by Greg Kihlström of Carousel30 Interactive

Starting a business takes a lot of work. A lot. So, being the type of person that works long hours, sometimes doing things that I never intended to do while studying design back in school (Accounting? Contracts? HR?), I have always looked for ways to work smarter instead of simply working longer hours.

When I started Carousel30 Interactive just seven years ago, it was a four-person company with some complimentary skill sets amongst us, but it didn’t take long to realize that there were plenty of types of expertise that we had none of. At first, the temptation was always to read up on a topic and become an expert of it, but fairly soon it became clear that it made more sense to form partnerships with experts than to try to do it all ourselves.

Carousel30 Interactive is a digital creative agency – this means that we do online advertising/marketing campaigns and interactive and mobile design/development. But there are a lot of complimentary types of work that we are involved in, and it is due to our partnerships that we are able to be involved in a much wider variety of opportunities.

This has been everything from video production crews to augment our video/motion graphics post-production capabilities, to hiring writing talent to help shape our online campaigns’ messaging. The most dramatic example in my experience is this: in 2008, Carousel30 acquired one of our primary software development vendors because the partnership went so well. This has been a great move for all involved, and it all started with a strong partnership that grew over the previous 2 years.

From a business owner’s perspective there is also a bit of relief in the thought of not having to be an expert at everything, too. You can be truly great at your core capabilities and be honest and upfront when something is a little bit beyond your company’s expertise. Instead, you do what you’re great at, and suggest an expert that you feel comfortable working with to fill in the gaps. In my experience, clients are much more impressed with a straightforward approach in these situations. Pretending you are good at something you are not can cause a lack of confidence in even your core capabilities.

My suggestion is to never stop looking for partners and potential partnerships. At the very least, you will expand your network considerably, and you might even land some new work due to reaching out to the right people. Good luck with your new partnerships!


Greg Kihlström is Chief Creative Officer and a principal at Carousel30 Interactive, a digital creative agency based in Alexandria, Virginia that specializes in interactive strategy, design and development.

Website: | Twitter: @gregkihlstrom & @carousel30

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