Posted by Amanda Chapel
Here we bring you another installment of Ask Amanda, our weekly professional advice column.
This week we have a young turk in L.A. getting ready to take “the jump.” Amanda does her best to talk him down but apparently his mind is set. So she does the next best thing. Amanda helps him flap his wings some and pack a parachute.
Without further ado:
After 10 years working in various size agencies, I have recently made the decision to open a consultancy.
My colleagues have been totally supportive of my decision. And past clients have enthusiastically opened their doors for discussion. It's very promising.
But, as kind as their words are, I know that's not going to pay the bills. I am totally freaked out and nervous about the future.
What do you advise I do to grow my business and keep me away from agency life?
All the best,
- Ozzie in L.A.
Dear Ozzie in L.A.,
Jump Ozzie Jump!!
Reminds me a bit of a scene from a short story by Philip Roth, "The Conversion of the Jews.” Ozzie Freedman, a teenager gets into an argument with Rabbi Binder in Hebrew school. Ozzie can not longer accept all the hypocrisy and traditionalism. Their squabble escalates until the Rabbi slaps Ozzie giving him a bloody nose. Ozzie calls Binder a bastard and, and without thinking, runs up to the roof of the synagogue, threatening to jump. As the Rabbi tries gingerly to talk him down, Ozzie's classmates cheer “Jump Ozzie Jump!!”
As Roth describes, "Being on the roof, it turned out, was a serious thing. If he jumped would the singing become dancing? Would it? What would jumping stop? Yearningly, Ozzie wished he could rip open the sky, plunge his hands through, and pull out the sun; and on the sun, like a coin, would be stamped JUMP or DON’T JUMP."
For the record, here I am going to be both Rabbi and classmate. I want you to take the leap but I really don't want you to kill yourself in the process.
Ozzie, at one time or another we are all out on that ledge. Out of fear, most, 98 percent, come down. But others, and you may be one, have no choice. For some of us the questions that arise out of hypocrisy and traditionalism are just TOO overwhelming. Such is the genesis of the entrepreneur... as well as sadly, some of our ravaged and forgotten social outcasts. Mother Nature uses some of us to push the envelop. She pushes us out onto that ledge and out from the comfort of the nest.
If you are one of those chosen few, let me first say that I totally understand your decision. I empathize with the grief that led to it. I humbly honor your courage. That said, let's see if we can help you fly rather than fall flat on your face.
First, I hope you’ve got a client lined up before you make that jump. By that I mean a $50-100K or better client, not one that wants you to write a couple features articles. Let me tell ya, begging for freelance assignments is a bitch. It’s also a trap. The amount of time it takes to sell one-off assignments absolutely crushes any kind of reasonable billable rate. If you're charging $100/hr. for a 10 hours project and it takes you 10 hours to secure the assignment... you're pretty much workin' for free. To make matters worse, the more you chase nothing, the less energy you have to get anything. Sorry but, if that’s your fate, I'll tell you exactly where you're headed: the poor house or dead.
Here's the deal: the object is to hustle your ass off to bring in enough business where it becomes an absolute necessity for you to hire people to help execute it. That was/is the key to success of every successful firm today.
Furthermore, that's exactly why companies outsource a program in the first place. For more on the subject, I suggest you read Ronald Coase, "The Nature of the Firm." In a nutshell, rather than a company having to incur the cost of negotiating and managing 10 or more contracts, they negotiate and manage one, i.e. Ozzie, Inc. Bottom line: Companies outsource marketing for the creativity and for the people chemistry surely; but most of all, it's for the project management. They hire you for excellence, of course, but most of all TO SAVE MONEY!
Which brings me to your statement "keep me away from agency life?" Here's where God's perverse sense of humor pokes thru and breaks the veil. If you are good at this, you will end up creating something very similar to what you presently want to leave. See, the "agency" is a living animal that hunts, eats, poops, fucks and sleeps. Sure, if you are really lucky and diligent, and most of all blessed, you will create a place that helps this pathetic beast evolve into something a little more civilized. But mark my words, someday, one of your underlings will feel the same sense of frustration you feel today... and jump.
In that spirit, I’ll leave you with one piece of simple advice, “Jump Ozzie Jump!!”
NOTE: Ask Amanda is a weekly professional advice column. Need help with a difficult co-worker, malignant boss, office romance, dicey ethical situations? You name it... Ask Amanda will provide personal down-to-earth practical solutions. Amanda will give you a new perspective on your questions and problems. Like an unbiased colleague, best girlfriend, mother, or mentor, Amanda tells it like it is with deep thought, professional experience and caring. Send you questions to AskAmanda@Strumpette.com. Anonymity is absolutely guaranteed.
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