Last year, I decided to start an ad agency called Bandits & Friends along with Courtney Berry and my longtime creative partner, Danny Gonzalez. I knew starting a business would have its challenges, but if anyone was ready to do it, it was us.
Courtney was coming off her previous role as a managing director, not to mention her experience on multiple continents across a range of clients and mediums. Danny and I had worked at start-ups and talked with friends who had started agencies and most recently opened an office for our previous agency. The experience was there, now it was just a matter of actually doing it.
What I soon realized is that starting a business from scratch means 90% of your day is spent doing things you’ve never done before. How do we pay people? How do we get paid? Do we need office space? How do you get your agency name trademarked?
As a creative by trade, I can brainstorm, design or write all day. But ask me the best state to register an LLC and I have no clue (I now recommend Delaware).
One challenge in particular that stood out about the business side of business is its love for acronyms. The amount of time I’ve spent googling what a given acronym stands for has far outlasted the time I’ve saved using these arbitrarily shortened phrases. But alas, this is the game we’re playing, so I knew I’d have to learn the meaning of these modern-day hieroglyphics whether I wanted to or not.
By no means is this a comprehensive list of acronyms. If you want that, you should go get your MBA (Master of Business Administration). But if you want a little cheat sheet on a few important acronyms that I wish I’d known when we started Bandits & Friends, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s start with the basics and progress from there.
LLC. This stands for Limited Liability Company, one of the more popular types of business you can have. It protects its members from personal liability. Cool!
MSA. I admit, I knew this one, but didn’t know what it was called. A Master Service Agreement is a contract you sign with clients that establishes the basic terms and conditions of your relationship. What I didn’t know is that sometimes it’s a simple process, but sometimes it’s a very long negotiation process. Be patient.