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A State of the Union: 2018

2018 State of the Union Header

Politics aside, we’ve found that a state of the union, or a review of the previous year plus a look at what lies ahead for the coming one, is a great exercise. Taking the time to examine the things that worked, as well as the ones that didn’t, promotes and aids in the overall health of a company and can be a great resource for any entrepreneur trying to mark progress over a period of specific time.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve spent quite a bit of time in the studio discussing 2017 and what we really want to accomplish over the next twelve months. The resulting list is, of course, long but that’s to be expected from a growing company. Some of the items on our hit list are obviously more important than others, which can be frustrating when everything on the list is something you really want to tackle. Yet, that’s part of running a studio (or a business for that matter)—there’s always a list as long as your arm, but never quite enough time to hit everything you want to. With that said, here’s a short list of the items that top our list for 2018:

Our Focus for the Year

To Speed Up Time

One of the things that we feel consistently plagues us is how we use passing time and how that translates to scheduling projects. With a lot of work rolling through the door, and only a few of us in the studio to handle it all, there can be problems at times getting all the work done in as timely a fashion as we might like. This all culminates in a few too many tight timelines, which we hate. So, our goal this year is to completely fine tune our studio processes to get better managing those project timelines.

The organization of work flows, processes, and systems are at the heart of design studio ownership. It’s a challenge that every studio and their teams must undertake. Over time, as those processes are refined and perfected, the team becomes stronger at managing their time and their projects. Growth takes time. The important thing we realize is you have to keep hammering at it.

To Get Vocal

We understand the need to be vocal in this ever changing profession. The need for strong, knowledgeable, and outspoken voices is at the core of what it means to be a designer or developer today. There are some great people out there consistently adding to the conversation on a regular basis. Sadly, though, there are not enough taking on that mantle, which leads to my very real fear that we’re missing out on some amazing experiences that could go a long way toward advancing the field. Being the completest that I am, I struggle with this. Of course, writing is not for everyone. I accept that too.

When I started Shop, I knew I wanted content to be a cornerstone of our practice. I believe exploration and design thinking should be an important component of the studio environment. And as we’ve grown, self expression remains an important goal aligned closely to our core values (yes, we have some of those too). Sadly, however, if you own your own studio or freelance practice then you know, as we do, that many times we are our own worst clients. Yes, often, what we hold up as the important work we need to integrate into our practice end up being the hardest things to actually get to.

We’ve never been short on writing opportunities for external publications. We’ve consistently provided editorial content for several design publications over the past few years and already have several pieces slated for this coming year. When it comes to our internal writing endeavors, however, those seem to dwell somewhere towards the bottom of the pile. That, however, will be coming to an end in 2018. We’re looking forward to exploring several editorial directions on our own personal blogs, as well as the studio .

To Gather Community

Supporting the design community is also a large part of what we do. Our work with The Portland Egotist and AIGA is about building communities through sharing content designed to highlight the amazing design community here in the northwest. 2018 will see us move further in this direction as we work on two additional community platforms built to explore design, its thinking, and practice with some amazing folks. I can’t get too much into these endeavors at this time, but more will be coming shortly about each of those.

To Be Growth

This goal is more of continuing on the same path we have been more than anything else. We’ve been fortunate to have consistent work with some great clients over the past few years. Even though we have been moving in a positive direction, we’ve also butted up against a bit of a glass ceiling from time to time. This year we’ll be taking turns swinging at that ceiling to see if we can break through it and prepare ourselves for the next evolutionary stage of our small little endeavor. Here’s to glass shards raining down on our heads.

To Inherit Value

We’ve really worked hard at trying to provide value in everything we do. We understand that we represent a service that comes with a lot of gray, shadowy areas that sometimes are not as clear to clients as they could be. That is why we pour our time and efforts into trying to demystify complexities and being as transparent as we can when we’re working with our clients. We are like any other design studio in the sense that we realize that we cannot make everybody happy all of the time, and we’ve had our share of client experiences that could have gone better, but we’ve made it a point to really (and we mean really) learn from our experiences (positive and negative). Our goal is to partner with our clients—providing them with the same services we do for ourselves. We will continue to refine the ways we provide value to our current and future clients as we continue to grow our little workshop into something bigger.

So there you have it. A list containing a few of the things that are topping our list for 2018. We’ve had some great times over the past couple years and are invested in seeing that continue long into the future.

Note: We’d like to offer a special thanks to designer, Paul Jarvis, for inspiring us with his weekly dispatches and giving us a model to follow for writing this piece.

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by Erin Lynch // Business, Entrepreneur, Thoughts

About shop

We are shop, a web design and graphic design studio based in Vancouver, WA. We’re a small group of designers, developers, writers, and makers who have banded together with the goal of creating beautiful design.