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What’s the best thing about your job?
At previous companies, I was never good at following orders. Looking back, I was always a bit of a punk…from my first professional job (at age 21) through my last (at age 30). Dissent always started with—and was centered around—me. I frequently disagreed with management, I asked questions I had no business knowing the answers to, and I was pretty good at spreading my gospel around the office. I knew that I’d eventually have to start my own company or risk running out of places to work in Pittsburgh.
Now that Full Stop is nearly three years old, I can say with absolute certainty that “never having to answer to anyone else” is the best part of my job. The paper trail for all of your successes and failures leads directly back to your front door. You can try things out that you’d never have the clearance to attempt under an employer. Our decisions are our own, and they aren’t influenced by somebody else’s politics, sensitivities, or “bottom line.” It’s always about what we think is best for our company.
And the worst?
Generally: Running a design business is 25% about the design and 75% about the business. You find yourself performing a lot of unglamorous work, the kind of drudgery formerly completed by other people back when you worked at a place with sales and accountants and receptionists. The real problem is that there ends up not being enough time in the day for the things you really want to do. I don’t think a lot of designers understand this enough. I see a lot of 21-year-olds hang a shingle because they can put together a few pretty pixels in Photoshop, then they get out in the world and the “business” part hands them their ass. Running a design business is about design, but it’s also about clear communication, client management, proposals, contracts, and finding new business. It isn’t about putting a 56” Apple display in the middle of an empty desk.
Personally: I’m not a very good “details” designer at all. I like to generate an idea, take it to about 75%, and then let someone else decide whether a line should be one pixel or two pixels thick. Unfortunately, at Full Stop there is no “someone else.” If a design is ever finished, I’m the one that has to finish it.