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How well do you know your design agency?

Can your business ever truly be a success if you don’t understand your own personal needs and desires in relation to it? How, as a business owner, can you make work work for you on a personal level? The DBA’s Services Director, Adam Fennelow, caught up with Jack O’Hern from Wright Vigar to find out.

I recently sat down with Jack O’Hern, partner at accountancy firm Wright Vigar and an accredited DBA Expert. The starting point of our discussion was personal finances for business owners – not usually a subject we broach at the DBA with our focus on the success of ‘the business’ rather than the individuals who own it. But Jack’s message is clear: unless a business owner understands their personal needs and desires with regards to their business, then it will never truly be a success.

Jack O'Hern, DBA Expert, partner at Wright Vigar
Jack O’Hern, DBA Expert, partner at Wright Vigar

Although business and personal success are intertwined, business success can be judged on financial metrics, whereas for yourself a different set of metrics are needed that don’t focus so much on money, but instead focus on the quality of your life.

“A financial advisor for a business owner shouldn’t look at the business first, they should look to the person, ” says Jack. “The business should work for the person, not the other way round.”

The business owner (or owners) need to work out what they want from their business by answering three questions:
  1. Why did you set up your business in the first place?
    For design agency owners the words “independence” and “freedom” tend to feature heavily, both creatively and financially. Did you want double-digit growth every year, or did you do it to keep a roof above your head?
  2. What do you want out of your business – what should it provide?
    Are you getting what you want out of the business both emotionally and financially? Does it give you security? A certain standard of living? Are you happy with what you do at work on a day-to-day basis; is it what you expected you would be doing when you set up the business?
  3. What is the end game?
    What do you want to leave behind and how do you want to leave? Are you interested in leaving a creative legacy? A thriving business that you have passed on in some form? Do you want early retirement and a life on the golf course, or do you want the opportunity to never retire but not have to deal with the stress of running a business?

Without truthful answers to these personal questions by all owners of the business it is difficult to successfully manage the business itself. They all impact on the financial decisions taken within the business.

In Jack’s experience, the most common reaction to these questions is a realisation that the owner’s original intentions on setting up the business, have become lost under the morass of actually running it.

That’s why you need to remember what you are trying to do – and then, more importantly, do something about it. This could mean breaking ties with an awkward client, investing in a big hire and bringing someone in to run the business operations thereby freeing up your time, or scaling back to a more manageable size so you can remain in control.

Life can impact on your work in so many ways, especially as we get older. From looking after poorly parents to putting kids through university – you need to make sure that work works for you, and that starts with financial management.


DBA workshop: PR and Profile Raising

At this half-day workshop you’ll explore how you can raise your agency’s profile successfully through PR, even without a large budget.

The DBA Experts Register is here to help you

If you need advice or professional guidance on issues such as succession planning, restructuring, new business development, financial planning and more, we can connect you with the right people.

Letter to a drowning agency principal

Your situation looks complicated and maybe hopeless from the inside, but from where I sit, unencumbered by the baggage of history, emotions and relationships, it’s clear what needs to be done. These 12 steps are the map, says Blair Enns.

Adam Fennelow is Head of Services at the DBA.

For more information on DBA membership click here.

Image credits: © Rawpixelimages


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