Last Thursday Just a Pixel (Roberta and myself) attended the TIGA awards and was lucky enough to pick-up the Best Startup 2014 award.
It came as a huge surprise and really means a lot to us to have an award given to us (not to mention nerve racking, seriously we almost fell over when they announced our name!). The journey that Just a Pixel has been on over the last year has been full of ups and downs but we wanted to offer five of our top lessons we’ve learnt from the experience so far to anyone who may want advice.
So without further ado…
1. Choosing your co-founders
Companies can rise and fall just based on the co-founders alone, so choosing who you set up the business with is a really big deal. Being able to talk through situations is key, things won’t always be plain sailing and you need to be able to talk frankly to each other. Each founder will have to wear many hats in the early days of the business, however each founder will also need to have a set group of roles which every other founder trusts them with. Which leads me on to the next point…
2. Define Roles
Are you a Programmer? Artist? Business developer? Having a clear division of labour from the outset can help prevent future disagreements and ensure no-one steps on anyone elses shoes. In our case, Roberta handles the design, production, accounting and business development and I handle the art direction, development, research and marketing.
When we set-up Just a Pixel we had a very loose definition on who did what, however over time and several disagreements we now have a strict divide on the labour and we very rarely do we do the others job (apart from illness) because we’ve developed trust in each other to get on with our roles for the good of what we both envisioned from the start.
3. Learn to adapt
As a start-up, you may or may not have a large cash reserve to get you through the dry spots. Be prepared to make compromises and stay flexible to reach your end goal. Be sure to not put all of your eggs in one basket, if things don’t pan out (and sometimes they don’t) you may be left scrambling for work at a later date.
Adapting isn’t just for the company, but also for the co-founders. In an ideal start-up you would have someone who takes care of each individual role from the start, however in a start-up you man not have people for each role. Be ready to take on roles you may or may not like in order to progress the company.
For instance, I’m not an artist, but you may have noticed I have art direction as one of the things I do. When we started out, projects evolved and I’ve been self teaching how to define art-styles and even picking up 3d modelling to make sure we keep the ball rolling long enough until we can hire someone full-time to take on that role. The same goes for Roberta, she never used to understand what accountancy was, but a year later and many significant hurdles trying to understand documentation she handled the books for us long enough to get an accountant.
This is rule one of any partnership, if you don’t communicate with the other founders (or your partner) things will only get worse. I think one of our strengths from the get-go has been the fact that Roberta and I constantly talk to each other (we are a couple after all, that comes with its own problems! :D), leave the niceties at the door and just be honest. Don’t sugar coat what you say, but be respectful of whoever you are talking to. You’ll find that the majority of problems you face can be solved by talking them out between you all.
5. Enjoy yourself!
Starting a business can be hard, but once you get used to running it with your co-founders (or even on your own), things will get easier. Starting Just a Pixel with Roberta was one of the best choices I have ever made in my life and I love the fact we run it together and work on some awesome projects.
Enjoy what you are doing and be proud of it!
Need help? Suggestions?
There are plenty of other things to look out for, however those were just some of the things I felt were the biggest lessons I’ve learnt over the year. Please do tweet at me if you have any other suggestions and I’ll be sure to add them to the post and credit you!
A Special Thanks…
To everyone who has supported and believed in us over the last year, without you all we wouldn’t have been able to grow Just a Pixel from a little idea into an award winning company.
Danny & Roberta