NorthIQ has been around for nearly three years now. We’ve been a remote company, when I first launched, I worked from my own home office, and when Craig came on board in May of 2017, he worked from his home office – we called them the Oakridge and Sunningdale offices respectively. We have met in each other’s homes, in coffee shops, and in rented meeting rooms.
For the most part, our office situations worked out well. There were times however that we wished we had a shared space. I have countless sticky notes in all manner of places, I have a whiteboard I rarely use, and there are times that we just need to work together. There are also countless missed opportunities for brief chats, quick catchups, and the kind of one-on-one brainstorming that you just can’t do in your homes. (more…)
Company values are a big deal, especially in the initial stages of a company. You need to ask yourself what your end goal is. What are you trying to build? What does your company stand for?
If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.
— Irene Dunne on America’s Town Meeting of the Air, May 1945
We’ve worked for companies with strong corporate values, at Info-Tech, I was part of the group that came up with the company’s core values, and I helped to create the values posters that were found around the office. With that in mind, I’ve thought a lot about what the company we’re building will look like, and I’ve talked with Craig about how those values should shape us as an organization.
The NorthIQ Values – April 2018 edition
Values change, just like companies change. As we grow, we will improve, refine, and maybe even abandon some of these concepts, but as of today, April 25th 2018, these are the things that shape our decisions.
1: Build an amazing Business
We want to work with amazing people, and work for incredible clients. NorthIQ will always be small, fast, and agile.
2: Quality over Quantity
We don’t need a ton of clients, we don’t need huge clients, we need clients who want to grow with us, and who challenge us to do our best work.
3: Provide Ludicrous Value
We will only work with companies if we can meaningfully change their business.
4: Teach what we know
The best magicians are the ones who show you their entire trick and how it works.
5: Leave our mark on the world
Leave the world a better place than we found it, create a lasting company that gives back to London, and to the world.
6. Have Fun
Enjoy the journey. Work hard. Celebrate small victories. Take frequent breaks. Stop to smell the roses.
What does the company you want to build look like? Have you articulated your values to others?
I never thought I’d be a unicorn hunter, but it turns out it’s something I’m pretty good at.
In my previous job I was in charge of building an entire design team. I started with one designer, proved how valuable a good designer could be to the organization, and proceeded to hire another…then another…then another…then another…then another.
By the time I left that company, I had built an incredible team of ten designers. (more…)
Last week Craig and I got together to figure out where we want to take NorthIQ in 2018 and beyond. We sat down and wrote out our “starts, stops, and continues”, and then used those as a framework for what we were going to work on this year.
This is a great exercise that came out of years of “Agile Project Management”, and something that we should do more often than just annually. We came up with more than a dozen things, and had a lot of overlap between the two of us.
Some of the ideas go against the type of people that we are, Craig both bristle at needless process and don’t like doing things like “time tracking”, but we both came to the realization that we need to embrace process and track time in order to continue growing our business.
One of the things we both agree on is transparency. We think that our business journey is not unique, but that it can serve as an inspiration for others. What we do, the lessons we’ve learned, and the things that we continue to learn, seem to be universal. To that end, we’re sharing our “Start, Stops, and Continues” with you here.
Start putting process around stuff and productize it.
We have some amazing things that we do, but we don’t have a great process around each one of them, so every time we do something we basically start it from scratch. By productizing more of our offerings, we’ll be able to consistently, and quickly iterate on them and do them for more people.
We also need to formalize what these things are, and create some demo examples of them so we can show off the cool stuff we do.
Start tracking all time / Communicating better.
We don’t have a great idea of where all of our time is going, and while we are pretty good about tracking our client time, there is a lot of “admin” time that we’re not tracking. Tracking all of our time, even if just for a few months, will give us a better guideline for what we are doing.
We love Basecamp, and we need to use it even more for better internal communication by tracking all of the work we are doing inside of Basecamp.
Start Structured Prospecting Activities
The best thing we do for our clients is find them new leads. So far all of our leads have found us, and we’ve done very little outreach. As we grow in 2018, we need to start reaching out to people and getting them to know who we are, and what we do.
Start Building a Plan for our next SaaS
Manage Comics is a success now and has some momentum. We’ve got the plans for a new SaaS, but we need to build a marketing and operations plan to make it a success.
You know who’s awesome? We are, but we don’t tell enough people about it. That needs to change. We have had incredible results for our clients, including one client who saw 400% growth in their leads since we started working with them. Let’s brag about that!
We turned a lot of our “Stops” into “Starts”, because often a stop is just a poorly worded start.
Stop doing low value, high effort work
There are a few things we’ve done just to pay the bills, but they are things that are not part of our core competencies. When we do these things, we’re never fully happy with the results, and they take much more effort than they’re worth.
Stop ignoring our gut instincts
The only times we have been burned have been times that we’ve ignored our gut instincts on things. We need to recognize this, and stick to our guns. Sometimes short term money is not worth the long term implications.
Continue content marketing / Continue Blog Posts
I think this is one of the best things we did last year, for 2018, we need to focus on this and turn it into an even bigger draw.
Some things we want to build for 2018:
- Content Calendar
- A conversion path to generate leads
- The NorthIQ 3 I system on the site
- Write more about how to improve your company’s marketing maturity
Continue Manage Comics
One of our biggest successes in 2017, and in 2018 we need to put more focus on it, and build out our 2018 Road Map.
Continue Service Focus
We’ve made it so far by providing ridiculous value, and one of the dangers as we get bigger is that we’ll be unable to provide as much value. We need to keep this as the core value for everything we do. Provide ridiculous value (maybe even plaid levels of value).
What are your starts, stops and continues?
We’d love to learn more about what other companies are doing to start, stop, and continue in their business. Let us know what you are going to be focusing on this year!
It’s the beginning of a new year, and its a great time to take stock of where we are, what we’re doing, and to celebrate some milestones for NorthIQ Inc.
2017 was a great year for us, and as we left year one of the business behind and entered into our second year, we achieved some major milestones.
- In May 2017, Craig Oliphant joined as a partner
- NorthIQ moved from a sole proprietorship to a corporation in August 2017
- We worked with nine new clients.
- We built and launched nine websites.
- We built logos for both Nate Robinson Wood Design and a refresh for Manage Comics.
- We saw a 47% increase in revenue in 2016 vs 2017 (and that number is going up as we are able to take on more work)
- We made some significant updates to Manage Comics and have it at a point where it fully marketable.
- We have a plan for a Real Estate CRM product that we think will make a huge difference for home builders out there
- We ended the year with strategic partnerships with Code Elves and End Grain Industries, meaning we get to work with more people we really like, doing things we really enjoy.
- We figured out both what this business does, and what our Unique Value Proposition is.
- We finally built a website for ourselves that is decent.
- We posted 48 blog posts to NorthIQ, and an additional 20 blog posts to the Manage Comics blog.
2017 was a good year, and we have even bigger plans for 2018!
Up next – our bigger plans for 2018!
We had an amazing year, we learned a ton of new things, made new friends, went to new places and doubled our company’s size in 2017. We’re really excited about what 2018 holds in store for us, and are looking forward to the new year.
For now though Craig and I are going to take some time off to recharge the batteries, be with friends and family, and come back ready for more.
The NorthIQ offices will be closed from December 23rd through January 2nd, but we’ll be back at it on January 3rd and our site will have a 2017 recap on it to start the new year off right.
From Craig and Brian at NorthIQ, have a safe and merry Christmas, and a happy new year!