In the 'Before Times', I chatted to an agency owner at an event and asked about the ambition for their agency.

"To sell it, I guess."

They didn't seem so sure, so I asked why this was their ambition.

"Well, it's what you're supposed to do, isn't it?"

And it's true. Selling does seem to have become the expected destination at the end of the standard agency treadmill: Start an agency, sweat it, smash it, burn out, sell it.

But that doesn't have to be the way. Entrepreneurs, of all people, don't just have to do what is expected of them.

What would your agency be like if you mindfully designed it so that you'd still love owning it in ten years?

What would the purpose of the agency be? What would the culture be like? What sort of work would it do? How much could it stand out from the pack?

I think it's better to focus on building an agency you really want to lead for the long term. One you can run sustainably for the long-term rather than in an insanely intense way for just a few years before you crash and quit. Then, even if you do decide to sell in the end, the buyer will have to make you an offer you can't refuse, because actually, you'd still prefer to keep running it. You'll make it a sellers market.

But more than that, if it's a sustainably run business that you're proud of and are making good money from, you may decide the golden eggs are just great and you don't want to kill the goose at any price. You'd be set up for life in a way most people can only dream of: Profit AND purpose.

What would you do differently now to design an agency you'd like to own for decades, rather than one you just expect to sell?

Get your Agency Espresso every Monday

A shot of inspiration for agency leaders, direct to your inbox

We will never share your details with anyone else

If you're starting your planning for 2022, get us in to run your Agency Owners Retreat first. It'll set you up brilliantly with alignment and focus at the very top of your agency, to feed into the rest of your planning.

The first report has been published from the Agency Senate. We surveyed top agency CEOs to find out what impact climate change, and attitudes to climate change, will have on agencies in the next few years — and what agencies are doing about this already.