Founder reflections: Celebrating digital marketing agency Sookio's first 15 years — Sookio

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Founder reflections: Celebrating digital marketing agency Sookio’s first 15 years — Sookio

It’s less about aligning ourselves with a particular sector or trend, or saying that we offer only one service. This stuff can come and go, but the problem we’re solving for people remains the same.

Clients might come to us and say, “Help! We’ve spent years building up all these social media communities…and we don’t know what to do with them.”

Or maybe you’ve been buried in the lab ten years and have emerged blinking into the sunlight wondering how the hell you’re going to communicate this amazing research with customers who don’t understand the science.

So what we do brilliantly is help solve this problem.

People are always saying you should go niche by sector, but our niche relates to the problem we’re solving. How we take time to understand the challenge, how we advise on the strategic direction and the content to go with it…this will always be our constant even as everything around us changes.

As Dolly Parton says, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” And you can’t argue with Dolly, can you?

2. Things can change in an instant

I was stood in my kitchen at one point last summer and I thought to myself, you know what…things seem pretty stable at the moment. Then I laughed out loud and thought, “Well let’s give it five minutes.”

In any business you have to be prepared for things to change like ‘that’.

You can be riding high, everything smooth, running like clockwork…then suddenly a budget gets cut completely out of our control. And a couple of payments are slow to come in. All of a sudden it’s squeaky bum time on the cashflow front, whereas previously I was strutting round like the world’s greatest businesswoman.

The picture on the left was taken at 11am on 15 July 2019. We went into the office for a full-day’s shoot of promo videos for our Skillshare courses. It was a fun day, but long, and that night I went to bed and put my phone on silent.

The picture in the middle was sent at 5am the following morning from a journalist friend telling me my business was burning down.

It’s hard to fully articulate what I felt that morning as I gathered everything up and rushed into Cambridge…sitting on the train full of adrenaline, feeling like everything I’d spent 11 years building up was destroyed…standing at the police cordon staring at the huge hole where the front door had been…seeing the sooty handprints on the internal doors from where the firemen had rushed round in the middle of the night looking for any of us who may have been trapped.

Three weeks followed where we were shut out of the building. We worked in coffee shops. Kitchens. Client’s offices (thank you Cambridge Econometrics). The church opposite! And little did we know this was all a dress rehearsal for the pandemic which was just around the corner.

Having founded the company in 2008 – the height of the last recession, when my sons were aged 3 and 1, and 2 months after losing my Dad – in a weird way, it’s given me an advantage. I’m pretty resilient. As a business owner you have to be ready for the rug to be pulled out from under your feet at any given moment. And always maintain this optimism that if you hold your nerve, things might just be OK.

Having a strong company culture is something that helps weather these storms. Taking time to build these bonds when you’re not under pressure to do so, is so important. Deliberate communication, praising each other, supporting each other, celebrating the wins…it’s this that made us such a strong team following the Mill Road fire and during the whole pandemic period. This is just always going to be how we operate.

3. People are the most important thing in any business

I’ve known this from day one…but I’ve truly lived it now.

When we made our first hires (hello Jake and Cassie) I thought to myself that I may not know much about HR, but I do know it must come down to two things:

I’ve been proud to work with people at Sookio over the years who not only do the job brilliantly, but are some of the smartest, kindest, most creative people you can meet – who I LOVE spending time with. We laugh a lot. But we also take pride in doing excellent work. This goes for freelancers too – the designers, animators, video specialists and others we have in close orbit.

This content was originally published here.