When I tell people outside the industry that I run a marketing agency, I can’t help but think they start to imagine an elaborate, Mad Men-style operation, which couldn’t be any further from the truth. Far from the sprawling secretarial pool and the creative team having wet bars in their office, The Go! Agency is a relatively modest operation.
Big companies are great for tackling big projects, but they can quickly grow too big and leave you feeling disconnected from your workforce. Have things gotten to the point where you think your business could benefit from being a little tighter? How do you go about accomplishing that?
“Tightening” does not mean that you should draw names out of a hat and start firing people. That’s actually, if you can believe it, a terrible idea because it does nothing but spawn severe anxiety in the employees you do keep who think they could clock in to find a cleared-out desk any day now. There’s actually a much better way to scale down your business without having to let anybody go: you let them walk away.
Very few people at any company are “lifers” who are going to stick around until retirement. People will naturally move on due to financial reasons, family reasons, or maybe they just want a career change. Turnover will happen, so if you’re looking to pare down you’re the company to just a tight core team, wait for people to leave, and don’t replace them. See what responsibilities you can divide between yourself and the remaining staff.
Having a small but dedicated team makes the business of running your business flow so much easier. “But aren’t you concerned that you’ll only be able to take a set number of clients?” No, because I’m confident that my team and I can create such high-quality work that the clients we do have will be willing to pay the price that I set. At a larger agency, a sizable portion of the client’s bill will be used to cover the overhead of having an office in the big city and in-office perks like a luxury game room and vending machines full of White Claws; the kind of things big agencies use to try and make up for not giving their employees good benefits. The Go! Agency isn’t the cheapest option on the market, but I can confidently tell prospective clients that they’ll get every dollar’s worth out of our work and know that our Go! Agents will be able to deliver.
Communication is key, and communication between you and your employees gets a whole lot harder when you have a sprawling company and just you in charge of it all. I’m not just talking about missing emails. In a large company, you’re the big, ominous boss who’s too busy with calls all day to talk to his employees. In a pared-down team, you can more easily incorporate yourself into the team and sniff out problems much sooner, because your employees have less anxiety about coming to talk to you.
You don’t need to have a big team to generate success. Having my own very effective, efficient, and engaged Avengers line-up has helped me both refine what The Go! Agency is as well as made me feel confident that I’m truly working with the best people.