How I started my own agency: Beata Mosór-Szyszka (Project: People)
When and how was the Project People agency created? What were the biggest challenges in creating it? When did the agency get the first customer? What should people who think about opening an agency know? Beata Mosór-Szyszka, co-founder of the agency, talks about the creation of Project: People.
How long has it taken you to create the agency since you came up with the idea?
I knew that I would start my own company since I started my professional career 🙂 I am an independent person who strongly values the ability to create, it is also important for me to have a sense of influence. Only your own business can guarantee it 100%.
I was 23 years old when in 2011 I resigned from the position of Acting Marketing Director at nazwa.pl. I knew that I did not have enough knowledge and experience, and reaching the position of director and managing a team of 30 people at such a young age is a combination of hard work, predispositions and competences, but also a huge stroke of luck. However, I was aware of my huge incompetence in many areas and felt that this is what I’d love to do, but I need time to prepare.
I decided then that I would wait until I was 30 when I started my own business. And I will use the 7 years that have remained until this moment to collect the most diverse experiences in the field of marketing, PR, management and strategy. I knew that I wanted to create business, marketing and product strategies in the area of digital – “IT” – as it was said then. 🙂
So I created a roadmap of what experiences and competences I need to get and where I need to get them to have the relevant experience necessary to build strategies for other companies. There were various companies on my roadmap – from large international corporations, through medium-sized companies operating in the field of IT for finance (now we would say FinTech), to small companies operating in the spirit of lean startup. I also created a simple brand idea for my personal branding: D
A simple brand idea for my personal branding. Please don’t laugh – it was 2011. 🙂
A year before my 30th birthday, I began to slowly prepare to open my own business. I started with building a team. I engaged the first person on a contract to perform a specified task to support the first orders from clients. The beginning meant also the first joint commercial projects with my current partner Asia Ostafin. Then, we started to build the brand – name, simple logo – it was the basis for building a series of Project: People Meetup events, which became a great leverage to attract new customers. After the first half year of testing various activities and building the brand, we went to Canary Islands for a few days where the vision Project: People was created – goals, strategy and plan of its implementation.
The Canary Beach was the place where we developed a great plan to conquer the world with Project: People. 🙂
When and what was the trigger to start your own business?
The company was founded almost as planned, exactly 1 month before my 30th birthday.
What were the biggest challenges for starting your own business?
The biggest challenge is making a choice. Deciding what exactly your company is and what it does and does not. Another challenge is to go beyond your limits and comfort zone to do things that we have never had the opportunity to do before, which we do not like or do not want to do and which are important in the context of the company’s development. In my case, it was a break in the issues of outbound sales or management accounting.
What are the costs of starting your own business?
First of all, it is an emotional cost – stress, a heavy burden of responsibility for people, team, customer businesses or even financial stability. Another cost is the time that you must first invest in running your business. Financial costs are negligible (accounting is a few hundred PLN a month, you can have an office at home or in coworking at the beginning). If your agency works well, it should be profitable from the beginning or at least break even.
After what time did you get the first customer?
We had our first clients before the company began to exist (e.g. thanks to networking, personal branding, meetup). By the time we started our regular operations, we already had several projects under the Project: People brand. From the first day we had regular customers for our services. Before starting a company, it is worth starting marketing and sales processes before, so that the company is profitable immediately.
The company has customers from the very beginning and keeps developing evenly.
What would you advise the person who is considering establishing his own agency?
First of all – start by building the three most important things:
- the team,
- relations with organizations, potential clients, media, etc.,
Don’t start alone. A company is a team, people. If you do everything yourself, then you do not have the opportunity to learn the most important competences in company management – delegating tasks, communication, cooperation, trust in the team, respect for their competences and work.
Choose the right co-founder who shares the same values. Who shares your approach to the business, who you trust, whose competences you value, who is better than you are. And at the same time whose competences and personality traits complement yours.
What weirdest/funniest situations happened to you while developing your own business?
Many funny situations result from the fact that I am a new mom 😀 Running a workshop with a baby in my arms or recruiting people to a team with a baby stroller makes people smile.
Showing that we are also people, women, mothers, husbands or wives is important to us. It also results in the fact that our recipients and clients feel comfortable – recently a new mom came to us for recruitment with a child in her arms and it also happens that clients bring children to meetings 😀
What do you think is the key to success in running your own business?
- Focus on people.
- Focus on the goal.
- Balance between these two.
- Vision and strong Why.
What would you have done differently in retrospect?
All mistakes and failures have taught us a lot. I wouldn’t have changed anything, because without them we wouldn’t be where we are now.
What features are extremely useful for people creating their own agency?
“Only peace can save us” – this is my favorite saying. Keep calm in business relationships. You can benefit from any crisis situation – if you only think about what is behind it and how to solve it positively, and you will not react violently.
Another feature is strategic thinking – it is worth approaching establishing a company with a plan, strategy and not do it on impulse.
Vision – without vision it is difficult to build anything permanent. In an organization without vision, people just come and go. Without vision, you don’t know where you are going, therefore it’s hard to make decisions. A long-term vision is the key to the organization’s success and you as the founder are responsible for outlining this vision.
What are your further plans for developing the agency?
We have just finished strategic workshops and defined the strategy for the next few years. Our new strategy is based on a stronger entry into international markets with the services of Project: People. Currently, after 3 years of operation of the company, we work for clients from 12 countries from around the world (e.g. Zimbabwe, Venezuela, UK, USA, Germany). However, we want more! We are conducting strong activities towards entering the French market – in July we employed the first person in France, we already organized 2 events in Paris, and the first project is already behind us.
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