Directors, Founders, Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Brogan Renshaw, Founder & Director at Firewire Digital

October 8, 2019

Brogan Renshaw is the Founder & Director at Firewire Digital, a digital marketing agency based in Newcastle, Australia, offering SEO, PPC, social media and more services.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Coming through a Social Science degree at university & a Masters in Social Research, I always envisaged that I would end up in some research role. That’s exactly what happened when I finished university, and I hated it!

After leaving that job (I completed the contract), I ended up with an opportunity at a small marketing agency in Newcastle, New South Wales doing their SEO. I throw myself into learning everything I could about SEO, agency life and managing clients.

In 2017, I took a leap of faith and launched a digital marketing agency – Firewire Digital. Though it has its challenges, running my own business has been by far the most rewarding role so far in my career.

2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

One of the reasons I wanted to start a digital marketing agency was the ability to shape my days any way I wanted. I never enjoyed the standard get to the office at 9 and leave at 5 jobs.

Most days I wake around 7 am and the first thing I do is check emails (terrible habit, my wife hates it!). I try and clear out the emails as much as I can before heading off to the office around 8.30.

I spend about 15 minutes with a coffee in hand at the cafe across the road from the office mapping out the tasks that need to be completed that day. To me, this 15 minutes is the most important of the day. It really lays out how my day is going to run.

Once into the office, we have a morning meeting and run through what each team member is working on that day and what they want to achieve.

Rest of the morning is generally spent ticking off a few of the tasks from my list. Work collaboratively with team members on client campaigns.

At lunchtime, I always cut a lap or two around the block. Getting out of the office for 20 minutes into some fresh air and away from technology helps me stay energised through the afternoon.

Afternoons are spent working on new business prospects, client meetings and generally planning how we can help them get the most out of their digital marketing.

At around 5-5.30 I head to the gym with my wife for an hour before finally getting home about 6.30 to wind down. Once home I try my best to not be in ‘work mode’.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Life doesn’t always run as expected. I always maintain that home life comes before work. It was important to me to set up the business in such a way that all employees (including myself) were able to operate flexibly and remotely when required.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

My 15 minutes of a morning to lay out the day with tasks keeps me focused throughout the day. When I know what needs to be achieved, I tend not to get sidetracked on things that won’t progress me closer to those goals.

The other thing I couldn’t manage without is using Trello and Google Docs as part of our task management for all staff. As tasks and responsibilities are easily tracked, everyone knows where they up to on a project.

Everyone is accountable for their tasks which helps move projects along.

5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me, fitting running the agency into my life is very important. I always have in mind that I started the agency to work around life, not home life suffering because of work.

Whilst I can spend many long hours working in and on the business, I always try and ensure to set aside time to spend with my wife, family and friends. Without this downtime away from work, I know I can’t give it all when I am there.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

One of the best habits I have is to set myself goals, daily, monthly and yearly. I make it a point to write these down and tick them off as I achieve them. These are not restricted to work and can include family goals, financial goals and fitness goals.

Having a range of goals across these areas means I am always conscious of keeping the balance in different areas of life.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

This year I made it a goal to read 10 books. Heading into October I am up to 14!

My top 3 recommendations from this year:

  • The E Myth Revisited – Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it by Michael Gerber
  • Profit First by Mike Michalowicz (basically the business version of Barefoot Investor – another fantastic book)
  • Winging it by Emma Isaacs (though written targeting women – I still enjoyed the fundamental messages)

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

I try and spend at least 20 minutes a day as quiet time. That can be on a walk or just sitting quietly. I find this 20 minute is a time I to turn off the feeling of go go go. It helps keep me focused on the goals I have set myself.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Don’t dedicate yourself to work and sacrifice your home life. At the end of your life, no one is going to remember that you worked every waking hour. They are going to remember the time you spent with them.

Also, don’t forget to make time to do things you love outside of work.

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