How to Build the Agency That Fulfills Your Exit Plan

By Jason Swenk on April 27, 2020

Does your agency business model lack predictability? Are you questioning what the future has in store for your agency 10, 15 years down the road? When you set a path for your agency and plan for more consistency, you’re more likely to see your agency grow.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • 3 Tips to allow your vision to grow with your agency.
  • #1 Way to build predictable and stable growth at your agency.
  • When should an agency owner consider their exit plan?

Today I sat down with Greg Henry, president and CEO of Push10, a branding and web design agency. Like many of us, Greg fell into the agency world and has worked his way to success. But believe it or not, Greg is already thinking about his exit plan. Find out how Greg has been able to build an agency that works with a predictable business model and how that strategy has allowed him the comfort to look ahead.

3Tips to Allow Your Vision to Grow With Your Agency

Take a minute to think about when you first started your agency. Did you think you would be where you are today? Now think about the next 5 years. How about 10? Where do you see yourself?

For many agency owners, there’s a certain benchmark they have in mind when they create their agency. This number often revolves around revenue or number of employees. Like so many other agencies, Greg always envisioned himself with 10 employees. This nice round number was “manageable.” For Greg, anything more just felt like too much.

Now, with 17 employees, 25 is the number that gives Greg apprehension. But rather than panic, he knows growth just means another opportunity to learn. There are three key ways you can get to the point where you embrace growth and feel comfortable where you are:

  1. Consider bringing on a partner or key leadership team member. For Greg, he says he finally felt comfortable when he brought on a partner. His partner focuses on the client-side and building relationships, while he works on the fun stuff like P&L’s, revenue forecast, and HR. Now, the stress of managing such a big agency is not all on him.
  2. Make the transition from owner to CEO. In order to see the most growth, you’re going to have to let go of some of the control. Build a team of employees who share the same values you do. When you find them, delegate goals (not tasks), and teach them to support your vision.
  3. Hire Slow, fire fast: One lesson Greg wishes he’d learned much earlier on was the benefit of letting go of toxic employees before they damage the morale of the rest of the team. As soon as you know an employee is a culture clash and is not teachable or coachable, go with your gut.

#1 Way to Build Predictable and Stable Growth to Your Agency

Uncertainty can be toxic to an agency. If you don’t know how much revenue you are bringing in or how many clients you will have month to month, you’re going to have a hard time managing your cash flow. In fact, this is a quick way to end up in the red. The number one way to build predictable and stable growth is to provide a great product.

No, it’s not about selling. It’s not about pricing. It’s about showing your prospects and clients what you have to offer is worth it. If your client doesn’t have a big budget, you have to do the best with what you have. While you don’t want to rely on selling, you do want your clients to know you are there. Send regular emails letting your prospects and clients know what you are doing. Focus on your SEO so people know how to find you. When you rely on the quality of your goods rather than the quality of your selling, you’re more likely to retain clients, and consequently, have a more predictable cash flow.

When Should an Agency Owner Consider Their Exit Plan?

As agency owners, we don’t usually start an agency knowing where we will end up. That’s something that goes along with falling into this business. But it can help you create a strategy and understand your vision if you take some time to look a few years (or a few decades) ahead. What do you want to happen to your agency? Do you want to sell and make a huge profit? Do you want to merge with another agency and stay on the board? How important is maintaining your vision?

Greg says the time to create your exit plan is not 15 years from now when you’re ready to retire, it’s now. This will allow you enough time to make sure your agency is set up in a way that will support your plan. It all comes back to predictability. If you’re scrambling to make your plan happen at the 11th hour, you’re probably not going to be happy.

Your agency doesn’t have to be unpredictable. While there are things you may not be able to control, there is plenty you can do to create structure and control. Consider what your goals are for your agency and surround yourself with a team that wants the same thing.

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