Managing for Success

What Are You Building?
by Paul Roetzer

Building a dynamic, full-service hybrid agency designed to grow beyond 10, 20 and even 50 employees, requires incredible drive, remarkable patience and an undying belief that you are creating something of great significance. Money cannot be the primary motivator.

People must need to create change, to push boundaries and to positively impact the lives of others. Professionals who choose to build disruptors (truly transformational companies) believe they have a higher purpose. It is not the right career choice for everyone.

Historically, many agencies have been built by professionals who excelled at their work, and wanted the freedom and financial rewards that came from owning their own business. They were practitioners by trade, not businessmen and women. But in order to construct a disruptor agency - one that makes a fundamental difference - the practitioner function must become secondary. The overwhelming passion must be that of building and running a business.

Like all entrepreneurs, agency principals have to make sacrifices in the early years, especially if they have a vision for growth. This includes working countless long days followed by sleepless nights, taking smaller paychecks (if they take a salary at all), investing any profits back into the agency, fighting with conservative lenders to secure capital, dealing with mundane details such as healthcare benefits and taxes, putting employee and client needs ahead of their own at all times, and learning to live with and embrace the unknown.

In order to thrive in this new agency ecosystem you have to start by being honest with yourself:

If you plan to build a disruptor agency, you will eventually spend 90 percent or more of your time on three things: 1) recruiting and retaining talent, 2) setting and pursuing your vision, and 3) driving growth. If you do not have the desire or ability to excel in these areas, you either need to find a business partner who does to assume the role of CEO, or you should consider pursuing a different path.

This article has been republished from, with the permission of author Paul Roetzer, Founder and CEO of PR 20/20. To learn more about hybrid agencies, and the opportunities that exist in the emerging marketing services ecosystem. Download Transform Into a Hybrid (PDF), a free chapter from Roetzer's new book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint .

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