Small Agency Conference and Awards

If I knew then what I knew now... I'd ignore the forecast

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In this occasional series, Ad Age asked small agency chiefs what they would do differently if starting their shops today.

Starting your own agency is insane and I like to advise people of that if they ask. It's not the wrong thing to do or ripe for regret; it just takes a wild leap of faith.

People have long said the highs are higher and the lows are lower. It's true. The empowered feeling that every decision made impacts others is so real. It's also heavy.

Krystle Loyland
Krystle Loyland

This business is baffling in some of the best and most frustrating ways. I'm still amazed by how many brilliant, inspired and good-hearted clients there are out there. And it boggles my mind that there are still some that will break your heart, completely befuddle you, and ultimately hurt your culture or bottom line.

I'm still in awe of the talent that we have come across, and what especially young people are capable of when you let them shine. You may have witnessed this and felt pride in your team before; there's absolutely no better feeling. But I'm still gutted when some get disillusioned or become jaded or stuck for the wrong reasons.

I'm still completely energized by the ambition of the tasks at hand, the riddles we get to solve every day, and the thrill of cracking something you know is going to be really, really good. Maybe even get to great. Yet, I can still get stuck in the spin cycle of making decks and making meetings and the complete bummer of something dying that you had visualized out in the world as if it were already made.

This is a total fucker of an industry, and I feel lucky every day to be in it. Like one of Preacher's spiritual guides, Dolly Parton, once said, "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."

I'm ridiculously inspired by the great things our client partners are bringing to the world. And I'm blown away by how our teams solve a problem when I can't see it myself.

Starting a creative company electrifies you, riles you up, and wears you down. Like advertising does, just now with a qualifier like "very" or "more" before pretty much every experience. Just like that "higher highs, lower lows" proverb, it intensifies things.

So the thing I wish I had known is that you can only control so much. Maybe it's obvious in life, but that doesn't mean it naturally sinks in. I'd go back and tell my younger self to keep fighting the good fight but also keep letting things out of my control roll on through like a passing thunderstorm.

Finally, given the perspective I have the luxury of now, I'd tell her to focus on finding her people. The souls who are willing to stay optimistic and trust in their guts and hold hands when it gets a little stormy. Finding her people is one of the things she can control. Partnering with two people who I love and trust with my life, and now having a family of believers who I believe in, has led to way more of the good kind of intensity.

It's a shortcut to the rainbow.

Krystle Loyland is Co-Founder & CEO of Preacher

Want to hear more about how to thrive as a Small Agency? Sign up for the Ad Age Small Agency Awards and Conference in Marina del Rey, California on July 17-18. For more information and tickets, go here.

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