In April of 2014, I gave a 10 minute lightening talk at WordCamp Minneapolis where I (quickly) covered a set of lessons I've learned that I wish somebody had told me about before I started my company. I received a lot of positive feedback about the session and it made me wish I had the opportunity to do a long-form version of the same talk. That opportunity presented itself recently when I was invited to speak at WordCamp Tampa in October. Encouraged by the response to the presentation, I've decided to turn my notes in to a series of posts called Y U No Tell Me? Lessons learned from building a WordPress development business.
Each day as new topics in the series become available, I'll update this post with links to each. You're also welcome to subscribe to the posts using the signup box over on the right hand side under the search box.
Topics so far: Jargon, They don't know what they need, Who needs contracts?, Over Communicate, It's OK to fire a client, Long-term clients are awesome, Estimates Suck, Distractions, Bigger Projects != Better Projects, Company Names, It's not about the platform, You can't do it all yourself, Make time for yourself
For today, I'll start with an introduction as to how my company came to be.
And so it begins
I don't know about you, but I love WordCamps. Earlier this month I attended WordCamp Tampa, which was somewhere close to my 50th WordCamp. My first was in Las Vegas 2009 which I was also the organizer. You read that right; it was my first WordCamp and I was the organizer. In hindsight, probably not the smartest move. But, a lot of great things happened thanks to that first WordCamp. We started a local blogging meetup which would eventually spawn the Las Vegas WordPress meetup group which now has more than 630 members. I also met a number of people who would become lifelong friends. And, that weekend would eventually lead me to create a brand new company; 9seeds.
OK, I can't give WordCamp all the credit for starting my new company. At the time I was working in a corporate job that I had loved for the first 9 years I worked there. Unfortunately, I was there for 10 years. During that final year I spent a lot of time really getting in to WordPress. Building plugins, building themes, building sites for friends. I was really unhappy at my job and needed a distraction.
I floated the idea to a couple of friends that we should start a company doing WordPress development. It would be something for us to do on nights and weekends to make some extra money. Plus, we all really enjoyed working with WordPress, so it would hardly seem like work at all. They both agreed and on October 1st, 2009, 9seeds was born.
Even though our our original plan was to keep our day jobs and work on the company nights and weekends for the first year or so to see if this whole idea would pan out, within 3 months we had all quit our jobs to work at 9seeds full time. Somehow that still included nights and weekends.
Earlier this month we celebrated our 5 year anniversary. In some respects it feels like an eternity. In others, the blink of an eye. Both original partners have departed, the company has grown from 3 to 12, and, as of this summer, 2 new partners have joined the team. We've had some amazing successes. We've had some catastrophic failures. We haven't once been bored by the work that we do.
Along the way we've worked with 100s of client. Each with their own needs, their own personalities, their own challenges. And most importantly, their own lessons to teach us. Typically those lessons are learned the hard way which made me ask, “how come nobody told me this before I got started?”
Check back tomorrow where the topic will be Jargon.