Agency owner: “I don’t want a massive agency!”
Me: “What’s the reason for that?”
Agency owner: “Don’t want the stress that comes with running a 100+ people agency. I want to keep it boutique.”
Me: “I get that. So what is the ideal size of agency you want to get to?”
Agency owner: “Mh, do not want to get bigger than say like 15 people.”
This stage is one of the most stressful of an agency! I am not taking into consideration the size of the problems (this multiplies the bigger your agency gets). I am referring to the number of problems.
“A lot of agencies hit a glass ceiling at 15 people. That’s because the business is owner operated. The owner can only be across ‘so’ many projects a day. There are only so many hours in the day. That realisation was their pivotal point.” (Simon Barbato @ Mr.B & Friends)”
He had two other partners. Each of them were managing one team of 15 people each, when they hit this ceiling. Depending on the number of partners in the agency your ceiling may be higher. Whitespace eventually made significant team structure changes. That allowed them to grow further and eventually exit to Dentsu.
The problem with that size of agency
At this point a lot of agencies don’t have a senior team. That means every single problem that goes through the agency goes straight to the owner, unfiltered. You are pulled in all directions. I call this ‘mental quartering’. You are unfocussed. Your agency stops growing.
Small vs big
It is a fact that when your agency is small (e.g. 1 – 5 people), your profit margins are higher than the margins of an agency that has 100 people. But that is relative to the size of the pie. Sinx from ustwo spoke about this when we did our fireside chat talky recently:
“We want to make big changes in the world. There are companies we need to work with to make that difference. They would not even bother looking at us if we weren’t at our size.” (Simon Norris @ Nomensa)
1. Take a step back from everything you are doing. Wake up at 5am or dedicate half a day walking and pondering.
2. Soak in everything you see, smell, touch and hear.
3. Think about why you are running your agency.
4. It’s time to grow or maintain your agency in the way that is aligned with that.
Remember, there is only a right or wrong if your strategy is not aligned with your ‘why’.
Your agency is around 15 people. You know why you are running your agency. Now is a good time to think about a senior management team. Hire or promote someone outstanding. Watch how they will take your agency to the next level for you.
Nove you, Zank uuuuu! 🙂