We know as well as anyone that running your own business comes with an Everest-style learning curve. There’s no need to be shy about this. Everyone screws up. But the important thing is that you learn from these screw-ups.
Here at Identify, we believe that sharing is caring. If we can share our biggest learning curves with you, you can benefit from them too. So, we’ve put together some of the biggest lessons we’ve learnt whilst building Identify to what it is today.
It’s A Balancing Act
Acquiring your first clients and building up your portfolio is crucial, but very challenging. You could be offering a Nando’s black card and you still might not be able to find anyone willing to take a chance on you.
In our early days, we were completely focused on this. To help ourselves – or, so we thought – we provided services under the market rate. We set up a lot of our clients with free hosting and free updates. In theory, this was a good idea, and seemed sustainable to us.
Famous last words. Fast forward six years, and you’ll find us with server bills of several thousand pounds a month. Definitely not sustainable. Is there a more awkward situation than having to start charging someone who you’ve never charged before? No, if you were wondering. It’s horrible.
Our growth was a little slower than it should have been. We didn’t get the balance quite right. Our advice to you is to get it right initially. Nail the balance between building your portfolio and advertising a great introductory offer, and you’ll avoid doing any sort of grovelling.
You Can’t Be Everything – And That’s OK
Back in the day, we tried to be the Swiss Army Knife of the digital world. We designed brochures and catalogues, we did some video work, PC tech support… you name the IT service, we would have offered you it.
Right. We know what you’re thinking at this point. Stretched too thinly? Check. Master of none? Almost. Here’s what happened: we’d run into an issue that we weren’t 100% sure how to fix, which would end up in a heady combination of time and money that we’d have to scrabble to find.
But, let’s be Positive Patrick here. By going through this, we learnt how to manage our time better, and which services really get us going. Not in that way. It’s taken us several years, and NGL, a few tears, but we’ve really defined our offering. We now focus on our three specialist core services – websites, apps, and digital marketing – and use trusted partners if we have an enquiry for something different.
Don’t Ignore New Tech
It’s so easy to keep on keepin’ on, and not take some time to think about the behind-the-scenes stuff. Our unintentional mindset used to be ‘if it works, and we’ve always done it like this, why change?’ Probably a bit arrogant of us, in hindsight. But, we were delivering projects to a high standard, so we just powered on, Snowpiercer train-style.
In the early days, we didn’t always stop to think about the bigger picture. We should have taken the time to keep on top of tech developments, because doing that could have made our lives as easy as smashing a 20 box of Maccies nugs at 2am. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have not fallen behind, at many points throughout our journey.
So, our advice to you is this. RULE. Refresh your learning. (Install) Updates. Learn as much as possible about your job, including how to use those important new updates. Eat nugs.
Enjoy it Whilst You’re Growing
It’s inevitable that when you’re starting out, you’ll have some slow days. DON’T WASTE THEM! Some of the team’s favourite memories happened during 4-Can Friday, one of the many, many days in which ‘let’s go for a pint after work’ turned into, well, they’d probably rather not say.
Even though a slower work day is definitely a good excuse for a drink, it also is a great opportunity for some bonding time. Don’t scrimp on team-building – it’ll help you construct a cohesive team with the right people, who’ll be invested in the business and the work they do.
Identify Digital is always an almost-finished masterpiece. We will probably be able to update this article a few times this year with more things we’ve learnt. But, the important thing is that we use our experiences to grow from them, so that we can do things better next time.