Specifically the question was, “What are the pitfalls you’ve seen or learned over time that you want to make sure your agency doesn’t fall into.” It’s a great question, so here are my thoughts on things I’ve learned from both my days at Spunlogic as well as being a partner in X3 Sports.
Pitfall 1: Skipping steps during the hiring process
It is easy to rush the hiring process because you are filling an urgent need for a project. But too many times I’ve seen this lead to ignoring signs where someone isn’t a culture fit and it has major consequences. I will do my best to follow strict guidelines for who we hire in order to stay true to our vision, mission and values. I will also have an “always looking” mentality to keep good talent in the pipeline. Great people is ultimately how we will grow Sandbox to be the most sought after agency on the planet.
Pitfall 2:Becoming bloated
Agencies tend to add layers and layers of “managers” creating too many decision makers and too many egos. This leads to a slow process, internal conflicts and people focused on climbing the ladder instead of producing great work. For an agency to thrive in the future economy it has to be nimble and be able to scale as marketing and technology continue to evolve.
Pitfall 3: Forgetting about who we work for
I’ve seen it happen. The focus shifts from doing great work to just “getting work done’. We work for two people: The client and their customer. We may keep a client from getting upset by simply getting projects done, but that is motivation by fear. This leads to short-term client relationships and churning through burned out employees. I want the fabric of who we are as an agency to be delivering great results. I want our work to be so good that people on the street say, “wow you guys built that? I love using it and I love that brand”.
Pitfall 4: Slowing down on growth
I’ve seen it happen and have been advised by several people to make sure I’m working on the business and not just in the business. This doesn’t mean haphazardly selling projects without concern for the quality. It means structuring ourselves in a way that we can produce awesome work and I can stay proactive.
Pitfall 5: Ignoring a work/life balance
The quickest way to burn people out is to load them up with so many projects that they eventually crack. I have to find the right balance between keeping a low client/staff ratio and not having high payroll expenses. But I believe that being the best place to work in Atlanta will enable us to attract and keep A+ talent longer, thus reducing costs in the long run.
I’m sure there are more, but these were the first ones I thought of. What else? Anyone have pitfalls I should be on the look out for?