This is a #blindpost recommendation from my friend, Vlad, based on this Linkedin post. I’ve done one similar to this before, but its always an interesting exercise to think about the past and reflect on what you might have done differently.
10 things I wish I knew 10 years ago
10 years ago (2004) I was 28 years old and my company, Spunlogic, was just starting to really grow. We had finally hit $1 million in revenue and would double our revenue every year after until we would eventually sell in March of 2008.
1. Focus harder on profitability. While we did everything to stay alive the first five or so years of the business (i.e. exhausting credit cards), once we started to have real growth we just kept focusing on, well, growth. It wasn’t until several years later that we actually started focusing on profitability as well. And while everything worked out, given that our valuation was based on profit margins it would have been smart to focus on profitability sooner.
2. Master the “slow to hire, quick to fire” philosophy. When we started to hit our growth curve in 2008 we were still fairly immature managers. If there was ever a time to really embrace “slow to hire” (take your time to pick the right people) and “quick to fire” (when someone isn’t a good fit, don’t wait months to make a decision on removing them) we would have been much better off.
3. Build deeper (and higher) relationships with clients. Once we had a client relationship, we busted our butts to over-deliver for them. We had an extremely high retention rate with existing people/divisions within a company. However, we weren’t great at moving around the organization to grow our business, nor was I focused on moving up within the organization until I reached the CMO.
4. Build more sustainable revenue. In 2004 we were largely project-based which is typical of smaller digital agencies. It wasn’t until later we realized the importance of having retainer relationships that afforded predictability in revenue and long-term sustainability of the business.
5. Get to know the competition. Right now I know the CEOs of every major digital agency in town. I wish I had done that ten years ago. It can be very helpful to build relationships with your competitors and I didn’t learn that lesson until much later in my career.
6. Build a new business engine. While we doubled for four straight years (2004 – 2008), it would have been nice to create a rigorous new business engine, the way we did at the end of Engauge. I wish something like AgencySparks had been around back then!
7. Bring on excellent account leaders / client success managers. Other than doing great work, there’s nothing better for organic client growth than having leaders focused on nothing but growing client business.
8. Ask for business. One of the things I wasn’t great at back then was, once I built a relationship with someone, asking them for business. I was good at making relationships but I wasn’t good at straight out asking them for an opportunity for work. Crazy.
9. Start blogging. I actually started this blog in December of 2008 but I wish I had started sooner and focused on it more.
10. Get more involved in giving back. It was around this time when I started joining a few boards in town but I was doing that to help my business career (networking) vs. actually giving back in some way. I didn’t really start focusing on that until my Leadership Atlanta experience. I wish I had started Advice For Good and MATCH 10 years ago!
~ if you liked this blindpost, here are more you can check out. And a handful of my friends will suggest blindposts for me to write from time to time, please feel free to do that too!