Chris Ward – Founder & CEO of Klive Agency
Chris Ward started Brand Relationship Consultancy Klive in 2018 together with co-Founders Chris Martin and David Brown.
Becoming a Founder happened to you because…
I reached a point in during my time as an employee where I said to myself: “I really disagree with that decision and instruction, I wouldn’t do that.”
There were two reasons that led me to that conclusion.
The first is that I’m just not very good at being an employee!
The second is that it really isn’t difficult to set up a business. Stepping over the line and deciding to set up a company mainly involves an awful lot of paperwork and red tape. If you have the energy, the inclination and the team – go for it.
The rest is just hard work, as long as you choose the right people to do it with.
What was your most character-forming experience as a Founder?
The most important lesson I’ve learned is about trusting your instincts.
If you have the gumption to start your own company, chances are that you intuitively know what’s right for your business.
In the world of business there are a lot of frameworks, procedures and best practices. I find that these can sometimes strip you of common senseand your own experience.
If you listen to the voice inside your head you’ll find that most of the time you are right about what you want to achieve and following that voice pays off.
What’s the business success that you’re most proud of?
More than any specific campaign or achievement, what I’m most proud of is being taken seriously as a young, growing company in a highly saturated market.
The MarTech, data and creative marketing sector is vastly oversubscribed and there are established companies with more resources and deeper pockets.
Being able to take on these incumbents and compete for large projects for high-profile clients as a three-year-old business is what makes me most proud.
What’s the best piece of advice that you would give to a fellow founder?
Always employ people that are better than you.
I’ve had the chance to work with some incredibly talented people who always wanted to be the best in the room.
I’m quite the opposite, I’m always willing to be the thickest person in the room and allow people who are much smarter and often much younger to advise on the best way to solve a problem or think round a roadblock.
What is your top tip for productivity?
Find your own routine.
There is no one-fits-all working day, find your own groove.
You have to strike the right balance between work and personal life and that is different for each individual, and I think COVID-19 and lockdowns made this trend increasingly apparent.
It’s very important to allow yourself a bit of enjoyment. You don’t always have to work, you don’t have to work all the time in order to reach your goals. A brilliant solution can manifest itself in 10 minutes. I’ve read a lot of management self-help books, they are now at the charity shop!
Again, trust your gut. Surround yourself with people you trust and like, (I’ve made that mistake as well) and get yourself a group of advisors with stacks of experience.
How did Finerva support your business vision?
Finerva supported us by being attuned to the volatility of a start-up. They made huge strides to really understand the business and therefore the commercial model. That was crucial to matching their services to our needs as we grow.
Like marketing, the accounting space is very crowded. But the passion of the two owners of the business, their absolute dedication to working with start-ups and scale-ups, and therefore their knowledge of the struggles of running a company is a huge value added.
When you’re not being a Founder, what do you love doing?
I became a lockdown clichè and bought a dog, so I’m learning to be a parent! [Laughs] Who knew crate training could be so hard?
I also have passion for buying art. Over the last 20 years I’ve built a private art collection, all original artworks, mostly contemporary.
I love rugby, but not as much as my business partner.
And food. Cooking it specifically, I have quite a collection of cook books with Nigella being my favorite however the other day I went back to Delia Smith, remember her?