In 2014, I left the life of an agency employee and exchanged it for the adventure of self-employment. I have never regretted this for a single day.
But I have no regrets about having worked in an agency either. After all, these were important years of learning.
What makes working in an advertising agency so exciting as preparation for self-employment?
1. You work under permanent performance pressure
An agency is no walk in the park. You are under constant pressure to perform and often have to look after many clients and campaigns at the same time. If you want to do your work well, there is no way around being well organised and developing a high level of discipline.
It is precisely this pressure to perform that you will encounter in self-employment. In the beginning, the pressure to perform does not necessarily come from customers, but from the fact that you have to make a living. Once the initial phase is over, it’s all about taking care of the new customers and at the same time expanding the business and keeping an overview. For all this to succeed you need to be disciplined and organised.
2. One quickly learns to find and implement pragmatic solutions
If you manage campaigns in an agency, there are always situations where something goes wrong and pragmatic solutions are needed quickly. You can’t bury your head in the sand and wait and see.
Here too, there are parallels to self-employment. Often unexpected things happen and you have to find a good solution quickly. There is no time for scientific work on the problem. The motto is “do it”.
3. You learn a lot about the weaknesses of customers and industries
As a customer consultant in a media agency you learn a lot about your customers. You can see where the toe pinches and where the challenges lie in the most diverse industries. This contributes to developing a better understanding of business. In addition, as in any other job, you can also identify one or two weaknesses in the employer’s business.
These two things can be put to excellent use in self-employment – at least if you remain loyal to the industry. The more practical knowledge and experience you have gained, the better your future expertise in self-employment can be. Knowing weak points helps you to build up your own company that exploits exactly these weak points.
4. You learn to make presentations
Presentations are part of the daily business in agencies. You learn to develop sales arguments, present campaign results and convince with new strategies.
All this is also needed in self-employment. Especially in the beginning you have to convince new customers of your service or/and product. And there is nothing better than a certain skill in presenting.
5. You understand how marketing works
Marketing is the core of the work in an agency, because in the end you help the customers to sell the products on the market. One defines target groups, selects suitable advertising environments and develops advertising strategies that convince the target group of the customer’s product.
When you are self-employed you can use exactly these strategies to get your business going.
6. You build up a good network
If you prefer a comfortable job, you will very rarely choose an agency as an employer. Ultimately, this often leads to a high concentration of very talented and motivated people there. Quite a few leave the agency again after a few years and go on different career paths.
Exactly this network of contacts will be very useful on the way to self-employment, as it can open many doors.