21/02/2014

BLOG: Year One: Starting from Scratch

We were probably like a million other creatives across the country. We had all the ideas for starting our own business but were financially comfortable working for someone else.

Well, the push we needed came in late 2011 when our employer was forced to call in the liquidators. The three of us realised that now was finally the time to jump ship and create our own company, and with that Episode Three was born. Like anyone who’s lost a full time job, we of course worried about money, but above all it really just felt like the start of a new chapter – a world of new possibilities.

We managed to hold onto some of our previous employer’s clients and those few jobs gave us an important boost in the first few months. Unfortunately, these clients were having problems of their own, with budgets being dramatically slashed, and so we were pretty much down to a portfolio of zero within a few months; precarious to say the least! That left Episode Three in a tight spot, just two months in but it also taught us to cast your net wide and not rely on a single cash cow – a lesson that is now serving us well.

So, as you might imagine we were far from cash rich in those early days and were the classic tale of starting a company on a credit card. We were actually offered investment from an external party, which was incredibly tempting. However, the sum involved was outweighed by the equity we’d be losing. The words of our business mentor, “giving equity is like pulling teeth,” rang in our ears and so we politely declined the cash injection. The decision felt right as angel investors are in it to make money, not friends, and we felt that could be a risk; but right or not the decision didn’t exactly help our cash flow situation.

Fortunately, what we did have was a good relationship with the bank and through perseverance we managed to secure a modest small business loan. While it would have been easy to rush out and buy shiny new toys, we were careful not to go over the top with it; keeping the loan to essential business development, and to a size we could pay back even if Episode Three didn’t take off.

Our goal then became using that cash to find new clients. We were confident that Episode Three could win them and that all we needed was time to research the market and make contacts. Finding new clients is a long game of course, and so as well as meeting with potential new customers we also continued to spread the word via all our old industry contacts and friends.

We found that the best route to any client is peer recommendation and although it has taken time for that initial investment to pay off, we’re now winning new customers from marketing efforts started a whole year ago. Like anyone who’s lost a full time job we of course worried about money, but above all it really just felt like the start of a new chapter
Episode Three has now been in existence for one year and, yes, it has been a rollercoaster. We’ve won some great clients but also had to hold our nerve when hurdles were looming on the horizon.

Ask any start-up in any industry and the story will probably be similar, a first year mixed with fear and massive victories. After learning the risk of cash cows early on our goal now is to keep expanding the client base and win ever more rewarding work. Will that happen? Well, let’s just see what the rest of 2013 has to offer…



EPISODE THREE

Since founding in 2011, the team at Episode Three have provided exciting marketing and communications films for the likes of Lloyds Banking and Netcomm.

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