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Customers before culture

In business, success hinges on the ability to adapt, innovate, and meet the ever-evolving needs of the market. Many agencies place a heavy emphasis on building a unique and thriving company culture first, but that's come secondary to us building Skysoclear.

That doesn't sound right, so please let me explain.

We started Skysoclear nearly a year ago, taking all of my experience gained from working with incredible clients and at some superb agencies over the past 10+ year. We started out working on business process software and then moved into digital product strategy and design. Throughout all of that, we worked with some incredible freelancers, treated them fairly, paid them on time and delivered some incredible work.

While culture is undoubtedly important, it is essential to recognise that in a service-based business like ours, the true foundation of success lies in understanding the customer and finding the right product-market fit. After all, what's the point of having a great culture if you have no customers to serve?

The Core of a Service-Based Business

If you're new here, digital product design agencies exist to provide specialised services to clients looking to create or enhance their digital products. These services often include user research, user experience (UX) design, interface design, and product development.

Unlike product-based businesses, where you can design, manufacture, and market your products independently, service-based businesses depend entirely on their clients and their specific needs.

Here's some key reasons why I think prioritising customer understanding and product-market fit makes sense:

1. Customer-Centricity Drives Business Growth

Understanding customers on a deep level is crucial for tailoring services to meet their needs effectively. It's the only way this works! In digital product design, user-centric design is paramount. When you prioritise understanding the clients' target audience and their pain points, you can create solutions that resonate and address those issues. This customer-centric approach leads to satisfied clients, repeat business, and referrals.

2. Product-Market Fit Ensures Relevance

Building a unique culture is valuable, but it doesn't guarantee success if your agency's services don't align with market demands. The concept of product-market fit involves finding that sweet spot where your expertise matches the needs of your target clients (and our target has changed over time!). By focusing on this fit, we ensure that our services remain relevant and in demand, which is essential for business sustainability.

3. Culture Can Evolve Over Time

Culture is undoubtedly important for fostering a positive and productive work environment. However, it's important to recognise that culture can evolve and be nurtured as an agency grows and matures. By prioritising customer understanding and product-market fit initially, you can build a culture that aligns more closely with the evolving needs of your clients and your team.

4. Financial Sustainability

Ultimately, a digital product design agency must be financially sustainable to thrive. Sure, we could've taken out a loan and taken more time before turning a profit, but we didn't. I didn't want to. By providing services that genuinely address client needs, we can start to command higher rates, reduce churn, and maintain a steady stream of projects.

To summarise, a strong customer focus ensures that our services are in demand and most importantly relevant. While culture remains important, it can be nurtured and adapted over time to align with the evolving needs of our clients. By striking the right balance, we can thrive in a competitive landscape and provide exceptional value to our clients.