Mastering SOPs and Global Teams with Duncan Isaksen-Loxton

Episode 113 May 17, 2024 00:43:07
Mastering SOPs and Global Teams with Duncan Isaksen-Loxton
The Agency Hour
Mastering SOPs and Global Teams with Duncan Isaksen-Loxton

May 17 2024 | 00:43:07

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Hosted By

Troy Dean Johnny Flash

Show Notes

This week on The Agency Hour podcast we chat with Duncan Isaksen-Loxton, founder and CEO of SixFive. SixFive is a dynamic technology partner specialising in Google Workspace, WordPress, and CRM solutions for small businesses.

We dive into the essential strategies for scaling your agency through effective team management, leveraging SOPs, and embracing new tech solutions.

Duncan shares his journey from web developer to leading a comprehensive IT solutions agency. He discusses how he overcame the fear of hiring, built a geographically dispersed team, and implemented robust SOPs to ensure seamless operations. Duncan's insights on managing client expectations, improving productivity, and ensuring data security are invaluable for any agency looking to scale efficiently.

If you're navigating the challenges of growing a team, maintaining operational efficiency, or enhancing client satisfaction, this episode is packed with actionable advice to help you transform your agency's approach and achieve sustainable growth.

 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: I still dive in and do some of those things myself, right? You just can't help it as a builder and as a doer of the things, because I know that I can watch a ticket come in, for example, and in five minutes I'll have it done. The right answer will be there and the client will be happy. So there's a real struggle internally to back off and let the team have a go. [00:00:23] Speaker B: Welcome to the Agency Hour podcast, where we help web design and digital agency owners create abundance for themselves, their teams, and their communities. This week we're joined by Duncan Isaacson Loxton, founder and CEO of six five IO, who help you gain control of your website, email and apps and are focused on making sure your it works for you so you can focus on your business. Duncan is also a member of our Mavericks club, Mastermind, and in the episode, we dive into overcoming the fear of hiring people, which is a massive conversation for most people listening to this podcast. How many sops do you need before you can grow a team? Why your sops don't need to be perfect, and how to soothe the anxiety in your agency. Hint, hint. It's by getting busy, but busy on the right stuff. So if you're serious about growing a team of a players and want to reduce your anxiety in your business without just doing pointless, busy work, then this episode is perfect for you. I'm Troy Dean. Stay with us. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, please welcome to the agency Hour podcast, Duncan, Ezacs and Lockston. All the way from. Where are you from again, exactly? [00:01:32] Speaker A: The UK, 20 years in Australia and today Malaysia. [00:01:35] Speaker B: Malaysia? Oh, I thought you were still in Bali for some reason. Malaysia. Give the too long, didn't read version, brother. Who are you? What are you doing here on the agency hour podcast? [00:01:45] Speaker A: Well, I'm here because you invited me. So thank you very much for that. Really pleased to be here. I'm the founder and CEO of 6.5. We started out as a web development agency, and now we help people with anything that comes into the bucket of Google, workspace, WordPress and CRM based things. So think of us essentially as your small business technology partner. [00:02:07] Speaker B: Got it. You started out as a. Am I right in saying you started out in the Google workspace area? Did that come before the web development stuff? [00:02:17] Speaker A: No, it didn't. So my uni training and everything from school was as a coder, as a developer. So I started my career in that world. And when we started the business, that's what we were doing. Building websites and the natural progression of that was people going, well, you've got my website and domain and stuff, can you help me with email? You going, well, no, but yes. And email hosting, even back then, was a nightmare. So we became a Google workspace partner about, I don't know, ten years ago or so. [00:02:48] Speaker B: I'm curious about this because like 99% of people that build websites would go, no, I'm sorry, I can't fix your signature in your email. And if Outlook's not working, I don't care, go and call someone else. Why did you make a decision to go all in and do the training and become a certified Google workspace partner? Was it just purely because of the sheer demand from your existing web customers? [00:03:11] Speaker A: Yeah, there was a bit of that, absolutely. It's also because I don't like saying no to people. So we started to get more and more of those queries and we knew that we didn't want to host your own email server and all those kind of things. And at the time, I don't remember what it was called back then, Google for work, or then it was G suite for a bit. It started to have a bunch of the tools that we were using. Anyway, one of the big things about what we do is we use everything that we help our clients use as well. We don't sell or support something that we don't also use in house. We were already using it and it just made sense. And, yeah, the concept of being able to say, well, it was a natural product fit to bring it alongside building a website, doing your web hosting, and, well, now I need email because I can't have a website without having email as well. [00:04:04] Speaker B: So, yeah, got it. And so full transparency. Duncan is a member of our Mavericks club. What do you call it? [00:04:12] Speaker A: That bloke Troy that tells me what to do. Yeah, look, I think from my point of view, the benefit is having a sounding board for stuff, right? As a solo founder come CEO, and only recently, really, I've actually kind of brought a team and we started to grow in terms of numbers, but the ability to have someone to talk to and ask questions and people that have been there already as well. So again, it's not just you, it's also the rest of the group, too. And being able to have those conversations on a regular basis. So that's one thing. And then the other thing is some of the structure that comes out of mavericks and what you guys have put together really helps you kind of go, I've never done this before, but here's something that will help guide me along that path, and I can come sanity check it and stuff, too. So it's hugely, hugely valuable in that sense. [00:05:07] Speaker B: Totally. And, like, it start, like, this is not an ad for Mavericks club, by the way, but just a little bit of context as to how it's pivoted, really. During COVID it's kind of started out as a group coaching program, right. And during COVID we realized that the most people just wanted to talk to each other. And so we just started picking up the phone. I just started picking up the phone and calling mavericks and just doing kind of one on one sessions just to help people get realigned and get reinspired and motivated and kind of overcome the fear of lockdown and the fear of COVID And what I found during that process was that, and myself included, I think the best way to soothe any kind of anxiety in the business is to get busy, right? Because when you're busy doing something, you're not kind of worrying about all the stuff that could go wrong with all the problems that need fixing because you're busy doing something. But also then having kind of a map, if you like, to figure out what I should be busy doing now compared to what I can put off for three months, that purely selfishly, I built that whole kind of system to help me stay focused and then started rolling it out. And so now we really dialed up the whole one on one accountability during that COVID period because we knew that people just wanted to talk to us. And rather than. So I wouldnt call it a group coaching program these days, its really more of a mentoring program. Anyway, when you came into Mavericks, I remember I saw you as a Google Workspace agency. What percentage of your business is Google workspace stuff versus building websites and maintaining websites? [00:06:33] Speaker A: In terms of client numbers, its probably about 50 50. We have a bunch of people that only have Google workspace with us, and we have a bunch of people that, you know, we started out in the web space with us, and there's probably 25%, I'd say, that sit over both of those. [00:06:51] Speaker B: Got it. And the Google workspace thing is a kind of like a care plan, like what we would understand to be a web care plan. It's kind of like a Google workspace care plan. Or is there like a setup fee and then maintenance, or do you resell the license? How does that work? [00:07:06] Speaker A: Yeah, so there's a couple of components to it, right. As you know, anybody can go to Google workspaces website, whatever that is, and sign up and follow the batting ball and set it up themselves. Typically people start in there because they need a business email or they need some cloud storage, etcetera. As you grow very quickly. And actually this year, things have changed a lot as well because you can't just do that and expect everything to work. There's been some changes in email delivery world where you've got to do some other reasonably technical things to get everything to make sure your email delivery, and that's where the care plan stuff comes in. As a Google partner, we can do all of that set up for you. We can look after and help you manage your account, and we do onboarding and offboarding of users for you. We'll point you in the right direction when something doesn't work, we can also escalate it directly into Google Enterprise support for you so you don't have to spend time on support and so forth. And so from our point of view, it's about giving you best practice advice because obviously we get lots of questions. My assistant's gone on holiday, but I'm going to need access to that mailbox. How do I do that? Well, delegation is how we do it. And we can help you put it in place and we can give you instruction to do it. When we get into care plan territory, it's lots more about making sure your email is getting to the inbox. We're protecting your reputation, your domain reputation. That's a double edged sword, because on one side you want your email to get into the inbox, on the other side you don't want people using your domain for phishing and spam, etcetera as well. It's a domain reputation. Then other things like organizing shared drives, putting policies into place, helping you protect mobile devices and laptops and all the other stuff that comes with it. There's this very narrow vision of Google workspace, just as email and Google Drive and docs and stuff, but there's actually a whole world behind it where you don't need to have Zoom, you don't need to have slack, you don't need to etcetera. [00:09:09] Speaker B: Yeah, I recently discovered postmaster tools, which blew my mind. I'm like, that's a thing like measuring your spam complaints and your email reputation, which for me is super important. We send about 400,000 emails a month. Sorry to everyone on our email list. I know we email you a lot, but it works. And so I discovered postmaster tools recently. Just been, is there nothing Google haven't thought of? [00:09:35] Speaker A: Yeah, it's a really important thing to keep on top of. You need to keep your spam and your complaints down below? Well, as low as possible, but about 0.5% of your total email send is where you want to be. And, you know, if you're kind of read your number of opens and reads and clicks and stuff that you're getting, if they've changed in the last few months as well, then that's a really valuable tool to help you start figuring out what might be going on as well. [00:10:02] Speaker B: Let's switch gears a little bit, because we could nerd out about this stuff all day. But what I really want to talk about is your journey as an entrepreneur and an agency owner. When we met, you were living in Bali, you know, in Malaysia. You tell me, what's the plan? Is this part of, like, just being location independent and just doing it because you can, or is there other strategic reasons for being in Malaysia or what's going on? [00:10:25] Speaker A: Yeah, mostly it's mostly because we don't want to travel when we're 70 and it's 40 degrees outside and you're just dying, quite literally. [00:10:33] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:10:34] Speaker A: So, yeah, we've got the opportunity in a set of circumstances that allow us to do it. So the property in Australia has been rented and we've been out of Australia for 1514 months now and moving around Southeast Asia, and we'll be doing summer. We'll be summering in Europe, darling, and then probably back in this direction for a bit as well. So one of the things that triggered it was COVID was going, and being from the UK, living in Australia, one of the things you accept is that you're a long way away from family and some history, but relatively easily you can walk to the airport with a credit card and you can be back there in 24 hours when something happens. And we've all had to do that kind of thing. And then, of course, COVID just cut all of that out. And it really kind of awoken us to the fact that that option's not available. So we probably need to make the most of what we have in front of us and like I say, our ability and situation to be able to do it. So, yeah, here we are, slow traveling. [00:11:43] Speaker B: And where's the team based? And what does the team look like these days? [00:11:47] Speaker A: Yeah, sure. So the team's grown so 6.5 as it is, probably about ten years old now or so. And really it's been myself, one of my developers, who's in Vietnam, who's worked with me for now about eight years. And I've had someone in the Philippines for probably a bit longer than that as well to help me with various bits and bobs a Va type role. She's actually now in Texas. Her kid won Philippines idol and that's taken them all over the world doing other stuff. They were in the Lion King, the on the road lion King production. They were going to come to Australia during COVID but they didn't. [00:12:30] Speaker B: Oh my gosh. [00:12:31] Speaker A: Yeah. And so that's led to, you know, being sponsored and getting visas and stuff for the US. So she's now in the US and then last year we brought on a couple of sets of people. So we've now got 24 by seven helpdesk support. One of those guys is in Europe. The majority of them are in the Philippines. We've got. Who am I going to forget here? Bookkeeper started at the beginning of last year because I was just like too much for me to deal with. Now she's in the Philippines and then we've got a customer success manager who's in Sydney and my most recent hire is sort of head of it and Google workspace and she's down in Tasmania. [00:13:14] Speaker B: And so what's your role? What do you do on a daily basis now as opposed to way back when you were kind of plugging in people's email addresses into Google workspace? What do you spend your time doing now? And I apologize in advance by the way, if I've sent you down some rabbit hole as your mentor. [00:13:33] Speaker A: No, not at all. It's been quite interesting in the last twelve to 1415 months. Not just because we've been out of Australia as it goes. We lived in genderbind for seven years and continued to build clients and build the business. So being face to face with people has never been an issue. And the fact that I'm in Malaysia today really doesn't affect. It's the same situation. I'm just geographically different so hasn't affected the business in that sense. Today what I spend a lot of time on is still on the web project management. That's the next bit that we need to solve and remove me from. But the mix of what I've done is a lot different. So I'm not dealing now with internal system type things, not 100% of it. I'm still doing a bit and I'm not on the first level of support for tickets. And hey, how do I delegate access to email? Those kinds of things, which is great. So my sort of time mix is now the marketing aspect and the ability to be able to take sales meetings and stuff has grown and obviously that was one of the big things we needed to swing the seesaw on, which was I wasn't getting time to do those things. And therefore our ability to have those initial conversations and even the check ins with our clients who've been with us for years, I wasn't getting time to do those either because we're just on the treadmill of dealing with whatever came up on a daily basis. So that's been a really interesting change in where we're at. [00:15:07] Speaker B: What's the process been like? I know I talk to people every day in messenger and email and our support channels that are terrified of hiring a team member or terrified of hiring. Yeah, right. Exactly. Like maybe I've got a couple of vas in the Philippines or Vietnam or somewhere, but hiring someone local, there's, you know, how am I going to feed them? What if we ran out of money? What if there's not enough work? What if I don't do the job as good as me? How do I let go and delegate? I'm a control freak, all those things. Right. What have been some of the biggest challenges for you to overcome and how have you overcome them? [00:15:41] Speaker A: I think there were two significant ones. One was, as you just said, money. Right. You kind of feel, well, youre taking on a responsibility as a business owner to provide for those people, right. And ive had clients in the past that have gone bust and the team have stayed for like a week or two until theyve figured out that its all gone south. And then they go, okay, Im going to walk away because Im going to get paid. I dont want to get into that position. So theres a fear there that that would occur. So money was a big one and it took us, it took me quite a while to build up a little pot because I don't really want to borrow money to build up a little pot where I've got a safety net and we've got, I don't know, we're probably on about three or four months worth of buffer. And there's also the other part of that has been a big focus on getting away from project based revenue, moving people onto care plans. We provide our own hosting as well, which is a bit of MRR and so forth. So getting that safety net of we know this much money is coming in each month and we also know that if it all goes south, we can eke down on that buffer. So that was a big thing for me before I was able to hire. And then the second one is how, how do I know that I'm not just being taken for a ride when you're interviewing people and, you know, you can watch all sorts of things on the questions to ask. When you do an interview and all the rest of it, then your mind blows as well. When you're like, if I put this advert out there, I'm going to get a thousand responses. How am I going to sort through them and figure out who is the right person for us? And then your brain goes, but what if I hire them and they don't work out? Then I've got to figure out how to buy them and, you know, and they'll go through. And then you kind of just go, I'm not too hard, I'll just do it myself, thanks. [00:17:32] Speaker B: Right, exactly. And I mean, because that's a legitimate option, isn't it? [00:17:37] Speaker A: Right. [00:17:37] Speaker B: That's, that is a legitimate option for anyone listening to this. That is a legitimate option. Just do it yourself. So, so why didn't you just do it yourself? [00:17:46] Speaker A: I did for a long time. [00:17:50] Speaker B: Why aren't you still just doing it yourself? [00:17:52] Speaker A: There's a bit of, I still dive in and do some of those things myself. Right. You just can't help it as, as a builder and as a doer of the things because I know that I can watch a ticket come in, for example, and in five minutes I'll have it done. The right answer will be there and the client will be happy. So there's a real struggle internally to back off and let the team have a go at it. And one of the things I say to them now is you're going to get it wrong at some point we're going to fail. Something's going to go wrong. But that's okay. It's how you respond to that. As soon as you know that it's not right, it's how you respond to that that is probably more important than anything else, which is going, okay, I've screwed up, sorry. What am I going to do to fix it? Communicate to the client, ask the right questions of the right people around you and fix it. But communicate to the client and over communicate is what I'm saying to people now. [00:18:55] Speaker B: Yeah. Take ownership of the fact that you made a mistake over communicate, fix it, get help, ask questions if you need help to fix it. But I'm still curious, why not just do everything yourself and make enough money to travel Southeast Asia? [00:19:11] Speaker A: Yeah, I don't think we can. I think also I've got some ambitions, like I said at the beginning, where Google, workspace and WordPress have been our things for such a long time and the next natural progression to that, because I get that question a bit, is, hey, what CRM should I use? We've tied our bandwagon to go high level and we're just bringing that into the system as well. Again, same thing right now, I'm setting the stage to learn about that. What's our onboarding going to be? How are we going to manage that as a product? And at the moment, I'm only getting the time to do that because the team are now dealing with the Google workspace stuff and the WordPress things mostly. Right. And that's all come about because we've managed to put some sops into place and change the way that we deal with that. So from my point of view, yes, I probably could do it all myself, but as we stand today, it wouldn't be feasible. I wouldn't be having weekends and I probably wouldn't be married anymore. [00:20:11] Speaker B: Exactly, like legitimately. And also, you know, you have to go back to the UK for two weeks for a funeral or something and you can't talk to your clients because you, you know, helping people grieve and grieving yourself. I mean, this happened to me recently. I had to go back to Adelaide for my stepmom's funeral and, I mean, I had my laptop with me and I checked in on things, but I didn't do any work while I was there. It was like five or six days where I didn't touch the business. And you can't do that if you're the only one doing all of the things. If you don't have anyone else on your team, then you're trapped. Right. And you will burn out. [00:20:45] Speaker A: I've had those fair share of holidays as well where. And, you know, I've just been. I know that there's certain things happening and you just. Yeah, you sat at the pool and instead of enjoying the ocean view, you're on your phone, you know, pinging out a couple of emails and it's not a good situation to be. It's not. [00:21:04] Speaker B: It's not healthy, it's not. And one thing I've learned over the years is that wives will only, and partners in general will only kind of tolerate that for a certain time as you kind of grinding and hustling and building the thing. But at some point it's like, well, are you just now addicted to being on your device? Do you need to be doing this right now? Like, do you enjoy spending time with your family or, you know, and back in the day, was it this beautiful infinity pool in Bali, down near the surf beach. What's it called? Uluatu. There's this great place down there called Eagle's Nest, I think it's called. And we were staying. It's an amazing place run by this beautiful italian couple, and we were staying there. And I'm in the pool on the iPad in this infinity pool, like, working on the iPad while my wife's reading a book, you know, looking at the ocean. And I had that experience. I'm like, what are you doing, you dickhead? Like, get off the iPad and have a bloody holiday. So. But without the right people in the right seat doing the right thing, you know, you're on the hook. So did you. Here's my question, and I don't know the answer to this. I probably should, because we've worked together enough that I should know this, but how many sops or processes did you have sorted out before you started growing the team? [00:22:24] Speaker A: Yeah, it's an interesting question. So we used to, or. No, I should say we. I used to do it, record it, write it, and we just had them sitting in Google sites. And when we realized that that was just not possible anymore, because, again, me being the blocker, we decided that, well, we had a look around and poked at some stuff, and notion is what we chose to move to for our sops because they have some features that are awesome for that stuff in there. And at the time when we started, that was about November of last year, we had 110 ish sops that I'd written over a period of multiple years. And the ones that weren't in there was still the work that I was doing because I didn't have the ability to give it to someone else to do. So we started that in about November, and then over a course of about three months, transferred those across, rewrote them, restructured them, separated some of them, because we realized the outcome for that was actually five things. And therefore, you need a few more bits and pieces. And I don't know the number now, but I'd say that we're probably on about 300 odd. [00:23:38] Speaker B: Wow. [00:23:39] Speaker A: In notion as a whole. And, of course, we've got a couple of different products. We've got call handling and ticket procedures, which we didn't have before because we needed those in order to bring those people in to start doing that. We've got some internal stuff. There's now, of course, account related things, because I'm not doing the bookkeeping anymore, a bookkeeper doing it. So there's a set of sops for that as well. So it's ballooned. Yeah, it's ballooned really quickly. [00:24:04] Speaker B: And so the team have written some of these sops and contributed to the company wiki. Right. [00:24:10] Speaker A: Yeah. That was one of the big reasons for changing to notion as well was because the permission structure in Google sites just doesn't support multiple people in change management and expiry decks and whatnot. What we did was we got a list of the pages in Google sites, popped it into a bunch of tasks and said, right, you're responsible for this one, you're responsible for this one, and so forth. That's how we started it, by saying, take what Duncan originally did, make it yours. Here's the structure for the SOP, as it should be. And then what's kind of occurred out of that is when someone says, how do we do this? There's no SOP. Well, go write one. You know how to do it now. And they become the owner of that. And we've got a little process in place that says, will you write it? And then you need a reviewer. Somebody else needs to read that as well. And the premise being if you go on holiday or you're sick, somebody else who isn't a bookkeeper or who isn't a Google workspace trained employee or whatever can actually go read that and have a reasonable chart to getting it right without needing any. [00:25:20] Speaker B: That's right. And he, and here's the kicker. Right? And this is purely, this is a community announcement for Troy, right? It is never. It is never. Fast forward a year from now, your notion, Wiki, that your team have written is never going to be exactly, perfectly the way you want it, as if you'd written all of it yourself. But guess what? It doesn't matter because. Because as long as someone else in the business can come in and say, how does Max download the podcast from Riverside and put it up into Karstos and syndicate it over to Spotify? Oh, here's a checklist. I reckon I can figure this out. And as long as someone else in the business can figure it out, if Max decides to go to Amsterdam and fall in a hole for a month and not come home, then it doesn't matter if it's not perfect and that I didn't write it and that the, maybe the grammar is different and I would have added some screenshots and all that kind of stuff, right. None of that matters. Somebody else in the business can do the job. That's what matters. What matters is that it gets done. And if Uncle Troy's going to write all the sops. It's not going to get done because I'm one person and my desk is where things come to die. Right. Probably like yours. So if you're going to be the one writing it all, it's never going to happen. Right. So at some point you have to let. You have to kind of go, well, it may not be exactly the way I would have done it, but maybe that's better. Maybe it's the team. And also, it is highly possible that the team are going to do a better job than if you were the one doing it all. Because at the end of the day, there are things in the business that you don't know how to do now that other people are better at. And so they should be writing the Sops because they're the one doing it day in, day out, right? Yes. Thank you for allowing me to park that there for myself to listen to in the future. I appreciate that. One thing I'm curious about is how did you get your team to buy in and actually go, yeah, this is a great idea, Duncan, we're going to start writing Sops in notion. I mean, didn't they just go, well, dude, you're the business owner. That's your job. Just let me do my thing? [00:27:23] Speaker A: Not really is the answer to that. There was, I try, and it's the same with our clients, right. We try and give them reasons why there's this way of doing things and there's this way of doing things. Right. It's your choice at the end of the day. But this is why we recommend doing it this way and there's really good reasons for it. So, yeah, I mean, we had a team meeting. I was like, we tried some stuff out and made sure that it was going to work out the way we thought it would and just, right, this is the way we're going to do it. You guys are going to start owning this. And it took a little bit of reminding and prompting and. Oh, okay, right. Actually, there's a document that tells me how to do that, to get everybody to do it. And that because there wasn't a task for some of those new things, it took a while as well for people to then go, oh, yeah, I'll just go write it. No one needs to tell me that it doesn't exist. And now I need to create it. So there was just a bit of time and coaching, but setting out the reasons why we were doing it and being clear about that, I think was the biggest thing. [00:28:33] Speaker B: I also think it's probably partially due to your leadership, because if people, you know, if people are working with someone that they really respect and admire and enjoy working with, then they'll do these things that technically aren't part of their job description. [00:28:48] Speaker A: Right. [00:28:49] Speaker B: If you, if you just go to work to pick up a paycheck and you think your boss is a jerk, and all of a sudden the boss says, well, you got to start writing some sops. How urgent do you think that is? How important? I mean, they're just not going to do it. Right? [00:29:01] Speaker A: Yeah, there's no care factor. [00:29:03] Speaker B: That's right. And so I think part of it is also due to the fact that you've built a good culture and a good team and you've got strong leadership and people admire that and respect you and want to do the right thing by the company because you've led them in that way. So don't underestimate that. I just want to go back 15 years before you were doing this web design, Google workspace thing. How did you. What made you get into this in the first place? Like, why did this ignite something in you that you said, hey, I reckon there's something here. [00:29:36] Speaker A: Yeah, it's interesting. There's a couple of things, I think, that have happened in my lifetime that have kind of led me to doing this. So the first one is, my dad was self employed. He was an architect by trade, and then when he folded that business, they did a whole bunch of other stuff. And he and my stepmom then built a swimming school. She was a very near olympian, but, you know, country champion. And then they. So they've always been self employed. They've never worked for a business or a company, and, you know, gone to work and come back, etcetera. So as a kid, I was always exposed to that stuff that was going on. Then when I went to uni, I did a bachelor's, where you do a year, replacement year, and I ended up working in a web development agency, as it was. So that was in, I don't know, 99. 2000. 2000. [00:30:26] Speaker B: Wow. [00:30:27] Speaker A: What were they doing in 99 or they're doing 99? Dreamweaver. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It was, it was dreamweaver. I literally. I literally. [00:30:35] Speaker B: Table based web design. [00:30:37] Speaker A: Yeah. I literally built the web server that we had in the office, that we were hosting websites off and stuff as well. [00:30:43] Speaker B: Wow. [00:30:44] Speaker A: So we. And it was me and my boss, and my boss was still doing his job elsewhere, you know, trying to fund this startup and get it going. And so I then I carried on working there part time for the next couple of years. And we kind of. I watched him grow that as well. And then when we finished uni, we just. I'd already met my wife, and we decided to go traveling as backpackers, you know, finishing uni and stuff. And we landed in Australia, and 20 years later, we basically never left. The flight expired and we found work and all the rest of it, so the rest is history. So that's how we ended up there. And obviously, when I landed in Australia, it was find a job, do some stuff. What can you do? This is my history. So I ended up working for a few companies, doing some of that stuff. And every time I landed in a company, I'd lost probably a year, two years max. [00:31:39] Speaker B: Wow, that's a long time. [00:31:41] Speaker A: I'm only dealing with. Well, one of them was only six months, one of them was three, but it was that kind of time scale. And I realized pretty quickly that I couldn't deal with just one client of mine. And working on just one thing wasn't quite for me either. And it just. I always felt like there was that gap to it as well. Why do I have to go and negotiate how much I want to get paid? So I always knew that I'd end up doing it myself, and an opportunity came up to change roles, go work in an agency, and that agency then got sold. My business partner and I bought it out to them. We did that for a few years, and then when we went our separate ways, that's when 6.5 came about. So there's always been that kind of urge for me to be self employed and run my own agency as well. [00:32:31] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. Walk to the beat of your own drum, so to speak. I joke quite often to my wife. In fact, I'm only half joking when I say, you know, it'd just be easy to go and get a job some days. And she says, you wouldn't make it till lunchtime in employment, so, you know, don't even consider it. What is it about? I mean, we. You know, I think we're cut from similar cloth. We love doing what we do. We. When I say we, I mean our community, the people here in our community, there is something really nice about being the master of your own domain, not having to ask the boss for permission to, you know, do anything and being able to set your own hours and all that kind of stuff. But there's also something really nice about helping other small business owners. I find it very gratifying. I also find it, you know, quite challenging. And sometimes some days. It's an absolute pain in the ass, but it's also very rewarding. And I think we're very privileged and very lucky to have the opportunity that we get to see inside a whole bunch of other businesses and. And help them. I mean, is that, you know, you've been doing this for a long time now. What's the. What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it still that kind of. That drive to help people that you said before that you can't say no to people? Is it now about building something bigger than yourself? Is it. Is it legacy? What is it that gets you out of bed every day? [00:33:50] Speaker A: I'm really interested in learning about other people's businesses, and I hate seeing people go, my email is not working. And you're like, it's just such a fundamental thing that you rely on to get your business world to work. There's literally no other option. Now, I think for me, that's one of those drivers is being able to set people up so that stuff works and they're not on the phone to their 16 year old or, you know, to someone else in the. In their relationship that knows how tech works, because I've been on the end of that with family and friends, and it's no fun. So. So I think that's a big driver for me, is to know that when someone comes to us with that problem, we can solve it. And we don't. We don't hear continuously from them that things aren't working the way it should be. Right. So, yeah, that's, for me, that's a huge factor. The more recent sort of growth and so forth that we're going through and will continue to go through. I don't think it's about legacy for me. I think it's about building a bit of a family that can continue to help more people. And unashamedly, there's definitely a bit of sort of lifestyle design there for us as well. Totally right. Is to put this together in such a way that we then have some choices to do some other stuff. And I'd love to get into a place where we can go, you know what? Let's bring all of the team to Bali or Vietnam or whatever as well, and be able to help some people that would like to do some other stuff in their lives, but perhaps haven't been able to for whatever reason as well. So, yeah, somewhere in that. In that mix is, I think, where I sit. [00:35:44] Speaker B: Yeah. Having. Bringing the whole team together. We did it in Thailand in 2018. We brought everyone from the Philippines and Australia into, we didn't have any us team back then, but we brought all the Australians and Filipinos together into Thailand and Koh Samui and had a team retreat and it was game changing. It was. Interestingly, no one that was at that team retreat works here anymore. And the only person that did work here at the time, max, didn't come to the team retreat. I don't know why that, I don't know why that happened. Max, why didn't we bring you to the team retreat anyway? We should have because he's the only one that's still here. Everyone that was at that team retreat is now gone. So there you go. Take them on a team retreat and you'll sort out the, what is it the week from the shaft or whatever they, whatever the saying is, what are you most excited about over the next 30, 60, 90 days? [00:36:32] Speaker A: I was going to say about bringing people on a team retreat. One of the interesting thing about having a geographically spread team is you learn who does and doesn't have a passport. [00:36:40] Speaker B: Yes. [00:36:41] Speaker A: Well be choosing our destination probably based on those kind of restrictions as well. [00:36:46] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:36:46] Speaker A: Most excited about in the next 30, 60, 90. So weve got a couple of things this quarter to deal with. So our kind of target plan, one of those is to hire probably that web project manager type role. And so for me, thats one of the exciting things because I, I desperately want to spend more time in shaping the way that we communicate to the world what we do. We've never niched in terms of picking an industry vertical. We've always been about the small business part, but very, very general. We've got lots of people in lots of different industries. And I think the way we talk about what we do is going to turn away from, say, Google workspace, WordPress and CRM, which is tools they're functions of to talking more about how we help people with their productivity, how we help people with their data security. Massive topic obviously at the moment, and how we improve collaboration and get rid of shadow it issues and some other stuff like that and essentially help you improve your bottom line as well because there's so much stuff in the tool sets that you already have that you're probably not utilizing as well as you could without having to spend any more money. [00:38:02] Speaker B: 100%. I love it. You know, you're a nerd after my own heart and you clearly are still very passionate about it and you've managed to figure out something that you're, I mean, this is Ikigai right. The japanese book, which is nothing new. It's. I mean, it's a modern take on a very old kind of way of thinking. It's very much. Who's the guy that wrote good to great? His name escapes me right now. Anyway. It's very much what Jim Collins was talking about in good to great. It's the hedgehog effect. Right? It's like, what are you really good at? What do you enjoy and what will the market pay you for? And if you can find the intersection of those which you've done and you've managed to build a business out of it, and you're employing people and you're giving people opportunities and you're traveling the world having a great lifestyle, you know, I hope you take a moment every now and then just to appreciate and have gratitude and reflect on what you've built to congratulate yourself, because most people don't get there and you have and you're continuing to do it. So well done. [00:38:57] Speaker A: Yeah. Thank you. And I think that's a really important thing to know. On the other side of the coin, they're still hard. That is like, you've painted a very lovely picture there. It's super nice. I'd love. I'd love that. [00:39:07] Speaker B: Look, I know I've seen you get punched in the face before breakfast. Like, it's. It happens to all of us. [00:39:14] Speaker A: So, yeah, there's. There's a lot of struggle in that, you know, to get that done. But I think you're right. Every now and again, taking a step back and going, holy shit. Like, we're twelve. Can I swear? Yeah, holy shit. Twelve months ago, the team was free less than it is today. And I had a fear of hiring people and I had a fear of them doing the right job and all the rest of it. I must say, I find I think I am very lucky. I'm very grateful for the people that we have hired. I think I've been very lucky in that process. I think it's very easy to get wrong. The right people at the right time came along, which makes a huge, huge difference as well. Yeah, I'm very thankful for them. [00:39:57] Speaker B: Joan Jones on our team, mate, you know what she would say, like, it's got nothing to do with it. It's what you've attracted, it's what you've put out and it's what you've attracted. So maybe it's a bit of column, a, bit of column b, maybe timing is a part of it, but well done. And it's been. It's been awesome to be a part of the journey and to see you, see you do this and looking forward to continuing more of that journey with you. And I'm just bummed that you're not coming to Mavcon on the Gold coast because I'm looking forward to hanging out in real life because you are actually six foot five, right? [00:40:23] Speaker A: I am actually six foot five. Yes. [00:40:25] Speaker B: I'm actually six foot five. So are you coming to San Diego in October? [00:40:30] Speaker A: We've put a pin in it. I mean, one of the great things about our situation is where we probably plan about three or four months ahead, so we kind of know where we're going to be. We might continue going east and end up in San Diego. [00:40:42] Speaker B: Awesome. Looking forward to it. All right, well, thanks for joining us on the agency. I appreciate you and your time this morning and look forward to keeping the conversation going. Oh, where can people reach out to you to say hi and say thanks for this? [00:40:53] Speaker A: So you can find us on the web at six five IO and that's all in letters. Sixfive, dot IO and LinkedIn is probably the next best place after that. And there's only one. There's only one of me in the world. Pretty easy to find. [00:41:08] Speaker B: There we go. Duncan is accent locks and expect your inbox to blow up when this goes out. Thanks for doing this, man, and I'll talk to you soon. [00:41:15] Speaker A: Thanks, Troy. Thanks for having me. [00:41:17] Speaker B: Thanks, Duncan. If you're thinking about growing a team but you're not quite ready for whatever reason, maybe you still need to write some sops or you still need a bit more of a buffer in the bank or you need to pivot more towards recurring revenue. But you've got enough work on your desk to keep you busy and you've got some that you could delegate and you just need some breathing space. Check out e two m solutions. They are a white label WordPress development SEO and content agency. They can take care of all of your work, WordPress development tasks, your website care plans, some SEO for your clients and also content writing. And that could free you up to then concentrate on what you need to do next, which is get your recurring revenue up and figure out who you need to hire next and give yourself some time to make sure you hire the right person and you don't rush it. We work extensively with e two m. A lot of our clients have worked with e two m and in fact, you get a discount off your first month if you go to e two msolutions.com agency mavericks just reach out to them there and ask them what they can do and if they can help you and it might just be what you need to fill the gap to give yourself some time to figure out what you want to do next. Because I know it can be very overwhelming sometimes if you're just managing all the business as usual stuff and you don't actually have time to work on the business. So that might be a way to help you out. Check out e two m solutions.com agency mavericks. We'll put a link under this episode so you can check them out. Thanks for listening to the agency hour podcast and a huge thanks to Duncan for joining us. I hope I get to catch up with him in person again at one of our Mavcon events. Ok folks, remember to subscribe and please share this with anyone who you think may need to hear it. And remember, women see more colours than men. Now let's get to work.

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