Typically when you start a business, brand, or product, you want to be solving a problem, filling a gap, or improving an experience. Truth be told, I don’t feel like Come Alive Creative doesn’t does any of those things.
It’s something I’ve been wrestling with. On one hand, we are offering services that my team is awesome at. I could argue that we’re improving an experience but there are plenty of “full-service creative” shops helping businesses and brands build their online image. And when I’m brutally honest, I know I’m not the best web designer out there. I can build a mean website, but I’m still not the best.
This leads into the other quality exceptional businesses have: an unfair advantage. I’ve been stewing over this since before I quit my job. What is my unfair advantage? I’m good at a lot of things. I wouldn’t have struck out on my own if I didn’t think it was possible. However, what skills can I do better than anyone else?
Last week I interviewed Rich Mulholland. He’s this crazy rocker business guy out of South Africa. He has started companies like Missing Link and 21 Tanks. After the interview, we started discussing what was going to make Come Alive Creative stand out. One thing he commented on was the Happy Mitten Podcast. It’s the podcast we run for our board game company. He said I could easily make a product out of teaching businesses to relate to their audiences the way we do with Happy Mitten.
While it’s a solid idea, it’s still not “right.” I don’t just want to be editing audio or building websites for people. I like the work but it’s not my end; it’s not what I’m trying to build.
However, an idea hit me from this suggestion:
I’ve been a teacher for the past 7 years and I’ve been working with kids since I was in middle school. As a teacher, I needed to accomplish 2 major things every day:
Understand who I was teaching
and with that understanding, get the students to complete an objective
To get them to complete the objective, I often drew from their funds of knowledge, the types of life experiences they brought to the classroom, and using the “Understanding by Design” teaching philosophy. You start with the objective and then work backwards to decide what building blocks are necessary to achieve the end goal.
Formal education taught the idea of “story.” My undergraduate degree is in language arts & elementary education and my masters is in language arts & secondary education. I’ve spent the past 7 years of my life teaching myself and others all the nuances of reading, writing and story.
So how does that apply to the business? We aren’t just a team of web designers, pixel pushers, and social media aficionados. We are storytellers connecting your brand’s story to your audience. We use our skills across a variety of digital and print platforms to tell your story. We do the work to get you heard and you can worry about everything else necessary for running a business.
To quote Rich again, “You want to be the smartest guy in the room on something.” Plenty of people could “out business” or “out code” me. But I know people, and I can usually figure out what they want before they know themselves. I see the big picture and understand how to break it down into executable steps. I understand technology and story; they have been an intricate part of my life for the past 15 years.
So you’re going to see a few changes to the site. Some have already happened. Our services are exactly the same but they are framed within the theme of “story.” It’s what we’ve been doing all along, I just didn’t realize it until now.
Thoughts? I write these blogs because I strive for transparency and honesty. Whether you like it or you think it’s garbage, I won’t know unless you tell me. Feel free to comment below.
Steven Osbun says
I’ll be honest Jeff. This is the first time that I have payed “active” attention to your professional endeavors outside of gaming. This blog alone has completely grabbed my attention. You approach things and people in a much similar way to how I do. I am extremely impressed with the level of “transparency” that you have exhibited here. But, that’s not the most impressive part. The best part is the level of self awareness. Not many people are capable to do the self-dissection that you have done here. I, for one, will be paying much closer attention to where you go from here. I will also be speaking to those of my friends that I think could benefit from your services. Good luck, brother!
Jeff Large says
Thank you Steve. I really appreciate the kind words. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do business differently. Being honest and transparent is part of that. Keep watching- the adventure has just begun!