When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Digital Agency?

When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Digital Agency?

Update: 2020-12-21
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Does owning your agency give you a sense of significance? Do you ever wonder or worry about what an acquisition might feel like? Will you know when it's the right time to sell your agency? The marketing agency industry is always evolving. Selling your digital agency doesn't mean your journey is over; it might just be another step in a longer journey.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Leveraging your strengths in an agency acquisition.
  • Are you learning and growing with your agency?
  • One major key to working with contractors.

I talked to Adam Weil, Partner and Creative Director for White Rabbit Group, based out of Seattle. Adam started his own agency several years ago. He eventually sold it to White Rabbit. Adam is here to discuss the communication and mindset necessary to deal with dramatic changes that often occur by having your agency acquired, obtaining a new partner, or deciding when to outsource work to a third party.

Leveraging Your Strengths When You Sell Your Agency

Adam started an agency focused on designing websites and mobile sites for clients. It was very much an opportunity he grew into, as he journeyed from simply wanting to own his own online business to knocking on the doors of potential clients and learning new ways to connect with them. Over the course of several years, he surrounded himself with people who were smarter in various aspects of the business than he was and learning as much as he can about the industry.

When it came time for Adam's agency to be acquired by White Rabbit, a development agency that was servicing a number of creative agencies and bringing their designs to life, he brought those years of experience and learning to the table. "One important lesson I learned is that you really have to play to your strengths," he said. He realized what he is good at and likes to do was intersecting with the opportunity to grow something much bigger than himself.

Adam knew the acquisition was the right opportunity for growth because it would take the agency he started to the next level. As he began to deal with the emotional aspect of no longer having his own agency, Adam avoided letting those emotions derail the deal. Rather than looking at his agency's acquisition as the end, "I just kept thinking about future opportunities," he says. "I viewed it as the next step in my career."

Are You Learning and Growing With Your Agency?

One crucial piece of agency growth is liking what you do. If you enjoy the work, you will look for ways to improve your skills and continually improve your service offerings. Liking what you do offers a second benefit, as well: The ability to learn from those around you.

"Agencies are unique because they are such good vessels of growth. You get to try so many new things, and you will never know it all. You have to connect with people who are way ahead of you and smarter than you," Adam says. "There is so much competition and such an opportunity of growth that you have to stay on the cutting edge."

One Major Key to Working With Contractors

Even if you aren't planning a merger or acquisition, the marketing agency industry is one that never stops evolving. While this evolution is the key to future opportunities, it is also the catalyst that requires many agencies to outsource work. Working with contractors is also a step forward in the progression of an agency, Adam explains, and one that should be entered just as cautiously.

Check at least three references for any contractors you are considering working with, and also check their work. "Don't just take their word for it," Adam warns. "Make sure you actually look at their portfolio and make sure it's pixel perfect." He stresses it is also important to be sure the contractor you're considering is strong in the area of communication and they have the tools necessary to do the work.

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When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Digital Agency?

When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Digital Agency?

Jason Swenk: Marketing Business Strategist, Agency Consultant and Advisor