Why Your Agency Experience is Perfect for Startups

You always thought you’d be doing something that had an impact on consumers. Clearly, writing Facebook posts for a cheese client wasn’t what you had in mind when you envisioned your career at a marketing agency. So you’ve realized it’s time to do something else. The good news is, your skills are not at all limited to agency life. In fact, they are very applicable to the startup world.

You got hired because you have a passion for brands and were able to talk intelligently to the client about Snapchat. You always thought you’d be doing something that had an impact on consumers. Clearly, writing Facebook posts for a cheese client wasn’t what you had in mind when you envisioned your career at a marketing agency.

So you’ve realized it’s time to do something else. The good news is, your skills are not at all limited to agency life. In fact, they are very applicable to the startup world. As a former agency person, let me explain why your skills can work well and are very needed in startups.

Building the right team is the most important thing in the first few years on a startup’s life. A quality product, happy customers… all of that is a result of getting the right people on the bus. At One Mighty Roar, we invest heavily in the people we bring into the company. Every person who ends up on our website has a backstory and lessons learned from their former work lives.

For me, I came to OMR after suffering nearly four years of agency life without much to feel good about. Now, my work as a strategist gives me more opportunities to impact how people use technology. Specifically, my team is working to help the Internet of Things be easier to use and make connected devices work together. I can see the real world business value on projects like this and this is my motivation to keep pushing the notion of what’s possible.

You might not realize the skills you learned while eating lunch lonely at your desk trying to power through a deck. But the truth is, startups are looking for people just like you. We sometimes just suck at writing job posts that reflect the skills we really need, so you may need to look beyond the bullet points and seek us out.

Here are four skills that I promise will make any startup person smile during the interview:

Attention to Detail – The likelihood of clients reading your meeting notes is about the same as getting your time-sheets done on time. However, this attention to detail can help the team keep track of items that need more attention. Your ability to take notes and follow up will be a surprising change to people who are used to being pulled in different directions all day. They will look to you as a valuable project manager and as the organized person to remind them about that pitch presentation that has been sitting on their to-do list for a month.

Distill Thoughts to Actionable Goals – Inside the war rooms of startups, many ideas are talked about with little or no action on what to do next. People with an agency background have been trained to distill a client’s thoughts into goals for the agency to solve or explore. Think of the startup as your client. By coming up with action items for each talking point, you’ll be the envy of the office happy hour.

Focus the Team on Solving One Problem – Remember that time you shut your creative team in a room until they solved how they were going to make a 30 second spot into a 15 second one? Well, the same skill to keep a team motivated and focused applies in the startup world too. While it’s not on most job descriptions, startups are looking for people that can motivate teams members, be their cheerleader, and keep projects on the right track.

Creative Thinking with a Mind to Build – Does it ever frustrate you that your agency doesn’t really make anything? You don’t make products, you advertise them. Building things is exactly what startups do. But what they need more of are people with a maker’s passion — but creative thinking — to solve the daunting “What’s next?” question that many agency folks can’t seem to master. The skills needed here are simple: You have the ability to think creatively on hard problems. This type of thinking happens all the time at agencies; you just don’t have the right team to actually implement the ideas. This is your chance to finally create things that people will use.

I hope by outlining the skills startups are craving will inspire you to consider switching to startup life. Skill level aside, what I believe to be the best reason to take your agency experience to a startup is the power you have to make change happen. Some agencies pitch “pie in the sky” ideas to clients knowing moving forward won’t actually happen. Startups, on the other hand, foster a culture to take on challenges and take the risk to actually execute ideas and try new things. Change is something startups embrace. Watching the success of a startup from the outside is one thing, but being involved in the experience will impact you the way you wish your agency did. Trust me, I work at a startup.

Posted Friday, February 7th, 2014 · Back to Top


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45 Comments 0 Mentions

  1. Elisabeth Author Editor

    You’ve perfectly described the motivation I had when leaving the agency world to come with at uberVU (a social media marketing platform & startup recently acquired by HootSuite) – feeling like I’m contributing more to the bottom line of the company rather than being several steps removed from my clients’ actual business goals.

    One thing I’d add that’s also a huge asset to startup life that came from my agency experience is the ability to juggle many different projects/responsibilities, keep multiple plates spinning, and prioritize. As a marketer/community manager at a startup, my main priority is our social media marketing strategy, but I also touch on events & sponsorships, PR, content marketing, and other various projects throughout the week. Being able to juggle these different priorities is a lot like juggling work for the multiple clients I had back when I worked at a PR agency, and I’m thankful I learned early on to prioritize and make sure things got done on deadline!

    · Reply

  2. McAfee Coupon Code Author Editor

    Nice Post. Thank you very much for Sharing. I hope “Creative Thinking with a Mind to Build” is very important..but other option is too helpful.

    · Reply

  3. Calum Smail Author Editor

    This article is worth reading. All the four factors which you covered are really important . Especially the third and the fourth one are important. You will always get the best solution by creative thinking and a good teamwork. Thank you for such an informative post.

    · Reply

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  5. Web Design Okotoks Author Editor

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  6. noyasystem Author Editor

    There would be really a little chance for a client reading our notes unless there would be a eye catching title that takes client attentions.

    · Reply

  7. dizi fragman izle Author Editor

    Good post admin, very nice…Thanks

    · Reply

  8. sandeep kumar dan Author Editor

    Hi, Awesome post, I hope i will get more exposure after learning this tips.. All points are informative thanks for share.

    Sandeep Kumar Dan

    · Reply

  9. رژیم لاغری Author Editor

    nice website i really like it


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  10. تست خاک Author Editor

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    · Reply

  11. Mitchell Haw Author Editor

    Great article! I can totally relate to this article considering I now work for a Startup. This article points out using motivation with team members, bringing in creative thinking, and utilizing attention to detail. These are three things I have focused on establishing in the work environment and so far they have proved to be quite successful. The company I am talking about is Ignite Visibility http://ignitevisibility.com/

    Since working here I have learned that diversity is key. I do not want to be a one-stop-shop guy, I want to know it all! I have been able to use my creative abilities here at Ignite and I am really excited to continue growing. We do it all here at Ignite when it comes to Internet Marketing. I have gained experience in SEO, Social Media, PPC, and much more.

    · Reply

  12. seo Author Editor

    very nice…Thanks

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  14. Domates Tohumu Author Editor

    Dear Clark,
    You described the motivation very clearly. I think, it is kind of tomato seeds, if you sow it correctly, you will harvest more than you expect.

    · Reply

  15. طراحی سایت Author Editor

    its nice and interesting article thank you

    · Reply

  16. تور استانبول Author Editor

    Great Article. Thank you very much for Sharing.

    · Reply

  17. Pradeep Author Editor

    Really It is necessary foot step for project management and business. for the success any project there are must be clear structure of project in the mind as well as express it to the team build the same model of project in mind of team member. as well as make them free to think some innovative idea and must discus about their idea.

    · Reply

  18. Custom Logo Design Company Author Editor

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    · Reply

  19. David Cunningham Author Editor

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  21. Tanisha Author Editor

    You shared a useful article here and thanks for sharing such a post here.

    · Reply

  22. Deepak Author Editor

    Hi dear, you wrote a great post here and i love the all information which you discussed in this post. I can say that agency experience is very good for startups. Thanks for giving useful information to us.

    · Reply

  23. Mragank Author Editor

    You have done excellent job writing a nice post about business startups. The post will be useful very much for everyone and I am going to share it with my circle.

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    The Experience team can do his work perfect and in less time.

    · Reply

  26. تور چین Author Editor

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    · Reply

  27. تور پکن Author Editor

    This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw.
    Thank you for this very interesting infographic ! I’m talking about Google Venice on my blog.

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    This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw.
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    · Reply

  29. Free Softwares Download Author Editor

    Agency stuff is great but we also think about financing options!

    · Reply

  30. Josh Patterson Author Editor

    As someone who got his start in marketing via the startup world and eventually moving to an agency, I can say first hand you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

    Elisabeth is right in the fact that it’s very rewarding to feel as if the work you’re doing is moving towards a team goal. In an agency environment, major wins are just something your supposed to be providing as a service, at least that’s how it can be seen in clients’ eyes at times.

    Having worked in both worlds, I can definitely see the correlation between the two and encourage any agency marketers to experience the startup game at some point.

    Great post, cheers.

    · Reply

  31. Hampton Author Editor

    Interesting, thanks for sharing

    · Reply

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  36. سانترال Author Editor

    i think this agency experience & closed soon because they have not a big vision

    · Reply

  37. طراحی سایت Author Editor

    agency closed because they dream is closed vision in work & job is died

    · Reply

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