This article originally appeared in my regular column at Forbes.com:
My company is booming. I’d like to say I’m one of the lucky ones – but thankfully, at least in the Salt Lake City region, I’m hearing the same from scores of other businesses too.
At just under six years old, our communications agency has closed a record November, a record December, and a record year in 2012.
Yes, we have put the recession behind us. But I attribute much of our recent success to progress we’ve made in helping to evolve the model of communications. The traditional models for public relations are not the factors that matter most any more (although they still do matter, and in my opinion, always will.)
SEO – Social SEO – and Social Media are giant factors in the new communications equation. So is content development. Content that “promotes” has little or no use to today’s impatient consumers. Efficient communications, and content that provides a high value-add is the name of the game. Broadcast is increasingly important. Infographics. Video. eBooks. Columns and authorship. Several of our strongest clients have published or are currently in the process of publishing books.
Our own business model is evolving as well. Generally speaking, the function of communications holds an increasingly vital role at the executive table. Organizations are realizing the role communications strategy and execution can play in their very success.
We are providing services that are more leveraged, with the help of new tools. Our hope is to make PR tools available to an entire generation of new consultants and to startup and growth companies who couldn’t afford traditional agency resources before.
We’re growing upward and outward at once.
Here’s my 2013 wish list:
- 75% growth—while adding just 25% to our company headcount. Software tools and contractor resources will help us accomplish this goal.
- Affordable healthcare. So far so good – amazingly, the insurance package our provider was able to offer has given us the option of traditional PPO policies again, at least for this year. Next year may be another question—but for now we are good.
- Workable tax rates. Like all business owners in America, we are holding our breath.
And my 2013 fears:
In honesty, we’ve designed our growth model around the need to hedge our bets on our fears. To achieve high growth, our model relies increasingly on software tools and contractor resources. We can’t risk the additional overhead of more space, more employees, and probable increases in business-unfriendly tax legislation. We’ve watched too many agencies be felled not by their inabilities, but by the leases they signed and the staffs they hired in advance of actual needs, putting them in positions they couldn’t successfully unwind. We will never make that mistake.
But what are my other fears?
- I’m concerned that some of the new functionality we offer may prove to be more difficult to obtain, to share and maintain than we think.
- I also worry that if we configure or price our tools incorrectly, it will cost us invaluable time.
- I fear the prospect of creating and enacting a pro forma for a company that includes a SaaS software component. While I know how to forecast and operate a service company like the back of my hand, modeling a hybrid company that provides both service and software is another story. I will need help. Thankfully, we have superb mentors, including several of our most accomplished client partners, Alan Hall and David K. Williams, who are available to help and advise in these tasks.
We live and work in volatile times. But for the most part, as I survey the year ahead of us, I am extremely excited. Our business has never been more ready to go.