Is Your Agency Partner Holding You Back?

By Jason Swenk on July 22, 2020

Are you struggling in a partnership that is no longer working? Are you anxious about sitting down and have that conversation? As agency owners, we often get into partnerships because we want someone to bounce ideas off of and take on some of the burden of leadership. But sometimes, a partnership is just not a good fit.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • Is your agency partner holding you back?
  • #1 discussion every agency owner must have before bringing on a partner.
  • Why the important conversations should always include risk.

Today I sat down with David Valentine, CEO of Avadel, a Facebook advertising agency. In 2017, David made the difficult decision to step away from his partner and run the agency they had started together, on his own. He’s here to discuss what brought him to this decision and what he would do differently if he could go back.

Is Your Partnership is Holding You Back?

As humans, we tend to avoid confrontation at all costs. Who wants to have a difficult conversation when we can just ignore it and hope it all goes away? David knew there were problems at his agency about a year and a half in. The main problem — David wanted to be more aggressive and go all in and his partner, well he wanted to go hiking. The two simply had different goals and ideas about the amount of work they wanted to put into the agency.

If you’re working with a partner, you may have noticed things that could be red flags:

  • Do you have different ideas about how you measure success?
  • Do you have different thoughts about how you want to approach the big decisions?
  • Is one partner putting in a lot more work than the other?

In a partnership, you want someone who will complement your weaknesses, but in the end, your core values need to align. If things just aren’t meshing, it may be time to have the difficult conversation.

#1 Discussion Every Agency Owner Must Have Before Bringing on a Partner

David didn’t expect his partnership to fail. After all, he had started his agency with his best friend. But looking back, there are a few things he would change. Whenever you are working with a partner or going in a new direction there is one important conversation you have to have.

Before you talk about revenue or staffing or any other major decisions, sit down and talk about your perfect day. What does your perfect workday look like at your agency? What about the perfect week? The perfect month? The perfect quarter. For me, I know I want to work 9-3, Monday through Thursday, with summers off. If I were to ever bring on a partner in the future, these values would have to align. When you think about time and what you’re doing first, you’ll never sacrifice revenue. When you prioritize revenue, you’ll always sacrifice time.

Why the Important Conversations Should Always Include Risk

So you’ve sat down and decided to talk about what your ideal future looks like. Beyond your basic expectations, you can’t forget to talk about risk. How much risk are you willing to take? This will play a big role in the direction of your agency and your overall investment.

David says he felt like he could not fulfill his potential in the early stages of his agency. If you are working with a partner, you have to make sure it is someone who has the same goals, not someone who will hold you back.

A partnership is a great way to bring in new ideas and bring on someone that will have your back. But the reality is, many partnerships don’t work out. And that’s okay. When you go in with a clear expectation of what you expect and are prepared to have those tough conversations, you’re more likely to see success.

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