• Steve Squires

Managing agency growth - Laying tracks while the train is moving




The Covid 19 pandemic has been devastating for many businesses particularly in the creative industries, and survival has been the primary focus for many business owners - just getting through to the other side with the business still trading. While the world is not completely back to normal, things are starting to return, and if your business survived the catastrophe that was the last 18 months, then you do actually have a unique opportunity to use the experience and knowledge you gained growing your business the first time, to build back a better, stronger business post-Covid.


Most agencies start small, with a team of staff focussing on the core work of the agency, whether that be creative, production, digital, or whatever. If things go well, the product they produce is good, and the work increases, the business grows, and the team grows with it.


As the business grows, two things generally happen...


1. The amount of information increases exponentially, and the need to introduce systems to centralise this to get control of it becomes more urgent to enable better collaboration and decision making.


2. The need to create a people structure becomes important, both to reduce the decision-making demand on the management team, and also help people to understand their place in the business and their reporting line.


This is the stage that your business moves from being small to being medium-sized and is a key inflection point for most organisations - the time when you need to change the way you work to accommodate the change in scale. The diagram below from @BBES describes this really well…



With the amount of work increasing fast, it is very difficult for the founders/management team to get enough time away from the day-to-day to work "on the business" rather than "in the business". Therefore in many cases, particularly in the creative industries, the above operational improvements to the business don't happen at all, are done without adequate big-picture thinking, or in some cases too late when it is much more difficult to implement. As a result, it is very often difficult to make the changes you need and to get the management information you need in order to make informed decisions about the future of the business.


I have worked with a number of agencies in this position and helped them to implement the changes that are necessary, including systems, processes, people, and structure, and this has enabled them to keep their focus on the business while I focus on managing the necessary changes. With the forced restart caused by the pandemic, it might be just the right time to be thinking about this for your business


At The Ops Guys, we work with creative businesses at all stages and would be happy to discuss how we can help over a coffee (or a zoom call of course - we're not out of the woods yet!)