Smart Agency Podcast: The #1 Digital Agency Podcast for Social Media, SEO, PPC & Creative Agencies

Are you starting an agency and debating whether you need a partner? Is your agency growing, but you're not sure where to go from here? It doesn't matter what kind of work you produce or how motivated you are if you don't have everything aligned behind the scenes.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • Why do so many agency partnerships fail?
  • 2 key stages of growing a successful agency.
  • Why your agency should always invest in culture first.

Today I had an engaging talk with Francisco Serrano, president and CEO of 121, a digital implementation agency. In the last 16 years, Francisco has grown his agency to a team of 90 employees and just recently hired a COO. He's here to talk about the stages his agency went through to get to where they're at and why you should always put your agency employees first.

Why Do So Many Agency Partnerships Fail?

I've talked to many agency owners over the years who have started with a partner and eventually dissolved the partnership. It isn't because either partner is bad or not putting enough work; most of the time, it's just not the right fit. And as the agency grows, it's perfectly natural to outgrow one of your partners.

Francisco joins a long list of owners who realized they were better off on their own (including myself). If you're thinking about taking on a partner or are currently working with someone, the question is, how can you determine whether a partnership is going to work? The answer comes down to open communication.

But before you say, "Great, we've already got that covered," understand there's a difference between being able to talk to your partner and really being honest about what you hope to get out of your agency. The number one reason most partnerships fail is because partners don't have the same vision for the direction of the agency.

Before you begin to talk about strategy or revenue or anything else, talk about your focus and your passion. If you don't agree on what you want to stand for, how much work you want to put in, and what you're willing to risk, it's probably not going to work.

2 Key Stages of Growing a Successful Agency

So you've begun to see some growth and are getting more clients — great! But if you stay with the same strategy and don't switch it up, eventually, you're bound to hit a plateau. Francisco says there are 2 main stages his agency went through in order to see continued growth:

  1. Team building. When you're building a team, usually you're the one that does all the hiring. After all, who better to find the right people for growing your team than you? But as you continue to grow, you'll realize you just don't have enough time to handpick every new member of your team. Francisco says the first big step was hiring an HR professional to recruit and hire new team members, as well as keep the existing ones happy.
  2. Execution. Francisco recently brought on a COO to take care of the day-to-day execution. With a team of 90, he wants to focus on building relationships and working on the business, which will ultimately help the agency grow.

Why Your Agency Should Always Invest in Culture First

When we're first starting out, many of us fail to recognize the importance of agency culture. Francisco makes an interesting analogy between running an agency and osteoporosis. He says, if you don't focus on what's on the inside and what holds everything together, the bones will crumble.

A lot of building a solid culture comes down to communicating with your team and understanding what motivates them (no it's not money). Figure out what they're good at, what they want to do, and what just doesn't make them happy. When you do this, you'll find your team is happier, more successful, and devoted to the agency as a whole.

You'll never find true success as an agency unless you master the fundamentals. If you have talent, culture, and you can execute, the rest is fun and games.

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Direct download: Does_Your_Agency_Have_Good_Bones_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT