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Growing and Scaling a Creative Business with Andrew Dobbie

Today’s guest is the founder and Managing Director of creative brand agency, MadeBrave® and Executive Chairman of content production agency, Campfire®, Andrew Dobbie. 

A designer and photographer originally, Andrew is on a mission to inspire creativity in everyone, believing that branding and marketing don’t need to be confusing and has set up two agencies to help businesses bring their best ideas to life. 

MadeBrave® was founded seven years ago and now sees an annual turnover of £4m. Starting with just him, it quickly grew and saw him handing over design responsibility to a better designer very early on. The agency then grew faster and within a year he had six employers. As MadeBrave® entered their second year they were bringing in one new employee a month, and within two years he had 16 employees. 

So how did Andrew go from freelance design to being the CEO of two agencies? 

On today’s podcast:

  • Andrew’s motivation to branch out on his own
  • How he got so busy, quickly
  • Why he took a step back from designing to focus on the business
  • How he grew and cultivated his brand
  • How Andrew’s companies use their brand values to attract top employees
  • His advice on thinking positively
  • How to grow and scale a creative business

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Today’s guest is the founder and Managing Director of creative brand agency, MadeBrave® and Executive Chairman of content production agency, Campfire®. A photographer and designer by background who realised two weeks into having his first child that he really needed to earn more money and so quit his job and set up on his own as a freelancer. 

Fast forward seven years and Andrew’s on a mission to inspire creativity in everyone, believing that branding and marketing don’t need to be confusing.

Here he shares with us a few tips on how he went from being a solopreneur to the CEO of two creative agencies, turning over £4m in their seventh year. 

Focus on growing the business

In the beginning you have to be a jack of all trades, master of none, but as the business grows you have to learn to step back and lift your head up and away from the day job, to focus on growing the business. 

Andrew realised early on that he couldn’t do it all, so his first employee was a designer who was better at design than him. From there it snowballed. 

He developed from being a freelance designer to being the owner of a creative agency, producing content, filming and developing websites. He had to separate client work from building the business and so delegated the day-to-day client work to the designers in his team, freeing him up to focus on building a brand that would separate them from the rest of the design agencies out there, all the while producing great work for clients. 

Know your values

Andrew wanted to create a company that he had always wanted to work for. Now he runs two offices that are vibrant, full of life and creativity.

In the beginning he let the culture grow organically because he didn’t know what he wanted it to be. After a while he stopped the team and asked them to look back and figure out what was making it work. He knew this wasn’t a one-person job, so he got everyone involved to give feedback on what they liked and what they didn’t like, so he could then codify out what made the MadeBrave® culture special and set them apart from the competition. 

Once they’d identified themselves and what their brand stood for, they used this not to attract clients, but to attract great employees.

Because you can’t market to customers if you have an unhappy team as they won’t deliver the results you need them to. Instead focus on creating a happy, productive team that are fulfilled and passionate. That way you don’t need to market to customers because the employees will do that themselves naturally with their great work. 

Strategise how to get noticed

Andrew’s advice for creatives is this: if you want to win awards, don’t go for awards that mean you are competing with others in your industry. MadeBrave® didn’t go for creative awards because they knew the only people at the creative ceremonies would be other creatives, not customers. Instead they went for business awards because they would be filled with customers. 

Book recommendations

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