If I knew then what I know now is a series of bylines from small agency executives about the lessons they learned in building their shops.
I have high standards. So does my partner. This has served us well over the last 15 years of running our own agency and another 10 years as employees at other companies. We live by the credo "Never Settle." We push until we either run out of time or money.
This isn't a particularly unique belief system within the creative industry. We all grew up with the understanding that creating great work would lead to bigger and better things. A promotion. Bigger budgets. Sexier clients and opportunities. Generally speaking, I still believe this is true. But what I have come to learn more recently is this approach to the products and services you provide needs to be de-coupled from your approach to running the business itself.
A company and the culture nurtured within is a living, breathing organism. It can never be perfect because it is always changing. I used to think of our business as a giant puzzle, and my most important function within the company was to solve it. At the best of times I thought if I could just find those few remaining pieces -- human resources, typically -- I'd crack the code and we'd finally be as wildly successful as we hoped. The problem was that as soon as I found those missing pieces (no easy task when you have perfectionist tendencies) a few other pieces that were once in place had now mysteriously gone missing.