At the end of 2016 I decided that it was time for change. At the time I was working for a great brand with the security of a regular salary. I had built a strong marketing team that pretty much looked after itself, apart from the odd managerial issue of course. My background had always been agency and working client side was great but there was always something that felt.. Well, just a little unfinished. Something needed to change..
Our third baby was on the way and being on the board of this great business was starting to take its toll on my time at home. I always enjoyed my time at Go Ape but I knew that in order to get a little work life balance back and scratch that persistent itch, I had to start something for myself. Something that I could build and grow for me.
Well that’s what I did, in February of this year Improve Marketing was born. I had done it, started my own agency and gone freelance... Well on paper anyway. Now what was next?
The difference between working for a big company and yourself is huge. But it really boils down to one thing. You no longer have anyone else to rely on. That's not a trust thing, it’s a reality. I no longer have an IT team to get me back up and running when my laptop ceases to work. You have to find an accountant and sort your own payroll. New business and the search for great clients is a constant one. You have to where every hat and hold the broom..
On the other hand, starting your own Marketing Agency and going freelance gives you freedom. Every decision that I make is based on my own knowledge and instinct, moreover I can decide who I want to work with and that's where it gets exciting.
I had always been part of the new business team in my previous role at the agency. So I knew what it took to get clients and how much work that it took to find, pitch and win great customers. This time, I had told myself that I only wanted to work with great clients. So previously, where I was targeting businesses based on spend or sector, this time I was targeting companies that I wanted to work with. That I believed in. Businesses that make and sell great things. There are of course lots of great businesses out there, but finding and winning clients that you really believe in narrows the field a little.
Well, it's taken 6 months now but finally I have succeeded. I am officially a freelance marketer and I am working with some great clients, talking to lots more. The foundations of my marketing agency are now set up; I have some great clients, my network is reinvigorated and I am working with some excellent people. But how about that work life balance? Well I can confirm at this time that it is still in check. Although I am working hard I also have the flexibility to work when I need too. Yes, there is still some travelling, yes, there is still the odd evening that I work late and yes, there is some weekend work too. But the flexibility of working for myself allows me to fit my work around my lifestyle. That means that my children's sports days are not missed, teachers are met by two parents at parents evenings and I even have time to help raise funds for my daughter's preschool (that's right I am one of those parents and on the PTA!).
The story of Improve Marketing six months in, is a positive one. I am glad that I made the call to start something for myself and it is even more gratifying to look back at what I have built so far. It's been a slog (at times) but I have enjoyed it and I really like the clients that I am working with, with plenty of other exciting projects to come. Fingers crossed.
If you have ever considered starting your own marketing follow my story. Or if you are a business that needs marketing support on an exciting project why not get in touch.
Whoever you are, thanks for reading this blog post and good luck with whatever venture you are planning. See you soon. Paul.