What I Wish I Knew | Lessons that Todd Bertsch learned along the way

Written by M Sophie Franchi
photo by Larry Spencer

Starting a business can be hard work, but fortunately for us, Akro-preneurs are always willing to share their insights.

Name: Todd Bertsch

Occupation: Owner/President of Evolve Creative Group

Hometown: East Akron/Goodyear Heights

Current Neighborhood: Copley Township

How did you get into the work you do?
From the time I was a young boy, I’ve been fascinated by art and advertising. Coming from a smaller high school (Archbishop Hoban High) I was one of a few students who excelled in art. So off to The University of Akron I went to pursue a fine arts degree. After taking a few drawing courses I quickly realized I was not as talented as I had thought. So I looked into the graphic design department, which I knew nothing about at the time, and instantly fell in love and found my lifelong passion. During my senior year, this new exciting thing called the “Internet” emerged. I jumped on board, designed and built my first website and stayed the course. After several years of working for advertising agencies and internet start-ups, I took a leap-of-faith in 2009 and started my own digital agency Evolve Creative Group. As I look back to my days as a young newspaper delivery boy, I suppose I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit burning inside me.

What do you wish you knew when you got started?

Looking back, I wish I would have known more small business owners and tapped into their experience and sought out their guidance. After being in business a few years, I started to build my network of business owners and was able to learn from their experiences. Every business is different and you will fail in some respects, but as Warren Buffet once said, it’s always better to learn from other’s mistakes than to make your own. Lastly, I would say that I wish I would have known how important patience was in building a business. Those who know me well know that I’ve never been a man of great patience. I quickly learned that nothing worthwhile happens overnight. Building a strong brand and reputation takes time and patience.

What are you glad you didn’t know?

I knew starting a business would not be easy and would be a lot of hard work, but I’m glad I didn’t know how many hats I would need to wear each day. Getting started it’s just you, and you alone, so everything falls on you. And as you start to build a client base and hire employees the more responsibility you take on and the more hats you wear. I’m not sure if this would have discouraged me from starting a business, but it certainly is a constant challenge. Delegation is tough, but it’s a key to success and your sanity.

What are some of the best lessons — in business or life — you’ve learned from being your own boss?

With over 20 years in this business and owning a business for eight years now, there is certainly a lot I’ve learned. Below is a list of my top ten.

  1. Work/life balance. This is the single most important key to success and happiness. It’s different for everyone, but don’t get caught up in your work. Life goes by fast. Create those moments with family and friends that will last forever. Keeping the balance is not easy and will be a constant battle, but it will keep you grounded and poised for success.
  2. You’re only as good as the people around you. Great employees are hard to find. When you do find them, hold on tight and keep them as long as you can.
  3. Success comes in many different forms. It should never be about the money.
  4. Have patience — it will be your best friend.
  5. Legacy. What will you leave behind? Is your work meaningful? How does it impact your community? We all have time and talent and should give back to our community.
  6. My spoon was not silver. It’s not about where you’re from, but more about where you’re at. You create your own destiny. Hard work does pay off.
  7. Every moment and day of your life doesn’t need to be planned out. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow. I thank my wife for this one!
  8. In business and in life, follow the golden rule and do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you. It’s cliché, but so simple and true.
  9. Never take anything for granted. There is always someone else having a worse day than you. Be grateful. The grass is usually not greener on the other side.
  10. Failure. It’s the best way to learn. If you’re afraid of failure, don’t start a business. Every day is a different challenge, it’s how you handle it that will make you successful.