A birthday is always a fun event. It is even more fun when it is your own birthday.

On May 23rd, Content Rules turns sweet 17. We opened the doors in 1994 as a contract technical documentation and course development company. Back then, our name was Computer Education Consulting.

Fast forward to 2011. We are on our fourth name (in between we were Oak Hill Publications, Inc. and Oak Hill Corporation). Now we offer all types of content creation services (docs, marketing and training) and we have a SaaS product called ContentRules IQ.

In the beginning, it was just me, writing in a room in my house. Now, we have a full-time staff of 15 and hundreds of consultants working for companies all over the United States. We even have an office.

In many ways, the company has grown and changed and shifted, as technology and the market have grown and changed and shifted. When I started the company, there was no internet. Can you imagine?? Writing docs and training without the internet? In fact, Netscape was one of our first clients back in 1995, when it had its IPO. Now THAT was an exciting time.

In many ways, though, the company has stayed true to the core values that we started with. I promised my customers three things:

  • High-quality content
  • Delivered on time
  • Delivered in budget

Those values are at the core of what our professionals deliver today.

People often ask me what the secret is to staying in business for so many years. My secret is this:

Do the right thing.

When someone is unhappy, do the right thing. When someone is thrilled, do the right thing. When you are in a position where your values are being compromised, do the right thing. Look at situations from all angles, and then, do the right thing. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. Doing the right things sometimes means losing money. Doing the right thing sometimes means asking people to work longer/harder/faster than they’d like. Doing the right things sometimes means resetting a customer’s expectations, when the customer is sure their expectations are correct and haven’t changed.

In many ways, we are the “monkey in the middle.” That means that we have to consider all three sides (the left, the middle, and the right) when doing the right thing. And sometimes we make mistakes. But, to continue in business for this many years, I am confident that we’ve done the right thing more often than not.

Along the way we’ve won lots of awards: Fastest Growing Woman-Owned Business, Inc. 5000, Fastest Growing Privately Held Business, and more. Awards are fun and it’s nice to have that recognition. But I am the most grateful for the skilled professionals who work with us and for our loyal customers who have stayed by our side for years and years. Many customers have taken us along as they’ve moved from place to place. Repeat business is the best form of flattery.

Thanks to our wonderful customers and consultants. Thanks to our trusted partners and affiliates. And happy 17th birthday to my fabulous staff!

Val Swisher
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