On leaving First 10 Digital

From April 2nd 2013, I’ll no longer be anything to do with the company I co-founded three years ago, First 10 Digital. Well, not strictly true – I’ll still be doing bits and pieces of freelance work for it now and again. But I’ll no longer be a director or shareholder of something that I helped found and grow, from four individuals in a Regus office on the outskirts of Leeds, to a collection of twelve of the brightest and most talented people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.

Why I’m leaving

Because it’s time. Time to leave the guys to get on with growing a thriving digital marketing agency – an end result that was never really the plan when we started the business, and not something that I ever really had an aspiration or desire to co-own. Time to focus on my other business, Smart Insights, which is doing well despite not having anyone working full time on it and could be doing a lot better still with some direct attention. Time to push the reset button and consider what it is I really want to do, what it is that I’m best at doing. And time to do something that allows me to maintain the sort of flexible work-life balance that I’ve come to realise is terrifically important when you have two young children that grow several centimeters in height seemingly every time you blink.

What’s next?

Smart Insights is the focus. There’s a tremendously long list of functionality and improvements we want to make to that site to really make it grow, and I can’t wait for the challenge. I’m also looking forward to being able to help out other businesses now and again – something that I loved as a freelancer but being shackled to a digital marketing agency makes kind of difficult. Finally, I want to be more active in the WordPress community. WordPress has provided the fuel behind First 10’s technical success – without it and the flexibility it brings, we couldn’t have delivered the quality of sites that we have over the last three years. I’d like to give some time back to the community as a small token of thanks.

On endings

It’s a weird feeling, leaving something you created. I’ve been involved in a failed start-up – but they go out with a bang, so it’s a concentrated explosion of emotion – it’s there and then it’s not. You deal with it and then you move on. Leaving something that still exists – thrives even – is very different. You go through this strange process of being slowly disconnected and weaned off from it. Realising that it’s no longer yours. Learning to let go. It’s without a doubt the strangest emotional process I’ve encountered in my 14 years of working.

In the last three years I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned how to manage and run an agency, to grow something from a collection of freelancers to a 12 person company. Learned how to work with clients like PUMA. Learned everything there is to know (and then some) about WordPress. I wish First 10 the absolute best and every success for the future. It, and everyone in it, will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ll miss working with the people on a full time basis greatly, even if I won’t miss the agency grind.

It’s been a tough decision and a painful process, but I feel good about the decision and about the future. It’s definitely time to move on. I’m looking forward to learning new things and being challenged again.

About Stu Miller

Web consultant and specialist, WordPress developer and PHP developer based in Leeds, UK. 15 years experience in architecting web sites and applications. Co-founder and Technical Director of SmartInsights.com, formerly the same of First 10 Digital
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