This month marks 16 years in business for Design Extensions. Sixteen years ago, I was 17 years old, working from my parents house as a student at Nease High School. For me, there was always something special about starting my own thing. The entrepreneurial infection has always run rampant through my blood. Of all the design work over the years, I wish I still had the first flyer I ever created for “Jay’s Action Yard Service” — that thing was on point!
Many things have changed over the years. In the beginning, myself and a friend from high school just did very basic websites. We were learning on the fly. We’d do projects for free just to get the experience, and we’d learn, a little by little. The work we did 16 years ago wouldn’t even make the first cut compared to what we do today, but it was the foundation.
What we do now ranges from advanced branding projects to database development and online marketing. It’s pretty neat to see how it’s expanded and grown over the years.
We’ve rarely grown quickly. It’s a little each year, 10% here, 30% there. Day by day, year by year, we grow. We still screw stuff up — every day — but we learn, sometimes slowly, but we learn.
Of all the things I’ve learned about business, the key principle that has guided us most directly has been something my Uncle shared with me years ago. If you REALLY want to help people and care about people, you’ll make the sale. You can’t want to JUST sell them, you need to really want to help them. This goes for clients and team members. The productivity of a person matters, but they matter as a person too.
I’ve learned that stepping back from the frustrating or even infuriating moments with clients or team members can change everything. Never make important decisions when you’re emotionally enraged, sometimes deciding not to make a decision yet is decision enough.
After 16 years in business, this has been my guiding principle — care for others. My wife first, then our children, then our team and their families, then our clients. It seems simple, but it’s often still difficult. I’m grateful for those who have given me a chance over the years — a chance to keep working hard, a chance to start over, a chance to live a dream. I believe in that.
Our company has grown year over year (top and bottom line) because other people have trusted us with their businesses, with their brands, and with their livelihoods. We take that very seriously, and we’ll continue to work hard for years to come to get better, learn more, and provide the best possible service we know how.
If you’ve been a part of this journey, and many of you have, thank you! Most of all, to Claire, my wife, without you, none of us would be here today. Because when I was ready to give up on my dream, you told me to keep dreaming. For that, and a million other reasons, I love you like no other.