This week’s interviewee is Richard Silk, Creative Director at Gather Digital, a Manchester based digital agency with a focus on data-driven design and build. The team has recently moved from MediaCityUK into the city centre in order to expand their operation.
1. The biggest mistake I made last year and how I fixed it
I think by far the biggest mistake we made as a business last year was getting complacent with the work we’d been doing and the expectations on our pipeline. In the run up to Christmas 2016, we were feeling pretty good about things. We’d had a great end to the year with some new client wins and had a huge project lined up for January. We were so happy with where we were, we decided a bumper Christmas bonus was in order because you know…we deserved it!
What we hadn’t considered, though, was that things don’t always go to plan (yes looking back, that was stupid) and that big project we were so confident would dominate the first half of the year, of course, fell through. Having dedicated the majority of our resources to one win meant losing it really hurt us. It put a sizeable gap in both our cash flow and studio time.
Being dropped into that position, though, turned out to be a valuable lesson. It gave us a big wake up call and focused our attention on new business development in a way that we hadn’t really done before. We knew we could deliver great work and had case studies to back that up, we just weren’t very good at telling our story.
So we set about three key things:
- Improving our company profile
- Becoming more accessible to prospective clients
- Nailing our pitches
Twelve months on, we’ve grown the agency. We also have a better pipeline than we’ve ever had before. This Christmas however, as directors we decided not to take the big bonus, instead opting to direct profits into staff pay raises and new hires. A much more responsible and ultimately rewarding decision.
2. A lightbulb moment
I can’t take credit for the idea but a great piece of advice received last year has really been beneficial to us.
General business activities have always been shared by me and my fellow director. So responding to enquiries, attending meetings, project planning, recruiting etc has always been managed by committee rather than each of us taking responsibility for specific areas of business. This in retrospect has been a waste of resources.
In order to grow, the advice we were given was to split roles. One of us should concentrate on new business development whilst the other handles managing the studio. This approach seems obvious in hindsight but at the time it was definitely a penny drop moment. Having clear roles defined for these important area’s of business has really helped us move forward in a positive way.
3. Tip for tomorrow
Get out more!
I’ve really embraced networking over the past year and have met some great contacts in the process whilst generating real business opportunities. Public speaking is also a great way to raise your profile. Have the confidence to stand up and tell your story, or at the very least walk into a room and introduce yourself.
Want to share your advice?
NWB confessional style interviews are posted every Monday from people in the business community. They are not self-promoting, or carefully selected quotes to make you sound good. They are full of useful, actionable insights from experience, not egos or bravado. If you like NWB’s style and have something useful to say, we’d love to interview you. Tweet @nowankybollocks or email katie [at] subjectconsulting.com.