Damon Kelly, founder of Enlighten Designs, says a vision for the future can help a business get through tough times when the unexpected happens.
Stuff asks businesspeople what they have learned from their years in business, and what they would do differently.
Damon Kelly is the founder of Enlighten Designs, the Hamilton-based design and software development company. Kelly started the business as a side project in a caravan in his parents’ backyard while a university student. More than two decades later he shares what he has learned along the way.
What was the initial idea for your business?
I had just completed a double major at Waikato University in psychology and cognitive science. I was playing a lot of computer games online with friends, and there was this community website for fans of the game.
I approached the owner of the website and told them, “hey your website is not very good, if you give me free hosting rights I will re-do your website”. And they agreed. So I re-did their website, and they liked what I did. So I thought, huh, maybe I will give this website development thing a go before uni starts. And that was 22 years ago, the rest of the business just developed naturally.
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How did you find the transition from psychology student to web designer?
It was one of those scenarios when I was doing what I loved. It also helped that web design was something I felt I could make a difference in. When you get that intersection of passion, and drive, and suddenly people start paying you for it, it tends to be a pretty good intersection.
What were the early challenges for your business?
We ended up very much being at the right place at the right time. When we started web design was really new, and we really got to ride the wave as it became mainstream. One of the first challenges was how to manage growth. We were basically increasing profit by 40 per cent year-on-year, so scaling the business at that rate definitely had its challenges.
But another thing that happened was we moved into a new building early on. Then one day the roof leaked, and it completely destroyed almost all of our computers. It was a completely unforeseen event that really took us by surprise. It was almost like a disaster recovery situation.
One of the things that it really taught us was that it is always good to have a plan. You need to make sure your business is resilient enough to handle what ever comes your way.
When we first began we thought nothing would ever go wrong. But things do go wrong, so you always want a bit of a plan around that.
Values and vision are two things that are important to you, can you tell me how that fits in with the story of your business?
The thing about having a vision is that you are really clear with where you want to go. As long as you are clear with that you can bring people on the journey with you. Wherever you aim to shoot you can get there or get close to it, so you want to make your vision kind of aspirational.
One of the fundamentals that is important for businesses is to find a good niche. When someone goes to hire a company or a business to do something, they really want whoever can be the best at doing what they do. So often what businesses need to do is choose a niche that they really can be the best at, and be clear of what that thing is. It is very hard to be the best at something unless you are very clear what that thing is.
Values can serve you in two ways. Firstly they will attract like-minded people. I really like our culture and that is because I kind of knew the kind of people I wanted to hang out with. So finding people who had certain values that matched our business really helped.
Values allow you to get the right people, who can help achieve your vision. You always want to be going somewhere and vision allows you to see where that place is.
This article first show on www.stuff.co.nz Source link Author DANIEL SMITH on date 2021-10-14 19:14:14