Phil Gripton, Partner at M&A and growth advisory firm Waypoint Partners, discusses why, if ever there’s time to take stock, refine processes and seek counsel, it’s during a recession.
Assessing the asset value of your agency, finding a trusted advisor, and building clear strategic vision for growth will help create a tangible roadmap to success – even in the midst of an economic downturn. Doing so gives a 360° view of your business and provides a pathway through economic difficulties.
Frankly, in stronger financial times agency robustness isn’t fully tested. Prospective clients tend to have bigger budgets and a less focused view on ROI. When the purse strings are tightened and agencies are under more intense scrutiny, it presents opportunities for companies that are prepared to weather the economic storm.
Recessions are very much ‘make or break’ for some businesses. Those that have carefully analysed their situation, taken on the right guidance and developed a unifying growth strategy can greatly benefit from the dwindling competition. Research has shown that, despite the recession, the number of millionaires is set to almost double by 2026, demonstrating that opportunities exist for those with the vision to see them.
Many startup and scale-up leaders won’t have worked through the 2008 market crash and will have founded their business during a stronger economy. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are certainly benefits from hearing the perspectives of those who have led businesses through economic downturns and continued to succeed. Over the course of their career, they will have developed tried and tested methodologies to drive growth – even through tougher times.
When venturing into uncharted territory as a business leader, clear guidance is essential. For example, when battening down the hatches, leaders can lose sight of when to be ‘on’ the business instead of being ‘in’ it. Using a wider lens to get an overview of your company’s positioning, what works and what doesn’t, is vital. Having strong relations with an advisor, who isn’t involved in day-to-day operations, can provide a helpful sounding board and act as a compass to keep you and your business on the right track.
The relationship between a business and its advisor are often mutually beneficial. Good advisors will always be enthusiastic to understand the practices of developing companies and in facilitating business growth. Many will also remember a time when they received crucial guidance at a key initial stage of their career and can pass on wisdom.
It’s worthwhile recognising that the best advisors won’t have had faultless careers. Many will have faced challenges, learned from mistakes, or even sought advice themselves to come out the other side. It’s this experience and resilience that can be passed down to other leaders on their journey.
Through a career working in both sales and marketing and senior leadership roles, I remember how important I found it to seek guidance from experienced and diverse leaders along my journey, who could help me fathom the seemingly unfathomable challenges that continued to present themselves.
Earlier in my career, during a complex sales cycle worth hundreds of millions of pounds, I encountered a political conundrum when building a pivotal relationship with a CFO who had designs on becoming CEO.
Not having previous experience or context of this scenario, I sought guidance from my then-advisor on how to manage the politics of the situation while avoiding jeopardising the deal.
The insight gained from someone who had experience of a purchase decision of this significance and complexity, and who had been a successful CXO multiple times, gave me direct input to form the right playbook for managing through the scenario. The winning strategy, approach, and execution would not have occurred naturally to me, and the advice proved invaluable. The lessons learned were permanent and have served me multiple times since.
With the right support, the best agencies aren’t just going to survive, they’re going to thrive.