The client, an Essex-based marketing and design agency celebrated 10 years in January 2016, working predominantly with B2B and B2C clients across East-Anglia in a range of sectors. Prior to that he had founded and run a leading Essex and London-based marketing agency before its sale in 2005.
How do we classify a successfully business? Following a significant change in this marketing company with the exit of a founding partner, the company director was coasting along in what was a profitable, busy enterprise with a healthy long-term client stock. This may sound like a good scenario, but after talking to Stuart at a business event, the client realised he was actually far from satisfied, and wanted to gain direction and release the potential the business had to grow and evolve.
“I needed a kick”
“Looking back, I was in stagnation,” says the client. “I wanted to grow my business, and I knew what potential was there, but it had become a bit too comfortable and I was afraid of change. I was very dismissive of business coaches, but the more I spoke to Stuart, I could see he was completely different and challenged my perception. His background in running a multi-million pound operation in one of the toughest industries along with his forthright approach to business really impressed me and I signed up to his Growth Accelerator programme.”
As part of Stuart’s Growth Accelerator programme, early sessions were spent exploring the business in detail; its strengths and weaknesses, turnover, disciplines, market sectors, types of clients, and, most importantly, what it had the potential to be.
Facing the fear
“At that stage, I was very confused about how I wanted to or could grow the business,” admits the client. “There was an element of fear involved in making changes and stepping out of my comfort zone. I had lived and worked through two recessions and had a very comfortable business with long-term clients who we are still working with. When I had the previous agency, it grew in four years to a £2.5 million turnover, but with a high risk adrenalin fueled agenda, which didn’t sit well with my current family life and situation. Although, exciting and very much a seat of your pants business model, I was looking for a more sustainable solution to my current business and didn’t want to recreate the same beast. I also wanted to create a more progressive agency able to give advice, rather than being a typical reactive entity.”
With two teenage daughters, the client was determined not to sacrifice family life for the sake of growing the business, something that Stuart defines in his programmes; to establish processes that enable good work/life balance.
“Looking at my values was really insightful,” explains the client. “One of the things Stuart has done is to make us see the true value in what we do, and that we were doing far too much for far too little. When we started growing again we thought it was about keen pricing and it wasn't - it was about how good we are. One of the things I've learned is that the market demands good prices but it also demands great quality so I’m much more confident talking to customers about money. What Stuart has taught me is that there is no point in working for silly money and, more importantly, that most customers don’t expect us to. There is a balance to be had between cost and quality, and we provided the latter very successfully, but the cost wasn’t reflective in the high quality of work and time we gave.”
The Eureka moment
“When I stated working in the industry 30 years ago, only larger business upwards did marketing, it was a big brand arena, but now everyone wants to invest in some sort of marketing but it’s much more complex to deliver in the digital age. Working with Stuart made me realise exactly what the market demands from us as a company and to be able to focus on what our clients really need opposed to what they think they want, which sometimes means for businesses dipping in and out of marketing with no tangible results or plan of action. I introduced full marketing packages to work in tandem with sales and sales teams for customers based on what I know they needed to succeed. Identifying customers that value what we do and are ready to commit to a long-term working partnership has been key to our sustainable growth.
The fact that we have doubled our residual turnover means I know how much we are going to turn over every month so I can confidently develop the business, sustain and continually improve our service, and not have cash flow concerns, recognising the key performance indicators that enable us to build sustainable growth. All this happened within five months of working with Stuart. We were floundering, without direction previously, so I can honestly say and prove his Growth Accelerator programme really does do what it says on the tin. ”
- Residual income (retained work) has doubled
- Improved profitability and cash flow
- Improved processes
- Ad-hoc contract work improved by 50%
- Move to new, larger offices and increased staff numbers
- Substantial growth with no change to working hours
- A focused direction for the business, which was severely lacking