15 Learnings From 15 Years of Agency Ownership

15 Learnings From 15 Years of Agency Ownership_

It’s a big year for the Punch Bunch! We’re celebrating our 15th birthday! 🎉

Our Creative Director, Richard founded Punch in 2007 alongside his business partner Dave (who is now retired, lucky bugger). Back in the day we mainly took on branding and design for print projects. Oh, how times have changed. When the financial crisis hit in 2008 Richard and Dave quickly realised they needed to adapt to survive. They quickly expanded the offering to better support clients and became a full-service agency! This is when Ian came on board to lead the agency’s digital offering. Fast forward to 2019 and long-time client and hospitality industry expert Louise joins Punch as Commercial Director.

Richard, Ian, and Louise, our co-directors, have kindly agreed to share some words of wisdom to mark this landmark year! So without further ado here are 15 pieces of advice from 15 years of agency ownership…

“My previous boss told me I wouldn’t last beyond 6 months. That was 15 years ago.”

Richard Lowes

Creative Director at Punch Creative

1. Find your motivation

It doesn’t matter where it comes from, but use it to give you a kick when you need to. My own comes from my previous boss who told me and others in agency land that I wouldn’t last beyond 6 months. That was 15 years ago. When people don’t believe in you, make sure you prove them wrong. You’ve got to back yourself, or nobody else will.

2. Take risks

This can be scary, but it also pushes your boundaries in a good way. At various points, we have taken risks, often financially when needed, to seize an opportunity such as hiring the right person or investing in our premises. Be a bit bold, or your own momentum can really slow down and inertia sets in.

3. Find the right people

Business is about people on every level. People ‘buy’ from people in the traditional sense or just in terms of belief and trust. Focus on the right people to have around you that you can trust, be candid with, disagree with then make up. People you know you can rely on and them on you.

4. Relationships are everything

Treat people well, not just your main clients and CEOs, but everyone. So many times we have made friends with an intern or junior who’s ended up becoming a major client years down the line. People remember you if you’ve been good to work with, they REALLY remember you if you were not.

5. Make sure you can sleep at night

Quite simply it’s really important to do the right thing. Pay suppliers on time, act ethically and be fair to people….all that stuff. Your reputation counts for a lot, it takes years to build up and seconds to destroy just for the sake of a few £££s….and it feels good too!

“My 3.5 years at Punch have absolutely been the best years of my working life and it’s because we have such a great team.”

Louise Wright

Commercial Director at Punch Creative

1. Take care of your people and everything else falls into place

I’ll start us off with the most important piece of advice. It costs far more to replace someone great than it does to look after them. Quite simply a happy team leads to happy clients which leads to more profitability. However, don’t confuse this with it being about paying high wages, it’s far more than that. It’s about creating a happy, healthy and fair culture.

2. You can’t control what you can’t control 

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t been the best at this over the years. But since recovering from a critical illness I’ve significantly improved. Worrying can do nothing to change the course of something outside your control so let go of those things and focus on the things you can.

3. Keep it simple

I love the phrase ‘hit it with the simple stick’. We deal with complex businesses and challenges and often people get so tangled up in complexity they can’t see that there is a very simple solution. Don’t get drawn into the complex and instead consider how can we make this so simple that my young child can understand it.

4. Take ownership

Simply own it! If it’s your responsibility, fess up if you messed up. Don’t fall into the blame culture trap. Mistakes will be forgiven and something to learn from but whatever happens own it.

5. Have fun

I used to think everything in business had to be very serious and I rarely let my human side show. I’ve learnt over the years that having fun at work is one of the most important things. This doesn’t mean dicking around all day but just finding humour even in darker situations. My 3.5 years at Punch have absolutely been the best years of my working life and it’s because we have such a great team who work hard but get on and bring out the best in each other.

“Never be complacent. Sitting still is going backwards.”

Ian Shepherd

Digital Director at Punch Creative

1. Never settle

What’s been vital over the many years at Punch is that the team have never been complacent and have always strived to learn more, sitting still (especially where technology is concerned) is going backwards.

2. Look inward to go forward

Having a clearly defined structure and processes have been vital to the success of all our projects. These have been shaped and sculpted out of necessity and also from organically changing how we work through reviews and client feedback. Always discussing and reviewing how we can better support our clients has been at the forefront of our offering at Punch.

3. Work, Rest & Play

We’ve tried to create the right environment for all our staff to feel at home. Breakout areas, snack boxes, Meditation and Yoga, board games and a pool table. All of these areas aren’t just for fun but sometimes taking yourself away from the traditional desk environment can bring out some creative ideas or form an informal discussion that finds solutions.

4. Look after each other

What’s been at the forefront for the last few years at Punch is our focus on wellbeing and welfare of our staff. It’s amazing to be able to work within a team of people who do actually care for their fellow worker.

5. Leave your ego at the door

What I think is unique about Punch is that although there is a clear staff structure, all the senior staff (including the directors) are hands on across the accounts so you will see a real mix of teams working with each other – We all work and learn together!

We hope you’ve found our director’s words of wisdom helpful!

As we celebrate our 15th year we’re growing our team and our skills in every area of the business to support our existing clients and are taking on many new exciting projects. If you’ve got a project that you’d like to discuss with us get in touch today. Or if Punch seems like your cup of tea and you’re looking for a new opportunity we’d love to hear from you.