About a year ago, I stepped back in my work on my one-man studio, Craft+Story, so that I could spend more time working with my friends at Busy Noggin Digital growing their business and giving me some opportunities to work on some much larger projects (like the new website for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago). When Ron and Jeff asked me to come on board last year, they said the magic words, “we want to get to the next level,” and I was hooked. When they said those words, I thought about why I loved my job at the ministry (growing my team from nothing) and why I loved my first couple years with Craft+Story. So, I devoted the next year to helping them grow while Craft+Story stabilized in the background.
In that time, I had a lot of time to review the first few years of Craft+Story. I thought about what I did right and what I screwed up. We had launched some awesome projects, but I had become too focused on the growth of Craft+Story. I had burnt myself out trying to force Craft+Story to get bigger. I started to get jealous of my friends who were growing faster from a similar starting position. I lost sight of why I started Craft+Story and how I wanted it to be different, and I had to do a hard reset and evaluate what I really wanted to do. That took about a year.
It took me honestly looking back at my personal career history and the failures and success of Craft+Story to see that I’m most fulfilled (and successful) when I’m helping others get to the next level. At the ministry, I loved seeing people grow even when it (quite often) meant them leaving for bigger and better opportunities. My favorite moments with clients (and my wife’s business) have been watching them grow amazingly after an overhaul.
Now, after one long year, I’m devoting myself entirely Craft+Story 2.0 with one priority: helping others grow. For clients, I want to provide second chances or new opportunities to get to that next level. For partner freelancers and agencies, I can be a launch pad for bigger or better things. For everyone else, I want to be a resource and maybe (hopefully) and example of a different kind of agency.
What does it mean for the official mission of Craft+Story (and myself) to be helping others grow? We’ll do redesigns, relaunches, and rebrandings whenever possible. After that (or sometimes before), I’ll be a “creative director on call” for all those small teams out there like I used to lead. I’ll share my whole "toolbox" with anyone who works with me (clients, interns, employees, and contractors) — even when that means they’ll hopefully end up smarter than me. I’ll be open to speaking in front of (probably small) groups of smart people, on the off-chance that they will learn one important thing. Of course, I’ll also share all my knowledge on here (but it helps if you ask a question).
Truly, I believe a company can only have one true priority, and mine is going to be growing others. After that, I’ll make sure that I have enough profit to keep going, but I won’t worry too much about “growing the business” or “expansion” anymore. I tried that, and I forgot why I loved this job so much to begin with.