With a shake up of the team in late 2014, we seized the opportunity to have a fresh start. In the past eight months our team has done a lot of soul searching. We have thought a lot about the work we want to do, the clients we want to have, and creating a unified vision that would end with us sipping umbrella drinks on a sandy beach.
We each shared our goals and vision for the future of User10. After a few minutes of conversation, a few things became clear:
- We loved to design and build digital products
- We loved efficiency, speed, and purpose
- We were frustrated with unqualified leads and a long sales cycle
- We were frustrated with dry spells in the pipeline
Although we shared a lot of the same emotions, we weren’t sure how to move forward. In an effort to build our pipeline, we became obsessed with the perception of our brand. We knew how good we were and wanted everyone else to know too. We made constant changes to our messaging. We tweaked everything to tout our lean startup principles. We called ourselves consultants. We bragged about our entrepreneurial mindset and our strategies to build for real-world results.
There were just two problems:
- No one cared
- We panicked and continued to make changes
A lack of focus and a quickly drying pipeline put more stress on the situation. Nothing felt right and we needed some help. We called in a favor from our favorite brand strategist, Darren Wilson.
In the heat of a June afternoon, we sat down with the Blind Society co-founder. We explained our identity crisis and the struggle to tell our story. We talked about our consulting. We talked about our services. We talked about our frustrations. We bragged and whined until Darren stopped us to ask couple questions:
- Where does most of your revenue come from?
- What are your most profitable projects?
The answer was simple: bigger agencies.
Thanks to the bigger agencies in our network, we had worked on some impressive brands over the past few months. These projects weren’t always our favorites but we were able to deliver incredible value. Darren asked if we were comfortable being an agency’s agency. Would we mind working under someone else’s brand if it meant getting paid?
There was a slightly awkward silence as we all reached the same conclusion, Darren was right. There was no complicated story to tell. Working with bigger agencies, we made quicker sales and more money. We spent more time building and less time selling. What the hell was wrong with that? We left the Blind Society offices with a weight lifted from our shoulders.
Killing the ego
We were a little embarrassed that we hadn’t asked ourselves the simple questions that Darren had. An egotistical desire to be something more than a small team of creators had lead us down a frustrating path of complicated messages.
Looking within myself has always helped guide me in the right direction. The problem is that the ego can get out of control and meaningless desires start to outweigh practical solutions. We look deep inside when the answers are actually on the surface all around us.
If you are feeling stuck, it might be time to stop soul searching. Kill your ego and ask someone to point out what is already staring you in the face.
Darren, thanks for setting us straight.