The Unprincipled

The Unvarnished Truth About Running A Marketing Agency From Start-up To Sell-out

by David Croydon


Building a business from start-up to sell-out.

When I started, or at least co-founded, a small sales promotion agency called Marketing Principles in Oxford over 20 years ago, I had no idea about the dramas that would ensue, or the mixture of fun and games and pain and heartache that could be telescoped into 12 short years.

I needed to get a lot of this off my chest for cathartic and purely selfish reasons, but in doing so, and in my current role as small business advisor/coach/mentor/NEC, I realised along the way that the lessons learned might be instructive as well as just entertaining, which is where it originally started.

The title is taken from the scurrilous in-house ‘newsletter’ our creative department took to compiling a couple of times a year, to debunk any of our employees who… oh, just anyone who worked for us (including me).

We begin the journey in 1985.  The key protagonists (at the beginning) all have gainful employment at another local agency, and on the face of it should be content with their lot.  But then this thing called ambition comes knocking, and a 12-year roller coaster ride begins.

A couple of reviewers have described the content as part business handbook, part memoir, part comic novel, which makes it difficult to categorise in publishing terms.  Its style and tone of voice is what makes it unique, and it will appeal to small business owner/managers - from start-ups to established businesses - anywhere: they will recognise many of the issues and problems that we confronted along the way. So it's a personal account, but one that will resonate with anyone who has ever run a small business (or aspires to).

Here's a video about the business that is the book's subject matter:

Rights Information

World rights available. Allow pay-per-use purchase for photocopies for general business or academic use.

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A cracking read, flows well and made me laugh out loud so many times.  It also made me glad I got out of Sales Promotion or, rather, that Sales Promotion left me.

Yvonne MacQueen

Part memoir, part business handbook, part comic novel: it's hard to categorise, and hard to put down, once you start.

Paul Goddard

Amusing, bile inducing and memory jogging in equal measures!

Mark Catterson


If you’re tired of unending cheerleading that seems to skirt the harsh realities of running a business, you’ll be glad to know that The Unprincipled is not another one of those books. Instead, it’s a cautionary, candid, and frequently funny tale of a business that saw a lot of ups and downs in its 12-year run.

Sheila Trask, Review Worm

It's politically incorrect, scurrilous and quite probably actionable in places - but it's a damned good read. How useful is it as a business book? Pretty good I'd say. Croydon is forthcoming about what went wrong (but perhaps not as fulsome about what went right as I would have liked) and brutally honest about what could have been done differently.

Sue Magee,

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Bibliographic Information
  • Pub date: January 2012
  • English
  • 9780953685066
  • Paperback
  • Primary Price: 9.99 GBP
  • Pages: 320
  • Hilltop Publishing / Hilltop
  • Readership: General
  • Publish State: Published
  • Edition: 1st
  • Dimensions: 233 x 156 mm
  • Illustration: N/A