172 – Growth v staying small

Debate – Growth v staying small

WP Builds is brought to you by...



GoDaddy Pro

This week’s discussion is a debate David and I have wanted to have from some time about business approaches.

Setting up the Debate

There’s many types of businesses providing websites and marketing to many different client types. We have self-employed freelancers seeing it more as their vocation or as a side gig. Then we have large Agencies with teams of specialists, designers, UX experts, frontend and backend developers, project manager and a whole load more.

Anyone who knows us we know we are really the former. Why the debate?

Want to get your product or service on our 'viewed quite a lot' Black Friday Page? Fill out the form...

Probably because there is a general wisdom that self employed people need to think of themselves as a business and that business are expected to grow.

We are exploring whether this applies to those offering website services with WordPress.

So, somewhat arbitrarily, David is going to argue from the point of view of growth, and I’m (Nathan) will argue that we can stay small.

To summarise, these are the points that we bring to the table…

For growth (David)

  • businesses have to be competitive in a capitalist market and the collective can achieve more than the individual
  • growth can increase the quality of the service and the likelihood of innovation
  • we need to be able to accommodate work, not be restricted to the hours of one 
  • we can attend allow people to attend events such as WordCamp and contribute to the WordPress project etc.
  • increasingly people can DIY their website, making customers our competitors, but each will get stuck on something – maybe php or javascript coding or visual design, copy, or need to adhere to strict accessibility – the more specialism I have, the more people we can help
  • having a growth mentality stops you thinking like you are an employee and undercharging and not being able devolve responsibilities – see E-Myth revisited by Michael E. Gerber
  • who wants to work like a donkey their whole life – we all slow down and get less sharp so rather than let your start work go in to decline you delegate, bring in new ideas and take more of a back seat – use your wisdom and the new peoples energy – just how work was in the feudal system!
  • we all need change in our lives – if you grow the business correctly you have something to sell
  • able to pass on the day to day boring stuff to explore new avenues
  • you’re better able to spend time on marketing to avoid famine and feast

For staying small (Nathan)

  • you don’t need to grow the organisation to grow the potential income with so much automation available in digital services – care plans and building site is becoming automated more and more
  • we work in the rapidly changing digital world – we need to adapt quickly
  • when can making more money ever replace freedom in having a happy life – a whole life time on fight or flight mode seems like a good way to shorten life
  • we are connected globally to the innovation of others all the time now – we don’t need to permanently hire in
  • Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business – book by Paul Jarvis

Clearly, we don’t have all the answer, and it’s also pretty clear that both of us have adopted the same ‘stay small’ approach, but it’s an interesting debate nonetheless.

I have to say that I’m really enjoying these debate formats, they seems to bring something new out of both David and I as we have to think about a position which is often contrary to the one that we hold. I don’t have to do this all too often in life and so it’s allowing me to see things from the other side.

I really appreciate those of you who have taken the time to write comment and email about the previous debates, and would certainly welcome more of you to do that. If you’re on the wpbuilds.com website then feel free to click on the buttons below this post and subscribe to our updates and join us in our Facebook group where we often carry on the conversation.

Thanks for listening!

Mentioned in this episode:

E-Myth revisited by Michael E. Gerber

Company of One by Paul Jarvis

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you this week by…


Omnisend is the top-rated email and SMS marketing platform for WordPress. More than a hundred thousand merchants use Omnisend every day to grow their audience and sales. Ready to start building campaigns that really sell? Find out more at www.omnisend.com

GoDaddy Pro

The home of Managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL, and 24/7 support. Bundle that with the Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients, and get 30% off new purchases! Find out more at go.me/wpbuilds.

The WP Builds Deals Page

It’s like Black Friday, but everyday of the year! Search and Filter WordPress Deals! Check out the deals now

Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your hosts, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there, and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. This is episode number 172 entitled growth versus staying small. It was published on Thursday the 26th of March, 2020. My name is Nathan Wrigley, and I'll be joined in just a few moments by David Waumsley because we're going to have our second debate.
The debate format is fairly new to us, and we sort of try to be a little bit more adversarial and try to challenge each other's opinions. Anyway, we'll get to that in a moment. Before then, the usual housekeeping head over to WP Builds.com it's where we . Put all of our content, which is mostly to do with WordPress, but there's a few specific links I'd like to point out to you, however, is the WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe over there.
You're going to find a couple of email lists. One will allow us to keep in touch with you when we produce our content, which is usually a. Thursday podcast, which you're listening to now, but we produce two bits of content on a Monday as well. We produced the WordPress weekly news, which comes out very early on a Monday morning, and then we also have a live version of that news where we have some people from the WordPress community often from all over the world talking about the last week in the WordPress news.
So that's WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. The other list on there allows us to . Tell you when we found out about product deals, so it might be a discount on a particular plugin, and we'll alert you as soon as we hear about it. Over on that page, you'll also be able to subscribe to us on your favorite podcast player, and please join us in our Facebook group over 2,400 WordPress's.
And it's very friendly indeed as a bunch of other links as well. But I'll let you explore that for yourself. The other pages, WP Builds.com forward slash deals. This is a bit like black Friday, but every day of the week there's coupon codes for a whole bunch of WordPress products. So if you are in the market for something this week, WP Builds.com forward slash deals might be for you.
And the final one that I always mentioned is WP Builds.com forward slash advertise, and if you have a WordPress product or service that you would like to be put in front of a WordPress specific audience, well this podcast might be just the thing for you. Okay, let's get on with the main podcast, shall we?
So today, David Waumsley and I are having our debates, it's about growth versus staying small. And the idea really is, well, we're kind of often told the mantra that you need to grow your agency. Growth is the point of a business. It must be growing in order for it to be healthy. But is that in fact the case?
What are the benefits of growing? Because there clearly are some, should we have a growth mindset at all costs? Or are there some benefits for staying small? So join us today as we discuss this. I hope that you enjoy it. Hello. This week's discussion is a debate Nathan, I have wanted to have for some time, and it's about business approaches.
We didn't know what to call this one. We called it growth versus stay in small. We couldn't find a an opposite for growth that worked, but just to set up the debate, we're really talking about the fact that there were many different types of . Businesses that are providing client website services and marketing, and there's lots of different types of clients.
So I think traditionally, would you agree that most people think that growth is a good thing for businesses, and we're all running businesses, but. Were kind of also, a lot of us are freelancers, like Nathan and I are, where we might see it more as having a job. So we're just trying to discuss really the business approach itself, which is kind of the best.
So I'm going to take on growth and Nathan, you're taking staying small, which is such a, such a, such a sort of derogatory title, but but one that I'm one that I'm prepared to defend. Yeah. It's interesting though, just before we kind of get into it and what have you. The it is, it feels to me as if staying small, just from the outside, it feels to me as if staying small is often seen as the poor relation of growth.
Do you know what I mean? In that growth always seems to be in all businesses, the goal, the goal is to grow, and that is kind of the raison d'etre, I think for many people starting off. but clearly, you know, it might not work out that way. And you may feel a failure because of staying small, but I suppose I'm here to defend that approach as, as, as if, you know, you could start a business with the intention of staying small and that's completely all right.
Yeah. And I'm going to be arguing against character. I'm going to be out for mail for this, aren't I? I'm pitching for growth. Yeah. You've, one of us had to take on the mantle this week of something that they didn't believe in. And and this week it's David who doesn't believe in growth. So with that.
Absolute punch to the gut. We should start. Yeah. So, okay, well, we got some points, haven't we? So let's, I'm going to start with the first thing. So, you know, growth is just the way that businesses really have to run in a capitalist market. Isn't it? That's the way the collective can do more than the individual and with growth.
Having a business mentality like that, you can increase the quality of your service and the likelihood of innovation as you grow as your business grows. Well, you know, there's definitely no comeback from me on that in that everything that you've said is objectively true. You know, in the sense that if there was six people working on a team with me, they would be able to have six different sets of ideas and so on.
So, yes, I, I concede those points are true. But, But I'm not entirely sure that I, I need to worry about them too much because I think the, the things that I can achieve are more than enough for what it is that I need to get out of my business. So yes, I could take on more projects if there were six of me.
Yes, there would be six different ideas swirling around. But luckily, you know, the internet being what it is, I can, I can go out and reach out to friends and colleagues and ask for their opinions on things. And in some ways that, that kind of removes that barrier. But yeah, I can't argue in a, in a capitalist market, there is definitely more that you could achieve with, with, with, a team.
Hmm. I'm just also, I mean, I think one of the arguments I'm in, I'm going to barber a lot to really from E myth revisited, a book that I've talked about before on this, and in some ways that's taken a typical freelances view of running their business, which is to run it really more like your, you are an employee still, so yeah.
If you do that, and we've run up against this issue of, being able to accommodate work. So we've, it's famine and feast for as often. So the thing about going for growth is that if you thinking about it as a business and you've got systems in place, you're gonna be able to accommodate more work because you're going to, you're going to have that system to be able to take on more people and have processes ready as a business.
For when that work comes in and not just be restricted to your hours and what you can take on in any given period of time. Yeah, I'll accept certain parts of that in that you'll definitely be able to take on more work and your roster won't have to stretch out to 12 months to, to, to achieve the same amount of tasks as a team of, let's say six, which could probably do it in two months.
However, I'm, I'm not entirely convinced that the, the kind of the feast famine thing wouldn't still be there because. After all, if there's six mouths to feed and six people whose chairs in the office, I've got to justify their existence. You've got to find six times more work. So the feast famine thing is, is still a problem.
You've just, you've got to put more work. Through the books each month to, to pay for that. And presumably there'll be a kind of like an a, a pay scale within the business as well. and it may be that if you're at the apex of that pay scale and you are the person that ostensibly owns or founded the company, your salary is likely to fluctuate just as much as it ever did before because you've probably got fixed.
Wage bills for your five other staff and they're going to be paid X and whatever is left at the end is yours, and some months that might be all very nice rubbing the hands together. This was a good month and another months it might be, Oh, just like when I was a freelancer, I've got nothing in the pot for myself.
Yep. There is that the issue, but I mean, in some ways you're unlimited though, aren't you? If you stick as the one person with the number of work and you don't, you haven't had the system, you've not employed more people, so you don't have those skills to recruit. And employ more people. So once you've employed a few people, then you've almost got the mechanism to grow and then you're going to obviously bring in people on perhaps temporary contracts so you can reduce down again.
But I still think you are stuck. If you've got whole bunch of what you would have to turn some away as an individual, which you. Could probably accommodate more if you've got help. Yeah. luckily I don't have a great deal of experience of turning in work. or unluckily probably is the way I should describe it.
Most of the work that comes in my direction, I'm happy to do and always have been happy to do. But yeah, I think, I think there are models on both sides, which, which would fit. A certain approach. And I would also say, and you alluded to it, that in this day and age, the notion of hiring in temporary work, I know quite a lot of people who hire in work, in all sorts of different countries for very short periods of time.
So they might get a VA in a different country. Where perhaps the, the wage bill will be slightly more acceptable and they can be done on a very sort of temporary basis. And so you might get them for a month or two months or even a matter of weeks. And so that in the modern world of the internet, that that is a possible way that you can still be a freelancer, but kind of accommodate those tasks.
So you're right, you're not taking on a permanent wage bill, but in a sense, you are acting a bit like an agency, but for a smaller, more modest amount of time. Yeah. And then kind of related point, would you, you could make the same argument on the other side is the fact that the number skills, so I've recently, I've got a couple of jobs which are more challenging than I've had, and it led me to almost pushing those away because I don't think I've got the.
Well, I haven't got the PHP skills or the JavaScript skills that really this could do with the amount of custom work expected. Now, if I had a growth mentality and I was thinking of growing my business, probably by this point, I'd be able to accommodate more of that kind of work. Because even though I couldn't possibly do all that as one person, I could get somebody who, you know, has got at least a PHP and JavaScript coding skills and perhaps somebody else who's better on the visuals that may, and it would open me up to.
Perhaps better pain work in my growth and more work, more possible work we could take on. Certainly there'd be less time spent agonizing over whether or not you had the capability to do it because you know, if you had an agency and let's say that you took the approach that you were going to hire a PHP guy or a PA or a JavaScript person, then you would just, you know, if any of that work came through the door, you can quickly scope it out with them and say, look.
Is this something we can do okay over to you? Is this something we can do? And very quickly, you'd arrive at a decision, whereas as a freelancer, I guess your process is going to be much more, communicating with people who you hope can help you out. And if they can't, eventually you're just going to have to turn that work down.
So, yeah, that's a, that's an interesting point. but you've still, you know, coming back to it, I'm probably going to keep banging this gong. You've still gotta you still gotta pay these people, whether the work's coming through the door or not. Yeah. I think the, the, the thing is having it in house gives you a flexibility you wouldn't get if you are small.
The, the growth argument I would make is fact that if you can build up a team where you've got all the core skills needed and each of those would have their core skills, so they might be able to hire in. Temporality, some somebody else. But as a team, you would be able to work together because you would, you would have some kind of management system where you knew what each was capable of doing and how you worked.
So I think. The, the growth and having a bigger team could, you could do, achieve so much more because of the regular people working with each other, knowing each of the skills and the crossover over than they would do from hiring and temporarily somebody. Yeah. Yep. Again, all those points I can see there's definitely work that I will never be able to undertake because of the limited breadth of a daytime, but also.
Capability. You know, the things that I simply am not good to good at, and I think it's in this industry, certainly if you have a whole bunch of skills that's very hard to keep up with, you know, it's very difficult, I would imagine, to be a, a, a real cutting edge JavaScript expert. And. A PHP expert and then, you know, virtually impossible.
I think at that point then to become an expert designer and have all the skills in that severe. So somebody like me is ostensibly trying to be all those things at once, whereas it's certain that, you know, three, three individuals trying to tackle those three different jobs are going to be better at it.
Again, conceded. Yeah. It's more about the, the, I guess the growth is in the terms of the, the jobs that you can earn and the more profitable jobs. So the more skills you have in your unit because you've grown, then it gives you much more flexibility to be able to take on even bigger jobs, which you would expect to be more profitable as you.
Kind of raise up your game, really in terms of the types of builds that you're going to make. They're going to be more enterprise. People are going to have more of a budget to pay for your agency rather than you as a freelancer. Yes. I, I've been able to accommodate most of these requests via the plugin architecture in WordPress.
You know, somebody has come along and said, is it possible? So, for example, I would like an online booking system, and if that was given to me. And I had no plugin architecture and I was building this all from scratch. The answer to that question would be a simple no, I won't be able to accommodate that because I can't possibly build you a booking system in the time that you've, that you've allowed.
But the beauty of being able to transfer a few dollars over to a plugin developer who's taken that on is one of the reasons I suspect many freelancers are using WordPress because it allows you to defer those capabilities over to somebody else. And should their plugin be successful and stick around for a long time and be supportive and updated.
You've got a fair degree of confidence pitching to clients that, you know, yes, I can build your booking system. Here it is. This is what we're going to use. You may like to keep that secret and just. You know, kind of masquerade that you've, you've designed it all in house. I don't know how you work, but I'm, I quite happily share what I'm doing and tell them about the plugins I'm going to use, largely because I want them to take on the licensing of those plugins.
But, the bespoke nature of it. So let's take an example of ridiculous example. If the formula one team came to me and said, we want a website and it has to do this, this, this, this, and this, you know that they've got deep pockets and they're. They're probably going to want something absolutely bespoke.
It's got to do exactly what we wanted to do with no deviation from that path at all. Whereas my current set of customers, they want it to do something, and I'll tell them the capabilities of the cheap plugin architecture. Okay, it can do this and this, but no, it won't be able to do that, sadly. But you know, that's, that was a wishlist really, and it wasn't that necessary anyway.
and that, that overcomes the problem for me. So I would imagine a team for enterprise clients is really valuable. I mean, completely essential or most. But for the, the normal regular websites that I'm building, WordPress plugins mixed with what I can bring to it works just fine. Yeah. And I think, you know, I've had a client recently where I thought, I mean I'm, I'm arguing for growth, but in some ways I wish I was a bigger company.
Cause when I was looking at their requirements or what the things that they wanted, I don't think they're necessarily the requirements I was having to explain to them, this is e-commerce and this client, well, we kind of have to work in the plugins that we can rely on with woo commerce if we're going the WordPress route.
And yeah. The one thing is true rarely. When you start adding a lot of these plugins in, they're not just designed to do the tasks that the client wants. They're designed to. Do the task that a number of people want. That's how they managed to sell the plugins. So the end product that they've got is heavier, more bloated than it would have needed to have been.
and perhaps less reliable than it would have been if they'd had gone to a company with a team with front and back end developers who were to build that system from the ground up. What's an, even if you're working on WordPress, the fact that you could build your own plugins just for your specific purposes.
Rather than have to take one off the shelf, which has been built for a number of people. So that's an argument for the growth there. You can perhaps do even on the smaller scale jobs a better job. Yes. I suppose it comes down to that one. Essentially that argument does come down to budget, doesn't it end the, yeah, and I believe that's why WordPress is so popular because of its plugin architecture amongst other things.
But, the fact that you can dig into your pocket and drag out a relatively modest amount of dollars and achieve a very significant proportion of what it is that you would like to achieve. So let's say you had a laundry list of a hundred items, you might be able to get away with 70, 80 of those. With plugins and you either then have to pay for the remaining 30% to be developed on top of WordPress, which is significantly cheaper.
Or you bin those 30 and say, okay, we'll just go with what's possible. Or you go and pay 10 X probably more. To, to have a team build the whole thing from scratch. So it depends, I guess what you want to do. You know, my example of, the formula one probably wasn't a really good one, but let's say for example, you're a, you're a company, like there's a company in the UK called the trainline.com.
And the reason I bring that up is because I looked at it yesterday. They sell basically train tickets throughout the UK, and there's no way that system is built on top of a. A publicly available CMS. He said about, I'll find out that it actually is, but, you know, my, my guests with 99% confidence is that that system was engineered from the ground up to carry out the specific tasks that that company need with zero bloat, everything they need built in bespoke with a team to keep it going.
And that team. Needed to be a team. There's no way it could have been done by an individual cause it's far too complicated. So yes, again, a concession or concede that you need a team to, to achieve certain difficult tasks. she like put another point forward then. Mm. Mm. So you're going to have to imagine, I guess I'm in my twenties now.
That won't be too much. No, I can, you've got a lovely voice. It doesn't sound at all elderly. So reason for growth might be just that it's kind of almost natural in life, isn't it? In a way that are kind of, so if I'm in my early twenties I'm thinking, okay, I've got the energy to start up my business. I can do this as a job, as a freelancer, to stay in small doing the same thing.
Over and over, and I live in. But if I grow big and think of it as a business in my early twenties if I'm really small and wise in my early twenties I'm going to realize I'm going to slow down by the time I get to my real age, 56 now. So, you know, and, and you realize that you are. Slowing down and you're not as sharp and you don't want to do as much.
Now. Now, if I was building a business, I'd be building this sensibly too. When I had my skills, I'd be trained in it to other people so they can slowly take over what I do. I'll build up systems, I can slow down and I can use my other skill, which I get as I get older, which is wisdom to be able to oversee the business and then eventually.
You know, I'm going to sell it or I'm going to sort of duck out. So I made, you're taking shares, earnings from it, and that's just going to be the natural way of life. So that kind of growth is natural in my life in the same way that you might even find that in earlier feudal systems. You know, where everybody has a role to play in the elderly, become the wise people, but they do less physical work.
So I build that into my strategy for my working life. It's a really interesting point and I can see it, but I think it relies on a couple of things. The first one is . In, in the, in the sense that you're describing it, it relies on a bucket load of hindsight, which is, which is great. And I think, you know, we've all looked back at parts of our lives and thought, Oh, you know what?
I wish I could talk to my, my 20 year old self, and give them some. Top tips about the, the wisdom as you've described it, that I gained as I've gone through life, but I don't think most people are furnished with that knowledge. I mean, I really wasn't, there was no sense in my earlier life when I began working with the web that, okay.
The principle here is to grow a business, mature into that business, to the point where I will have staff who are going to take on some of the things which I've grown a bit weary of. I will then be able to concentrate on other things, grow that business in order to sell it, and then perhaps do something else or maybe retire at that point depending on , depending on where I'm at.
So I think that the, I think the, the, the benefit of hindsight there is good. I think a lot of people simply don't have that understanding at that age because they haven't been educated in that way. They haven't, they haven't had the benefit of reading the right books and they're literally going into business just to fend the bills, you know, to pay the mortgage, to put food on the table, just to keep it going.
and the lucky few who have read those books and taken on that knowledge in some way, shape, or form, probably are the ones who. Who figured it out and grow these big businesses. The other thing that I would say though is that even with the benefit of hindsight, I still don't think I would have made those decisions because I'm probably gonna make this point over and over again, so I won't overdo it now.
I just didn't. Want to, there's a part of me which just didn't want to have that aspiration in life to grow the business in order to sell the business. And I will touch more on that a lot later. But anyway, that's, that's my rebuttal to that point. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm, I'm going in there again with me being a, a quite wise 20 something year old where I, I'd be the other reason for growing a kind of business that would ideally take care of itself in terms of the day to day would be that I'd be recognizing the fact that I'm going to get bored of doing the day to day and I'm going to need to have a change in my life.
So, you know. They, my aspiration for growth would be the fact that I, I would be able to, as soon as I got bored of that, let it take care of itself. I've grown the business or the people that are doing those jobs. I can go and set up another business should I want to or do something else with my time. Yup.
Yup. Again, all conceded and different, but it is. I think, I think hindsight is the correct word there because I really didn't have, in fact, I would say it was only in the last 10 years that the notion of growing something and growing it in order to design the processes, document the processes so that it could be sold on as a going concern, which was understood by the buyer to be profitable.
That that whole knowledge is pretty new to me. I purely got into work in order to, to pay the bills and do some and do that work in an area that I was really genuinely interested in. So I think having, having hindsight, wonderful, but I didn't. And so that's how it goes. I've got, I've really only got one more point that I can put forward and that might be where the failing could be for staying small would be the fact that with the feast and famine, how do you find the proper time to do the marketing, to bring the work in as well as do the work.
if you don't grow and get people in to help you to do that. Yeah. Having a team which is solely working on the marketing must be delightful. That must be such a pleasure because I have to do the marketing. As I've said many times on this podcast, it kind of runs itself a little bit on word of mouth, but yeah, again, the ability to divest, Tasks that you don't wish to do to other people, say, wish to do, you know, maybe that you don't want to do, but also you just don't have the time to do. that, that would be lovely. Whereas I have to do them all. So I'll grant you that. But, but, but bought into that is the fact that maybe, maybe I don't want to divest those tasks.
Maybe it's, maybe it's okay for me to sort of handle this. Do 20 minutes of marketing. Half an hour of website building, three hours, communicating with support requests and you know, all of these kinds of things all mixed up in a day keeps it a bit interesting. It's not the same monotonous task. And I'm sure that we've all had experience of doing the same thing day in, day out.
and maybe people who are working in agencies can speak to this where you turn up and you know that for the next. Seven months, you're going to be working on just nothing but Java script and the idea fills you with dread a bit, rather have a bit, a bit of a mixture and a bit of a balance. And I'm guessing that in a, in a agency growth model, that's not the purpose.
The purpose is to have bums on seats where you are really, really good at your design task and you, that's you. You get those tasks over and over again because you're good at them. That has never sat well with me. I'd rather be. what does the phrase master of non, I think then I would be really good at one particular thing.
That's going to sound ridiculous to many people who just think, no, that's a shockingly appalling thing to say, but it kind of suits me. Yeah. I think I've done a very lousy job arguing for growth because it's not what I believe in. Is it? You know? Well, I think so. I think you've probably raised a bunch of really important points, and the principle here isn't to sort of like slam one into the ground and saying, no, we don't want to do it.
But the it, it's true. There's clearly benefits. You know, the people who want to become, let's say, just take one example. People who want to become wealthy out of working on the web. I think they're really gonna struggle to do that by themselves. The only way to accumulate that wealth is to have multiple, branches to your business.
Multiple employees, multiple different heavyweight clients who've got deep pockets and the agency is the way to go. And the history shows that, you know, the big players in the WordPress space, the big agencies, I don't know what they pay their directors. But I'm sure it's more than the average freelancer.
Otherwise, you know, something's gone wrong somewhere. So that might be the reason. Also, some people are just simply interested in the process of business. They just love the, the cotton, the thrust and the design and the strategy and the processes and the working out the employee relations and figuring out and pension schemes and policies for this and that.
They just like it. They like to be involved in a thriving, busy, changing enterprise. So, you know. There's benefits to it without a shadow of a doubt. Yeah, absolutely. Sure. We can talk freely now is final thoughts because in a way we know we're always setting up false opposites. Aren't we, in a way? Because there's no way you you necessarily, well, there's no way that you.
Staying small doesn't mean you can't grow. Yeah. It isn't though. I mean, that's, you know, we know that we can, we'll all grow growing a little bit. I think as with care plans and things like that, that's growth without growing our numbers, isn't it? Yeah. And growth doesn't, you know, growth doesn't have to stretch infinitely out of sight.
That's, that's, I think the thing, you know. Growth doesn't have to have a cap on it, or sorry. I mean, I think it can sort of have a cap on it. In other words, growth for you might be just filling up your roster for the next few months. That might be all that you need out of it. And the idea of growth, more people, more wages, more.
More employees. You know, all of this is just the absolute antithesis of what I want out of life. I do not want to be responsible for somebody else's payroll and somebody else's mortgage, and I know it would never actually come down to that. But knowing me and the way that I behave, I would, I would feel.
Such terrible, terrible anxiety, I think is the right word. If the business wasn't working and I was unable to pay those people's salaries, or you know, things weren't working out, I'd feel, I'd feel that very deeply. And, and I think probably there's a large part of my personality is in this decision. The fact that I, I've never wished to grow is because I feel much more comfortable with the notion that I am in control.
Of what I do. And whilst that from the outside might look very modest. It, it works for me and I don't have to worry about those, those anxieties and those problems that, that, that people who've got agencies do have to worry about. And that suits me down to the ground. It's just a different approach to life, a different set of expectations and a, and it just works for me.
I mean, after all we are, you know, we're all different. You walk down the street and you see. Every shape and form of life is just all sorts of different characters and some people. driving past my house in their Jaguars. Other people driving past in their much more modest little cars. You know, some people have got a great big house with all the accoutrements in life, and other people are living in a much more modest, set of circumstances.
But, you know, the guy living in the modest house might have a fabulous. I don't know. Side gig in play in the guitar every evening where he just sits down with his family and he plays the guitar and he's very happy just, and I think that's where I'm going with this. Ultimately, I think it comes down to a couple of things.
The first one is my time and my time is mine. There is nobody who gets to tell me. What to do with my time. Now, of course, there, there are clients who have demands on my time, but they don't get to say at three o'clock. What do you need? You in this room with this bit of paper in front of you because we're going to talk about it and we need you to show up and punch your card at nine o'clock in the morning.
Nobody's doing that to me and I love that. I really love that. My time is mine. If I want to take an hour off now. I'm gonna take an hour off now, if I want to, you know, go on holiday next Wednesday, I'm going to go on holiday next Wednesday. Now of course, it's a dream. It's completely false to say that, you know, just because you've got the capability to have the time, you know, to yourself that you, you deploy that you don't, you probably work harder.
Maybe, I don't know. because you're trying to juggle all these different tasks at once, but the time is, is really important to me. I've got, yeah. Of course small kids. And I've been able to spend way more time with my kids than had I had to show up for a job and leave at seven in the morning and get back at six at night.
Much more time. Cause I've, you know, go to get them from school most days and spend a bit of time with them after. School was finished and so on and so forth. you know, yeah. No, I was going to say you, you said something and it just made me think of an argument for growth. I was thinking, I talked to you earlier about my brother.
In a way, he's going a different route. He built up a business. I think it employs about 40 people now. One of the things that you said that you didn't like is probably one of the things that is proud of. I believe he is. He seems to talk. Proudly the fact that he does manage to employ these people out of the work that he set up the business, he's good.
He's given work to these people. So that's one of his pleasures. I think it's interesting. Yeah, and that's totally fair enough. I just think kind of make a terrible boss because I'd be worrying about all of the wrong things. I really don't think that, you know, that that would have worked out very well for anybody where looking for me.
But that's a lovely thought though, encapsulating the idea of. Giving 40 people a steady income and he's been able to do that, I think is is absolutely fabulous. You know, there's no doubt about it, and if that's one of the motivating factors for him, and that's one of the things that gives him satisfaction, then great.
I wonder how much of this and this we're straying into very dangerous waters here. If I open up this can of worms, but I'm going to do it anyway. I wonder how much of this is. Is my personality. Let's leave it like that. You're not going to get into sort of genetics or nurture versus nature or anything like that, but just, just me as a person.
You know what it is because I can trace this. Really right back to being a kid. I think if I had the benefit of hindsight back then, I would have spotted this even as a child. I would have known that there were some people around me who were clearly driven by a different set of goals than I was. For me, it was always about being happy, playing with my mates.
And again, I'm talking as a child, spending a lot of time outside, you know, not really worrying too much about the future. Just having a really nice time. Now. Right this minute. Yeah. And, and that sort of stuck with me, I think through life a little bit. And I, so I wonder how much of a component of this is, is our personality types.
I think that's it. A personality is good cause yeah. There is a debate on genetics there and the, interesting enough, I've got two brothers who are who are identical twins. So they are sharing the same genes. Exactly. One of them has the business that he's grown with, the 40 people and always intended. To do it for a certain length of time and then sell it off.
And that's his retirement. Very much going for the growth. The other one is much more like me who set it up really more like working for himself. But his priority in life like me is to have these, cause he, he really works in the summer periods when the weather's good. Did they has these long periods where you can go off to the beach and stuff.
So the two identical people with two different business approaches, one, one intended to. Stay small for what they see as their freedom. The other one not having much freedom, but in, and it's going to be interesting because he's trying to sell this business. The one who's grown his business wants to sell it now.
So if it does, we'll be interested to see is either winner out of us all with it, is put all this work in and there's he going away with a big pot and all this freedom to himself. Again, we chatted about this beforehand that I was saying it's an interesting notion, isn't it? The idea of a winner. Yeah. The idea of a winner in life and the notion that there's a goal post, sorry, like a finish line.
And should your brother sell his business and stop working? Then he's broken through the finish line and for him, that race is over and he succeeded in it and as you described it, he's won. But I would, I would fly up to 10,000 feet and look down upon the whole of life, the broad stretch from the moment you were born to the moment.
Sadly, we pass away. And your, your brother who's managed, managed to sell his business is well, for the sake of argument, let's say he's seven tenths of the way through his life. and I don't know anything about his business. I don't know if that's been a frustrating experience growing the business, but let's imagine that it has.
Let's imagine that it's been a difficult experience and it's meant that he's been having to work. Crazy hours every day. And he's done this for year after year after year. And then he's finally got to this point. You sold the business and now he's got this pocket of time at the end in which he's, he, he's finished and he's got loads of free time.
And retirement is going to be glorious because the pot of money is, is overflowing and he can spend his money however he likes. Whereas you different approach, you've had many, many, many years before the finish line. Have a much more relaxed approach to life, should we say, an approach where you've been able to take time off, you've been able to do the things that you like.
You've been able to travel the world. You've been able to do all these wonderful things. And, and somehow they get lost and they never get weighed up. So it's not about the finish line. It's not about the moment of retirement. I think it's about life right now and life yesterday and life tomorrow and much more for me, life in much more in immediate terms.
I, yeah. History shows. I've not really thought about the longterm future. My business isn't really aligned for that, and perhaps there's a part of me that regrets that. Certainly as I get older, those thoughts start to creep into my life, but they never did until recently. And I think it's because I've been focused more on having quite a nice time now spending time with those that I love going out and doing things that I enjoy.
And I don't honestly know which one is right, but I know which one I prefer. Yeah. I think that's it, isn't it? Where you're happy with your law. I think, you know, when it comes to my brothers, they both are happy with where they are. I think I do feel the one who has built his business though, perhaps has the more frustration says and potentially is closer to damaging his health more, which I think is a real key thing about.
Whichever one you go down, you've got to watch your health, haven't you? I mean, my situation is the most ridiculous of a mall when it comes to this recent period in my life. Cause I've only done this running my own business because what I did is I left my job, I affectively went on a long holiday and then worked out how I could keep funding this holiday.
So mine is almost not even, you know, I'm, I'm working out how to be a freelancer, let alone run a bigger business, you know? So, yeah. Yeah, no. So I've gone to the extreme of the other state in small, you know, mentality. Yeah. But you, from, from everything that you've said, it sounds like, I don't mean just today.
I mean, over the many years we've been having these conversations, it sounds like you have quite a nice life. yeah, yeah. Definitely. Can't complain. So, yeah. So there you go. And I think that's it, right? It may be that maybe the argument can be simply encapsulated in money versus happiness. no, not that the two are mutually exclusive because clearly that's not the case.
You could quite easily have both, but you could also have neither. Or you could possibly just have one. And I think if it was forced upon me to choose one as opposed to both or nom, I'd go for, I'd go for happiness and a time over money always. Nathan, you win this one, but what's going to be interesting?
I'd love to hear if anybody's going to talk to us after listening to this, if there's some growth people that were really wanting to grow at an agency, really wanting to grow a business, I'd love to know what their motivation is and what their dreams are from it and what they're expecting. I'd love to know and why they do what, what gets them up in the morning?
Why there. Fueled to, to kind of grow a business. Yeah. I'd love to know. Yeah, I would as well, because it's so the antithesis of you and I, and I really sort of listening, listening to what we've said. And I think probably we haven't, we haven't articulated this so well because we are both so entrenched in our.
In our stay small approach to life. and you know, very much hoping that if somebody has listened to this and just be shouting at the podcast, you idiot. What's, that's got nothing to do with why I began things and you've completely got it right. Do let us know cause it would be interesting. So yeah, reach, reach out in the comments.
Should we, should we not get on the head? Indeed. I hope that you enjoyed that episode. It is really interesting chatting with David about these because essentially we do flip a coin to decide who's going to be on which side of the debate, and it does force us both to think about either side, both sides, and that's quite new for me, at least.
Anyway, often I've got a an entrenched position, and in these debates I'm forced sometimes to take it from the other side. So really interesting stuff. I hope you got something from it. Maybe you are the. The person who wishes to stay small or aspires to grow big, and maybe we've given you some little pointers, some bits of advice about why both the physicians might have their own merits.
The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by WP and UP one in four of us will be directly affected by mental health related illness. WP and UP supports and promotes positive mental health within the WordPress community. This is achieved through mentorship, events, training, and counseling. Please help enable WP and UP by visiting WP and UP.org forward slash give.
As I said at the top of the show, we do plenty of WordPress related stuff each week. We'll be back next Thursday for the next podcast, and also on Monday, twice 7:00 AM in the morning, I will release the WordPress weekly news so you can subscribe to that forward. Slash subscribe WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe I should say, and also 2:00 PM UK time.
We'll also have the live version of the news, so plenty to look forward to and maybe we'll catch you at some point during the coming week. I'll fade in some cheesy but quite chirpy music and so bye for now.

Support WP Builds

We put out this content as often as we can, and we hope that you like! If you do and feel like keeping the WP Builds podcast going then...

Donate to WP Builds

Thank you!

Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

Articles: 1097

Filter Deals

Filter Deals


  • Plugin (183)
  • WordPress (103)
  • Lifetime Deal (34)
  • eCommerce (29)
  • Other (17)
  • Theme (17)
  • Design (14)
  • SaaS (14)
  • Hosting (12)
  • Admin (9)
  • Content (8)
  • Security (7)
  • Maintenance (5)
  • Training (4)
  • Blocks (3)

% discounted

% discounted

Filter Deals

Filter Deals


  • WordPress (39)
  • Plugin (33)
  • Admin (30)
  • Content (18)
  • Design (11)
  • Blocks (6)
  • Maintenance (6)
  • Security (5)
  • Hosting (4)
  • Theme (3)
  • WooCommerce (3)
  • SaaS app (2)
  • Lifetime Deal (1)
  • Not WordPress (1)
  • Training (1)

% discounted

% discounted



WP Builds WordPress Podcast



WP Builds WordPress Podcast
%d bloggers like this: