Maybe it was re-reading Small Giants by Bo Burlingham or having triplets 2 years ago, but I have been giving much thought to priorities, to where I am headed personally and where Sundog Media is headed as a company and this introspection has been a good process.
All companies that last face a moment or moments when they have to figure out what they do with growth and there is always a tough balance between growth and quality. One of the greatest fears of a business owner is to not have any / enough work to meet payroll, cover expenses and still be profitable. As a company, Sundog Media has been blessed with an abundance of work, for which I am very thankful. However with that comes a great responsibility to ensure that our quality is as high, if not higher than ever. In this economy it seems strange to to hang a sign that says we are not taking any new customers for a while so that we can rock out our current projects but we really do mean it. (Okay, if I got a call from Nike I might have to at least have a conversation.)
The main thrust of the book Small Giants is that somewhere along the line the owners or leaders of companies make a decision to be more concerned about being “Great” than “Big”. This approach resonates most with me and I have set some big goals that will head us in that direction. Below I would like to share a few of these goals and changes with you.
WORDPRESS ONLY BY THE BEGINNING OF 2013
Over the years, we have developed websites using many of the popular CMS (content management systems) programs available and when Sundog Media purchased WebWeavers Technology Group in 2008, we inherited quite a few customers who were using Joomla. Over the last couple years we have switched to WordPress and love it so much that we are now exclusively using this wonderful CMS.
It is hard to explain all of the details of why we chose WordPress over Joomla but the short answer is – we find it much more user friendly both for our team and our clients. The WordPress community and plugins built around the product are superior, in our opinion.
The most important reason for our decision to move to WordPress only is that it is important with our team size to focus on one technology so we can be both passionate and proficient with it.
Joomla is still a very powerful and robust CMS, which we will continue to support through the end of 2012 for those customers currently using Joomla. We will be talking with each of our Joomla customers about switching over to WordPress. If your goal is to stay with Joomla as your CMS then the bottom line is that it is important for you to solicit a vendor that is as excited about Joomla as we are about WordPress. Part of the reason we have hung the “We Are Booked” sign and are not taking new customers currently is because we want to allow any current customers the opportunity to switch to WordPress and, at the same time, review any other needs you might have from re-design to content additions and changes. I will be writing a follow up article “Why WordPress” to more fully explain our reasoning, and more importantly, why you should sign up for your conversion as many of our customers are currently doing.
WEB MEDIA ONLY
This was a hard decision because Sundog Media began as a print based graphic design company and I really do still love designing logos, stationary and a variety of print-based marketing. The main reasons that I concluded it was time to stop offering print design services is that it has become such a small percentage of our work and I did not feel we could be great at both print and web media. The reality is, our team’s strength is in web design, development, hosting and management. So, we are no longer offering print media. One great benefit of this decision is that now we work more with other talented graphic artists whose focus is print media. We have found partnering with these talented folks has improved several web projects.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY. BALANCE WITH LIFE
Most companies state that they care about quality, exceptionalism, professionalism but how is it that one company can make an o.k. soup/widget/burger and another company can do it so much better? Some people call it mojo. I like to refer to it as passion. Whatever it takes, I have decided to make whatever changes, improvements and necessary steps within Sundog Media so that we can work within our passion and strengths and continue to produce an amazing and meaningful product while providing awesome service.
To this end I am looking to take on less projects allowing more time, budget and creative energy for each so that the final product is outstanding. With every project we always strive to do our very best. But being the perfectionist that I am, I always look for how we can do it better. This is one of the reasons that focusing on web media allows us as a team to continually perfect our craft. We will be making a very concerted effort over the next year to manage our production schedule to ensure the quality that we are after. We will also be carefully setting expectations with our customers so that we can not only honor our commitments but thrive and shoot to exceed these expectations. As Sundog Media has grown over the years, especially in the early years, I was very hesitant to turn down work. I have come to realize that carefully pacing one’s work load to ensure quality and time for life, renewal and family allows for the greatest quality.
A TOUGH LOOK AT OUR WEAKNESSES
The business of website design, development, management and hosting is complex and as hard as we try, we occasionally make mistakes. Not many companies want to admit that they make mistakes but the reality is that we are all human and although our intentions are as good as possible, we all make mistakes. Personally, I have found what sets a company or individual apart is how they handle their mistakes. Do they take ownership, learn from the mistake and strive to put systems in place to avoid them in the future? More importantly, does the company react rapidly and professionally to assist customers when issues arise? Part of the reason we are turning away new work right now is to take some time to assess our systems and take an honest look at both our weaknesses and our strengths. We want to see what areas of how we do business we can improve upon and even radically change if necessary. If we determine that we can not be “Great” at that particular service then we will consider not even offering it or working with a more qualified partner.
CONNECTING WITH OUR STRENGTHS AND PASSION
Our slogan, “Bright People, Brilliant Design“, really fits. Our passion is to design, build, manage and host brilliant custom WordPress websites. I truly believe that our small family business, based in Anchorage, Alaska, can be one of the greatest website design companies in the nation offering local businesses the same quality that they could expect from any large technology state in the union. After all where else in America is God’s beautiful creation as amazing as right here in Alaska? This is part of the inspiration that fuels our design and energy for the craft we have chosen to excel at. After 16 years in the business I am still very excited about this industry and look forward continuing to serve the communities web media needs.
TO OUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS
I just wanted to thank you for your patronage over the years and for allowing us to grow along side you serving your web media needs.
TO FUTURE CUSTOMERS
To future new customers, thank you for your patience while we take the time to rock out our current projects and customers. We look forward to learning about your projects after the new year.