The Leap with Khaleel Loyd

The Leap: On leading a family-owned agency with Khaleel Loyd

Welcome to The Leap! For this IG Live series, Wethos CEO Rachel Renock sits down with entrepreneurs who took the leap toward working independently or starting their own project.

In this episode, Rachel sat down with Khaleel Loyd, the co-founder and executive producer of Loyd Visuals, a family-owned video agency based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Three years after graduating with a degree in health communication and public health from UNC Charlotte, Loyd left healthcare to build Loyd Visuals full-time with his brothers. Today, he oversees business development and is currently on the board of Entrepreneurs’ Organization Accelerator and the J. Alphonse Nicholson Foundation.

Watch the full interview here or read below to learn more about the dynamics of working with family, building a business with empathy, and how to structure value-based pricing. 

Note: The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.

RR: Khaleel, thank you so much for joining us, really excited to hear more about your business and your brothers and everything you got going on. Tell us a little bit more, in your own words, about your journey to starting the business and how it’s evolved over time.

KL: Well, first, Rachel, thanks so much for having me on, I really appreciate it. I’m always excited to talk about my journey because I don’t talk as much as I would like. 

The business started as an idea and an opportunity to build something of our own. As you mentioned, I went to UNC Charlotte and majored in health communication. To be honest, that was really just job security. I wanted to make sure that I majored in something so that when I got out of college, I can get a decent-paying job and make a living for myself. But as soon as I got into the corporate environment, I realized it just wasn’t for me. I wanted, one, to not have a ceiling on my earning potential. I [also] didn’t want to be confined to working in a cubicle. And I really didn’t like the corporate culture.

So, I got a chance to look around to my left and my right. My brothers and I all have different talents, but all are talented in our own regard. My youngest brother, Maleek, is our head of production. He oversees everything that goes on our Instagram page to what we deliver to our clients. He’s truly like a prodigy — this kid taught himself how to play the piano in middle school, picked up a camera in high school, and started winning national competitions. I saw the talent and the drive that he had, and I didn’t want that to be exploited. So I pitched to him on his way to Appalachian State University. And I was like, “Hey, you’re going to have to work to pay your way through college. How about we just start a business?” So, that was really just the inception of Loyd Visuals. 

Najm is our middle brother and he works around brand partnerships and is our brand marketing manager. He’s a micro-influencer. He does a bunch of work with a lot of brands from Nike to Puma, to Clarks. I mean, you name it — he works and creates content for those brands. He helps us with our brand as well. So, taking all of our talents in, we decided that it would be advantageous for us to start something of our own, that we can potentially leave behind to our future kids one day, and to build a system and a company that leads with empathy and love.

RR: Can you talk a little bit about what it’s been like to run a family business and how you create boundaries between personal life and business life?

KL: I love working with my brothers, to be honest. When I look at all of the companies that were founded at the beginning of this nation, they were family businesses. You look at Walmart, you look at JPMorgan Chase — there are a bunch of companies out there that were started and built off their last name. I realized that in order to build an enterprise, you needed to work with people, your family if you can, to build something that could leave a legacy.

In terms of setting boundaries and balance, I feel like you don’t really need balance if you love what you’re doing. [But] one thing that we do is make sure that we have meetings on Friday and Monday. They’re just executive huddles. Our meeting for Friday is really just a mental health check-in, we’re not really talking about work, sometimes work just bleeds into the conversation naturally. But the goal is for us to come together, and have a conversation outside of business to just check in and see how you’re doing in your personal life. Are you eating good? Are you working out? Things of that nature.

That really helps us because it separates our job titles from who we are as brothers. But again, for me, I love what I do. So, there’s not really much balance in my life. I really engulf myself in my work.

RR: Can you tell us a little bit more about the vision that you have for creating this new model for the way business is done? What does that mean to you? How can other people pick up on some of these changes or habits?

KL: I took all of my experiences in my corporate career and I said, “You know what? I don’t want to implement the things that I disliked into my company.” So, this whole notion of changing the way business is being done is focusing more on the how versus the what you’re doing. How you’re doing things on a day-to-day basis, how you’re working with your team, and how you’re living out your values. Are you staying focused on your mission and vision? And are you allowing all of those things to create guardrails around the business and how you do things within your company internally? Because what you’ll find is that, if there’s chaos internally within your company, then the client is going to feel that, your users are going to feel that. So, you want to make sure that how you’re doing what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis is a priority.

I care about people very deeply. One of the things that we do Mondays before we get into business is I will open up with something that I found inspirational over the past week and I’ll allow other people to share as well. When current events happen, we will talk about those current events. Rest in peace to all of the slain victims in Buffalo, New York. We’ll talk about some of those things and then we’ll have honest dialogue and feedback because it’s really about the people and it’s about creating an environment of trust. Once we do that, now we’re able to go out and execute whatever it is that we set out to do. So, I think that’s really important in all organizations to keep as a priority.

RR: So, you oversee business development. What does that mean in the context of your business in terms of your day-to-day? I’m also curious, from a business development standpoint, how things have shifted with your business growing and what it means to you to oversee that?

KL: One thing about being in a service-based business is that relationships are really key. We’ve been fortunate to create some really meaningful relationships over the past six years that we’ve been in business. And that’s what’s really helped us drive our business. I’ll be honest to say that we have not been intentional about driving our business and actually pitching companies in order for us to get business, which I think, in some ways, is a blessing, but now I’m learning that, okay, it’s time to switch gears a bit.

Throughout our journey we’ve been really hyper-focused on just doing good work — not worrying about the PR, not worrying about all the things that don’t matter. We just want to do the work and hopefully, the work speaks for itself.

We’re at a point now where we are looking to grow and scale the team, hire some full-time employees, things of that nature. So, I need to be more strategic around going after certain, for example, price points with some of the projects that we’re taking on, or identifying, is there a new market or a new client pool that we need to tap into? Or is there another service offering that we can open up as well to bring in another stream of revenue? Those are all the things that I’m currently working on behind the scenes, but it’s a learning process.

RR: I know as somebody who has gone from a one-person shop into more people being involved, there are more financial complexities. What do you think about pricing in terms of hourly versus fixed? What’s your take on what model to think about in certain circumstances?

KL: We started off on an hourly type of pricing model, if you will. So, pre-production was $100 per hour, and this project will take us 10 hours to do, you do the math. And it was easy for the client to digest. “All right, I’m paying for 10 hours of your time.” We quickly realized two, or three years into working that that didn’t make sense.

What we quickly realized [we needed], and I was able to see that you all have a similar model within Wethos, is value-based pricing. So, we’ve transitioned from hourly pricing to value-based pricing. I no longer put down an hourly rate on any of our itemized services. There’s pre-production and there’s a number. There is production, two or three days of filming, and a number. Post-production, a number.

A couple of things that we look at is what is the size of the company? Is it a Fortune 100, 500 company? What is their annual revenue? How much are they spending on marketing, or on video in the past? Then you also [want] to understand the usage. How is your content being used? Is it going to be used on social media? Are ads going to be put behind it? Are they going to use your content for TV ads? Are they going to just use your content for internal distribution? So, truly understand how the content is being used. Then from there, you can start understanding the value of your content that the company is going to be utilizing.

Now the key is, once you understand and do all your research, then it’s about putting a number to that value and talking through that with your client. You want to make sure that you’re creating a really nice proposal, that’s visually appealing, that is easy to understand, that provides an overview, that provides case studies, then provides more about your process, and has a budget listed out. All of these nuances of how to do business, I think, need to be talked about a lot more.

RR: So, last question. A lot of folks out there are either looking to take a leap or have taken a leap recently — maybe not by choice because there’s been a lot of layoffs —  but there are a lot of people kind of figuring out what they’re going to do next. What’s your advice?

KL: Take the leap. Do not overthink it. Anything that you’re doing for a company, and you’re doing it at a high level, you can do for yourself. Do your research. Surround yourself with people that are going to encourage you and motivate you and that are going to inspire you. And study the great companies, study the great people and the innovators out here and follow their steps. Filter out what doesn’t make sense for you and apply what’s applicable. I think that once you get outside of your head and you have a vision, you have a goal that you want to execute on, literally, just do it, do not over-complicate it.

Thinking of taking the leap?