This business needs to be about more than just business

By: Brian Cardarella

I just fired a client. Day one in the year.

I’ve done it before, I’ll likely do it again. This one hurt. We’ve worked with this client for the past eight months to rebuild their platform. I’ve given them breaks on price. I’ve given them free engineering time. In the end it came down to a lack of respect for the relationship they had.

Each year I’ve written a retrospective about how the year went, the ups and downs of running a consultacy. In the first retrospective I wrote:

“As a consultancy we are looking to make money by engaging clients. If anybody tells you they’re consulting because it is their passion or work with startups, they are full of shit.”

I can tell you right now that I was full of shit. I got into consulting “for the money” but over the past four years we’ve built a company that has grown to 23 people. We’ve followed our passions with technology and design. We’ve made major contributions back to and have financially supported the software projects we think are going to build the web for the next decade and beyond. We made mistakes and we’ve made incredible bets that have paid off.

One of our engineers recently told me a story about how he was hanging out with a friend of his girlfriend. That friend knew our engineer was in software but didn’t know the name of the company. The friend began to speak about how he was reading a series of blog posts on Ember.js. That blog was our blog and that friend was impressed when our engineer told the friend where he worked.

This was actually an incredible moment for me when I heard this story. This was the first time that I heard a story about someone knowing about DockYard without our prompting them. Perhaps this may seem pedantic to you. But knowing that we’ve built something that people know about and respect has become very important to me.

I realize that I’m emotionally wrapped up in DockYard. Arguably to the point where it may impact my efficacy as CEO. Today I fired a client because of the lack of respect they showed to us as people. Is this good business? I don’t know, probably not. But I’ve become convinced that this business needs to be about more than just business.