The Question: You are a small firm, so how does Calhoun get the work done?

The Question: You are a small firm, so how does Calhoun get the work done?

When asked this question, and it happens more often than expected, I am always a bit surprised. My instinct is to simply say we put the best team together and we just do it. Essentially saying “trust me.” This is an answer that is neither satisfying nor enlightening for the person doing the asking. The project is important, it is likely that there is little extra time or money for missteps, and quite possibly someone up the food chain from the prospective client is relying on them to solve the problem.

It is time for a more thoughtful answer.

Good question. For starters, asking how a small firm can handle a large project is a good question. It is often the perception (correct or incorrect) that unlike a small shop, a large firm offers deep resources that can be tapped to get the work done without concern.

An accurate road map. The answer given by a small organization to this question reveals depth of experience, shows awareness of possible project complexities, and provides a glimpse into the firm’s work style. Successful small firms are required to plan their projects well. Excellent planning and attention to the project process is part of the pleasure of working with a smart, small firm.

Elasticity. Calhoun is indisputably small. We think of ourselves as elastic. We have embraced the business model of keeping our overhead low and when needed, engaging others in our work, bringing the best possible resources to our clients’ projects. And very importantly, we are not obliged for profitability reasons to assign an employee to a project who has a skill set that only somewhat answers the need.

Access to the best. We have the opportunity to work with individuals that have the experience, knowledge, and work style that aligns well with the situation. Our relationships in the creative world are solid, we know and work with some of the very best, and our clients tend to fall in love with these individuals. Once our clients have experienced the quality of our teams there is no question about the viability of this business model.

No disappearing act. One concern prospective clients express is whether projects will be lead by individuals other than those they are meeting during the hiring process. Clients expect to benefit from the experience and expertise they are being introduced to. They prefer those individuals to be very present during the project and be the daily driving force behind the work. As principals of Calhoun, we realize this. Hence, we do not step away or guide from a distance. We bring to the job our individual areas of expertise — branding, design, development, project management, and project strategy. We are in the thick of it.

Skin in the game. The biggest driver behind delivering excellent work may be the fact that as firm cofounders we have significant skin in the game. There is no large company cushion insulating us from the affects of mediocre work. This is our gig, and our reputations and success are on the line. This is a motivator of significant magnitude.

To sum it up, as cofounders of a small firm we approach each project with a knowledgeable plan, tap into a network of expertise when needed, are personally embedded into each project, and know that our firm’s success and reputation is dependent upon our commitment to excellence for each and every project.

That is how we get the work done.



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