Personally speaking: I hate the phrase ‘mission statement’. Personally speaking. It’s excessively corporate, impersonal, utterly devoid of meaning, and somewhat ugly.
Not something I’d want to apply to my business, and indeed not something I intend to if we can get away with it.
However. It’s just as important as all those other startup essentials – a cash flow forecast, a good network of clients, a non-ravaged and stable economic climate (let’s not focus too much on that last one) – to have an idea of what we want our company to be. Which is, in fact, a fairly tricky one to pin down when you try to define it. Over the last few months, though, we’ve managed to establish that these are the most important points to keep pinned to the board:
Out of all the areas of this business we’ve discussed, ethical awareness has been one that we’ve returned to more often than any other. Speaking for us all, it’s not just about the wider ethical practise; it’s also to do with how we work internally. We’ve worked as part of a larger freelance community for some time now, and there’s often a real practise of respect between people in the industry; this is something we want to keep alive within our business.
We’re enthusiastic about giving our staff the best deal we can. This extends to flexible working hours, regular reviews, financial transparency and even to little things like railcards and open afternoons, to allow staff to work on personal or interesting projects (it’s a technique which has been proven to yield some amazing results before).
Outside of the internal network, this extends to keeping a disciplined track on project hours; a scrupulous record of honesty in discussion with clients (if we don’t know the best way to make something work, we’ll tell you!) and making sure that the route we go down is the best one for your company, not just the most expensive.
Finally, we offer special rates to ecological, charitable and local community projects: working in a small town, we’re firm believers in the latter, localised business networks and keeping capital in the area.
Working in an industry which moves incredibly fast, it’s easy and tempting to get away with cutting corners in places. We’ve been drafted in to too many projects where the previous developers have been too keen to try out new toys, or have just broken the rules out of sheer inefficiency; it’s a no-win situation for all concerned when this happens.
Right now, Creatomatic is a small company. We’re not a sprawling multi-national: most of our work comes from within a hundred mile radius of our location in Southern Scotland – design and development in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cumbria and occasionally London – and that’s fine for what we do right now.
A friend and occasional colleague of ours at Callisti in Dumfries coined the phrase ‘non-expansionist company’. While that’s maybe a bit further than we want to go, it’s actually an interesting strategy: providing a first-class service for a select group of clients is far better than taking on more than one can carry and providing sub-standard work.
Perhaps, then, we’re pragmatic expansionists. We’re keen to grow the company, but not at the expense of our team or our clients: we have a strategy for sustainable growth which should allow us to expand the business, but over the long-term, and at our own terms.