Field Notes

Good Enough Isn’t

I was the kid that told my boss I wanted to start my own business some day. On my first interview. I didn’t know at the time the person across the table would be my future creative director, but when she asked where I saw myself in five years, I swung for the fences.

You’re supposed to be ambitious and dream big, right? That’s how you show these people you’re a hard worker. The look on her face said I didn’t answer correctly.

Taking the Next Hill

Somehow I got the job—but more importantly, the dream was alive.

All the nature and nurture cards dealt my way should have put me in a steady job for 40 years, punching the clock and keeping things safe. Thankfully, life isn’t that predictable! Throughout my design training the entrepreneurial itch was growing in me and it was hard to ignore. I took that first job—and a few others—but I knew I’d be opening my own business some day.

Turns out I wasn’t alone.

What started as a conversation in line at graduation has turned into a team of 14 talented creatives that Ryan and I absolutely love working with every day. This business is literally a college dream come true.

There’s no way we understood what we were getting into. But movement is exactly what we needed. We took one step and then the next. We experienced steady growth year over year. We took a risk and made our first hires. And in a moment like this when I finally give myself a moment to stop and reflect, I’m truly surprised at how many hills we climbed along the way.

The road of building a business has been both thrilling and challenging, a path we didn’t always see coming—but we’re grateful for every hard-earned lesson.

The “Good Enough” Trap

Take the next hill. Do the next right thing. However you phrase it, keep pushing forward. These words are fuel for the entrepreneurial spirit. But too often in our corner of the world, “good enough” has become an accepted business strategy.

The familiar story goes something like this:

The hard work was done during the first five years. The long days grinding it out have produced sustainable success and things are easier now. Customers continue to buy. Systems and processes have been examined and perfected, and the profit shows it. It’s always been done this way. It worked last year, it’s working this year—nothing needs to change.

That is, until increasing competition erodes a once strong point of differentiation. Until 50 years in business yields a leadership team that is both complacent and entitled. Until those perfected systems have created a bored customer base.

Avoiding the stagnant decline into the good-enough trap is a choice. It’s a series of little steps that never ends.

It’s the knowledge that you gave your best effort today, and you’ll do the same tomorrow. That the chase is always on. But don’t ever say “good enough.” Don’t stop. The marketplace of ideas, products, and services grows at a relentless pace. Rest on your laurels and you’re already behind.

A Clarified Mission

After more than 12 years spent dealing with this thorny problem, we decided to make it our mission.

From here on out, Infantree exists to help good companies become great brands.

We’ll be defined in our next decade not by the things we make, but by how well we lead—how well we push our clients and their employees to keep going, to be great. To offer their customers their very best: the things not seen before, the unexpected, the captivating.

It’s not about chasing short-term results and weekly leads—as nice as they are on the sales report. It’s about building for the long haul, achieving vision, and creating lasting value. It’s about helping visionary leaders implement the power of branding across their entire business, truly transforming them from a good business concept into a compelling brand that builds a tribe of loyal followers.

A great brand can do all these things. It’s our heartbeat everyday. Even as I write this, I realize it sounds like I’m simply talking about helping people build a great business.


A New Launch

Ryan and I are incredibly grateful to be leading Infantree and coaching our team to take the next hill every day. We know we’re never done. And while we feel that mission in our gut, today is a chance to pause and see just how far we’ve come.

With the launch of our new website, we want you to know who we are and how we can help you win. We want you to feel our purpose and mission, and give you a taste of the undeniable power of brand.

Have you caught yourself settling for “good enough” recently? Do you have a business or organization that feels stuck? Are you struggling to communicate your value? It might be time for your new launch as well.

Let’s push beyond good enough. We can do it together.

— Ryan Smoker