Douglas Main of The Bigger Boat
Douglas Main, creative director of design and marketing agency The Bigger Boat, tells BQ how the company came about and reveals the key to growing a successful business.
What does your role involve?
In my day to day role I am responsible for the creative path that each of our ongoing projects takes, and also in management of the team that helps us to deliver those requirements. As a founding partner of the business I am heavily involved in the direction of the company as a whole.
What is it the company does?
The Bigger Boat is a design and marketing firm, although we prefer to refer to ourselves as a 'creative digital agency'. Unlike many other similar companies, we are predominantly 'results focussed' – we always attempt to demonstrate a return on investment to our clients, through clearly defined goals and targets set out at the beginning of each project. The list of services we provide – which help us to achieve those goals include brand strategies, content strategies, marketing plans, design for print, design for web, web development, SEO (search engine optimisation), PPC (pay per click advertising), CO (conversion optimisation), social marketing and email marketing. Each of these are performed ‘in house’ – we never farm work out – and we believe this is another strength, which separates us from some of the larger marketing agencies we compete with.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I started my career at a small marketing agency in Dewsbury, but always had dreams to work in the capital. So I sold my car and moved myself to Cricklewood in north-west London, where I slept on a friend’s couch and worked in a bar until I found ‘a proper job’. I then joined the creative design agency ‘The Family’, where I spent time on some really exciting projects and brands. It’s that experience that helped shape our idea of bringing a bit of London to Yorkshire – as a result we created an agency with big city ideals, whilst still retaining the open and honest approach of a more provincial firm.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I am still trying to work that one out! I always admire leaders who are passionate about what they do and are 100% committed to their cause. Trying to balance that with the ability to listen to others and recognise when you have got things wrong is the key… but like I said, that’s a work in progress!
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
That has to be letting go and taking a step back from ongoing work, to entrust others with the task. As a designer and a perfectionist I struggle being ‘hands-off’ with a project.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
If I am honest, not very well at the moment, but my go-to stress reliever is Triathlon training, I particularly love getting out on the bike – cycling is a great way to dust off the cobwebs. Last year I took part in a seven day charity cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise much-needed funds for the Child Brain Research charity. It was hard work, but so very worth it!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut, an actor, or a designer – in that order. I’m obsessed with space travel and science fiction, but I guessed early on in life that I would never become the next Neil Armstrong. Then my fate was sealed when my careers advisor fell off his chair with laughter when I told him I wanted to become an actor…!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I get absolutely frustrated when I see individuals struggling under intense pressure with their own workload and nobody offers to help them out. I find teamwork so important across a smaller company – we are all in this together!
Where do you see the company in five years time?
I would like to see the company double in size (in respect of both turnover and staff), but to still maintain the unique, friendly, passionate and honest way we do things. I would never want us to lose what makes us what we are.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
If you are just thinking of starting out – do it. It will seem scary, but you certainly won’t regret it. I don’t.