The reason agency founders opt to go it alone

New PR agencies launch every week in the UK. But what is it that inspires, motivates, drives and even pushes those with entrepreneurial aspirations to quit their day jobs and split from the security of an established agency?

PR firms are breeding grounds for entrepreneurs, writes Brendon Craigie
PR firms are breeding grounds for entrepreneurs, writes Brendon Craigie

Here’s the rationale and process behind how and why people choose to do so.

First, PR firms are breeding grounds for entrepreneurs.

The agency model is very transparent. It isn’t particularly complex and is almost always based on some variation of selling either time or results.

Any seasoned communications professional well accustomed to an agency’s mechanics is more than capable of grasping what it takes to master a business.

What’s more, commercial success in PR relies upon employees’ understanding of quantifying and selling value.

The savvy ones, however, will soon recognise the contrast between the amount of value they’re creating and their pay cheque.

Second, opportunities are born from frustration with the status quo.

Established agencies don’t need entrepreneurs. Enterprises like these aren’t looking to change the world.

These businesses need dependable managers capable of delivering safe, consistent financial results.

It’s not a coincidence that established agencies struggle to achieve double-digit growth, but young entrepreneurial businesses achieve far more impressive numbers.

Entrepreneurs are disruptors. They don’t operate within the confines of a restrictive framework and want to make bigger strides, take bigger risks and shake things up.

They are looking for a life in the fast lane that they just won’t find in any standard set-up.

Third, putting a lid on ambition will only last so long.

Typically, though lightly encouraged, ambition in an established business environment is always carefully moderated.

Management in these companies is designed to not only ensure the maintenance of strong, ongoing profitability, but also to minimise risk. This creates disillusionment among entrepreneurial types.

The best and brightest will soon realise that the PR industry’s financial rewards have their natural limitations without having either a stake in an agency or being your own boss.

Fourth, gaps appear with the right research.

Some may instinctively know how to exploit untapped market potential. Others, however, like to do their homework.

The sheer volume of content produced by the likes of the CIPR, PRCA and PRWeek for example, means there is no shortage of resources available about the changing appetites of clients.

For budding entrepreneurs in communications, agency life also presents the perfect opportunity to understand what frustrates clients and tap into what they want and need.

Combined with industry-wide insights, dissecting the gap between their existing agency’s offering and how promising the future could be has never been easier.

Entrepreneurs have an unflinching desire to create something transformative for their clients and the market at large. But, they need to start with a blank canvass.

Cultivating the potent blend of people power, a distinct offering, an exciting brand, financial support (if required) and, most importantly, courage, is no mean feat.

Bringing a vision to life is never easy, but that’s why it takes a true entrepreneur to do exactly that.

For those who do take the leap, the sense of fulfilment that comes from captaining your own ship is on another level compared with anything you could possibly experience as an employee.

Brendon Craigie is co-founder and managing partner at Tyto PR

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