Secrets of Success: Anita Pace, Founder and MD of Pace Agency

Continually investing to find the best people to make her team shine is just one of the ways that Pace stays ahead of the curve.

With over 30 years experience in the communications and marketing industry, Anita Pace is well-versed in the running and management of businesses. Growing and adapting with every year and staying firm in her vision to offer the freshest creative ‘outside-in’ solution to her clients, she shares more of her journey with Business Matters.

What products or services do you provide?

Pace is a creative communications agency specialising in PR, social media, creative content, design and brand strategy. We are a team of 23 with a mix of agency and in-house experience.

What type of businesses do you work with?

We don’t specialise in a particular sector and we work with a range of clients regionally, nationally and internationally. Clients range from small SMEs to large global enterprises across both B2B and B2C and include sustainable cleaning brand Bio-D, global multinational consumer goods company Reckitt, Yorkshire housing developer Beal Homes, luxury holiday home manufacturer Victory Leisure Homes and international waste plastic road company MacRebur. We made a conscious decision not to specialise in a sector when we started Pace – our multiple-sector experience means we approach every opportunity with a blend of expertise and fresh ideas and we can always bring an ‘outside-in’ perspective to a brief.

What problem does your company solve?

Our job is to raise the profile of our clients, building a positive reputation and increasing brand awareness. We create brilliant content and deliver campaigns that get our clients noticed, engage the right audiences and create demand for their product or service.

What is your USP?

Marketing communications is an extremely competitive industry – there are many, many agencies all offering similar services. Every agency will claim to have a creative edge but you’re only as good as your last idea. It all comes down to the people in your team. I’ve been very clear since day one of Pace that I wanted to focus on recruiting the best people and the continued investment in the team is testament to that. I am humbled every day that every team member has chosen to work here and it’s my job to make sure they continue to love what they do and in doing so, that we’re delighting our clients. We work as one team and there is a real sense of being part of something ‘special’ – I’d say that’s our USP.

What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged and if so how have you dealt with it?

Our values were agreed by the very first team members in the early days of Pace. It was important that our values were authentic: energetic, positive, involved and genuine. We constantly check ourselves to make sure we’re remaining true to them and I’m pleased to say that we are.

6. How do you ensure that you recruit a team that reflects your company values?
It’s usually pretty evident if candidates share our values when we meet them. I’m always keen to involve other members from the wider team in the recruitment process – it’s critical that any new team member is a good fit, not just them for us but also vice versa. I’m also conscious we need diversity (we don’t want a team of clones!) so yes, they need to share our values but also bring other qualities to the team too.

Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?

I firmly believe we work better when we’re all together – it’s easier to collaborate and help each other, everyone feels involved in what we’re doing and ideas are sparked by our informal conversations. We provide the option to work from home and will continue to do so but the team’s preference is to be in the office. There is definitely a sense of community when we’re all in together. We all like each other and we enjoy working together – it’s much more fun being here than being at home!

Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?

Treat them as you’d like to be treated. Reputations are more fragile than ever in today’s world where everyone is a reviewer or a commentator. You want to be someone people want to do business with. In the early days of Covid, when we were all in no-man’s land and not really knowing how long lockdown would last, I made a point of thanking clients when they paid us and making sure we paid all our suppliers on time. Frustratingly, it tends to be the larger companies that are the worst for paying on time.

Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?

There’s a well-known saying ‘cash is king’ and it’s so true. It’s very easy to be lured into a false sense of security by a flattering turnover or profit figure but unless you’re getting paid, and have money in your bank account, it’s of no value. Your cash flow is the most meaningful indicator of the health of your business. If you can’t pay your bills, you’ll soon run out of road. Make sure your payment terms are clear from the beginning and include a penalty for late payment. Equally, it’s important to pay your suppliers on time. You don’t want to get a reputation for being a ‘bad payer’ as it will come back and bite you.

If you could ask one thing of the government to change for businesses what would it be?

Some sort of tax break for small businesses would be a good idea. For example: for businesses that are beyond the initial start-up phase and in the critical next stage of investing for growth (defined by turnover and headcount level), we’d welcome a reduced VAT rate (for a defined period). This would allow us to divert that money to employing more team members and thus creating more jobs which as well as fuelling the business growth, also has wider economic benefits.

What is your attitude towards your competitors?

It’s easy to get distracted if you pay too much attention to what others are doing. My preference is to focus on what we’re doing and what we can control.

Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?

We’re six years old and it’s passed so quickly. We grew very quickly from day one and although COVID slowed us down, we’re back on track and exited 2021 in a very good place. I’m excited about the future but to be honest, I don’t want to worry too much about the end goal and instead focus on trying to enjoy the journey. I’ve heard too many people crave a “what next?” when they’ve reached their goal. It’s a cliché but it’s true to say that the thrill is in the chase.

Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.
Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.