Two years ago today, Matt Jones took this photo of me and Jack. Shortly after, we bought Z.V.B. Ltd. off the shelf and renamed it Schulze & Webb Ltd. I had a terrible haircut, rectified only days later.
One year ago (the portrait on our about page is from that month): Jack had finished college. I was billing through the company but effectively acting as a sole consultant. I wrapped up my projects that July; aside from odd jobs, we didn't issue another invoice till 1 November. Those were some lean months.
What happened in that time is we became a company.
Our starting point was that we wanted to work together, on exciting work for good clients. And we also knew that you get what you do. So we started turning down any work which meant we'd operate separately or as freelancers.
That led us to marketing, and market positioning, business plans, and quarterly targets. In my notebook from last year, there's a matrix of short/medium/long-term with the kind of work we'd like, for what kind of clients, and how we'll get the work. We're still following it.
I put money into the company. We introspected a lot, tried to figure out what our model would be for balancing consultancy and our own projects. We got the lay of the land and positioned the troops.
One week in late October 2006, we received two phone calls and two briefs: One three month user experience project, and one design strategy intensive project for what turned out to be a recurring client. That was our first profitable quarter, and we've been booked out since.
But those were lean, lean months. It's tough on the wallet and on your sleep too. We were forged then.
It's been a funny two years. I feel like I'm on my third company. The first was leaving the BBC (after writing Mind Hacks part-time) to freelance and work with Jack. Second was starting the limited company with Jack officially, pitching in together. Third was last year, turning down the freelance work.
(The story of last year's jump is in the Daily Telegraph, incidentally.)
Hey, so will there be a jump number four? We've reached stage three of last year's business plan, and I never wrote a stage four. All the pieces are in place now, and it's a question of whether we want to put everything back into play. I suspect, yes, there will be a jump. And I don't want to promise any news soon because these roads are long, but there have been some interesting recent developments and we're feeling hungry.
I just wanted to bookmark this moment, and that photograph. Two years!