• Andrew McWattersAndrew McWatters, 8 years ago (edited 8 years ago )

    Hi Andrew, Andrew here.

    What major event for you defined the moment you solidified your transition from designer to designer and entrepreneur?

    Many of us here on DN are unicorns, proficient in development and design, but not many people talk about pegasi: individuals who can operate on low level details like design work and much higher level constructs like managing businesses and organizations.

    And do you have any advice to people who want to become winged unicorns and do it all?

    12 points
    • Andrew WilkinsonAndrew Wilkinson, 8 years ago (edited 8 years ago )

      It was a really slow transition, that went something like this:

      Phase 1: I did all the design, front-end development, and client management.

      Phase 2: I did all the design and client stuff, but I started handing off front-end development to contractors.

      Phase 3: Still did all the client stuff, but I focused on just doing the high level design, then worked with other designers and developers to finish the work.

      Phase 4: Fully handed off all the client relations to someone else. I still creative directed and did meetings with clients, but I was much more hands off in terms of the actual pixel level design work.

      Phase 5 (Today): I found an amazing CEO to actually run MetaLab day-to-day. I focus on high level strategy and chime in on design projects on a high level. I loved running the company, but I was trying to run multiple companies at once and it ultimately just broke down. I find that I'm still able to have a major impact on a lot of the work that goes out, while leaving the day-to-day running of the company to someone else. Loving it so far.

      In terms of my advice, my friend Jason Fried from Basecamp wrote a great piece about giving advice. My perception of how I got here is probably totally inaccurate, and my advice probably doesn't apply to today's world.

      That said: entrepreneurship is really just delegation. I just kept progressively delegating more, and more, which allowed me to grow my company, then eventually multiple companies. It took 9.5 years, so it's just a slow and steady process of delegating little bits here and there. One day, I woke up and I was like "holy crap I have 120 employees and four companies". Wat.

      If you ultimately want to do design work every day, and stay heavily involved in the day-to-day pixels, then scaling will be challenging and you will probably want to stay smaller. If you relish the idea of focusing exclusively on the high level, then hop on the delegation train :-)

      16 points
      • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, 8 years ago (edited 8 years ago )

        "...entrepreneurship is really just delegation."


        4 points
      • Andrew McWattersAndrew McWatters, 8 years ago

        Thanks for taking the time to respond, Andrew. That's a lot of great insight!

        I like the idea of hovering around what were your third and fourth phases. I wonder if it's possible to just own one business and stay comfortably at that point?

        1 point
        • Andrew WilkinsonAndrew Wilkinson, 8 years ago

          Oh for sure. My life would be infinitely easier if I'd just stuck to one company, but I have too many ideas and I love starting new stuff.

          2 points