As I fill my coffee cup with my second shot of Bailey’s this morning, it’s left me a tad sentimental looking back on a great year, one I may never forget.
Starting a company isn’t an easy task, the odds that you’ll go bankrupt are hovering around 90% in your first year, 80% in your second year and only around 10% in your tenth year. What does that mean for Strategy Lab? We have ten years to wait, ten years to stay above the death line, as the goal with any new born organization, survival is the key priority.
This brings up an interesting predicament, what do you focus on? In the website/marketing consulting industry how do you “survive” per se? How do you ensure you’re focusing on what you need to to ensure you’re around for year ten and beyond?
Sadly I don’t have the answer to this question. My best guess is the little things (I’ll explain later). I wish I did, however I do have an idea of what not to focus on. Pleasing everyone. You can’t do it. ‘Yes man’ philosophy only works to an extent. When you say yes to something you’re saying no to something else. I’m starting to learn about this, it feels like experience creeping up on me, then I pinch myself and remind captain ego that I’m still very young in my field and having patients will be an asset very soon.
As you gain more experience in whatever field you’re in, you begin to learn lessons. They aren’t easy, they’re learned from making mistake, and I’m sure many people don’t see the lessons life is trying to teach them through set-backs and adversity. Most people give up or take an easier path. Life throws them lemons, they set them down, run to Wal-Mart and buy a bottle of lemonade. Work ethic gets recognized these days because it’s so rare to find in our over-educated yet knowledge seeking, work avoiding, know-it-all generation we’ve become. The most important lesson I’ve learned this year is that no matter what industry you’re in the secret to success is not a secret at all, it’s hard work.
The most difficult part of the year has to be parting was with Linden. It wasn’t a bad breakup, we’re still friends, but someone leaving your company is never an easy transition. We’re on good terms, just going in different directions. We wish him all the best and would love to work with him again one day.
The biggest accomplishment as a company has to running our first conference/workshop, #Awesome2013 took over Twitter on the morning of July 18th 2013. We filled a room at the Regina Inn, had four brilliant local speakers, and learned a little bit about running a workshop. Since then we did a Google Analytics session at Capital Ford and a Website-In-A-Day workshop. They’re fun, interactive, prizes, and you learn a lot. We’re excited to start a new Workshop series in 2014.
The biggest accomplishment personally, was finally seeing the new Regina Police Service cars driving around with their mission statement on the side of the car. It wasn’t my idea, nor did I come up with the mission, but while working with some very smart folks at the Regina Police Service we helped them change their core values, vision and mission.
I still remember one question that came up during the project, how will we keep everyone who is a part of the RPS reminded of the new core messaging? The idea from a very smart person was to print it in more places, make sure every employee can see it every day. In offices, on walls, in conference rooms and, yes, on the cruisers. What a brilliant way to remind yourself of what you stand for. If you want to read more about how we got “Public Service First” on the side of Police cruisers click here.
The coolest project I was a part of this year had to be the Regina and District Association for Community Living (RDACL)’s Sharing your Awesome On An iPad. It was a six week course we developed for people who applied to learn how to use an iPad. We created the program for RDACL so they can use it else where and build on what they’ve already created. Here’s a video Brandon made on Sharing Your Awesome On An iPad.
My most fascinating project I worked on (and am still working on) is the Hospitals of Regina Foundation (HRoF). An organization full of passionate people, an amazing history, and brimming with potential. I’ve met a lot of brilliant minds working together to enhance our health care system, an endeavour that affects everyone in Saskatchewan. The future of what the HoRF can do is amazing, I’m very much humbled to be a small part of it.
I’m excited about the opportunity Brandon and I have working with some of the most amazing organizations in and around Regina, helping them take over he world. To 2014, may it be your best year ever.
* – I said I’d explain the “little things” later so here goes. Our world is very paradoxical, people are irrational and often react in the opposite way we might think. Markets react in the opposite direction as we predict, everything thing in our world has a paradoxical opposite side to it, like the Seinfeld Bizzaro Jerry episode! So as a consultancy (and maybe all companies) to get big, you’d think it would be doing the big things. The flashy things that get you noticed, the bigger the client landed, the more prestigious your brand gets. But you’re only as good as what people say about you, your “brand” is what they say about you behind your back.
We measure this by referrals, the best compliment a client can give you is referring a friend, which unconsciously says: “I was so happy with you guys that I think my friends and colleagues will as well benefit from working with you!” What can be better than that. People don’t just refer anyone, referring someone is a reflection of your own brand after all. So as an organization, you want to be a brand that people would want to associate themselves with, or co-brand themselves with. The only way to do that is to get the little things right. From your e-mail tag line to your business cards, every single touchpoint people have with your brand they are making a judgement, it’s up to you to influence if that judgement is positive or negative. Over time those judgement add up to what people perceive as your “brand”. Once people have made up their mind, it can be impossible to convince them otherwise.