Today, we mark the fourth birthday of Cameo Digital. Previous anniversaries have flown straight by us, missed amongst the Christmas preparations, but this one feels worth recognising, if only as a nice way of rounding off an extremely unusual year.
Like most businesses, we’ve had to adapt our ways of working this year. It’s been nice, though, to see how little some aspects have had to change. In a lot of ways 2020 has vindicated the way we’ve structured ourselves, independent and flexible and agile from the start, and it’s been lovely to see how many other companies have seen the same benefits we do from working more flexibly.
We’ve achieved more than ever for clients this year, in the face of change and uncertainty on a level we’ve never experienced before. We’re also truly delighted to have grown our team – with our two apprentices, Cat and Caroline, onboard, we’re looking forward to helping a new generation of digital marketers get a solid start in our industry.
“Working without a plan may seem scary. But blindly following a plan that has no relationship with reality is even scarier.”Jason Fried, Rework
I’ve always said that we’re not big on master plans. Our clients have goals they want to achieve, and that’s fine – if we’re helping them to achieve theirs, and we’re happy and productive doing it, we’re good.
In fact, I’ve come to realise that this isn’t exactly true. We do have a master plan. It’s just that instead of a plan that involves a period of struggle ending in the achievement of an ultimate goal, our master plan is to maintain the state of being we achieved on day one and keep it, day after day, adapting to whatever life throws at us.
Cameo was set up so we could do good work with good people. A place where we could do the best thing by clients, and ourselves, without getting caught up glorified burnout parading as “hustle”. Somewhere we can enjoy doing what we do now, and enjoy the process of crafting and improving it, without feeling the need to chase an arbitrary finish line.
We’re happy where we are, and we enjoy the process of getting better and slicker and smarter, little by little.
We have no growth plans, but we’ll gladly take on new work if it’s a good fit and we have time.
Revenue will grow as high as it grows, and we’ll use it to invest in better ways of working and better ways of being.
Head count will be as big as it needs to be; if we can sustainably bring more people into our way of thinking, so much the better.
As long as we’re still doing work we’re proud of, and as long as we’re happy doing it, we’re achieving our master plan.
This might not seem very business-like, but to us it seems like the only sensible option. We’ve chosen to accept the reality that most of the trappings of business (or at least, of a specific type of business that gets excited about rapid growth and exit plans and acquisitions) are at best symptoms of, and at worst distractions from our real goal: enjoying the human benefits, to us and our clients, of working the way we do.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
Cameo Digital’s first four years of existence have all been successful because we looked back at the end of every year and felt proud of what we’d done.
In 2020 we’ve made some more visible changes – our new team members, new clients, and our branding glow-up. We’ve also had the unwelcome but valuable opportunity to stress test the foundations of the business, coming through stronger. I’m very proud to look back and see how well we’ve coped with what, if I want to avoid the unprecedented abundance of glib marketing cliché words that have popped up since March, I can only describe as an absolute bastard of a year.
The way we’ve handled what’s been thrown at us in 2020 hints at how many different variations there could be on the theme of our master plan, of doing good work with good people in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. If we can come out well from this, we can do all sorts of amazing stuff, and that’s really exciting.
I can’t wait to see how we do it in year 5.