Looking to dilute my share holdings to find the right people so I can scale the SH*** out of my agency…. How do I find them?

Ok here’s the deal. I started a digital agency 6 years ago with a chap I worked with at an IT company. 7 months ago, I sold my shares to him because I felt we weren’t delivering the quality of work / working with clients that I aligned with – I didn’t get a restraint of trade because digital is my craft. We had a team of 7 and built it to the point where we had solid cash flow and a core group of clients, but it just wasn’t my jam.

I’m passionate about digital commerce + cutting edge stuff, he liked small businesses – so there was a huge disconnect in where we were passionate / where we could build value.

Over the past 6 months I have built another agency that focuses on 80% digital commerce – its going swimmingly to be honest. Turnover of 35k a month on average with this looking to increase from here. The profits margins are insanely high because a lot of the work is done by me. I specialise in the digital side of things – PPC, SEO and high level strategy – mainly digital performance based stuff.

I am technical enough to manage dev ops and can use XD to the point where I can mock up wireframes and hand then over to UI guys to make them look pretty.

I have a team of devs I use (that i have used for 3-4 years) and they are “ok”, a lot of managing and a lot of bug testing – the end product always turns out good though because they do what you ask, but just dont have the X factor when it comes to development (most outsourced dev outfits are like this IMO).

I have a few contract UI guys and although the work they do is good, its still missing that 20% that takes an ok design to an amazing design. This is generally due to the disconnect between the designers and devs. Some of the best projects I have worked on is when they communicate directly and can have open and honest convos about what animation, where, how it should behave in screen X vs screen Y – all of those final touches that make a web presence amazing.

My plan is to run my current setup like it is now to the end of the year and make a decent buck at the end of the year. In the new year – I want to take it and scale it. I strongly believe that by the end of 2021 we could easily hit the 2m mark (have done it before but with a completely different set of clientele), with a set of large retail / ecommerce brands as our core clientele….. These higher end clients always appeal to me because:

A) Larger paid budgets so the retainers are generally a lot juicer + it allows search guys to actually drill down and fine tune their craft – not work on 100+ smaller accounts that are, well, shit and boring.

B) More technical requirements for web – more complex website = more hours = bigger projects. Once again, more room for devs and designers to properly get their teeth sunk in to projects to produce industry leading platforms. Not a lot you really do for a client that has a 5k budget apart from banging up something that “works”, but is by no means “wow”

C) Way more recognition and the potential to start hitting exponential growth once you have landed a few whales are huge (there is an agency where I live that have done just this and now look after some MASSIVE brands world wide)

To do the above, I really need people who are some of the best / motivated in their field. I have worked with lots of devs who are ‘ok’, lots of designers who are ‘ok’, but the majority of contractors that you pay $ 30-$ 40 an hour to are there for the pay check and I have found aren’t able to properly take full responsibility for an outcome (I realise this could just be a bias).

Now, this isn’t a “a want the whales to come to me” post. I actually work on some worldwide brands that pay very hefty retainers. This is on the search and organic side, and I am gearing up to roll out a new web solution to them. But, before I do that, I want the right people on board.

After many hours thinking, weighing up options and and generally banging my head trying to get out of this paradox, I have finally realised that the only option to create beautiful things, is to dilute my share holding and find people who have the potential to be the best in their field – and give them a piece of the pie.

For instance, development is a whole other world and so much time is burned going back and forth between my dev team….

So I need a CTO / Technical lead that can:

A) Do the dev work at the start B) Come up with a workflow and choose scaleable frameworks that fit with what we want to do C) Help find other devs, induct them in to the fold of the way OUR dev ops works.

I will also need a creative director that can:

A) Do the UX/UI work at the start B) Come up with a design framework C) Find other designers who fit well with the way we flow.

I’m writing this because I literally do not know where to start with finding these guys. I believe it’ll take some time to find those that have the technical acumen but are also willing to grow this to something amazing AND can communicate within a team (once again, yet to find a dev that can communicate properly – once again, could be a bias and I could just be working with the wrong types of devs).

Reddit, any thoughts on how I can do this….

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Resolve Physician Agency Acquires Resolve.com via Sedo

 JamesNames.com: Last week, a couple of investors noticed that the domain Resolve.com moved from its longstanding ownership at financial technologies company D+H Ltd into a Sedo holding account. Jamie Zoch of DotWeekly tweeted the news: Premium generic domain name Resolve․com moves into escrow at Sedo according to whois records. The domain has long b…
Domaining.com

Tech agency need to exit contract with problem client

Hi all – wondering if you all can act as a sounding board for me on a contract issue with a customer.

I run a tech agency and have a client I want to terminate. There is a one month contract of which roughly half of the work was performed. The client paid 5k up front and delivery would result in a second and final payment of an additional 5k.

The reason for the desire to terminate is simply because I can see the client is becoming a real pain to work with, looking to wrangle the maximum amount of work out of the relationship even if it’s beyond the scope of the contract or within interpretation but clearly beyond the spirit of the contract, and finding ways to show how we are not doing the job well in an effort to manipulate us even though the work quality so far is absolutely great. classic dream client!

I would rather accept a loss and move on rather than spend what would likely turn into an additional 3-4 weeks of work listening to how we are not doing enough even though we are doing quite a bit more than the spirit of the contract already. I am aware of the legal side such as breach of contract.

My question is on the negotiation side of exiting immediately. I was thinking to state something like:

Option A: transfer of all assets immediately including extras like install documentation etc. both parties agree no further payment will be made.

Option B: return the $ 5k and I do not transfer the work.

I don’t see the individual being able to claim any damages as this is a startup with a first time build and they don’t have any business yet. Would not put it beyond this individual however to come up with something. Ideally would like to be stern but fair.

Thoughts? How would you handle?

Thanks a lot all. Appreciate your response in advance.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Government Agency is interested in my creative content!

I recently started a podcast about the future of work. The reason for starting a podcast is to develop personal branding. Its been only 3 episodes and my boss liked my idea of a podcast, and he has offered me a better outreach if I do it as a PR for the job I do. The only condition he has put forward is that it should have an element of climate in every episode. I have the freedom to choose, how I can bring that in. I am confused if I should take up the offer and would like suggestions from the community.

Listing down the pros and cons that I have already mapped for the offer:

Pros:

  1. I work with a government agency, so outreach will be high. It will include top management as well as professionals. I am estimating, a monthly reach of at least 10-20k people in the field. Organically, I can reach 1-3k people and would take a long time to reach these many people.
  2. The work will be included in my work time, so basically I am getting paid for what I started as a side gig.

Cons:

  1. Being a government agency, and my contract states that all the work I do is the property of the government. So I lose the copyright to the content. Is it possible to renegotiate this? I do not mind joint ownership so that I can use the content for my own purpose in the future.
  2. The content can't be controversial and I fear that the content and the kind of interviews I do will change, to cater to the work. This might lead to me losing interest in development of podcast in future.

General comments:

  1. I have hosted it on anchor.fm and I planned to monetise it in the future. Who now gets the sponsorships?
  2. Chances of getting into legal cases get higher as the content is being spread through a government agency.
  3. I am only on contract for the next 5 months. What happens post that? I am not sure if my contract will be extended or if I find any other good opportunity, I can shift to another agency/organisation.
  4. As the content will be spread through government channels, can I still increase my personal branding? How to integrate my website or LinkedIn page for future work engagements.

Let me know if I am missing out on any points or your suggestions for the choice I can make.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

I just started a custom web development agency. I’m lucky enough to have a couple clients already. Though I want to expand. What should I be prepared for?

I'm in the process of hiring some freelancers so I can keep up with the workload. I know that at the very least, I'd need to hire more devs to handle the workload. What else should I be aware of, what else should I be prepared for? I have a lawyer to help with the legalities. Though I've never done anything like this before. Can anyone help? Thanks in advance.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Advice needed on an agency business model

TLDR; My side business is growing, decided to quit my job, increase expenses by getting an office and new hires, COVID came, all my clients dropped out, and I'm left struggling and jobless.

I'm currently running a software agency working on web and mobile projects. I have been doing this for the past 2 years, while still maintaining a full-time job as a software engineer. My business was doing good, and at the beginning of this year (2020) I decided to really go full-time into growing the business.

Here's what prompted me to make the jump to quit my job and go full-time:

  • November 2019: I just signed a contract with a client worth $ 23k+ for a 4 months project with payments split throughout a duration of 6 months.
  • January 2020: 2 leads to developing a mobile app and a web site, worth almost $ 14k in total.

From the looks of things, it looks like I'll have enough cash flow to run the business for 2 years. So I've decided to hire 2 of my friends to join me full-time, and I also just rented an office (I was working out of my own apartment at that time) and really push this business to the next level.

…And then COVID happened.

The client that I signed a contract for $ 23k+? They only managed to pay us half the total amount due to cash flow concerns. We're now left with an incomplete product and half the payment. The leads that I got to build mobile apps worth $ 14k? It went to 0 as the clients decided to not invest in anything risky for now.

And now my estimated 2 years of cashflow just went down to 6 months… and not to mention I also lost my job.

Since then, I've written and submitted 6 proposals (no replies), and only manage to secure a deal to develop an eCommerce website for a client for free (also include providing digital marketing and launch strategy), and then charge based on a tiny percentage of profit generated from the online store (this could be huge, but it could also go nowhere).

So here's what I'm learning/doing about this situation:

  1. Tried Google ads, and found out that it's very competitive in this space (software development agency).
  2. Anything can change instantly with no warning. If you're on your way up, a down is coming, and vice versa.
  3. The agency business model is the easiest to be profitable on day 1, but its incredibly difficult to operate in the long run. Finding new clients, dealing with clients, and to always be on that cycle can be tiring.
  4. I've been looking at content creation as a form of marketing, writing Medium articles, creating a blog site, setting up Google My Business, Instagram, etc. Medium is currently bringing decent traffic to my website, but the bounce rate is extremely high. I've used HotJar to track visitors and realize most of them didn't even bother reading the website.

Here's what I need help with:

  1. I love building products, and I love working out strategies, and recently I'm finding myself doing a lot of proposal writing, and selling. To the other people running an agency based business, how do you balance between the sales and marketing, content creation, and the actual design and development work?
  2. What other strategies should I use to get more clients?
  3. I'm based in Malaysia, and the goal has always been to break through the geographical boundary and be able to work with a global set of clients. I believe we're able to offer a more competitive rate solely based on our lower operating costs. How can I do that?

The point of this post is not to complain about my situation, but rather to get advice and insights into what could be done better.

I'm having so much self-doubt right now, and I'm feeling as if quitting my job is a bad idea… Do I just like the idea of being my own boss without having the capability to actually be one? Should I have stayed solo instead of getting an office and new hires? Should I just quit and get back to a normal job?

Any advice will be well appreciated.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Hiring a web/software agency for my web/software agency. What do I need to do legally?

What do I need to do to legally get everything in order? I have some clients, and found a great dev team. But I've never hired anyone before (and I can't do all the work myself; that's why I'm hiring them). What do I need to do? They're based here in the U.S.

I've registered my software firm as an LLC. No clue what else to do. I'll be interviewing them once I have an idea of what I need to do legally.

Can anyone help? Thanks in advance.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

FTBAgency.com : Freedom to Breathe Agency site down after fake “mask exempt” cards exposé

 DomainGang.com: The domain FTBAgency.com was registered on June 12, 2020 and it hosted content about how face masks are supposedly harmful to one’s health, and a violation of people’s rights. The so-called “Freedom to Breathe Agency” project shared a fake card claiming to give its bearer rights to not wear a mask when visitin…
Domaining.com

Advice for doing software development work as an agency rather than an individual

So, I've been freelancing for 6 years as an individual. I've just created a web and software development agency and I want to do work as the agency. I'm in the process of incorporating as an LLC (single member). I intend to hire 1099 freelancers.

I have no clue how to go about this. Taxes, invoices, business bank accounts, Can anyone help? Thanks in advance.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Candidate Labs wants to be a modern talent agency for techies

In the first few minutes of pitching his new company, Candidate Labs, Jonathan Downey admitted that he’s operating in a market that is “done to death”: recruitment technology. But Downey, whose previous startup Airware shut down after burning $ 118 million, remains optimistic because of a little company named Zoom.

“There were lots and lots of videoconferencing companies and yet everybody’s experience was really bad,” he said. “It just took [Zoom] coming along and getting just a few more things right that totally transformed” videoconferencing.

Zoom lesson in mind, Candidate Labs launched today as a modern talent agency, after operating in stealth for the past seven months. The company also announced today that it has raised $ 5 million in seed funding. Investors in the round include SignalFire, Leah Solivan of Fuel Capital, BoxGroup, Lattice CEO Jack Altman and the founders of Opendoor, Eric Wu and Ian Wong.

Candidate Labs connects a data platform with 100 million professionals to its database of 60,000 jobs. Then it creates short lists of talent recommendations that clients can then screen and interview.

Jonathan Downey, CEO and co-founder of Candidate Labs (Image Credits: Candidate Labs)

Its competitive edge is not in its access to data, but rather the technology it lays atop it. Downey said that Candidate Labs uses “human in the loop” machine learning, similar to Stitch Fix, which combines data and human judgement to better recommend style guides.

Candidate Labs leverages a big data set to get a product that is quality, not quantity. Using machine learning, Candidate Labs might extract a 25-person candidate list to help companies fill a singular role. Then a seasoned recruiter will look over the list to see the quality of the candidates, pull in personal judgement and create a final list. Once a client sees the list, Candidate Labs will see who it chooses to interview and then digest that feedback. Over time, humans and machines will get better at recommendations.

In an industry like recruitment, which has a lot of messy and unstructured data, human in the loop machine learning makes sense. There needs to be a two-pronged approach to hiring people, one that speeds up the bits that are purely logistical, but gives room for humans to make a correction if needed.

Candidate Labs’ big sell is that it connects sales and marketing professionals to jobs at a fraction of the time of normal recruitment tools. In over half of cases to date, Candidate Labs has introduced employers to candidates that are eventually hired within seven days. More than 50% of the talent it has placed has been diverse talent, according to Downey.

Leah Solivan, a general partner of Fuel Capital, invested in Candidate Labs in mid-2019 and said Candidate Labs’ launch compass is at a “critical inflection point for talent within the startup ecosystem.”

“During the best of times, candidates tend to rely largely on limited insights and a handful of network referrals to make a critical life decision with long-term consequences,” she said. “Their next role.”

Downey is a customer of his COO and co-founder, Michael Zhang, who founded custom menswear service Trumaker .

“Candidate Labs is a recruiting firm that we wish we had been able to work with in building our own companies,” Downey said.

Along with the financing, Candidate Labs is announcing a job search tool. Sales and marketing professionals, among the most impacted by pandemic-related job losses, can use search filters to look for job openings. In early April, a ton of new tools were launched to help support those without jobs secure their next gig.

 

According to Downey, the tool will help Candidate Labs work directly with people within what is now a saturated job market.

Startups – TechCrunch