Just over a year ago, I was dragging my feet to my agency job. Mondays were the worst, when only fantasies about quitting and breaking free from the pointless meetings, late finishes and unhappy co-workers got me through the day.
It was not long after that that, despite being a husband and a new Dad, I realised I could no longer do that weekly trudge.
In August 2015, I registered my own design agency Love Mondays and went back to loving the start of the work week. Mondays came to mean taking back control and waking up feeling positive and passionate again. One year on, we’ve seen some great successes, and possibly a landfill worth of dirty diapers. We’ve also survived a relocation from Singapore to the UK, and I’ve learnt a couple of lessons I think are worth sharing:
1. Can, lah
Many people (including me) questioned making the leap. In true Singapore-style, they said, “Cannot, lah”. If nothing else, it only made me even more determined to make it work. If you believe strongly enough that the market benefits from what you bring to the table, just go for it.
2. Have your A-list handy
A Creative Director is only as good as the team he fields. Stay connected to the best illustrators, typographers, Photoshop masters and nimble wordsmiths. With so much independent talent out there, small agencies are nimble enough to knock out the competition with dream teams. BOOM!
3. Don’t do it for the money
Taking the entrepreneurial leap is a quick way to get poor - there are more start-up costs than most realise, and it takes a while to turn a profit. Put away a few months’ worth of wages and be prepared to live lean. Remind yourself why you did this. I want to Love Mondays (repeat, repeat, repeat).
4. Work out what sets you apart
Love Mondays is not your “normal” agency. The combination of a strong network and technology means I can curate dream teams of creatives from around the globe. Our clients don’t pay for a fancy office, only for the perfect team.
5. Show respect
Treat both colleagues and clients with the respect they deserve. Over-deliver on both design and client management BUT set realistic deadlines and push back - that way, you can manage and meet client expectations, and your creatives respect you.
6. You can’t do it all
I was sure I was going to be the greatest multi-tasker that ever lived. I was wrong. There is a best person for every job, and the best person to handle accounts and invoicing was not me. I hired a professional accountant and client manager, and it freed up my time to focus on what I love.
7. Take time out
You might be the boss, but get out and leave the office for lunch – take two hours if you need (pretend it’s the 80’s). You need a clear head to run a business. Make a list of priorities (even if only for the satisfaction of crossing something off) and end the workday on time - you work to live.
8. No free work
You’re poor enough without giving anything away for free (even if it’s just to get a foot in the door). Both free pitching and unpaid work are bad for the industry - and your credibility. Believe that you are worth every penny.
9. Don’t micro manage
Working with the best means I can trust my team. I give them the space and time to work, and more often than not, they return the favour with quality work. We all make mistakes – and learn from them to grow.
10. Learning mode: on
The entrepreneurial learning curve is not steep – it’s near vertical. Whether it’s IT challenges or dealing with difficult clients, there is always stuff you never knew you never knew. But more than anything, that’s what makes me Love Mondays.
Here’s to everyone that has helped us so far. Thank you.
To another great year ahead!
Dale Evans, Founder & Creative Director - Love Mondays (Branding).