ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Westmore founded Speccy Media in 2017 and was later joined by partner Dan in early 2020. Speccy Media is a small (but growing – they are now a team of nine) digital agency with a big heart, that helps small and medium sized businesses grow and showcase themselves to the world effectively through modern web design and customer focused marketing.
Over the last four years, it’s fair to say that we have learned a lot about running a business. There’s no handbook for how to begin and though we have had the benefit of great advice, everyone’s experience and situation is different.
We’ve taken Speccy Media from a kitchen table business to a growing team, offering multiple digital services from our shiny new office in Chichester.
Because we know how valuable it’s been to hear from others, we want to help other entrepreneurs grow their own businesses by sharing our story.
1. First Hires – who, when and how?
Looking back, it’s easy to see when might have been a good time to outsource, scale or make a change. But when you’re in the moment, it can feel very different.
In the early days of Speccy Media, deciding on the right time to scale the business felt like a big decision. As a result, it was easy to become overworked and overwhelmed.
Sharing your workload with a team gives you time and space to ensure you’re doing the best job you can. You don’t need to fully employ someone to grow a team! Instead, consider other options, such as:
- using graduates looking to gain valuable experience alongside a wage
- freelancers who may be looking for flexibility and smaller contracts
Taking smaller steps this way can feel more manageable. It means you can continue to grow over time, rather than having to take a huge leap and commit to a full time member of staff all at once.
TOP TIP: If you’re not sure whether your business is ready to take on staff (or what kind of staff you need), Zapier has a great blog on the topic.
2. Remote or Office – is it one-size-fits-all?
It may go against the current grain, but here’s a key piece of advice we’d share for any business: working from home can feel like a novelty and offers great flexibility for some people. But it may not work for everyone.
There is a lot of hype around exclusive remote work being the future, but the numbers say otherwise. In fact, a June 2021 report shows that 85% of remote workers want to use a hybrid approach of both home and office-based methods.
After the challenges of the pandemic, moving to an office space has delivered the most benefits for us.
If you reflect on your own routine you may find, as we did, that your boundaries become increasingly blurred over time. When there’s no difference between work and home, it feels more acceptable to take calls late at night, keep your laptop on while watching TV or just do a few emails at the weekend. It’s an easy trap to fall into. However, it can have a serious effect on your wellbeing over time – because you never fully recharge away from your day job.
Having the option of an office means you can switch into the right headspace for work. It enables you to leave your daily home admin concerns at the door and focus on the task at hand. Similarly, you can leave work behind when you log off for the day.
For that reason, we offer our Media team the option of coming into the office or working from home in a pattern that suits their lifestyles. This removes the pressure of a commute or fixed hours away, and creates a comfortable, trusted and productive team.
TOP TIP: If you’re not sure what method works best for your team, the easiest way to find out is by asking what they think!
3. Company Culture – would YOU work for you?
Building the right team can be a challenge, and is certainly something that we’ve had ups and downs with.
A healthy company culture is about being part of a team who are all equally invested in the success of the company AND the clients. In fact, it is pivotal that in 2021, 94% of entrepreneurs and 88% of job seekers say that a healthy culture at work is vital for success.
Create a working environment that you would choose to work in. In our case, we have a very relaxed culture where coming forward is encouraged, business is spoken about very freely, and our staff understand where they fit. It’s an evolving process, but one we’re pleased to say is working for us.
We want our employees to share their ideas, be creative, think outside the box and be invested in us. They can’t do that if they don’t think we are invested in them through things like a flexible approach to working.
Open communication is everything. People don’t know what is expected of them if you don’t tell them. Similarly, people may not always tell you everything you need to know if you don’t ask them directly. We have hired staff who weren’t ready for the role or didn’t share our values, and sadly it hasn’t worked out.
There is no perfect formula. However, if you’re able to use negative experiences to improve your interview process, it’ll ensure you employ people who are the right fit.
TOP TIP: If you’re not sure where to start, Udemy offers some fantastic courses on the topic from speakers like Netflix co-creator Patty McCord!