Slow Burn: How Can You Grow Your Agency at a Sustainable Rate?

by | Jan 15, 2021

Every agency wants to grow – but moving at a gradual pace helps ensure you aren’t risking the quality of your work.

“Our business plan on day one was ‘don’t fuck it up’ and it hasn’t really changed from that,” says co-founder of Aira, Matt Beswick.

“We’re bootstrapped – we’ve never taken investment,” he says. “We’ve never tried to overhire or go faster than we thought was right. If you grow too fast, the quality drops and you just become one of those agencies more focused on sales and bringing in new business, rather than retaining and delivering great work.”

Matt’s sustainable approach has also created a more positive atmosphere for staff.

“People are happier because they’re not having to tread water, spin plates and do all that kind of stuff you have to do when the shit hits the fan,” he says.

But what does sustainable growth actually mean?

“When we started, we were doubling year on year consistently. Then, when we hit that £2.5m mark, that definitely started to slow down a bit because you get structural issues internally, and you can’t rely on inbound leads as much as you could before,” he explains.

“We want to keep growing by an absolute minimum of 25% a year, but also want to maintain a healthy margin. To be classed as a high growth business, 25% is the minimum you need to achieve. Somewhere between 25% to 40% would be sustainable for us.”

The next step for Matt is bringing in more senior staff to lighten the load, starting with a senior management team – but it’s a work in progress.

“There is always that fear factor,” he says. “We’re bringing more experienced people from other agencies because our client base has grown and you need to be able to navigate red tape as well as do the work,” he says.

In this session, we’ll be talking to Matt all about the benefits of tempering your enthusiasm, the impact this has on staff and client retention, as well as setting sensible, thoughtful targets.