News & Views

The difference between laying foundations and building a house

by Phil Gripton
19th November 2020
The difference between laying foundations and building a house, post image

Starting an agency is exciting, hands-on, scrappy and exhilarating. But taking that next step – from starting up to growing – can be a hard one.

This is the point in the agency lifecycle where leaders and owners still carry many of the core responsibilities – sales, operations, client services and financial management as well as planning and executing the agency vision, mission and strategy.

Often, agencies in this bracket are heavily reliant on the founders and leadership to drive all aspects of the business. As a result, those leaders struggle to balance spending time on the business with spending time in the business.

This stage of the journey – scaling and growing the value of the agency towards an end goal, – possibly sale and exit, requires a different set of skills, a new level of leadership capability and a new set of challenges to address and overcome.

At Waypoint Partners, we often observe agencies in this segment stall in their development and growth. Leaders become consumed by the day-to-day running of their agency, doubling down on the initial success of creating a viable business, establishing a client base and the core commercial and operational necessities of running the agency.

This ends up creating a short-term focus and so the ambitions for the agency become more distant. Long-term plans fall by the wayside.

This is the barrier that agency owners need to break through to realise the value from the asset they created.

But how can you break out of this rut?

Plan: Clearly articulate the vision and endpoint for the agency and leadership. Set this ambition and express it via a formalised growth plan with robust financial forecasting.

Increase revenue: Move to strategic, value-based sales to shift an agency from a ‘do for me’ commodity to a ’think for me’ strategic partner with resulting higher value and longer-term client contracts.

Improve profitability, not just income: Whilst improving revenues creates the opportunity for profit, value is realised in the bottom-line. The more profitable you are the more valuable you are and therefore a focus on managing for and engineering for profit is essential in the agency growth journey.

Review structure and model: Are there elements within the agency structure/ operating model that could hamper the growth plan? Is the client base too focussed on one large client, or too many small unprofitable ones? Have you got team members ready to step up? Are people adequately trained, or is knowledge too concentrated in key people? Examine vulnerabilities from all angles.

Seek out the right advice: There are many experts out there who have been there before you and made mistakes so that you don’t have to. These experts, advisory services etc don’t have to be expensive. Collect a range of people and organisations that can advise and support you.

As a way to solve these business challenges, the team at Waypoint Partners have launched Agency Partner, giving small and medium-sized agencies access to affordable growth expertise.

In the current business climate access to reliable support and help has never been more important. Agency Partner is a new digital advisory service that brings the 100+ years of experience of the Waypoint Partners team at a much more accessible price point for growing agencies.

Agencies that sign up and provide core information receive a free agency valuation and diagnostic report that shows where focus and improvement can be made driving up the value of your agency.

Agencies will also receive a free group advisory session with a Waypoint advisor to understand the drivers of agency value and key areas of action for business improvement and growth in their overall agency value

Participants to the programme can take advantage of the ongoing support have access to a tailored programme of insight, advice, and guidance for £990 per month.

This will include expert-led modular programme covering sales & marketing, finance and operations and creating agency value.

“Working with Waypoint to understand and focus on the metrics that really matter has helped us get underneath our financial performance and shape our growth strategy for the coming years.  We have optimised our operations function and process with Waypoint’s expert guidance improving our bottom-line profit by 800% in less than 2 years.”

Ian McIntosh Founder/ Director, Evolved Search


To find out more about Agency Partner and how you can get involved, please contact Angela Lurssen on



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