Earlier this weekend I watched my 8 month old daughter attempt to reach up to the coffee table in order to pull a book off of it. Within seconds of spotting the book, her arm was raised high in the air and the tips of her fingers grasped the edge of it. I knew she’d have no problem pulling it down. Lovingly, I pulled the book back a few inches so she couldn’t reach it so easily. I didn’t do this to be cruel, but rather to encourage her to take the next step and actually pull herself all the way up to the table. She grunted with frustration, but I knew she was capable of doing it. After a few minutes, she made it. Her face was filled with joy as she accomplished something she hadn’t yet done. As I was watching her accomplish this milestone, I couldn’t help but to feel like this is exactly how I’ve spent the last six months of my life.
Had I not interceded with my daughter and simply let her have the book, she wouldn’t have pushed herself to accomplish something that was even better than what she originally set out to do. Looking back on the past six months, I can now clearly see how God has been using a similar tactic in my life.
Jon and I both knew that starting Iron to Iron would have its own set of obstacles that we’d have to overcome. Regardless of how foggy those obstacles were at the time, our minds were set to ‘determined’ and the inevitable obstacles seemed like a small price to pay. As time went on, our figurative “book” kept being pulled further and further back on the table. Once we accomplished one feat, another would present itself. This was our refining process. We’re not out of the fire yet, but we’re 6 months in, and I can say with confidence that we’ve hit our stride.
In The Beginning
There were many days within the first few months that I found myself sitting at my desk staring deep in to my monitor – way past the design that was currently on my screen. My mind would wander and fill with anxieties while I pondered how the issues we were currently facing would ever resolve. Whether it was our project workload, inquires, proposals, meetings, legal matters, taxes, billings or general client relations, there always seemed to be way too many things that had to be dealt with in each day that passed. When the inevitable creative block found it’s way into that formula, my days would feel overbearing. I was familiar with creative block, but adding business operations to the equation was quite a bit out of my league.
On the flip side, there were also days that Jon and I looked at each other with our jaws on the floor after landing jobs that were nothing short of dream projects. With that said, the first few months were a bit of a roller coaster.
The tough days came with complimentary temptation lingering at the bottom of my gut telling me to give up and find a job where I’d only need to worry about a fraction of the tasks on my plate. My heart, on the other hand, kept promoting me to move forward. When push came to shove, I knew the path I was following was the right one – for so many reasons. So I pressed on.
The First Concern
My first, and probably most understandable, concern with starting a business was where the work would come from. At past jobs, the work was simply handed to me and my job was to fulfill it. Now, the fulfillment suddenly became the easy part, while getting the actual project seemed to be the real challenge. To this day, I can’t fully explain where the work has come from, but it has been steady, and at times, over-flowing. Countless times I’ve heard other professionals preach warnings of not watering yourself down by taking on too many projects. I couldn’t agree with this more. However, when you’re first starting out and you’re not sitting on a bloated bank account, it’s almost impossible to turn down a job. I still feel conflicted with this concept for startups though. If I had to plant my flag in any camp, I’d simply say: do what you’ve got to do to get off the ground. Once you’re off the ground you can start dictating your project schedule a lot more.
Since our start date we have launched 10 full sites along with a few other side projects. With every project, comes a new lesson to be learned. Each lesson, however, is becoming more predictable with each experience.
Where We Are Now
While we still have a lot of lessons to learn and a lot of refinement to under-go, we’re now working from a solid foundation. The days filled with anxieties and stress are becoming less and less while the fruit of our initial dedication is really starting to show. I love Iron to Iron and the potential that is has offered us. I honestly can’t believe it’s already been 6 months. More so, I still can’t believe I’m a “business owner”. While that’s got a nice ring to it, it actually doesn’t mean too much to me. What mean’s the world to me, however, is that I get to design to my own standards while partnering with an individual who I know will represent it well.
Our titles don’t matter and our vacation time is not recorded. We work hard and proudly refer to ourselves as either designers or developers – that’s it. When we feel like we’d be better off spending the day at home with our families, rather than in the office working, we do it – no questions asked.
We’ve got big plans for the future, but right now we’re just taking things day by day. We both feel blessed but have no idea what the future will really hold for us. We can speculate, but we’ve learned that it’s just a waste of time. As soon as I attempt to plan out the months ahead, something changes – throwing it all off. So we’ve learned to shift our focus to the work.
Business (in general) will always be around to get in the way of itself. Putting too much emphasis on it distracts from the root of what we’re here to do; design. The one thing that’s proven to be true time and time again in my life is this: Consistency yields results and passion fuels consistency. Sitting back and reflecting on the past 6 months, I can see that this concept has proven true to me once again.