Customer Portrait: Andrew Dobbie knows the importance of attention to detail

April 18, 2012

Ever wonder how other FreshBooks customers run a business? Customer portraits connect you with your fellow FreshBooks peers to share guidance and inspiration.

Andrew Dobbie has been out on his own for just 6 months running the UK-based agency Made Brave. He has already made his first hire and started thinking about ways to expand. He puts his success down to his attention to detail and careful planning, all the while staying balanced as a dedicated family-man. If you’re also striking it out on your own, find out from Andrew why you can rest assured that getting work won’t be a problem if you’re one of the good guys.

What inspired you to go out on your own?

I had a little boy this past year, so after studying graphic design at University and working for a design agency for eight years as their Creative Director, my son gave me the motivation to go out and earn more money. In fact, the first few months have gone really well. I’ve since gone Limited and have essentially built a design agency, now with my first employee (hired this week!).

What services do you provide for your clients?

I’m primarily a designer but also a professional photographer. The two skill sets add up quite nicely because if you’re designing projects and you need photographs, you might need another professional. Instead, I can do it all, saving you money and make it look exactly how you want it. I also do a lot of branding for customers. Essentially, if you’re a startup company, I can create a brand and all the marketing materials you need to go with that. For corporate giants, I can do rebranding or create marketing materials and advertising campaigns. Essentially, I work on from ink on paper right up to outdoor advertising.


What’s the best part of being your own boss?

When you’re your own boss, you make the decisions. There’s no one holding you back, which means you can do what you want creatively more freely. When I was just coming into my own and scared there wasn’t going to be any work because of the recession just now, my friend, Audrey, a copywriter, said, “There’s always work for the good guys.” It’s the guys who pay attention to detail and work hard that will succeed. You’re always going to have work, and it’s the guys who don’t pay attention whose business is going to fail.

How do you deal with client feedback?

Well, to be honest, it doesn’t come up so much. When you’re younger and your work isn’t as advanced and you don’t know what you were doing, it tends to come up a lot more because you’re not as experienced. It really comes down to your attention to detail again. Nowadays, what I concentrate on is getting the brief right because if you can get the brief right from the client, and if you can drill down and get as much information early on, by the time you get to show them, you should really be showing them the perfect piece of work.

Feedback and further edits I always try to limit it because sometimes it can get out of hand, and that’s when you start losing money as you’re not being efficient enough with your time. Again, it’s just goes back to being well planned in the beginning and hopefully, it’s not something that arises.

For someone just starting out, what advice would you give people?

Just get out and start talking to people. If people don’t know you’re there, no one will hire your services. It’s easy to do nowadays with Facebook or Twitter. It doesn’t cost you money to put yourself out there. It’s about letting people know you there. In terms of things like social media, people underestimate the power of just having your friends know what you’re doing on Facebook. Say if you have 500 friends, each of those people have probably got 500 friends. Imagine that anytime you’re posting something and they’re re-posting , there’s the possibility of getting thousands of views of you work. Just let people know you’re there.

Any tips for getting paid faster

Use FreshBooks! In all honesty FreshBooks is very powerful for guys like me. Because I’ve got three or four friends in creative industries who bill people and when they send a bill off, they don’t know if someone’s received it. They don’t know if it’s been opened, they don’t know if it’s been looked that. I can see that they’ve viewed the invoice or they’ve viewed the quote, and I can also see when they’ve logged in.  Nine times out of 10, I know they’re paying the bill today because they’ve logged in. The money comes in the next day.

I also fight mixed martial arts and I find that if you can do martial arts, people tend to pay their bills on time.

Final question, what’s next for you? What’s the plan for the immediate and maybe not so immediate future?

From now on, the plan is to just keep on moving forward. The idea is to keep going, and by the time I am 40 or 50 I will have a well-established, very successful agency that runs itself and I’ll be able to sit on a beach with my wife, Pamela, sipping cocktails all day!

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.