This week’s Small Business Star is Gareth Cartman of Clever Little Design. The Berkshire-based business was founded in 2006 by managing director, Steven Boyce. As a full service creative digital agency based in Berkshire, local businesses are at the forefront of their client base. Having steadily grown by focusing on the surrounding area, their sights are set on bigger markets.

As Clever Little Design’s Director of Digital Marketing, Gareth works with clients to grow their website traffic and ultimately, get more leads.

Gareth’s foray into entrepreneurship began in France, many years ago. Having been faced with a number of challenges, Gareth set himself the task of learning how to build, design and promote websites. From here, Gareth set-up up an online magazine which received around 10,000 visits a day.

Returning to the UK, Gareth went client-side, honing his general marketing skills. But it was digital that Gareth wanted to pursue more than anything else. Following that Gareth joined Clever Little Design just over three years ago, excited by the potential of the business.

1. We grew through our local reputation

As more of our design work turned into web development work, the business started to expand. We started out by doing web design for local businesses, but with the digital side of the business growing we’ve recently started working with major brands, global B2B companies and large e-commerce clients. The company has mostly grown through its reputation locally, as well as an optimised search presence.

2 We believe our full service nature gives us a competitive edge

We feel that true full service digital is an opportunity. Many agencies do specialise in search, web design and graphic design, but very few tie all three together. We differentiate ourselves by underpinning everything we do by the target audience.

We’ve delivered some great websites to clients who’ve subsequently seen growth month-on-month. Even quite simple changes can instigate growth; we’ve doubled revenue for some of our e-commerce clients this way. We’ve rebranded businesses and seen them grow significantly, but I think our greatest successes are still to come.

We ask the right questions, filtering down what they type into search engines, how they use sites, how they talk about their needs and the client.

By taking a scientific approach, as well as an analysis of the emotional side, we can begin to structure a website. If search and user experience isn’t built into a website at the very start of a project, then it becomes very difficult to deliver great search results after the build.

3 If Google move the goal posts, we move with them

It’s important to always stay ahead of the curve. However, we need to balance that out with the knowledge that many developments don’t last – or don’t add to the user experience.

In search, it’s vital that we know what Google is doing (along with other search engines). The constant stream of updates affects all of our clients, and we always aim to stay within their guidelines. However, they move the goalposts so frequently that staying up to date with these developments is crucial.

4 Hiring the right people is vital to the business

The key to us delivering is always people. The only thing we really sell is our people, their expertise and their skills, we have no other product. So for us, it’s all about the quality of our team, retaining our talent and making sure that as we acquire talent, they fit into the ethos of Clever Little Design.

All of our designers and developers are highly experienced, and we always aim to deliver really high quality websites, but the added extra is that those websites come optimised for both search and users, which is where I see us setting ourselves apart from the competition.

However, recruitment is a major challenge, you don’t want to hire just anyone to fill a role as quickly as possible. In web development, competition is fierce for the best talent, and we’ve had to fight to get the team we’ve got now. In fact, in all areas, we’re finding that the job market never really took a dip in this area – getting the right people in place is always a challenge.

5 It’s important to be agile: direction changes can be sudden

It’s a cliché, but change is a constant. Accepting that is the first hurdle. Nothing ever stays the same, and the sooner you take that on board, the easier things become.

Find out more about Clever Little Design.

For more advice and insight from business owners, visit our Small Business Stars hub.