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Roger Mavity, former CEO of the Conran Group, describes the loneliness of starting an advertising agency, and how his very determined business partner kept him going.

“The greatest challenge for me without a doubt was starting my own business, because when you work somewhere else you don’t realise the extent to which there is an existing momentum, which is taking you forward. It’s a bit like being on the tube, you get to work without having to do anything.

When you start your own business, any momentum that exists you have to create, and you’re fighting against an indifferent world.

You work for Saatchi’s or J Walter Thompson or whoever it is that’s famous and everybody takes your call and they’re pleased to.

As soon as you ring up and say, Hi, it’s Roger Maverty from Unknown Advertising Limited, and they’re very busy for the next 20 years! So it’s very, very tough.

And I think frankly – I know it sounds trite – the only solution to the problem is firstly to believe in yourself, and secondly just to carry on doing it, really persevere.

Everybody likes to think when you’re faced with a problem in life that there is some silver bullet solution. In my experience, there hardly ever is. It’s almost always about just not giving up.
It was very difficult at the beginning when I started my business and people that I thought would give us business didn’t and everybody was wanting somebody else to make the first move, so it’s very draining on your patience and your persistence.

Luckily, I started with a business partner, a very nice man called Mike Gilmore. And although the business was my idea, he really kind of bought into it. And every time I weakened a bit and said, ‘You know, we could quit or we could sell what we’ve got,’ he said, ‘No, we did this to do it our way. You hang on in there.’ And he was very, very determined, and I think that’s what helped us turn a corner.

Then eventually, a day happens when you do get a break, and then suddenly it starts to snowball, but waiting for that moment is a killer.”

This is an abridged transcript of the video lesson – watch the video for the full story!