This year marks the ten year anniversary of Upwords and although I don’t normally get personal about business, achieving this milestone is something of which I am truly proud. After all, 95 percent of small businesses fail before their fifth year. So as the founder of a small business I feel like this anniversary is worth celebrating! I’ve been reflecting on the factors that contributed to our continued growth and success, and it always comes back to relationships. Without our clients, our suppliers, and our extended team members we would not be where we are today.
In 2008 I had been happily working at Sklar Wilton & Associates (SW&A) for almost a decade, after spending the earlier part of my career as a marketer at large consumer goods companies. I loved my job as an insights consultant – my clients and colleagues made each day interesting and enjoyable. But as our family grew, my husband and I were really starting to feel the effects of living in ‘the city’. As much as we both loved all that Toronto offered, it no longer provided the environment we wanted for our young family. So I left my wonderful job (with tears), my husband left the company he had built, and we decided to move to Canada’s best… I mean West Coast.
I recall so clearly a conversation I had with Luke Sklar just before I moved. Luke was a founding partner at SW&A, one of my amazing mentors, and someone who I miss dearly since his passing this year. We were talking about what I might do for work after moving and Luke said: ‘what about online qualitative research, I think you should go figure that out.’
And that’s how Upwords began.
Since our first project with a brave client (a company that continues to work with us to this day), Upwords has grown significantly, while also continuing to be small. This small feel is something on which we pride ourselves. Every project is important to us, from the entrepreneur paying for the study out of their own pocket, to the projects for global giants often spanning multiple countries and languages. Over the past decade we’ve nurtured our obsession for deeply understanding what humans think, feel, say and do. We even picked up a few awards along the way to confirm we have gotten pretty good at what we love doing. And before we knew it we were celebrating ten years of successful business.
We of course don’t do this alone. We have you to thank.
You the trusted client, who pushes us to dig deeper, think differently and start conversations that matter.
You the collaborative supplier, who bends over backwards when we ask (and we know we ask a lot) to push the boundaries.
You the extended team member, who enables us to do more than sometimes humanly possible to get deeper insights, faster.
Without you we wouldn’t be here.
And so I am writing this as a token of my deep gratitude to everyone who has helped build Upwords into a sustainable and growing business.
Thank you for being part of the ten year Upwords journey.
I can’t wait to share the next ten with you!
Layla & the Upwords team