As our company grows, we are constantly evaluating ways to become more efficient while producing higher quality work. This requires that everyone in our company constantly strives to get better at what they do and how they work. From my side, I am constantly evaluating the kind of company that I want Accella to be. When I started the company, I had visions of the quality of products we would produce and how we would help our clients. As the company grows, the realities of holding true to those values while maintaining profitability is still a constant challenge. In the business world, there is always the temptation to cut corners to increase margin by reducing quality, whether that’s in the product, in communication, or in your overall process. It’s especially tempting in a price competitive landscape. My goal with Accella has always been to find a way to be both profitable while sticking to those core values that the company was built upon.
In thinking about how these core values match up with financial success, I am always drawn towards the stories of Henry Ford and Milton Hershey. While I know no one is perfect and that to be successful in business you have to have some sense of ruthlessness, I have read enough about these two individuals to know that profit was not their sole driver. They wanted to innovate, they wanted to do well by their employees, they wanted a quality product that their consumers would love, and they wanted to make money while delivering on all of those ideals. It’s easy to bypass any of those items when growing a business – it’s much harder to be successful on all fronts. I look to those two leaders as examples of how I expect our company to deal with both clients and team members.
In trying to stick to these values, one of the biggest challenges is staying cost competitive. In a global landscape, where technology is so pervasive, our competition ranges from other high quality agencies to individual freelancers to overseas developers. We have to convince our potential clients – pre-sale – that they should pay a higher price (in some cases significantly higher), for the quality of work, the responsiveness and the dedication to success that they will find in working with us. We feel there is a right way to work through a successful project and to achieve that success there is a certain threshold for how much time (and subsequently how much cost) needs to go into a project. We always strive to maintain our ideals and therefore, we always price our projects in a way to allow us to complete our work in the right way. We lose a lot of projects this way, but we also end up with a lot of really great experiences in working with our clients and building the best product possible.
The catalyst for this post was that last night I went online to research a little bit about how old a few business leaders from the past were when they reached the pinnacle of their business success. My curiousity was sparked as I always feel as though Accella should be growing faster or working smoother or something of the sort, even though I know we’ve accomplished a lot to this point. It was interesting to see that Henry Ford, as an example, was 36 when he started his first full fledge car company (though it seems he was always an inventor of sorts) and that he dissolved that company at 38 after a lack of success. He didn’t start the Ford Motor Company until he was 40 and the model T wasn’t introduced until 5 years later at 45 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford). So the good news is that I’ve still got a little time til I reach that age and can take my time growing Accella the right way – using the likes of Ford as guidance on how to reach financial success at the same time as we hold true to our values.