Mistakes agencies make

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There's a Niels Bohr quote that I love: "An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field." After ten years working as a development manager at web agencies, I feel like I've made more than my fair share. My talk would take a narrative approach to mistakes that I've either made or seen other agencies make in hopes that I might save my generous attendees the trouble of making them. In particular:

* Define growth, and talk about when growth can actually destroy value
* Debunk the American business myth, "Grow or Die"
* Offer strategies for retention, and talk about why it matters so much
* Discuss sales strategies for getting good clients, doing what you love to do, and making your work repeatable
* Regale the crowd with epic tales of agency success and failure
A recording of this presentation is available from Drupalcon Portland.

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Mistakes agencies make

  1. 1. Seth Brown // @sethlbrown // Drupalcamp Colorado 2013 “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a narrow field.” — Neils Bohr MISTAKES AGENCIES MAKE Sunday, June 30, 13
  2. 2. TOP THREE REASONS TO LEAVE NOW... Sunday, June 30, 13
  3. 3. TOP THREE REASONS TO LEAVE NOW... ‣ Your agency does more than $10mm per year Sunday, June 30, 13
  4. 4. TOP THREE REASONS TO LEAVE NOW... ‣ Your agency does more than $10mm per year ‣ Looking for a more tactical discussion of project management methods Sunday, June 30, 13
  5. 5. TOP THREE REASONS TO LEAVE NOW... ‣ Your agency does more than $10mm per year ‣ Looking for a more tactical discussion of project management methods ‣ You thought this was the CHX coder lounge. Sunday, June 30, 13
  6. 6. I. RESOURCING GROWTH SALES Sunday, June 30, 13
  7. 7. “ — Garrison Keillor on English Majors WELCOME TO BURGER WORLD ---- WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY OUR TWO-POUNDER WITH A POUND OF FRIES AND A GALLON OF SODA POP? Sunday, June 30, 13
  8. 8. “ — J.K. Rowling THE BLOOD OF A UNICORN WILL KEEP YOU ALIVE, EVEN IF YOU ARE AN INCH FROM DEATH, BUT AT A TERRIBLE PRICE. Sunday, June 30, 13
  9. 9. MEET ZEKE Sunday, June 30, 13
  10. 10. 7 DEVELOPERS 48 PROJECTS 85 HOURS PER WEEK Sunday, June 30, 13
  11. 11. AVOIDING THE MISTAKES Sunday, June 30, 13
  12. 12. Sunday, June 30, 13
  13. 13. “ — Cite Sunday, June 30, 13
  14. 14. “ — Tom DeMarco, Slack THERE IS NEVER LESS THAN A 15 PERCENT PENALTY DUE TO TIME SHARING A KNOWLEDGE WORKER BETWEEN TWO OR MORE TASKS. Sunday, June 30, 13
  15. 15. “ — Tom DeMarco, Slack SLACK IS THE NATURAL ENEMY OF EFFICIENCY, AND EFFICIENCY IS THE NATURAL ENEMY OF SLACK. Sunday, June 30, 13
  16. 16. Sunday, June 30, 13
  17. 17. LESSONS LEARNED Sunday, June 30, 13
  18. 18. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Discipline sales Sunday, June 30, 13
  19. 19. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Discipline sales ‣ Human beings aren’t fungible. Sunday, June 30, 13
  20. 20. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Discipline sales ‣ Human beings aren’t fungible. ‣ Don’t over-schedule your resources Sunday, June 30, 13
  21. 21. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Discipline sales ‣ Human beings aren’t fungible. ‣ Don’t over-schedule your resources ‣ Hire talented people where you find them Sunday, June 30, 13
  22. 22. RESOURCING II. GROWTH SALES Sunday, June 30, 13
  23. 23. “ — Oscar Wilde, e Picture of Dorian Grey HOW SAD IT IS! I SHALL GROW OLD AND HORRIBLE AND DREADFUL. BUT THIS PICTURE WILL REMAIN YOUNG. IF IT WERE ONLY THE OTHER WAY. Sunday, June 30, 13
  24. 24. Sunday, June 30, 13
  25. 25. Sunday, June 30, 13
  26. 26. Sunday, June 30, 13
  27. 27. Sunday, June 30, 13
  28. 28. Sunday, June 30, 13
  29. 29. TYPICAL AGENCY GROWTH PATTERN -$500,000 $0 $500,000 $1,000,000 $1,500,000 $2,000,000 2006 2007 2008 2009 Profit Revenue Sunday, June 30, 13
  30. 30. AVOIDING THE MISTAKES Sunday, June 30, 13
  31. 31. GROW OR DIE Sunday, June 30, 13
  32. 32. “ — Edward Hess, Darden School of Business THERE IS VIRTUALLY NO SUPPORT FOR THOSE BELIEFS IN THE FIELDS OF ECONOMICS, FINANCE, ACCOUNTING, STRATEGY, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR, COMPLEXITY THEORY, OR EVEN BIOLOGY. Sunday, June 30, 13
  33. 33. “ — Edward Hess, Darden School of Business THERE IS NOT A STRONG RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GROWTH AND PROFITABILITY Sunday, June 30, 13
  34. 34. TYPICAL AGENCY GROWTH PATTERN -$1,250,000 $0 $1,250,000 $2,500,000 $3,750,000 $5,000,000 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Profit Revenue Sunday, June 30, 13
  35. 35. THE RULE OF THIRDS Sunday, June 30, 13
  36. 36. TIE REVENUE TO WORK Sunday, June 30, 13
  37. 37. HOW QUICKLY SHOULD I GROW? Sunday, June 30, 13
  38. 38. SUSTAINABLE GROWTH RATE = (PM*(1-D)*(1+L)) / (T-(PM*(1- D)*(1+L))) Sunday, June 30, 13
  39. 39. Sunday, June 30, 13
  40. 40. FOUR TYPES OF GROWTH Sunday, June 30, 13
  41. 41. FOUR TYPES OF GROWTH ‣ Improvements Sunday, June 30, 13
  42. 42. FOUR TYPES OF GROWTH ‣ Improvements ‣ Scaling Sunday, June 30, 13
  43. 43. FOUR TYPES OF GROWTH ‣ Improvements ‣ Scaling ‣ Acquisition Sunday, June 30, 13
  44. 44. FOUR TYPES OF GROWTH ‣ Improvements ‣ Scaling ‣ Acquisition ‣ Innovation Sunday, June 30, 13
  45. 45. LESSONS LEARNED Sunday, June 30, 13
  46. 46. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Growth is not inherently good and it can conceal a host of ills Sunday, June 30, 13
  47. 47. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Growth is not inherently good and it can conceal a host of ills ‣ Match revenue to work Sunday, June 30, 13
  48. 48. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Growth is not inherently good and it can conceal a host of ills ‣ Match revenue to work ‣ Maintain a 10% cash reserve for working capital Sunday, June 30, 13
  49. 49. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Growth is not inherently good and it can conceal a host of ills ‣ Match revenue to work ‣ Maintain a 10% cash reserve for working capital ‣ Have a growth strategy Sunday, June 30, 13
  50. 50. GROWTH RESOURCING III. SALES Sunday, June 30, 13
  51. 51. “ — Herman Melville , Moby Dick TALK NOT TO ME OF BLASPHEMY, MAN; I'D STRIKE THE SUN IF IT INSULTED ME. FOR COULD THE SUN DO THAT, THEN COULD I DO THE OTHER... Sunday, June 30, 13
  52. 52. CONCENTRATION RISK Sunday, June 30, 13
  53. 53. ANAGNORISIS at sinking realization that you may not have fully accounted for all the risks. Sunday, June 30, 13
  54. 54. LESSONS LEARNED ‣ Diversify, diversify, diversify ‣ Consciously assume risk ‣ Allow for healthy dissent Sunday, June 30, 13
  55. 55. “ — Albert Einstein WE CAN'T SOLVE PROBLEMS BY USING THE SAME KIND OF THINKING WE USED WHEN WE CREATED THEM. Sunday, June 30, 13

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