Agencies That Build
Acquisition 101 - Jeff Archibald - Agencies That Build #020

Acquisition 101 - Jeff Archibald - Agencies That Build #020

June 15, 2021

Jeff Archibald is the Managing Director of Paper Leaf, a full-stack website, app, and software development firm. Their products have received awards and accolades, and they are also recognized as one of Canada’s top firms by Strategy Magazine and Clutch.

 

Takeaways

  • As an Agency Owner, you need to step out of roles that are not strategic and uses your time productively. It is difficult, but you have to make that shift from a tactical to a strategic mindset. This is quite crucial for the early growth phase.
  • Organize your processes, divest the skill sets amongst the group, and become a profitable company. This is the right way to structure a business vis-a-vis someone simply showing an interest in acquiring your business. In case someone does show up, be a willing participant in those conversations
  • When considering an acquisition offer, do your due diligence, identify the financial red flags and ensure that any risks that you’re taking are mutually shared. 
  • “You need to understand that you're going to have to take on some risk, and the acquiring party is going to have to take on some risk. But if those balances ever get out of whack, then you need to be willing to walk away.” - Jeff
  • To make your life easier, hire an attorney and an accountant, even if you happen to be familiar with the legalities of an acquisition.

 

Links:

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-archibald-b6904243

Paper Leaf - https://paper-leaf.com/

 

 

Busted Myths:

  • Hustle glorification. The correlation that if you're working 60 or 80 hour weeks, you're somehow doing a better job than everybody else, or you're more deserving than somebody else.
The New Normal for Work - Mark Baldino - Agencies That Build #019

The New Normal for Work - Mark Baldino - Agencies That Build #019

June 10, 2021

Mark Baldino is the Co-founder of Fuzzy Math, a user experience design, strategy, and innovation firm that solves difficult problems with a human-centered design approach and has helped establish design practices for upstart businesses and Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, and GE Healthcare.

Takeaways

  • If a resource is comfortable with working remotely then as an agency you should allow them to. An A+ resource is better remote than outside your company. 
  • As an agency things like culture happen naturally. If you’re living the values you preach, the team follows. 
  • Contrary to popular belief virtual meetings are more inclusive. There is an accessibility component to communication in a 100% virtual company.
  • “When everyone's just a screen, you kind of treat everybody a little bit more equal. And I think that's a real benefit. And I think our clients can feel that and our team can feel that whether we're doing an internal kind of meeting, or we're doing a client workshop.” - Mark 
  • Sometimes you have to say no to good business just because it’s not the right fit for you, culturally or technologically.
  • First contacts can determine if a client is good for you or not. If they’re having trouble understanding your culture and values then it’s not going to be any different with work.

Links:

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/markbaldino/

Fuzzy Math - https://fuzzymath.com

 

Busted Myths:

  • Communication in a 100% virtual company strains people and makes them less productive.
The Art of Managing Time - JD Graffam - Agencies That Build #018

The Art of Managing Time - JD Graffam - Agencies That Build #018

May 28, 2021

JD Graffam is the Founder and CEO at Simple Focus, a UX-focused digital product, and interaction design agency. They help their clients grow by increasing conversion rates, reducing friction, and telling stories. JD Graffam is a recognized user experience expert, author, speaker, and writer. A Serial entrepreneur, he also owns 10+ profitable businesses besides Simple Focus.

 

Takeaways

  • As a business owner, you have to prioritize and manage time. Delegate more and make time by managing your commitments in advance. Hire a professional to help better plan your day/week and manage your time more efficiently.
  • “If you take Opportunity Cost to the next level of understanding, you will realize that it is the single most important economic concept that there is because you have to decide what's the most important thing you need to be working on.” -Graffam
  • Having trustworthy people or decision-makers in your team is crucial for business growth.
  •  Manage your inbox to better manage your work/life.
  •  “You need to keep a clear head, keep things simple, stay on top, that's the tip or trick.”
    -Graffam
  • As a business, you need to know your priorities while outsourcing for a better ROI. Figure out if it’s budget concerns, culture, timezone, or something else. 

Links:

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jdgraffam/

Medium - https://medium.com/@jdgraffam

Simple Focus - https://simplefocus.com/

 

Busted Myths:

  • Thinking that sharing Calendly links without updating your calendar and commitments is better than taking time to actively schedule meetings when you’re actually available. 
  • When applying for a job, being extra casual and edgy helps you stand out.
The Agency Journey: Growth - Peter Kang - Agencies That Build #017

The Agency Journey: Growth - Peter Kang - Agencies That Build #017

May 19, 2021

Peter Kang is the Co-Founder and CEO at Barrel, helping brands scale and optimize their threat to consumer experiences while developing meaningful connections with their customers.

 

Takeaways:

  • One of the essential aspects of great company culture is shared language. Having a unified communication helps everyone be on the same page. A great way to develop a shared language is by reading books together.
  • “The biggest part of leadership is modeling. If you do the things you think are important and live the values you say are important, then the rest of it takes care of itself.” ~Peter
  • Building a business infrastructure that consistently fosters leadership is highly beneficial for employee growth.
  • Take a long term perspective on growth. Think of the hard decisions and what could be done now in order to have a compounded effect in the future.

 

Links:

 

Busted Myth:

  • A domain name does not define the name of your organization.

 

Ways to Tune In:

Guide To Offshore Communication - Bill Whitebone - Agencies That Build #016

Guide To Offshore Communication - Bill Whitebone - Agencies That Build #016

May 13, 2021

Bill Whitebone is the Principal at Advance Velocity, providing businesses with the expertise and capacity needed to take them to the next level. They partner with their clients from start to finish, focusing on their client’s needs while producing new ideas, developing effective strategies, and designing high quality and scalable solutions.

 

Takeaways:

  • The key to your team’s success in finding client solutions is by understanding their business. This is crucial to finding a personalized solution that caters to their needs.
  • Look for references from past customers of and leadership at an offshore team to gain insight into whether or not they are a good fit to collaborate with your organization.
  • “If you have a good team and you have confidence in what you are delivering then fixed price is the way to go. It’s certainly riskier, but if you know what you are doing and you know how your team works there’s more margin to be had there potentially.” ~Bill
  • Global teams allow for a wide variety of global perspectives. The best voices and inputs from across the globe can come together and create immense value in creating the best possible solutions.
  • Remote work has opened the doors, even more so, to working with offshore companies. Will the future bring a more competitive global workforce?

 

Links:

 

Busted Myth:

  • Solutions are not easy. Identify the problem by asking your clients, “What is preventing your business from functioning optimally?” Understand the broader challenge.

 

Ways to Tune In:

Remote Communication - Angel Lacret - Agencies That Build #015

Remote Communication - Angel Lacret - Agencies That Build #015

May 7, 2021

Angel Lacret is the Founder & Chief of Product Development at Cobuild Lab, a software development company that specializes in solving logistics and productivity problems, custom software solutions, and artificial intelligence.

 

Takeaways:

  • “The hardest part about being remote [before COVID-19] is how you communicate trust and present yourself as a serious company with clients.” ~Angel
  • Being isolated in your home trying to solve problems and get things done is challenging. Building a process-based workflow defines responsibilities and sets checkpoints to reach goals.
  • Communication and personality is paramount for building relationships with a remote company. Ask questions during the recruiting process to see which applicants will fit best in your remote company culture.
  • “When I started out I made many mistakes. I am not a natural salesperson. How I fixed this problem is by being honest and trying to be as planned as possible.”

 

Links:

 

Busted Myth:

  • Miami is more than a vacation destination. It has a thriving ecosystem with many facets including its growing tech community from Microsoft & Apple to smaller tech companies.

 

Ways to Tune In:

Growth Is More Than Numbers - Jamie Anderson - Agencies That Build #014

Growth Is More Than Numbers - Jamie Anderson - Agencies That Build #014

April 21, 2021

Jamie Anderson is the CEO at Emergent Software, an award-winning custom software development company that provides high-quality custom software development, website development & design, mobile & web application development, and more. They value employee development, small business, and client partnerships over sales.

 

Takeaways:

  • “As companies get bigger often they try to do more and more things. I think that is a good business strategy, however, I think you have to be careful not to lose what you're good at.”~Jamie
  • Saying no to a client is one of the hardest things to do as an agency. When pivoting that conversation with a client make sure your leadership is on the same page and be confident in your company direction.
  • The current global climate has driven change, especially in businesses and how they interact with or invest in technology.
  • Having a staffing-based delivery focuses on the technology conversation over how the product is delivered. This simplifies the message and makes your agency more boutique-like.
  • “The growth metric that we are looking at is consistent, controlled growth. What’s important is maintaining our culture that we developed and maintaining the quality for our clients.” ~Jamie

 

Links:

 

Busted Myth:

  • Bigger is not better. In smaller agencies and companies there is more opportunity to impact culture, to lead, to make customer impact than there is with a bigger “machine”.

 

Ways to Tune In:

Beyond The Perception of Talent - Garrett Ross - Agencies That Build #013

Beyond The Perception of Talent - Garrett Ross - Agencies That Build #013

April 14, 2021

Garrett Ross is the Co-founder of Mobelux, a leading software design & development agency that offers services including UX, Design, Development and Strategy. They design, build, and brand award‑winning mobile apps and modern web platforms.

 

Takeaways:

  • “Internal leadership should be natural and organic. The company as a whole is a living organism. How to enable people is to make them feel like they are contributing and adding value.”~Garrett
  • Knowing when to step back and allow your co-workers to have the ability to design and create without restraint fosters career and personal growth within the company.
  • Take the risk without fear of failure! You never know where a product or project will lead. Trust your gut and go for it.
  • Mobelux’s superpower: Being able to innovate and solve problems that have not hit the market before.

 

Links:

 

Busted Myth:

  • Talent is overrated. Anything can be learned. If you work hard enough and have a good work ethic you can master your craft.
  • Process is overrated. Problem solving heightens when you are thrown into an uncomfortable situation. Many tend to be afraid to fail, but you can learn to feel uncomfortable. 
  • No one can master something in a set amount of hours. Learning something new varies from person to person. 

 

Ways to Tune In:

Adopting An Experimental Mindset - Mark Rickmeier - Agencies That Build #012

Adopting An Experimental Mindset - Mark Rickmeier - Agencies That Build #012

March 31, 2021

Mark Rickmeier is the CEO of Table XI, a UX design and custom software development firm with experience in mobile apps, building integrated web applications, and custom digital experiences. They value community, strategy, and finding solutions with an experimental mindset.

 

Takeaways:

  • Adopting an experimental mindset in your agency allows your team to have the flexibility to try new things. The immediate ROI may not be linear, but you’ll know that there is energy and passion behind the project.
  • In an agency, sometimes we are stretched thin with multiple tasks on hand. Delegate separate tasks to your team to create clear accountability to improve efficiency.
  • Empower your team to explore providing different or more services over time as the market evolves or as the clients evolve.
  • Your direct competitors can provide immense value. Building a network of trusted peers enhances this model of coopertition by directly working with peers in the industry.
  • “The single most important thing to do in onboarding is proper expectation of what success looks like. This provides a clear understanding of how they will bring value to the agency.”~Mark
  • Effectively invest in and shape your work culture by building inclusivity and making it explicit that everybody’s voices matter.

 

Links:

 

Busted Myth:

  • We associate value in meetings, getting things done and all around being busy. If you find yourself constantly booking up your calendar, then start to plan a time period when you can, as an owner, really learn or think about where you want to go as an agency.

 

Ways to Tune In:

People-Driven Culture - Pete Baumgartner - Agencies That Build #011

People-Driven Culture - Pete Baumgartner - Agencies That Build #011

March 24, 2021

Pete Baumgartner is the Founder of Lincoln Loop, a full-service software development agency specializing in Python and Django development for web and mobile systems. They value transparent partnerships in order to produce straightforward solutions.

 

Takeaways:

  • Advertising yourself as a niche agency starting off is a great strategy to get your foot in the door and be successful as a new agency. Find out what you want to be known for early on.
  • Being a remote agency, it is important to have trust and autonomy with your team. This flexibility helps staff have a better work life balance and figure out their role.
  • Having a full financial transparency within the agency empowers co-workers to clearly visualize how they are affecting the bottom line.
  • Developing virtual team culture can be difficult. Start by meeting with your team in person at conferences and grow from there.
  • Pete Baumgartner’s superpower - Flexibility “We are all trying to wear a bunch of different hats. Things are going to drop and that’s okay.”

 

Links:

 

Busted Myth:

  • “You don’t need a deep connection of people or be plugged into a network to start an agency. If you are doing good work and put yourself out there, then it will grow organically.” ~Pete

 

Ways to Tune In:

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