My Waddage

MY MONEY STORY

My Waddage
A former employee savors freedom and fulfillment through a terrific partnership
By Katia Quirolgico as told to Regina G. Posadas

After graduating from the Ateneo de Manila University, I worked in a bank for eight months. But I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I proceeded to work in an advertising agency and loved it. I stayed in the industry, and toiled in different ad agencies for the next 11 years.

After more than a decade, I wanted to slow down a bit because advertising can be very tiring. Plus, it was also a dream to put up my own business. At that time though, I wasn’t entirely sure what type of business to embark on.

Getting my feet wet
Originally, I set up a business connected to retail – supplying for a direct marketing company. I soon realized however that it was not as rewarding as I initially thought it would be. My savings was also at its lowest then, and I was already panicking. So after a year, I went back to being an employee. I needed to recover financially. It was in my next workplace that I met my business partner, Ben. The two of us currently run Waddage, our own advertising agency.

Ben and I shared the same sentiments. Moreover, he had been in the same industry as long as I had, and we both had individual strengths that would complement one another superbly. If we combined our talents, Advertising and Communications would be the best choice for business.

I knew I didn’t want to be an employee again for the next 11 years, but I also knew that if I set up another business, it had to work already. No room for errors anymore.

Back in business
I ventured into entrepreneurship again in 2004. We originally set up the agency with partners, Ben and I being the minority. Of course there were birth pains and problems, such as finding the right partners. Eventually, Ben and I had a falling out with our associates. And after almost three years of working together, we decided to be independent.

This agency – Waddage – is now owned by Ben and myself. It was established in 2007 and is a corporation. Majority is Ben and me, with some of our trusted staff filling in as the required five incorporators. Financially, Ben put in more money in the agency than I did.

Our very first problem was getting clients. And this is where contacts came into play. Contacts from school, previous offices, relations, etc. all helped. I believe securing clients will always necessitate effort. Even so, I don’t call it a problem. Securing clients, like in all businesses, is always an objective.

Financially, the difficulty is the cash position. Our work requires the company to advance expenses to get the projects going, over and above the staff salary which always has to be paid on time. This was a problem at the beginning, but things get better as you progress.

Savoring success
The best part of being an entrepreneur is the freedom you have in running things. And your accountability is to yourself. Also, you don’t have to fear what your boss will say and how it will affect your evaluation.

I have absolutely no complaints [with the way things are going]. Admittedly, it is very tough with growing competition from other agencies and decreasing advertising and promotional budgets. Nevertheless, it is rewarding. There is a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that you are able to help people by giving them jobs and of course, the business rewards you financially.

Last year, 2008, was a good year for Waddage and the plan is to do better year after year. In terms of long term strategizing, we plan to grow the business but only up to a size that is comfortable to manage.

Business-wise, yes, I think I am money-wise. On our second year, we managed to pay all our loans, and our cash position has not been a problem anymore. It’s different when it comes to my own funds. Personally, I think I am not as prudent. I like to shop. Let’s leave it at that.

Advice from an advertiser
Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of determination and guts. My advice is to never give up and to always go forward. It also requires some sacrifices. If the company does well, we (the owners) are to benefit the most; but if it does not do too well, we are also the first to sacrifice and to suffer.

I have no regrets at all about my decisions. I believe in perfect timing. If things do not work out despite the fact that you’ve done your best, maybe it is not yet the proper time.

It is very important that you enter [a business] having the right mindset. Financially, there is a big difference between receiving a monthly salary and being uncertain [about your income] every month. There will be very good times, just okay times, and bad months. But I guess the best part of it is having the freedom to do and implement what is best.

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My Money Lessons
Advertising entrepreneur Katia Quirolgico shares the highs and lows of owning your own business:

1. Find the right partners. After setting up an ad agency, Katia had a falling out with her partners. Thankfully, she got along well with her original business partner, Ben, and both started Waddage.

2. Manage cash flow. The startup stage in any business is the most critical, as running out money is always a risk. Katia and her team stuck it out, growing the company at a comfortable level. By the second year, they were able to pay off their loans and things went smoothly thereafter.

3. Make some sacrifices. Katia realized being your own boss requires sacrifices – financial and otherwise. But with guts and determination, they will pay off someday. The freedom that comes with the territory is worth it.

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