It doesn’t take much to start an agency. Find a partner, rent or sublet some office space, and start signing on clients. Am I oversimplifying the process? Yes. Because, starting an agency isn’t all that difficult compared to growing it into a successful and profitable business.
Creating and growing any kind of business is hard. It’s why so many of them fail. The same is true for agencies. I’ve noticed that successful agencies, including our own agency Pelago, have three intrinsic qualities in common. If you can incorporate these basic concepts into your agency’s day-to-day workflow, your agency will thrive.
Be compelling, not perfect
I’ve seen many designers, including myself, work themselves into a rut chasing down perfection. Perfection is nearly impossible and unnecessary, not to mention, time consuming. That doesn’t mean you should settle for mediocrity in your work. It means knowing when to stop working on something without over-designing it.
When you think you are done, ask yourself one question: Is this compelling? Your work may not need to be perfect, but it does need to capture people’s attention and communicate effectively.
Be respectful toward your clients
Your clients are your lifeline. They pay your bills and refer your agency to other potential clients. Treat them with respect and don’t let your ego get in the way. This means listening thoughtfully to your client’s ideas and not dismissing them out of hand.
Successful projects require a delicate balance between your creative talents and your client’s expertise, a symbiosis of sorts. If you want to do your best creative work, drop the condescension and the “designer myopia,” and focus instead on meeting your client’s needs.
Disrespecting your clients, whether it be in face-to-face meetings or behind closed doors, will become apparent in your work and will shorten your client list quickly.
Our best creative work happens at a subconscious level, when we are not actively telling our brain to do creative stuff. We might be riding a bike or chatting with friends over a beer when we have our next aha moment.
When we engage in interests outside the expertise of our agency we engage other areas of the brain. We complete the circuits that solve problems and formulate new ideas. The best way to bring fresh perspective to your work is to bring fresh perspective to your life.
A successful agency is one that takes a holistic approach to creative problem solving. And by doing so will continually improve their portfolio and reputation.
Photo credit: glasseye’s view