Diary of an agency start-up: The importance of culture and getting paid early

Henry Daglish: the founder of Bountiful Cow
Henry Daglish: the founder of Bountiful Cow

Henry Daglish, the founder of Bountiful Cow, is writing a diary for Campaign about his media agency start-up. This is his fourth instalment.

Although 2017 has started with a bang and we’re very much in client bedding-in, RFI-submitting and all-out-pitch-mode, we forced ourselves to dedicate proper time to concentrate on the Cow's culture and values.

One of the great benefits of being a start-up is that there are only three of us and therefore it’s relatively easy to define and control your culture and way of working.

However it’s equally easy to be complacent and my previous experience has shown me that it’s incredibly hard to change unproductive and negative behaviours once they are ingrained and endemic within an organisation’s culture (or worse, those that are positive yet aren’t properly valued by the wider business).

So it’s critical we get this stuff locked in and habitual right now, because these need to be more than platitudes or words in a powerpoint deck.

Our values of authenticity, freedom and trust would hardly be a surprise to anyone given our vocal views on the issues that strangle our industry at the moment.

It’s incredibly hard to change unproductive and negative behaviours once they are ingrained and endemic within an organisation’s culture.

However to keep us true to ourselves we have taken the decision to invest in a year-long Elite Team Performance programme with the guys at Planet K2.

We’ve purposely built a founding team of three very different individuals and it’s imperative that we instil behaviours around mutual accountability from the outset.

We will live or die on today’s attention to the inputs that will drive tomorrow’s outputs (how’s that for management speak?).

But in all seriousness this stuff really matters to us because we want to build something very special and very different here.

On the broader idea of "culture" we have the leading light of The7Stars, our bigger sister agency, to emulate and we’ve been lucky enough to "borrow" the excellent benefits package from the mothership from the off.

While on that subject, a heartfelt start-up shout out to Jenny Biggam and Mark Jarvis for spontaneously bringing the January pay date forward by a week.

The idea apparently came from one of the team whose bank balance was firmly stuck in the red after the early Christmas pay day and subsequent festive overspend.

A lovely touch that (a) goes miles to demonstrate the power of independence and (b) shows what a tough hard act we have to follow.

Henry Daglish is the founder of Bountiful Cow.

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