What we cover on Episode 44
On this episode of the GrowthTLDR, we're talking to Jason Swenk who grew a digital agency to 100 people, sold it, and now helps other agencies to scale their business.
We talk to Jason about:
- The reasons so many agencies fail and how they could avoid it
- How Jason needed to transition from the company owner to CEO as the agency grew in numbers, and what changed.
- Why the difference between a seven-figure agency and nine-figure agency usually comes down to mentality.
Time Stamped Notes
[3:00] We talk about why it was such an advantage for Jason to build his agency in Atlanta
[4:50] A lot of agency owners are accidental founders and haven't spent a lot of time considering their long-term goals for the agency. They end up being more reactive than proactive about their growth.
Another common challenge is agencies often struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition and don't price their services correctly.
[7:00] An agency will never lose the right client over charging too high. Most founders think they need more clients to grow their business. Often the most efficient way to grow is to acquire the right clients and charge more.
[10:30] Agencies need to focus more on the ROI they're delivering to clients and not over-focus on bringing on new clients. You can be a successful agency by taking on a small number of clients and increasing the ROI for those clients over time, as you can then increase the cost of your services.
[11:40] Jason feels agencies lives would be a lot easier if they had better clarity about the type of clients they could deliver ROI for.
[15:00] As the agency grew to 100 people, Jason needed to change his role from agency owner to CEO. That meant he had to:
1. Set a vision for the company and communicate it often
2. Make sure he has the right people on his team to execute on that vision
3. Be the face of the agency, create content, present at conferences
4. Mentor his leadership team
5. Assist the sales team in closing *some* deals
[19:30] A lot of mistakes people make is they try to work on their weaknesses. Instead, you should work on your strengths, and hire for your weaknesses.
[20:30] Most of the successful agencies that Jason has interviewed on his podcast 'The Smart Agency Master Class' have had influential founders who have been the face of the agency. It helps to have a face for your business because people buy from people.
[25:00] The difference between a seven-figure agency and nine-figure agency is often their mentality. Once you've sold your first $1 million deal or a $2 million deal, you'll be more confident you can do it again.
[26:30] Jason doesn't mind taking on a client that could make up a large part of his revenue. To limit the impact if that client left, and avoid having to lay off people, he would create a structure that allowed him to leverage outside vendors.
[29:00] Agency owners need to build their foundation, they need to have clarity around the right clients for their business, and how to structure their offering, so it's an easier decision for clients to work with them, and helps to build trust.
[30:00] There are three key growth channels for agencies - inbound, outbound, and strategic partnerships.
[31:15] Referrals are a good source of new business for agency owners, but they limit your business to the same type of customers. The people referring business to you probably don't hang out with companies at the next level.
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