OPINION16 March 2015

The Eternal Optimist


Craig Scott started his medical research company at the end of last year; several months in he shares his tips for clients and agencies working together.

I always said I’d never start a research consultancy. Which is why no one is more surprised than me that this is exactly what I’ve done.

I’ve learned that starting a company is an experience of several journeys. It’s a legal journey. It’s certainly a financial journey. It’s also a technical journey. Most interesting of all, to me, is the emotional journey. I was advised by a former boss now business mentor that the highs are very high but the lows are very low. How right he is. 

The experience of starting a company has ensured I feel the world more acutely. The feelings of joy on receiving my Certificate of Incorporation were in the same territory as the birth of my child. (Seriously, I have read every word of this bland government document. Several times.). The honeymoon period of incorporating, thinking up a company name, creating a visual identity and launching is very swiftly followed by the reality of persuading a client that you can add value to what they do. And that’s tough as therein lies the lows (and more highs).

It’s difficult trying to stop a busy commissioner of research and say that we would value the opportunity to work with them, that we’ll be as creative as we can within the budget to get them the knowledge they deserve, that we would truly value their business and never take it for granted. Most are too busy meeting their deadlines.  But some are interested; some do want to talk and consider you for a project. And that is a proper grinning-from-ear-to-ear moment.

Having worked both agency and client-side is certainly an advantage as I learned over the years what, I think, is good agency and client behaviour and that helps with forging a new business. 

Here are some Top Tips – I’d be interested to know if you agree or want to add (for the record, I’ve probably been guilty of every one of these):

To agencies:

  • If you’re claiming to be new and different – back it up with something new and different
  • Never, ever, for one nanosecond flinch or appear ungrateful for a small project that’s ‘only’ worth a piddling amount. Every pound spent with you is a vote for you not someone else
  • Be considerate to the client guys. If they work for a large company they probably have a mountain of other stuff to deal with, that’s not part of the day job, that you don’t have to.

To clients:

  • Give new agencies a break. Big and established is not always the default best. There is huge talent in the small and medium guys. Stay in touch with who’s who, build relationships and be willing to engage
  • Be nice to people. A response saying ‘thanks but no thanks for the following reasons…’ is better than no response at all. An email saying ‘well done’ is worth its weight in gold (I know emails don’t weigh anything)
  • Agency people are people too – they experience things like hunger and thirst. If you have a four hour meeting, have a break, offer a drink and food.

In addition to what I’ve learned over the years, I’m now adding new skills forced upon me by necessity (skills in areas I’d previously taken for granted). I am my own IT support. The post boy is me. I am the sales, marketing, PR, finance and graphics team all rolled into one.

The highs and lows this new journey brings are, so I’m told, totally normal and to be expected and I wish it will last for a long time to come.

Craig Scott is a director of Greensand.

1 Comment

9 years ago

Hey Craig. Great article, and many congratulations on setting up on your own. I empathise with everything you say, and hope the highs stay high and the lows reduce in frequency and depth over time. I'm always available for a chat or coffee if you need a friendly ear. I have my 8 year anniversary in a fortnight's time and have probably experienced it all by now. Best of luck, Jo

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