5 Reasons Why You Should Not Start Your Own Agency

Summer is over, and almost every year at this time we have a couple of strange months where the weather is bad, money is short, the workload daunting and I am left asking myself: WHY did I think this was a good idea?
So, I decided it’s time to show the true colors of building and running a small agency and why you should not quit your 9-5.


1 You seem rich but you ain’t liquid
You usually go from rich to broke within weeks. Though you swear to set aside something from the next big project, even if you do – since you are an entrepreneur at heart – you use it for investments. So, two weeks of no payment and you can’t even pay for dinner.


2 More employees do not save you
It always seems that with hiring the next employee workload will be manageable, and you will have less pressure. Instead, you just run up your monthly costs and jobs are still either too few, too small or too many and too big for the team. Simply put: It will never seem quite right.


3 Taxes
I love to pay taxes. It makes the social system in Austria work, and that’s great and necessary. But be aware: taxes can be tricky since a lot of them don’t look at what you actually make but are based on assumptions on what you could make. So sometimes you have to pay way more than you can actually afford (see section 1 – you’ll never have enough savings). 


4 The project cycle
Agencies depend on project-based work, which is way more complicated than working with an actual physical product. After each project ends, you have to start from scratch: first finding a new possible project (see next point) and then becoming acquainted with it. 
This is also a financial issue: there is always a big gap between start and actual payment.


5 Pitches
I understand pitches from a client’s perspective – for them, they are practical, efficient and will give an excellent overview of a pool of ideas they can just point at and say: “I want this one.” But to survive as an agency, you have to pitch which brings you into the situation that you have to work very hard for no money, pretty intensely, on stuff that only in a small percentage will ever pay off. In that regard, pitches are a huge inconvenience. If you want to keep your project cycle short, it means pitching while you are still actually working on other projects, doubling (tripling, quadrupling – you get what I’m saying?) the workload. Not to even mention that pitching for public projects is so complicated and time-consuming that I could dedicate a whole blog entry to it.


I could for sure go on. Like the fact that your maximum vacation time is one afternoon where you manage to not touch a work device or write that quick e-mail or respond to a question on Slack, etc. However, I only announced 5 reasons, so consider yourself lucky.  
But I, of course, have to say I don’t regret a thing about starting my agency.  The best is the ability to build your own working environment, with a team that you can treat (hehehe) as family or friends.
I would say though, if you have a well-paying 9-5, specifically in Austria where nobody bothers you in your legally free time – I envy you.