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As an industry, we spend a tremendous amount of time examining the inner workings of rights holders, as well as trademarks. But we very rarely wonder what goes on under the hood of an agency or a service company.

I thought it would be helpful for all of us to know a bit more – after all, either we work in companies like these or we rely on them. So, for the last Playbook podcast, I chatted with Daniel Geey and Andrew Nixon from Sheridans, a tech, media, and sports law firm.

You can listen to our conversation here, but in the meantime, here are three key themes I picked up …


The challenge of working in and in the company

Running a service business is a dual responsibility. Unless your business is extremely mature, you have to work in the company as a very experienced person in contact with customers. But you also have to work at he. After all, a service company or agency needs as much care and attention in terms of strategy, operations, team leadership, financial management, and marketing as any other.

“As a leader, you constantly juggle compensation with the need to move the business forward,” says Nixon. “Whether through business development or working on existing relationships. Finding that balance is never easy and rarely achieved, especially when you are often the first port of call for the customer, but at the same time you also have broader responsibilities. “

“We start off as technical lawyers trying to get the job done,” Geey adds. “As you start to get older, you start to be measured on different parameters and different metrics.”

It is not an easy balance. As the firm’s most experienced lawyers, partners inevitably have clients’ toughest issues on their desks. However, they must also be blue sky thinkers and business creators. As Nixon explained, “You have to be able to think beyond the limits of your technical performance if you want to create a successful practice. “

Becoming “comfortable with juggling” is not easy, as I know from personal experience. Geey recommended the work of Paul Graham. Graham writes that he “wouldn’t want to do something that he wouldn’t want to spend all of his time doing,” which is just as good when, as Nixon puts it, “the sport is around the clock, 7 days a week, constant and eternal “.

On the one hand, Geey recognizes the “slight obsession” and passion for the sport that creates the intrinsic desire to take on the challenge. On the other hand, you have to be able to shut down one way or another. Ironically, for many of us in the industry the answer to this is to watch and play our own sport!

In a word: Running a service business is an essential juggling act. You need to love the trip and make sure you have enough downtime.


Delegate leadership to share the load

So, is there anything you can do to deal with this? Well, Sheridans has seen real success with a stimulating form of leadership that seeks to provide team members with sure opportunities to expand to work in the company as well. As Nixon explains, “Everyone here has a leadership role. This means those who arrive will be well equipped to move the business forward and do the things we weren’t necessarily trained for when the business started. “

This approach complements the growing desire of new generations to explore new avenues and develop skills as they work. The industry has had to evolve accordingly. “The mindset was once a binary path to partnership,” says Nixon. “The industry has changed and had to change. This should open up different avenues for talented people to explore.”

Of course, you can’t develop leaders unless you have good recruiting in the first place. Sheridans has devoted a tremendous amount of time to building his team right in terms of attitude and preferences, and not just basic skill sets. Geey explains that Sheridans went through a “really deep process” around his team’s personality types to determine what personality types the company wanted to be part of the group. He recommends a helpful book called “Surrounded by Idiots” for further reading on the subject.

Much like we found at Two Circles, the Sheridans believe form is vital.

“They have to buy into our vision and be a certain type of personality,” says Geey. “We have to be confident to be ready to use the platform and the responsibility that they will have. Of all the things that I have learned over the past six years, it all really comes down to this. We are talking about freedom at the within the delegation limit – can you give some really good people, even at a relatively junior level, a really good job to do in an executive? and the opportunity. “

In a word: One way out of the daily juggling is to delegate leadership. It takes time and careful recruitment, but can create a whole team of business leaders, business developers as well as great client advisors. In Nixon’s words: “If you get it right, the opportunities are endless. “


Growth through quality

We also had a fascinating conversation about business development versus delivery. Like I said in the mod, in nine years at the helm of Two Circles, I think there were only three or four months where we had exactly the right amount of work for the folks at the business. Geey finds this to be a common problem: “You’re never in balance, the best you can hope for is that you cover your bases both ways. “

Geeys’ approach to driving growth is extremely structured. “I try to have ten or 15 meetings, calls and follow-ups every week, no matter what my billable hours look like. I use software that allows me to track and measure this. I have to ask myself, ‘What am I doing with these relationships?’

“We also want to be business partners – ‘thinking of you and the opportunities and networks that we can connect with’ – so when the going is right, we’re close. The best things happen when you’ve listened well, understood the business model, and made a connection that worked well. “

Of course, the best way to move business forward is to deliver world-class work consistently, not least because customer retention is fundamental in service businesses. Starting the month with the overheads and salaries already covered by the booked work is a much less stressful way of life and gives you the prospect of growth. The type of client intimacy described by Geey is fundamental to being able to see leads and avoid problems before they become retention risks, or even to capitalize on opportunities that may arise.

In a word: Business development requires preparation, structure and planning. The best way to start is to ensure that the quality of delivery and care for current clients is excellent.


Ten words or less

As always, I closed the podcast by asking how Nixon and Geey would summarize their key pod post in ten words or less. While Nixon gave up on “investing in people” several times, Geey opted for “building tangible relationships leading to positive results” – each clearly a pillar of Sheridans’ approach to creating and sustaining a relationship. high quality business.


Matt Rogan has spent his career building and growing businesses in sports and entertainment.

If you want to learn more about Matt or his upcoming book All to Play For, you can visit mattrogansport.com. Please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail.

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