Small Business Profile: Crossing Gaps
Christine is a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft with several years experience in the .com industry.
She recently started social venture labs, an idea incubator for those leading small mission-driven businesses or organizations looking to create relationships, share ideas and get feedback on common business practices. She is new to StartupNation, and looking to profile mission driven companies and discusses related themes.
To follow up on a previous post requesting feedback on topics and offering to highlight members of the community, I learned of a company called Crossing Gaps — they help bring creative people (writers, artists, musicians, startups) online. Crossing Gaps helps them with everything from web design to marketing and monetization strategy so they can focus on doing what they do well, creating great products and services. My interest in this company is that it’s a classic .com consulting firm started by 3 guys, lots of whiteboarding and the desire to help people. They, like many organizations in their early stages, are feeling their way, finding ways to diversify their revenue and opportunities. Crossing Gaps will be an interesting company to watch.
Before starting his own business, Spalding worked as the online marketing director at Grooveshark, a music streaming company out of Gainesville, FL. He met co-founders Quang Tran and Nathan Thompson. Nate was his first intern and Quang and Steve had been working on various entrepreneurial projects for about a year before they buckled down and decided to throw themselves into Crossing Gaps. The opportunity to work in a startup helped prepare him for the challenges he could expect to see in his own endeavor.
“Blogging about entrepreneurs before joining Grooveshark gave me some idea of what having my own business might be like, but there is nothing quite like being in trenches. ” – Steven Spalding
Enjoying the coaching aspect of consulting the most, Spalding enjoys seeing his clients move to the next level in their marketing. He works with large and small organizations but the most satisfying work he does is with their smaller clients. “To see people who didn’t know anything about marketing on the web three months before be able to do effective, creative things without any prompting from us is really fantastic.”
Spalding recently authored a book named All The Little Things. Centered on creativity, building great ideas on the web and keeping yourself sane in the process. He is releasing a version for free, (http://atltbook.com) and selling a PDF “Final Edition.” For some inspiration, give it a read.
Spalding, an Electrical Engineer by degree, recognized that the people building the most exciting technology are the least able to explain it to others or commercialize it effectively.
| The Opportunity.
Crossing Gaps offers a wide range of services to their clients based on need-business phase they find themselves in. From helping them “get online” to developing the right marketing mix (social media, print, online) to achieve their goals.
Here is a little more of my conversation with Steven:
What is the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome to start your business?
We started our little enterprise right in the middle of the economic downturn. We have had to deal with everything that entails. No one has money, everyone is tightening their belts and you have to work better and smarter to survive. When I reflect on it, I know it has made us a stronger firm. We’ve needed to be really realistic and really -good- to push through and when things turn around it will pay dividends.
What would you do over again, if you could?
I would be better organized. The biggest issue you have when you get three entrepreneurs in a room is that everyone is working on 50 projects at once and no one wants to write anything down. This is a fantastic way to create ideas, but when you start dealing with schedules and deadlines it gets to be really stressful. Over time we’ve built up systems to deal with that problem but it has been a lot of trial and error.
Has running your business been what you expected it would be? How?
It has been harder than even I expected it to be, and I had no delusions going into it. What it boils down to is responsibility, responsibility for people other than yourself. What I didn’t expect was that it never really “turns off.” When you run your own business, you live it, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Are you happy?
I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t. I am extraordinarily happy because I get to do something few people ever get to, wake up every day and know that I have control over what is happening next. Sure, we deal with clients, deadlines and all the other stuff that comes along with working with people but we make those choices and accept the consequences of them. It’s a great feeling.
What makes you get up in the morning?
Before I gave up caffeine I would have told you three cups of coffee and a migraine . . . Really, what makes me get up in the morning is knowing that I am one step closer to accomplishing my goals. As important as tangible success is to me, I know the most important
Have you ever failed?
I fail everyday and I think that’s a part of the point. If you aren’t failing you aren’t growing, and you can’t survive entrepreneurship without growth. The trick to failure, if there is one, is to admit it to yourself and try to take the lesson from it. It’s absolutely fine to fail, but it’s not if you are constantly failing and not learning from the scratches and bruises.