At some point, many freelancers decide it’s time to start thinking about how to start an agency of their own. No matter what field they’re in, these are people who have developed the entrepreneurial spirit. For people who consider starting an agency, this is like an itch that nothing else can scratch.
Starting an agency sounds like a fantastic idea in theory. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always play out that way in the real world. Freelancing and running your own business often share little in common.
Yes, your freelance experience will definitely help, but you’ll have to add a great deal of knowledge to make the transition successful. This knowledge starts with a deeper understanding of what a creative agency actually is.
Knowing What You’re Up Against: The Creative Agency Defined
There are actually a few different ways to define the word ‘agency’ as it applies here. For example, there’s one definition if you’re fluent in legalese, but it’s a bit too technical to help in this context.
The dictionary definition is a little more useful, but it could also apply to what a freelancer does. That’s why we came up with this ‘working definition’ of a creative agency:
A creative agency is a type of business in which a collaborative team delivers a specific set of creative/artistic solutions. A creative agency’s goals are to enhance another company’s reputation and help increase sales.
This definition works well if you’re referring to a company that does advertising or is starting a design agency. Hopefully, you can also see the key difference between an agency and the work you did as a freelancer. In short, an agency requires a team, whereas a freelancer usually works on their own.
It’s in this difference that both the difficulties and the rewards of starting an agency lie. The idea of working with several people (and several clients) is also what animates the following three tips on starting a creative agency.
3 Tips on How to Start an Agency
Now, let’s get down to the specifics of starting an agency that has a good chance to last. In the next few sections, you’ll discover three great tips on how to start an agency you can be proud of.
1. Decide On What Services You’re Going to Offer in Advance.
This probably seems like stating the obvious, but here are a few extras you’ll need to know about the type of services you’re going to offer. Part of this decision involves settling on what types of industries/businesses you’d like to provide services for. The kind of client you serve will go a long way toward determining how you structure your agency.
2. Start Thinking About Locations Immediately
You’re confronted with an important choice when you decide to start your own agency: what kind of location am I looking for and ‘where’ it should be? Here’s what you need to know about your agency’s location:
- You have to decide first whether or not your agency will have a physical location. Typically, people think of a studio of some sort, but virtual agencies are fairly common.
- Though many virtual agencies have been successful, many experts believe that you should have a physical office or studio to be taken seriously.
- There’s a huge difference between working in a co-located space and collaborating remotely. This is why you have to make this decision early on in the process. Your employees will want to know exactly what they’re getting into when they decide to come on board.
3. Begin Searching for Qualified People to Hire
Obviously, you’ll want to hire talented people who work well as part of a team, but there are other things to consider as well:
- What are the specific positions you need to fill?
- What can you afford in terms of your staff?
- How should your strengths and weakness inform your hiring decisions?
- How much technical help will you need?
The answers to these questions depend primarily on your situation, but here are four things that almost every agency needs:
- An administrative assistant of some sort
- A CEO, managing partner, or another type of leader
- Someone to help track down new clients– typically an accounts manager or salesperson
- A professional to help you with the business side of things– business attorneys and accountants are the most common choices
Lastly, you’ll need to decide exactly how your agency will be structured or organized. In short, this means you’ll need to know who’s supposed to do what and who has the final say on various decisions. Once you’ve done these three things, you’ll be ready to start looking for clients and step into an exciting new phase of your career.
Is Starting an Agency the Right Decision for You?
Here’s the good news– there are no guarantees, but it’s always possible to transition from a freelancing career into starting an agency. This is very important to keep in mind, as a positive attitude– along with courage and hard work– is an absolute requirement for success in any business venture.
You now have at least some idea of how to start an agency, but you won’t really know what it’s like until you get out there and roll up your sleeves. Obviously, there’s no single perfect way to branch out on your own, but by following the guidelines presented here, you’ll certainly maximize your chances.