Small By Choice

For years I’ve said we are “small for a reason.” I was pondering that the other day and realized it doesn’t actually convey what I want it to. It’s actually “small by choice”, and that is something I’m incredibly passionate about.

There are reasons we are small. There are assumptions about why we are small. Then there are the choices we’ve made to stay this size. We’ve grown before, we’ve seen what it could be, we made a very definitive choice to condense back to the three core people.

The Reasons We are Small

I have a giant list of things I love about my team (seriously, the best people on the planet), I have a short list about what I hated when we expanded to take on more work (up to nine people at one point). The list is poignant and funny and includes things like “everyone on my core team is also listed as a beneficiary on my life insurance policy (pretty sure they won’t off me though)” and “we had to buy more chairs and they were really uncomfortable”.

It all boils down to two reasons:

  1. This core team is amazing. There are three of us—Amber, Steve, and Kira. We trust and respect each other. We perfectly round out each other’s skills sets. We’ve built dozens of amazing things together and we continue to be excited to do it all again.
  2. We deliver on promises. We deliver, because we made the promises. The promises are quality of work, enjoyment of the process, timelines, budgets, and outcomes. In larger firms you will meet with a sales person, a principal, an account manager, and in the background will be your designers and developers. Those are a lot of layers and that doesn’t work for us. We know because we’ve worked in those firms and we know how things can break down.

Small by Choice

At the height of having a bunch of people working with us I turned to my partner and said, “I hate this”. We were chasing time sheets, looking at taking on projects only because they would keep food on everyone’s tables. We were confined to office hours, scheduling lunches, and running like mad to service our consultants as much as our clients. And so we made the choice. We would finish out the projects everyone was on, but then we would condense back to our small team.

It’s been more than three years since we made the choice and the work we’ve done, the clients we’ve met, and the business we own is better than ever. It’s been the right choice for us and ultimately our clients.

Specialty Consultants

On certain projects there are a few consultants we’ll still expand our team with. These are people we’ve worked with for years and do the level of work, quality and service we expect. If you have a big content migration project you might get to also work with Valerie Head. Our go-to Sharepoint expert is Kipp Sorenson. We jump at the chance to work with our favorite photographer, Amanda Nelson.

Competing with Larger Firms

Small and nimble by choice doesn’t mean our projects or our clients are small. We are in league with firms that are much larger than us. There are three or four firms we’re always going up against and we understand their strengths and weaknesses. Clients that need full service—ongoing marketing, SEO, social media outsourcing—or development stacks we don’t cover or have several projects running in tandem are better served by these firms. Head-to-head on websites, apps, or UI/UX projects though, I’ll tell you where we have them beat and why we’re the right choice for your project.

Never & Always

Our annual revenue will never be in the multi-millions. Our company parties will never need a banquet hall. We won’t ever look back and say that it wasn’t worth it.

We will always love what we do. We will always approach each project with passion and excitement. We will have the freedom to make sure we don’t get burned out.

If that sounds like a good fit for your next project we’d love to talk to you.


Also published on Medium.

Amber Sawaya is a creative director, best-selling author and business owner. She designs and oversees UI, UX, app, and website projects.