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May 10, 2012
10 Reasons to Start an Agency in This Economy
When my partners and I started our agency, KINGSDAY, last September, people close to us and in the ad industry declared us wildly out of touch with reality. We had comfortable positions at a wonderful agency network; one where we had grown up and where our futures looked bright. We had creative successes on the world’s biggest stages and festivals and worked for both European and Global clients.
Besides all that, why would you start an ad agency in the middle of an economic crisis that is equally affecting ad agencies and clients in the worst way?
The four partners had a vision for our own agency, felt we had insights on the changes in the ad industry, believed in the moment, and took the jump. Now, after seven months looking at our team (we’ve grown to a staff of 15) and at the state of business, I’d say the crisis has actually done wonderful things for us. 
Contemplating our first half-year, I found there might be 10 reasons why starting your business in a crisis is a good thing.
  1. First, starting an agency from scratch makes you hungry as hell! Passion is one of the key ingredients in our creative environment and if you are hungry it shows. We are willing to do more in less time and we strive for perfection in every written brief and in every encounter. 
  2. Starting a business in a crisis radiates confidence. Our clients are fighting their own economic battles with disappearing markets and heightened competition. They want to turn to those who boast confidence. Today, that’s us!
  3. This economic climate forces companies to change and to look at alternative ways of operating their business. With change, clients look outside their usual roster for advice.
  4. To be honest, I do miss the executive lifestyle sometimes. In a start-up you manage your costs. In a crisis start up you are obsessed with costs. It’s a good thing. It’s forcing us to remain lean and mean.
  5. OMG…the level of independent talent out there due to the layoffs and the trend for creatives to freelance is amazing! We are a relatively small team but can be a giant within hours if we need to be.
  6. NEW is always good in advertising and does not take note of any crisis.
  7. Not surprisingly, the procurement departments also play an important role in selection of new agency partners. Being a lean and mean agency helps us in every one of those conversations.
  8. The crisis has unleashed a new era of openness for multinationals and through social media the value of conversations with your customer is what your communication strategy is about. This area has been our playground for many years.
  9. We have worked for Pan-European and Global clients like Volvo, Unilever, and Kraft over the past ten years. Being based in the multi-cultural hub of Amsterdam with new technology giving us right tools, we are able to efficiently service multiple markets from one location. This advantage can be very attractive for clients looking to build consistent brand conversations across Europe.  
  10. Finally, there’s always a positive thought when you are starting a new agency. Even if the economy goes down 30%, as a new agency playing in a multi-billion environment, you only need a .001% to be successful.
KINGSDAY recently celebrated the Dutch holiday of Queensday from our headquarters in a canal house in Amsterdam. It will actually be a celebration of what this crisis has given us so far. Now let’s hope that the story continues to improve when the economy improves and there’s no crisis! 

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Sander Volten, Managing Director, self-proclaimed Rock Star in Ad Man disguise. Only recently recovered from platinum membership disease, contracted while driving our former agency to global fame. Grew up in the USA; knows how to throw a big BBQ. He, and the other partners of KINGSDAY, spent many years with EuroRSCG and he had been, most recently, CEO of EuroRSCG Netherlands.  f
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