Rob Pollard set up his West Midlands-based full-service agency in 1997. He had many years’ experience in web design, branding and digital marketing, under his belt and had always held a burning desire to set up a business. Rob has relished the challenge of creating something from nothing, developing and growing the business. “No day is ever the same and this is what appeals to me.”
1. Describe what’s unique about your business.
Definitely the people in our team. We have an amazing group of people at Lightbox that not only love what they do but also are brilliant at doing it. This means that we always deliver quality and results to our clients. There is a unique mutual respect and team ethos in the office.
I love people who create things. On a day-to-day basis I am consistently inspired by everyone at Lightbox. The team are my primary inspiration but it also comes from all sorts of avenues whether it’s design, music, art or inspirational business leaders. I tend to gravitate towards honest, straight talking business people. Business jargon and chaff doesn’t interest me at all.
2. Have you made any mistakes and what have you learnt from them?
One of my biggest mistakes happened a few years ago. We didn’t have a backup of business data and then our server was damaged in a power cut. It was a very costly process to retrieve the data at a specialist lab.
I’ve also learned how it’s essential to develop robust processes when you run a business. To do this I’ve had to develop a ‘harder’, business personality. I realised this was necessary once I’d made the mistake of allowing clients to commission work without paying a deposit. One client never paid for the work we carried out but went on to use the work we created. We now have a process in place to prevent this from happening.
3. Have you ever taken any chances or risks that you feel have really paid off?
I think that you always have to take calculated risks when you run a business. But setting up from scratch with no clients was probably the biggest risk I’ve taken. The biggest operational risk was bringing web development in-house. I am not a developer and can’t write code so I had to place a lot of trust in the person I brought in to do the job. Luckily, I found the right person who has not only built up our development workflow, but who continues to grow and push web technologies. Bringing development in-house has meant that we have full control over the products we are delivering to our clients. This has resulted in an increase in quality of our output and an increase in client satisfaction.
4. What advice would you give to anyone setting up a business?
I’m a firm believer that nothing worth doing comes easy. So be prepared to work harder than you ever would in employment. But also work smart. Do something that you love because it becomes a large part of your life. Holidays are never just holidays (as I answer these questions this while on holiday) you always have to keep one eye on the ball.
Also, it’s important to value your branding and the way you present yourself and your business to your customers.
5. Tell us about your work/life balance
It can be hard to strike a satisfactory work/life balance. There’s always something that has to be done, but sometimes you just have to call it a day. During very busy periods I tend to work late most nights to get projects completed on time, but it’s always like that. One of our business goals is to ensure that everyone who works here has a decent work/life balance and can have fun and quality time away from work.