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'Starting A New Business Didn’t Feel Like A Huge Leap – Because I’d Worked Up Confidence Through Flexible Roles'

11 July 2019 by Joan Fahey

'Starting A New Business Didn’t Feel Like A Huge Leap – Because I’d Worked Up Confidence Through Flexible Roles'

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Joan Fahey Career Advice, Marketing

Aidan Coughlan is no stranger to risk.

In a career spanning more than a decade he has worn the hats of marketeer, journalist, head of digital and group editor. Aidan has been an early adopter of digital technologies throughout and has been a key player in building the success of Ireland’s prominent online publishers.

However, it was a desire to mix his journalistic experience with a growing passion for digital marketing that resulted in the creation of Far From Avocados – a content and inbound agency that strives to see real tangible results for its clients.

And while the decision to start a business is one we normally associate with big leaps, fear factors and bravery, it was a move that didn’t really faze Aidan – thanks to the confidence he acquired through flexible contracts, working with Havas Dublin.

It was a period of learning that he believes greatly shaped the services Far From Avocados would offer.

“Working those flexible contracts [with Havas] gave me a level of confidence.

It gave me confidence that people wanted the services I was selling, it gave me confidence that I could fit into this agency world and these are the little doubts and niggles that could keep people back from taking that leap. Because I had done those contracts I had the confidence to go for it, without even realising I was going for it.”

Agility versus might

Having worked extensively in publishing – including with start-ups in the space – Aidan came into the business with an understanding of what it takes to take the role of David in a battle against Goliath. Leveraging your agility against their might, he says, is crucial.

“We had to compete with much bigger players, despite having much smaller resources. That, ultimately, is what strategy is.”

It’s this smart-working approach that has secured Far From Avocados big-name clients like Pallas Foods, Glen Dimplex, Energia, Alternatives and Enterprise Ireland. Still, Aidan says he is determined to strike a balance between growing the company and spending quality time with his young family.

There are a lot of sacrifices one has to make when starting a business, that’s well documented, everybody knows about that. For us, we set out from day one saying we’ll make sacrifices, we’ll work hard at this but we’re not going to sacrifice our lives for this. We have a two-year-old, he’s never going to be two again.

"Fair enough, we could give him really great holidays when he’s 15 (and doesn’t want to be on holidays with us!) but that’s not going to amount to much if we’ve lost these special times now by being in here seven days a week.”

Aidan recognises the difficulty experienced by many business owners when it comes to trusting in those around them. It’s something he and Amy have overcome by working with Alternatives to find high-calibre and trustworthy talent to manage the agency while they marry in France later this year.

“We need someone to come in who we can trust, who can carry on the business in our stead and who we feel when we get back, will have left the agency in a slightly better position than when they came in.

“To me, that’s the inherent value of flexible working, it’s not just about the agility and potential it offers to businesses, but it’s what it offers to business owners on a very personal level.

Aidan is a guest on Episode 3 of Live Your Best Life, a podcast by Alternatives that takes a deep-dive into the world of flexible working.

Here's how you can tune in

Download our guide to flexible working

Visit this page for more information.