The first slide in my “How to suck at running a business” presentation suggests to do anything for money, even if you suck at it. This was one of my earliest mistakes when starting out.
Starting up a business is a daunting task, fear of failure at the outset will almost certainly plague even the most confident of entrepreneurs. I started Moov2 straight out of university with not much of an existing network or significant audience from which to try build a client base. As such we were keen to take on whatever work we could in the vague hope of paying the bills.
One such early opportunity came along in the form of a website build, the website side of things we were fine with however this particular client also wanted “branding” including business cards, letterheads and compliments slips.
Print design was definitely something out of our comfort zone let alone the actual printing. To compound matters, as one of our very first projects the budget was “lean” to say the least. Definitely not something we could afford to take to a proper printers so, as you do, manually printed everything on two inkjet printers. Three days of 24 hour, non-stop printing later, we eventually delivered the goods. Whilst we did actually deliver on our promise and the client was somehow quite pleased with the result, it was definitely not a job I enjoyed. I wasn’t pleased with the outcome and it was not at all a profitable use of our time.
Do what you’re best at
That was an early but important lesson for me. We’ve since identified and refined what we’re best at which is building software and we now do just that. I see countless small agencies referring to themselves as “full service agency” attempting to snare work across a vast range of creative opportunities. Often though this is based on a competency in just one area. It’s often the case that such agencies will fall short across the gamut of skills required to be truly “full-service” and will deliver sub-par on the areas outside their main expertise. It’s of course not always the case and a strong pool of sub-contractors can fill the gap.
Whilst an awareness across a broad range of skills is worth striving for, be true to yourself and focus on what you enjoy the most and are best at. Don’t sell yourself out trying to be all things to all clients, you’ll only dilute your delivery.