Growing pains, twelve hour days and a slow trickle of clients. Those are some of the preconceptions of joining a start-up.
In reality, you are given a lot of responsibility. Clock watching becomes a thing of the past as you spin more and more plates. If you get it right, clients come on board thick and fast. Desperate to work with the latest hot shop. Also, hard work really does pay off. And most importantly, you have an active hand in building the company. As well as your own career.
Joining a start-up PR agency was a big move for me. I moved out of my parents’ house in Wiltshire and headed for the Big Smoke. I took the first room I saw without knowing who I was going to live with, moved in on May 1st and started work on May 2nd. Pretty quick!
Here are some of my thoughts and advice on life at a brand-new PR agency.
Don’t let the dog eat your homework
I work with a range of companies in sectors I hadn’t ever come across before. It really does help taking time out each day to familiarise yourself with your client’s target publications. Reading up on jargon and acronyms and actually understanding them is a big help too. Even if it means doing homework outside of work, it’ll benefit you later down the line. Cloud, Big Data, IoT, MiFID II and SMR – come at me!
Take the rough with the smooth
I have days when I swivel round fast on my chair and do a little dance for getting coverage in a top publication. I have other days when a big client opportunity falls through and it does hurt. Each and everyday is different and things change at the drop of a hat. You need to be prepared for an ever-changing environment.
You won’t be spoon fed
From day one, you are expected to just crack on. You won’t be sitting around asking for things to do. My to-do list is constantly full. My line manager is there to help me whenever she can and ensures I am on track. But with a growing business and networking key to this, there will be times when you are in the office on your own.
Ignore the negativity surrounding start-ups
If you type in ‘start up life’ into Google, a series of negative articles flash up before your eyes. ‘How quitting my corporate job for my start-up dream f*cked up my life up’ and ‘The secret life of a start-up employee: it’s like being a firefighter led by an arsonist’ are some of my favourites.
Don’t be put off by the negative publicity surrounding start-ups. There have been many success stories regarding start-ups in recent months. For example, Curve, the London fintech start-up that enables you to consolidate all your bank cards into a single ‘Curve’ card, has closed $10 million in series A funding. Not to say this is the route that all start-ups will take, but the growth is there for those that want it.
Famous last words…
My first three months at Milk & Honey PR have been non-stop. The agency is growing at such a rapid pace, it’s a job trying to keep up! We’ve transformed from a one-man band (hey Kirsty) to a right little hot shop with fantastic, ambitious clients in just over seven months.
If you have your eye on a shiny new start-up, go for it! It might not be right for everybody and it will challenge you. But it might be the start of something great.