A never-ending workday, even when you have physically left the office. That is actually made worse by the relentless march of technology and the assumption that yet another direct chat/team management/notification-ping app will solve what is fundamentally a resource issue.

Unrealistic demands on your time and bandwidth driven by high workload and stress. Amplified by resource managers that do not seem to recognise that there are only 24 hours a day…and that scheduling 3 deliverables to 3 different clients within the same hour is a conflict.

Lack of career growth opportunities because of a pyramid structure that existed when the first generation of automobiles were rolling out of the factory.

Poor management because leadership is often busy chasing revenue, and the distance between selling and doing continues to get wider and wider. And when leads are yanked back to solve problems, decide to assume the opposite end of the spectrum, and morph into micromanagers.

The sad bit about writing the earlier paragraphs is it would be funny if there weren’t true in some degree at most agencies and consultancies.


Why would you want to leave your current agency, just to set one up on your own?

Given how negative the working environment can be in some agencies, why would you leave, just to set one up on your own?

After speaking with many of our peers, I can point out 5 broad reasons.

We realise that IF given the autonomy to start our own agency, we can control the decision-making processes and systems right from the start. This will allow us to shape the company culture, establish values, and create a working environment that aligns with our vision.

Any limits placed on us in the previous environment simply melt away. Perhaps we felt constrained or limited with our creative and professional expression due to the presence of more senior team members, or a senior team member that likes to hog the show for specific reasons. Starting our own agency allows us to explore new ideas, work with clients we are passionate about, and develop innovative campaigns.

There is no point starting an agency if the financials do not matter. However, with the lack of career and salary advancement in many agencies, building a profitable agency might not be as difficult as getting a promotion in some geographies. Founders and partners also get to decide on a more equitable profit-sharing model that they might not receive as employees.

Starting an agency allows us to have more control over schedules and work-life balance. Of course, being a founder or partner requires dedication and hard work, but this is offset by the flexibility to establish boundaries that align with your priorities – whether in work or your personal life.

Leaving a negative working environment can give you the opportunity to create a positive space for yourself and future team members. Since you are creating the values, you can also establish a culture of collaboration, employee well-being, and professional growth that might have been the intention in a previous agency you worked in, but the execution was lacking.

In addition to the broad reasons, personal reasons that repeat throughout many conversations include the positive application of ambition (that you believe you can do better than other agencies), that you have a network that you can monetise as the level of trust is high, that you recognise gaps in the system (strategy, delivery, relationship management) that you can fix and that you offer better solutions than others in your niche.

What if the leap into the unknown of founding your own agency is achievable?

Starting a business and even entertaining the idea of it can be scary.

It can be hard to not overthink.

There are so many variables that one believes to be critical. If there is not enough confidence, competence, or capability to deliver on these variables, it seems easier to shrug the whole venture off.

In my experience, there are 3 aspects that are crucial to make the leap safely.

The first is finance.

It is important to have enough funds to cover startup costs, at least 2 – 3 months of operational costs, and some savings to cover your own lifestyle at the start.

The good news? Startup costs for incorporation, securing a corporate secretary, an email service, domain and webhost are not expensive.

The better news? An agency is essentially a service business. You do not need to spend any money on operations until you have secured a client. With recurring client payments, you can use these to pay for your own business expenses.

The next is dealing with uncertainty and risk.

These come in the form of market fluctuations, changing consumer trends, and competitive challenges.

The first thing is to cultivate a calm and logical approach towards starting a business. If you have made up your mind, move forward. Moving forward creates momentum and soon you find yourself problem-solving to find revenue and clients to work for. And less mental bandwidth and energy is spent on worrying and overthinking.

Find a coach, a mentor, an industry expert, someone in your network who has already leapt and is a little ahead on their journey. Ask for help, learn from their mistakes, seek to understand how they made decisions at an earlier stage of their agency. Be comfortable to pay for such knowledge as it can help you accelerate quicker.

The third aspect is building a customer base and pipeline.

Attracting and retaining customers is crucial for any agency, but it will be challenging to gain traction and establish a customer base from scratch.

Differentiate your offerings from the other competitors. Develop a pitch that explains why you will provide more (and better quality) value to the client. Double down on providing excellent customer service from the start, as that will be one of your differentiators.

You should know, you are starting an agency because you recognise that client management in some of your previous roles was not optimal.


Communicators can make a difference, close gaps, and deliver better value to your clients.

As communicators, we play important roles as a discipline to leadership, and as a team member to our clients. We are advisor, counsel, sounding board, mirror and therapist.

Through our strategies and campaigns, we optimise ROI by integrating efforts across different business teams and initiatives that can help with execution. The strategy in this process comes from showing how the client is providing better value to their customer. With communications, we help brands (and clients) be proactive when it’s about sharing news to their customers, and it is also a defensive play when it is about protecting the brand’s reputation.

It is our responsibility to create and provide value so the brand and client can continue to grow. This growth will provide communicators with more opportunities to hone our craft through the many scenarios, challenges and situations that we encounter.

The video game analogy is apt here. We train and level up to defeat the stage’s boss before we can move on to the next chapter/scene/environment of the game. Every action – win, loss, grind, co-play, team play, respawn – helps our game character get stronger, so we can eventually win the game.

Achieving communications KPIs and ROI and helping our clients and their brands improve is one way of keeping score, so we know whether we have grown and improved over time and by going through experiences.

Sidebar: The simple rationale behind starting an agency, without any clear advantages conferred through network, pipeline or capital.

When people say you can’t do it – that it’s impossible – never lose hope. Just because they couldn’t doesn’t mean you can’t – David Copperfield

Why would you want to do so, especially when you do not have the ‘high ground’ of capital, network, or pipeline?

Because it comes down to a combination of strategic considerations and intrinsic motivations.

Building and starting something of your own, against the odds, and making it succeed is one variation of the Hero’s Journey.

And we all want to root for the hero, and love to hear the story told by the hero when the journey is over.

Here are some considerations and motivations to adapt if you are looking for more inspiration:

Here are 3 areas to consider before you make the leap.

The key to taking a leap into the unknown is to try to get to know and define the unknown as much as possible.

If you are yet to start your agency, consider a pre-launch stage of at least 6 – 9 months prior to launch, and when importantly you are still on a payroll of an employer. Of course if you are taking a gap year or gap period between roles, you can have a short pre-launch stage.

During pre-launch, here are 3 areas to consider:

Here are 3 things to settle within the first 90 days of starting your own agency.

This is one of the best periods to start an agency given the ease of access to digital platforms and the availability of no-code tools. Make use of advantages with technology to help establish your agency with your target customer profiles.

Establish your brand identity and online presence

Acquire your first clients

Establish financial management systems

Starting an independent agency can be as scary or exciting as you make it to be. There’s no firm good or bad about the decision to start or the perspectives taken. It is a step in your career trajectory just like any other. With your own business, you get to control many variables that lead to success, or not. There is risk, and with risk comes a larger upside than a path with less risk involved. There is also autonomy, and the flexibility that comes with it, for both your professional and personal life.

We are rooting for you.

I provide communications and PR solutions for organisations and communicators through counsel, consultancy, training and solutions. With over 20+ years in the industry, we have created frameworks, methods and content that enable you and your team to launch, grow, level up and earn revenue effectively and efficiently.

Here are 3 ways I can help communications, marketing and PR practitioners:

Set up a meeting with me with me if you are looking for to deliver growth outcomes for your organisation, brand/s and team/s: 

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