As a few of you may remember, a few weeks ago I wrote a blog summarising alot of my feelings surrounding my own experiences with starting a Web Design and Development business. In which I stressed some of the things, that we're currently on my mind and a brief evaluation of my experiences thus far.
If you are planning on reading the rest of this post, I strongly recommend you at least give the previous article a little skim through, you can find it here
This post is very much a continuation of expression, using my blog as my tool and in doing so following on nicely from the post I wrote a few weeks ago.
Ok, so, onwards, a little over a week ago I took a short holiday and hoped to use it as a nice bit of relaxation and reflection time. Normally while i'm away I tend to lay on the beach thinking of ways to do things differently, the next big thing or just illustrating an idea in my head. However something rather strange occurred to me about half way through the holiday, I hadn't done any of this. This was very weird, i'd taken the time to read a few great books from abookapart but other than that i'd thought about nothing relevant to work or sat their wondering what was going on back at home, without me. I tried to kick back and analyse why I thought this was, and, in honesty I didn't find the answer. However I had drawn some conclusions from it. I was obviously stressed, tense, and wound up about work and releasing that largely over the weeks building up to my holiday, combined, with the perfect excuse to forget about them, I found myself happy enough to not be thinking about work and it's in's and out's at all. Bliss.
The ability to attach and detach yourself from work is always a good one to have, at least for your health anyway, but when its your own company as many of you will know, this really is not easy to do. I still felt perhaps something more fundamental had changed. So since i've been back, i've been trying to work out what I thought that might be, and, why. I've drawn this from my feelings; over the last 3 years i've poured my life and soul into starting my business, my social life and my free time, and a whole lot of blood sweat and tears. Although i'm not going to sit here and complain, i'm open to admit, i've not got as much out of it as i've put in. However, it has given me the chance to be thrown in at the deep end and learn the tricks of the trade, admittedly very much the abnormal way round, but its been great none the less. My passion for designing and making things has definitely not waned in this period, which to me, is a great sign, as hopefully i've found something I really do love to do.
But what pouring your whole life and soul into often makes you forget, is that, life exists outside your little bubble, and if you just take a step back once in a while, quite often you've missed quite a bit. Just because things perhaps aren't working out, it's not the be all and end all of everything, theirs plenty more to come and plenty of other avenues and options to explore. So i've decided to try and relax about thing's, learn from previous mistakes and just enjoy developing when I enjoy it and stopping when I don't.
I also thought; you know what i'm going to think about what the downfalls of the last 3 years have been and how I might do them a little differently. One area that I particularly wanted to talk about was risk. That big scary word RISK. Avoid it like the plague some would say, other's learn to embrace it, the best approach, who knows. Both can work, but they are fundamentally very, very different. We adopted the approach of avoiding RISK like the plague, looking back, i'd have liked to played my cards differently. Although RISK oftens shortens the time in which you have to develop projects under a budget, employing one or 2 more staff, also shortens the time needed to develop projects and brings 2 more heads into the business, 4 heads are better than 2 right? We only took the plunge to get ourselves an office 2 and a bit years into the 3 and a bit years we've been doing this. Again, something we should have done long ago. What taking no risk has allowed us to do is drag out what could end up being the inevitable, over a longer period of time.
For me I think the extra time has given me the time to concentrate on improving my skills as a developer, but has turned me into someone who has to do a bit of everything. And as we all know full well, you CANNOT be the best at everything, employing other people is far more efficient, providing you hire the right people of course!
As a web design and development business we could do with a full time sales manager, pulling in work, left, right and centre. But that's never happened quite that way. We make alot of our own products (mostly online games) which when we're not busy we get stuck into, either by upgrading or coding add ons. For which we could also do with a content manager, who would make interesting and awesome links between missions, achievements etc and manage the game experience, given to the players in a pro-active way. But who's willing to work for a profit share these days? And finally a PR who gets our games and products all over the web. Now some of you might be sitting their saying well you could probably do all these things and run your own business, I say, you can't. I will never be running my business as well as I could, so long as i'm also the Sales Manager, the Director, the PR, the lead Programmer, and Designer. Fact.
For me I say embrace RISK, it will help you reach either the end or the start of something quickly and without wasting years and years trying to build up to it. Don't get me wrong I wouldn't suggest you go out tommorow and try to secure a £250,000 bank loan, but perhaps try to secure some funding and take some risks with it. Business is all about risks, some come off and some don't, thats life i'm afraid folks.
So perhaps i'm acting a little downbeat about things, but i'm feeling cynical towards the end of this post. I think my short break gave me som time to reflect and think about both my business as a whole and how it's now fitting in with my life goals and personal objectives. I've given both of these alot of thought, and, hope I have some kind of master plan in my head. It's very important to remember too assess how everything your doing fits with you, if what your doing ultimately doesn't fit with you and your life or even your future, then likelihood is you won't be enjoying it and thus won't be making the quality of work / contribution you should.