Day in the life
The Cloudline teamThe great thing about being in cold storage for a while was that I could really research the market, and was able to have wide-ranging conversations about my plans with contacts and even old adversaries. You know who you are – I really appreciate your input.
So why start again after successfully selling out? I suppose it boils down to three things: Firstly, I like changing things. There’s still plenty of petrol in the tank and I miss the buzz of developing projects and businesses. The market’s been slow for a while now, but I hope we can help stimulate some optimism and growth. Secondly, I can work with people who I have the highest respect and admiration for. We had a great client/agency relationship, and are looking forward to replicating this. It sounds obvious, but in any venture, partner relationships are absolutely crucial. Thirdly, I know that I just want to concentrate on the job in hand. I’ve had enough of company politics at this stage of my career.
For those who haven’t taken the plunge, I hope to give a brief insight into the process of setting up. First time round I was probably a bit slow and tentative – not only through being in the comfort zone of a highly paid corporate environment, but also because the idea of setting up seemed complex. I won’t deny that it’s hectic and stressful, but probably no more so than working day to day on a particularly demanding piece of retail business. Nowadays, there is much more help for people and, if you want to take the plunge, go for it. There’s no point regretting lost opportunities later.
The green light flashes on and the adrenaline comes flooding back. Our first meeting takes place in my unofficial office – Malmaison. Very friendly, professional, straightforward and refreshing. All are in agreement on company aims and principles, and partnership details are sorted out very quickly. Very different to some previous experiences.
A long list of ‘must dos’ are agreed upon, among which a company name has to be found. The easy solution is to put our names above the door, but we agree to look for something more creative. The challenge is that so many company names are registered. I’m reminded of the re-branding at Rex Stewart where we went through around 300 names before settling on The Bridge.
One advantage of having been there before is that I know the relevant contacts. Still, I think it would be a good idea to check out the Small Business Gateway. My advisor is another old colleague and it’s good to chat. The practical support is more aimed at first timers, but there are a couple of decent tips and I embark on the business plan.
The next decision is choosing a company location. Oddly, after all these years, there still seems to be a Glasgow/Edinburgh divide in the marketing community. This, and the partners’ relative geographic locations, means that we decide to locate slap bang in the middle of the country, in Stirling. I immediately start scouting out locations – a tedious and time consuming task.
We contact our accountants and solicitors. Again, it is good to work with people we know, and the business plan, draft agreements and contracts are developed.
The laborious process of form filling starts, and we contact the banks as Christmas looms. One obviously has a full diary of office parties and takes over a week to get back to us. Not surprisingly, it loses out. We meet another bank and it likes our business plan. We conclude terms.
We check out a company name, and although we can register it, another similarly named company operates in the South. We decide not to take the risk and reconvene to brainstorm. Cloudline emerges from the mist. Apart from being good visually, the name conjures up the principles of strategic thinking and innovation that we want to communicate. No doubt the wags will have fun with it at our expense.
We conclude that our premises will be based at Stirling University Innovation Park. The offices are modern, fully serviced, and picturesque, and we are surrounded by a range of interesting companies.
We’re on schedule for our proposed launch date but various contractual issues mean that we decide to delay another couple of weeks. We go ahead with our exclusive in The Drum anyway. Corporate photos are taken at Dalmahoy, along with a bit of creative enhancement for everyone’s amusement. The old credit card has taken a bit of a battering while we wait for our company chequebook. Some juggling of finances is required to cope with the aftermath of Christmas and the buying of essentials for the company.
The IT equipment arrives but the server of all things is technically ‘DOA’, meaning that we cannot set up our network. Much hassle ensues to arrange a replacement. Fortunately, our IT guys at Modus are really helpful.
The designs come back from Zero and we really like the corporate ID. We approve, and it goes into production. Meanwhile, we iron out a few technical points with our lease and pore over the press release to the media.
All that’s left is organising insurance, buying stationery, developing systems and procedures, creating templates, stocking and decorating the office and working out how to use the phones.
At last we reach our launch with four clients already confirmed. It seems to have been going on forever but the day finally dawns. Reaction is good so far.
Well, that’s the easy bit over.