• In April this year, Arek Estall sold his digital marketing agency, All Trousers, to the Audience Group for an undisclosed fee.
• He realised that the things he enjoyed doing day-to-day didn’t require an agency to do them.
• Find out more about Arek’s sale journey, why it’s just as intense for smaller agencies to sell, and what he’s learned along the way.
“I was really enjoying the work, helping our clients to grow.”
“But as it got bigger and more significant, and especially as the team grew, operationally, it became a lot harder to manage,” explains Arek Estall, SEO consultant and founder of All Trousers, a digital marketing agency based in Cardiff.
“When we got past five people, I found it was a different beast. We were using a lot of contractors, which meant our size was deceptive, and our small team was managing a lot of workload,” he says. “I needed to put in more structure and empower my staff, meaning I had less control.”
In April this year, Arek decided to sell All Trousers to The Audience Group for an undisclosed fee.
The penny dropped slowly. After six years of running the agency, he realised the things he enjoyed doing didn’t actually require running an agency to do them.
“By the point I wanted to sell, I just wanted to get back to doing what I actually enjoy doing – you don’t have to pretend to like running an agency. I think the pandemic made a lot of people realise how they spend their time and how valuable it is,” he says.
While it was a small agency, with six people at its peak, the sale process was still just as intense and long-winded as one 10 times its size.
“Including offers and negotiations, the whole thing took six months,” explains Arek. “I think the most difficult thing was the climate of lockdown starting and finishing, and different sectors that we work with, particularly B2B, were quite affected by things like Brexit too.”
“It took six months due to the instability of that, and that also made it quite hard to acquire new clients while I was on my way out,” he says. “Acquiring new clients requires a growth energy, whereas when you know you’re leaving, you don’t have the same motivation – it becomes more difficult.”
“But equally you don’t want to lose clients, because if you lose clients in that period, things change. It was incredibly stressful, but you can’t always control it.”
In terms of the sale’s reaction, his small team took it very well.
“In my head I’d built it up to be this massive thing that was going to need managing, but it really didn’t,” Arek says. “It’s been really interesting watching it unfold, in the sense of people stepping up and doing a really good job without me.”
“Ironically, it was quite painful for the ego to realise you’re not as significant as you thought you were. If I’d known that, I could have run the business very differently. But actually, the staff and the clients don’t give a fuck to the extent you think they do. One of my big takeaways if I was to ever run an agency again, I would not be as involved.”
Since selling the agency, Arek has been doing part-time SEO consultancy and has helped launch Hale Health, a passion project in the health and organic food sector, where he is able to focus on the SEO and marketing side of things.
Join us as we talk through Arek’s sale story, find out what lessons he learned along the way, and what his next steps are.