A friend of mine asked me this week, “Will Sparkbox be around in 10 years?” Then, as if that wasn’t mind-melting enough, he followed it up with, “What do you think you’ll be doing in 2025 if you are still around?”
Anyone who’s ever started a company before knows the weight these kinds of questions carry. When we started, I remember sitting down with my partners to sketch out our one-year, three-year, and five-year goals for the company. It’s laughable to see how completely different we are now than what we predicted five-and-a-half years ago. These kinds of exercises are important to do, but I’ve learned that being flexible—being unafraid of change—is one of a small business’s strongest assets.
As I was considering these questions, I came to the conclusion that our technological expertise is not the thing that will keep our doors open for the next ten years. Instead, I believe the most successful companies in our business will actually be the ones that aren’t afraid to let go of specific technologies in order to solve their client’s problems. So, here’s a few things I’ll be pushing for us to focus on over the next ten years...
One of the ways businesses try to make money is by being very efficient at a task. For these companies, learning curve is the enemy of profit. I want to build an organization that is efficient at learning. It’s that fearlessness I was talking about earlier, but combined with a hunger to grow. In this way, we can still be a profitable company despite the change required to be a part of this industry.
Work With, Not For
One thing I hear myself continually telling our customers is, “We’re better when we work with you, not just for you.” Every project we do is somewhat unique, which makes it hard (if not impossible) to nail down a precise process that applies across the board. Instead, future Sparkbox will still be bringing our customers into the conversation and producing better work because of that collaboration.
The tools are fun, the tech is a blast, but the people are what matter. Keeping our focus on this fact and realizing that all we do centers around those people is the only way I know how to operate. Employees, family, clients, users—if what we do doesn’t make all of these folks feel valued, then I’m not sure it’s worth doing.
I’ve always enjoyed teaching, but that’s not why I think it’s part of the formula for Sparkbox 2025. Teaching makes you smarter. It might be writing, it might be pairing, it might be speaking or doing a workshop. All of these activities require you to dig deeper into a topic. I also think it’s a simple way to be a good Web citizen, to give back. There is always someone smarter than you, but there’s always someone just a little behind you. Do your part to bring them along.
As a service company, clients want to work with us because of who we are. We are only as good as the people on our team. We’ve been incredibly blessed to find so many talented web nerds, which is truly the reason for what success we’ve had. I intend for us to continue hiring for culture above anything else. You’ve heard it said before, “You can make someone smarter, but you can’t change who they are.”
So, you might see these answers as a cop-out—no “design for wearables” answer here. I’m sure that stuff will come, it might even stay, but it will always be changing. Ten years is a long time. Heck, the Web is barely over twenty years old. Sparkbox will be around in ten years. The reason? We’ll have kept our focus on the important stuff—the things that matter, the things that help us sleep at night.