Orbit Media Studios is a Chicago-based web design firm. Orbit specializes in web design and development, e-commerce, content management tools, hosting and creative vision for both large and small businesses in Chicago.
Partners Barrett Lombardo and Andy Crestodina founded Orbit Media Studios, first in 1997 as a company that designed and built multimedia comics, and again in 2001 as a web design firm. In 2004, a third partner, Frank Voznak, joined the fast-growing business.
When Orbit Media Studios entered into a partnership with Anchor Advisors, Ltd. in 2007, the web design firm was facing a number of challenges. Andy explained, “We were never going to grow beyond a certain point unless we did something to change things.” Although new business continued to flow in, their profit margin was slim and their cash flow was problematic. New team members also were hired without a clear understanding of their job responsibilities and expectations. In addition, the three principals, whose differences actually complemented each other in their business, had a tough time arriving at mutual decisions. “We needed someone from outside of Orbit to come in and tell us how we could improve,” Barrett said.
Anchor Advisors suggested a number of ways for Orbit Media Studios to address their challenges. Among the first items of business was to write job descriptions to help the company establish performance standards and improve its recruiting and training development efforts. The business also started establishing a sales process, which was previously handled by only one person, so that the sales aspect of the business could grow. To improve the company’s cash flow, Anchor Advisors suggested the company change its payment terms to improve predictability and consistency.
Andy, Barrett and Frank said they have seen immediate results from their partnership with Anchor Advisors. “Brad Farris ‘gets’ us,” Frank said. “He knew right away what needed to be done here. He’s very intuitive, and we’re comfortable around him, which is important in a working relationship like this.”
Although the partners said they were not sold on the idea of job descriptions at first, they were pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Stacy Reynolds of Anchor Advisors worked with the partners on this project. Andy said, “We would have never thought to do job descriptions and honestly, it’s such a smart thing to do. You have everything you need right there in black and white.” The job descriptions have helped make employees accountable and establish standards for their performance.
Their new invoicing system has greatly improved the company’s cash flow, said Andy. “It was a brilliant idea to change the payment terms and it has helped our finances tremendously,” he said.
One of the greatest benefits of the partnership, they said, is that they now have an independent, neutral person who can advise them on the tough decisions they have to make as business owners. “Brad doesn’t tell us what to do, but he guides us through the thought process,” Frank said. Barrett added, “I feel a lot more comfortable about the decisions we make when we talk to Brad about them first.”
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