Field Notes - Les Wilcock

27 October 2017

Behind the scenes

Why did you decide to start your own agency?

I had been client side for about 20 years in various marketing and sales roles and I had dealings with agencies. I believed that I could offer clients an approach that showed an understanding of client side business pressures, budgets and the need for marketing to have an impact on company performance by achieving results.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in the agency and how did you overcome it?

I acquired the business in 2004 and with Chris, our Creative Director, we have spent the last 14 years building a successful marketing agency. As with all small businesses managing cash and having a good balance between work and looking for new clients is always a challenge but we have traded profitably and successfully. I think our biggest challenge was to change direction in those early years, the company was providing telemarketing services, we decided that wasn’t where our core skills lay so we decided one day to stop providing that service. You could say it was a leap of faith in our own abilities but we had confidence in ourselves.

Describe Outpost culture

We have a tree growing in the studio. When I acquired the business it had one leaf on it and the tree was about 6 cm tall. It’s now 3 metres tall and flourishing. The tree is one of those symbols about the business. We care for it, feed it, nurture it. That’s the same philosophy we have for the culture of the business. There are no prescribed job descriptions as such everyone helps each other to ensure the work produced is the best quality we can.

I think it can be summed up as ‘Try to treat others as you would want them to treat you.’

The same applies in our business dealings with each other and our clients.

Be professional, be nice, have fun, be proud of what you create, deliver what you promise and deliver it at a profit.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Watching films, reading, music.

Where do you see Outpost going in the next 5 years?

It will continue to grow and as an admired and respected agency noted for delivering high quality work for clients.

Any advice for people wanting to start a business?

Do your research before hand and make sure there is a need for your product or service. Don’t rely on the fact that you or a friend/colleague/relative think it’s a good idea.

Start a business for the right reasons not for the wrong ones.

Work on the business not in it. If you work in the business all you have done is swapped your day job for another day job. You need to work on it to make it grow, otherwise you will be doing the work to deliver the product or service and you wont have time to grow new clients/customers.

Running a business isn’t easy, so if there are aspects of it you don’t have the skills set for, then find someone who has the skills.

I would say never give up even though the mountain in front of you seems unconquerable, keep going.

Persistence, a dogged focus on your goal and hard work are the key factors to success.

Success takes time, it can take 2-3 years or more before you will start to see the fruits of your labour, so be realistic.

Have a business plan, it’s your map of how to get to where you want to get to.

Finally strategy is not set in stone. It needs to change according to the competitive market environment you will do business in. You need to revisit your plan often. Short term every few months, medium term once per year.