This week, I had the opportunity to interview Bec Brideson, Founder & Executive Creative Director of Venus Comms – The Gender Intelligence Agency.
Founded in 2004, by Bec, Australia’s youngest female advertising Creative Director, Venus Comms is the first independent agency to specialize in gender intelligent communications.
Venus has developed unique gender-lensed strategic tools and methodology, collected over decades of experience; delivering crucial insights and behaviour-changing results for a wealth of clients.
Paolina: What has been your hardest experience dealing with your business and finance and what did you learn?
For someone who failed accounting in high school (14% on my exam), I haven’t had many difficult experiences with regards to my finances when building and growing my businesses.
I follow a few finance rules religiously that I think everyone should. I do a weekly cash flow check and I always ensure there is a minimum amount in the bank in case times get tough. And trust me, they do. I also like to ‘prune’ the financial tree by cutting costs as soon as I lose business so my overheads don’t exceed my revenue. I use great financial software that keeps track of every transaction, invoice and job so that nothing gets missed. The smartest financial decision I have made however is to invest in staff, maintain my processes and make time for continuous learning.
There are lots of lessons I have learned along the way like not letting monthly subscriptions that aren’t being used go unattended. Make sure to properly manage staff redundancies and new hires. In a small business, it’s easy to skip the formalities but it can cost you many arms and legs without documenting every step. There also needs to be due diligence instilled in your team for following process too; for example, in collecting each and every talent release forms for a client campaign. It can be tempting to cut corners, either for yourself or for your client’s budget; but this can always end up costing you a much higher penalty later. And finally, don’t do favors on small jobs and expect to get taken seriously on big jobs.
Paolina: What advice do you wish you had gotten about finance when you were first starting your business?
I wish I had received these parcels of advice when I first started out:
- Your first 12 months on opening your business will be the hardest as you’ll be in start-up model and doing lean (not clean) living. But it’s definitely worth it. In my first 12 months, I mortgaged my apartment and worked 7 days a week.
- Think hard about the commercial model of your business. Does anything exist like it and does anyone want what you are selling? Research precedents thoroughly.
The one thing I’m still unsure about is whether it’s better to own a small business 100% or whether it’s smarter to invest in something bigger by bringing in partners with diverse skills. There are benefits and cons to both; the jury is still out for me.
Paolina: What topics would you want to learn more about when it comes to finance and your business and why?
If I had more time on my hands I would love to learn when and where to invest money in the right parts of my business, how to take smart risks and how to value what you do and get paid appropriately.
Bec Shares her insights in her book, Blind Spots: How to Uncover & Attract the Fastest Emerging Economy. I reviewed her book for this month’s FinanciElle Bookshelf.