Tricks of the marketing trade

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

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Top tips to set up your own independent agency

Many people in our industry contemplate setting up their own agency. The rewards both financially and emotionally are high if you succeed and even the journey can be fun even if you don’t arrive at your destination.  What is the worst that can happen?  You lose some money and you go back to working for someone else.

First the health warning: 8 out of 10 start-ups fail.  But that should not stop you trying – after all, life is not a dress rehearsal and you don’t want to look back when you are older and wish ‘if only…'

The key thing is to mitigate the risks and maximise your opportunity of success.  Over the next ten weeks I will be sharing 10 tips I have learnt over the last seven years that I wish someone had told me when I was contemplating leaving the comfort zone of working for the Saatchi’s after 15 years.

Tip number two: Set up with a partner you know and trust

The phrase ‘two heads are better than one’ is apposite when it comes to making the leap to start up your own agency.  You are making a big step into the unknown so having someone to discuss things with is essential.

The definition of ‘partner’ is ‘a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or firm with shared risks and profits.’

So share things equally with them.  It must be an equal partnership or else things get messy. I don’t mean just problems but things like pay, share-holdings and investments. I mean workload, relationships and communication. My partner and I worked together for 15 years before we decided to take the plunge, so we knew the way the other worked. He is the creative mind and I am the business suit and we are therefore complete opposites. The odd couple, some would say. However opposites attract and it works perfectly. You need someone to have the ideas and the gumption, and someone who focuses on the business element and the details. Details are extremely important and go hand in hand with being bold and dynamic.

There are times when the going gets tough and you need to know your partner is there with you and won’t retreat to the hills. So loyalty is absolutely key to success. Too many new start-ups fail or dissolve when the founders get into a disagreement about pay or the running of the business and go their separate ways.  Fortunately for me Alan is still here seven years later.

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