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Entrepreneurs and Bureaucrats, Dogs and Cats
Want to hear from an Inner City 100 winner whose company has grown exponentially in spite of the difficult economy? This CEO appeared on the Inner City 100 list for the first time last year and has continued to scale his operation and guide his organization to maturity. Orbit Media Studios is a digital marketing agency in Chicago. The company is led by Principal and Strategic Director Andy Crestodina. Andy started the company with a high school friend, a combination of their 401Ks and some credit cards. Orbit is located in a very diverse neighborhood with populations hailing from Romania, Germany and Latin America. Crestodina and the rest of the “Orbiteers” are also involved in doing online overhauls pro-bono for local non-profit organizations.
Guest Blogger: Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media Studios
Businesses are started with an exhilarating rush. Everything is new. Don’t know how to do something? Improvise! It’s a great feeling.
As things get off the ground, you start making those first big improvements, setting the foundation, and establishing the main processes. You feel like you’re building, and it feels good.
Gradually, the main pieces are in place, but there are still wrinkles to iron out. You start to “optimize” those processes. You feel like you’re getting smarter, and it feels good.
Eventually, you become the best-in-class in your category. Your business is now the best at what it does, but you do it by using tools and rules, best-practices and quality controls. Because of this, you might feel stuck and that isn’t good.
It’s the natural evolution of business. It’s called “maturing,” and its a good thing. However, it’s also the transition from entrepreneurial to bureaucratic. And if you’re the type of entrepreneur who thrives on chaos and the thrill of starting new things, you might get bored.
So how do you keep that initial exhilaration alive even after your enterprise is so optimized it feels bureaucratic? Be creative.
Here’s an example someone shared with me the other day:
It's a fairly short story -- it was told to me by my roommate -- years ago. This roommate -- a very nice fellow -- had gone to university at Cambridge some years earlier. He told me that, at the dormitory of the college he attended, there was a long-standing rule, which stated that "No dogs were allowed in the dormitory as pets."
However, a certain headmaster was appointed who happened to have a pet dog, of which he was very fond. The headmaster was informed of the long-standing rule about dogs in the dormitory. He requested permission to keep his pet.
A committee of some sort at the ancient college met in order to discuss this matter. In the end, they decided to keep the long-standing rule, but pass another one, which stated that this particular headmaster's dog was a cat.
Simple, eh? If you find it’s easier to make a new rule than get rid of an old one, do it.
Victory through absurdity.
Thanks to John O’Neil, who told me this story while we were pruning trees in Edgewater.
BY Guest Blogger on April 13th, 2012
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