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Every month your agency's team leaders can join sessions aimed at creative, sales / marketing and client services leaders.
Upcoming live sessions
These sessions are for Agency Hackers members. If your agency isn't a member yet, please join here.
THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF
ACQUIRING OTHER AGENCIES
Anton has also bought and integrated three agencies – all out of cash flow. He’ll share his wisdom on what worked and what didn’t.
When Anton Jerges started Collider in 2003, he saw it as a small lifestyle business.
But since then, Anton has grown it from £2.5m to over £11m (“surviving one significant fraud that nearly broke me financially and emotionally.”)
Anton has also bought and integrated three agencies – all out of cash flow. And he’s agreed to share his wisdom on what worked and what didn’t.
Some of his acquisitions have been fantastically successful. Others less so. In this session, Anton will also talk about acquisitions that haven’t gone as he expected – and what he learned.
- What to look for in an acquisition
- Why you should do it – and what to be aware of
- Different ways to do it (buying shares vs “trade and assets”)
“You can come a cropper” admits Anton. “There are opportunities out there, but you need to know what you’re picking up.”
We wanted more retained income. So we bought an SEO and PPC agency – a tiny, three-person regional business that was doing okay.
They were working with tier 4 companies, and we began offering their service to our tier 1 and tier 2 clients.
It was phenomenally successful.
PERFECTLY FORMED: "WE'RE
SMALL, AND WE'RE STAYING SMALL"
What if your goal for running your agency is to have
a nice life and do great work?
There are two types of agency leader: the "artist" type and the "business person" type.
The "business person" type is passionate about the game of building an agency, but the "artist type" is passionate about their craft and their lifestyle.
Which one resonates most with you?
In this session, we will speak to agencies that are happy being
"small" – or are NOT run with pure growth in mind.
This isn't for everybody. A lot of the Agency Hackers audience are balls-to-the-wall "business", which is fine. But I'm doing this because "artist-type" agencies don't get talked about as much. And trying to fit in being "business" when you're really an "artist" can make you miserable.
If you are a lifestyle agency just trying to run the best business you can, this will be an interesting discussion.
Becoming a £5m agency is not what gets me out of bed. What makes me tick is the idea of working four days week and having lifestyle-driven business where you make a bit of money."
Agency leader panelist
RIDING THE AGENCY
"I hadn't told many people – especially those close to me – the full story."
In 2017 Andrew Balerdi was made redundant. He applied for 150 jobs but only landed three interviews, so he decided he might as well start his own marketing agency.
Andrew's agency The Good Marketing Co quickly picked up several lucrative contracts, and he built a small team.
"For the first year, everything went great," says Andrew. "In hindsight, this was the worst thing that could have happened."
Why? Because by the end of the year, the phone stopped ringing – and Andrew was not prepared.
"Having such a strong start had made me lazy and complacent, and I didn't learn about..."
- "...how to properly run a business..."
- "...how to create income for others..."
- "...how to service clients in a meaningful way."
Andrew had no work and an idle team.
"I was lost" says Andrew. "I was in debt and I was depressed."
Andrew did pick up the pieces – several times. He is joining us on a session to share his story. Take part and share your own ups and downs with the Agency Hackers community.
People are not as harsh with their judgments as you are of yourself. I did not need to wait for calamity to strike before I changed, and I could have and should have asked for help way sooner.
"SO YOU WANNA
BE A B CORP?"
Hear from three agencies that have gone through the 'B Corp' process. Was it worth it? What are the benefits? Find out in this interview.
Have you thought about making your agency a B Corp?
Today, several agencies have joined brands like Innocent Drinks and The Body Shop in displaying their “good guy” credentials with a B Corp logo.
- But what is the process?
- What do you have to do?
- What are the benefits?
- Is it right for you?
“We did it a couple of years ago” says Andrew Bathgate, co-founder of Good Innovation.
“We’re a purpose led organisation and we do a lot of work for charities, so we wanted it as more of a mark to our employees and the world to say: 'Yes, we’re a decent organisation'.”
“It does take a chunk of work (it’s quite thorough) but we thought it was a sensible way to make sure we’re running business in a rounded, grounded way socially.
Drop in and decide if being a B-Corp is something you want to – erm – be.
B Corp looks at loads of metrics: governance, stakeholders, impact on society. It’s quite a rounded perspective. It was quite a useful piece for helping us make our business what we wanted it to be.
It forced us to think about a bunch of stuff we’d thought about, but hadn’t got round to.
"I HIRED A MAN... TO BE A MAN"
Agency boss Sabrina was sick of clients asking to speak to "the owner". So she hired a bloke to PRETEND he was in charge.
Sabrina Chevannes picked up the phone and the caller asked: “Can I speak to the guy in charge?”
"I'm the owner of the company" she replied.
Ever since starting her web development business Complex Creative, Sabrina had noticed that men were uncomfortable talking tech with a woman.
So one day she had a brainwave: “I just need a guy to PRETEND they’re in charge.”
Sabrina hired a man – whose job was to appear as if they ran the company. “I basically hired a man to be a man”.
“The guy I hired was eight years younger than me. But he was a six-foot four ‘cheeky-chappie’ Essex lad. He was lovely, but he knew NOTHING about the industry."
"We spent so much time trying to prep him. But in the end it didn’t matter… because everyone loved him.”
On 23rd July at 11.30am, we are discussing some of the obstacles that women face running – or being in – an agency.
Pop in and share your story.
When Sabrina shared this story on our monthly session for client services folk, others chimed in with theirs:
- [Client hands status report back to a woman.] “Why don’t you read this out, you have such a lovely voice.”
- [Woman finishes her pitch.] Client turns to her male colleague: “Didn’t she do well?”
- [Woman project manager chases a creative for deliverables.] His colleague interrupts: “Get her the work – you know how women are!”
"WE WERE £250,000 WORSE OFF THAN I THOUGHT"
Pick up some hard-won finance and accounting wisdom from a seasoned agency entrepreneur.
Life was good for Russell Abbott and his agency WDPA. “Clients were queuing up to brief us, and we couldn’t get the work out quick enough. We were making a fortune – or so we thought. I celebrated with a shiny new sports car.”
But one day, Russell noticed their cash balance was low, so he
hired a firm of chartered accountants to investigate.
"We were £250,000 worse off than we thought. We received a serious lesson in how to run a business properly.”
On 21st July at 11.30am, get your calculators out and prepare to hear from Russell some hard-won agency finance advice.
We’ll touch on the importance of accurate management accounts, as well as running your business to maximise revenue from existing clients.
This will be an interesting one – when it comes to accounting, you don't know what you don't know, so hear from somebody who has already made the mistakes on your behalf.
Is your agency's journey a smooth cruise or white-knuckle experience?
In this session you can hear from two agency leaders who have run their agencies over 20 to 30 years: but have had VERY different rides.
"We've never been one of those agencies that's had stratospheric growth" says Benno Wasserstein, who runs Box UK.
"We're 21 years old, £7m revenue with good margins. We've been profitable every year except one. And we've taken no external investment. It's all been organic growth."
Kevin Freedman runs Freedman International, which recently turned 30. His journey is a little different!
"We have had a rollercoaster ride" says Kevin. "We went from slow, marginally profitable growth to £5m overnight when we won a big contract in the early years."
"Then they pulled the plug, and we slid down back to £1m – but then we won a contract to produce airline menus which took us up again."
Kevin and Benno have had contrasting experiences. They will share some cautionary tales, and give you a flavour of how to run your agency for the long term.
If you run an agency and you're "in it for the long haul", this will be an interesting discussion. Join us and share your ups and downs.
THE 'BAD CLIENT RADAR'
One bad client can make you hate your job. Join this discussion about how to decide who to work with – and who to avoid.
What does your "bad client radar" look like?
Right now, everybody is trying to get their agency in shape. But a LOT of problems don't lurk in your agency's systems or processes…
… they’re spawned upstream in the type of clients you accept.
"Every agency owner is constantly whining about making their agency more efficient" says Alex Price, founder of enterprise WordPress agency 93 Digital. "But a lot of the time they're the first to jump on any project that comes through the door".
Alex is joining a discussion about your “bad client radar”. We’ll be talking about what work and what clients you'll accept – and which ones you won't.
"Right now you have to be really careful what you drop on your team, especially when everybody is in isolation" says Alex. "More than ever. I feel a lot of pressure to make sure I pick the right projects – and not wear the team down."
Alex will share his thoughts on:
- Pulling out of projects
- The 'red flags' tricky clients give off
- Questions you can ask to avoid toxic personalities
Please join and share your thoughts and experience.