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2023 recession talk: pull back or grow? For the first time ever, Jason Swenk, agency owner, advisor, podcast host, and speaker, is interviewed on his own show! Darby turns the tables on him in this episode, where they discuss mistakes, regrets, and the path to becoming an advisor. Jason also talks about why he feels recessions offer opportunities. He shares his views on an economic downturn and how you can grow when others give up. Don't let fear take over, be proactive and tune in!

Jason Swenk is an Agency Advisor, speaker, and podcast host who literally wrote the book on growing and scaling a successful digital agency. Jason started, grew, and sold an 8-figure agency and today is a shareholder in another multi-million dollar agency. For the first time ever he’ll be interviewed on his own podcast to talk about some of the mistakes he regrets and the path that led him to become an advisor.

In this interview, we’ll discuss:

  • Ways being reactionary gets in the way of growth.
  • How a recession is an opportunity for growth.
  • How to get ahead of difficult conversations.
  • The 3 best reasons to sell your agency.


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Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today's episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design, and development agency that has provided white-label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out and get 10% off for the first three months of service.

Podcast Takeover!!

Get to know your Smart Agency Guest Host: Darby Copenhaver is the Agency Scale Specialist at the Agency Mastery 360, which provides agency owners with the coaching, community, and tools needed to scale and find their freedom. He helps agency owners scale through a proven framework for growing their agencies faster and connecting with other amazing agency owners. Today, he’s helping Jason bring something new to the Smart Agency podcast audience by interviewing a special guest and bringing a new perspective to the show.

How Being Reactionary Gets in the Way of Growth

Jason's journey to success in the agency industry was not without its challenges. In the early days, he found himself being reactionary, a major roadblock to growth. However, he learned from this mistake and discovered that having a clear focus and target clientele was key to achieving growth.

As with many business owners, Jason had to grapple with the decision of whether to sell his agency or continue to run it. He started his agency during the dot-com era, hoping to grow it for a year and then sell it. But after the market crashed and he came to enjoy the business, his feelings changed. He realized that the desire to sell or keep going depends on where you're at in his life and the agency's growth trajectory.

Why Recessions are an Opportunity for Growth

Interestingly, Jason also saw recessions as an opportunity for growth. In the early 2000's dot bomb and again in 2008, as the market was crashing, his agency was reaching new heights. He and his partner invested more and found strategic partners, which helped them weather the storm and come out even stronger.

Overall, Jason's story serves as a reminder that success in the agency industry requires a combination of strategic planning, adaptability, and perseverance. By staying focused, taking advantage of opportunities, and being willing to evolve, agency owners can achieve long-term success.

Are you ready to tackle the tough conversations and come out on top? Jason, an agency owner, knows how difficult it can be to approach clients with their concerns and hesitations. But with a little transparency and a lot of courage, Jason was able to ease their worries and showcase the many opportunities that lay ahead.

Being Proactive with Difficult Client Conversations

But what if your clients just aren't ready to take the leap? Jason suggests making a top 100 list of ideal clients who share your values and can afford your services. Back in 2008, when his agency was struggling to stay afloat during a market slowdown. This strategy proved to be a game-changer. Jason was able to catapult his agency to new heights by targeting clients who were willing to invest and grow despite the challenges.

Of course, there were some bumps in the road along the way. Some clients froze or reduced their budgets, which meant Jason had to make some tough choices. But by freeing up resources and replacing those clients with new ones, he was able to weather the storm and come out stronger than ever before.

3 Big Mistakes as an Agency Owner

Looking back on his 12 years as an agency owner, Jason knows there are a few things he would have done differently.

  1. Firing Sales Too Fast. He regrets firing a salesperson too quickly without offering more support and guidance.

  2. Talent from Big Agencies Doesn't Equal Growth. He also learned the hard way that hiring people from bigger agencies doesn't always translate into success at a smaller agency. They are often not very resourceful in a more intimate agency setting. He learned it's more important to hire based on core values instead of just bringing people from the top.

  3. Not Delegating the Manager Role. Perhaps most importantly, he recognized management skills are crucial to team success. Now he knows he needs to hire people who are good managers and can get by with some guidance and coaching.

3 Reasons It Might Be Time to Sell Your Agency

If you're thinking about selling your agency, Jason has some advice for you too. He urges you to take a step back and ask yourself why you're considering it in the first place. Is it because you're burned out and no longer enjoy the work? Or is it because you need the money for other reasons? Maybe there's a bigger opportunity waiting for you out there. Whatever the case may be, make sure you're clear on your reasons for selling before you take the plunge.

Jason warns against being too reactionary to the market forces that come your way. Instead of simply reacting to the challenges and opportunities that arise, agency owners need a clear vision. It's important to be clear on where you're headed and goals you want to achieve. By designing your agency around your goals and values, you'll be better equipped to weather the ups and downs of the market and come out on top. So why not take a chance, make that top 100 list, and see where it takes you?


Do You Want to Transform Your Agency from a Liability to an Asset?

If you want to be around amazing agency owners that can see what you may not be able to see and help you grow your agency, go to Agency Mastery 360.  Our agency growth program helps you take a 360-degree view of your agency and gain mastery of the 3 pillar systems (attract, convert, scale) so you can create predictability, wealth, and freedom.

Direct download: How_Recessions_Offer_Opportunities_for_Digital_Agencies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am MDT