To say operating an independently owned business for the last 25 years has been no easy feat would be an understatement.
Fast forward to 2020 and we are sitting on 300sqm of recently renovated office space in Newstead - just down the road from our original HQ - where I employ a strong team of 26 professionals who collectively manage more than 40 clients across government, lifestyle, retail and e-commerce to events, aged care, property and more.
We are now a full-service agency that offers expertise in public relations, corporate communications, strategic marketing, stakeholder engagement, digital and creative services. We are one of Queensland’s longest-running integrated agencies with local knowledge and global connections and are renowned for delivering award-winning projects that leave a lasting impact.
I write this quick round-up of our history as if it was simple, but the truth is P4 Group certainly didn’t evolve overnight into what it is today. There have been exciting new experiences and testing challenges over the last 25 years - to be cliché - the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Overall however, it has been one of my proudest achievements to build the business into the success it sees today, so in the spirit of celebrating 25 years since I first launched P4 Group, I thought I would share my top tips for anyone out there who is considering following a similar path.
Never underestimate the amount of hard work you must put into the early stages of your business. My strongest piece of advice for budding business owners is to be very mindful that it doesn’t always involve working on the tasks you love. Yes, I started P4 Group because I have a passion for the industry. From public relations and marketing to events, stakeholder engagement and everything in between, it’s my bread and butter. However, it’s equally as important to highlight the abundance of administrative work that comes with starting up your own business… yes, ADMIN. Instead of spending your nights out on the town enjoying dinner with family or friends, you will find yourself up late managing the accounts and bookkeeping because at that early stage, you may not have the funds to hire someone to manage it all for you. You will make mistakes along the way, but you will also learn a hell of a lot about the business behind the business and this will become crucial for your success in the future. The key here is to learn from your mistakes.
I appreciate it is more cost-effective to hire junior staff when you first open your doors, but it is worth knowing that this comes at a risk. You need to be prepared to invest a lot of your own time in developing and training junior staff members and there can be a risk of false-starts and high turnover. As you progress, staff in these positions will play a critical role to your success, however in your infancy, you have to ask what the real return on investment is – taking into account your own time and costs for professional development. In my experience, P4 Group really started to grow when I allocated more money into hiring people at a senior level and let their expertise lead the way and, ultimately, drive business growth. They are more capable of taking on the job and running it in their stride and have the contacts to drive business development, thanks to their previous experience. I do understand it’s more expensive, in fact it took me a couple of years to get there myself – but if you want to grow, I recommend considering this approach.
Driving our business at the helm is our culture. I strongly believe that there is absolutely no point in just hiring someone who is a talented practitioner but doesn’t align with your company values and culture. Make sure your employees are an appropriate cultural fit and that you truly understand what your business’ personality is, particularly as it evolves. It wasn’t until about three or four years ago when I really started to realise that culture is everything! If you understand your culture as well as you should, you can tell very quickly if a candidate will or won’t work well in your business, so it’s important to trust your instinct and stick to it. That also applies to the clients you work with. Finding other businesses who you want to work with (and vice versa!) ensures longevity. An agency doesn’t sustain off six-month accounts, it lasts when you are a true extension of your client’s team and offer more than just the service you are hired to do. Establishing these deep relationships results will bode very well for you and your business in the long run. Once your culture is right, success will follow.
As well as strong cultural fit and talent, I have also seen a lot of success in hiring a team from all walks of life, with varied life experiences to bring to the table. When you master these three elements, the magic happens. If your employees are cut from the same cloth, it is likely there could be a lack of diversity which in turn could result in anything from a low success rate when winning new business or low staff morale. Diversity breeds campaign-winning ideas, new friendships and a healthy company culture lasts. At P4 Group, you’d be able to realise the strength in our diversity in a matter of minutes. From our very talented Operations Director who is proud Indigenous woman from Far North Queensland, through to our cutting-edge Digital Director who was born in South Africa, our Senior Digital Account Manager who grew up in Brunei and our Graphic Designer who was raised in the country town of Albury-Wodonga. When you step into P4, you don’t just walk into a team of top-tier practitioners, but a team of well-rounded, hardworking individuals who are tireless in their pursuit of success for our clients. . I love the team we have built at P4 Group and I am particularly excited to see where the next 25 years will take us… watch this space!
To learn more about P4 Group and the results we have delivered for our clients over the last 25 years, visit www.p4.com.au.