Thurs 6 Jun 2024 2:00pm UK time

“I was at the end of my rope. I just didn’t want to do it anymore.”

There comes a time in every agency founder’s story when they realise they want out – for Jon Payne, this was last year.

“It was a bit like that moment when you suddenly realise you need to move house. I just realised this was ridiculous.”

A lot of this came down to client dissatisfaction – and realising he didn’t want to be bogged down in it any longer.

“I’ve been working for myself all my adult life, and I’ve never had so many people claim that we hadn’t done work to their satisfaction once they received an invoice,” he says. “But it wasn’t just the money. People aren’t the same as they were two years ago.”

“For the agency, the graphs were all going in the right direction, but I didn’t want to do another thing where we try and became a million-pound agency again.”

Having closed the agency towards the end of 2023, Jon describes it as “immense relief”. A big factor in this was the way he exited.

“We got a quick sale. We didn’t have to do an earn-out. If I wasn’t motivated to do it for me, there’s no way I’m motivated to do it if someone else gets the money.”

They also ensured a smooth transition for their team.

“We didn’t tell them we were hoping to sell the business – we just told them, ‘We’re selling the business, this is who to, and they’re coming in tomorrow’. We introduced them as quickly as possible.”

Since the sale went through, Jon hasn’t thought twice about his, and wife and co-founder Nicola’s, decision to sell: “It’s fucking bliss. I highly recommend unemployment.”

In this month’s CEO Summit, Jon will be joining us to shed more light on why he felt it was the right time to sell his agency – and perhaps help you figure this out too.