I have a new appreciation for anniversaries. When you first start a business, you think once you get through that first six months. That first year. When you pay back your start-up loan. When, when, when. What you don’t realize is that throughout your business life, the bar keeps rising. New challenges appear. New realities. And that’s what makes business so darn great.
At 27-years strong this April Fool’s Day, our agency is right behind the WBJ’s impressive three decades. I’ve learned some lessons along the way. Here are a few.
Clothe Yourself in Fuchsia
Early in my career, I worked at Boeing Wichita as my father had before me. The job offered good pay and benefits. The other 25,000-plus workers seemed glad to be there. Yet, it was not right for me. I would show up to work in huge African turbans and outrageous punk-rock costumes. I can’t believe I did that and my bosses let me get away with it. When I turned in my resignation, a colleague gave me the best compliment I’d ever received, saying I was “fuchsia silk in a gray-flannel world.”
Keep Your Eye On the Prize
People are always surprised to learn that I’m a businessperson first and a creative director second. I watch the bottom line and emphasize results. Good creative captures attention and evokes emotion for a purpose. Think conversion. Moving people to action. To download information. Ask a question. Buy a product. Become a brand advocate.
Believe In Your Value
I learned early on to make it easy for clients to do business with us, to present concepts quickly to busy people, and to bill to estimate so there were no unhappy surprises. I have always believed our work had value so I was bold about charging going rate. Because if the dollars don’t work, neither do you. When dealing with numbers, clothes and cars, black has always appealed to me more than red.
Your Tools Will Change
In the early ’90s, we designed one of the region’s first websites. We developed it for ourselves because we couldn’t yet convince a client of the World Wide Web’s merits. It only had a few pages. There was little text. The navigation was so subtle finding your way around became a game. It had no SEO because Google didn’t exist. Nor did Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. You accessed the site through dial-up modems worse than old phone party lines. We persevered and evolved.
Surround Yourself With Greatness
Those first years in business passed in a business-generating, round-the-clock, always-thinking blur. I think back on the pace we set and wonder how we did it. Dashing around the office (and the world), hair aflame, obsessing over big ideas and small details. Our tight group developed a reputation for delivering top-flight creative, on time and on budget. We’re calmer now – thanks to noontime aerobics and after-hours yoga – but the passion remains.
Celebrate Your Wins
In a day where the lifespan of a business seems to be measured in dog years, I take great pride in each and every anniversary. The journey never ends. But what a ride.