Agency M&A Training

Control (and Maximize) Your Agency Exit

Virtual Workshop on “Exit Prep” in October 2024

From agency advisor Karl Sakas and exited agency owner Mike Belasco

Agency Exit 2024

As an agency owner, are you carefully managing your family’s #1 or #2 financial asset?

You work with a financial planner to optimize your retirement portfolio, and you hired a CPA to help cut your tax bill. But for most independent agency owners, their agency is their family’s #1 or #2 financial asset. After all, what else is producing 6-7 figures in annual income—plus a potential 7- or 8-figure payday?

  • Do you have an exit plan for your agency? Don’t rely on luck—the Exit Planning Institute notes that “only 20 to 30% of businesses that go to market actually sell.”
  • Thinking of passing the agency on to your kids? Harvard Business Review noted: “70% of family-owned businesses fail or are sold before the second generation gets a chance to take over.”
  • Want to wait on this ’til you’re ready to retire? That’s probably too late; the exit process can take several years—and more emotional energy than you might expect.

Fortunately, you can learn the ins and outs, from M&A insiders and agency owners who exited—and then take steps today to control (and maximize) your agency exit.

How? Join agency advisor Karl Sakas and exited agency owner Mike Belasco for their new 3-part workshop in October 2024: How to Control (and Maximize) Your Agency Exit.

Your Instructors:

Karl Sakas

Karl Sakas

Agency Advisor

As an agency advisor and coach, Karl has helped 600+ firms on every inhabited continent. He helps independent agency owners “Work Less, Earn More”—including exit prep—while rewarding key agency employees. In addition to his 1:1 consulting and coaching, Karl has written three books on agency growth—and shared agency advice at INBOUND, Traffic & Conversion Summit, Content Marketing World, Digital Marketer, SoDA, and the Bureau of Digital.

Mike Belasco

Mike Belasco

Exited Agency Owner

Mike Belasco founded the eCommerce digital marketing agency Inflow in 2007, earning three Inc. 5000 awards and five “Denver’s Fastest-Growing Private Company awards.” He founded ConversionIQ with a partner in 2009, selling to Inflow in 2014. After almost 17 years of serving as Inflow’s Founding CEO, Mike sold Inflow in 2023. Mike now spends his time consulting with agencies and as an acquisition entrepreneur buying and selling digital properties.

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During the workshop, you’ll learn… 

What valuation your agency might sell for today.

5 ways to potentially add $1,000,000 to your valuation

What 4 agency sellers wish they’d known before their exit (plus live Q&A to get their answers to your questions)

How to potentially make millions of dollars—without ever selling your agency

How to grow your current valuation to hit your long-term exit target (e.g., $5MM, $10MM, or more)

How to get paid more, thanks to government subsidies 

What 3 acquirers look for when they buy firms like yours (plus live Q&A to get their answers to your questions)

Why messing-up one key hire can delay your exit by 18 months 

The specific type of acquirer who’s happy for you to be relaxing on the beach, 1-2 years early

How to pick a CPA and attorney who won’t kill the deal

What to do today if we want to sell the agency in less than a year 

Guest Speakers:

In addition to Karl and Mike, confirmed speakers and panelists (subject to change) include:

  • Jonathan Baker (M&A advisor at Punctuation)
  • Emily Schmitz (exited from MedVoice PR, to Hahn Health & Nutrition)
  • Gabriel Murillo (acquirer via Easton Digital)
  • Khaleelah Jones (twice-exited founder + former agency owner)
  • Nick Yorchak (exited from Big Footprint Digital, to Fusion 92)

The Format:

Our agency M&A workshop is:

  • Remote: The virtual format (live via Zoom, plus recordings and assignments via Teachable) mean you don’t need to travel. More time with your family, and less money on flights and hotels. Or perhaps, more money for “fun” travel.
  • Bite-Size: We meet 2 hours a week, for three weeks (Wednesdays from 12-2pm EDT from October 2-16, 2024). You can fit that into your busy schedule (plus some time for homework, to accelerate your progress). And it’s recorded, if you miss a live session.
  • Structured: Karl Sakas has been leading training events for 25 years, including several years of this “once a week” format. We’ve designed the program to benefit a wide range of learning styles. You’ll also get a bespoke workbook, to organize your homework exercises.
  • Varied: You’ll get a wide range of perspectives, to help you customize your list of next steps. The lead presenters are Karl Sakas (working directly with 600+ agencies on every inhabited continent, including firms that exited or that are currently seeking an exit) and Mike Belasco (veteran agency owner who exited, and who’s now acquiring new businesses). Agency M&A expert Jonathan Baker (Punctuation) is joining as a guest expert in Session 1. You’ll hear from a panel of agency sellers and buyers in Session 2, sharing what they wish they’d known before doing the deal. And you can “choose your own adventure” in Session 3, with advice on how to increase your future valuation.
  • Accessible: We’ll record the live event, and you have access to the recordings and slides. The videos include closed captions. And since it’s remote, no worries on travel.
  • Actionable: In addition to actionable tips throughout, each of the three sessions includes time for Q&A. We want to answer your specific questions, to help you control and maximize your exit.

Timing:

Sessions are live (2 hours a week) and 100% virtual. Meeting in NYC time, they are:

  • Session 1: Wednesday, October 2nd at 12-2pm EDT via Zoom
  • Session 2: Wednesday, October 9th at 12-2pm EDT via Zoom
  • Session 3: Wednesday, October 16th at 12-2pm EDT via Zoom
Carl Smith

“Karl has guided hundreds of agency founders down the path of becoming an actual owner vs. being an employee in their own company. And he’s willing to show all of us the way. What’s amazing is he does this regardless of where we are in our entrepreneurial journey… He’s seen it all and has helped other owners through it.”

— Carl Smith, Owner, Bureau of Digital

What’s the goal of the agency M&A workshop?

We want you to get the best possible deal in selling your agency. This might include selling to an external party, selling all or part of the agency to an internal buyer, or deciding you don’t want to sell after all. Whatever you do, you’ll make a more-informed decision.

How will you benefit from the workshop?

You’ll learn how to get the best deal possible when you sell your agency—that is, to control (and maximize) your exit. “Best” is relative—if you need to sell in a year, you have less time to optimize things than selling in five years. You’ll learn how to potentially add $1,000,000 in valuation to your agency. You’ll hear what sellers (and buyers) wish they’d known before doing the deal. You’ll learn the types of buyers you might encounter, and the types of advisors you might hire. And all that in 2 hours/week for three weeks (plus some homework). Not bad!

Who’s the workshop for?

If you’re an agency owner who wants to sell your agency, this workshop is for you. This includes digital marketing agencies, dev shops, creative studios, video production houses, and anyone else providing similar services on a for-hire basis. It applies primarily to agency owners who are considering selling their agency in 1-3 years, 3-5 years, 5-10 years, or 10+ years. Most of the tips apply to agencies in the U.S.—for example, we’ll reference SBA loans. You’ll still want to hire an M&A advisor once you’re ready to put the agency on the market.

This isn’t for agency owners who expect valuations based on 10-20X EBITDA multiples. It’s not for people who want to sell within a few months; you’ll learn some new things, but there’s not much time to implement what you learn. If you’re outside the U.S. or Canada, you might see some benefits—but the specific advice will be less applicable.

What if we want to sell in late 2024 or early 2025?

If you want to sell within a few months, you should talk to an M&A advisor instead—like Jonathan Baker at Punctuation, who’ll be a guest speaker at the workshop. The advice in Session 1 and Session 2 will help, but you likely won’t have enough time to implement the “increase your valuation” advice from Karl Sakas in Session 3.

Get Your Ticket Now for October:

Pre-Sale: $1,000

  • Opens: Mon, July 22nd
  • Deadline: Fri, Aug 23rd

Price: $1,000 USD + tax (save $500)

Early-Bird: $1,200

  • Opens: Sat, Aug 24th
  • Deadline: Fri, Sep 20th

Price: $1,200 USD + tax (save $300)

Regular: $1,500

  • Opens: Sat, Sep 21st

  • Deadline: Tue, Oct 8th

Price: $1,500 USD + tax

GET YOUR TICKET

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who's this for?

If you’re an agency owner who wants to sell your agency, this workshop is for you. This includes digital marketing agencies, dev shops, creative studios, video production houses, and anyone else providing similar services on a for-hire basis. It applies primarily to agency owners who are considering selling their agency in 1-3 years, 3-5 years, 5-10 years, or 10+ years. Most of the tips apply to agencies in the U.S.—for example, we’ll reference SBA loans. You’ll still want to hire an M&A advisor once you’re ready to put the agency on the market.

Can we join if we want to buy an agency?

The workshop focuses on sellers—but it helps to understand what others care about. The tips can help you potentially craft a win/win deal as you buy a firm. And although we won’t specifically dig into how to do an agency “rollup,” you might choose to sell your larger agency in the future.

Should we buy a ticket if we aren't sure we want to exit?

Yes, potentially; it helps to know your options. In Karl’s coaching, some clients go from “must sell” to “let’s keep it,” while others go from “run this forever” to “let’s sell.”

What if we want to sell by early 2025?

If you want to sell within a few months, you should talk to an M&A advisor instead—like Jonathan Baker at Punctuation, who’ll be a guest speaker at the workshop. The advice in Session 1 and Session 2 will help, but you likely won’t have enough time to implement the “increase your valuation” advice from Karl Sakas in Session 3.

How will we benefit from the workshop?

You’ll learn how to get the best deal possible when you sell your agency—that is, to control (and maximize) your exit. “Best” is relative—if you need to sell in a year, you have less time to optimize things than selling in five years. You’ll learn how to potentially add $1,000,000 in valuation to your agency. You’ll hear what sellers (and buyers) wish they’d known before doing the deal. You’ll learn the types of buyers you might encounter, and the types of advisors you might hire. And all that in 2 hours/week for three weeks (plus some homework). Not bad!

How much of the workshop is focused on exiting, versus alternative paths?

We’ll cover options in Session 1, but 90-95% of the workshop will focus on selling the agency… because that’s what people want to know. If you do the workshop and decide not to sell, that’s still a win—instead of wondering if you made the right choice.

Should I bring my business partner to the workshop?

Yes, because you want everyone to be on board with the future plans. The workshop will give you a shared language, and structure to help you start working through the conversations.

When are the live sessions in October 2024?

We meet for three weeks in October 2024, for 2 hours a week via Zoom:

  • Session 1: Wednesday, October 2nd at 12-2pm EDT
  • Session 2: Wednesday, October 9th at 12-2pm EDT
  • Session 3: Wednesday, October 16th at 12-2pm EDT
What does this cost?

The price depends on when you register for the workshop. All prices are in USD, and Teachable may charge tax.

  • Pre-Sale: $1,000 (save $500 on your ticket)
  • Early Bird: $1,200 (save $300 on your ticket)
  • Regular: $1,500

Planning to send 5+ people from your agency? Contact us to get a group discount.

Are there any ticket discounts or coupons?

When you click the “Get Your Ticket” button, you’re automatically getting the lowest-available price. This includes Pre-Sale, Early Bird, and Regular pricing. If you plan to join us, buy now for the best available pricing.

How can we pay?

Teachable will request your payment info (most credit cards) and prompt you to sign up for the platform. Depending on your geographic location, Teachable may charge sales tax.

If you plan to send 5+ people from your agency and want a group discount, email concierge@sakasandcompany.com for help. 

Is there a group discount?

If you’d like to send 5+ people from your agency, please contact us for a group discount. 

Can I buy a ticket for someone else?

Yes, you can buy a ticket for someone else. Select the “Send as a gift” checkbox on the checkout page. (Here’s a screenshot from Teachable.) Now, you can add their email address and an optional note. They’ll immediately receive a notification.

How long can we access the recordings?

As a live attendee, you’ll have access to the recordings in Teachable for at least six months.

What's the refund policy?

The workshop is non-refundable, but you’re welcome to substitute another team member. Email concierge@sakasandcompany.com for help.

Is there a guarantee?

No one can guarantee a specific outcome—including an exit at a specific price and terms. But when you invest more time and effort in the workshop, you’re likely to see a stronger return. While the workshop won’t dive into your agency’s specific details, it equips you with the tools and expertise needed to make the most of your agency exit.

Is this 1:1 coaching?

The workshop is designed for those seeking a “DIY” solution. It doesn’t include 1:1 consulting with Karl or Mike, but you have the option to add that separately.

What if we want additional 1:1 advice?

Karl Sakas is available for 1:1 coaching and consulting. This includes the one-off ActionPath call (to answer your most-burning question), the Agency Growth Diagnostic (to get objective, expert advice on how to reach your goals), and Executive Coaching (for in-depth support as you grow your valuation).

What if I have a different question?

Glad to help! Email concierge@sakasandcompany.com with your question.

“Karl truly cares about the success of organizations and is just a really compassionate person who really cares about the work. He cares about agency owners. He gets it.” –Taylor

“Karl’s presentation wasn’t just a talk; it was an experience that got everyone fired up and ready to tackle their challenges head-on. Karl has a unique knack for making the complex feel simple and doable.” –Chris

“Karl is outstanding. He’s an expert not only at marketing but specifically at running agencies, large and small. His advice is clear, high impact, and focused on results and financial success.” –Julie