All Things To All People

| March 3rd, 2008 | ,

Our company’s eight-year history and experiences with web development have taught us many lessons about running a small business. One of the most important lessons learned was that we can’t be all things to all people.

When we first started up in August of 2000, we tried to do it all; print design, logo design, web design, and anything else with the word ‘design’ in it. Our ambition was an excuse for a lack of clarity and vision. So we chased and cornered a lot of diverse projects, and struggled with how to deliver our best work while constantly having to shift gears.

It didn’t take long to jettison the extraneous disciplines and focus solely on web design and development. All of us at Pelago are children of the age of the personal computer;Atari, Apple ][e, Colecovision, Commodore 64. It made complete sense to go this route, as the internet is an extension of the genes already in our blood.

Once focused, everything about our business improved. We became experts, sought out for our knowledge of the web environment. Our efforts became niched and we could pour our energy into one singular discipline. And our revenues increased as we concentrated our customer relationships into one target market.

It may seem counterintuitive to niche your small business. It seems like casting a bigger net would result in more work. In the short term, it does. But in the long term, you end up with a bunch of projects that don’t fit the personality of your business. Cast a smaller net, in a smaller lake, and you will find fewer, but committed, customers. And you will build up relationships that result in referrals, and soon you will need no nets at all.

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The Intervals Blog
A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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