I’ve been running my own company now for just over three years and like any new media tech geek who’s obsessed with all things Apple, I read Sir Issac’s book autobiography on Steve Jobs. One of the most successful attributes about Apple as a company and Steve as a person is that Apple strives and Steve obsessed about controlling every aspect of any project from concept through completion. This included many times abandoning cheaper or sometimes even more short-term marketable products. it meant adapting Apple to the product rather than the product to exactly to how Apple envisioned its best use.
In the first years of any business, the owner struggles to define his or her brand and guiding mission.
When we started DigitalHipster, we set out to be a “full service ad agency.” But the thing is, a small company starting out can only do that by outsourcing much of its work and that means taking chances with a client’s brand and your own brand in the hands of someone who may not share your vision. Also, it pulls you away from your real strengths and what you are most passionate about. That’s the sweet spot where you succeed and ultimately you have your happiest clients.
I spent years in the print industry and know a great deal about print, but I don’t have a print shop in my office. However, all along the way I’ve been fascinated with web design, SEO, Social Media, video and all things new media. Throughout my career in media, I have always been drawn back to the online world. It’s what fascinates me and it’s where I’ve found my most success. In fact, my passion for web design has rubbed of on my wife in the last few years. As she learned the ins and outs of web development, she found her creative skills go even further. She’s currently our Creative Director, but she’s not just a graphic designer. She can actually read code and make tweaks that put a lot of web developers to shame.
Last year, we decided to abandon putting any focus on print, not because it isn’t still effective as part of a good media mix, but because we enjoy working in web design and new media more. We still do print campaigns for some of our best clients, but our marketing efforts, research and overall focus has gone back to our original mission statement, New Media for Old School Success. We’ve narrowed down our core services to three simple concepts: Web, Mobile and Video. This has also helped us “play nicer in the sandbox” as one of my colleagues likes to say with printers, sign companies, ad specialty companies etc.
I’m by no means trying to compare our level of success with Apple (but that would be nice). What any business owner can take away from Apple and Steve Jobs is that sticking to what you are most passionate about and what you know is best for both your clients and your bottom line is where you need to be. Sometimes that means not taking on a project if it means compromising end-to-end creative and quality control. Other times it means not lowering your price just to meet a budget if it means not providing something that’s essential for success. That’s not always popular with the sales folks.
Whether you’re a small web designer, plumber, attorney or Fortune 500 company; the lesson learned from Apple is that sticking to what you’re most passionate about and not compromising on details means you may not always go with the latest fad or extend your company outside of your sweet spot. In the end, having more control of your business is good for business.