entrepreneur

Alchemedia Creative is a communications company that focuses on helping customers effectively communicate to their customers and stakeholders. The company creates content for clients and also creates its own content–specifically, print materials, websites, or video production to help their clients tell their story, their way.

Kevin McCormick, Executive Partner, launched the business in December, 2008. Prior to starting his company, Kevin spent most of his career working in corporate, including most recently, at Chrysler.

I recently interviewed Kevin for his thoughts on making the transition from corporate to entrepreneurship and reinventing himself as a business owner.

What did you do prior to starting your business?

My career has included a lot of different things. My last job was leading all the Diversity Communications efforts for Chrysler, up until 2008. I’ve had jobs in Logistics at Chrysler as well, before moving into Public Relations. I’ve worked in other Logistics/Supply Chain positions in other industries prior to coming to Detroit to work for Chrysler. My MBA is in Logistics from the University of Tennessee.

What factors drove you to pursue entrepreneurship? Was it a hard decision? Any regrets?

I had wanted to be a full-time entrepreneur since I was about 25 years old. I’ve always admired entrepreneurs and the drive and passion they had for their businesses. A lot of life things happened that made it impractical for me to pursue entrepreneurship when I was younger, but the desire had always been there. So, when Chrysler was on the brink of extinction, it felt like the right time to take the plunge. At that time, every employee had to make a decision about whether they were going to stay with the company or leave. I looked at that choice as a bet; and, I chose to bet on me and my talent, skills and drive. So far, my bet is paying off!

Do you miss working in the corporate environment daily and getting a regular paycheck?

Being in the corporate environment is like being in “The Matrix”. It’s a different dynamic from being an entrepreneur. A different mindset. But, surprisingly, I don’t miss the regular paychecks (although I do miss the expense accounts!), sometimes I do wonder a little bit when my wife gets her check every two weeks. But that feeling doesn’t last long…

From your perspective, what were your most significant challenges? And how did you overcome them?

The most significant challenge for me was changing my mindset from a corporate mindset to that of an entrepreneur. That took the better part of a year. It’s different and sometimes confusing. The only way to overcome that is to continue getting up each day, setting goals, grinding away and putting one foot in front of the other.

What advice would you give to aspiring business owners?

Understand your strengths and the things that give you joy and pursue those with reckless abandon. If your business is based upon what drives you and plays to your strengths, the fear that sometimes paralyzes other people attempting entrepreneurship falls away. Your confidence will be much higher. The other piece of advice is to start where you are. Some people will put off and “plan” to start their business and do that forever. There is no such thing as the perfect time. Start today; start where you are, do what you can and build on that every day. Each day you’ll get better and eventually, you’ll be on your way!

A couple of great books would help aspiring entrepreneurs in their quest. The first is “The $100 Startup” by Chris Guillebeau. He breaks down starting a business into very simplistic steps based upon your skills and abilities right now, today. Very helpful information.

The other book is “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris. Tim can be a bit radical at times, but his basic premise of finding the most efficient way to accomplish a task through outsourcing, virtual employees and process is very revealing. It’s a great aspirational book.

You moved to Detroit a few years ago. What perceptions did you have of Detroit and did these perceptions affect your decision to start your business here?

I moved to Detroit in 1997 to work for Chrysler. I had never been to Detroit, never been to Michigan. I had no real perceptions of the city. I knew it was the automotive capital of the world, but other than that, I knew nothing! I started my business in 2008 based upon the contacts I established during my corporate experience and built a client base from that. I had been here for 12 years when I started my business; I never gave any thought to starting it anywhere else.

Please give us a sense of your client base. In your opinion, what are their most significant challenges?

My clients are all different sizes, industries and needs. I have automotive suppliers with revenue near $100 million, I have healthcare clients with revenue of over $4 billion. I have other clients that are solo entrepreneurs and very small revenue. The common challenge among all of them is the need to communicate – or communicate better – with their target audience and other stakeholders. Alchemedia Creative helps them to do that.

You develop websites. What’s the difference in websites being developed today versus 5 years ago, for example?

Five years ago, having a website developer was almost necessary to get even a simple website done. But now, there has been an explosion in website platforms like WordPress, Joomla and others that allow someone to build a website without having to write any code. But, website developers are still very much necessary to make websites more functional, more robust and more interactive. There are more “do-it-yourself” websites available (Go Daddy, Wix, Web.com, etc.), but if you want more functionality and individuality, website developers are still necessary.

Has entrepreneurship been worth it? Other thoughts?

I wouldn’t change a thing about being an entrepreneur. The hours can be long, the money not as good as corporate life, but the flexibility, the freedom, the unlimited upside financial reward potential, make it worth the effort. I am a person who thrives on being challenged by trying to master things I know nothing about. Entrepreneurship was completely new to me; something I had never done before. That was the challenge. Can I do this and be successful at it? Success is defined as financial rewards as well as other goals of growth and influence, and, spending quality time with my family – on my terms. The verdict is not in yet, but I like the direction that entrepreneurship is taking my life and I intend to make the most of it!

You can reach Kevin at: