Saturday, 1 September 2012

"I MEAN, WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS ANYWAY?"


Words said to Richard and I soon after we resigned from our last jobs.
Interestingly the person who said them was someone who’d started their own, not unsuccessful business.
But he did have a point.
I mean, as jobs go, they didn’t come much better. 
We were earning a decent living. We’d had a great run at RKCR: Top of the new business league. Top awarded agency in the UK.
And it was also true that the economy was not in the best of health. 
So what the hell would induce us to want to jump out of a safe, secure, corporate job into that maelstrom of the unknown that is entrepreneurship.
Everyone has their own reasons, but in taking the above question seriously a few answers came to mind. Answers which still held true nine months later when we were finally contractually allowed to open our doors.

First, I felt ready.
Ready to put into practice what I’d learned over the last 26 years. I’ve worked for some amazing people in some amazing companies, and throughout that time I’ve attempted to assimilate the good bits whilst learning from the bad.
Sure, you don’t need 26 years experience to start your own business. But if I were a client I’d like to know that the people I’m working with are not just able to do funky, cool, creative things, but also understand the commercial imperatives, having come across, and solved, a load of business problems comparable to mine. And also that they’ve done enough good work and won enough awards to have got glory hunting out of their system, whilst still staying passionate about the value top quality creativity can add to their business.

Second, and probably most importantly, I’d found a kindred spirit.
In Mr Exon was a like-minded soul also chomping at the bit to do his own thing. And that, I can tell you, is a rare and beautiful thing to find.

Another thing I realised during my contemplation: everyone I truly respect has started their own business.
Dave Trott, Paul Arden, Maurice and Charles Saatchi, David Abbott, Frank Lowe, Robert Saville, Mark Roalfe. And those are only the people I’ve worked for. In the little old world of advertising. The list outside those small confines goes on and on.
There’s something brave and special about what these people did. They didn’t start up for the money. They did it because they felt they ‘just had to’. Most had become too big a character to live in captivity. Their vision and ambition outgrowing that of the organisations they were working for. Their personal happiness, not merely their wealth, depended on their starting their own business.
I know myself well enough to realise that if I didn’t at least give doing my own thing a go I’d end up respecting myself just a little bit less.

A few more reasons:

The world of communications is more exciting now than ever before. Technology has unleashed upon the world wave upon wave of inspiring startups in all manner of spheres.
Over the years I’ve become obsessed with tech and the increasing part it’s playing in everyone’s lives. For me the opportunity to meaningfully partner and collaborate with some of the most amazing experts in their field was becoming overpowering.

I began to feel the need to create something. Something special. Something I can look at in years to come and be proud that I helped create it. Something that doesn’t just have value, but that is valuable. 

Finally, someone once gave me some advice about starting your own business: if you don’t really, really want to do it, for God’s sake don’t. 
And I guess that was the clincher. I really, really do.

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