1. Always review where your industry is going, and how you can best serve your clients
In our case, we’ve realised that of our top ten clients, more than half of them want integrated solutions. Large corporations tend to work with 15 different agencies. It’s fragmented.
We’ve launched multiple business units with this in mind. Joe Public Shift focuses on brand design; Joe Public Connect is our digital agency; Joe Public Ignite is our beyond-the-line agency and Joe Public Engage is our PR business unit. Half of our revenue now comes from specialist companies that are the product of paying attention to our clients’ needs.
2. Everything begins and ends with strategy
Strategy is the silver bullet, and creative is the gold around it. We put our clients brand at our centre, and then build solutions around them with our different business units. This means they have one point of contact and everything is under one roof, but more importantly, it means that strategy is at the centre of everything. Never make the mistake of thinking that what you’re offering or doing isn’t strategic — if it’s not strategic, it’s not worth doing.
3. Don’t spend all your time on process, and forget about product
Profit is a by-product of product, not processes. Processes are important, but they shouldn’t be followed at the expense of the products you offer your clients.
4. Look at least three years into the future
Always remain conscious of what’s coming your way so that you can catch any problems ahead of the bell curve. Purpose is essential to this — if you’re always looking for proof of purpose, it’s much harder to lose your way.
5. Be a servant leader
This took us a long time to understand. You are not your business, and your business is not you. Don’t blur the lines. Your business is your creation, but just like your child is your creation, you aren’t the boss of it. You’re there to serve it and guide it. You’re the custodian of the organisation.
6. Stop planning and start doing
We all tend to complicate business with planning and processes. These shouldn’t be ignored, but you need to also just start — start your business, start that project, start walking the path you want to be on.
7. Play your heart out and the money will follow
Pepe learnt this valuable lesson when he was a student and busked at Greenmarket Square. You don’t stand with your hat, waiting for cash and then play — you play your heart out and the bills pile up in your hat. It’s the same in business. You can’t look at the bottom line first; it’s the other way around.
8. Be the top-end restaurant in your industry
People and businesses will pay a premium price for real quality and real value — even in a recession. We run our business like a top-end restaurant. This is the key to maintaining your business and your brand. Our focus has always been on the calibre of our product. It’s the only way to earn the respect of your clients and negotiate higher fees.