Asking for help helps.
Around a year ago we started working on this thing called Rubber. It’s been a year full of excitement, great projects & happy clients, but also difficult conversations, fuck-ups and WTF moments.
As first time founders, we found ourselves having lots of questions regarding non-design things. We have quite a lot of experience helping others build successful businesses, but really running a business is an entirely different story.
The hard thing about hard things
Although we started the studio with a beginner’s mind (trying to change & adapt as we go), those questions were slowly creeping in, making it harder for us to focus on what’s important for our clients: the work. Here are some of them:
How to get new clients (or how to decide if potential clients are right for you)?
When to grow (do we really need to?) and how to maintain quality when growing?
How to price correctly?
And many, many more.
Realising we’re not alone
Few months in, I remembered an exchange I had with Jules Ehrhardt (ustwo co-founder) when we first announced the studio. “I’ll shout from the sidelines”.
Instead of dramatising, we slowly released that we’re not alone. All other studios have been through a similar phase so they must have valuable insights into how to solve these problems. What if we do an Amanda Palmer and ask for help?
People *really* want to help!
The upcoming months we reached out to other studio founders, asking them for a few minutes of their time. We didn’t have a clear agenda, but we had problems we wanted solutions for. And amazingly… most people were happy to help!
So we went for coffee, jumped on a call, went through lots of email threads and Twitter DMs. These conversations shaped what we are as a studio, and helped us answer those critical questions. There are still plenty of things to solve, but the advice we got was extremely useful, and it helped us avoid bad decisions early on.
As a result, we’re doing well financially, have steady work, and decided to stay (proudly) small until further notice.
And the award goes to…
Props to Mills for showing us how to build a network through healthy relationships with others (agencies & founders). Also for educating us on the importance of social media in driving leads.
To Jeff Namnum for your kind words and important life advice regarding the hard journey of being a founder.
And to Jules Ehrhardt for State of the Digital Nation and overall transparency regarding the design industry.