Explain what your business does?

Definition is a complete media solution provider, offering design and development services for interactive and traditional media. Recently, Definition designed and developed a powerful new beer review app called Beer Citizen.

When did you start it?

Definition: March 2004
Beer Citizen launched mid-2012

Why did you start it?

We started Definition simply because it made sense at the time. We were each working on a variety of freelance jobs, and realized if we got an office and started a proper business, we could help each other with the work we had, and take on larger projects as a team.

How did the recession affect you and your business?

We’ve found that in an economic downturn, the last thing our clients cut back on is their online presence, as that increasingly becomes a key revenue stream. That, by no means, makes our line of work recession-proof, but in our case we were able to keep busy with a wide variety of work throughout the recession.

What do you like about your work?

Diversity. Being able to take the business in a new direction if we feel we need to, and being able to reinvent ourselves along the way, both in how we operate the business as well as how we approach the needs of a project or client.

Launching Beer Citizen is a great example of the diversity and flexibility we enjoy as a self-owned business. In 2011, we decided that we wanted to do something that would revitalize our creativity, which isn’t always a priority with client projects. That something involved leveraging our technical development and design skills to build a new kind of beer review application that we, ourselves, would want to use. Today, Beer Citizen is a thriving community of beer lovers from around the world and we’ve got big plans for the future. For all the headaches involved in owning a business, opportunities like this make them worth it.

What are the challenges?

Initially, learning to properly evaluate and bid on projects, so as to not shoot ourselves in the foot. You learn a new lesson with each project, and learn not to repeat mistakes.

Also, wearing the many "hats" required to run a business. We take on all the roles required, which include not only managing and building the projects, but also acting as bookkeeper, lawyer, accountant, marketing and sales reps, IT/sysadmins, and so much more.

How did your CSUMB education prepare you?

All three of us had the benefit of not only attending CSUMB, but also working for the university. That, for us, was one added benefit of CSUMB. There's a lot of opportunity to learn from faculty and staff outside of the traditional classroom environment. CSUMB is an environment where you can get more out of it if you put more in, and really engage with the community.

Do you have any advice for others who may be considering starting a business?

Choose partners that you trust like family. Get a good and thorough accountant. Have predetermined definitions of success and failure. Have an exit plan. Be prepared to work long hours, as running a business involves a lot of time spent on tasks aside from the work itself.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Stretch a lot... we’re not built to spend 12 hours a day in a chair.