1. Communicate Value
People don’t understand how software is built, and we all do a disservice for everyone by not communicating properly the value that we bring to the table. How many times have you stayed up super late to put the extra special touch on something, only to be yelled at by the client because of a small bug discovered the next day? Because of the lack of communication, they’re left thinking we’re not competent and we’re left feeling under-appreciated. We no longer hide our awesome-factor, and we let clients know how all that awesome grows their project by the same degree.
2. Don’t Apologize for Your Rates
If people can get a better deal, they will. In this culture of ‘the customer is always right,’ it’s tough to stick to your guns and be valued for your expertise. People take for granted how much experience it takes to get the job done right the first time because they “see it on the Internet everywhere” so it must be easy, right? Apologizing for being too expensive is one small clue that you may be talking to the wrong customer. We’ve learned that when folks want to undercut us, they tend to also not value the craftsmanship we offer.
3. Process is Your Friend
The Dalai Lama has noted how the routine creates happiness. Think about this in regards to the processes you commit to daily that keep life operating smoothly. When it comes to projects, keep those processes solid. Say Client A has something small they need done. Sneaking that one in toes a very sacred boundary of pre-stated clear agreements. Keep your boundaries intact and keep the integrity of your processes. Those processes are protecting the greater integrity of your work and mission. Even the small things can go horribly wrong without proper process. We learned that lesson again and again, and we come back to and refine our process. It keeps everyone in line, and happy.
4. You're Only as Strong as Your Team
There are 3 partners at Quick Left, and it’s pretty much like a marriage. At different times, we’re going to be in various levels of good/bad moods, different levels of fear and concern about our direction, etc. But, no matter what happens, we’ve learned that we’re best when we’re working together. We have a synergy that stands as a testament to the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
5. Nah, We’ll Never Grow Out of This Space...
Oh boy, did we ever. We signed a 3 year lease in an 1800 sf space, and not a year later we were looking elsewhere to ease our growing pains. We had no idea that we’d grow so fast. We learned that with the right culture and cool projects, we could grow an awesome team and we’re thankful to have such a great crew.
6. Headspace is Very Valuable
It’s all too easy to get bogged down by the tactical, day to day efforts. With wearing so many hats and so much to get done, who has the time to be strategic? We’ve learned (and are still learning) to embrace the “lazy” - to make time to relax, make breathing room, get outside and otherwise find ways to create even more uber valuable headspace that is allowing us to push ourselves and our company to grow.
7. Patience, Grasshopper
I’m not gonna lie: we are three overachievers, and we want everything to happen N-O-W. We are constantly renewing our commitment to be patient, both with ourselves and each other, as we learn how to make this place awesome. That practice makes for space between now and the ultimate vision that allows things to happen in ways we may not have imagined. It also gives us the opportunity to appreciate the accomplishments we’ve made together.
8. Surround Yourself with Experts, and Then Let Them Do Their Job
We hear this all the time: “hire the best” and “surround yourself with people smarter than you.” It’s easier said than done. Surrounding yourself with those experts and then trusting them to do their thing, even if they fail or it’s rough to get started, is another remarkable lesson we learned this year. We realize that the only way to scale is to let the rock stars rock!
9. Relationships Come First
This doesn’t mean you keep someone on your staff because you’ve grown to like them as a friend. This means that in order to honor that relationship, you are honest about a situation and willing to have fierce conversations. We’ve learned that we owe people that kind of honesty and respect for the relationship we have with them. And, it’s also true with clients. Some people (and yes, we’ve heard this on many occasions) have said that we are “too nice” but we truly believe that we don’t have to be assholes in order to do well in business and be profitable. So f-- them!
10. Buying A LeBaron Is A Lot More Difficult Than it Should Be
But, we’ll figure it out. Stay tuned next year!