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That’s all folks! The end of a great year for Flow.

It’s that time again, we’ve put down our Apple pencils, turned off the Macs, put the Out of Office on, finished work for Christmas and for another year. We’re looking forward to some festive fun with family and friends over the holidays, some time to relax and recharge ready to go again in January.

As a business owner I tend to spend most of my time looking forward – to the next project, the next client win, the next recruit, the next financial quarter – but you do have to remind yourself to take a minute occasionally to look back – at where you started, at what you’ve achieved already, at the decisions you’ve made (good or bad) and where they’ve taken you and your business.

You have to go back to why you started the business in the first place sometimes. What did you want to achieve, why turn your back on a busy and successful freelance life to get on the rollercoaster of emotions and stress that running a business is.

Everyone’s reasons for starting a business are very personal to them, and no two paths are the same. But for me there were a few clear reasons I started Flow. It was:

1 – to have the flexibility to have more time to spend with my young family

2 – to have more control of the creative direction of my work

3 – to be able to be more selective with the clients I worked with

4 – to create the kind of environment I wanted to in

5 – to build a shit hot creative team that could do more than I could on my own

As I look at these now I feel really happy that in less than 3 years since starting Flow I’d confidently tick most of these off now. Let’s look at them individually.

1 – This has taken a while but we’re now at a point where we have a really strong team and great project management and internal processes so the team can handle the bulk of our client work without taking up loads of my time. This has been a revelation for me, allowing me to focus on the strategy and direction of the business, and gives me the flexibility to have some time away from work to spend with my kids before they’re all grown up and don’t want a cuddle with me anymore.

2 – As a freelancer you often get called into an agency to work on a job when the concept, creative direction and artwork style has already been set. This can be frustrating at times, and it’s great to manage that part of the process internally now, especially as art direction and tone of voice is one of the things we do really well at Flow.

3 – It’s been ace to be able to choose the projects we take on and the clients we work with, and since we’ve started some of my favourite projects have been the public sector or non-profit ones, like Arts Council England on a brand campaign, the British Council on an educational app for teachers in India, or Manchester Digital’s 2018 Big Chip Awards animation.

4 – As a pretty sociable person a big part of the appeal of starting my own business was creating the environment and studio culture I wanted to work in. As a freelance designer I went into lots of creative agencies and was able to pick the things I liked best about different places to try to incorporate into Flow. I’ve tried to make it a relaxed and creative space and a fun place to work, and the team we’ve put together all get along really well, which I love.

5 – It can be hard as a designer / art director that then employs other creatives to hand over control of the projects, but we’ve been really selective with recruiting and have got such a talented team that I trust completely with the creative for our clients. I’m still very much involved but we now have the collective skills to do much more than I could on my own, and it’s probably the most rewarding part of Flow’s development.

Overall, couldn’t be happier with the start we’ve had at Flow, and where we are as an agency. We’ve had an amazing couple of years and can’t wait to see where we go from here.

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