As I walked to our new office this morning, my phone was repeatedly bleeping. Rescuing it from the depths of my bag, I discovered that Linkedin had kindly reminded everyone that it is 26 years this week â€“ just writing that is scary -Â that I took the plunge and set up The Media Exchange.Â So I thought Iâ€™d share a little about what itâ€™s really like to run your own show for such a long time!
Firstly, I am still in awe of my much younger self! Had I stopped and thought things through just a little bit more, Iâ€™m sure I would have stopped in my tracks. I was young, naÃ¯ve and determined, all things that from what I can remember didnâ€™t even allow the word risk, to enter my head. In those days, I had to find an office, (there was no Fora or We Work equivalent) furniture, phones, money and some clients â€“ all knowing that I had a mortgage to pay â€“ honestly when I think about it now, I can only think I must have been mad!
For those of you thinking of setting up a business, any business, probably the biggest change is understanding that you donâ€™t just have to secure business but you have to collect the cash too and work out how to pay the bills – I remember receiving our first cheque (yes, just cheques then) was a major milestone and you are suddenly responsible not just for yourself but for your team, their personal issues, their families and livelihoods â€“ a truly sobering thought at times.
So 26 years has flown by but what have I learnt? Well, setting up a business is not for everyone. It has significant challenges and can be complicated with the most incredible highs â€“ finding three Ad Directors for Nat Mags in our first few months, working on the launches of BBC Top Gear and Red as well as Yahoo! and Facebook â€“ and terrible lows â€“ the 2008/9 recession was a nightmare! The pace of change has also been huge â€“ my vocabulary has grown enormously â€“ email, digital, programmatic, native â€“ the list is endless, who knew!Â I have needed to be resilient, compassionate and able to deal with the unexpected. I never know quite what every day will bring â€“ over the years I think we have dealt with almost every personal issue â€“ love, life and death and everything in between.
That said I feel incredibly fortunate â€“ the media industry is filled with some of the most loyal, creative, passionate people many of whom have worked with us from day one â€“ yes really â€“ and loads of whom I am privileged to regard as friends.
Most importantly, I have been able to work alongside some amazing people â€“ not just the current team who are all incredible- but all those who have contributed over the years to our growth, development and success. When you set out, you feel invincible but actually itâ€™s the team around you that conveys your vision and makes it all worthwhile and for this I am truly grateful!
Many of you will know that after 26 years we recently moved office. Amazingly I wasnâ€™t sentimental about it at all – though it was a nightmare getting rid of 26 years of paper – just glad to move to a great location in fantastic new offices. In fact I might just be sitting right where Terry Mansfield sat all those years ago!!
Finally, yes every day I feel a bit old – the 26 years is a bit of a giveaway â€“ but would I do it again â€“ you bet!!