Jason Hill started Papercut Interactive with his wife Jenny seventeen years ago. As a pioneer in web design and digital marketing, he has seen many changes over the years. While the web is constantly changing and evolving, Jason’s faith has remained strong and constant, supporting and inspiring him as a Christian business leader.
Read Full Interview:
Tell us how you got started in your business.
My dad was an entrepreneur. He owned a construction company, so entrepreneurship was in my blood. I graduated college with a degree in graphic design and had a job with some friends of mine for a while. When money got tight with them, I found some freelance clients. One of those was McCallie School, so I started with their website way back then when I was a one-man shop and that’s really what started my company.
We started as web design because as much as I love design, when you print 50,000 brochures and you’ve messed up someone’s name, it’s on you to fix that. But on the web, you can just change it! Also, now the web is more of a tool. Over the past 17 years that we’ve been in business it has changed so much. There’s so much you can glean from what people view and how they interact. It’s a lot of fun.
Competitors have come and gone, but thankfully we’ve been able to stick around.
And what do you think is the key to that?
Perseverance is a key part; and being flexible – not being so set in a way you do things that you’re not open to changes. We’ve had to change a lot over the years. When I started, I did everything: designs, programming, all of it. And now I’ve found people who are better than me to do the work.
Once upon a time a client asked, “Could we have a website that worked on a blackberry?” That was the first person I ever heard who wanted something that worked on a mobile device. But now, everything has to work on a phone, a tablet, or whatever.
How have you seen God at work in your business decisions?
As a Christian business owner, it’s different. It’s deeper than just being a business owner. I take seriously my responsibility to my employees. I do a lot of praying, a lot of reading the Bible, a lot of talking to counsel, but it’s helped me get through some pretty rough things. Business in general can really get to you.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had as a Christian business leader?
We had a project several years ago that was the largest project we had ever worked on up to that point. We had one developer at the time, and he quit in the middle of the project. That was pretty rough. I actually thought I was having a heart attack at one point, but it was just anxiety. But now, we’ve had other situations that were as difficult as that one, but we got through them. God got me through them. I’ve talked about that before – just prayer and guidance from others, and my dad – talking to him about some of the experiences he had in business. I’m thankful I haven’t been through some of the hurtful situations he had.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse that guides you?
I haven’t practiced in a while, but I memorized the whole book of Philippians and there are several verses in there that get to me all the time. Philippians 4 – that whole chapter. I love to go back to that book.
How do you integrate faith with your business life and at home?
My wife is a partner with me in the business, and that’s been a really great thing. I know some husbands and wives don’t work well together, but it’s really nice that we share that and that we can take it home and share that in front of our children. We have a strong relationship and are both strong in Christ.
How do you balance working with your wife and not bringing work home with you?
I’m pretty good at leaving work at work. If there’s a rough patch, it’s not so much fun, and I tend to hold that in. We have our roles figured out, and we support each other. We are really good partners and we make decisions together. For many years, we had our desks right together and it was really great. I would miss her if she didn’t work with me.
Other things in the community: I’m involved with CBMC (Christian Business Men’s Committee.) Several years ago, I was invited to a CBMC Bible study here in Chattanooga. I learned they have forum groups that are for business leaders, CEO’s or business owners. They get together once a month to talk about business; it’s a place for accountability. I joined one in Knoxville and have since become the facilitator of that group. And we have a CBMC Bible study at my office every Wednesday morning. It’s been a great group.
What are the problems you struggle with most as a business person?
I want to be a servant leader and I want our employees to see that. I struggle when it’s not a good fit. As a business owner, I don’t like conflict, so I try to make it work. But sometimes it just doesn’t work. It’s really hard to let someone go – or to have someone leave. In our business culture at Papercut we have great relationships and our employees work really well together.
I’ve had to fire a client before and that was pretty rough. But I was trying to support our staff. It was a bad situation. Our employee felt really berated every time they talked to the client.
Money and cash flow can be a problem. Honestly, I’ve looked back and wondered, “how in the world did I make it to this point?” That’s God providing at times where I may not have taken a pay check so that employees could get paid. But thankfully, that hasn’t happened in a long time.
What’s your advice for other business leaders?
I try not to give advice, but I would say seeking wise counsel is huge. When I started out, I thought I could do it on my own and I didn’t need any help, but it would have saved a lot of headache if I had just reached out to someone and found a mentor. Now I have several groups of older men who have been where I am and have really, really helped.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s not about me. The work you do is for others. No matter what you do, you can do it to the glory of God. I really want our business to be a place of excellence. At Papercut we’ve coined the phrase “super friendly.” And really that’s all about being Christ to others. It’s not about me. It’s not about having a cushy job and lots of money in my pocket. It’s that I am a servant and doing what God’s put me to do. Something that I can do really well and help people.
It's clear that Jason has put Philippians 4, one of his favorite portions of scripture, into practice in his life. He’s a gospel worker, a reasonable man of prayer, someone who exemplifies honor and excellence in his business dealings, setting an example for others, doing all things through Christ who strengthens him.