Agencies That Build
Finding Insights amid Information Overload - Ross Patrick - Agencies That Build #025

Finding Insights amid Information Overload - Ross Patrick - Agencies That Build #025

August 23, 2021

Ross Patrick is the Creative Director and Founder of XtraBold Agency. XtraBold is a digital marketing and strategy agency that helps brands create exceptional customer experiences, from branding and packaging to digital moments that connect with people on an emotional level.

Takeaways

  • Cultural references and knowledge are probably more important than book smarts to do the right thing for the client.
  • To make things work, you just have to be willing to trust and to take the failure which is a part of the process.
  • You need to be willing to be flexible and change, do your jobs differently, trust your instincts, your experience, and your willingness to take chances. And maybe fail a little bit, that's what's gonna get you through this.
  • Make sure you're clear, and that the team is transparent; transparent about who, what, where, when, and how.

Links:

 

Busted Myths:

  • You have to be an expert to do things that you want to do.
Fostering a Design Culture - Agencies That Build #24

Fostering a Design Culture - Agencies That Build #24

August 12, 2021

Anthony Armendariz is the Partner, Head of Design at Funsize. Funsize is a digital service and product design agency that works with inspiring design and engineering teams to uncover opportunities, evolve popular products, bring new businesses to market, and prepare for the future.

 

Takeaways

  • Enterprise design work is more about understanding people and maturity levels and way less about the actual design work.
  • “A good client is one with whom you can work for three years or more, with several workstreams in each account and sustain that.” - Anthony
  • Protecting what you consider is vital, such as cultural management decisions, which are made to ensure that the company's workforce number remains constant rather than to make money.
  • It's beneficial for designers working in agencies to have the experience of knowing what it's like to work at their clients' companies.

 

Links:

 

 

Busted Myths:

  • Investing in junior designers is too demanding, difficult, or risky.
Discipline: Key to Agency Growth - Jeremy Durant - Agencies That Build #023

Discipline: Key to Agency Growth - Jeremy Durant - Agencies That Build #023

July 23, 2021

Jeremy Durant is the Business Principal at Bop Design, a marketing communications agency dedicated to assisting companies and organizations in developing their brand through effective design and integrated marketing systems.

Takeaways

  • In terms of development, cost, and quality, working with outsourced companies is beneficial. It's as simple as taking those cost savings and passing them along to your customer.
  • It is simpler to retain employees when you are not overly aggressive in terms of growth; it is preferable to keep things moderate, steady, and disciplined.
  • “There's a perception. If you have an office, that means you're more established.” - Jeremy
  • When you’re starting out as an agency it's crucial to concentrate on variable costs as much as possible.
  • From a growth perspective, an average of 150,000 to 200,000 in revenue per employee is a good starting point for a web design agency.
  • While working with an outsourced or an offshore company, any task or skill that you're outsourcing requires you to have employees on your team that have the same skills.

Links:

  • LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremydurant/
  • Bop Design - https://www.linkedin.com/company/bop-design/

 

 Busted Myths:

  • Entering a saturated market is bad news, especially when you're coming from a different background.

 

Rethinking the American Dream - Nancy Lyons- Agencies That Build #022

Rethinking the American Dream - Nancy Lyons- Agencies That Build #022

June 29, 2021

Nancy Lyons is the Co-founder and CEO of Clockwork, a Minneapolis-based design and development agency of thinkers and doers. They transform businesses by uniting people, processes, and technology around business solutions. 

 

 

Takeaways

  • Starting as an agency at present, data is your best friend. With Market analysis and research, you can accurately determine your strengths by figuring out where you fit? Who you are talking to and what do they want?
  • Be mindful of your strategy and revisit it in a timely manner. Regular conversations about strategy will help you formulate a roadmap to follow.
  • “I often tell people that sometimes we're limited by the limitations of our prospects or our clients' understandings, because they call us when they need what they think we do.” - Nancy
  • “When you're able to clearly articulate absolutely what you do, and the value that your prospects can expect from that absolute thing. I think it makes it much easier to drive interest in your brand and your offering.” - Nancy
  • When you’re building a business plan start by figuring out what is it that you’re trying to accomplish? What do you want? What is your business focus? How do you expect to scale?

 

Links:

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

Clockwork - https://www.clockwork.com/

Nancy - https://www.nancylyons.com/

 

Busted Myths:

  • The American dream that hard work and perseverance are a sure-shot way of making it big in the country and it’s never about the privileges. 

 

UX in a Remote Culture - Erin Young - Agencies That Build #021

UX in a Remote Culture - Erin Young - Agencies That Build #021

June 21, 2021

Erin Young is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Slide UX, a family-run business that specializes in UX. They help clients establish great user experiences, utilizing the best UX design practices that include integrated business strategy, user research, UI design, and cross-functional collaboration. They’ve been named one of the best UX agencies five years in a row. 

Takeaways

  • The real value of UX research is understood through opportunity cost. Try asking “What would it cost if you got on the wrong foot with wrong assumptions?” User Research might help you choose the right options from the get-go.
  • Competitive research can provide deep insights but it's not user research.
  • Now that the companies are recognizing that digital is imperative and carries more weight than ever before, it has changed the way they are distributing their budget.
  • "Every company reaches that point where they have to delegate, or they have to divide decision-making to make all of the decisions they have to make" - Erin
  • To facilitate the free flow of communication and humanize remote culture, organize weekly meetings as a senior leadership team, prepare an agenda ahead of time with space for comments, and most importantly take notes. 

Links:

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

Slide UX - https://slideux.com/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/slideux?lang=en

Busted Myths:

  •  You can save time by skipping user research.
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:

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