Jan 18, 2024

What I learned in my company's first six months

It's all about building a runway and embracing the pivot.

Just over six months ago, I started my own business. I was terrified.

But I’m happy to say the first half-year of The Andrew McGill Company has been really rewarding: Five great clients, challenging projects, and time to pursue my own passions (more on that soon!)

Somehow, new entrepreneurs are now reaching out to me for advice. I thought I didn’t have much to offer. But I’ve realized that starting a business is like learning any new skill – the early stages are filled with growth, and that’s worth sharing.

I'm Andrew McGill, a product builder who turns delightful ideas into real things.

I used to make stuff at The Atlantic and POLITICO. Now I build things with people like you.

So I’m evaluating my thoughts through a matrix: from Surprising to Expected, and a Big Deal to a Little Deal.

Surprising big deal: Your business at six months will not be the one you expect.

When I started my company, I figured I’d spend my time designing interactive experiences and stories. Instead, most clients want my help prototyping new products or building a business strategy — which has been far more rewarding.

Unsurprising big deal: Starting a business is an emotional roller coaster, and building out your runway is the only antidote.

In the first few weeks of The Andrew McGill Company, one promising conversation would put me on top of the world, and a single discouraging word would send me back to the bottom.

That changed as I started earning money. I started with three months runway. The magic number for me was six months. I felt calmer, and I also had the confidence to turn away work — to focus on the projects that had the most value to me.

Surprising small deal: Administrative work and menial tasks are way more bearable when they’re for your own business.

I’ve always hated submitting expenses. When I worked at Politico and The Atlantic, I’d put it off forever.

And yet — I now love opening Quickbooks and categorizing my spending.

My explanation? I’m now doing these things for myself. It’s not a hoop I have to jump through for someone else: It’s building my own wealth.

Unsurprising small deal: it helps to enjoy business development when you’re developing a business.

My biggest fear in starting my company was that I’d be terrible at finding clients, or that I’d dislike doing it. I “hated networking” and how transactional it felt — I’d rather just have a conversation!

Well, that’s what business development is. I’m constantly having calls and conversations that could be categorized as “warm leads.” But I never consider these talks as me playing salesman. I’m listening to someone tell me about a problem they have.

It turns out that I really enjoy this! But on the flip side, if I didn’t — I would be utterly screwed. Business rarely falls in your lap. You have to seek it out.

Whatever you’re looking to build,
I’d love to chat. Drop me a line.