Team Productivity

Staying Small on Purpose: A Q&A with Ugmonk Founder Jeff Sheldon

Laura LaPrad
June 24, 2019
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At TeamGantt, doing more with less has always been at the heart of everything we do. That’s because we know what it’s like to build a company from the ground up on 4 hours a week without millions of investor dollars or hundreds of team members backing us up.

So when design brand Ugmonk caught our eye, we had to share their story.

Ugmonk is the perfect example of a small company that’s doing big things in the design world and beyond. Simplicity and minimalism are the hallmarks of any Ugmonk design, and those same principles carry through into every aspect of the business.

In this Q&A with Ugmonk founder Jeff Sheldon, he shares why staying small makes all the difference when it comes to growing a design brand he can be proud of.

A Q&A with Ugmonk founder Jeff Sheldon

Q: Why is your “Do a lot with a little” philosophy important to you?

A: Ugmonk started as a side project where I literally had zero budget to work with, so every dollar mattered.

As I’ve grown the brand over the past 10 years, I kept the same philosophy of keeping my overhead low and operation very lean. I still work from my home office and do everything from design to writing to product photography here.

Obviously, we’ve grown quite a bit and have more operating expenses now, but much of what we do is still very DIY. I like giving myself the challenge to produce the best products/photos/customer experience without needing massive budgets or fancy tools.

Q: How has staying small been an advantage for Ugmonk?

A: Staying small on purpose has allowed me to have the freedom and autonomy to operate the business the way I want to. I don’t have investors I have to please or growth numbers we have to hit each quarter.

Staying small means I get to decide when to work and when to take time off to care for my growing family. It doesn’t mean I work less hours per week than a normal job, but the ability to change my schedule has allowed me to help my wife with our kids much more than I would be able to with a traditional 9-to-5.

Q: What does work-life balance look like for you?

A: This is a tricky one since my life and work are pretty much one in the same. For me, it’s less about finding the perfect balance and more about being aware of how much time I’m spending obsessing over work.

Especially since having kids, I’m working on being fully present and engaged when it’s family time and not letting myself be half present for each. It’s something I wrestle with and want to get better at.

Q: What tools or tricks help you stay focused when you need to hunker down on a project?

A: I have a simple paper to-do system (and future product I’m working on) that I’ve been using for many years that helps me stay focused. Having a physical card in front of me at all times has been huge for my productivity, especially since I’m easily distracted.

One of the main reasons the card works is that it limits the number of tasks visible to me each day. A huge task list can feel overwhelming, and I end up just picking all of the easy stuff.

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