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Where next for your agency? Maximising opportunities

By Jo Petroccia     

However your business fared in lockdown, you have options

The lockdown has affected small to medium sized business in many ways. For many, it’s been traumatic. Others have managed to tread water and keep revenues stable, but at a cost. We know of some who have managed to thrive on the opportunities our changing way of life has presented.

It was against this backdrop that we hosted the second of our Back in Business webinars for owners, founders, CEOs and MDs of creative comms SMEs on 16 July.

Where next for your agency? Maximising opportunities was presented by Paul Allen, founder of agency growth consultancy, Red Dots. Over a stimulating 90 minutes, Paul talked the audience through an array of options for growing an SME agency and fielded questions put to the webinar’s moderator, Zoe Edwards of The Industry Club.

Paul summarised the two main routes to growth as organic, which builds on a company’s own capabilities and resources, and inorganic, which draws on external resources to grow a business.

Paul then went on to unpack the options within these two routes by way of SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) charts for each of them:

Organic

· status quo – business as usual

· generalist – all things to all clients

· specialist – multiple specialist teams rather than a single specialism

· new services – data analytics? crisis management?

· new markets (including new geographies) – eg USA, Germany

· new services and new markets – eg content production in Berlin

Paul looked at some of the ways to invest in organic growth, such as;

· creating a new startup/subsidiary which you finance and have control over

· acqui-hiring, in which you acquire a readymade team

· majority, such as buying 51% or more of a suitable business

Inorganic

· unrelated diversification – eg launch a coffee brand, open a brewery

· partial sale – assumes selling a controlling stake of over 50%

· new services – data analytics? Crisis management?

· new markets – eg USA, Germany

· new services and new markets – eg content production in Berlin

· strategic partnership, a commercial agreement between two companies that don’t compete

· joint venture, where two, possibly competing businesses, pool resources to create a new organisation

For agencies exploring inorganic growth options, Paul set out the pros and cons of some of the potential sources of funding, which include:

· current cash and future trading

· new issue of shares

· bank debt

· private equity / growth capital

Ultimately, how you plot your business strategy for the months and years ahead will depend on several factors. What you want to achieve (growth? consolidation? exit?), where you see the best opportunity (organic vs inorganic), how quickly you want to get there and your appetite for risk will all play a part in the decisions that are best for you.

This webinar will help you decide what plan will work best for you. We recorded it, so if you weren’t able to join us on the day, you can catch it in full here.

It’s well worth a watch.