How to prepare for the future

Simon Purchase outlines how to plan for what's to come

Running creative agency 48.1 has made co-founder Simon Purchase aware of the benefits of preparing for the future. 

Learn from your mistakes 

Being a founder is a journey like no other and it’s often a pretty bumpy road – anyone who tells you they’ve got every step right is either lying or deluded. It’s tempting to look back and pick out the points you’d do differently, but I’m actually a firm believer in the learning opportunities provided by mistakes: it’s how you solve problems that distinguishes you as a business person.  

Build solid partnerships 

There’s an instinct to take on the weight of the world, but it’s always best to be totally open, transparent and communicative with your partners. Challenges are generally better and more quickly solved as a team. If you’re running something solo, this means building a network of trusted people going through a comparable journey who can empathise with your challenges. In a crisis, such as the one we are currently working through, this support is more important than ever.  

Spend your money wisely 

Rushing into a bad funding decision is potentially disastrous and will have long-term impact, so give yourself time to assess all the options and seek advice. One of the important lessons we learned very quickly was that having a clear picture of our overhead costs and monthly break-even figure made decision-making a lot easier. It may seem obvious, but not understanding the costs of sales and what you should be charging to make profit means you can find yourself fixated on what’s coming in (it’s more exciting) while not knowing what's going out the door. 

Invest in your people 

Money is not the only metric for a successful company, although we’re often made to feel that way. It’s an easy and satisfying one to measure, but a profitable company built with a team you respect, love working with, and is fuelled by a passion for the mission means a lot more in the long term. Don’t build an echo chamber – actively build diversity. Hire people who bring different skills, voices, opinions and viewpoints. And really invest in their success.  

Do what you love 

The whole point of setting out on your own is taking on work that you care about; build a business that does work you want to do, with clients you want to work with. It's a lot easier to build a great business if you’re doing what you’re good at, with people you like, creating work you love. 

Be flexible 

Sunk costs are less destructive than the cost of missed opportunities. Move on quickly from failed investments and partnerships, and ensure your time is spent proactively and positively in the name of progress. Set broad budgets and goals while you’re growing, and don’t get too granular. Having a solid direction of travel is great and will guard against reactivity to short-term success or failure, but you need to stay nimble and follow your instincts, too. 

Keep talking 

Never stop searching for new business, keep leads warm and make your cold leads warmer. Sometimes it will feel like you've too much on and the natural instinct is to slow new business down, but once that pipeline dries up, it’s 10 times harder to get momentum going again. Customers are also loyal to a business when they trust the people who work there – it makes them want to learn more about what's on offer.  

Simon Purchase is co-founder of creative agency 48.1

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