No, we’re not patting our own backs. We’re just bringing you an interview with the people behind A Good Company, a SME that is doing it right. Read on to see what what Caroline and Micah have to say about design, clients, and their plan to take over the world. Micah and Caroline, thanks for joining us today. For starters, could you tell us a little bit about A Good Company, and how it came to be? Caroline: We both went to Otis College of Art and Design, a small design school in Los Angeles. We decided to work on our senior thesis project together, it was us and another designer, our pal Nicole. The 3 of us worked together and had a hell of a time creating www.thegoodsideof.us, where people can share stories of their good deeds. We both work really well together and during school we constantly talked about starting a company someday, we both have similar ideas of what kind of a company we wanted to create. We even came up with the name A Good Company, during our senior year in college. We thought it’d be funny and also true. Obviously we both care deeply about good design, but what we also want from our company is a business that can be good, and help other business be good. We like the idea that being good is financially sustainable. So after we graduated college, we decided that we’d like to keep working together. And since at the time I didn’t have a full time job, and Micah was looking for a good reason to go back to sunny CA, we thought that maybe now is the best time to start a business together. How does A Good Company operate? Do you guys have offices, or do you just work from home? How do you guys divide the work flow between yourselves? Caroline: We both work from home. And since right now we’re working from opposite sides of the country, we mostly work together through IM. As for our workflow I’m not quite sure, there’s really no rigid rules about it, it’s more like, we each do what we know we can do best at that specific time. Micah: We’ve worked together really closely for… almost two years, even if it wasn’t always for A Good Company. That thesis project, and school projects, had us working really close, and we got a pretty clear idea of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been doing a lot of client-talking lately, or programming, while Caroline spearheads a lot of the design and concepting. A lot of times we trade off more menial business work with design work, so one of us is organizing files or setting up tools and the other is gettin’ stuff done. And then we trade chores. What changes, if any, have you had to make as a result of the prevailing economic downturn, and what advice would you give other small businesses trying to stay competitive in this financial climate? Caroline: To be honest, I dont think we have made changes at all. At least personally I dont think a bad economy is a reason for us to hold back or anything like that. We’re both generally are pretty good about keeping in budget, for our personal finances. As for the company, since our business doesn’t require us to put a huge amount of monetary investment to it, I don’t think financially the economy has affected us in a big way. I’m not sure if I’m qualified to give business advice to anyone, but one thing that we are trying to do with our company is to … well not to lose hope. People have said to us, in this economy you want to be careful, you need to hang on to every client you’ve got, just be thankful you have clients at all. Well, I dont think the bad economy is a good reason for us as a company to lower our standards. We still believe that working with good clients whom we respect and trust, doing work that is good, intelligent, and fun, is still what we’re strive for. So i guess if I have to give an advice to people about dealing with the economy downturn: don’t compromise, on anything, we might be in a hopeless situation but we’re not hopeless. Micah: I don’t really believe in recessions. I don’t really believe in germs, either, but the thing is, we don’t really spend much money. And I’m constantly advocating us making products, so we can be more self-sufficient. My long term goal is to make our client work optional. Deploying a service as a small business is often a nerve-wracking task. How has A Good Portfolio fared, and what have you learnt from working on it? Caroline: Well even though we put this project on hold for sometime now, personally for me what I really learned from it is how to be more flexible. Micah has this mentality of “an idea is a dime a dozen”. I, on the other hand get attached to ideas. I’ve always thought this was a good idea and when we had to put it on hold, I was very resistant at first. but we did have a good reason to do it. We realized that this product is not the kind of product we wanted it to be. We were searching for a product that could give us a passive income, something we don’t have to manage. After doing some research, we realize that our target audience, being students, we probably won’t make much money from it. So we put it on hold, because we couldn’t afford to spend so much time working on something that woulnt earn us money. The reason we revived the project is because Micah has this new take on working on this product. Before, we were gonna have all these fancy features, which we both admit would be really cool to have (templates, customizable fonts, color pickers, etc). The problem was, it’ll take a long time for us to figure out how to build all those fancy things (considering that neither of us are actual programmers, I have 0 programming knowledge and Micah is a hack, though, for a hack, Micah is a genius, if I do say so myself). So what we’ve decided to do this time around is to keep it as simple as possible. We want to build only the things that we absolutely need to launch. Once we have something that’s working then we can add other cool stuff to it, but we don’t want to focus so much on the nice-to-have features right from the get go. First we focus on the essential, and once we have that, we can expand as needed. Micah: Not that we invented that idea, or anything, but we’re both kind of perfectionists deep down, and I’ve been working hard to change my mindset about that. We were concerned at first that it wouldn’t make us any money, but realized that if we didn’t spend too much time on it at first, it’s not much of a loss. So we picked it up again, made it real quick, and we’re testing it out. But I agree with Caroline, I think it’s taught us to get over ourselves and roll with the punches a bit. On your website, you mention that you have “big plans” for the future. Mind elaborating? Where would you like to see A Good Company go in the next few years? Caroline: hmm our big plans… well our long term business goal is to take over the world. But I guess we need to start with small steps. In the next few years, I’d like for A Good Company to start working with good clients, in every sense of the word. I don’t care about size, they don’t need to be famous or popular. Here’s my idea of a good client, someone who treats us like we’re a partner, like we’re real people, working together with them to help them achieve their goals, be it creating a identity for their company or coming up with a product idea that’ll help them grow their business. A good client would also have the same ideas about business as we do, which means that they want to make their business profitable by using technology, design, science, inventions, and ideas to make a positive changes in the world, big or small. If we can start having more clients like that in the next few years, then I think we’d have no problem meeting our business objective in the long run. Micah: Yeah, honestly, I share Caroline’s thoughts on clients, but I want it to be a choice – I don’t want to worry about income or making sure we have paying clients. I want us to pick projects we want to work on, based on how much we can do to help the world somehow. Inventions, events, who knows what. A Good Company is gonna be a model for how companies and people can help each other out and make the world a better place, that’s our goal. A Good Company, of course, like any good company, uses CurdBee to power their invoicing. Here is a screenshot of their Bee deployment at work.
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