Brett Napoli is an Internet entrepreneur specializing in WordPress website development, web consulting, and online media. We recently caught up with Brett to chat with him about the current state of the web development industry and hear his thoughts on what it takes to make it as a web developer today.
Tell us a little about your background. Why did you decide to found Ambition Insight?
I broke my collarbone at 13 and was trapped at home with not much to do. So I started making websites for fun at first, but I eventually created a personal website similar to what we could call a personal blog/daily blog today (before such a thing really existed). The site reached hundreds of thousands of people and brought me some small town notoriety. I had always wanted to start my own business and be an entrepreneur. Developing websites was a passion and a talent for me, and it offered me the flexibility to live a free life exactly how and where I pleased.
Over the years, I’ve introduced supplemental components to the business such as building two owned/operated blogs and media websites, investing in domain names, teaching classes and seminars, public speaking, and consulting. Digital assets, design and creativity, creating businesses, and making things happen have always been huge interests of mine, so starting Ambition Insight was a fusion of all of those things.
With so many individuals and groups out there designing and developing websites today, is it getting more difficult for a particular company to stand out from the crowd and/or remain profitable?
A website is an identity, a brand representation, a marketing pamphlet, a logo, a business card and a whole lot more rolled into one. It doesn’t matter how many million, billion, or trillion websites there are, your ability to stand out from the crowd and remain profitable relies purely on execution. As investor Marcus Lemonis says, “You need people, process, and product”. You need great talent to work smarter not harder, and you need process and structure to optimize efficiency, duplicate, and scale. You need your product to have quality, merit, and verifiable value to someone you’ve clearly identified. Your profitability comes from smart time management, knowing your numbers, and understanding margins.
Why is WordPress your main website development platform of choice despite the emergence of several alternatives in recent years?
In a sea of choices, I choose WordPress for many, many reasons. As the market leader, it has the most products, services, extensions, support, aftermarket support, and training. It has an incredibly simple UI and a generally robust structure that is incredibly flexible and dynamic in the places I need it to be in order to build wonderful websites for small and medium-sized businesses. WordPress is also known for its simplicity, scalability, flexibility, availability, ease of use, ease of editing, ease of training, ease of customization, and SEO-friendly tools. The list goes on. Though it has negatives, I feel the positives make it stand out as the obvious winner.
What is your philosophy of getting coders and web designers to work together on a project in an efficient and collaborative way?
Coding and design are left brain vs. right brain. Getting these two minds to think alike comes down to thinking objectively. Coders typically think in terms of process and steps, commands and results. The best way to work together efficiently is to create a detailed project summary with diagrams and arrows with meticulously documented specificity to each step. This takes experience and a thorough understanding of the (programming) language each other speaks.
What advice might you offer to someone who is working at a web development company but is considering forming his/her own company and striking out on his/her own?
Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Triple down on your strengths and find ways to eliminate or automate the aspects of the business you are the weakest at. Starting a company usually means you start as a solo operation or a small team. You’ll need great time management, discipline, and a relentless willingness to improve at anything necessary for the business to survive. Hate sales? Too bad. Go sell. Hate handling the books? Too bad. Learn to love the books or get some money together to hire someone who can help.
Prepare for failure, prepare for frustration, and prepare for long hours, no free time, mountains of doubt, and challenges you couldn’t foresee. But know that if you’re following your dream then it will be worth it. Trust your intuition and believe in yourself. Go for it.
As someone who has interviewed and hired numerous people for your web development companies, what is your opinion about a job candidate negotiating some of the terms of his or her employment?
Everything is negotiable, but sometimes I’m only prepared to offer what I’m prepared to offer. I would be more likely to consider performance-based incentives, but I generally feel that negotiating the terms means the job is more about the money than the opportunities beyond money. Naturally, we all need to handle our own business and I wouldn’t frown on it. But for me, whenever I wanted a job, I would shoot for the stars. If I had even the chance of landing that job, I would be more thrilled to get in and find ways to flourish instead of worrying about the short-term reward before I even get inside.
What aspect of a job offer or position are you the least likely to negotiate on?
The tasks I need to be completed. If part of a job includes something they dislike or will generally be weaker at, I am usually not willing to overlook it. Finding a person that has the capacity and urgency to complete all aspects of the job with accuracy is #1 for me.
What do you foresee for the future of the web development industry? Will it continue to grow, or are you anticipating a “weeding out” of some competitors and perhaps some attrition or consolidation?
I feel that web development on the lower end will become more and more user-friendly. More and more tools are increasing the public understanding of building websites, and their education is better for all of us. It means that all the lower budget projects can now be handled by the end user. Now the more complicated, higher-end, larger projects become the focus for businesses.
Websites will always exist in some form or another. As mobile grows and the world becomes more connected, our business becomes more than just “websites” – it has evolved into “online identity.” As the web becomes more accessible, flexible, and faster, the possibilities will grow without end. If people in the industry keep learning, executing, growing, trying, failing, and succeeding, there will always be new ways to take what we’ve learned about web development and apply it to new opportunities online.
Learn more details about working in the web development industry at paysa.com.