How to Start a Successful Digital Development Business in 3 Easy Steps.

Posted by in Project Management

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1. Get a job
2. Hone your craft
3. Do what you do best

It’s more complicated than these 3 steps may imply, but these steps are a solid wireframe for starting your own business.  Please, allow me to explain…

Around three years ago, I left a really good job to start a business.  At the time I had no idea if it would work, but after three years of operating a successful business, I can look back now and see clearly what made it possible.

Step 1: Get a job

Starting a successful business begins by getting a job working for someone else.  I know that probably isn’t the first step you were hoping for, but it is a must in my opinion.  The reasons are many, but there are two reasons that stand out.  Those reasons are:

  1. To make connections
  2. To learn a skill/craft

I worked for a large interactive company in Dallas for about three years.  I learned more in those three years than I learned at all of my previous jobs combined.  However,  and this is just as important, I met people.  I met a lot of very talented, intelligent people.  Over seventy-five percent of our current client base comes from those people I met while working for someone else.  Almost all of those past colleagues have now moved on from where I used to work.  In fact, they have branched out across the country working at some of the largest and most influential digital agencies.  I had no idea back then that the relationships I formed while pulling coding all-nighters would lead to a vast network of future business partnerships.  So, step 1 is to get a job.  In your job search, look for opportunities where you can learn a lot and work with people from all disciplines.  The more interactions you have with project managers, account managers, designers, other coders, etc, the better off you will be.

Step 2: Hone your craft

By trade, I am a multimedia developer.  I specialize in The Flash Platform.  However, I’ve learned to do a lot over the years like how to work with databases, servers, various coding languages, audio, video , yada yada yada.  Point being, I spent years getting good at what I do and I did it on someone else’s dime.  I became an authority in my field.  It wasn’t easy.  It took a lot of time outside of work too, but eventually I became good enough at my craft that everyone I worked with trusted me to solve problems and always deliver.  This is essential.  The professional relationships I built would have never grown into client relationships if I sucked at my job.  Business partners will always compare you to the other people they work with.  So unless you standout, you don’t have any business trying to start a business.

Step 3: Do what you do best

So, you went out and got a job.  You held that job for at least a couple of years.  You laughed, you cried, you worked, made friends, and then you quit to start a business.  Well, you may not want to quit until you have some work lined up for your new venture, but that is up to you.  What you must do though, is focus on what you do best.  Start by yourself.  There will be plenty of time to manage contractors and lease an office.  What you need to do first is spend as little money as possible and only take jobs that you can deliver on.  So, do what it is you do best.  Reputation is everything when starting a business.  So, get off to a good start.

I realize there are many details left out of this short article.  If anyone is interested or has questions about those details, please leave comments.  If there are enough comments about anything in particular I would be happy to write some follow ups.  Also, if you are starting a digital business or already have one but could use some helpful insight, I highly recommend the book Rework, by the people from 37 Signals.


P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t promote my business in an article like this.  Ovrflo Media