Navigating tough decisions in year one

When starting a business, you have to answer endless questions. To try and inform our decisions, we have sought advice from lots of people, read lots of books, and listened to too many podcasts.

We’ve tried really hard to find the right answer to all these questions, but the fact is none of the big questions you’re faced with when starting a business have a ‘right’ answer. You can only inform yourself so much, and then it comes down to gut.

Here are some of the questions we’ve asked along the way, and how we’ve answered them.

Should we start a business together as husband and wife?

A lot of people told us that was risky, but in our gut, we knew it felt right. We have a complementary skill set and temperament. We also are entirely aligned in our values so neither of us could ask for a more perfect business partner.

Having met other successful founders like Darina Garland, who founded Ooni with her husband Kristian, and our friends Craig and Laura at Tag Digital, we saw their examples as a defence in our minds against all the naysayers who said it was the wrong move.

Should we be sector specific?

Much of the advice we received was that we should be sector-specific and really hone in on one industry. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that being sector-specific can leave a marketing company very exposed. We also don’t want to be pigeon-holed.

We have rich experience in sport, charity, retail, hospitality, food and drink, and a broad range of interests. We want to be able to work with companies who shared our values, for people and entrepreneurs we believe in, regardless of their sector, so that’s what we do.

Should we run a campaign for free?

The day we began our business began, we could have started spamming LinkedIn inboxes, asking for a meeting to try and scramble to fill our books. But, instead, we decided to busy ourselves by running a Pro Bono campaign. When both members of a couple leave their jobs, money’s inevitably a factor, however, the thing about a family business is you can think long term. By running all PR and Marketing for Broar’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, we could both learn how to work together as business partners and also demonstrate what we were capable of.  We worked together to develop worldwide media coverage and a hugely invested social following – and in doing so helped to raise more than £150K for charity.

Should we hire now?

It’s a critical point for any company whether or not to make that first hire. Things were going really well with just the two of us and we could have probably kept going as we were for another few months. However, we also knew that working seven days per week, every week was not sustainable. As much as we love our work, if we don’t have time to step away, things will slip. We want to say small (I personally don’t really like the term “boutique” agency, but that’s, I guess, what we want to be), but we always wanted the business to be bigger than just the two of us.

Who should we hire?

We were deliberately wooly with our job advert, as we wanted to find someone who would be the right fit. Not only someone who could bring real value to our clients, but also someone we would enjoy working with. The quality of the 70+ applications was far better than we expected and the whole process was very difficult. It was incredibly time intensive as we wanted to make the right decision and because there were so many good people. After a month of countless zooms, we’re very happy with our decision to hire Lara!

Should we move into an office?

We love our flat. Scarlett’s biggest passion outside of work is interior design and she’s made it look great, but as much as we like our home office, we started to notice how little separation there was between life and work, and we looked at the practicalities of keeping our home and work base the same as our team, and our family, expands. In the end, we decided to go for an office, at the Glasgow Collective. And we’re excited to show you Scarlett’s Pinterest board come to life inside our new office in the near future.

They are the questions we have some sort of answer to, but there are plenty more questions we’re working very hard to answer!

If you have any questions about Story Shop, send us an email on

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