For this customer spotlight we focus on web designer Dennis Field, co-founder and designer at Greenline Creative.
Provide us with a little background: How long have you been self-employed? What type of work do you do? How did you get started?
I've been creating brands and websites for clients with my wife at Greenline Creative since 2008. I really got started with Greenline because I wanted to push myself further than just being a designer. I wanted to wear many hats and ultimately really get the first hand experience of running a company and working with clients directly vs. the experience of just sitting inside an agency working on one piece of the big picture. I took a leap for about a 5K project and no sign of any work in the pipe. I figured, if I can make this work, I'm off to the races. Although we've gone through many iterations of Greenline, it's crazy to think it's been this long already.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you first went out on your own?
I think the biggest advice I would give myself is to know what you're trying to build. Is it to remain a freelancer for yourself or for companies, build a lifestyle business, or build a large studio that hires other designers. Knowing this will then help you decide on what projects you want to set yourself up to take and what income streams you may need. I didn't do too much of that. I think by nature everyone starts off in survival mode, when really they don't have to. They just need to know what they want to build, put the pieces in place, have a vision of success, and work towards it.
How have relationships with others had an impact on your success? Did you get to where you are by yourself or did others play a role? How so?
Nobody gets anywhere by themselves. I've tried to learn from everyone: clients, coaches, friends, family. There's so many complexities that everyone you encounter contributes in some form. As a rule I try to surround myself with people that I know I can trust, are like-minded and maybe just a few steps ahead of me. The energy is contagious, motivating and their words are always spot on. If I have to name just one that has contributed to my success, I'd say Julie (my wife and partner at Greenline). She's been in this with me from the very beginning and she's taught me a good deal about what's important and what's not. She reminds me it's all about perspective and that's how I've been able to ride this crazy roller coaster for so long.
Where would you like to be one year from now in regards to your business?
Honestly, it's taken some time, but we've really hit the sweet spot. We've gone through a number of different business models and incarnations of Greenline, from the small freelancer to the office downtown to where we are now, where we keep the focus on the work and on value and building real relationships with our clients. We don't focus on having a huge client base anymore. We now focus on building meaningful relationships with clients we know we can produce the best work with every time we create something together. Even if that means we have to say no 90% of the time someone wants to work with us. It's about quality not quantity these days and in a year from now, I hope we're doing the same thing because it feels right.
How does goal-setting factor into the way you run your business?
Early on we didn't pay much attention to goals. We/I was in survival mode. Trying to produce one great project at a time so I could get another referal. Nowadays we do have goals. It works best for us to look at long term goals first and work back monhtly from there. So financially, it's how do we meet this goal for this year? How much of X needs to be done to make that happen? How much should that be monthly if it goes as planned. This income could be client work, my 1:1 consulting calls through Clarity, book sales, etc. All of this plays a role in reaching the yearly goal so we track it all. Which is why I like Harpoon because I can see that data really quickly and project where we will be if X projects are won vs. not or where we'll be the busiest and not the busiest.
Dennis Field is a designer and the co-founder of Greenline Creative. He enjoys helping other designers and clients reach their goals. Visit his website to learn about his book, The Designers Handbook.