When you think of startups, a few images immediately pop into mind. Work days that last until the early morning hours, obstacles to overcome the size of Texas, and enough empty energy drink cans to build a Sistine Chapel replica…and nearly to-scale. Our story at here at WebMovement (WMM) is no different.
The idea of starting my own web company has been something in the making for over a decade. When I was 14, I’d spend my hours in my parents’ basement working away on HTML sites and cracking open Flash MX books. I loved the idea behind being able to create something that businesses could use that’d be accessible at any given time. That companies could depend on me to provide the best visual representation of what they did in efforts to garner new business was a responsibility I knew I wanted to take on at an early age.
The road we’ve taken to build this company hasn’t been on smooth pavement by any means. While I couldn’t ask for a better business partner in Gary, there’ve been a few key milestones we’ve had to overcome that have challenged us to put WMM in the best possible position at all times.
Knowing When To Leap
Upon graduating college, I began working at an insurance company. It started out great; I was learning and progressing quickly, and was trusted with a number of responsibilities that I noticed many of my peers weren’t asked to take on. I’d find myself in front of my computer during week nights continuing to work on sites for friends and family. About six months into the job, Gary and I were introduced to a potential business partner, and decided that we were going to give this a conscious effort to push to grow our clientele base.
As the months ensued, I found myself getting noticeably more and more excited about heading home during lunch to answer my ‘other work’ emails and rushing back to my computer at night to continue working on our projects. When it reached a point where I was working into the early morning hours five days and week and most Saturdays, I knew that was my cue to exit stage left and give this startup thing a fair go. They say the real growth ends outside of your comfort zone, and while I had plenty of sleepless night thereafter, it’s been one of the best decisions to-date to continue building WMM to what it can truly become.
Knowing When To Merge
About a year ago, I began working on a contract-based project for a company in the Midwest. From day one, I was treated like a regular and couldn’t believe that work environments actually existed that people genuinely were excited each and every day they walked into the office to take on their projects. Everyone got along so well that I was waiting for their to be a catch to it all, but to my realization, they just legitimately cared at all levels.
Once I completed the project I signed on to do, I was asked soon after to join the team full-time. While a consistent salary sounded great (entrepreneurs, you know this is a major milestone we all strive to hit at some point in our grand business buildout), I couldn’t just leave what we had created here at the curb. The company then reproached the situation to acquire the WMM name and clients, leaving Gary and I working full time for this new company.
After learning more on how they wanted to merge and what that meant for us and the WMM name, our gut feeling told us that this wasn’t the way we were meant to go. We knew that we were growing by the week, the valuation wasn’t what we were hoping for, and the company was looking to bring us on as employees instead of empowering us as strategic partners. I can’t say every opportunity to merge isn’t fair, but for us and the particular position we were in, the decision to continue moving forward as is without merging was the most logical move. We took not only experience from the situation, but also found a new partner to refer certain clients to and we’ve continued building our relationship. I consider that a win!
Obstacles Are Inevitable
As we’ve grown, we’ve worked with a variety of contractors to assist with overall project development. Some of the support we’ve hired has been absolutely fantastic (see Kayla Johnson), some…well, let’s just chalk it up to a learning experience on both ends.
One thing we’ve definitely learned is that the slightest changes, if not properly communicated early enough, can lead to major changes in the budget, which likely could end up adding cost to the overall project, which undoubtedly leads to more money needed in order for the project to be completed.
At that point, the small adjustment has now officially turned into a potential deal breaker.
Know that there’s no detail to small too double check on, and arguably one of the most important rules to know is that there’s no limit on questions to ask. If you don’t know the answer to something, asking someone is one of the best ways of finding out. We’re also fortunate to be in a position in which we’re pulling away from utilizing contracted assistance and gearing more towards hiring full-time.
Every company, whether it be a Fortune 500 or a brand-spanking-new startup, began with someone having an idea and taking a chance. There’s no secret formula or one hour seminar that you can sit in that will provide you every answer to the questions you may have on starting or growing your venture, and truthfully, it makes things a bit more interesting along the way. What started out as a roller coaster of uncertainties, setbacks and successes, may have evened out a bit due to being a few grey hairs wiser, but the passion hasn’t skipped a beat.
I’ll always be that kid in the basement in front of his computer building websites, except now I get to do it on a daily basis and change people’s and company’s outcomes in the process!.