Geoff Jaeger is the founder behind creative agency gkje.co. With a collaborative team around Australia and a busy schedule that sees him regularly commuting between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, Geoff has come to understand his own rhythm. An advocate for determining your own schedule, while producing high quality work, Geoff breaks the mould of what a creative individual should do. Instead, he chooses to live the life he imagines...
What's the story behind your business? | I left a corporate communications role in 2011 to explore freelance writing and photography. I wanted the freedom to choose the content and nature of the work I was doing, while working at my own pace on projects that inspired and stimulated me.
After several successful photographic exhibitions - which weren’t going to keep paying the bills - I hunkered down to earn a living from my writing, discovering my clients were also in need of graphic and web design work. I approached a graphic and web designer I knew, who were already working as sole traders. It then just seemed sensible to become a team, with a collective business name.
As the founder behind gkje.co and a regular commuter between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, how do you strike a balance between work and leisure? | That’s a really interesting question because when you love what you do, the line between work and leisure can blur. Each city offers different work and leisure opportunities, and I tend to plan down time activities around my immediate location.
Right now, the majority of my clients are in Sydney, so it’s always more relaxing in Brisbane and Melbourne. By that, I mean less planned meetings and more flexibility during the day. I know if I don’t have enough time off, my efficiency and ability to think clearly reduces dramatically.
Persistence. Just keep at it. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but learn from them or make those mistakes again until you do.
One of the joys of running your own business is determining your own schedule and keeping track of your own time. What challenges have you encountered in being your own boss and how have you overcome these challenges? | After years of standard work hours, it’s amazing how ingrained they become; just how much you’re left with a sense of how you ‘should’ still be working during those hours. This was challenging in the early days before I recognised my own work rhythm.
Left to right, the supporting cast of gkje.co: Zac Hardaker - Film Editor, Helen Thomas - Web Designer; Graphic Designer & Elke Ploetz - Graphic Designer
Having the freedom to choose my work hours, I frequently use the early afternoon for exercise or a walk, regardless of where I am, my brain seems to naturally shut down at that time of day. Early morning and late afternoon, I’m naturally at my computer working, and can easily lose track of the time. What I notice now is how I find it difficult to stop work as my mind is always thinking about a business idea or next step. That makes the challenge to plan down time, but that’s a great sign that I’m doing the right thing, so I don’t really mind.
As a creative individual and founder of a creative agency, what do you feel is the most important element in your daily work? | The most important element is being able to solve a client’s problem or provide an opportunity. The best solution is usually a collaboration where we each appreciate and recognise the other’s expertise.
Being available, particularly for time-poor small businesses, and helping them achieve their goals are the most important elements for me. I like to think our clients can contact us anytime - and they do - as if they were just walking into the next room to chat about a brief. Given the ongoing changes in communications platforms, it’s also important to be able to share current thinking and creative trends.
What do you believe is the most important attribute in building a successful and thriving business? | Persistence. Just keep at it. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but learn from them or make those mistakes again until you do. As Henry David Thoreau said: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” The confidence thing takes time, but increases as you keep going and keep imagining…