21 posts tagged work on your business

Expect Excellence

Now that’s a company vision.


My dad has a saying, “You get what you intend, not what you hope for.” How many things in our lives are we actually intentional about, though? In the creative (and development) world, I consistently see studios grow beyond their optimal size. Our culture rewards it, and often our internal drive is to be bigger because we’re told that bigger is better. But is it?

I haven’t been distracted by pushing a boulder up the wrong hill. I get to focus on doing really great work for excellent clients.

Like Berger & Föhr, I’ve been intentional about operating as a shop of one—I’m a bit of a design and development multi-tool. Some projects I team up with others (like Berger & Föhr) and other projects I handle by myself. I may not be this size forever, but it has been an intentional choice and a lot of rewarding things have come from it. The biggest bonus, though, is simply that I haven’t been distracted by pushing a boulder up the wrong hill. I get to focus on doing really great work for excellent clients. And, contrary to popular belief, my access to bigger and better projects has often come as a result of my practice size, not at the expense of it.

How intentional are you about the size and goals of your business?

The Poverty Mindset

My dad really nails it from time-to-time.

Friends vs. Subscribers

I don’t know if I’ve ever explicitly stated why I run this blog, but this touches on why: I run it for myself. It’s the only way to stay interested in it. I post things because the act of posting them, making some commentary on them, etc. is good for me. It helps me remember things I value and learn new things as I construct arguments and defend them. It’s for me. If any of you out there somewhere get some benefit from it, that’s a bonus.

Back to Work #11: Johnny Heuristic

A great episode of Merlin Mann & Dan Benjamin’s Back to Work this week. If you feel like your stuck trying to figure out what’s “next,” maybe give this one a listen.

Bootstrapped, Profitable, & Proud: Coudal

Even if you like your job (and your clients) Coudal’s profile in the 37signals Bootstrapped, Profitable, & Proud series is a good read.

Coudal’s firm was one of the first on my radar, back before I even started gb Studio. I remember passing their videos around the office, admiring how awesome the Jewelboxing line of products was, and wishing I’d thought of The DECK.

Bring me stuff that’s dead, please

Interesting perspective. I like it. Sometimes staying relevant—in the pop-culture sense—is really just a popularity game, while the real work that makes real breakthroughs and real money is quietly being done out of the spotlight.

Negotiation And Speculation: The Risk Of Selling Low

As a consultant, solo-shop, freelancer—whatever you call yourself—pricing can be tricky. This is very good advice that, unfortunately, took me years to learn the hard way. Now I stand by it. And it’s really simple:

If someone you really want to work with has sticker-shock over your rate, price isn’t the variable you can or need to negotiate with them. Maybe you can change the timeline, the scope, put it into stages so it’s more affordable, etc. The bottom line: if you haven’t defined those things, and they think they’re overpaying you, it won’t end well. Conversely, if you compromise on what you’re worth, you’ll end up resenting the client, or project, or both.

Sales: The Fail Team

It initially sounded callous to a people-pleaser like myself, but I’ve eventually come around to the idea that my primary job is to say no. Not ‘no’ as-in, “why did you bother asking?” but ‘no’ in a way that says, "let’s talk about your project and see if it’s the best fit for both of us. Only in that scenario will really good work get produced.


I know that feeling well. Between this article and his recent interview on Dan Benjamin’s The Conversation I’ve really appreciated Greg’s perspective on running a web client services business. I’ve gotten some good, new ideas from him, and for better or worse, it helps to hear that he’s had some of the same problems or learned some of the same lessons that I’ve learned along the way.