What's your big turning point?

 |  By: Steve Johnson In: Growth and scalability

Surely everybody has a turning point in their life at some stage?

There is a list somewhere showing 24 Turning Points in Modern History. When I first saw it, my favourite was Gutenberg’s print revolution, because there was this fellow, Mr G himself, who 460 years ago decided to work on an idea of his. It sparked off the print revolution, which changed the world. As turning points go, then, it’s quite a good one.


So, if the world has turning points, so do people. And so do agencies. In fact I often think that agencies are like people; they have personalities and opportunities and journeys and lives.  And of course they have decisions to make.

No shortage of those. And some of them turn into big turning points for the agency. There are moments in an agency’s life when it suddenly feels right for the management team to ask a big question and make a pivotal decision.

Mark Beaumont, the founder of Manchester integrated communications agency Dinosaur, once told me that

“there comes a time in every agency’s life when you stand back and have to decide where you want to take it.”

For him, it was quite a binary decision. Do you want to stay small, or do you want to grow?

Such days are milestones in the journey of any agency. But that doesn’t mean that they are as scary as might be supposed. Sometimes it feels like the decision is sort of made for you. Charles Saatchi once said:

“I hate to sound like a romantic adolescent, but I believe artists don't generally see art as a career choice; they simply can't overcome their desire to make art, and will live on little income for as long as they have to...”

This implies that even big decisions with profound implications for career, income, lifestyle and all of that are actually quite easy to make once we decide who we really are and what we’re passionate about.

So, if you pause one day to reflect that you are running a small agency, when all along you had hoped to run a larger one, a decision starts forming inside you at that moment. It will continue to nag at you louder and louder until you do something about it. All you then have to do is start implementing it, galvanising the resources around you to make it happen. And there’s your turning point.

Nobody is saying that it will be easy, though, but then running a small agency isn’t easy either. You work massively hard in either job. It’s just that in smaller agencies the rewards aren’t as big and you feel like you’re not getting anywhere in particular.

But whatever you do decide about the fate of your agency, they say that the real trick is to be comfortable with it. Samuel John son (no relation to me, sadly) wrote:

“Of the blessings set before you, make your choice, and be content.”