5/5 Small Business Interview: Why We Stay Small
A Good Company describes itself as “a small, focused design consultancy that helps passionate businesses help their customers”, and it is this outfit that Micah Rich leads. In an age where really big companies continue to make really big mistakes (that have repercussions on all of us, mind you), Micah’s design firm strives to keep things super simple. While they do both branding and websites, A Good Company’s primary focus is maintaining great relationships with their clients. Let’s see how they do that, shall we?
You describe A Good Company as a “super-small” company. What do you feel are the benefits of being small in a world that places an onus on being big?
A Good Company is super small because being super small means we can be more intimate – we can be human with the people we choose to work with, we can stay closer to to the problems we solve. The bigger a company gets and the more levels a company has, the harder it gets to connect to problems; staying small lets us get in our client’s brains. We can still take over the world being small, we just have to be more efficient about it – I personally enjoy that challenge.
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What is the best and worst thing, respectively, about working remotely with clients?
Working on stuff you want to just because you want to keeps your creativity alive.
You need it.
Working remotely makes it hard to stay on the same page about everything all the time, and we have to work really hard sometimes to make sure our clients & customers know that on the other end of the computer wires is a compassionate human. It’s easy to misinterpret tone in written word, and that can get in the way without a good foundation of trust & understanding, which is something we sort of always have to work on, every time.
But working remotely means we can literally work with anyone, anywhere. That’s an insane amount of opportunity, and we’ve gotten to work with super interesting and random clients that we could never have worked with if we stuck to working in a specific city & town.
You are the people behind The League of Moveable Type. How do you justify spending time on open source projects like this when you also have a small business to run?
Open source is the same as a passion project, really, and I firmly believe working on stuff you want to just because you want to keeps your creativity alive. You need it. But truthfully one of my passions is business – so I’ve been really working to transform The League into a sustainable business in its own right, which gives me a really great excuse to consider it part of the small business, as opposed to just a project I work with on the side.
What hardware and software does A Good Company use?
We love and are used to Apple, so we’re on Macbook Airs and iMacs and iPhones and iPads. We make promo videos and have to get good photography sometimes, and we’re experienced with Canon 7D’s for that sort of stuff. We hack around on fun hardware projects sometimes like Arduino & Raspberry Pi.
Software is a lot longer of a list, but we have so much stuff to do that we focus on finding tools that do stuff for us. Hiveage is a great example (we’ve been with you guys since 2009, honestly) – we set up recurring billing for our clients on contracts and don’t have to think about it again. We use Heroku because we don’t have to spend time thinking about server setup or maintenance. We build tiny little custom tools for ourselves that update our websites when we push new stuff to Github, divvy up our taxes, update us on revenue & failed charges, stuff like that. We’re masters at tiny little tools, we love building stuff like that. The really good little tools we work on making products in their own right, which is an awesome way to expand the stuff we can justify working on.
What is your favourite thing about Hiveage, and if you could change one thing about it, what would it be?
My favorite thing about Hiveage is that the features that are there – some basic, some a little more than basic – add up to A Good Company not needing to spend time on billing clients. We can accept payments with credit card, which means not waiting on checks or going to the bank. We can set up recurring billing, so we set it once and forget it. And finally, we can export our data and save a gajillion hours filing taxes. That’s the best thing about Hiveage.
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