When I set up Fifty Five and Five, I’d love to say I had a plan. I want to tell you I had a business case, a set of objectives and solid targets. In reality, I had none of those things. But I did have an idea. The idea was that, as a writer, I could help tech companies better tell their stories.
That idea, and some great clients (many of whom are still with us today), got us going. We quickly become a business – a content agency in fact. We hired writers to craft perfect prose, allowing our clients to communicate more effectively with their customers. We did pretty well and started to grow.
In those early days I still didn’t really know were Fifty Five and Five was heading. I didn’t know we would quickly add complementary social, paid media and SEO services. I didn’t know we’d soon have our own digital designers, that we would build websites and produce awesome animations and videos.
I also didn’t know we would change office four times (soon to be five), to house our growing team. A bit of pre-planning on that front would certainly have been helpful, for a whole bunch of reasons now filed as ‘slightly painful and expensive lessons learned’.
A full-service agency
As we set out becoming a more fully defined digital agency, the idea of a fully formed strategy behind who we would hire, or when, was fanciful. We did it on gut instinct and by meeting great people.
We’ve hired all sorts of employees over the past five years, and I learn something new from them every day. Our staff turnover is also incredibly low, and even those who have left are still friends of the business – something that makes me very proud. We have people of all age ranges, levels of experience, nationality, skills and personalities. The mix works, for us and our clients.
It is only in the last few years that I started to define exactly the areas of the business that I wanted to grow, and how I wanted to grow them. Finally, a plan was forming. Right now, one month into our new financial year, I can tell you our revenue targets, how many people we’re looking to hire, and a whole bunch of metrics that I track and measure.
It is only as you mature as a business that you can really begin to focus on these kinds of things. You need to build a layer of support around you (people like my PA, our accountants and law firm, the great mentors I’ve been able to work with) that gives you the space to breathe and plan a bit more. The early days are just too busy for all that.
Finding our path
I don’t think the lack of a clear plan has held us back. Like I say, we had an idea of what we were, and how we wanted to do things. And we ran with it. I suspect most early–stage businesses and entrepreneurs have a similar way, when they’re building a new company, of finding the best path.
But back to the present day. Now we do have a plan, a strategy, and we think seriously about how to better serve our current and future clients. One thing that has been on my wish list for a couple of years was to open an office in the US. For a while now 50% of our revenue has come from outside the UK, the majority of this from the US and Canada. So, in many ways an office outside of London was inevitable.
It formally became part of our business plan last year, where it fell by the wayside for a bit. Other things got in the way, not least launching our marketing assessment tool with Microsoft (oh and doubling our headcount here in the UK!).
A truly global step
I am really proud to announce today that our US office opens on the 28th of May 2019. We have the bricks and mortar sorted – in sunny Bellevue, Seattle. Fifty Five and Five Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fifty Five and Five Ltd, incorporated in Washington State by our lovely new US financial services team, and our various trademarks now apply in the States.
But most important of all, we have the beginnings of a great team of employees ready to start work in Seattle. I’ll update over the next weeks and months as the team falls into place, and I can announce names. We are also hiring so if you’re looking to join a leading digital agency in the Seattle region, get in touch.
This is a big deal for Fifty Five and Five. The agency started in a basement five years ago with not much of a plan (we covered that remember?). Now we’re fulfilling our vision of becoming a truly global digital agency for the modern world. I look forward to sharing the rest of the journey with you.