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After a year in business, we're not fat

This month, we officially made it to a full year in business. While it’s been a chaotic and confusing process getting off the ground, we’re proud to have made it to a milestone many businesses never see.

Last week I sat down to write a clichéd piece reflecting on a year in business and what I’ve learned from the experience. That’s when I realized that I haven’t really learned anything. Not nearly enough, at least, to make it some profound experience.

One year in business is a whirlwind. There hasn’t been time to reflect on major decisions, market changes, even things as simple insurance and taxes. Everything that we’ve done as a company has been done on reflex, drawing on the years of experience as an executive I’ve had before this venture.

And so far, that’s working. I’m proud to say that Digital Pudding is on target to hit our revenue goals for this year. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve had pleasant surprises. We’ve struggled and succeeded and strived to do our best. Most importantly, we’ve grown.

In that growth has come a great amount of change, both personally and professionally. And this is the first time I’ve had a chance to really think about how far we’ve come.

What Have I Really Learned After a Year in Business?

If there’s been just one all-important takeaway, it’s that I’m the guy. We rise and fall based on the effort and energy I put in each day. It’s thrilling to know that my work impacts so many important businesses. On the other hand, if I’m not here and working at 100 percent, then we all take a step back. That can be a lot of pressure.

You’re responsible for payroll. You’re responsible for invoices. You’re responsible for new clients. Off days, vacations, corporate benefits and the like are way different when you’re not an employee, but rather the number one employee that makes everything happen.

Not only that, but as we expand, everyone else in the company depends on you, too. The decisions you make have long arcs impacting many more people than before. I’m no longer protected by the shield of corporate bureaucracy; it’s my name on the line.

That single realization propels me to be better every day. I have to outperform the past to succeed into the future. There is no let-up; fall behind and you’re dead. Because instead of urging my bosses along, I now urge myself along with only my instincts as a guide. Everyone else wants you to fail. You survive only by your brilliance and strength of will.

In fact, it’s probably best to focus on the work, because when you get down to it, starting your own agency can be a lonely experience. Thankfully, our work has been top notch from the start. Let’s continue that trend.

Some Other Thoughts

  • I’m surprised and honored by how many people from my past have reached out to continue working with me at this new venture
  • Your word and your work is your reputation; don’t compromise them
  • Take pride in everything you do, and stay true to what you do well
  • Push the envelope and continue to evolve and adapt by adding new skills and expertise
  • Simple conversations can become important relationships
  • Billing is never as easy as it should be, no matter the terms are structured
  • Collections agencies may sound fun, but use them only when you’re absolutely sure you want to burn the bridge with that client

It’s impossible to tell what will happen after just a year in business.  Here’s hoping it’s just the first of many, and we’ll see you again on this date for years to come!

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