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Perspective FM

A podcast by founders of small indie creative agencies, giving our perspective on starting and running our own companies. The aim is to provide some useful advice and inspiration to others, as well as learn from each other and others we get to come talk on the show. Hosted by Jon Darke and Dan Gent.
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Now displaying: 2016

Perspective FM podcast; A podcast by founders of small indie creative agencies, giving our perspective on starting and running our own companies. 

Nov 14, 2016

This week Jon and Dan are joined by Andy Budd form Clearleft - a well known UX Design agency based in Brighton. Clearleft are well known for their high quality of work as well as advancing the field by putting on a number of UX, Design and Development events around the country every year.

 

In this episode they cover:

  • Small vs large agencies
  • Quality vs quantity of client work
  • How do Clearleft judge their success metrics
  • Taking on the projects you want to work on
  • Growing the team from the founders and adding new skills
  • How adding content strategy skills to the team has helped Clearleft enhance their offering
  • What are the driving factors behind the events and conferences Clearleft put on, and what effect does that have on their business
  • Giving back to the design community - why we do these things

 

Show notes

  • Clearleft’s website, including their work and blog. Keep an eye out for the new website & rebrand launching end 2016/early 2017.
  • Clearleft’s new event; Leading Design (24 - 26 October 2016). At the time of publishing, now in the past, but sign up for details next year
  • Clearleft’s other conferences:
  • Every Interaction’s website update, taking a content-first approach.

 

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Oct 30, 2016

This week Jon is joined by Pete Campbell from Kaizen Search - an SEO and digital marketing agency based in London. Pete started his agency 3 years ago as a one-man band, and has since successfully scaled to 9 people.

 

In the episode they cover:

  • Starting a business as just one person
  • Hiring the first person
  • Should you take on interns or apprenticeships when you’re a small agency?
  • What skill levels should your early employees be?
  • Handling cultural differences in a small team

 

Show notes:

 

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Oct 16, 2016

This week Jon is joined by Brad Flowers from BullHorn Creative - a brand & communication strategy agency in Kentucky USA. Brad and his fellow directors have been making changes to how they run their business, inspired by meeting folks at peer groups and studying business books. This inspiration has helped provide them with a more solid foundation for growth and stability. In this episode Jon and Brad go over this experience, and share how anyone else can do the same.

In this episode they cover

  • Focus on working more on your business than in your business.

  • Adapting and assigning roles to individuals as you grow.

  • Having accurate data to be able to make informed business decisions.

  • Understanding your core values of your business - why you exist.

  • Using peer groups to share experiences and learn from others locally.

 

Show notes

There are some great blog posts over on Bullhorn’s blog. A few recent examples include:

 

 

Oct 2, 2016

Jon is joined by Rory MacDonald from MadeTech - an agile development agency - to talk about how you can use agile methodologies to deliver website development projects.

 

In the episode they cover:

  • What characteristics make a successful agile delivery?

  • How to spot a if a client is going to be suitable to work in an agile way

  • Managing scope, budget and timelines with agile

  • Working with clients to understand complexity

  • Managing risk to ensure software is shipped and deliverables

  • Reassuring customers that the agile processes you are proposing will deliver them the results they need

  • Educating clients about the benefits of agile processes and transforming businesses from within using it

 

Show notes

 

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Sep 3, 2016

This week Jon is joined by Dylan Baskind - designer/developer and founder of proposal writing tool Qwilr. We speak about Dylan's journey from working in the agency world, having direct clients and hitting frustrations with creating proposals in the ‘print’ mentality of an A4 PDF doc that takes way too much time to create and delivers an inferior experience for both creator and client. We talk about how Qwilr came to be and what goes into making a great proposal.

Dylan also shared with us his top tips for making sure your proposal has the best chance of helping you win the work:

  1. Make sure it looks fantastic. You can’t put a price on first impressions and if the first thing a potential client sees from you has a design that is not pleasing to look at, then you’ve almost already lost. That first impression must be made immediately, as they will form an opinion within the first few milliseconds. Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye.
  2. Use data-driven quantitative proof to back up your claims for case studies. Tie your work directly to project success metrics to validate the worth and investment in your input. 
  3. Use a compelling story to communicate past case studies to clients. Teehan+Lax used to write case studies in a wonderful way. An approach we've started experimenting with at Every Interaction. 
 

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Aug 14, 2016

This week Jon and Dan talk about Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and how they both use this as a sales tool. How to introduce an MVP to a client, how to steer a client asking for an MVP in the right direction, controlling expectations and changing how people think about what an MVP is supposed to achieve. There are a lot of challenges to do this properly so that your client has a greater chance of success, and you get more work from them as a result.

Show notes

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Jul 19, 2016

Jon is joined again this week by Dan Gent. They talk about the UK’s referendum to leave the European Union and what effects Brexit might have on their design agencies. Covering their fears about the uncertainty the future might hold, possible impact on new business and hiring, as well as what they are both going to be doing to try and weather the storm. Trying not to focus too much on the negatives, they speak about how to make the best of Brexit and how small agencies might be able to turn this unfortunate series of events to their advantage. 

The future is uncertain and so we may revisit this topic in time once the situation has evolved and we think it relevant, but this episode quite accurately captures our current state at this moment in time. 

If anyone else out there is concerned about what Brexit means for their digital agency and would like someone to talk to - please reach out, we’d be happy to talk.

 

Further reading

Interesting survey from London Tech sector businesses finding that 74% believe the business environment may get worse, but only 22% expect to scale back their planned growth ambitions as a result.

This video from the brilliant CGP Grey speculates about the likelihood of various possible outcomes of the referendum result. Watch the video.

 

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May 29, 2016

This week Jon welcomes designer founder Murat Mutlu from Marvel App to discuss what it's like for a designer to leave the agency life behind and found a product company.

It was great to hear about the journey, challenges and what the future has in store for this world class design tool.

Sign up for Marvel App

Follow Marvel App on twitter

 

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May 10, 2016

Jon is joined by Tom from Lighthouse London to talk about the filter process they both go through when deciding to take on or pitch for a specific piece of work or project.

The list of criteria discussed is not meant to be a prescriptive list we believe every agency should abide by, it’s just a discussion of the criteria that we run through when making those decision and hopefully there are points that encourage or inspire others to do something similar.  

 

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Below is a quick list of the main points covered:

 

Repeat business

If you do one type of project well you’ll get other clients in a similar field asking you to help them in a similar way. So you need to ask yourself would you want to do this type of project again?

 

Do you have the skills needed?

You need to ensure you’ve got the necessary skills to take on the job. Never take on a job that is out of your comfort zone unless you have made is explicitly clear the client this is the case. If you hide this from the clients you are making a huge gamble on both getting paid and also your future reputation.

 

Capacity

If your plate is too full, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Also if it’s too large for you to take on.

 

Conflict of interest with existing client?

If you’re still working with a client who might see this new client as a potential competitor, then you should not work with them both. Check if you are unsure.

 

Moral conflicts?

Do what feels right. We don’t do gambling stuff for example.

 

Does the client seem like the kind of person you might get on with?

We would never take on work without meeting the people. Worst case video chat. Try to get a sense of the type of person they are from communications and gut feel.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a reference to follow up on from another service provider who has worked with the client before.

Ideal client needs to be...

  • knowledgeable & passionate about their industry
  • Organised and available
  • Understand to the creative process and be receptive to new ideas being introduced and establish conventions being challenged
  • Have confidence in their own decision making ability

 

Budget constraints (and time below)

Find out the project budget (or range) before investing a lot of time in a response and if the budget is to low to achieve what you feel is a good job, be completely honest and tell the client that. This is also a tactical way to back out of projects you might not want to do (“sounds like you can’t afford us”).

 

Unrealistic timelines

If the brief has timelines that seem unrealistic and the client seem unwilling to compromise on scope to hit them. Design is a process and you can’t simply pull a well informed solution out of a hat, it takes research, planning, ideation, testing, validation, etc.

You have to be confident you have time plus contingency to deliver a final product you’d be happy to put your name to.

 

You don’t agree with the brief

The brief could contain a requirement for how the client would like to see a problem solved. Briefs should be open for discussion and if you feel there is something there that does not seem like a good idea - speak up. Briefs are sometimes the output of a committee who decided there is a business requirement to address the points. If the solution is non-negotiable and you feel it’s not the right thing to do, walk away.

 

Too much red tape

Clearly going to be a nightmare to work on - lots of stakeholders, etc. etc.

 

Chance of winning

If you think you really won’t get it, don’t waste your time. Focus on jobs with realistic odds, or and save the punts for really great opportunities.

 

Enjoy it!

Is your team going to enjoy working on it?

If your team is going to hate you for taking on this project, don’t do it. Ensure you work on projects the team will enjoy or you’ll create unhappy workers and staff retention will be affected.

 

Summary

It’s a personal decision and a judgement call. Jobs don’t have to pass every one of these criteria. Don’t stretch yourself or risk to much. Keep it sensible, do a good job and success will follow.

 

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Apr 10, 2016

This week Jon is joined by his co-founder Neil Gardiner to discuss their experiences with mentorship. Every Interaction have been receiving business mentorship for 18 months now, so it seemed like a good time to reflect and go over some of the benefits having mentorship has brought to their business. They cover how they got started with mentorship, some of the exercise and topics covered as well as discuss alternatives.

 

Show notes

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