A fantastic four years – what I’ve learnt so far about running an agency

By Lee Cullen

This week marks four years since I, along with my co-founder Gary, decided to leave the relative comfort of a full-time job and salary to make a go of it as a business owner.

There are plenty of things I’ve learnt about running an agency along the way, but as we’re celebrating another big milestone in the history of No Brainer, it made sense to try and condense them down to fit the theme of the week!

There have been some wonderful highlights already and I couldn’t be prouder of everything No Brainer has achieved in such a short timeframe. But we’ve also taken a few knocks along the way, and I think those are the experiences that really make you stronger.

From those very early days of working on an old dining room table-come desk, to becoming a team of brilliant Account Managers and Executives along with our wonderful Office Manager, working from what has been widely (I use that term loosely) described as Warrington’s coolest office, we’ve definitely come a long way since April 2015.

So, if I had to distil everything I’ve learnt along the way down into just four things, it would be these:

  1. Focus on your team and the company culture

Working as a two-man team was great and I have some brilliant memories when I look back. But we always wanted to be surrounded by a talented team of people and really establish No Brainer as a brand, not just two individuals.

I’m a really big believer in the power of company culture. I think a strong team ethic rooted in core company values is one the keys to business success and it’s especially crucial when you work in a service-based business like ours.

It’s super important to have the right blend of personalities and skills too. Alongside a strong work-ethic, one of the biggest attributes we look for in people is emotional intelligence. We’re fortunate to have some amazing people at No Brainer and there’s no doubt that our team is our biggest asset.

  1. Never forget the clients that put their faith in you

It goes without saying that we wouldn’t have a business if people hadn’t put their faith in us in the early days and continued to do so ever since. The fear of doing them a disservice is what drives us on every day to keep on being proactive and achieving results that really matter to them.

As we’re marking our birthday this week, we’ve also made a point of including our clients in the celebrations and we’ve arranged for small presents to be delivered to all of them. It’s only a small gesture, but it’s the little things that count.

  1. Innovate, don’t stagnate

It’s a bit of a cliché, but you have to keep moving things forward because if you stand still, you’ll go backwards.

As we’ve increased the size of our team, we’ve expanded the scope of our capabilities and we’re now offering our clients more than ever before.

One of the main reasons for establishing No Brainer in the first place was because we felt too many agencies were offering an outdated, one-size-fits-all approach. We’ve always embraced integrated communications and over the last few years, we’ve grown to offer a range of content to help our clients tell their stories better.

That includes everything from paid social media campaigns to media relations; video through to white papers. We’ll always keep on training and up-skilling our team to make sure we keep pace with the fast-paced nature and evolution of communications.

  1. Invest time in building your brand equity

From the very first day of No Brainer, we’ve always thought of ourselves as a client. So much so, we allocate hours every month across our team to make sure there is always time to promote the business.

We know the value of marketing a brand effectively and the power of storytelling because we’re doing it for our clients every day. Reputation and perception is everything and we think it’s crucial that we practice what we preach as an agency.

There’s also the power of your employer brand. Each and every one of our team has applied for a role at No Brainer after scrolling through our social media feeds to see what we’re all about. It’s the moment of truth when someone decides if they can see a future with you or not, and that’s why it’s so important to be authentic and show off your brand personality in the right way.

Looking ahead to the fab five

We’ve got a very clear plan in place to keep No Brainer moving in the right direction and we’re working hard to continue on the pathway of sustainable growth over the next 12-months.

So much so that we’ve just launched our fourth recruitment drive and are looking for more great people to join our team and help write the next few chapters in our story. If you or anyone you know is interested in finding out more, then please do get in touch.

Nobody knows what the future holds but I can’t wait to see where we are when we hit the five-year milestone in 2020. With a top team around us, great clients and some exciting plans in the pipeline, we’re ready for another big year.

To find out more about our latest recruitment drive and how to apply, visit nobraineragency.co.uk/careers.

Picture of Lee Cullen

Lee Cullen

Having worked in-house and agency-side, I have almost 15 years’ experience working in various marketing and communications roles. With an AMEC gold certificate in measurement and evaluation so I’m always looking to show outcomes and prove the impact of our work.

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