Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

5 January 2009

The Royal We Are Excited About 2009

Happy to Serve

I spent December of 2008 in mixed states of both reflection and eager anticipation. I realize our economy is in shambles, and optimistic may not be the most popular word these days, but it’s hard for me not to be excited about things to come.

2008 Was Pretty Awesome

Just days before sticking a fork in 2007, my daughter was born, and a month previous, my wife quit her day job for good. What was to follow was both the most awesome year of my life both personally and professionally.

I was a little nervous with Mrs. Warren quitting her job. The main question on our minds was: How were we going to replace her income? We just bought a new house that year, and one income disappearing did make things feel a little more tenuous. Amazingly enough, just a couple weeks before she stopped working, some really good opportunities came in the door. I started working with Happy Cog on some projects followed by a fantastic project with the fine chaps at Airbag Industries. The Mrs. and I never hit a wall, never got scared, and just made sure to stay super thankful that it was working out this way.

Peek

And boy did we have a lot to be thankful for. Little Bridget has grown up exceptionally well, and our far flung family is very much enjoying my geeking out with making a website for her, while filling up my Flickr and Momentile streams with lots of photos and videos.

2009 Is Looking Good

So you can see why 2009 is looking good for us. Work with Be Good Not Bad has been going well, and the projects we’re working on right now are very fun. One minor side-note: I’ve decided that for the foreseeable future I’m going to refer to Be Good Not Bad in the “we”. I haven’t hired anybody full-time or anything (yet), but it’s extremely rare that I work on a project by myself; in nearly every project I’ll bring in one of my ninja cohorts to work with me. This gives me a wonderful opportunity to work with extremely talented people with everybody learning from each other. The client benefits too, in that they get lots of talented people working together on their project. It’s one of my our favorite things in this work.

Seriously? Like, Seriously?

Practically daily people ask me how work is going. What they really mean is: “Are you running for the hills and/or filling out Starbucks applications?”. The economy is about all people can talk about, especially if they know you own your own business. I confess, I slipped into that mode too, becoming a hypochondriac for a few weeks this fall. If we didn’t get a project that we estimated, or a client was late on a payment, I thought “Oh man, this is it. We’re going down, folks”. But once I took a step back and stopped hyperventilating, I realized that we weren’t, in fact, going down.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m under no illusions about the state of the world economy. But it’s times like these I’m very glad I’m not working at a big company.

Consistently I am finding that the smaller the company, the more stable and optimistic people seem. The solo freelancers are the most positive and excited people I know. The way I see it, 2009 is the year of the indie. The smallest groups and independent people can work harder, faster, and, most importantly, they can work smarter than the big guys. We can partner with others like us, doing excellent work while keeping exceptionally low overhead.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Jeffrey Zeldman wrote about it in his 24ways Article: Recession Tips for Web Designers

Bad times are hard on overweight companies and over-leveraged start-ups, but can be kind to freelancers and small agencies. Clients who once had money to burn and big agencies to help them burn it suddenly consider the quality of work more important than the marquee value of the business card. Fancy offices and ten people at every meeting are out. A close relationship with an individual or small team that listens is in.

Greg Storey, founder of Airbag Industries has some fantastic advice to business owners in an amazing post about our current situation:

Don’t turn away any work that comes through your door. Get it. Grab it. Take it —as much as you can— and network with the people who are ready and willing and have the skills you need. Team up, and conquer.

Go read the rest of his article. It’s marvelous.

To You

It’s in that spirit I say thanks to you, friends, clients, and readers. I hope you have an awesome year. I can’t wait to see what it brings for all of us. If you happen to be looking for an agile team of ninjas for your next project, well, do get in touch!