This month for our business spotlight we’re featuring a design and products company, Built. Built has two offices located in Oregon and Louisville, KY. Some of their products include websites for Nike, baseball caps, and iPad app design. We got in touch with Brian Brooks, one of Built’s cofounders, and asked him some questions about running a small freelance business. Here’s what he had to say:
What is the name of your company and what do you do?
BUILT – we’re a digital creative and product company. We work with companies to build their brands, digital products and content.
Why did you decide to start your own company? What do you enjoy most?
When you’re working for other people, you always think – ‘If this was my company, I’d do it this way” or “When I have my own company I’m going to do __ fill in the blank___ “. So at the beginning of this year, after spending 15 years in the industry – the timing just seemed right to take the plunge and test all those ‘if this was my company’ theories.
I’ve always been passionate about design and loved working with people. I wanted to create something that I had ownership in vs. putting in time and effort to build something for someone else. I thought, “what’s the worst that can happen?” If I fail, I’d just end up right back where I was…. working for someone else (which isn’t that bad). So I felt I owed it to myself and my family to give it a try. 6 months later, so far so good. At the end of the day it’s a lot of hard work, but it gives me flexibility to do stuff I couldn’t of done at a full time job. I’m constantly learning new things and meeting new people.
As a small business owner what have been a few of your biggest challenges. How did you overcome them?
Time management. Especially when it comes to balancing work and family life. (I have a wife and 3 kids) It’s hard not to take on every project – but you need to be smart about what you do and don’t take on or you’ll over extended yourself. (which is not good for you or family life). And it’s also hard being the wearer of all the hats – a designer , a project manager, a new business proposal writer and CFO. Luckily I have a great business partner that can back me up and relieve some of the load. Recently we hired a producer which has been a ton of help!
What advice do you have for other freelancers or small business owners?
I’m not sure if I can really give advice. I’m still learning how to do this myself. I guess, if anything – the primary focus should always be on the work. If you do good work and meet deadliness – you’ll have more business than you can handle. The other stuff you can pick up over time.
To get in touch with Brian you can visit the Built website or Built profile on LinkedIn. Tune in next time as we continue to feature other small businesses and glean from the advice and experience of others.