All too often the world casts a negative light on making mistakes, but the truth is the most successful people make mistakes better than anyone. While this may seem counter-productive it actually builds better products, people and companies. Over the last year and a half while growing PixelBit from all sides i’ve experienced my share of mistakes and learned from them. Here is the top 5.
5 – Gathering the Right Tools on Day 1
It would seem that a new business needs to be very cautious of spending (unless you’re funded) but sometimes you can take that to extremes. Early on I didn’t see a need for legal counsel until a well known client of mine decided to change that perception overnight. Now anytime I start another venture my lawyer will be the 2nd call I make. Now he and my accountant are in my favorites.
4 – Make Bookkeeping and Record-keeping a Weekly Task
As you start to build and grow a company you want your focus to be on growth and money making aspects. However what I did was originally left working in Quickbooks for later and then when it was needed spent 2 days reconciling, reporting and filing (not tax related) everything. This year i’ve made it a point to set aside time and on average spend 20 minutes a week.
3 – Stretch the Funds
If you’ve freelanced you know all about highs and lows in payments. Sometimes you have a record month and other times you can actually see the dust collecting on your mailbox. Well in running a company with others relying on money this becomes a major issue. Having learned and survived the down months (usually in the Summer) I now make it a point to set aside a good chunk of money not allocated to payroll and bills for those dips. The amount you need to set aside will vary based on company but you’ll quickly learn.
2 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don’t let your ego or desire to “go it on your own” actually hurt you. About 4 months in I wanted to source more local work while maintaining our existing client obligations. I spent money on advertising and quickly learned I should have bet on dog races as I knew nothing about marketing a company. I mean in freelance you market yourself, but its really not the same! Well after a few meetings and help from some great friends I was able to re-run the campaign and had an amazing response.
1 – Create a Website and Keep It Updated
When I started PixelBit my intention was to take the first 2 months and create the brand, website, mobile presence and market it in hopes of capturing work for the team. To our great surprise we had our first project in our hands 2 weeks after announcing the companies existence. Then it was day in and day out of work for clients. Which was awesome, but finally this Summer I had to take a step back and properly build the brand, once and for all. The website is now in its final development stage but next time i’ll be sure to create all that before announcing the company. Its not only awkward for a web company to not have an active website its borderline painful to not be able to show live examples of work with our words and brand attached.
Hopefully this post will help others and don’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes, be afraid not to. If you only take one thing away from these 5 points its to plan ahead, draw out everything and expect things to be rocky as you get started, however as you grow you’ll be thankful you created a firm foundation.
Its been written many times across the web before but it needs to continue as long as the SOPA bill is still alive.
The internet will NOT exist as we know it.
Sites like (YouTube, Redditt, Digg, Facebook, Google, etc…). These sites will come under fire to the point where people will lose their access and ultimately companies like the RIAA will force their hand and big websites will cave. We’ve seen it in small form with the RIAA/MPAA and online piracy of content. You know, when ICE comes in and seizes a domain name? Well now that will be on a global scale.
How about when Viacom went after YouTube under the DMCA? It can/will happen.
Still don’t see the issue?
Okay, think Chinese-style censorship across the entire WWW (World Wide Web aka “Internet”).
The recent “hold” on voting until the New Year should not be seen as a victory because they are likely trying to remove exposure and then secretly pass it while everyone is busy with a new topic. Also keep in mind thanks in part to “line item veto” not existing the government can and probably will attach the bill to a much more favorable bill. Say maybe a two month delay of federal taxes?
We need change across the entire system but for now lets work on keeping the internet because if SOPA passed its possible a blog post like this could cause the agencies to come and force my and anyone elses blog offline for “infringing”.
What can you do?
Voice your concern, post about it, call your political office and write to Congress. Thats physically write a letter to your senator or governor. An email is nice but will likely get caught in a spam filter and/or be seen by some intern who will delete it. A letter is harder to “lose”.
Why should you care?
At this point if you still don’t get it but work or play on the internet I feel sorry for you. This SOPA bill has the potential to not only kill the internet but could harm potential web developers/designers, such as myself!
Reposted from PixelBit Lab
Over the last few months i’ve been looking into various web apps to use over at PixelBit. After looking over many, testing a few and reading reviews i’ve formulated a small list of the top tools. We use others as well but these are the ones that shine.
Project and client management. The Suite is a good deal.
Good advertising opportunity for little cost.
Perfect tools for managing the business, paying employees and contractors. Also integrates with our accountants systems.
Hosted SVN for secure, offsite backups. While we don’t use this for all code (contract restrictions) it works quite well for our small team.
iOS Developers “new best thing”. It makes testing a breeze and makes it possible to push builds in minutes with a clear communication with our testing pools.
While not really a web tool it really is nice to get feedback in realtime as a project is being developed.
I have a love/hate for this host, but so far they’ve allowed PixelBit to scale (internally) and provide solutions for our clients.
Excellent newsletter and one-off mailing. Clean, Fast and Intuitive. Plus it has chimps, whats not to love?
There you have it, a little list of the tools we use. I will post some more “company information” in the future as we continue to grow. For now we are focused on our brands and clients, so much that we haven’t even finished our own website. Its the “cobblers children” effect for sure.
What tools and services do you use?
Note: NONE of these recommendations were paid or compensated to be added.
In early 2011 I put the final steps into action on starting my first non-freelance company. I joined forces with @PhilipJNeal to provide a combined 20+ years of professional experience in development and design. The company may be new, but the work and clients are not.
Basically PixelBit is 3Pixels and mkeefeDESIGN merged into one company, though it is a bit more complex than that its a good overview. Right now the company is still in the building phase, but as luck and good contacts would have it we have our first project already underway. While I can’t speak on the specifics I can say its all extremely exciting.
Update: The mkeefeDESIGN blog will be transformed into the personal blog of Matthew Keefe and soon a new blog for PixelBit will be online.
I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend in the development and design industry. No not “potential facebook-killers” though that is annoying as well. For right now I am talking about Partial Ownership and Profit Sharing opportunities.
Be a Part of the “Next Big Thing”
Now don’t get me wrong, if you get an opportunity to be part of the next big thing or to even create that thing then awesome. However, using it as a way to get free work is downright evil. I have been contacted by potential clients with a great project and of course I follow up with a timeline, quote and proposal just like you always should. Though lately those potential clients like to slip in the business proposal on the third or fourth inquiry. Its like they are feeling you out and trying to hook you on the project.
I have even seen a few instances when the potential client will try to belittle your work and talent if you don’t decide to hop on their “Million Dollar idea” as if you offended them, when in reality they are wrong. Its similar to “Bait n Switch” in a store.
As a freelancer, developer, agency or all around technology professional have you experienced this growing trend or am I simply the lucky one? Weigh in via the comments below, I am eager to hear others opinions on this topic.
Update: Before its misconstrued in the above post, I am open for new opportunities, just don’t hide the “business opportunity” portion while claiming to have a standard freelance gig. Most of all, don’t waste others time.. its not good business.