If you’re running a start-up advertising agency, every day is a challenge. Here are 10 strategies to help you pull through tough times.
1. Create IPs: Ideas can’t always be measured. Hence create Big Idea IPs or Intellectual Properties for your clients instead of ideas. These will reward clients with big marketing solutions and help your bottom-line as well, since you’re billing a thought, not a job.
2. Open-source: Use technology to your benefit. Ideas are borderless. Work with writers or art directors from different regions. Working on a brand from the Middle East for their launch in South America? Use a South American communication mind.
3. Collaborate: Can’t afford to hire a digital team? Don’t have the capability to manage a client event? Collaborate with another small agency that shares your wavelength. Present yourself as one team to the client, ethically. But never say no to business opportunities.
4. Be present every time: Yes it’s just the 2 or 3 of you in a team. Yes there are 30 things to do in a day. Still make time to be there for every client meeting, in person. WhatsApp and Emails can’t compensate for your face and mind.
5. Target 10 new businesses every month: Look through LinkedIn for brands looking for agencies. Pass your visiting card to every new person you meet. Speak to neighbours and friends and ask them to recommend you. Be bold and unembarrassed.
6. Work@Anywhere: Work from home. Work from your toilet. Work from a coffee shop. Work from the place where your child is attending a birthday party. As long as you don’t spend on office rent.
7. Show a creative at a new meeting: Invest in time and have a thought or a creative execution whenever you meet a new client. It’s a powerful way to showcase you’re already thinking, without any obligation.
8. Create for every occasion: Diwali? Here’s a card from us. World AIDS Day? Here’s a post from us on Instagram. Completed 2 years in business? We can’t afford to throw a party, but hey it’s still big news for us.
9. Trust your partners: They will always have your back, no matter what. Fight with them. Argue endlessly. Tear their hair and yours in frustration. But never ever give up on them. They make you as much as you make them. And together you make a combined dream endure.
10. Don’t take a business loan for at least 2 years: Be debt-free for 730 days. It’s easy to be swayed by capital or investors. It’s easy to succumb to loan money to adjust for difficult cash flows. But it’s not so easy paying off interest and principals when your cash flow rhythms are still to be settled.
Most importantly, and this is Strategy 11, Have Fun. Remember you’re nurturing your own baby. Cherish the struggle of the teething years and look ahead with confidence.