How to Create an Agency Business Plan That Works

By Jason Swenk on January 6, 2020

Are you thinking of starting an agency, but are not sure where to start? Do you have a business model but are struggling to find your core values? In today’s market, starting a digital agency can be an exciting and prosperous opportunity. Knowing your brand’s message and how to share it with others is the key to standing out and not be another “me too” agency.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • How to find and retain agency employees.
  • #1 key to creating an agency business plan.
  • How to find your agency’s true north.

Today, I got the opportunity to sit down with Jonathan Peischl, co-owner of SPLICE Agency. Jonathan started his career as a medical writer, but quickly realized he was destined for the digital ad agency world. After a couple of moves (and a major move across the United States), Jonathan and his business partners realized the companies they were working for were missing a few key components necessary for the industry to survive. Together, the four men created a business plan that has transformed SPLICE from a four-man operation to a company of over 30 employees in just three years. Find out Jonathan’s keys to success here.

How to Find and Retain Agency Employees

When you are creating a business, your employees are going to be one of the key components of your businesses’ success. It doesn’t matter how great you are at everything else, if your employees are constantly jumping ship for the next bright and shiny opportunity, your agency is going to sink, fast. So how do you make your employees want to work with you?

It begins with culture. Promote a culture you want to live by. Jonathan says he wants his employees to have time to pursue their passions. Whether this means letting your employees work from home or leave early to pick up their kids, show your employees that you value their creative input, as well as their lives outside of the business. Really live by this culture. Don’t just put it on a whiteboard and be done with it. Creating culture employees want to work in requires care and feeding every day. It begins with great leadership promoting your company’s values.

#1 Key to Creating an Agency Business Plan

The thing about digital agencies is many begin without a solid business plan in place. They start the business and then five years later create a business plan. If you are going into a startup trying to create a business plan from scratch, you want a plan that sets you up for success. The number one way to do this is to develop a plan that works well for both your clients and your team. Once you have your philosophy, you surround it with a set of core values for which you want your company to stand by. When you balance your vision of what you what for your business with what you provide your clients, you will always be able to find your true north.

How to Find Your Agency’s True North

Your true north is where you want your business to grow — where your vision should be focused every day. But how do you find your true north? How do you know what direction is the right direction? It all begins with soul searching.

  1. Cleanse yourself from the processes of past employers: It’s so easy to get caught up in values and ideas from previous companies and leaders. To find your true north, you need to really sit down and think about what’s important to you.
  2. Find what makes you stand out from your competitors: You won’t always be able to compete on price or cash flow, so it’s important that your values and offerings stand out from the crowd. What can you provide that no one else can? How can you position yourself beyond just a commodity?
  3. Gut check yourself: You don’t want to come up with a vision or idea that is so lofty that nobody can pull it off. That’s a way to set yourself up for failure. You have to keep your feet on the ground to some degree.

Your true north and guiding values will be a key to your success as an agency. If you can’t provide a product or service you are proud of and work for a company you enjoy working for, you’re never going to find true success. When you begin with a solid vision and business plan, the opportunity to grow bigger and better will always exist.

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