What I have learnt through running my agency for 2 years
I list 9 things that I have learnt from the past 2 years working for businesses all over New Zealand & Australia.
In the beginning, I was looking at a way to stay afloat. I had recently quit my day job unexpectedly because of a buyout and lousy management. So I found myself wondering what I was going to do next. I discovered that It was more of a reaction to the events rather than something I wanted to do. So my first lesson that I have learnt is:
Do something you’re passionate about
In the beginning, I was really just freelancing, creating brands, print and managing projects for clients. I really felt for the first time I was passionate about what I was doing. The money wasn’t great, but I had a large amount of freedom around my schedule and what I was doing so it made it worth it to be able to dictate my own hours and what I wanted to do. When I found my passion, which in my case was simple: Deliver results through communication. The sky was really the limit.
2. Keep it simple
One of the major issues I faced when I started my business was my desire to over complicate things, for example. I wanted all the latest technology, CRM, Job Management and Invoicing Systems, but the reality is that these don’t make you money or get you, clients, refining back the amount of admin that is required for you to complete any job will reduce costs as well as make your business extremely streamlined. My suggestion is to use a tool such as Xero and Xero projects so you can track what you are doing. It’s affordable and straightforward.
I didn’t even know what this meant until I did it, I started my business with $1,000 and a MacBook Air. Which was enough, If you are selling your ideas and IP, then all you need is your mind and something to communicate with. The first month of the launch I didn’t even have Adobe Creative Cloud. Bootstrapping your business will be the best way to move forward. You own the whole company, no outside investment and you grow organically. It’s a great way to mitigate your risk and not bet everything on your one idea.
4. There is no such thing as loyalty
People will say they are loyal to a business, however, generally speaking, that is only when they are benefiting financially from the deal, if a company can save money anywhere, loyalty is the first thing to go. It’s not personal, it’s business, my biggest lesson is to separate yourself far from your clients personally as possible, familiarity can cause expectation and expectation can cause a fall out of communication.
5. Do what you can, outsource the rest
Outsourcing isn’t bad; in fact, it’s actually important to build a network of great people who can deliver things better than you can. It builds character. Clients seem to have a weird view on outsourcing where they feel cheated if you get outside help on a project, instead I have always looked at it as we are delivering end to end, using experts that know technology better than we do to deliver a better result. I think it’s almost a trade secret that we all do work for one another. However, I have always looked at it as an extension to adding value.
6. Learn to say no
When you start your favourite word is YES. You are always looking for the next project and hustling, however saying yes to everything can come at the detriment to your business. You become a yes man / or woman that will always do everything, which in turn de-values your business. I still suffer from this where I want to help our customers achieve everything, and we end up delivering projects that are extremely AD HOC they almost don’t even resemble a service we offer. Start saying no more and focusing
7. Stick to selling the bread and butter
It’s really easy to get distracted, new things are shiny and it can sometimes be really hard not to get tied up trying to do everything. I have found sticking to core services is where the real value lies.
8. Customers don’t care about fancy pens and stuff
Every business has a goal and generally 9/10 it’s not to get a cool pen and pad from a company, however, its more about the value you add. A pen isn’t going to get you sales. They are ok for an extra for a customer, however, don’t solely rely on products to sell your business.
9. Stay mobile
Our agency operates out of a number of places, generally, they sell coffee, or even working from home. Cutting costs on office space and leases can mean that you can offer better pricing to your customers, as well as being more flexible about where you can work from. We work from Melbourne, Sydney, Christchurch and Wellington. With a cell phone, and a laptop you will find that you can achieve a lot.
All in all, I have enjoyed the past 2 years and with hopes to expand and build my client base, I also look to new opportunities and projects.