The notion to write about this comes from the fact that there’s been more merger/acquisition (M/A) activity in this field recently than I’ve ever seen in any six-month period. What’s especially notable is that it’s occurring in a difficult economic climate.
For background, over the last 15+ years I’ve been the lead advisor on nearly 150 transactions, crafting 700+ valuations in the process. (If you’d like to use the valuation formula in your buy/sell agreement, you are welcome to do so for free.)Read More
You really have no business starting a business and not making good money, eventually. Money itself is just a tool, for good or bad, but when you start a business you’re declaring your intent to be profitable (after paying yourself a fair wage). Hopefully you’ll make money in an ethical manner, fully understanding the power (for good) that it can have.Read More
What will the next couple of years look like at your firm? Before answering that question, let me list my assumptions: that you are competent, that you are not working in one of the very few areas that is not doing well, and that you have entrepreneur’s disease.
If you’ve had your head down just getting things done, you may not have realized how well advertising, design, public relations, and interactive firms are doing these days. With very few exceptions, principals are finally getting back to the point where they can be pickier about what clients they work for.Read More
How do you keep key departing employees from hurting your business relationships? You could ask them to sign an agreement restricting their ability to compete for a specified period of time after they are terminated. These may be called Restrictive Covenants or Non-Compete Agreements.
There are two basic kinds of restrictive covenants. The traditional “non-compete” prohibits the employee from competing against the company in the same business in a certain geographic area for a specific period of time. The more limited “non-soliciting” or “non-servicing” covenant allows an employee to keep working in the same business, but prohibits the employee from soliciting business from or rendering services to the company’s clients for a specified period of time.Read More
Are you modelling your activities after the public companies in the news all the time? You might double check those business assumptions occasionally to be sure they are leading you in the right direction. We need to filter the steady messages that inform our actions to discard those that will take us in directions contrary to our own goals.
One example is the distinction between how publicly traded companies are run and how your privately held firm should be run. Not recognizing those differences can create heartache and confusion. Here are four assumptions you might want to avoid when emulating publicly traded companies.Read More
There’s a problem with the annual performance review, and the best evidence of that is the fact that you dread doing them or just keep avoiding them entirely. Let me propose a much simpler approach—hundreds of my clients are doing this now and would never go back to the traditional method.
Performance reviews are necessary. They’re a critical step in the process of building and maintaining a team. They don’t work on their own, though, so you might do better if you consider them as the fifth step in a five-part process of management.Read More
There’s no end to the financial advice available about what to do in a downturn (including our own podcast), so I’d like to focus on the priorities that principals and managers should follow as they lead the agency. If that doesn’t describe you, perhaps you could pass this along to someone who might benefit from it.
Without a single exception, there are five priorities for where the principal focuses. But it’s not just the list that’s important—the sequence is also in a very specific order. You make sure you’re doing the first one, and if that’s all you have time to do, then so be it. But if you are doing the first one well, you can and should advance to the second priority. And so on, until there is no more time or energy left.Read More
Pro bono publico is a latin phrase that refers to the application of your professional expertise to some “public good” as a service rendered, without pay. It’s long been a part of the creative services industry, but it’s not typically managed well in three particular aspects.Read More
Marketing consistently is the most important thing you can do for your firm. Marketing is not primarily about the quantity, but rather the quality of business you have. In fact, marketing often doesn’t happen because principals don’t understand that well. They are busy and think that marketing will just make it worse (i.e., busier). But marketing is about becoming less busy and making more money. It’s about options.
Over the years we’ve gathered a list of the reasons why marketing should always be happening. Here are a few:Read More
Growing pains (defined as increasing the net employee count) seem to have common themes in the small marketing firms we work with. The average firm grows at 30% a year. Real, internal growth (vs. growth through merger or acquisition) is more manageable at something less than that average, since as humans we cannot seem to adapt that quickly. (This average growth statistic may explain the unusually high failures in the same industry.)Read More