Agency Partner: How to Grow a Successful Agency with One with Renee Warren | Ep #63

By Jason Swenk on May 21, 2015

Agency Partner: How to Grow a Successful Agency with One

Have you ever considered running your business with an agency partner? It’s not easy being agency stakeholders and close friends but in this episode, these two ladies have it all figured out. Renee Warren and Heather Carson, co-founders of Onboardly, a demand marketing agency servicing clients in PR, content marketing, and social media talk with me about their secrets… Secrets to successful partnerships, secrets to their agency growth, and the one secret every new startup owner needs to know.


What’s the Secret to a Great Partnership?

I usually tell people, “You either know the bad partner or you are the bad partner.” Not true for Renee and Heather. They get along like besties and they tell me it’s because they have rules for keeping business and friendship separate. They are careful to keep the lines drawn and clear about when they’re wearing their “friend hat” or their “founder hat”. They say this distinction has really made a lot of hard conversations go more smoothly than they might’ve otherwise.

Heather and Renee also told me another key to their successful partnership is trust. Both ladies are totally confident that the other has the company’s best interest at heart when making decisions or representing the business. There’s no control freak in this duo!

Another thing they’ve found helpful is bringing a mentor or advisor in when they’ve needed some guidance or third-party input. (Not to brag but they did give me some props here.) And, even if it’s not me, I agree that an unbiased opinion from an outsider can really benefit an agency partner and solopreneurs. Learn from the mistakes and successes of those who have been there and done it.

What are the Secrets to Agency Growth?

Onboardly was established in 2011. Throughout those four years, Renee and Heather have learned a few things about growing their agency. Here are their 3 tips for actualizing growth:

1. Shared Goals

For starters, these partners share the same goals and have a growth mindset. When their company reached a plateau in the third year, they decided to focus on removing the obstacles that were standing in their way. They articulate their goals to each other and their team, and don’t let excuses get in the way.

2. Laser Focus Target

Not only do they have a specific niche, but Heather and Renee are also very selective in which clients they will work with inside that niche. These ladies are clear that they will only work with clients that will allow them to produce good work. They won’t spin their wheels on clients that require too much red tape or hand-holding. And over the past few years, Heather has honed her process for vetting clients which saves them a lot of time and energy in the long run.

3. Say No

They’ve done it. Even when it was hard, Renee and Heather have turned down work from family and friends. They’ve turned away work from clients who couldn’t afford them. They have had those awkward “thanks, but no thanks” conversations that keep the integrity of their business intact.

What’s One Secret for New Entrepreneurs?

These ladies believe that if you get into business for any reason other than yourself, you’re in it for the wrong reason. Knowing your “why” creates the playbook for your entire organization. It defines your culture, your employees, your clients… it becomes everything. In hindsight, if they’d known and articulated their purpose sooner it may have changed the trajectory of their entire business.  Bottom line: be true to your story and don’t lose sight of it.

So, What Exactly Is ‘Onboardly’?

They are the startup for startups. Now, they’re not in their early stages anymore but they still act like a startup. They model their clients by using the same systems and technology. They want to be able to relate to and provide value to their clients.

Looking for a third-party opinion to help your agency grow?

Would you like to meet other agency owners that have achieved what you’re aspiring towards? That’s what my Agency Mastermind group is all about. As a group and a team… we will work together to figure out the best sales, operations, and marketing strategies needed to exceed your goals. In other words, you will have all of the help you need to crush it! Learn more by clicking here…

Become a Better Agency Owner

Having an agency partner to run your business with you can bring many benefits but I suggest making sure to take my advice and find someone that is the best fit for you when you are ready to start your journey with an agency partner. Taking a step back and reviewing any other areas of weakness in your agency, how else I can help?

During my time in the industry, I have had my own experience running my own digital agency and helping other digital agency owners so there are many topics where I can offer guidance. Whether you are experiencing challenges as an established agency or a new agency unsure of what the different phases of growth you will experience will look like, I’ve got you covered.

As you continue to grow your agency team, I can show you how to recognize when it’s time to hire a sales manager or expand your sales team to perfect your business strategy by creating a process for performance-based pricing and how to keep your big name clients happy.

Are you ready to create something cool and want more advice? Learn about my career and different experiences as well as tips, tricks and insights by checking out my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

Check out more from my Ask Swenk series and more of my videos on my YouTube channel. There you will find advice from myself

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