These 3 Changes Keep Us Optimistic

What can we say about 2020 that you haven’t already heard? To say the very least, this year has been a whirlwind of anomalous events and heightened emotion. The worldwide pandemic has caused many of us to pause, reflect, and ask ourselves one question, “What do I truly need?” Answers to this question will be different for every person however one thing's for sure we can do with far less than what we previously thought 5 months ago.

Once the pandemic broke, as a small business, we became uncertain about the future until we asked ourselves this same question. We thought we would share our answers. Here are three changes we have made that has made us more optimistic than ever about the future of a small studio.

John working on balcony with quote "What do I really need?"

Location Is Irrelevant

Our good friends at OwlLabs coined this phrase and it stuck with us. As of January 1 of this year, none of our clients were located in Seattle. We have served the majority of our clients remotely since we started a small studio in 2017. So why did we spend our valuable time commuting to an office and paying rent when we have proven we can work from anywhere and deliver value to our clients? Simply put, we just felt that it was what we were supposed to do.

Of course we are not alone in this realization as millions of people are working from home, spending more time with their families and are now able to focus on things they truly care about more than ever before.

This has also caused us to change how we approached recruiting. The fact is talent has significantly increased worldwide over the past few years and we were no longer limited by location. Previously, we hoped to have our team local to allow for in-person collaboration, etc. However, after the success of our newest hire of Abigail Johnson working from home in the San Francisco Bay Area we now know it is possible for us to maintain a small studio’s culture with a completely remote team. Moving forward we are committed to making a small studio more accessible to remote work as we begin growing our team more rapidly.

Over Communication

If location is irrelevant then communication is more relevant than ever before. Even though most of our work was delivered remotely, we still relied on in person communication and collaboration as a team. We took for granted the ability to walk up to one another and say “hey.” As distracting as that was, it helped us collaborate and stay accountable to one another. Transitioning to remote work internally, we quickly realized the perfect opportunity to strengthen our virtual communication skills and processes.

When you are a small team you wear many hats, so we needed to do something to stay accountable. After many conversations, we decided that we are going to have a bias for 'over communication' no matter how annoying it may seem. Need something from someone? Communicate what it is that you need in detail. Sending something to someone? Communicate exactly what you are sending, why, and if there is any follow up action needed from them. Even if it takes another meeting, it is more than worth it as a ‘small’ remote team in order to make sure everyone is on the same page and not operating on their own islands.

Relationships Over Work

We over communicate when we care about the people on the other side. We care about their time, we care about their health, and we care about their success. We have always valued relationships over work because we believe investing time in relationships has a multiplying factor. Do you put time on someone’s calendar just to get to know them better? Do you allow meeting agendas to stray in order to spend time getting to know each other? Do you pick up the phone and call your teammates about things unrelated to work? Do you spend extra time on a client call to catch up and shoot the breeze?

At a small studio, we have found all of these things to be invaluable to our success. Relationships have led us to many of our current client and community opportunities. The fact of the matter is that we typically spend more time with our co-workers than we spend with our own families. Why would you want to spend all of that time with people you don’t even know or care to know? We will never put work over relationships because at the end of the day there is nothing else that matters more to us.

a small studio logo animation

All in all, we feel immensely thankful to still be in operation, when small businesses across the nation have been hit hard by this international crisis. We will use this as a badge of honor as we continue to expand our impact. Remember when times get rough, take a deep breath and ask yourself "what do I truly need?"

We want to thank you for being a part of this journey with us because without you we would not have made it through any of this. Our hearts go out to all of you who have been affected by the current events. If we can be of service to you during this time, we will do everything in our power to use our gifts to bring peace to your life. Just reach out to us directly or put some time on John’s calendar. Take care and remember, everything starts small.

Follow us as we make these changes on Instagram.