Reflection of Two Thousand Fourteen

Well, it’s the end of the year! We are all heading into 2015 and, hopefully with some reinvigorated purpose of ourselves and our lives!

I’d like to take this time to kind of reflect on this past year, where I was and where I am now. I’m proud to say it’s been one of the best years of my life! I work for an incredible company, I have a wonderful family, great friends, and I’m still constantly learning.  I think I’ve learned more in this past year than I have my entire four years of high school – sad, isn’t it? Over the last year I did a lot of freelance, worked for a small web agency and now work for a big web agency. I’ve got a pretty good idea on how much certain web projects cost and how long things should take. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned over this last year, the good, the bad, the whole bunch!

Lessons-Learned-GreenChalkboard

Business lessons learned this past year:

  1. In order to have successful projects, a company needs project managers
    • There is no two ways about this, someone managing clients and the team need to be between those two entities. A good PM can handle several different projects at once while simultaneously communicating to both the client and the developers. A great PM can do all that plus still find time to teach, luckily, I have a few at my company!
  2. SEO and Analytics is on everyone’s mind
    • In the world of web and everything digital, it pays to know about SEO and Analytics – Google Analytics, WebTrends, ChartBeat, Moz Tools, etc. One can make good money having certifications/knowledge in these areas. Take a little time just to learn the basics and you’ll thank yourself. Knowing about this stuff has been a great sales tool as well!
  3. It’s better to say you don’t know than to lie, especially to a client
    • This just sets you and your company up for failure. If you tell a client you have a developer that can do something (like build something you’re not sure your developer can build) and then you can’t deliver, that’s a huge problem. If a client asks you about some technology you’ve never heard of, it’s better to say “I’m not sure” than to B.S. It’ll make you look smarter in the long run.
  4. Enterprise level companies follow their own set of rules
    • If you’re lucky enough to be in the arena of premium brand names and deal with them on a daily/weekly/or even
      Crazy Bananamonthly basis, then you should be familiar with this. Whether it’s invoicing at certain times or special terminology, each enterprise brings its own bag of crazy – which, honestly, isn’t that difficult to navigate and can be fun half of the time.
  5. Qualify correctly
    • This can make all the difference and save a hell of a lot of time. Ask prospects questions – right questions. Like what their process is for vendor selection and get budgets/timelines/business objectives. The more you do this, the easier it’ll get. The deeper you dig with a prospect is the best way to find out what they need and if you can provide it for them.
  6. Proposals take time
    • The first proposal I wrote in response to an RFP I received wasn’t that great, but the more I learned the better I got. Now I write some pretty awesome proposals, but they’re still difficult and they probably always will be. Why? Because each RFP or project you come into contact with will be different. Some will be similar, but no two are exactly the same. We aren’t the type of company that just churns out proposals, we take the time to write them correctly. I spend a minimum of 40 hours putting together the correct solution to a web challenge.
  7. Tech is easy, business is hard
    • In the words of the great DM (you know who you are), “tech is easy, business is hard.” Tech is the easy part, any company can hire a digital agency to do the WordPress install or build a plugin. It’s the business part that’s challenging. Strategy is an integral part of any digital agency, so hiring developers are great, but you also need strategists.

Now onto non-business lessons learned this past year

  1. Take pride in doing things right
    • This does relate to business, but there are many opportunities to cut corners. Honestly, I always feel better when I don’t. And spending that time doing things correctly, whether it’s writing a proposal or blog post, it’s worth it.
  2. Be friendly, be nice, and be available
    • Don’t go into work with a frown. Place all your problems on that tree that’s standing right outside your office because it’ll be there when you go home for the day – I know this is hard to do, but nobody likes a grump. Get to know your coworkers, they’re cool people. And be there (by there, I mean present in mind as well as body) when someone asks you a question, listen, and respond accordingly.
  3. The clothes people wear are never indicative of wealth
    • Believe or not, the guy in the 3-piece suit usually doesn’t have much money. It’s the guy who wears jeans, boat shoes,
      BusinessManMoney-2014Reflectionand a flannel jacket that’s the loaded one! The general rule of thumb is that the guy who dresses like he doesn’t care, doesn’t care because he doesn’t need to impress, generally because he’s got money – if that makes sense. It’s the guys who dress to impress that need to try to impress. I know, I’ve been that guy!
  4. Developers keep their own hours
    • This one is pretty common, no matter what company you’re with. Coders usually come in late and leave early, but they work hard and are often on the computer cleaning things up at 2am, so back off and give them some space. This is tech not rocket science!
  5. Let things roll off your back
    • This is something I should have learned a long long time ago. Don’t let things get to you. Often times people will totally ignore your emails or requests and the bottom line is, you have no idea why that is. We would all like to suspect that it’s because they’re too embarrassed that you did a whole bunch of work and they’re not going with your company, but you don’t really know. So, let it go, it doesn’t matter and there’s more people out there who need your services.
  6. Walk around
    • Seriously, get up and walk around. Blood flow is essentially to healthy living, so get up from your desk and get some movement in your veins. Stretch, do jumping jacks, and think about getting an exercise ball for a desk chair. One of my coworkers sits on one and it really keeps your back straight. It’s on my to-do list!
  7. Take mental breaks
    • Everyone needs time away, even if that means daydreaming for five minutes a day. Take a break, mentally, for a little while. It resets your brain and helps you focus better. I used to work construction and my body would ache when I got home. Now, my brain hurts when I get home. Those mental vacations during the day help tremendously.

2014 has been an incredible year! With the holidays down and 2015 two days away, I can’t wait to start the new year. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope 2015 brings as much joy to you as I’m sure it will to me. Cheers!!!

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