Wed 31 Jan 2024 2:00pm UK time

“It was a Wednesday night. I’d just got the Q1 forecast, and I thought, “ That was it. That was the night my dream died.”

What do you do when things aren’t going according to plan?

In January 2023, John Quinton-Barber, founder and CEO of Social, realised that something needed to be done.

For two months his business had been losing up to £50k a month, with clients pausing projects after the mini-budget threw their sector into chaos.

“2020, 2021 and the first part of 2022 were really strong performing years for us. We had a high growth strategy, making £3.5m. But then I invested in new areas and new people, and essentially it didn’t work. And I own it all,” he explains.

“I had to smash the glass and make the announcement, make the redundancies… that’s the day my dream died.”

John will be joining the Agency Hackers audience to shed light on how he brought his agency back from the brink, including:

  • How it feels when you realise you reach a “do or die” moment in your agency.
  • The redundancy and restructuring process – and how the business has reset with a new senior team and vision in place.
  • How an independent coach and his faith have helped him through it all.

The business is in a good place now. But John will take us through what happened – so you can stash this knowledge for when this happens to you.

Social had to restructure – and quickly. The agency’s FD and ops director modelled their cash flow for the rest of the year. They realised some difficult decisions had to be taken.

“It was a case of what departments and which areas we had to look at,” says John. “My priority was just ensuring we could stabilise and then move forward.”

“I’d got to the point where I’d made the conscious decision to take myself to a point where I’ve lost the business. I needed to step into that place, and go, ‘Right, what does that look like? I’ve got shareholders, investors, they’ve lost their money, what does it look like?’”

“And as soon as I put myself in that place, whilst it was shit, it wasn’t the end of the world. I could then go, ‘Right, I can work backwards, and it’s going to be alright’.”

Voluntary redundancies – including the agency’s second-in-command – followed. Almost a year on, and while Social is a leaner team, they’ve quickly bounced back.

“The lights shine stronger when the figures are good,” says John. “Although we’ve had redundancies to pay and the costs of that, our underlying profit started to come back in May.”

“We’ve cut £70k of costs from the business this year, so we’re in a much stronger place now to start good recovery, start making next year a profitable one, and building back.”

“For the first time in 10 years, we’ve got the senior team right. Now, everyone’s in, they’re invested in it. It’s almost like I’m in the jump chair in the cockpit; I’m not flying anymore.”

Join us as we talk to John about how he brought his agency back from breaking point, and the things it taught him along the way.