While starting up an agency might seem like a dream from a creative perspective — offering the chance to only work on the projects you choose, for clients you actually want to work for, for instance — from a financial point of view, it can feel like an absolute minefield: no one really teaches you about things like tax, accounting, or setting your own salary unless you seek it out.
As we discovered by talking to a number of design and advertising startups founded in recent years, there are also no set rules on the best way to get it done. Here, designers and creatives from Among Equals, Motel, Kiss Branding, ShopTalk, and An Open Understanding talk us through the way they did it, and offer advice on what to expect financially along the way.
THE UPFRONT COSTS
Emily Jeffrey-Barrett set up London studio Among Equals during the pandemic, launching in September 2020. While it had been something she’d dreamed of doing for years, it was the fear of the money side of it all that was holding her back. “I’d held off because I’d thought you needed money — to find an office and buy loads of stuff for it. Then the pandemic turned the world upside down, and things that seemed like massive hurdles didn’t seem as big in that context.”