On September 8th, Full Steam turned two and I forgot to celebrate.
Businesses can be like kids in that they grow up too fast and it's easy to forget how far they've come. With so much to do, fires to put out, and goals to accomplish, it's we can miss the big picture because our head is down.
My head was down and I missed it.
Full Steam makes a "big ask" from the small businesses it helps - a twelve-month contract that is inexpensive for what it offers but more expensive than some would consider spending on marketing. Month-to-month contracts would have been an easier sell because there's less commitment involved - either of us can just wait a month and then bail. At the beginning, starting from zero, there was a a strong temptation to make Full Steam a traditional freelance model, chasing new clients month-to-month hoping that someone, anyone, would hire me.
But I'm not looking for "anyone" to hire me and I don't like chasing new clients.
What I want is to become a part of the life a business, nonprofit, or city.
If they're not already thinking that building a brand, strengthening a reputation, telling their stories and creating authentic connections is part of a long-term plan for success, my sales pitch isn't going to convince them. I want to connect with the people who are already thinking the way I think because that's where a magical partnership happens.
This is a risky way of thinking. Most new clients don't know me personally before we meet, and walking into a room expecting that another small business with the same worries and fears I have, that a nonprofit who is trying to squeeze pennies from every pocket, that a city government who literally has tens of thousands of people tugging at them for cash, will be willing to say, "We're in this thing together for the next twelve months" might be expecting too much.
I'm proud to say in these two years, I have never had a client NOT renew for a second year. 100% of expiring twelve month contracts have been renewed for another twelve months.
While that says something about the work Full Steam does, I think it says more about the kind of clients I've been blessed with. Clients who are about more than just selling, who want to legitimately connect with the people they serve, and who want to see their big, profound ideas turn into real-world accomplishments.
Thanks for the love and support, everyone.