In May this year, my creative agency, Drew London, turned sweet sixteen.

Sixteen years in this business is quite a feat, and to celebrate, I delved through thousands of photographs and memories to help build a landing page of key moments.

The time has rocketed by. My main barometer for the age of my company is my amazing 17-year-old son – lead image, who now stands at a whopping 6’2″ and is one of the loveliest humans I know. You could say that he and Drew have grown up together.

I still find every single day brings a new challenge, celebration of success, a story to hear, a story to share and an overwhelming feeling of happiness and joy (and yes, sometimes stress and sadness). 

Before I share my tips for staying sane, if you’d allow, I’d like to reminisce: The world has changed a lot over the past 16 years; social media barely existed in 2005, which feels somewhat incomprehensible. I had a pretty stable, creative director role within a brilliant and successful agency. I loved my job, but something deep within me knew I wanted more and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the side look as I left the office at 5:30 to collect my baby from the childminder. 

“I wanted to create an agency where nurture was paramount—nurturing the clients, their goals and stories, nurturing the team, ensuring the best work-life balance, and nurturing my working career. I felt a deep-seated belief that you didn’t have to work all of the hours ever. I knew that I could see my son for school assemblies, weekends and all-important holiday breaks whilst delivering exceptional creative to our clients, and for the past 16 years, that’s what Drew London has done!”

I was lucky to have my Grandpa, and namesake of Drew, to champion me, and being championed is really, REALLY important. As we’re carefully traversing our way out of the pandemic (who knows what the future holds in that sense), there are certainties that, as a business leader, you have control of. I’m sharing what I see as absolute essentials for your sanity below:

Champion

As mentioned above, you need a champion. Not someone to blow smoke up your arse and pat you on the back saying everything will be fine… someone who gives you energy and helps you take those vital steps forward. They remind you why you’re a leader. They stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

Tools

Start as you mean to go on. Research accounting software, such as Xero or FreeAgent, and start setting up suppliers and clients on the systems from the get-go. It will save you a world of pain as you grow and help your accountant (I can recommend a good one) along the way.

Another fantastic communication tool is Slack; ensure you pay for it as the depth of history that Slack can hold, with its incredible searchability, is vital for future paper trails.

Trello is a great project management tool (there are loads out there, but I’m wedded to Trello and its simplicity of To Do, Doing and Done), ensuring you start organising your systems from the off.

You’ll thank me later, I promise!

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