Jon-Mikel Bailey is one of four partners in a web and mobile design and development firm in Frederick, MD named Wood Street. They help small to medium size businesses and large non-profits and associations with their online communications and marketing efforts using the web, mobile, SEO, Social Media and other marketing technologies and disciplines. Established in 2002, Wood Street employees six people full-time and a number of trusted and established partners and subcontractors.
Here’s some thoughts on entrepreneurship from Jon-Mikel.
A few lines on why you started this company/venture – your inspiration or passion?
Jon-Mikel: We started Wood Street after we realized that we had a vision that went beyond the dot com culture that just fell flat. We wanted to take web design and development out of the “shiny new object” category and use it for what we believed it was made for, strategic marketing and communications efforts. We pulled from our years of experience is this industry to put together a company offering real solutions for real problems.
What’s been your greatest struggle?
Jon-Mikel: Battling misinformation. With the web there are a lot of tools out there enabling the do it yourselfers to build sites for themselves. This is great. Unfortunately it has also created a bunch of “web design firms and professionals” that use the tools but don’t really know much more than that. They read articles on SEO and they are a search expert. They have a Twitter account and they are a Social Media Guru. Then when they fail to meet and exceed the client’s expectations it gives our industry a bad name. The burden of proof is often on our shoulders as these potential clients come to us with a bad taste in their mouth. But overall, I think this has made us better at what we do because we need to try that much harder, learn that much more and deliver even better results than the time before.
What was your greatest triumph or achievement to date?
Jon-Mikel: We have had one ongoing achievement that we are continually very proud of. Our firm has been profitable from day one. We do this with the majority of our business coming from client referrals, word of mouth and online leads. This means we practice what we preach AND we deliver steadily for our clients. This, to me, is the essence of what it means to be a successful and ethical business. We are very proud of this.
Did you have a mentor or another company/brand that inspired you?
Jon-Mikel: For us, I would say that we really look to each other for daily inspiration as the 4 partners here each bring a unique talent to the team. But, for us there are also lots of sources of inspiration in our industry. We read blogs like MediaPost, Google WebMaster, ActiveTuts +, Search Engine Journal, SEOMoz and more. For me personally, I am a big fan of Greg Cangialosi and Blue Sky Factory. Greg is an inspirational business leader in the Baltimore area and his company has always been doing things that I admire.
If you could offer one piece of advice to other budding entrepreneurs…
Jon-Mikel: Don’t quit your day job! Just kidding. No, I would suggest you do your homework and make sure that there is a need for what you plan to offer. I would assemble a team of advisors and pitch your idea to them and listen to their feedback. I would also make sure you have the money and time to do this. We worked constantly and paid ourselves very little in the beginning. Sure, you have some freedoms that you would not normally have but like my Dad says, “being self-employed is great. You can work any 80 hours of the week you like.”
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