Going Small to Make it Big

As National Small Business week comes to an end, we thought it appropriate to share High 5’s “birth story”. The true triumph of going small to make it big.

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph

For nine years, I worked in the marketing department of a major hospital. While at the hospital, I met a lot of smart, motivated business people. I gained a lot of experience and exposure to the marketing industry. After working with notable agencies like Woodruff Sweitzer and Prairie Dog, LLC, I dreamed about joining the marketing agency world.

“Show me a guy who’s afraid to look back, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.” Lou Brock

In March 2006, Gary Wilbers (who owned Mid America Wireless at the time) asked me if I was ready to start my own agency. His company had outgrown its current marketing firm and needed help. Though Gary’s business had grown tremendously, leaving the hospital wasn’t exactly something I considered a step forward. However, the opportunity to start my own agency far surpassed my dream of working at an agency as an account representative.

The situation was far from ideal. My wife, Greta was six-months pregnant with our third daughter. I give my wife credit though; when I asked her if should leave the hospital and start my own company, she never flinched.

“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.” Terry Bradshaw

To this day, I don’t consider myself a risk taker, but the opportunity to learn from a successful businessman like Gary and the opportunity to push myself was too appealing to turn down. I decided I’d rather fail at trying than look back 10 years from now and regret not believing in myself.

So, how did I come up with the name, High 5 Communications? Phil Smith, owner of Prairie Dog, LLC gave me some great insight to naming a company. He said, “Don’t put your name on the sign, and have a name that makes people ask about it.”

Both positive and sports-related, I felt like High 5 summarized what I wanted out of the business. I wanted to create a company where my employees were able to do what they loved and feel good about it. As for our clients, I wanted doing business with us to give them the same rewarding feeling as getting a high-five.

“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” -Ben Hogan

Have you ever given a high-five and not felt some sort of positivity? I give my daughters high-fives all the time. I always feel good afterwards and they aren’t old enough to realize giving your dad a high-five isn’t ‘cool’.

Secondly, sports. I have a problem with sports. (Kind of like Seinfeld, I have a problem there, too, but that’s another story) If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love sports and what they teach you about life.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

The best athletes in the world fail more than they succeed. The reason they are the best, is they keep trying. They aren’t afraid to fail; they learn from it and try again. Overcoming the fear of failure was something I had to do if I wanted to reach my goal of being a successful business owner.

So, in June 2006, my daughter Abbey was born and so was High 5 Communications.

“Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.” Bo Jackson

As High 5 sneaks up its nine-year anniversary, I’ve learned and had more opportunities than I ever could have imagined. My wife, Greta is still my rock and her blind faith in my determination to succeed never ceases to amaze me.

I don’t know what the future will bring for my family and High 5, but I do know I am excited. High 5 continues to grow and exceed the expectations I had 8 years ago. I’ve been lucky to hire five people that display what High 5 stands for and couldn’t be happier. If anything, I hope I have shown them to have faith in themselves and the courage to dream – I know I do.

Darren Heckman, Owner High 5 Communications