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Starting a New Business: Lessons Learned

When I co-founded Fell Swoop just over two years ago, the world around us was in flux. The economy was tanking, financial scandals were rearing their heads, and corporate spending was drying up. In hindsight, Fall 2008 may not have been the ideal time to start a new consulting business, but I believed in what we were doing and I knew it was time to do it our way.

Two years later, I couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made, our talented team, and the fantastic clients we get to work with everyday. While we’ve been profitable from day one, it hasn’t been picture perfect every step of the way. In fact, over the last two years, I’ve learned some invaluable lessons about running a business, serving clients, hiring staff, and designing user experiences. While I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface, and I still have many, many lessons to learn, there are a few topics worth writing about on this blog. Over the coming weeks, I’ll share some of these lessons as well as some practical common sense knowledge gained since starting Fell Swoop in 2008.

Just to be clear, this is not an advice column. I’ll share lessons I’ve learned while running Fell Swoop, and they may apply to you and you may learn from them, but there is no guarantee. In fact, the first lesson I’ll cover in the series is about designing your own business by applying user-centered design principals towards creating a system that works for you and your team.

Why write this series? The answer is two-fold; 1) So the people that choose to work with Fell Swoop know exactly who they are dealing with, and 2) so we can help others in our industry benefit from Fell Swoop’s experiences. That’s it.

Here is a peek at the topics on the list:

  • Lesson 1: Designing Your Own Business
  • Lesson 2: Being Flexible
  • Lesson 3: Admitting When You Are Wrong
  • Lesson 4: Being a Partner, Not a Vendor
  • Lesson 5: Choosing Fixed-Fee vs. Time & Materials

I’m certain that I’ll learn more about these topics in the coming years, so don’t be surprised if I’m singing a different tune at some point, but for now, I can’t emphasize how important these lessons are in driving our business forward.