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7 YEAR ITCH? It’s our birthday

This week marks the 7th birthday of Pearl Comms and what a ride it has been. Do we have the 7 year itch..? Possibly.

To mark 7 years in the business, our MD Alia Al-Doori has reflected on seven lessons from the last year. It’s been our biggest yet, with the boldest moves, but what does she really think?

Read on for some brutally honest learnings she had over the last 7 years.

For those of you who don’t know, we went through our first (small) acquisition this year and with that, there has been so much to learn and so much to reflect on. So here goes:

1 – An acquisition is both hard, rewarding and complicated. There is a serious amount to wade through.

If it’s your first, be prepared to make mistakes, and have some good advisers around you to lean on. I’d almost recommend considering the size of the company – you have to go through a lot of the same stages regardless of the size of the business – so make sure it’s worth it.

I found that when you acquire a business you gain so much but also lose a little bit too – you’re bound by agreements, targets, and all sorts of things that aren’t just your usual approach of ‘doing a good job’. That’s an adjustment I hadn’t expected.

(PS – if anyone is looking to go through an acquisition for the first time, I’m always available for a very inexperienced chat).

2 – Professionalising a business for the next phase of growth is costly and time consuming.

Make sure you have buffer funds (and some), and understand that there is no such thing as ‘buffer hours’ – you can’t actually make hours or days longer. And sleep is essential. So prioritise your list and do each stage really well – you’ll reap the rewards in the end.

3 – In 7 years, I’ve never felt so stretched than recently.

With lots of moving parts, make sure you think about how you ‘show up’ for your team – think about how you can be present and how you can still remain accessible during busy times when you have to get work done too. We’ve altered the way we communicate and how we support the team so that everyone feels listened to and feedback can be actioned. It helps that Nick Brown knows me very well and how I work.

4 – Never lose sight of your cashflow – but be prepared to make bold moves when it feels right.

Most growth-related decisions have a substantial price tag attached, but having cash gives you the confidence to take risks that are bolder without putting the company, or its people, in danger.

5 – Make sure you have the best and most supportive team.

Nurturing the right kinds of behaviours in your organisation isn’t always easy, and sometimes tough people decisions are needed to ensure you’re all set up for success. And knowing when people don’t have what the business needs is even harder.

Tip: when faced with this situation, short-term pain is necessary for a better outcome for everyone. And that’s the point, it’s short-term pain, for everyone.

6 – Understand your weaknesses – there’ll be plenty.

So hire bravely.

7 – A website that doesn’t work properly is a MASSIVE pain and an absolute journey to fix.

We left it a little too long, but now have a platform that looks amazing, does our work justice, and ACTUALLY works. We’ve improved our website site health no end with the amends we’ve made, and it shouldn’t be underestimated.

So, that’s seven, I’ve run out of points, but to answer the first question – do I have the 7 year itch…? No. Don’t get me wrong, running an agency is hard, leading a growing agency is even harder, but it’s worth it when clients appreciate you so much, and the team are so grateful for supporting their careers and development. That part, I could do for the next seven, and the seven after that.

For more on what our clients and our people say about our work, or what it’s like to work at Pearl Comms, take a look at our other blogs below!


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