Ben Kay on why you should start your own agency

Our advertising correspondent, Ben Kay, has recently launched his own agency, Invincible Unicorn. Here, he takes us through his experiences so far, both positive and negative

There are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t start an ad agency.

First off, 90% of you don’t really know how an ad agency works. You don’t know how a planner spends their day; you don’t know what an account person has to go through to sell something or deliver bad news to you. And you really don’t know how the finances work.

Yes, of course you know the surface layer – the parts that affect you and improve or ruin your day – but let me assure you, there is another level below that, followed by several more.

If you start an ad agency, you’ll suddenly find yourself wondering what you need to do to find a client, get a client, keep a client happy, make an ad and, most importantly, get paid for all of that.

You’ll discover what SOW stands for and why it’s probably the most important acronym in the business. You’ll understand that finding people who will exchange money for what you do is really, really, really fucking hard. You’ll realise that there’s a lot of competition for what you do, and you’ll be nowhere near the front of the queue.

And you might have won a few pitches, but are you aware that many pitches for decent-sized chunks of business cost tens of thousands of pounds and might only get you a project fee worth a little more than that? And it’s much more likely that you won’t win that project fee, so you’ll just have to write off whatever you spent.