Building a Design Partnership with Colin Grist

LIVE on THURSDAY, Nov 2, 2023 at 11:30am PT / 2:30pm ET / 6:30pm GMT / 8:30am in Hawaii

This week I will talk to Colin Grist about his design journey from working a corporate design job to picking a partner to go out on their own. It takes a lot of courage to leave the safety and security of a job and to go out on your own is hard, but I love the idea of finding someone to do this journey with me.

If you are like me it’s also super scary to think about finding someone who will take it seriously and where our strengths are not the same. I can’t wait to ask him about this journey and about his niche of helping charities and why they focus on that sector.

I can’t wait to introduce you to my friend Colin, on Thursday. We are doing a Thursday show because Colin teaches a dance class on Wednesdays.

I hope you will join me for Episode 452, LIVE on THURSDAY, Nov 2, 2023 at 11:30am PT / 2:30pm ET / 6:30pm GMT / 8:30am in Hawaii

You can be part of the conversation live with us. Simply join the Creatives Ignite Family by giving me your email and get a reminder email 30 min before the show: You can also add it to your calendar so you don’t miss it. (Those links are in the emails). See you there, then you can type in the chat and ask questions live.

Listen here

Questions for Colin

  1. Colin, can you tell everybody a little about your background in design, including where you got your start, where you are in the world, and what you do now? 
  2. When did you know you wanted to go out on your own?
  3. What was it about corporate design or design firms that was unsatisfying to you as an employee?
  4. What makes it better having a partner? Is it your creative process? Sharing the load? Or having more things you are able to offer with two people?
  5. How does the team work? What is your role? What do you do day-to-day? What is Thom’s role? And his day-to-day?
  6. What attracted you to working with people who were helping people? Why those types of businesses? Is that everyone? How do you narrow down and focus on a specific audience? 
  7. What keeps you interested and excited about working with non-profits /charities?
  8. What things do you do outside of work that keep your creative juices flowing?
  9. Is it hard to turn off your business since you work from home? What do you do to make sure you have a healthy work life balance?
  10. What’s next for you?

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[00:00:00] diane: Hey everybody, welcome to another episode of Creatives Ignite and I am excited to have my friend Colin Grist on today. So Colin is a part, he’s of, well he’s a part, he’s a part of something. He’s, uh, has a business and he, it’s Um, him and one other person. And I think for most of the people who are here, we’re, uh, either lonely only is we’re the only person in our marketing department, or we’re part of a small department, or [00:00:30] most of the people are like Paul’s here from Minnesota.

[00:00:33] Um, he is a solopreneur. Uh, just like I am working alone as a designer in my own business and solving clients things. And, uh, when me and you talked, we, we got to know each other a few years ago. And then we had another conversation pretty recently. And I was like, Oh my goodness. I think you have a story all on your own.

[00:00:56] Of course, um, we all do. And, um, but I [00:01:00] do think it’s really interesting to know. I want you to tell us. A little bit about who you are, where you are, what you do, but I want you to take us through your story because there was a point that you decided, Hey, I want to go out on my own, but. You didn’t, or there was a point where you were out on your own and then you said, Hey, I want to bring somebody else on.

[00:01:21] And that’s not something I’ve done, but I think it’s actually really scary to do. So I’m very in awe and I want to [00:01:30] know, I’m going to ask you lots of questions about how you find found the perfect partner and what keeps it a good, healthy partnership and things like that. So thank you. And. I’m excited to have you Colin.

[00:01:44] So tell them where you are because you sound different than us, maybe, than me. 

[00:01:49] Colin Grist: Yeah, I’ve got quite a broad Yorkshire accent. So yeah, so hi everybody, my name’s Cole. Um, I’m based in Bradford, um, which is near Leeds, which is where our office is based and it’s right in the [00:02:00] heart of the UK. Um, so I started, um, a creative studio called Few and Far in 2018, um, after, after freelancing and being on my own for a little while, and I’m sure we’ll, we’ll dig a bit deeper into that.

[00:02:12] Um, but I’m creative director and co founder at Few and Far, um, and our whole client base now is pretty much charities. So anyone in the third sector, any do good causes. And we do a lot of work with them now. So branding websites, uh, graphic design, social media, any of that good stuff. [00:02:30] Um, all of our commercial learnings over the years, we now take that and help charities.

[00:02:34] So 

[00:02:34] diane: in, in the, in the United States, we would call it non profits is, is there anything kind of different between charities and non profits in, in regards to the 

[00:02:44] Colin Grist: UK? Not really. No, it’s, it’s, they, we use both terms quite, um, you know, free flowing really across the board. So then you also 

[00:02:52] diane: said do gooders. So there are some for profits that also do good.

[00:02:57] Is that what you’re talking about do gooders? 

[00:02:59] Colin Grist: Yes. [00:03:00] Yeah, correct. Yeah. So anyone who, you know, for an example could be that there is a business out there making an app that is to help more charities or they creating a platform, we’d be interested in that they’re not fundamentally charity themselves or a nonprofit, but they are in the space of helping others at a larger scale.

[00:03:20] And if we can help them with that. So, you know, we’re not trying to cut ourselves off from working with anyone who’s not a nonprofit, but we, we really want to help. [00:03:30] People who are trying to help more people. Fundamentally, that’s how we work. And I think 

[00:03:33] diane: your tagline is, helping people help people. Helping people who help people, or helping, helping.

[00:03:41] Colin Grist: Yeah, pretty much, pretty much. Tell me, tell me what it is. I’m going to have to Google it myself. So it’s, um, we help charities make our world a better place, is the current new one. Um, but it really does boil down to helping people help people, because [00:04:00] Um, I, I don’t have the power, unfortunately, to change the world at the global level, but if we can help individuals to live a better life, and to be in positions where they can make more of a difference, it feels like a butterfly effect.

[00:04:13] So we try and help people who can help more people, who can help a community or a charity level, help, you know, change the world. That’s, it’s quite, it’s quite big scale, but we try and work small to make more of an impact. 

[00:04:29] diane: [00:04:30] So what, and this wasn’t on the sheet member of the safe word is rooster. If you don’t want to answer a question, they all know what the safe word is.

[00:04:37] They’ll just, we’re just going to move on. Nobody’s going to say anything. They’re going to be like, Oh, Diane asked a really uncomfortable question. Right? No worries. No worries. Okay. So in helping charities or nonprofits, what, why, why them? What about them makes your heart happy? 

[00:04:58] Colin Grist: Um, my own experiences of [00:05:00] working on charity clients, if you like, in a, in a previous life, so when I worked for a commercial agency, they had clients who were charities, and I don’t think there’s any There’s anything better than being creative and being able to express yourself.

[00:05:19] But the client themselves is someone who is doing incredible, inspiring work to try and change the world. So, an example for me, years and years [00:05:30] ago, was I worked with WaterAid, who were a really large charity. They were trying to provide water to third world countries. And I got to work with them doing some creative work and…

[00:05:41] It’s that perfect marriage. It’s you’re being creative, you’re being a designer, you’re getting to express yourself, but they’re doing just awe inspiring work, you know? So it started with that. And along the way, I, I kind of lost touch doing that work. I ended up going to a different agency and doing [00:06:00] more, um, cool work, if you like more creative work.

[00:06:04] Um, but the clients themselves were kind of boring, really like commercial clients. Um, not clients I love to work on, but the work was super fun. Um, so when, when starting Few and Far, I wanted to kind of get back to that, to really get back to doing work that mattered. Not only, not, not only on the level of, I want to be able to do cool work and express [00:06:30] myself and have fun every day with my business partner, but actually work that leaves a mark and makes a difference, uh, to the, to an organization or the people that that organization helps.

[00:06:41] So. That was kind of the motivation for it, done it in a previous life wanting to get back to it. 

[00:06:46] diane: Okay, so then tell them, um, you and Tom, uh, went, uh, we were in a program together. It sounds like we were like an AA, but that’s not what it was. It was like a coaching business program together with Matt [00:07:00] Essam and y’all were, y’all were doing it as a unit.

[00:07:04] And, um, and so you and Tom were, and I don’t, I guess that was 2021. 

[00:07:12] Colin Grist: Yeah. 20 20, 20 21 some time. Okay. Something along those lines. Yeah. So, um, do you want me to tell my Yeah. Story a bit about how we got to that and then Yeah. 

[00:07:21] diane: Tell because you met at work at your corporate That’s correct. Yeah. Position. Okay.

[00:07:26] So, but ta take ’em through. Did you study design? 

[00:07:29] Colin Grist: I [00:07:30] didn’t. I’m self-taught. I’m a self-taught designer and developer, so I never, I never went to university. I never went to college. Which, so you saved all that money. I’m kind of proud of ’cause I saved all, all that money, but I obviously missed probably a life experience that a lot of you have.

[00:07:44] Um, 

[00:07:45] diane: you had, you had your own new life ex I think it’s great. I did. 

[00:07:49] Colin Grist: Yeah. So I, I kind of, um, I was completely self-taught. I’d done it since I was 15, 15 years old. I’m 39 now for context. Um, I know I look 29, [00:08:00] but yeah, 39. So I’ve done it since I was 15. I really enjoyed it. Um, I was sort of just helping, you know, freelance very, very cheap, obviously when I was very, very young, um, help pay for my driving lessons, things of that nature to a point where I built up a bit of a portfolio and I managed to get my foot in a door somewhere where I was doing both development and design for commercial clients.

[00:08:24] Um, just very ad hoc doing, I was either doing front end development or I was doing design. And then [00:08:30] I kind of built up more and more experience in the field. And I ended up becoming the lead developer at an agency and I had a team. Um, that was really good, but I felt that I was becoming pigeonholed. I was no longer allowed to be creative.

[00:08:43] I was no longer doing design. I was literally doing code all of the time. Um, and so I left and I actually dropped down the ladder to become, um, a junior designer and then a middleweight designer, and then a senior designer. Um, and in my life as a senior designer is where I met Tom, who is now my business partner.

[00:08:59] So we. [00:09:00] Worked at an extremely large, um, studio. It was a 300 plus strong agency, full service agency, SEO, design, motion, everything that you can imagine. Um, but I was only one of two senior designers in the whole business. Tom was lead, I want to say lead developer or head of development. One of those, one of those snazzy titles.

[00:09:19] Um, and he was in the studio. So the studio itself was about 50 strong, just doing website. Brand, creative, things like that. Um, and I met Tom there and we [00:09:30] just got on really well. Um, he wasn’t my best friend. I’ve got, you know, I, I met lots of people in the industry over the years. Um, got on really well with them.

[00:09:39] Tom was another one of those people. Got on really well with him. We, I found that we collaborated extremely well on projects together. Always fighting the good fight for the studio and for the client work and ensuring that the work that we did was always the best it possibly could be. And so I’d met Tom and in my own personal life, [00:10:00] I was getting to a point where I felt like I’d done quite a lot in the industry.

[00:10:03] I’d worked up, you know, the development ladder and the creative ladder. And I felt a bit, um, stuck where I was. I felt like there was a bit of a glass ceiling and I, I, I’d always wanted to have my own business. I’d always wanted to go freelance and kind of see a bit more of. What other agencies were doing, what other studios were getting up to working on different work.

[00:10:22] So, I decided at one point to just hand my notice in at my job where Tom works and go on [00:10:30] my own. And I went solo for, I think, 18 months. And… So, like, what year was that? That would probably be 2019, I want to say. I think. No. That’s a lie. It was 2017. So, did you start feeling far? Is that a name? No, no, I was just, I was just calling, calling Grist Limited.

[00:10:55] Very boring. That’s my full name. Um, and it was basically in just a [00:11:00] freelance and consultancy, um, you know, role. Um, I got to work in different agencies, working on brand projects, website projects, all that kind of stuff. Um, and the pay was fantastic, it was great, but I did feel after about 12 months of doing that, that I was almost back where I was, I was still doing work that was given to me because somebody else couldn’t do it.

[00:11:24] And it might not be the greatest work, um, I could make the most of it and the money was good, but I wasn’t [00:11:30] feeling fulfilled by the projects and it’s quite difficult as, and I’m, I don’t know if anyone else feels like this on the, on the call, but when you go into a different business and you don’t work there and they probably know that you’re being paid more than they are or that you are a freelancer, you’re kind of a rival, it doesn’t, It didn’t make me feel, um, welcome a lot of the time.

[00:11:56] Um, I, I’m not, it’s not a criticism of [00:12:00] anywhere I worked, but I did feel a little bit like I was my own, and I was a bit isolated, and that even though the people were nice, I never really felt like I fit in. And I’d lost what I actually loved about working in agencies, which is having great friends, working on great projects, and being collaborative about it.

[00:12:17] So… I’d got to this point where I was on my own, the money was really good, but I just had this longing for like, I felt that what I’d wanted [00:12:30] to do when I was 15, 16, which was to sell my own agency became this sort of calling that I needed to do. And the whole reason I reached out to Tom was because I just felt like I couldn’t do it on my own.

[00:12:42] I was doing it on my own anyway, and I was becoming lonely. I was becoming bored, I was becoming isolated, and the work was good, the money was good, but that whole collaborative nature, that having someone to bounce ideas off of was completely lost, which I think you do struggle with when you’re on your own, you’re a [00:13:00] solopreneur.

[00:13:01] It’s really hard sometimes, right, unless you have groups like this or mentors or forums or WhatsApp groups to bounce ideas off of. You can become quite lost and isolated and not really know where you’re at with things. 

[00:13:13] diane: And it’s fun to do stuff with other people or to bounce ideas. It is. It is. It’s just.

[00:13:20] Uh, so I would, I think I would get lonely if I didn’t have interaction with other people. And I mean, I’ve done a lot of interactions online and that, [00:13:30] that satisfies me. Um, but I do think it’s really important to not just be so stuck in your head. So that’s pretty amazing that after a year, a year and a half, 18 months, you made that decision.

[00:13:43] So you reached out to Tom. Was it like, Hey man, do you want to come do this with me? Or are you like, can I just tell you my sob story? Like, what did I do that was 

[00:13:52] Colin Grist: wrong? Yeah. So I, I, I just decided what had happened was while I was freelancing and contracting. [00:14:00] I’d actually had a bit of a project come in that was quite technical and I’d taken probably on too much.

[00:14:05] And I, I, I was actually a bit out of my depth with it on a technical level. And I actually reached out to Tom randomly about that because he, he, he was working full time job, loved it, was quite happy doing that, was never interested in freelancing or, you know, doing anything on the side if you like. But he helped me with it and he did a really, really good job on it.

[00:14:23] And I’d never forgot that. That had been quite a while in the past. And I’d never forgot that bit of work that he’d done. [00:14:30] And so when it came to me deciding, I, I don’t want to be a freelancer anymore. I can’t imagine me being a 65 year old freelance designer. I’m really starting to struggle with this whole vision of what my life looks like.

[00:14:46] I actually think I need to start a business and have people who work for me. Who can take over from me when I’m old and all that kind of stuff. Tom just stood out as someone I thought I could really do this with because we’d, we’d [00:15:00] worked together and it had gone well. Um, I’d read quite a bit of things about never, never go into business with your best friend.

[00:15:07] It’s, it’s, it’s a recipe for disaster. And, and we actually weren’t best friends. We were, we were good friends, but we weren’t best friends. Um, but we quickly became good friends and, and when I’d left, uh, the agency that we worked at, we’d kept in touch, you know, not all the time, but we kept in touch. Yeah.

[00:15:25] And so when I was thinking about people to, to work with, I did think of best [00:15:30] friends, I thought of people I barely knew as well, and I, I, I think Tom, he just encapsulated everything that I wanted in someone who was technical, he had the same ethos and, and, and morals as I did, um, he was, he was young and he was driven, he was very, very good at his job, um, had good experience already.

[00:15:49] And I just felt like he would make for a really good, good partner. And so what I did was I just randomly texted him and said, Do you want to go for a drink? Do you want to go for a drink? [00:16:00] Um, and that evening, Sorry, it was the night before, I actually thought I might write down some things about what I’m actually trying to say.

[00:16:07] So, a few slides, I thought I’ll put a few slides together. And it was really my vision for, I want us to do… work together. I’d like you to join me in doing that. I, I, I see us doing this type of work and working with these types of clients. Um, and what was supposed to be a few slides ended up being about, I think, genuinely about a hundred and seventy five slides [00:16:30] of, of work examples and clients I wanted to work with and videos I’d seen that inspired me of other people who went out and did it in the world, um, and all of that kind of stuff.

[00:16:41] And I think he just, I, I think I just blew him away with the, just the amount of things, um, I showed him. And actually, he said, he didn’t say yes. When I saw him, um, but in a way that’s 

[00:16:56] diane: good, you know, like he thought about instead of being like [00:17:00] impulsive, like another good example of a treat of somebody.

[00:17:04] Colin Grist: Okay, keep going. It kept me waiting. It kept me hanging on. So yeah, so what had happened is in this period of time when I’d gone freelance and I’d been doing that like 18 months, he’d actually left the agency we worked at. And had gone to another agency, and he had a really good job there. He was paid really well, and he got some really good projects that he was working on.

[00:17:25] And, for him, that was what was important. He had some good work going [00:17:30] on, and was being paid well for it, and, and that was it. And I think that’s where me and Tom have always been quite different. Like, so, that’s where our dynamic works quite well. He’s very, he wants to play. I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but he likes to play things safe and secure, and know that he’s got work on.

[00:17:47] And I’ve always been the one to hand my noticing at a job, go work on my own, stop doing that and start a business, all of that kind of stuff. And I think that works quite well for us. But yeah, he, he said, no, he said, I [00:18:00] don’t, I’ll go away and think about it. But right now I’m quite happy where I am and I’ve got this really good project coming up.

[00:18:07] All this kind of stuff. So I was like, okay, don’t you think that the 

[00:18:09] diane: earbuds, the Apple earbuds, they pop out of your mind. You must have little ears like that one. You keep pop. I, I, this is why I hate those Apple earbuds. Cause they, if you’re talking mine, like, like, like my ears throw 

[00:18:24] Colin Grist: them up. I need some 

[00:18:25] diane: big can headphones.

[00:18:26] No, you’re good. You’re good. I just keep noticing in my [00:18:30] head. No, no, I don’t care. I just, finally it’s somebody else who can’t wear these Apple earbuds. Okay. Back to you. Back to the story. Okay. 

[00:18:38] Colin Grist: So, yeah, so he, he walked away just being like, I’m quite happy where I am and I’ve got this good project coming up.

[00:18:44] And, and I was like, okay, so I felt a bit not defeated, but I was like back to the drawing board because I’d already decided that I’m going to go do this. What am I going to do next? I’ll, I’ll, I’ll let him, I said to him, like, let us know in a few weeks, have a, have a, have a sleep on it, [00:19:00] speak to your wife about it, or soon to be wife at the time, um, and yeah, I think within a few days he got back to me, and he’d actually, he’d decided, um, to change his mind because the project he was excited about at work fell through, and so it was funny that really now he’ll probably look back at that and laugh that a project was almost stopping him from doing it.

[00:19:23] a business in a way, because I think a lot of people are in that mindset of like the work is always the most [00:19:30] important thing and not really about what you want and where you want to be in life. Um, so I think we’ll always look back at that and kind of laugh. Um, but he decided, okay. Um, and he needed some persuading.

[00:19:42] I had to speak to him about how well I’d been doing and that I’d managed to get my own clients and I was doing my own work, um, and all of that kind of stuff. And yeah, he handed his notice in with his job. Um, he, he gave them like a six month notice, like a massive notice. So I was sort of working on my [00:20:00] own for ages and all of this kind of stuff.

[00:20:03] That is, is 

[00:20:04] diane: that normal in the UK? Uh, we are like a two week 

[00:20:07] Colin Grist: notice over here. Yeah, a four, a four week notice is, is not, is the norm. But for someone who’s sort of senior, so like me and Tom at that time, a three month notice isn’t strange. It’s quite, it’s quite, it’s quite common. But he, he gave them double because he was like, they’ve been so good to me.

[00:20:26] And I think he was obviously a bit insecure and unsure as well about [00:20:30] Is this even going to pan out in the in the very very short term let alone like the long term So anyway, we we started and we we were incorporated as a business in 2018 The first year was obviously just can we even is this even? A good idea.

[00:20:45] Like, can we prove, can we pay our, can we pay our wages? So is the 

[00:20:49] diane: first year your, is six months of that year, um, calls? I mean, Tom’s still working at the other, 

[00:20:57] Colin Grist: for some of that time. Okay. [00:21:00] Three to four months roughly was, I think we were incorporated in about the October and I don’t think he really started with us till I want to say February or March.

[00:21:08] diane: So, and so at this point you’re working at your house. And he’s working at his house? 

[00:21:14] Colin Grist: Yep. Correct. Yeah. So we started out just working completely remotely him from home, me from home. Um, and the work we had was just, it was anything we could get. And also the clients I already had. So it was like, can we either ramp up the clients I’ve got and offer them more [00:21:30] services such as development, or can we get new ones?

[00:21:34] Um, and that’s really what we did year one. It was like really nice brand, really nice website. Let’s launch it. Have a bit of. Hype around us, if you like. We won a few awards for the work that we’ve done on our own website. And I hope that was enough, really. That was, that’s what we did year one. We were just trying to prove to ourselves that we could do it, that we could generate work, that we could do work, and that we were getting on and working well.

[00:21:59] And we did that. How are [00:22:00] you, 

[00:22:00] diane: how are you getting some of the clients that you had? Was it, were you going? Were you networking? Was this part of the job that you had put on your shoulders? Or was it all word of 

[00:22:10] Colin Grist: mouth? Well, I think that was one of the problems we eventually ended up with, with the, uh, which is why we met, met yourself is that a lot of it was word of mouth.

[00:22:19] It was because I’d worked at agencies and I’d been freelancing there and I’d contracted there and someone knew me and recommended me here, but that didn’t really work. Then when we were a business anymore, it didn’t really work as [00:22:30] an agency. And so we were just taking on. Anything that we could get, we were taking on work, you know, via email.

[00:22:37] We, we were doing very little in the way of us going out and putting ourselves out of our comfort zone and trying to sell our business and our ideas to people. Um, and year one, we did it like we, we, we managed to, uh, make a profit year one survived. And we were exhausted at the end of it. But 

[00:22:57] diane: you also did a brand, did a new [00:23:00] website, everything in that first year.

[00:23:01] It wasn’t like… Because Few and Far, can you tell us about how you got that name? 

[00:23:07] Colin Grist: Yeah, I can actually. We spent a weekend… Um, trying to, trying to work out the name and I read a few books. One of those books is called, um, don’t call it that, which I would highly recommend. Um, I can’t remember who the author is.

[00:23:22] Let me just, it’s okay. 

[00:23:23] diane: I can look it up. You keep talking. 

[00:23:25] Colin Grist: Yeah. Don’t call it that. And another one was called run studio run. And so [00:23:30] don’t call it. That is all about coming up with the best name possible for your business. You go through exercises about, um, an example is write down 10 horrible names that you would never call your business.

[00:23:42] And it’s, it’s a really good way of just getting the bad ideas out before you discuss the good ideas. And the name few and far comes obviously from the saying, um, few and far between. So things are few and far between. Um, and when I just saw it in a book, I just thought we had this old ethos [00:24:00] of wanting a small agency.

[00:24:01] We’d worked at 300 plus agencies where you get, um, departmentalized and people work in silos and people don’t collaborate. And we wanted the opposite of that. We wanted to keep things small, expert, people can bounce off one another with ideas. So the word few obviously is a really nice representation of that.

[00:24:20] The few, there is a few of us, but we also want to take things far and work and do really, really good work. So it worked really nicely for us at the time. It stood out in a [00:24:30] list of, I think, four or five names that we shortlisted. Um, and yeah, so we, we, we, we settled on the name incorporated as a business.

[00:24:40] Created the brand, created the website, had a photo shoot done. Um, yeah, yeah, we did, we did quite a lot in year one and did work as well. But you were taking 

[00:24:51] diane: anything and everything? 

[00:24:53] Colin Grist: Anything and anything because we were like, well, we don’t know what’s going to come next. So, we were taking all of it on [00:25:00] and that continued through into…

[00:25:02] 2019 and 2020, which was obviously the pandemic. So, um, we took even more work on, but the reason we took more work on was because we were obviously, we didn’t know what was going on in the world. We didn’t know, you know, clients would, clients were walking away, clients would go in online when they’d never been online before.

[00:25:20] So we were actually generating more work and business than we’d ever done. But we were in a position of not being able to turn anything down. We were obviously frightened like everybody was. We were just taking on [00:25:30] everything. And so we were even more exhausted. So no 

[00:25:34] diane: niche still. No 

[00:25:35] Colin Grist: niche. No, just commercial 

[00:25:37] diane: work.

[00:25:38] You’re reading, you read lots of books. Do you read lots? Okay, so you read lots of books. Was Tom reading lots of books? 

[00:25:46] Colin Grist: Not as much. I read the books. I read the books on his behalf, I’d say. 

[00:25:49] diane: You’re the librarian there. Yeah. Okay. Um, and so, and it’s just the two of you. No other people. You’re working from home.

[00:25:57] Correct. Because that’s not the case now you [00:26:00] have there are more people on the team. So then we’re I mean One of the things that amazes me about you call is that you have this vision of and this very self Oh, you’re very self aware that this isn’t what I imagined And instead of like waiting 20 years to be like this isn’t what I imagined 18 months He does it, you know, like that is That’s really, um, that’s unheard of.

[00:26:26] Colin Grist: But I think, I think really it almost was 20 [00:26:30] years in the making though, because when I was young, I was like, I’m going to run my own design agency. But I was just not, I didn’t have the experience. I wasn’t technically very good then. I had so much to learn. Who is? Who’s good at 15? And I think, I think the, the things that I learned over the years, the good and the bad, um, you know, Being made redundant at jobs, um, having great projects, award winning projects, having projects that have gone awful.

[00:26:56] That’s all things that really set me up, I suppose. Um, so [00:27:00] I, I think when I tried freelance, which I thought was like the dream, and I thought after a little bit, it’s quite lonely. You know, that was when I thought quite quickly, I’m going to start a business and start an actual agency. Um, so yeah, so after, after the, the, the initial year, we were into sort of the pandemic and we still had no niche.

[00:27:20] We were just working with anybody who would work with us. Um, and it was. Really, it ended up being a position [00:27:30] where we were trying to provide really, really high quality work because that’s something me and Tom have always believed in and championed, but really for as cheap as possible. And it’s, it’s this awful balance of, it, that wasn’t even worth doing at the end of it is how, how a lot of it fell.

[00:27:45] And I think. After that was probably two and a half years at this point as well. We’d actually, um, we had an office space. We were sharing with other people. Um, 

[00:27:55] diane: like when did you do the office space? Cause like in 20, was this before the pandemic? [00:28:00] 

[00:28:00] Colin Grist: It was actually, yeah, it was. Um, we’d been in it probably six months, I think.

[00:28:08] Uh, maybe a bit longer than that. We, and it was quite good. We were sharing with two other people and they were both freelancers who were designers. So it was quite cool. We had like a nice little group of four. Um, but obviously with the pandemic hitting. I was never in the office, Tom was never in the office, but we continued to pay for the office because it was worth us keeping it for the cost of it, because it was quite a, it was like for a, for like [00:28:30] new businesses, so like, like a little hub, effectively, like a creative hub.

[00:28:34] Um, but yeah, we, it got to a point where we were at home, we weren’t able to hang out, we were working on projects that were making us feel a little bit. Miserable, um, not really making any money and so we went on a course and the reason for that was to help us try and generate our own clients who we wanted to work with, not just who was coming to us.

[00:28:58] diane: Okay, so when, [00:29:00] so are you just like a journaler? Like, how are you being so self reflective? Do you take walks? Because I want to know how you are like cluing into some of these things. And maybe I’m just an idiot that I just don’t, I’m not smart enough, um, but like it seems like you do, do you do self reflection because you’re coming up with these like, Hey, we, I see that, you know, we’re making money, but we’re [00:29:30] running ourselves ragged, which sometimes it can take people like 20 years of running ragged.

[00:29:36] Colin Grist: Yeah, yeah. I think, I think what, I think what we did was we, at one point we reflected on, we actually looked back at the presentation I showed Tom, and it was like, are we doing what we sort of said and what we set out to do? And I think we looked at that and went, we’re doing some of it, but overall, Not really.

[00:29:58] And 

[00:29:59] diane: like how [00:30:00] often if you’re working all the time, I’m sorry, I’m like going back to this. You and you and Tom are working all the time. You you’re the pandemics over your back in the office some days, right? Maybe not all days. So how are you having time to even look back or do you eat lunch together? Are you talking about do you have specific times in your your week?

[00:30:24] That is like a business meeting with the two of you. Do you have like partner? Okay. [00:30:30] Okay. 

[00:30:30] Colin Grist: Well, we do we do now. I Think again, this is it got to a point Uh, oh Tom’s in the chat. I know 

[00:30:37] diane: Tom’s here now. Bath time and bedtime are over. I 

[00:30:40] Colin Grist: can’t talk bad about him now. So yeah, it got to a point I think where we both felt that like we were losing, losing it a little bit, like losing a grip of where we were.

[00:30:51] We were doing loads and loads of work. Um, never stopped through the pandemic, and I think it got to Christmas, it got to the holiday period where we actually closed for [00:31:00] Christmas for some downtime. And it felt, I think it felt like the first time we’d, we’d, we’d breathed for a year. Like, I felt like it, it was like, and I think we needed that moment of reflection, and I don’t think it was long after that that we decided to get some support and some coaching and, and be like, we, this isn’t really going the way we want it to go.

[00:31:21] It’s great, but the work isn’t particularly fun to do for these types of clients and we, we were trying to grow the [00:31:30] business, but we just hadn’t got any time to focus on it. And I think that’s kind of what you get in that, that like we never had an opportunity really to concentrate. Okay. This day I’m going to work on the business and this day I’m actually going to do production work.

[00:31:42] It was basically. Monday to Friday production work. It was fires. 

[00:31:46] diane: You were just putting out fires trying to help other people with their businesses and you didn’t have 

[00:31:50] Colin Grist: reactionary to work and clients and, and sales and losses and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, I think it put us in a bad position, a bad [00:32:00] situation.

[00:32:00] Um, and I don’t, I don’t believe for a moment that either of that ever wanted to give up on the business. I think it was just, we were at a point where we’re like, we’re going to have to do something different. Otherwise we are going to end up wanting to scrap it all. So, um, yeah, that’s kind of how we. How we formed and how we were up to a point before we niched.

[00:32:18] Um, and then we met you when we went on a, on a course and that was really good. And what we learned on the course was, um, actually about self reflection. To [00:32:30] be honest, a lot of it, it’s about questioning what you really want from the business and also what you want from your life and. Um, there’s a thing that you do as part of the course that we were on called the River of Life.

[00:32:43] And if anyone’s ever heard of that, um, and has done it, you’ll probably understand the value in that. And if not, check it out. Um, the River of Life is an opportunity really to look back at your life and almost mark out the really important things that happened in your life, both good and [00:33:00] negative. And, um, as a, as a business owner, I think that’s really valuable because it helps frame the person you are today, it helps kind of look back and go, well, that’s why I believe in, uh, talking about mental health, for example, or that’s why it’s really important that I’m, I love music so much, or, or whatever.

[00:33:20] Me and Tom did that. And I think because we are two people running a business together and everyone else on the course actually was solopreneurs, um, it was harder for us, [00:33:30] but it was so good that we did that because I felt like I really got to know Tom a lot more than I ever had before. Because you have that like really open and honest forum to talk about life experiences that don’t, they don’t just come up in day to day conversation.

[00:33:44] Um, and it really helped frame my vision for wanting to get back to helping charities, because I’d had that experience, but Tom hadn’t. So when we were trying to niche on this course, we had this kind of, um, we weren’t [00:34:00] at loggerheads, but we had this kind of like, he, he couldn’t, he had no experience of it.

[00:34:03] So why would he niche into something that he’s got no experience of? And I was like, I really want to do that. So we had this thing. Um, but we, we finally got through that. And the way we got through that was actually by, um, helping a charity with their, their, uh, brand and website. And we did it for free. We did it pro bono at the time, just as a, as a, almost a donation.

[00:34:25] Well, it was, it was actually before the niching, but it was, it just came at a time where we were like, [00:34:30] yeah, we’d love to help a charity. They were a local to us who were really quite a big charity helping homeless and the vulnerable in the city that we work in. And we were like, Okay, but it’s so funny how thinking about a niche and helping charities, and then we started to see the effects that the work we’d done had in a positive light for this charity.

[00:34:50] It just seemed to marry up perfectly at the time. Um, and so we did that. Um. Yeah. Do you want me to keep going? 

[00:34:59] diane: [00:35:00] Okay. So, so, um, no, I have some more questions. Okay. So go for it. So let’s go into, and this may be sticky. Remember the safe word is rooster. Oh yeah. Um, okay. So did you, when, You formed the partnership.

[00:35:16] Did you see it’s rejecting the earbud just popped out. If you’re just listening, it’s called not even talking in his earbud popped out. Um, so did you form like a legal [00:35:30] binding something with The, the partnership. Do you have like, uh, so if something happened to you or Tom and you died, who would that half of the business go to?

[00:35:44] I know that seems really bad, but, or if you are like, you know what? Uh, or Tom’s like, I don’t want to do this anymore. Um, What do you do? So how do you buy out? 

[00:35:55] Colin Grist: Well, as, as a, as a business, when we incorporated, you have to stay [00:36:00] who are like the directors basically of, of the business and you can stay like a split and it’s 50, 50 split.

[00:36:07] on the ownership of the business. Um, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I’m assuming, I think legally Tom just takes over a hundred percent of it. Um, but I’m not sure. 

[00:36:17] diane: Anyway, um, uh, I was having lunch with somebody who’s here today and, um, and we were talking about things like that and, and. Those, my sister was in a partnership and he didn’t die, thankfully, [00:36:30] but he just, uh, it wasn’t, um, he was just not interested in doing.

[00:36:35] Yeah. And he wasn’t spending his time doing those things. So they had a contract where it was, she gets to buy him out and, um, she gets to have the name or he would get to have the name, you know, if one of them was choosing to leave. Um, and sensible. And then what else was. Anyway, it may be something to look into at the next, uh, weekend with you and [00:37:00] far, right.

[00:37:00] Uh, but, but I think those things can be important because you don’t know. I legally in America, I could give, um, the rights to my. Business to my husband and then he I mean say I have a partner Judy Judy’s my partner I don’t know Judy, but let’s just say Judy’s my partner Judy’s like what [00:37:30] you know, like but maybe because you had to do the who are the people I don’t know but I anyway, I I just think that Then you’re stuck with trying Judy’s grieving or no John’s grieving and now John and Judy are trying to run a business and you know, that’s like what?

[00:37:52] Recipe for disaster, you know, like anyway, it might be just something but okay. So then in this How do you [00:38:00] decide who does what? So I know Tom does the programming and maybe you’re doing design, but what about like, uh, sales or going out? Do you both do that? Do you have to do it even? Do you have to say, Hey, you only brought in 12, 000 and I brought in.

[00:38:18] You know, 80, 000. Hey buddy, you got to up your game. Or is this more of your thing than it is of Judy’s thing? Um, Yeah. 

[00:38:27] Colin Grist: Yeah. So, uh, well, obviously as a, as [00:38:30] a, as a discipline, yes, Tom heads up the technical aspects of the business and I head up the creative aspects of the business, but the rest of the responsibilities are shared.

[00:38:41] And we try and share them as much as we can. There can be times where Tom does really well and gets loads of sales in and then I get none and, and then I can get them and he doesn’t, and it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, it’s not a competition. It’s about us [00:39:00] raising the business up together.

[00:39:02] Um, I, I do all of, I do a lot of the comms. Um, I actually did a lot of the speaking engagements and things like this. But Tom is doing really well. He’s got a bit more confidence and he’s doing them now as well. So that’s just… It’s a way that, you know, I’ll do it because I’m comfortable with it. You’re not yet, but it doesn’t matter.

[00:39:19] But now he is, and that’s really good. Um, he does all the accounts cause he’s just good with numbers and I’m awful with it. Um, so it’s just, it’s very collaborative. Um, and I think that the thing [00:39:30] that we’ve learned by running the business for a while now is that our actual disciplines as designers and developers are almost, they’re not the least important thing, but they are the thing that we can give to other people.

[00:39:43] Running the business. Being the face of the business, speaking with charities or non profits, helping those clients. That’s really where we bring the value, being consultants and supporting them and helping them. And, and, and, and having non profits, um, [00:40:00] engage with us and want to work with us. That’s what gets us the work and generates interest in us as people.

[00:40:06] Um, and the making a nice design or developing a nice website is. It’s quite low on the, like, we’re really good at that. But as, as running a business and the hats that you, the different hats that you wear, that’s just one of the many. Um, so, so yeah, we try and split all the, the responsibilities of, you know, who’s doing this call or who’s taking that sales call or who’s going to this networking event.

[00:40:29] [00:40:30] Um, is very much we try and do. We try and both beyond them all, but obviously that’s not always the case, just with time and resource and things like that. But yeah, we, we. I hope Tom doesn’t think it’s a competition, because I certainly don’t. 

[00:40:44] diane: Okay, so, so in this, um, you have, you’re sharing the load, which I do think is good.

[00:40:52] Are you setting a yearly or quarterly goals, and then do you have these weekly or monthly meetings that’s just you [00:41:00] and Tom, where you’re talking about Hey, I want to us to go for this or, or do you know what I mean? Or is this more like, like not scheduled? I feel like if Judy, there is no Judy, but if there was a Judy, I would just be like, Oh, we can do that some other time.

[00:41:17] Like we need to do the work that, that. It seems like something I would need to schedule in. 

[00:41:22] Colin Grist: I, yeah, it is something that we, we, we try and schedule in. I think that the, we’d learned in the first few years that when [00:41:30] all we’re doing is the work, you don’t even have time to think about where the next work’s coming from.

[00:41:36] And I think it’s really, really important as a business owner that you are. ahead of the game with your pipeline of work that you know, you’re not just reacting to whatever’s next, because you’re never actually going to get into a position where you’re doing what you want to work on, you just, I’ll take this on, I’ll react to that, I’ll react to this.

[00:41:52] So we, we, we actually do a lot of, um, planning around resource in the studio now, um, [00:42:00] we actually say no to work if we can’t do it. Um, 

[00:42:03] diane: Was that hard? Was that a hard thing to learn to do? Because that, um, I’ve had 

[00:42:08] Colin Grist: conversations, you know, you know, that was hard to do because you’ve done it yourself. So yes, very, very hard.

[00:42:14] So how 

[00:42:14] diane: did you, did you do it? Like a small company or like you were just doing a small thing for this bigger company and you just started saying no. And you pointed them like, what was your, cause I think this is like a baby step thing. You may have been a risk taker and are like, [00:42:30] okay, we’re not going to do this anymore, but it’s good that Tom’s like, let’s wear our water boots to work.

[00:42:37] Cause let’s have safety. Right? Like we, we need that because yeah, it, so. I have to do things in baby steps before I can really, um, just completely leave something quick. 

[00:42:50] Colin Grist: Commit to the big one. Yeah. Yeah, that’s the same, that’s the same for us. We, we, we had obviously gone from working a few years where we said yes to everything and we’d [00:43:00] never said no.

[00:43:00] Um, the no always came from the client, like you’re too expensive or you’re, you know, you can’t deliver it quick enough. Um, and so it was baby steps with us. We, we, we started to, when we niched into the, into, uh, nonprofits. We were taking on non profit work that, that was less money than commercial work that we’d been doing.

[00:43:19] But it was about getting into the space and understanding more and learning from those charities that we were helping. Understanding the problems they were going through, trying to make a difference, building out the case study, if you like, the [00:43:30] portfolio. Um, and the more that we did of that, the more larger.

[00:43:34] Nonprofits we were helping, uh, the better causes we were helping. And it would sometimes just align with the fact that we’d taken on this work. And then this opportunity came along and we just physically couldn’t do it. We could have, we could have physically done it, but we would have been absolutely burnt out.

[00:43:49] And it affects the business, it affects the planning, the accounting, the emailing, the networking, it affects everything. We can take it on, but the whole business will have [00:44:00] to be put on pause. Is it worth that? Is there an amount that you can put on that, that it’s worth it? And a lot of the time there isn’t.

[00:44:08] There might be a life changing project sometimes where that’s the case, but more often than not. When you have to balance running the business and taking on more work than you can do, you know, it’s, you’ve got to go with that option. So, um, it was kind of baby steps with us, but we’re in a position now where we have quite a lot of work on and we can be a bit more selective with the [00:44:30] projects.

[00:44:30] We can be a bit more selective with the clients as well, because if we have a call and we’re like, Oh, I’m not quite sure. The vibe was there and we, the relationship was there. We can just go, it’s not worth us proceeding with that. So we’re quite lucky now that we’re getting into that kind of space. 

[00:44:45] diane: It’s like the right earbud.

[00:44:47] You can be like, look, it’s just not a good fit. Yes. I have people like that too sometimes. Um, I was just trying to make an analogy with the right earbud. I hate those earbuds. I mean, I literally [00:45:00] have, these are much nicer. This 

[00:45:01] Colin Grist: one’s never, the left one has never moved. It’s, it’s fine. 

[00:45:04] diane: I know, it’s good. It’s totally controlled.

[00:45:10] It’s just to buy other ones. Um, okay, so then you, you have a team now. It’s not just you and 

[00:45:18] Colin Grist: Tom. Yeah, there’s four of us now. 

[00:45:21] diane: Okay, so then when did you add number three and in America to do go from just partnership to now having employees is It’s like [00:45:30] a big step. There’s a lot more paperwork. I don’t know if it’s the same over there.

[00:45:35] Colin Grist: Yes. Yes, it is and It’s it’s really hard Not only getting into a position financially and stability wise to hire but then trying to hire and finding people who can come in and and help and bring value to the business and Um, and we actually, when we were doing the course and trying to understand our niche and where [00:46:00] we truly want it to be, we had that much work on that.

[00:46:03] We, we hired, we tried to hire just because we were like, there’s so much work, let’s get a developer in. Um, and really what we learned from the course was that it wasn’t about taking on more and more work and having staff just do loads and loads of work. It was about working with people and organizations you want to help.

[00:46:22] And being able to say no, like, and that, that was one of the biggest learnings from the course. And so when we hired that [00:46:30] person, it just didn’t really work out because we had to, we had to almost start saying no and stopping the business to concentrate on us and, and making the business be the way it needed to be moving forward, otherwise it was no longer going to exist.

[00:46:46] Um, and so hiring at that time for us didn’t work out. Um, there wasn’t enough work. They, I think they were struggling as well and, and it just didn’t work out. So when that didn’t pan out, I think we pause for about a year on [00:47:00] recruitment and me and Tom kind of went back to, went back to basics and started just concentrating solely on the, on the, uh, the nonprofits that we were helping and trying to help out in any way possible.

[00:47:10] Um, and we’ve then, we’ve, we’ve then built back up the business in the way it needs to be to a point where we’re like, we can now hire. Everything that we say is true. Everything that all of the clients that we have are our own, um, that we have, that we can prove that we can generate business and get new clients ourselves.

[00:47:28] Now, without this kind [00:47:30] of, I hope something happens. I hope someone emails, we’re in a much better place to go out and network and converse and, and convert to sales. Then we were, so we got to a point where we hired a cat who’s a designer. So she works kind of alongside me and she’s amazing. And then we’ve just hired, um, Christina, who’s a developer, who’s working under Tom.

[00:47:53] So we’ve now got like a designer and an event developer who can really help. And it’s what I mentioned earlier about running the [00:48:00] business still has to be me and Tom, and that takes up all of our time, those production tasks, being a designer, working on brands, working on websites, building websites. Other people can help us with that and that’s where we’re trying to go with it now and getting people in to help us at a good level.

[00:48:15] Do you miss 

[00:48:15] diane: doing the creative? 

[00:48:18] Colin Grist: No, because I still do a lot of it. But I am, I know and I learned a long time ago that eventually it won’t be part of my day to day job. And I’m quite content with that. I don’t know if Tom [00:48:30] is, if he’s content with not coding anymore because I know Tom actually has a hobby.

[00:48:35] Codes. He likes to just do it in his, it can work all day coding. Does it in his dreams? It does it in his dreams. Yeah. Does it in his nightmares? Um, uh, but I’m quite content that like I’ve, I’ve done it for 20, 25 years now. And I don’t think I’ll still be doing it in another 25 years. And I’m quite content with that.

[00:48:56] And it, it maybe is different between a designer and a [00:49:00] developer. Um, but. I think for me, that’s all part of this journey of creating a business and a legacy that I can leave behind and other people who are younger and better than I am can, can take over from it. So, 

[00:49:15] diane: So it is a really, it’s a different mindset of how you’re looking at your business than just when I retired, the business closes, you’re really thinking of that.

[00:49:25] So maybe that’s another thing that is really important in finding a partner, a partner who also wants to [00:49:30] leave a legacy instead of just retire and close his part. 

[00:49:34] Colin Grist: Yeah, yeah. I think, I think though, it’s funny because I mentioned earlier about where Tom was at, at that point in his life, and I actually don’t think he was interested in leaving a legacy.

[00:49:45] Like, he, he was, I’m, I’m happy to work somewhere. I’m working on good projects. And so I, I think, I think for him it’s been quite, uh, a nice discovery that that’s actually what he does want now, and, and that it’s sort of [00:50:00] changed and. Um, yeah, it’s kind of changed his, his, his sort of vision, I suppose, and focus.

[00:50:06] And whereas I’ve always had that, it’s really nice now that we kind of align on that before. So, um, 

[00:50:12] diane: Courtney has a question. She said, how do you, how was the transition, um, to managing employees for you? Cause this can be so managing contractors is different than employees. 

[00:50:25] Colin Grist: Yes, yeah, so, I, I think, I [00:50:30] found it the most natural thing in the world, because Um, and I think, I think Tom does as well because we were, we were both in positions in, in large scale companies, agencies where we were leaders of teams, we were senior designers, lead developers.

[00:50:47] We already had juniors, middleweights who worked under us in, in a previous life effectively. So, and. I’d always enjoyed that part. I’ve always enjoyed helping new designers and helping them understand the [00:51:00] rules and like what you can do and what you can’t do and like how to manage your project and manage your time.

[00:51:05] Uh, you know, all that kind of stuff. So when bringing people in, it just feels like a very natural extension of all of that stuff that I did, but I’ve never had any formal training in that or like how to be a good employer, it’s all just at the time, they’re just another colleague and you’re in a position where you want to help them and nurture them.

[00:51:25] And I just see that now as exactly the same thing. It’s just, they now work for me rather than we [00:51:30] both work for somebody else. Um, so yeah, it’s been quite natural and that’s how we want to run it. We want the business to be quite, uh, like flat hierarchically. Like, yes, we are the co founders and the directors, but really.

[00:51:45] We’re not going to have all these tiers and there’s all these different people. It’s about keeping it small, having few, which is in the name, and them all being really good at it. And the only way they can be really good at it is if we give them all of our time and attention to be as good as possible.

[00:51:59] That’d be, you know, [00:52:00] do the best work that they can do. So, um, 

[00:52:02] diane: Courtney says she loves that. That was a great answer. Okay. Thanks, Courtney. All right. So we will rapid fire these. What keeps you interested and excited about working with nonprofits or charities? 

[00:52:17] Colin Grist: The, the more, the more charities that we meet, they all have the same problems.

[00:52:24] They all struggle with, digital is very new in the world in the grand [00:52:30] scheme of things. And the third sector on, on nonprofits, if you like, uh, unfortunately, a lot of the time, very behind the times, you know, they’re, they’re old organizations. They are, uh, they’ve been around for a hundred years. But they almost still act like that it’s a hundred years ago a lot of the time.

[00:52:48] They all have websites or they’re all on Instagram, but they don’t, they don’t really understand the potential of that. They don’t understand how important their website can be for raising online [00:53:00] donations. Or to explain their cause, or to talk about their story. And so, what really gets me excited is when you meet a non profit who, they’re all obviously incredible and they’re all doing amazing work and helping loads and loads of people.

[00:53:17] But when you meet them and what you see about them online, it just completely doesn’t reflect one another. You think, oh my god, I could make such a difference to how you, your [00:53:30] perception, how you are presented online and… Make such a difference to the cause and like help more people view your website, give you online donations, go to your fundraising pages.

[00:53:40] That stuff is really what kind of excites me because it means if. If they’re making more money through donations and, and, you know, they’re making a bigger impact, they’re helping more people, they’re helping the environment, they’re helping the world. So that’s really what kind of excites me about it still.

[00:53:56] diane: That’s cool. Okay. So what, um, this is, [00:54:00] this is why we have, uh, a Thursday show instead of a Wednesday show. I want you to tell them what you do on Wednesdays. So you’ve just had a baby. That’s one thing. Seven 

[00:54:13] Colin Grist: weeks old. Seven weeks 

[00:54:15] diane: only. Whoa. I guess because weeks. Yeah. I mean, little, very little. Um, um, okay.

[00:54:25] So what kind of things do you do outside of work? Obviously [00:54:30] Tom’s just doing coding all the time. He says he’s a programmer. He’s always going to be a programmer. It’s just what he does. And that’s what he said in the chat. I love that. But what are things that you do outside of work? That, um, that keep your creative juices flowing.

[00:54:44] And one of them is the thing, the reason why we couldn’t have done the show yesterday. 

[00:54:48] Colin Grist: Yeah. So, um, well, the first, the first thing is actually speaking openly about mental health. So I, I actually started a few years ago, um, a [00:55:00] blog and magazine, which is about mental health in the creative industry specifically.

[00:55:04] Because I think as designers, we all struggle with the pressures of working, you know, time sensitive work. The pressure ultimately lands on your shoulders to deliver something that’s really beautiful and really impactful and makes a big difference and that the client’s going to love it. Um, I think at points we’ve all suffered with like creative block.

[00:55:24] Um, and things like that. And so, through my own experiences in my own life, where [00:55:30] I’ve had like, issues with my own mental health, I, I, I created a magazine and blog called Precious and Perspectives, which is interviews with creatives, such as designers, photographers. Why didn’t you about it now. Okay, 

[00:55:43] diane: Precious and 

[00:55:44] Colin Grist: Perspectives?

[00:55:45] I’ll put it, I’ll put, um, I’ll put the link in the thing. I just, 

[00:55:48] diane: because I don’t hear well. Is that what you said? Precious. 

[00:55:52] Colin Grist: Oh, pressures. The 

[00:55:54] diane: pressures, yeah. I thought you said precious. Precious. There you go, precious 

[00:55:57] Colin Grist: and perspective. Yeah. So, this [00:56:00] is a, um, yeah, this is a, this is a website, but it’s also a physical magazine that I, um, I created with a few, a few friends of mine a few years ago.

[00:56:07] And I’m, it’s a bit dated now, but I’m really hoping to bring that back in some form, because I think the work I do now with Fume Fire is so aligned with, Yeah. Who me and Tom are as people for a start and the experiences that we have, but the things that we, I’ve always wanted to try and strive to talk more about, which is breaking the stigma around mental health.

[00:56:27] Um, and the second part of that is [00:56:30] also to do with mental health, but it’s, it’s the physical side. So a few years, it was similar time to when I started Few and Far. And I was freelancing and I was again questioning, you know, what do I really want to do? Um, I was going to a lot of, um, uh, physical, a lot of gym classes.

[00:56:50] I was doing a lot of personal training. Me and my wife were trying to get fit and lose some weight and things like that. Um, and my wife got invited to go to this like dance class. And I got [00:57:00] asked to go for moral support. And I, as a guy, I was like, that’s no way I’m, there’s no way I’m going to this dance class.

[00:57:05] It’s not for me at all. Um, anyway, I went because I’m a good husband and I wanted to support my wife. And I did the class and I absolutely loved it. And I loved it so much that I, I pretty much went to every dance class for about two years. Um, to a point where I thought I could, I could do this. I could teach this class.

[00:57:25] I’d like to do this. And I thought if I could do it in my area, I could probably help more people. [00:57:30] Um, with the way I felt, which was uncomfortable in a gym. Uncomfortable doing physical exercise in front of other people. Um, and the reason the dance class is so fun is because it’s in the dark. So you’re not really worried about what other people are doing.

[00:57:44] So when I decided, maybe I could 

[00:57:47] diane: do this. Well, it’s low light. It’s not completely dark. I saw some 

[00:57:50] Colin Grist: pictures, right? Yeah. Yeah. You’ve got to be able to see what you’re doing, but it’s low light. Yeah. Um, but I got, I thought I could really do this. So I looked into what needed to be done for me to be able to run [00:58:00] the class.

[00:58:01] And I had to become an actual qualified gym instructor to do that. So I went on a course. Uh, six to eight month course, I think it was. Wow. Cast. And now I’ve run dance classes every Wednesday night for the last three years. That’s awesome. Which is why we couldn’t do, um, last night. Did you have to find 

[00:58:21] diane: your own gym to be able to do this?

[00:58:23] Or did you just go to a gym around you and said, Hey, I want to offer these 

[00:58:27] Colin Grist: classes. No, I, I [00:58:30] actually do it in my local, uh, like village hall or town hall, if you like. So they have a, a nice space there. Um, so it’s a really nice local community led thing, um, but it’s been really nice because there’s been some nice crossover between my work life at Few and Far where, um, mental health charities that we work with and, uh, in a design and development capacity have asked me, would you do a fundraiser at your dance class?

[00:58:59] And I’ve gone, [00:59:00] yes. So it’s become this. All encompassing thing now where my work life and personal life have got this really nice crossover, and I really enjoy it. I 

[00:59:11] diane: love that. That is so cool. Um, did you know that in January, I always do mental health month in on the podcast. So maybe you have to come back on and talk about that stuff.

[00:59:24] But at somewhere, um, In the early part of next year, uh, [00:59:30] Tom, you’re going to have to come on with him and we’ll do a show. So, okay. So then, um, work life balance. Cause I didn’t even know about the pressures and perspective. That’s so cool. So anyway, I’m putting you down for January. It’s okay. Um, Oh, I’m going to make sure it was on host and panelist.

[00:59:49] Oh, boogers. Anyway, um, what’s next? What is the next thing for y’all as a business or you as a, uh, [01:00:00] business owner or dad or dance teacher? 

[01:00:03] Colin Grist: Yeah. So I think as a, as a business owner, they, the thing we’re striving for is to become a B Corp. Do you know what B Corp is? So. The reason that’s important to us is because, um, not only do we work with good organizations who are trying to make a difference in the world, but we, we really want to prove that everything that we say we do is true.

[01:00:26] And the way of doing that is by documenting it as part of B Corp, because with B Corp, [01:00:30] everything you’ve got to prove, everything. Everything that you say about your staff and what you pay them and your, your suppliers and the way you run your office and everything has to be to the best it possibly can be for, you know, for people and planet.

[01:00:43] So, um, that’s the next big goal. And this again is a reason why hiring, um, developers and designers is really good because it takes the load away from me, uh, to work on the B Corp documentation. Cause I’ve kind of taken that upon myself to. [01:01:00] to do that. Um, and so, yeah, so becoming a B Corp, I think is going to be the next big step for us.

[01:01:06] I’m really, really excited about that. Um, and, and, and from a sort of studio side, um, we want to obviously grow, but not grow too much or too fast because we’re aware of the pitfalls of that, um, and try and help some larger charitable organizations. Again, not too large. But I think there’s a nice bit of middle ground there.

[01:01:29] We continue [01:01:30] to provide free, uh, free services to, uh, to non profits. We do a lot of webinars and a lot of talks, and I’d like to continue to do more of those, and do them on a larger scale to try and help more, more organizations if possible. Um, and yeah. Yeah, that’s kind of where we want 

[01:01:45] diane: to go. So is, and this is another business question, is most of the business, the nonprofits that come in, are they somebody who is going to come to you and then for one job or are they coming to you for someone who’s [01:02:00] going to be with them for the long 

[01:02:01] Colin Grist: haul?

[01:02:03] Well, a lot of them, a lot of them start out just coming to you for one problem that they’ve got. And I, I think the reason for that is that, um, charities, non profits, they’re extremely risk averse, as they would be. Every, every pound or every dollar that is spent, you know, is normally going towards running the charity, running, you know, helping people.

[01:02:25] So… When it comes to marketing and website costs and branding, [01:02:30] they’re extremely, you know, they’re, they’re very risk averse. They, you know, and so a lot of what we do is just trying to build up a relationship, a rapport with those that they can trust us. So that’s why we have things like free services where we can just be like book on for this free service.

[01:02:46] And we’ll audit your website and you just come to the call and we’ll talk you through it. And there’s no strings attached. Um, and, and, and by building up those relationships, they then trust us to do the work. And when we deliver on that [01:03:00] work, that’s when the discussions then happen about larger projects, or could you take over the whole management of our website, or could you, we’d like to talk to you next year about a rebrand or things like that.

[01:03:09] So. It’s, it’s a very, very small thing, just being a good person and being honest and, and, and not being, um, what’s the word, not being attached to the outcome. So like, if I, if I, if you’re a, if you’re a nonprofit and I get on a call with you, Diane, and I’m not desperate to work with you, I’m just there to help you and advise you.

[01:03:29] And that’s [01:03:30] the end of it for me. Um, I think that goes a long way because you’re not attached to the outcome and you’re, you’re coming from a genuine place of just trying to help. Um, and they appreciate that. And then it comes back in return or, you know, they recommend you to someone else or another charity.

[01:03:45] Um, and that’s working really well for us, and it sounds so simple, and it seems so obvious, but we never knew about that until quite recently. 

[01:03:55] diane: Well, another thing, and this goes back to, I don’t know, we’re out of time. Well, we’re [01:04:00] four minutes over. You, I asked you about your plants. Cause you know, sometimes, like, some people in their families, They’ll put plants and then they will kill them.

[01:04:11] And the other, the other member of the family is really the plant waterer. But you are the plant waterer. 

[01:04:17] Colin Grist: Well, I, I think me and Tom are plant waterers. Like we’ve got loads of plants in the office. Um, I’ve got loads of plants at home. Tom’s got loads 

[01:04:25] diane: of plants at home. That’s also a mental health thing is plants.

[01:04:27] Colin Grist: It’s good. It’s good. It’s good for the [01:04:30] air. Good for your environment. Yeah. Um, so yeah, these are all. They’re all real, they’re not fake, for a start. That’s good. And yeah, I really like it because this is my home office, my man cave. And I like looking after the plants. It’s nice. And we have them in the office.

[01:04:45] We like to look after them in there. And I think they just make for a really nice environment. I think, you know, it’s part of my mental health is like, it’s kind of like looking and caring and nurturing those plants. So, so yeah. 

[01:04:58] diane: Okay. Okay. So I just [01:05:00] want to make sure everybody knows and I want you while after I, um, read your URLs and stuff and ways for people to get in touch with you.

[01:05:09] I want you to tell them about your, the free charity impact optimizer. This is a lead generator for y’all. Um, so first let me, uh, if, if you’re watching on YouTube or you’re listening on whatever podcasts, Place you’re listening to. All these links are at the very top. Um, so the all [01:05:30] and then all the other stuff.

[01:05:31] It’s my stuff is there’s a line and it’s below that. So if you want to know what I thought the show was about, it’s there. Um, so if you can catch a time and call at few and far like a N. D. F. A. R. dot C. O. U. K. And then you can follow Uh, call at Threads, on Threads, at Threads. net slash at C O L I N G [01:06:00] R I S T.

[01:06:02] And then on LinkedIn, same thing, Colin Grist. I don’t know if I’m saying your last name right. Perfect. Okay. Okay. So then the free charity impact optimizer. There’s a link. I’m not going to read this one. It’s just, it’s the second one down. So tell them about what that is and why would somebody who maybe doesn’t work with, um, non profits, why would just, um, seeing what this is or why, where, why would they, maybe they do work and they’re going to [01:06:30] have a non profit, um, why would this be important for a 

[01:06:34] Colin Grist: non profit?

[01:06:35] Well, for a non, for a non profit, um, I’ll start with that, is that basically all they do is give up 30 minutes of their time for a call, and it is a call with me or with Tom, and we’ve already created a bespoke document, which is basically an audit of their website, and it’s not, we think you need a new website, and it’s a selling tool, it’s actually, these are changes we [01:07:00] think you can do on your own, And, and the reason for that is because all of the charities that we have met all struggle with time, with budget, um, or a lack of digital expertise.

[01:07:10] So, it was our way of giving back and going, here’s five things we think you can alter on the current website you’ve got with very little time, uh, to make a difference. You know, and it can be simple things such as, did you realize your donate button doesn’t work? Can we go and fix that? You know, because that’s quite important for you as a, [01:07:30] a non profit.

[01:07:30] Right. Um, And the whole point of it from our side as a business, or for, uh, for other designers who are listening, is it’s, it’s an absolute no brainer opportunity for our niche. Basically, do you want some free consultancy with a bespoke audit and all you do is book a… From an expert. Yeah, from an expert, and all you do is book via a calendar link.

[01:07:54] It’s very, very low barrier to entry. Um, and we, they’re, they’ve [01:08:00] been so successful for us. We, we do one every week, so we allocate a couple of hours on a Friday every week to do one, and we’ve done probably a hundred and a hundred and 10, 120 of them now, since we started niching and. A lot of them are just, they come along, and they love it, and they thought it was really, really valuable, and that’s the end of the, that’s the end of it.

[01:08:22] And for me, that’s enough, because it’s like, I’ve helped them, it didn’t take me that long, I got to meet someone new, they had really nice things to say [01:08:30] about it, and if I get a quote out of it, or a testimonial, or they tell someone else about it, it was worth it. But some of them, and quite a few of them, go into, that was really, really valuable, are there other ways in which we can work with you, and then obviously, It’s that kind of foot in the door for a bigger conversation about how we could support them with a rebrand or their website, or it puts you in the, it puts you in their mind for when they’re thinking about what’s next.

[01:08:56] And so obviously a lot of nonprofits work on budgets and like [01:09:00] we spent our budget for this year, but next year we’ll have budget be front of mind. So if you can provide some sort of offer to people. Whatever niche or whatever sector you’re in, that’s an absolute no brainer that someone can’t turn down.

[01:09:12] That’s, that’s what you really want, because it will really, it will ultimately help you learn more about the people you’re trying to support, the niche that you want to be in, and it’ll get you more conversations than you would ever have before, so. 

[01:09:23] diane: I love that. Okay. Um, and just so everybody knows, so, uh, I don’t know if you know, Carl, but I do a [01:09:30] thing during, I don’t call it a November.

[01:09:32] It’s called Imaginember. It is, um, the whole month of, I know there was Inktober. Well, this is faster than Inktober, but every year I do something different. Last year I did the blobs. And so this is the little blog, the blobs, they’re just, you can find things, right? This is still available 10, but this it’s, uh, Paul was telling me, he’s like, man, I [01:10:00] printed it out.

[01:10:00] It’s like a book, Diane, you know? So I did change, there is a cover sheet now, Paul, just so you know, there’s a new PDF if you want to ask him to just the cover sheet if you want, but, um, it kind of just in case if you. Printed it out and you are like, what was I supposed to why do I have all these rooms?

[01:10:18] Well, I Take catalogs or I just got out my Southern living and see I just find see that two eyes and he has a nose ring and [01:10:30] then there’s there’s one here and there’s some plants with the nose and There, I don’t know what that what of this one’s got his eyes closed anybody, but I go through magazines the whole way through and I’m drawing there.

[01:10:42] I thought that looked like a whale. See that big nose and the two eyes? I thought it was in like a lion. See? So all over I am a, look at that one. You see that 

[01:10:55] Colin Grist: little one? Faces and things. Yeah. 

[01:10:58] diane: Faces and things. So [01:11:00] I think it’s fun. It’s a creative exercise. So these are all from Unsplash. I think Pippa could do this.

[01:11:08] She could take pictures, all her awesome pictures. Anyway, um, so. They are 42. There are six weeks worth of fun. It’s just one a day. And, um, and I did two. Uh, if I did this one right here, it would have been number three. There’s a digital file or, uh, you can print them out and it’s for the whole [01:11:30] month. And then all I’m asking you to do, you give me your email and I send you this.

[01:11:34] And then I remind you every Wednesday to, Hey, here’s your next seven. Um, I’ll ask you is just to try to use your imagination to see something, turn it over, uh, think about perspective, you know? Um, I think it’s good to exercise our imagination. A lot of times, if we’re doing all this work, we don’t have time.

[01:11:56] to be creative or we don’t have, we don’t feel like we have time or we [01:12:00] don’t make space in our world to do something that maybe drew us to this in the beginning. So Imagine Ember is just, um, I just, if you can share it, if you feel bold enough that you can take a picture and put it on Instagram or LinkedIn or wherever and then use the hashtag Imagine Ember or Imagine Ember 23 or whatever, then that way I can see what you, see it’s a couch, but I thought it looked like teeth.

[01:12:26] So I drew lips and a nose, um, [01:12:30] but all of these are from Unsplash because I didn’t want to do illegal, like with Southern Living, I wouldn’t want to, anyway, so you guys can join me with Imaginember. I have a link if you want to join me in doing this. Um, and I’m making videos and having fun. So there is that, um, the other thing is if you, I’m for the rest of the year, I’m talking about, um, Julie Reed’s cancer has returned and we are [01:13:00] giving money for saving the Tata’s again for doc Reed, who was on the show earlier in the year, if you want to go, there’s also a link for that underneath calls stuff, and then.

[01:13:13] Next week, I am doing a workshop. I’m just attending. I’m I just paid for it. I’m just going. But it is a workshop called Spread Your Ideas Like a Horny Rabbit. And it it is from Chris Martin, who he does all [01:13:30] our editing for the podcast and there. Did it? Nope, of course it. Anyway, this is from getting work to work.

[01:13:38] So let me copy this again and paste it in. This is the third link or after calls, uh, stuff. There’s doc reads, uh, wife saving the tatas. And then Right under that is a workshop that’s on November 9th that is not recorded. So it has to be live. And I, I would love to have some people do it with me. Um, I read the description of what it is [01:14:00] and I’m like, Oh my gosh, this is me.

[01:14:02] Um, I need this. So it’s about systems. And then also not feeling like I have to do just one thing. Cause I feel really yucky if I feel like I can’t do the podcast anymore, or I can’t do client work, or I can’t do. The creative exercises. If somebody said you can’t do that anymore Diane, you have to just build websites.

[01:14:22] I feel like part of me would die and it just wouldn’t be as fun. So I just don’t think that that is [01:14:30] what I was made to do. So I really like that, uh, he’s not telling me to, um, only niche. And so I’m excited to take this I think my mom would probably have been like, Horny rabbit, Diane, I do not think that’s appropriate.

[01:14:45] But I did not come up with this. And, um, I just think it’s, it’s a funny name. So, if you want to do that workshop with me, it’s not very expensive. Um, and it’s going to be good. Anyway, so for [01:15:00] anybody who’s here, anybody listening, I hope you’d come and do that workshop with me. And, uh, Carl, just thank you so much for all my ads that are at the end.

[01:15:08] I appreciate you just sitting nicely through them and your earbud didn’t pop out one time at in that whole thing. 

[01:15:16] Colin Grist: I’ve got, I’ve got a lean, so it stays in. 

[01:15:18] diane: Well, I am glad that. Have you today? I’m glad to have you and Tom in sometime. Um, in the next year and then we can talk about if you’re available in [01:15:30] the on a, on a Thursday, perhaps when you’re not during the month of January to talk about mental health.

[01:15:35] Because I also, I just think January is hard. I mean, why is mental health month, at least in America, it’s in May. I’m like, that’s when things are bright and shiny and things are blooming. We don’t need mental health month. I mean, yes, we need, but it seems like we should do it in the dark and dreary months.

[01:15:55] Colin Grist: Yeah, agreed. 

[01:15:57] diane: All right. Well, I will see y’all [01:16:00] next, next week. Next week, next week is Mitch Goldstein. He has written a book. Um, uh, traditionally it was for design students, but aren’t we all design students always? Really? Anyway, so he says it’s for, uh, well, we’re going to talk to him about what it’s about.

[01:16:19] He actually has a undergrad in, um, design. Uh, masters in design and then he was like, I want to learn furniture design. So it’s kind of like, so he’s got a [01:16:30] masters in furniture design and he’s going to talk about, tell 

[01:16:32] Colin Grist: us about that. Is the opposite of me then he’s got all the, all 

[01:16:38] diane: the qualifications. Right.

[01:16:39] I don’t think it matters. You have the, I’m really glad that you haven’t ever let that stop you. It doesn’t seem like that’s been a big thing. That’s Cause it doesn’t, nobody ever asked me about my degree. Nobody ever asked me about what my GPA was. They look at the work, just like you have work. They look at your work and they see, Hey, do I, or [01:17:00] they look at you in line and are like, he’s a jerk.

[01:17:02] I don’t want to work with him, you know, or they say, yeah, I do. So anyway, thanks, Carl. I really appreciate you being here and everybody else for being here. All right. Well, I will see you guys next week. Carl, I hope you sleep good tonight and have fun at the dance party 

[01:17:21] Colin Grist: next Wednesday. Thank you. Thanks, everyone.

[01:17:23] Thanks for having me, Diane. Take care of yourselves. See y’all.[01:17:30] 

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