How to Grow and Sell an 8-Figure Digital Agency

By Jason Swenk on October 30, 2019

Do you feel like growing and scaling is always a struggle? Need to differentiate yourself from other agencies? Finding success as an agency owner isn’t easy. But with the right mindset, you can hit the 8-figure mark and even power through an eventual agency acquisition. Whether you want to grow your agency fast or plan on growing it to sell, you need to hear from the one and only Mitch Joel, who’s done it all.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • 3 steps to an 8-figure agency.
  • How to power through an agency acquisition.
  • #1 way to differentiate your agency.

Today, I talked with Mitch Joel, co-founder of Mirum and founder of Six Pixels Group. Joel is a marketing superstar. He was one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40, does keynotes for top brands, and has a best-selling book, Six Pixels of Separation. Mitch also sold his agency Mirum to WPP (a.k.a the world’s largest ad agency). And he’s on the show to talk about how he was able to grow, sell, and move on from his agency.

3 Steps to an 8-Figure Agency

For many agencies, the 8-figure mark is the “we made it!” moment. But how do you get there? Honestly, everyone’s path is a little different. That being said, here are 3 universal steps you’ll probably need to make.

  1. Take on the right partner: There are two things that make a partner great. They need to have the same goals, and they need to compliment your weaknesses. If you’re a master salesperson and you’re looking for an agency partner, don’t look for a salesperson. Find someone who is amazing at the things you’re really bad at. Otherwise, you may both end up trying to play to the same tune. And that can lead to a nasty breakup.

  2. Get a marquee client: Landing your first big client can completely reshape your agency. You can go from pennies to dollars overnight. It only takes on business with a few friends to grow your agency fast. There’s a misconception that you have to have tons of clients to grow. That’s not true. You just need a couple of good ones. And they don’t even have to big per se! But they do need to be able to pay your agency what you’re worth.

  3. Have the right philosophy: You need to be scale-focused. What does that mean? It means that your processes need to be capable of handling scale. Think about your ability to support large-scale projects with big clients. If you feel like your foundation is weak, you need to build it up before you take on any big clients. Don’t just chase big fish without a big hook. You’ll get pulled overboard.

How to Power Through An Agency Acquisition

There’s another way to “make it” without hitting 8-figures. Getting your agency acquired is the dream for many of you. It happened to me, and it happened to Mitch. But what do you do when it actually happens?

Your first instinct may be to go out and spend some money celebrating… Don’t do that! You have to wait until the acquisition is 100% finalized before you celebrate. The entire process will take a while. And you need to be focused on continuing to grow your agency while also focusing on your “new biggest client” — the company acquiring your agency.

Force yourself to wait to celebrate. Afterward, you have to get used to not calling the shots. It’s tough. You can always do what I did; go start a podcast. It gives you back some of the control you’re used to. Plus, you get to help people out. It’s a win-win!

#1 Way to Differentiate Your Agency

Are you tired of being a “me too” agency? Then change your philosophy. STOP trying to be like your competition and you do you.

Don’t be like everyone else, but instead figure where you stand on these four things that set  you apart from every other agency:

  1. Trust
  2. Empathy
  3. Chemistry
  4. Authority

How can you create a differentiate using these four pillars to stand apart? First, create trust with your clients by showing tons of empathy. Develop amazing internal chemistry that is evident in the way you carry out your core values. And display the level of authority that conveys domination in your area of expertise. Then, use your messaging (website, social posts, etc.) to display this differentiation to your prospects.

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