Taking the lessons learned after a year of running Creo and plotting a course for the future.

A year ago I made the shift from Chris Young Design to Creo. From operating as a simple freelance business to a new (for me) business model and way of operating. I wrote some posts like this one about my thinking, so won’t go into those details. So, as I look forward to another year (more on that later in the post) it pays to look back…

“You never know unless you try”

That’s always been one of my life mantras; I’d rather try something and fail than not try at all. And in trying something with Creo I have had one of the most challenging, heart-wrenching, exhausting, exhilirating years of my life.

I’ve had the chance to bring on and work with some amazing designers (Steve, Caleb, Jess I’m looking at you). I’ve worked with some fantastic clients – look at the work we’ve done to see how varied it’s been. I’ve collaborated with others on things like Dribbble Meetups, the Summer of Tech Design Bootcamp, Branding 101 talks and more. I’ve written posts and engaged with a global design community.

And yet… a year in, the model and business I set out to create hasn’t worked.

I still have some great clients, and am doing some exciting work; but in terms of being the thriving, collaborative, agile studio that I envisaged, well let’s just say that it’s back to me working solo.

Perception counts for so much

One of the biggest hurdles that I’ve faced this past year has been the perceived lack of a team; which ironically is the whole point of an agile, collaborative studio – minimal full-time staff, but a wide pool of contractors and collaborators. Out of eight or so decent sized projects that Creo pitched for, the general response was: “We like you, we love your work, your pricing is bang on, but we don’t see a team so we’re going with the studio who has one.”

People’s perception of a business clearly says that if there’s a bunch of people in an office/studio they must be better than the team of collaborators working remotely. This is a bitter pill to swallow, but I can either fight it or learn and move forward.

So where to from here?

The million dollar question.

Right now Creo is effectively me once again – juggling Creo work and a contract where I’ve stepped in to a large corporate in-house studio whilst their Creative Director is seconded elsewhere. I’m having discussions with another awesome studio about joining forces, so the next month or two will be exciting; and perhaps I’ll end up with the team that the market seems to want; time will tell.

So until then, watch this space…


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