When Faye and I hatched the idea for Scout Public Affairs and began to write the business plan, the idea of starting our own business was exciting, anxiety-inducing and just plain scary. The plan we wrote made sense; it was modest and logical and best of all, it inspired us to take the plunge.
In May 2015, Scout the two-women team was up and running at full tilt, and for the last two years, we’ve pitched blogs and promotional ideas, tapped into our network to find clients and got down to work. The months have flown by and we’ve learned a lot. Here are our top three lessons:
Great Ideas Need Execution
Our days are filled with lots of ideas but having the idea isn’t enough on its own. Great ideas need action (and often effort over time) to realize their true potential. We spend time evaluating the flow of ideas by sifting through them. Together, we decide which ideas merit execution, we map a plan, execute and then evaluate the results. In the past two years, countless people have said they admired our courage to strike out on our own. We recognize that courage was involved in our decision, but the real work happened after the idea phase and went into the plan to action it.
Find Your Inner COO
Running the business is separate from doing the work, both are valuable and both need time and attention. It is tempting to do everything at once to get all systems up and running as quickly as possible, but don’t discount the cognitive load and the toll that is taken by operating and learning everything new at once. Phase in new tools to give yourself time to use them effectively and still be able to deliver with excellence on your projects and client work.
Agency life is a bit like British weather - if you don’t like it, wait five minutes and it will change. As agency principals, we have some power to change the weather, but we sometimes have to wait on that too. We knew early on we wouldn’t be a one client agency because we like variety, we like flexibility and we know how to navigate change. If we find ourselves not loving the work, we know it won’t be that way forever and have learned how to steer towards more fulfilling work.
Through a rollercoaster start-up period, Faye and I learned how to act on unique ideas by taking some risks and planning them out, run our business to best serve our clients and ourselves, and how to drive our business to match our entrepreneurial goals and provide the interesting work, flexibility and quality of lifestyle we had aspired to in the first place.