How Successful Partners Balance Each Other and Grow Their Agency
Do you have an agency business partner? Are you considering bringing on a partner? Or experiencing challenges with your partner? Many people are afraid to start an agency with a partner because they think it will end badly. And it’s true, striking the right balance with a partner is no easy feat. However, finding a partner that compensates for your shortcomings makes it all worthwhile. Today’s guests have had a successful agency partnership for over a decade. As expected, they have faced challenges along the way and found success by inserting their own style into their agency formula.
Alexis Krisay and Melissa DiGianfilippo are the owners and partners of Serendipit Consulting, a full-service marketing and creative agency in Phoenix, Arizona. They’ve been partners at their digital agency for almost 15 years. It seems like a long time to work alongside a co-owner. However, with backgrounds in PR and marketing, they found they complement each other very well over the years. Recently, they started a podcast together called Will it Stick that covers bold marketing campaigns and PR stunts.
In this interview, we’ll discuss:
- The secret to a successful agency partnership.
- Why key differences can lead to synchrony.
- How a mastermind can help you get intentional about your business.
Sponsors and Resources
Wix: Today’s episode is sponsored by the Wix Partner Program. Being a Wix Partner is ideal for freelancers and digital agencies that design and develop websites for their clients. Check out Wix.com/Partners to learn more and become a member of the community for free.
The Learning Curve After Starting a Digital Agency
Alexis grew up being familiar with the agency world. Her father owned a digital effects agency in LA and she visited the studio all the time. She loved the relaxed and fun environment and aspired to create something as cool. However, she never actually thought she would have an agency. She met Melissa working together for a real estate developer. That’s when they discovered they made a really good team and thought it would be cool to have a project together. After securing a few freelance clients, they knew it was time to leave their jobs and officially start their agency.
There was a learning curve, of course. They charged their first client $8,000, which seemed like a pretty good deal at the time. However, they quickly learned to take the project scope into account. They were doing everything for this client and the amount of travel warranted a much higher price.
The Secret to a Successful Agency Partnership
As Jason says, when it comes to partnerships, “you either know the bad partner or you are the bad partner”. That’s not necessarily the case here. Sometimes a partnership lasts a couple of years and then one partner gets bored with the business and wants to do something else. Maybe the agency outgrows one of the partners and they are no longer relevant. Working with agency owners from all over the world Jason has known many successful partnerships. How do some agency owners make it work?
Alexis and Melissa have encountered challenges, of course, but their partnership has continued to work. Most of all, they credit the immense respect they have for each other. They respect each other’s passions, opinions, and expertise and work hard to each stay in their separate lanes. According to them, this respect makes it so they’re not afraid to “fight productively”. These arguments are productive because leave the conversation with a full agreement on both sides. There’s no “I told you so” when you reach a compromise.
This synchrony certainly didn’t happen overnight, but with practice they’ve come to know each other really well. What works especially well for them is they each compensate for the other one’s shortcomings. Each has her own area of expertise and respects the other. If a situation requires one of them to cover for the other, they’ll of course do it. However, when in doubt, it’s better to pause and say “this is my partner’s expertise. I better call her to be sure”.
Aligning Goals in Agency Business and in Life
Making sure your goals for the agency align is one thing, but your overall goals must also align. If you and your partner are at different points in life then you might want different things from the business. If one of the partners is much older, then they may be looking at exiting sooner. However, there is room for some differences to improve the relationship. If you look at each of their profiles, Alexis and Melissa are very different from one another.
This works really well for the agency because one of them is the visionary while the other is the planner. Why does this matter? In the end, your partnership affects far more than just the agency. It affects your entire life, so make sure to enter that “business marriage” with someone that complements you.
Get Intentional About Your Agency With the Help of a Mastermind
About five years into the business, Alexis and Melissa joined an entrepreneurial organization. Joining this group helped them get intentional about building their business. Up to that point, they treated the agency as a way to work while taking care of their families.
Getting to the million-dollar mark helped them realize they had the resources and employees to do something really special. The organization helped them get serious about treating the agency like a real business instead of a hobby or lifestyle choice. With this new perspective, they focused on growing and scaling the agency.
Once they got clear about their goals, the agency started growing fast. In fact, they reached $2 million in just two years. With the help of advisors, they were exposed to different proven systems like EOS. In the end, they adopted a mismatch of different systems and found a formula that worked for them.
Finding their own version of a system was part of their journey to define themselves as a unique agency that doesn’t necessarily work as any other agency out there. Alexis and Melissa don’t want to be like the agencies they worked for in the past. They find that trying to do things the traditional agency way leads to stagnation. On the other hand, going back and following their own path has led to success.
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