The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.
I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.
1. Can you please tell everyone your name?
Patrick Barrett, Editorial Director & Founder of Simpatico PR Ltd
2. Tell us about your business and what you do?
Simpatico PR is a new breed of business PR agency — it’s a big claim but globally we can’t see anybody who is rethinking what a business PR agency can be in the same way as the team at Simpatico.
We call our approach the Book of Ideas© an integrated ideation and planning tool that transforms a company’s business PR and content marketing.
It flows from the thought that PR and content marketing should be joined up and PR should play the lead role in joining owned, earned and eventually paid media together.
So, we’re a very journalistic PR agency — a bit like a features desk and media relations team mashed into one combined with an original client strategy, planning and content curation system.
It’s actually a very simple idea and it’s helped us deliver consistently great work.
3. Why did you want to become an entrepreneur?
I was a journalist originally and I never intended to become an entrepreneur. I still don’t really see myself as one now. To be honest I feel uncomfortable with the idea of wanting to be an entrepreneur for the sake of it. The self-starting business people who impress me are those who have an original thought or concept that they truly believe will add value to the world and drive that through to fruition.
You’re told in endless articles that to be a great business creator or entrepreneur you must be remorselessly positive. This isn’t true. I’m prone to introspection and doubt but sometimes great ideas and decisiveness can flow from questioning what you’re doing and motivation from looking at rivals and realising you have something original to offer.
It’s definitely true you should believe in what you’re doing and that you can succeed even though the journey to success is never quite what you expect.
4. What are the challenging aspects of running a business?
Having a vision is all very well, but the real challenges are consistency of delivery and a sharp focus on business fundamentals — income and investment planning, cost management and cashflow.
If you’re an SME owner, even if you have a finance director you should know week-to-week how much cash you have in the bank and how much will be coming in on a monthly basis. Try to spot cashflow flashpoints in advance and game whether a big investment will work in a variety of scenarios.
The biggest challenge in PR is investing in people. When to bring in people based on need and income; what skills, temperament and work values do you need? The trick is to remember exactly why you need an individual or team and what impact you want them to make in the business and with clients.
Remember your benchmarks — the people you’ve worked with that were brilliant and trust your gut — you will instinctively know in the first few seconds of an interview whether you’re sitting with someone amazing or just OK for the role.
5. What do you love most about your job?
Even though I run the business and continue to set our strategic direction I have always been determined to stay at the coal face. Developing ideas and editorial outcomes for clients and working across the team on different projects where I can make a difference, keeps me close to client needs, business sectors we cover and issues in the media.
I still love writing and interviewing people. Learning from amazing clients and helping them articulate their vision, product or service, why it matters and where that company or team is headed is the real joy of the job.
The business world is two decades into the biggest transition since the industrial revolution. Only this time it’s the de-industrial revolution driven by technology and data usage. It means many enterprise level companies and small ones too are having to shift from 20th century mass production and delivery to customisation, personalisation and contextual brand interactions and recognise that they are digital companies, even though they might manufacture stuff or sell accommodation.
Just look at retail, the media industry, automotive market, travel and leisure industries — each one is having to re-think and deliberately change. If you don’t tell your business story and remain relevant amidst all this change, your stakeholders will lose faith and more articulate competitors will take the lead.
6. How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
We don’t do presenteeism because our whole ethos is about quality of thought and output so we offer flexible working and a lot of time out. And we don’t do egos.
So, we talk, share stuff we find amusing or enjoy, socialise and go and experience things together — the current favourite is stand-up comedy. We’re based in London’s Soho Square and have the Soho Theatre just around the corner which has comedy running almost every night. Seeing the lighter side of work really helps make the agency a fun place to be and we take that with us to client meetings and other conversations.
7. What would one piece of advice that you give to a new business owner?
One won’t do it so here’s several. Outsource anything you’re not an expert in — e.g. don’t do the book keeping, payroll or admin, ever, even when you first start — that’s not what you’re for. Don’t get lost in the immediate challenges — keep your mind focussed on the long-term ambition. Understand what sort of work pattern fits you — just because other people work 60-hour weeks doesn’t mean you should. You may be a quality, not quantity person.
Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web: