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How to make the leap from working for an agency to starting your own

Starting a PR agency is both exciting and daunting. There are risks with leaving the comfort of a corporate role, but there’s also a lot to gain from taking complete control of your career and starting your own business.

At the start of 2023 I launched my own Digital PR agency, Modern Classic Digital, and it’s already one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

So for anyone thinking of doing the same, here are my tips for making the jump from working at a PR agency to owning one.

Stay focused on the future and what you want to achieve

Before making the move to starting your own PR business, it’s important to take the time to lay out a plan for what success looks like. Establish short- and long-term goals that will help define your vision and give you something to strive towards. Make the short-term goals actionable and the long-term aspirational. You can then be focused on the future whilst making positive change in the present.

Once you have this outlined, make it your absolute focus and don’t take your eye off it. Be reactive to how the world changes, but don’t lose sight of what you set out to achieve.

Build an agency that reflects your own values and beliefs

An often overlooked but important step when starting your own PR agency is to define and build an agency that truly reflects you. Create values that are a reflection of how you want to work and the principles by which you will conduct the business. Establishing these guiding principles gives clear direction for any decisions, big or small, in running the business.

PR is an opportunity for brands to use their voice and make change. It’s a wonderful industry that encourages creativity and thoughtfulness, but too many brands (including major ones) run novelty campaigns that contribute absolutely nothing to the world.

As a result of this, all of our client strategies include a campaign that activates their brand for good. It’s our way of changing the outdated and misunderstood perception of PR while making our clients happy.

Know when to take a break

Starting an agency is an experience that you can easily spend too much time working on. When we launched, I was working weekends and evenings just because I felt so proud to have ownership over something with so much potential.

But, I quickly realised that I was working an insane amount of hours a week, and that went against my values of having a healthy work life balance.

Agency owners tend to invest a huge amount of time and mental energy into the success of their business. It is essential to find holiday days and regular weekend breaks that allow you to relax and unwind - it will ultimately help you in producing better work that you’re proud of.

Always go the extra mile

Don’t get blinded by the excitement of success and make careless oversights where you have rushed things. Instead, channel the energy and work ethic into excellence in everything you do.

Each campaign or project you undertake must have the highest quality output and demonstrate the value of your agency. Putting extra effort into what you produce helps to ensure that your clients know they are getting more than their money's worth.

Be reliable, earn trust, and as previously mentioned on PRmoment, be kind. It all contributes to strengthening the relationships between yourself and everyone you work with.

Look fear in the face and do it anyway

I received a piece of advice that stuck with me, which was ‘look fear in the face and do it anyway’.

An unflinching desire to succeed is essential in owning an agency but the true success comes from the crucial decision to never compromise for ease over effort.

Written by Barney Packer, founder and drector of agency Modern Classic Digital

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