Why Agencies Are Not Profitable – The Pathway to 30%+ Net Profit with Robert Patin

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Are you struggling to maximise your agency's profitability in today's competitive market? 

Discover the foolproof strategies for achieving 30%+ net profit with Robert Patin in this week’s Agency Accelerator podcast.

In this episode, you'll learn how to shift from time-based selling to value-based selling, analyse client profitability, and make strategic business decisions that drive your agency's success.

You'll gain insights into increasing your agency's profitability, building value-based client relationships, and making strategic decisions for long-term success.

Tune in now to uncover the secrets of achieving 30%+ net profit and revolutionise your agency's profitability!

Topics Covered In This Episode:

[01:34] A definition of net profit

[03:00] What are typical agency net profits?

[05:00] Why are so many agencies at the lower end of net profit (10%)?

[06:34] Stop measuring your hourly rates and start measuring average earnings or effective bill rate

[09:00] Stop selling time to clients!

[12:48] What are the first steps to increasing profit margins?

[15:32] Are there alternative ways to measure capacity and efficiency besides using time recording?

[17:55] Why you should increase your prices (taking a value-selling approach)

[22:50] Steps to increasing profits

[27:35] When we are in an investment phase, how long should it be and how do we know we are making the right investment?

Quotations

“The thing I want to do most is often right behind the thing I want to do the least!” - Robert Patin
“When we sell time to clients we focus on the wrong thing and disregard our years of experience and our strategic insights” - Rob Da Costa
“Make decisions that are not emotionally based - hence the importance of a plan” - Robert Patin

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 Full Episode Transcription

Rob Da Costa:

Hey, everybody, and welcome to this week's Agency Accelerator Podcast. I'm really excited to have with me today Robert Patin on the podcast. Robert is the founder of creative agency Success, a consulting firm focused on helping agency owners boost their profitability, which, of course, is super important. Robert's over 15 years of experience working with agencies of all shapes and sizes, and he has developed a proven system and process. Us is to help agencies streamline operations, reduce costs, and maximise profits. In today's conversation, Robert and I are going to be digging into profitability, what I think is really the most important topic that we could ever talk about, which is agency profitability, and giving you a pathway to work towards hitting 30% plus net profit. Now, that might seem a really tall order when you consider that most agencies are not even hitting a 10% net profit. I'm Rob Costa and this is the Agency Accelerator Podcast.

Rob Da Costa:

As someone who has stood in your shoes, having started, grown and sold my own agency, I know just how it feels in the ups and downs of agency life. So this podcast aims to ease your journey just a little by sharing mine and my guests ‘experiences and advice as you navigate your way to growing a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable business. So welcome to the show, Robert. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. And can we kick off by defining exactly what we mean by net profit so we make sure that everyone's on the same page?

Robert Patin:

Yeah, of course. Thanks so much for having me on the podcast. So, I'm going to first go a little bit more complicated than it'll make sense in the end. So many people have heard the phrase EBITDA, right? Or the acronym EBITDA. And so when I'm talking about net profit, that's primarily what I'm referring to, or operating profit. And so that is your revenue, minus your cost of delivering your services, minus your cost of overhead. So the cost of delivering your services is going to be your billable payroll. So those that are executing on the actual deliverables, the payroll associated with them, if you're a production agency, it's going to be the cost of your production.

Robert Patin:

It could be the cost of software that's related to your Figma software, your Adobe licences, all of that sort of stuff is all in the cost of goods sold. And then you've got your overhead, so your operating expenses, so your insurance, Costa, your rent costs, your administrative payroll, your cost of benefits, your sales and marketing expenses, all of that and overhead. And so then I'm talking about its revenue minus cost of goods or your deliverable expenses and your overhead expenses coming to EBITDA, which is defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.

Rob Da Costa:

Fantastic. Thank you for sharing that. I just wanted to make sure that everybody is on the same page and they understand the difference between gross profit and net profit. So can you give us an overview of what you see the typical agency net profit margins are, and what is possible at the upper end? And also to see if you agree with me when I said in the introduction that a lot of agencies aren't even hitting 10%, and if that's the case, why do you think that is so low? So, three questions in one there.

Robert Patin:

Yeah. So to start. Yeah. The industry averages between eight to twelve. So it's in that range. Absolutely. I would say that what I often see, especially for agencies that are sub-2020, 5 million in revenue, the reason being for a lot of it, is that as they grew in revenue, their profit actually shrank. It became a lesser and lesser percentage.

Robert Patin:

They were, in theory, kind of throwing more of their financial resources at the problem rather than actually looking at how to more strategically grow what's possible. I was going to say Sky's the limit, but I'm going to disagree with my thought that I was going internally because there's a limit to what you should actually be doing. Otherwise, you're kind of starving your business from the resources it needs to operate. My benchmark of success with any client is a minimum of 25% net profit, and some clients are between 35% to 40%. I would recommend avoiding going above 40%. And the ones that are in that range are typically entirely remote. Agencies have very limited overhead, and are still able to invest in the cost of delivery, but have a lot less from an overhead perspective, which allows for them to have a higher net profit.

Rob Da Costa:

Yeah. So that's great advice. I think a lot of people. Well, first of all, I think a lot of listeners probably don't even know what their net profit is. So I think, number one, you need to make sure you are measuring this because remember, revenue is vanity and profit is family. So those are the numbers we need to be measuring. But for agencies who are down at that 8% to 12% kind of net profit at the moment, what would you say the typical root cause of that is? And why do you think so many agencies are at that lower end?

Robert Patin:

So I can't define just one. I would say that it's a combination of a couple of things. So let's start with what is predominant in the industry, right? The vast majority of agencies base, whether they're sharing this information or not, they're basing their cost or pricing on an hourly rate. And so, especially for agencies that are on the smaller side, let's say somewhere between 253,000,000 in revenue, what often happens is that as we determined our pricing to begin with, what our blended rate is, or our hourly rate is for the agency, very often we, as owners, think of our personal cost, right, in large air quotes, cost as kind of infinite. We're able to put as many hours in, it doesn't cost us any more. We're able to do that. The thing that we failed to recognise when we hired team members is that every single one of their hours is actually at a cost. And so with the hourly rate, in a lot of instances, you're kind of measuring the wrong thing.

Robert Patin:

And I've had countless agencies, I couldn't tell you how many. Tell me. Here's my blended rate. This is what I'm making. And so here's what my average cost for a team member is. And I bill out at 120. So I have a 50% profit, as they would say, per gross profit in this example, but not recognise that only 50% of their time is actually billable. And so one of the things that I suggest for every agency is that you should actually not be measuring your hourly rate.

Robert Patin:

You should be measuring your average hourly earnings or your effective bill rate, either one. But the hourly rate is incredibly misleading. And the reason is that there are so many things that actually factor into this that most agencies are not considering. In an eight-hour day, you do not have 8 hours of effective time being used by your team. And you have to recognise that when you're planning for your pricing, vacation time off, you've got sick time as well. You've got internal meetings that are going to be happening that are still part of that, what those 8 hours in a day would be, and understanding how you need to make sure that your pricing is better managed. The other thing that exacerbates this problem, I would say, is that we underestimate the number of hours entrepreneurs, I think, in general. Right.

Robert Patin:

And for the agency size that we're talking to in this sort of range, the entrepreneur is the predominant one that's determining pricing, is determining cost, is the one that's sharing it with the client. And we're optimistic. And so we look at the world in this idyllic way and not ultimately recognising that we're going to go dramatically over scope we're not considering all the different factors that go into it, we're not utilising base data, we're kind of putting our finger in the air, kind of guessing of the number of hours that would go into it. So those are the typical reasons why I see, and let me add one other, is that in a lot of instances, we actually do not factor in the owner's time. So let's say that the owner, the agency founder, is the creative director at this stage of growth, right? And their pricing model was based on them being the creative director, and they're not actually factoring in their time and their cost, they're not tracking it, they're not putting it to the project, they don't recognise what that is. But then at some point, those components of them actually need to be replaced. But their pricing never changed. So all it is doing is actually shrinking and condensing their margin repeatedly.

Rob Da Costa:

Yeah, and I want to give you a virtual high five across the ocean here because anybody who's been listening to this podcast for a while will know that one of my pet peeves is this whole time hourly rate conversation. And I think it kind of gets even worse than what you've described, Robert, because I think a lot of people are still selling time to clients, and yet clients are not buying time, they're buying an outcome, and they actually don't really care how long it takes. So you selling time to your clients is doing loads of services, one of which is fundamentally, potentially cutting your relationship short with a client because clients aren't time. I always use my dentist's story as an example. If you go to the dentist and you've got a really bad toothache, and they get rid of your toothache in 20 minutes, and they charge you 300 pounds or $300 for that service, and you say, that's a lot of money for 20 minutes work, and the dentist says, well if I took 3 hours at 100 pounds an hour to get rid of your pain, would that make it more worthwhile? And of course, it's not because the dentist is getting rid of your pain and agencies are getting rid of their clients. And so there are so many reasons why we shouldn't sell time to clients and why if we are measuring time internally, we need to do what you just said Robert, but we also need to be realistic about what is even if I got a client facing member of my team that is in theory 100% client facing, they cannot spend 100% of their time on client-facing fee earning work. It's probably more like 60% to 80% at the absolute highest. Right.

Rob Da Costa:

So I think that's a really good shout. And I just think I want to bang that drum, that if you're selling time to clients, you're selling the wrong thing.

Robert Patin:

I 100% agree with you. I will bang that drum every single day. I would say from maybe 95, 99% of agencies, I would fight the idea of the hourly model. There are some instances, right, that maybe software development or back-end development of a website that they may need to be because they don't understand exactly what the scope is going to look like. They may require that, but exactly as you're describing, you're not selling time. There are two things that I think feed into this. One, the years' worth of experience that you've learned, your team and yours, to actually get better and better at your job. In theory, that would make you more effective or more efficient.

Robert Patin:

Right. You're getting able to get it done faster. So all you're doing is the only person that benefits from that is the clients. You're doing it at a cheaper rate because you've gotten better at it, which is counterintuitive, in my opinion. It's that the more experience you have, the more it should actually cost. The other thing that you're actually doing as well, if you've got a team, is that you're actually incentivizing the wrong thing. You're incentivizing them to go slower. So by the idea that every hour that they work is billable, the idea and the thought behind it would be that every hour I put in then means the agency gets to charge more.

Robert Patin:

And I've seen examples where the amount of time that they're writing off when actually going through billing on that billable rate being upwards of 75% of the hours that were listed as quote-unquote billable are not actually billed.

Rob Da Costa:

Yeah, and this is why clients. That creates shorter-term relationships with clients. Because in the end, someone at the client end is looking. An agency that sells time is probably reporting on time. And so someone at the client end is going through this timesheet with a fine tooth comb going, why is it taking so long to do this? There are so many things wrong with that. It assumes that the client is an expert on what the agency is doing, which they're not. And the other thing I want to pick up before we move on is the very important point that when we sell time, we disregard two really important things. One is our years of experience to be able to do the thing quickly, as you said.

Rob Da Costa:

And the second thing is our strategic insight to get to the solution as quickly as possible. So we need to put value on those, not just on the time. So you've met an agency, you've had a look under the hood, and you've identified that they're at 8910 percent net profit. What would be the first steps to help them increase their profit margins?

Robert Patin:

So, to start, I would do two things. One, the first step is that I would build a pricing model for them that allows for them to understand exactly what the actual bona fide cost is. So understanding what the fully burdened rate of every single team member, and typically speaking, I wouldn't actually base it on the existing cost of each team member, but what the actual going rate at the higher end of the market would be. That way we always have space to hire who we need within those different functions, and then building it so that we can understand everything to the bottom line. So what is gross profit going to be? What are the hours associated with this project, from a budgeting perspective, for the internal team to activate against? What is our net profit going to be on this project? Building in their overhead so that they've got a methodology that allows for them to very closely get to within a reasonable margin of error to what their net profit is going to be. One of the things that the vast majority of time would suggest in this stage as well. Unless you are effectively recording time and have been doing so in an accurate fashion, meaning you're recording it as it's happening, then you actually do not have a good basis for determining how long something's going to take within your agency. So then my suggestion is to think about it as a percentage of a person. 

Robert Patin:

So of this size of project, how many times or how many projects of this size can one individual manage? So if it's three, then it's 33% of that person over the period of time that it's going to take to do it. That gets the vast majority of agencies within a 1% to 3% margin of error of the total amount of time. The other thing that I would look at is how are they building their scope. So if they've got any ongoing relationships, how do we actually look at what those scopes actually look like and have conversations with the client to make sure that we're right, sizing it in the first place, and then have a conversation with those clients, but also making sure that we're closing the loop on a lot of the way that sows are written because I would say the vast majority of the time, they're very vague in what is supposed to be delivered, what's included, and what's not included, which then leaves the client open to interpretation and the client's benefit there is, they're going to take a liberal interpretation. It's in their best interest, and you're leaving yourself open to that. I mean, there are some cost-cutting measures and things like that that we can talk about as well. But that, I would say, is the first two things that I would do.

Rob Da Costa:

There are a couple of things I want to pick up on that. First of all, getting your scope right at the beginning is definitely one of those slow-down-to-speed-up moments. Make sure that there's no ambiguity. Make sure that both your client and the team members understand what's included and therefore what's not included, and you're going to be in a happier relationship. I'm interested in the time recording thing because I always tell my clients, you have to be time recording. Do you think that there are alternative ways to measure capacity and efficiency that don't include time recording?

Robert Patin:

Yes, there are. Are they effective for most people? No, in my experience. So there's other methodologies from understanding, like points and that sort of metric that's like, hey, this type of deliverable is related to this many points or this much time, which is still a direct correlation to how much time it should take. But unless, let me put it this way, unless you, a listener right now, are a person who loves an Excel spreadsheet like I do, and loves looking at numbers, you should just be tracking time. It's a very easy way to just understand exactly what's going on, be able to provide your team with the support that they need, and understand exactly where projects are going over what assumptions we made incorrectly, and what assumptions we made correctly. It's a much easier way to go about it with a very big asterisk that it actually needs to be accurate. There are loads of agencies that I come across that are tracking time, but it's maybe 50% accurate at best. I would be happy if we're in an 85, 90% accurate, but that means that you're doing it in real-time of what you're actually doing in that moment.

Robert Patin:

You're not putting it on a Friday afternoon for what you did on Monday, because unfortunately for me, this is the very start of my day, Rob. But otherwise, if this were later in the day, I would have no idea what happened today. It would be impossible for me to remember that. And the same I imagine is true for everyone listening right now. And so, yeah, tracking time is the easiest way. There are others, but I don't tend to recommend them.

Rob Da Costa:

No. And these days, there are so many great agency time-tracking tools that are really aligned with how we work. When I ran my agency back in the 90s, we had to use an Excel spreadsheet for our timesheets because that's all that existed these days. There are many great apps, so there are no real good reasons. Now, one of the ways, I guess there are two ways I can increase profits in my agency. One of them is to put prices up. And if you apply the things we've already been talking about, moving away from time-based selling to more value-based selling, you probably are going to put your prices up. But I can hear some people listening to this going, hey, it's 2024.

Rob Da Costa:

It's going to be a challenging economy. It's going to be a challenging year. So should we really be thinking about putting our prices up? Shouldn't we look at increasing our profits by having a cost reduction? What would your argument or advice be about that?

Robert Patin:

I would say that we've all heard the concept that in order for you to have what you want, it's going to take some work to do so. And I think that taking the route of trying to go the price option of being the cheapest available option is the easy way out, and it's ultimately what you really want. And sure, it's going to be a harder trek, and it's going to require some development of skill for you to reframe the conversation that you're having with the client. Because as you were describing with the dentist, ultimately, it's not about time, it's about the outcome. I want to be out of pain. I do not want to be in this circumstance anymore. And if you're having a conversation about value, the outcome, where they're headed, and being able to actually connect with a client in a sales conversation, the price is largely irrelevant. It actually doesn't matter.

Robert Patin:

It's about how it's going to allow for them to have the end outcome. Obviously, we have to consider who we're talking to, right? If we're talking to a small med spa down the street versus talking to Coca-Cola, clearly budgets are different between those two clientele. And understanding who it is that we're serving is an incredibly important factor here. And so we can't charge $250,000 for a logo for a small business. Got it. But we do have to consider what time it's actually going to take the experience that we have and being able to have it right priced because otherwise, I don't know that I see the point in having a business that isn't earning the profitability. I don't want to have the vanity metric of having 5 million in revenue to be 5% net profit. I would much rather be dramatically smaller and have a higher profitability.

Robert Patin:

It's less risk, less team, less struggle. It's easier all the way around. And so I hear you that people are more price-conscious, but it just means that you need to have a more deep, meaningful conversation about the gap between where they are now and where they're looking to go. And as long as they understand the value that you provide and feel safe with you, the price is largely irrelevant.

Rob Da Costa:

Yeah. Again, another virtual high-five. I think we have to be careful, as I say, tongue in cheek, quite often to my clients, we have to be careful. We're not running a charity, we're running a business. And we shouldn't think of profit as a dirty word. So that's something to really be mindful of. Don't create loads of stress for yourself by having a huge team and no money, because also the owners of agencies are typically at the back of the queue when it comes to being paid. So if you're only making 5%, that probably means you're not drawing anything out of your business.

Rob Da Costa:

And then I think the other point to make is that this value pricing approach starts from the very first conversation you have with your prospect. Because if you're saying, I can build you a ten-page website, a WordPress website, at $1,000 a page, that's not a value pricing conversation. Whereas if I'm saying to you, what is it you want your website to do? What impact would it have on your business if it achieved that goal? That sounds like a value-pricing approach. And then when you put a figure to that, the price, like you said, Robert, becomes way less relevant. And of course, this also starts by making sure that you have a clear niche and you have a really clear definition of your ideal target customer because those are the people who are going to value what you do and relate to the solutions that you can offer. Whereas when we take on clients that sit outside of that, that's where the profit margins go down, because they don't really get you, you don't really get them. Therefore, you have to over-service them to keep them happy. And of course, the net profit starts to go down and down and down again.

Rob Da Costa:

So if someone's listening.

Robert Patin:

Sorry, go ahead. What I was just going to add is you just need to make sure that you're having a conversation. I think that so many agencies regulate themselves to being a pair of hands rather than actually being the advisor and actually taking what the client says. And here's a price. And in a lot of instances, it would be analogous to, I went onto WebMD and I show up to a doctor's office and my response is, hey, I already looked it up. This is what I have now. Just write me the script for this drug. They're probably going to look at me like I'm a little crazy.

Robert Patin:

And I'm sure that doctors love when they hear the word WebMD. It's the same thing for you, right? In most instances, you can understand why they've gotten to the determination that they have, but you actually need to right size them, and have them understand what is the easiest pathway for them to actually have the outcome that they're looking for.

Rob Da Costa:

Yeah, I completely agree. I guess doctors hate the Internet because it means everyone's become an expert in quotes. So if someone's looking at this and thinking, right, I completely hear what Robert's saying. I want to start increasing my profit margin this year. What would be the very first thing you would suggest that they do?

Robert Patin:

So I would start with two things. I would start with an analysis of where you currently are on your existing team, your existing projects, and your existing service lines. I would say that a lot of agencies that are at the lower end of net profitability are likely doing too many different services and should reduce the number of services that they have. But the first thing that I would want to do, is I'm a very data-based person. You're probably surprised to hear that. I want you to go through and what I would say is determined by the project how many hours it actually took to execute it. What is your average hourly earning or your effective bill rate by project, your effective bill rate by team member, and how much revenue was allocated to that particular individual as a percentage of the total hours and the revenue associated for the last twelve months? And understand what's actually working and what's not so that you can focus your attention on where it actually needs to be focused.

Robert Patin:

I would suggest that you work on building a pricing model, as I'd given some advice earlier that that's one of the first places that I would start. But you do need to understand where your attention is needed today. And so it may be on a specific service protocol or specific clients. There was a client that I worked with, and they were just shy of eight figures of 10 million in revenue. And they had a client that was 35 40% of their rev and we did exactly this process with them. My advice to the client, after about three or four days of working with them, is you need to fire your biggest client because every single hour that you're working with them, you're losing $8 and you need to get rid of them. Yeah, sure, you're seeing the revenue number and you think that it's useful, but if you actually get rid of this, you're immediately profitable. So get rid of them.

Robert Patin:

Yeah. His face looked like he wanted to kill me, to begin with, but he understood in the end. But it's exactly that, what I'd want a listener to do with their own agency is do exactly the same evaluation. Client-based, service-based, team-based, what is the analysis of what profitability or what is your average hourly earning? Because you're going to see a dramatic disparity. And typically speaking, you probably have a fairly reasonable understanding. The clients that you like are likely the ones that you make the most money on and the clients that you don't are likely the ones that you make the least amount of money on. But you're now able to confirm that with black and white numbers. That allows for you to then action.

Rob Da Costa:

Yeah, that's a good shout. When I help clients work out their niche, or their niche, we do some analysis. One of those pieces of analysis is how profitable are you against each client, but also how much you enjoy working on that account. And there is always that correlation between the two because I guess it's sort of obvious in a way. And I also think it's really a good shout about these big clients. That's sort of the 80-20 rule, isn't it? 20% of your clients take up 80% of your time, and the bigger clients typically end up getting bigger discounts from us or we end up over-servicing because we want to do a great job because they're contributing to so much revenue. But again, once you start looking@the.net profit, you realise actually they are actually a big pain in the backside. They're taking up so much time and they're actually our lowest-profit clients, so something has to change. And I guess if they're brave, they would get rid of them, but they would certainly look at having a strategy to replace them or pull back on the sort of service levels.

Robert Patin:

I think that when it comes to being an entrepreneur, there are a lot of things that we end up telling ourselves in these types of pivotal decision-making points what does this actually mean for me as a business owner if I were to dramatically drop in revenue? And I would say to you, if you're in that place should I get rid of this client, what does that actually mean? Is that when you make the harder decisions, the ones that you're actually afraid of making, it's likely the decision that you should be focused on right now? And the reason why it is creating that tumultuousness in you is the fact that you actually know that that's direction. What I have found in a lot of instances is the thing I want most is immediately behind the thing I want to do least.

Rob Da Costa:

Interesting. It's very true. Yeah. Let me ask you two more questions because I'm conscious of the time when people see growth, business growth charts. It's typically shown as a curve, but I always say in reality it isn't a curve, it's a stepped process. And the step is the horizontal part is the investment in infrastructure or systems and processes. And then that enables the next stage of growth and then the next stage of infrastructure investment to create the next stage of growth. So often when we're in that flat investment phase, our profits will go down.

Rob Da Costa:

But how do we know whether we're making the right decision? And I know the answer is how long is a piece of string, but how long should that investment phase be before we move into the next stage of growth?

Robert Patin:

I would say it depends on the stage of business and what it is that you're investing in because some initiatives take longer than others. But what I will kind of push back to, is the first question that you asked about was defining net profit and why I defined it as operating profit or EBITDA. One of the things that I would very much suggest for you is making sure that when you're in these investment years or investment months, that it actually goes below your EBITDA line because these are one-time expenses that are not going to be reoccurring. That is an investment into growth. So you can actually determine, am I operationally if I were to let go of this initiative, do I maintain my profitability, yes or no? And those investments should go between your operating profit and your net profit. But to answer your question, I would say it changes at each sort of stage for me and with a lot of clients. The thing that I'm very closely focused on is how we actually work through the thing that we are going to need immediately next so that they don't actually have to slow down quite as much. And I am very stringently watching to make sure that that profit still remains at that 25%.

Robert Patin:

And I think that in a lot of instances, I mean, this is a service-based business model, right? We're not a SaaS service, we're not a technology company. We're not supposed to be running our profitability at a dramatically lesser percentage for the sake of growth. For the sake of growth. Right. I think that in a lot of instances we try to throw money at a problem, but in a general sense, to more directly answer your question, I would say it should be somewhere between 90 days, as you start to get to above a million and a half, 2 million, you're not going to affect change like this. Right. It's 90 days at minimum to six to nine months that you're going to start to see the effect of the changes that you made.

Rob Da Costa:

Yeah. I guess the point here really is to make sure this is something that's strategically thought out, that has a plan, that has a start, middle and end. This isn't a jam tomorrow. I don't know if you have that expression in the US, but why do some clients say, take me on now and we'll grow as we grow, we'll give you loads more work? And it's that promise in the future that never comes. We're not talking about that. We're talking about having a plan that says, okay, we're investing in new team members or new systems or new it, whatever it is. And at the end of that period of 90 days, we expect this to happen, this stage of growth.

Rob Da Costa:

And that means you're going to be in control of your profit as well.

Robert Patin:

Every type of investment I make and every it's time investment too, right? It's not just a financial investment. I always have a, here's the rip cord number. So here's the ripcord KPI if it didn't work, I'm ending it. Here's the number of it's still worthwhile and we're going to continue to try to get it to where we want to be. And then here's the goal objective. And if at this defined period of time, I'm already making the decision before I've even started of when I'm going to pull the rip card if I need to or not. And the reason I do that is we get very emotionally invested in the things that we spend our money and time in. And I don't want to be making decisions in future from an emotional place.

Robert Patin:

So I make it before I jump into it. And so that is very aligned with what you're suggesting there is. Understand, what success means and what failure means so that you can correct it. I mean, we all will make mistakes and there will be initiatives that don't work, and that's part of life and business.

Rob Da Costa:

Yeah, I think it's like you say, knowing when to call it quits and move on. Really interesting stuff. I think this is a timely episode to be published at the beginning of 2024 when everyone is getting their plans in place for the year and hoping that they've put the right foot forward and set themselves up for success. And looking at your net profit number is certainly a way of doing that. So appreciate your time.

Rob Da Costa:

Robert, let me ask you a question.

Rob Da Costa:

I ask all of my guests. If you could go back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Robert Patin:

I would say to focus more on what you want and to do less, not more. I think that I spent a lot of time believing the idea that if I put more of my time in if I became this thing that I thought I needed to be, I would have the success I wanted. And what I learned is that the greater amount of focus that I actually put in and the fewer things that I actually did, the better off I actually was, both in my clients' results, and in my own stress levels, the business grew faster, my work-life balance was better, and that my elimination of all the distraction was and the more focus I had was actually the key to success for me and actually having fun with the business as well.

Rob Da Costa:

Do you think your younger self would have listened to that piece of advice?

Robert Patin:

I'd like to say yes, but I would say that my younger self knew everything, I think as well.

Rob Da Costa:

I always ask that question. Invariably, most people give me that answer, but it is a really good insight, and, of course, that advice is a really good piece of advice for today. In a world where we're distracted by shiny new objects and all these promises of easy success, that being focused on a few things and doing them really well is actually the best piece of advice. So, Robert, appreciate your time today. If people wanted to find out more about you and more about creative agency success, where would they go? 

Robert Patin:

I've actually put together a forward slash agency accelerator. So there's three things on that page that analyzer that I was talking about, analysing your team, analysing your clients, analysing your service verticals, there's a guide on how to actually go about doing that to determine where you should actually be putting your focus. And if you want to do a little bit more of a deep dive, you're more than welcome to download a copy of my book, the practical agency that's there. And if you're in this deciding place right now in your business and you want a little bit of support, there's a link for us to chat about what's possible for you in the next 90 days.

Rob Da Costa:

Fantastic. What a smart thing to do. I wish more people did that. We will share that link in the show notes. I appreciate you putting that together to make it, to make it really easy for people to find out more. And just to say a huge thank you for joining us today on the podcast.

Robert Patin:

Thank you for having me.

 

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