Having Guests Over for Dinner

Recently I’ve been busy working with a team of people to start a new non-profit creative agency/service company. For me and my team it’s has been a slightly difficult change in the way we do work because it’s required a transition from being an in-house team to a new, external, agency-based team. What’s the difference between being an internal vs. external team? Well, it’s kinda like having guests over for dinner.

We recently had a company wide meeting where our president used this clever analogy of guests at dinner when talking about what it’s like to operate like an agency. When you’re eating dinner with just your family, there’s a tendency to let things slide like “elbows on the table” or using cell phones at the dinner table. It’s a totally different dining experience though when guests are in town. For starters, you’re probably using those cloth napkins that you typically only break out for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. When sitting at the table, you better believe there’s no way that Mom and Dad let you get away with elbows on the table or even bringing your cell phone into the dining room. This is the kind of environment you live in when you work for an agency.

When you’re an in-house team, there’s a temptation to let little mistakes slide or to do your work on autopilot. When you’re an agency, that all changes (and very quickly I might add). When you’re doing work on someone else’s dime, there’s an added layer of visibility on all of your output. All clients are different, but in my experience, they tend to be very vigilant in the work that you do on their behalf.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. The nice part of being an agency is that you get to pick and choose your clients, or in other words, the people you want to work with. If we’re still using the dinner analogy, being an agency is like being able to invite your friends over for dinner. The key to being successful and scaling your business is choosing the right clients. The perfect clients are the ones that are willing to grow with you and are willing to work with you to build something special. I guess the real question you need to ask yourself as an agency is who’s coming to dinner?

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