After working for a publishing firm, Nick Farrar started his own agency in 1998. He went on to launch the award-winning creative agency Workbrands from his kitchen table in 2005 and is now based in Paintworks.
How did you start out in business?
I started my first agency in 1998 with a colleague and friend from a publishing company, where I was a designer. The publishing company was very entrepreneurial, and that environment was instrumental in me starting up by myself.
It was probably too early in my professional career to go it alone; I had great fun and learned a lot, but the agency didn’t last too long and after a couple of years I was back at the publishing company in the role of managing director.
I left to set up Workbrands from my kitchen table in 2005.
If you knew then what you know now, what mistakes might you have avoided?
In hindsight, we should have had stronger credit checks on some of our earlier clients – one in particular ended up costing us a lot of money.
What advice would you have given yourself when starting out?
Stick at it – but maybe not for too long if its clear things aren’t going to work out.
Listen to advice when you can, but only follow it up if it seems genuine – don’t try to be something or somebody that you aren’t.
Don’t try to do everything yourself, the chances are that people in your team will be able to do things a lot better than you.
If you knew then what you know now, would you still be sitting there?
Things would inevitably be different, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be sitting anywhere else.
What do you know now that you didn’t know then?
It’s difficult to turn work away, but more often than not it’s a false economy to do work that you don’t want to do.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?
Make decisions based on common sense – it’s something my old boss said to. If things feel right, then they probably are.
My main advice would be to be considerate, take a few moments to consider the impact your actions or comments will have before making them.
What is your business highlight?
We’ve had a lot of great things happen; awards, good client wins, our recent move to our new studio at Paintworks. But I think the real highlight is the team that we have. We’re small and highly collaborative – people genuinely seem to enjoy what they do and that is very rewarding.
What is your business low point?
A real low point for me was when we had to make some of our team redundant due to a lack of work. We put it off for as long as possible, but in the end, it was inevitable.
What keeps you awake?
It’s usually things I didn’t get around to doing that day and promising myself to do them the following day.
What’s changed from when you started out?
Technology, the increased pace that things happen and the fact that you can easily be in the loop 24/7.
There’s a danger it will affect your personal life if you constantly have one eye on your phone – you need to set your own rules about how you deal with it.
What’s still on your to-do list?
I have a real passion for Workbrands and want to do the best by our team and clients. Things are changing so quickly in the creative sector and I feel we need to adapt as we go along to remain relevant.
From a personal point of view – relax more with my family and probably be more patient. As well as getting fitter, eating healthier, drinking a little less, doing stuff to the house, getting better at golf – the list is endless!
What’s next for you in business and personally?
Business: To continue to be sustainable as a creative agency. We want to increase our visibility, collaborate with like-minded partners and continue to do great creative work that has a positive effect on our clients.
Personally: To try to switch off from work and enjoy family and social life more.
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