Dennis Bosher is an enthusiastic, brand strategist, with over 15 years of experience in design. From brand strategy and corporate identities to designing product packaging and websites, Dennis has worn many hats in the branding and design industry.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Dennis Bosher: My name is Dennis Bosher. I am from a small town called Hurt in Virginia. For the last 15+ years I have run a branding and design company called Reevl. I have always had a fascination with technology as well as art and design. In my free time I occasionally paint, but my number one means of recreation revolves around FPV Drone flying.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Dennis Bosher: I’ll keep this as short as possible because it’s actually a long story. The shorter answer is no, I didn’t always want to be a CEO, in fact it never crossed my mind even for a moment. My path started with me as a welder and fabricator. An opportunity arose that sent me to classes to learn how to create technical drawings using AutoCAD.
This new skill took me out of the shop and into an office, working for an engineering firm designing roadway and signalization plans for the transportation department. Throughout this time I would tinker here and there on the computer, making 2D animations, logos, graphic art etc. It was my primary hobby at the time.
Well, all of that came to an end during the great recession of 2007-2008. The company I worked for went through a series of layoffs. I was listed on the third round. I packed my stuff, went home, and went to work. I had this hobby that I was pretty decent at. I had already won several logo design contests.
I knew there was potential to make more money so I created Skilled Graphics, LLC. In a sense the recession actually helped me with this new business venture because there were others that were in my shoes, that had been laid off and were looking to work from home. These other new businesses needed logos and business cards, and I was there to design them. And so it began.
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Dennis Bosher: This is a little odd because we are now divorced, but I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. My ex-wife was probably my biggest fan and my primary motivator. She had ambition like I had never seen in anyone before.
She was always encouraging and reassuring me. She believed I could do anything and did not allow me to ever say “I can’t do that”. She eventually pulled up a desk right next to mine and together, we just figured it out. She gave me the motivation I needed to see everything through and to figure out what I didn’t know.
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Dennis Bosher: As I mentioned earlier, the recession lead me to the point of starting my own business. To be specific it was desperation and determination. I had a family to take care of and had to pay the bills. There was a huge learning curve when starting the business. Questions that I didn’t know the answers to.
I couldn’t really afford a lawyer or an advisor at the time, so the internet became my best friend. I had to learn about licensing, registration, taxes, standards of design. I had no idea what I was doing. I had to figure out how to accept payments. I went through a variety of payment processors. When I first started my fees were extremely low.
One of the hardest things I had to do was appreciate my own value as well as the value I created as a designer. I think the most important things that I learned during this time, is that if you don’t value the work you do for what it’s worth, no one else will either.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Dennis Bosher: My company is called, Reevl and we offer affordable branding and identity design services. The name Reevl, pronounced as “reveal”, is based on the idea that most businesses are strong brands that need to be revealed.
At Reevl we simply chip away at the layers to uncover the insight that is needed to create a brand identity that reveals that strong brand. We create a strategy that utilizes that insight so that it amplifies everything that makes your brand who it is and connects with your customers in a way that creates loyalty and trust.
As CEO I have a hand in everything. My responsibilities range from client acquisition and marketing, to design revisions and delivery. I have to make sure we have enough work coming up to pay the bills that aren’t due yet.
I have to work closely with clients to determine branding goals and expectations, conduct in depth consumer research and business analysis, develop and execute brand strategy across multiple platforms, design brand identities that align with the brand’s image, design product packaging, web solutions, the list goes on and on. Being a CEO of a small business is not an easy task and it comes with a lot of responsibility.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Dennis Bosher: I think the initials in CEO stand for Consistent Effort Onward. And this has a deep meaning as the two mandatory traits required to be a successful CEO are determination and dedication. I would define a CEO as one who is determined to fulfil obligations and goals with consistent dedication. However I suppose it would vary CEO to CEO.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Dennis Bosher: To be honest I never really considered the term CEO for myself. Even today I am a brand strategist or a business owner. CEO sounds so corporate and controlling. But to answer the question, I didn’t really have any expectations. I think my determination outweighed the need for them. If anything I expected to utilize my skillset to pay my bills. I didn’t have the luxury to expect more than that. Again, this venture was an act of desperation and necessity. I think the only thing that surprised me is that it would be a permanent fixture in my life.
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Dennis Bosher: I think the core role of a CEO is to keep the business profitable. All employees have to be paid. Utilities and other bills have to be paid. The business must be successful and the primary role of any CEO is to do whatever it takes to achieve that. Sometimes it requires sacrifice which is never easy. Sometime hard decisions have to be made. Even if the CEO is not the one making these decisions, he is ultimately responsible for the decisions of whoever is.
There was a time when my business was faced with some of these hard decisions. Earlier in this interview I credited my ex-wife with the amazing support she offered. Well at the time she was my wife, so obviously we went through a separation and ultimately divorce. It was a tough time. During that time business was actually pretty good, but there was about to be some major disruption.
Separating from my wife meant moving. Taking time away from the business to make arrangements for place to live and work. I had project deadlines that were quickly coming up, new work that needed to be started, so I was faced with making a decision that ultimately allowed me to salvage relationships and ultimately my business. I had to be transparent with my clients.
And that is exactly what I did. You wouldn’t think calling your clients and telling them “I’m a wreck”, “I’m not going to be able to make deadlines”, “Your project is going to take longer than expected”, would be taken very well. But as I spoke to my clients I could see that the relationship we had built together allowed for this moment of humanity.
It was not easy to call these clients and share my personal failures with them, and it was definitely a risk, but the alternative was lying or ignoring them completely. Being honest with them was the best option. And as I explained the situation, most were very compassionate and understanding and my business was up and running again within no time as if nothing had interrupted it.
Some of these clients are still with us even today. Perhaps this is not the typical answer to this question you might have been looking for, but I am not your typical CEO. But as a CEO I had to make a decision to keep my business in good standing, and that meant being transparent with my clients about my personal difficulties. We are all human after all.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Dennis Bosher: I would say the answer to the previous question was probably the hardest, but luckily with business comes many difficult choices. Another difficult decision that I had to make that benefited my employees and customers, was the decision to expand outside of my comfort zone.
What I mean by that is at the time I offered design services such as logo design, business card design, brochures etc. But my ex-wife, being the ambitious person that she is, saw a bigger opportunity. She wanted to introduce printing, web development, web hosting and domain registration. Granted this would increase our potential for income, but I didn’t know anything about it. It was all completely new to me.
And when I expressed that to my ex-wife, of course she replied, “you’re smart, you’ll figure it out”. And so I did. I made the decision to add these services to our capabilities. This opened the doors to many new clients and allowed me to offer them services that I was at one time sending to someone else. This decision allowed me to make even more profit. What made this decision so hard was the learning curve that came with it. And while it took some time, I figured it out and the company became much more valuable because of it.
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Dennis Bosher: Success is subjective. Success to one person may be a ten million dollar business, a two million dollar house in the smokey mountains and five vacation homes across the country.
Success for someone else could be a secure and steady job that pays their bills and puts food on the table with enough left over to have a decent savings. For me, success is simply achieving the goals that you set. It doesn’t matter how someone else defines success, what matters is that you are happy and satisfied with the life you have.
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
Dennis Bosher: I think what comes naturally to me is determination to solve a problem. It’s more of an obsession. If something is problematic it drives me crazy until I find a solution. It could be something like the color of a word on a website that isn’t right. I will search the code with a fine-toothed comb until I find the problematic line of code to correct it. I think this skill has made me a better leader as it compels me to do something rather than not. It also seems to come with in amazing ability to figure things out.
Leadership skills that I have cultivated over the years range from relationship building to the ability to think critically. I wouldn’t call myself a natural people person, but it is something that I have gotten better at over the years. And it is incredibly important when it comes to meeting with clients and negotiating terms. The years in business have taught me how to make sound decisions based on critical thought and logic which is definitely a trait that a leader should have.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Dennis Bosher: We already worked primarily remotely from home when the pandemic hit, so that was not a huge issue for us, however what was an issue was meeting with clients. We no longer could meet in person without putting clients or employees at risk.
This was a challenge however that we did overcome rather easily with the use of remote meeting software like Zoom. The hardest part was getting some clients used to using technology that they didn’t have much experience with. To address this challenge we created a step by step video guide that walked clients through the setup.
While some clients were familiar with using software like Zoom, those that were not, found this to be very helpful. This allowed us to continue face to face meetings during the pandemic.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting out on their journey?
Dennis Bosher: The best thing I can share that will help aspiring, new and future CEO’s is that there are no shortcuts. There is no secret path to success. Success is achieved by setting goals and going after them with everything that you have. Your dedication and determination will take you farther than anything else. You could have the best advice in the world but it means nothing if your siting still. The only real magic is you. If you want it, go get it and don’t stop until you have it.
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Dennis Bosher: Well there’s a couple skills I would love to have. And I probably could if I pushed myself enough. I would say the main skill that I have always wanted is 3D animation. I am fairly decent at making simple 2D animations, but 3D is where it’s at. I have dabbled in software like Blender. I even created a really cool donut animation. But the system was so complex, and my time was so limited, I left it at that. Who knows what the future holds, it is definitely a skill that could benefit my business.
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Dennis Bosher: Funny you should mention that, I am actually writing a book about branding and I have yet to determine the title of that one. A book about my life… hmmm. How about…simply… “Determined’
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Dennis Bosher for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Dennis Bosher or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.