Author: Peter Kang

Agency Lead Sources and Going Deeper with Each

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Types of Lead Sources At Barrel, we’ve stumbled into a number of different lead sources over the years, and the mistake we made was in not taking the time to understand the source and how to keep the flow strong. We recognized the source and assumed that they’d organically continue coming. To start, these are the most common lead sources I’ve experienced. It’s not a comprehensive list by any means (e.g. it doesn’t have inbound […]

2022: An Annual Review

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For the second year, I’ve put together an annual review. It was, on the whole, a wonderful and memorable year. Sure, there were setbacks and disappointments, but there were joyful moments and all kinds of learnings. Once again, taking the time to reflect on the year was in itself a great reward. Highlights Watching the Boys Grow Up Grant is almost 4 and Teddy will be 2 in March. It was the first full year […]

Agency Journey Episode 28 (Y16M7)

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I have to admit that I have trouble “turning off” during the holiday season. I enjoy time with family and friends, watch a few movies and football games, read a bit more fiction, but I still come back to thinking about the business. My guess is that a lot of entrepreneurs / business owners are in this camp, continually reflecting on what went right and wrong over the past year and looking ahead to how […]

Agency Annual Financial Planning Tool

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I’ve created a spreadsheet that agencies can use to plan their finances for an upcoming year using a bottoms-up approach. With the right inputs, one should be able to come away with targets for revenue and profit. For the past ten weeks, my Barrel co-founder Sei-Wook and I have been poring over our finances, reorganizing the data, and coming up with different ways to land at our targets for next year. It’s been an enlightening […]

Agency Journey Episode 27 (Y16M6)

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to express my gratitude for all the hardships and setbacks that being in this business has presented me over the years. They’ve made me tougher, more humble, a bit savvier, a bit smarter, and ever more optimistic. I remain optimistic and energized because of the wonderful people of Barrel who work closely with me to navigate all the hardships and setbacks that come our way all while sharing […]

The 10 Times Question: What Happens to Your Business When You 10X?

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In Extreme Revenue Growth by Victor Cheng, a book about developing “revenue growth engines” to scale quickly from $1 million to $25 million+ in revenues, Cheng introduces “The 10 Times Question” which goes like this: If your business grew 10 times overnight, would you be able to handle it? The question is intended to help company leaders think about what might break in the business if sudden growth were to happen and in doing so […]

The Satisfactions of a Small Business Owner

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I’ve been running a small business for the past 16+ years, and in that time, my relationship with the business has evolved quite a bit. One way to reflect on this evolution is to share the things about the business that please me and bring me joy. I’ve compiled a list of five “satisfactions” that have energized me and kept me going with the business. Satisfaction #1: An Impactful Hire I don’t think I can […]

Agency Journey Episode 26 (Y16M5)

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October has felt like an extra-long month this year. A combination of lots of personal travel, lots of in-person meetings with different people, changing routines with my family, and being sick a couple of times seemed to stretch each week out and demand extra energy and activity. All in all, it’s been a great month with a lot to reflect on. About Agency Journey: This is a monthly series detailing the happenings at my agency Barrel, […]

Agency Journey Episode 25 (Y16M4)

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I feel like our agency has been getting into a nice rhythm over the past few months. After some disruptions to our org structure and headcount earlier in the year and the adjustment period that followed, we’ve settled into a more stable mode. However, getting into a rhythm doesn’t mean things are necessarily easy. We have unforeseen issues that pop up with clients and employees that need dealing, we have financial challenges to navigate around, […]

Unproductive Thoughts of an Agency Owner

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This is a cautionary list intended to highlight the pointlessness and wastefulness of pursuing certain types of thoughts. They come from deep personal experience. As an agency owner for over 16 years, I’ve let these thoughts occupy my mind one too many times. Luckily, through introspection, coaching, and practice, I’ve been able to develop enough self-awareness to spot these thoughts and quickly dismiss them whenever they pop up. Life is a lot more pleasant and […]

Agency Journey Episode 24 (Y16M3)

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We’re gearing up for a team-wide retreat in NYC in mid-October. We’ll have 30+ people from all over the country (and a few from outside the US) coming in for a few days of team bonding and various activities. The planning is both exciting and challenging – we’re trying to balance out having enough planned activities vs. giving people the space and room to hang out with each other. The primary goal of the retreat […]

Building Willpower

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“What Stoics discover, though, is that willpower is like muscle power: The more they exercise their muscles, the stronger they get, and the more they exercise their will, the stronger it gets. Indeed, by practicing Stoic self-denial techniques over a long period, Stoics can transform themselves into individuals remarkable for their courage and self-control.” (William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life) I came across this highlight the other day and made a mental […]

My Personal Finance Snapshot (August 2022)

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It’s been a little over a year since my last update. In that time, there’s been a lot of changes to the financial side of my life. The biggest factor has been the purchase of a 2nd home, which has introduced all kinds of costs. Also, my stock portfolio, heavily concentrated in growth tech stocks, took a huge hit through the first half of this year, wiping out most of my gains from 2021. You […]

Agency Journey Episode 23 (Y16M2)

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Reflecting on the past few months, the most important change at Barrel was having our Director of Software Engineering report to our Chief Experience Officer Lucas Ballasy, away from our Chief Technology Officer Wes Turner, consolidating all team production functions under Lucas’s supervision as the Experience team. The level of cohesion has improved greatly, and I feel like the different disciplines are starting to get on the same page with daily stand-ups and increased knowledge […]

Continually Evolving Thoughts on Talent and Hiring Vol. 2

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Almost 4 years ago, I wrote down some thoughts I had been having about talent and hiring. These were the main points I made: A great hire can instantly bring new energy to the team and elevate the output of the entire company. A jackpot hire–perfect cultural fit and impactful contributor–is incredibly valuable. Investing in recruitment functions (e.g. 3rd party recruiters and in-house recruiting resources) to go beyond inbound applications and to proactively find talent. […]

Transformative Books We Read Together as a Leadership Team

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Incorporating Reading Into Our Planning Meetings At the start of each quarter, the four Barrel partners meet for an all-day planning meeting. The format of this meeting used to focus heavily on identifying various issues in the business and putting our heads together to see if we could resolve them. The goal of each planning meeting was to come away with a solid slate of key initiatives to accomplish over the next 90 days. Five […]

Agency Journey Episode 22 (Y16M1)

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This time last year, we were wrapping up a record-setting quarter at Barrel. We had landed more business and booked more revenue in that quarter than at any point in our 15-year history. We were confident that we had finally cracked the code and would scale up to new levels. Things were looking up, but little did we know that the next 9 months were going to be some of the toughest ever, including a […]

Strong Company Culture vs. Weak Company Culture

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What is Culture? If I’ve learned anything in my 16+ years of running Barrel, it’s that there’s no magic bullet when it comes to creating and sustaining a strong company culture. Culture–and in the context of this post, I’m talking about company/organizational culture–is a slippery concept that can mean different things to different people. In some definitions, it encapsulates the behaviors, values, and attitudes of the people that belong to the company. In others, it […]

Agency Journey Episode 21 (Y15M12)

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This is the last episode of Year 15 – it’s wild how fast the last 12 months happened and the roller coaster ride we’ve been on as a business. Looking back to last May, I was feeling pretty good about the record level of new business deals we were landing and also eager to roll out major org changes to set us up for scale. A year later, we’ve struggled to keep apace last year’s […]

Resisting the Urge to Problem Solve

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The siren call comes several times a week–someone on my team is navigating a challenge, usually having to do with a client or between team members. Whether through email, Slack, or on a Zoom call, the person usually starts by providing me with some context and then highlighting the problem. The person then concludes with a question that immediately sets my mind ablaze: “What should we do?” Having been in hundreds of situations dealing with […]