March 28, 2022

#226 — 🌪 Agency of one storm

#226 — 🌪 Agency of one storm

Ahmed recently wrote about the incoming agency of one storm.

These are 1-person businesses that

  • offer bundled end-to-end services to customers
  • charge a monthly recurring fee -define their offer, pricing, and terms.
  • define their offer pricing and terms 

Exploring a few businesses with this model in the episode (DesignJoy, Chartfleau, and GetRhys) and how this might translate for Lunch Pail Labs

Transcript

What's up everybody? This is Lola Ojabowale, founder of Lunch Pail Labs. Welcome back to Lunch Pail Daily, my personal audio diary on building and growing Lunch Pail Labs, which is a digital product studio based out of Atlanta, Georgia. In today's episode, we're gonna jam about agencies of one. 

Some background, I recently listened to an indie hackers episode with Brett of design joy, which is an unlimited design service that makes over a million a year. And as a one-person business, this like naturally got me really, really interested and excited. And I ran into a related article about this sort of concept of agencies of one called the agency of one storm. And how really talked about how these agency of one model are increasing in popularity. So I really wanted to take some time to jam about this model agency of one, talk about some examples that I've noticed in the wild. And, as always see how I might apply some of this to lunch pail labs. 

So to start, like, what are these agencies have one Emad, who wrote this agency of one storm articles. And these are one-person businesses that offer bundled end-to-end services to customers, charge a monthly recurring fee, and define their offer pricing and terms. So in a lot of ways, this really sounds like productized services, just with a little bit of brand rebranding, and then obviously, a one being a one-person business, I kind of saw like three, three sort of different models. So you kind of have like the full-stack model, which is design joy. 

Again, they provide unlimited design subscriptions to scale businesses, prices start at almost $5,000 per month and can go up from there. And the thing that's really interesting is it's really an all-inclusive sort of design partner, even though it is, Brett who's executing the work. He's offering everything, from banners to systems, to websites, to business cards. And you're not easily going to have someone who can design all those things. Especially at the price point of $60,000 per year, like, yeah, like that's just not going to happen for like a full-time employee. So the sort of job like the court, like the alternatives, reasonable alternatives are much, much more expensive. And also kind of thing, this is really interesting on that full-stack nature. In a lot of ways. That's kind of what I'm trying to be like with lunch pal labs, really focused on developing that collection of skill sets where it would be difficult for someone to, for all of them to exist, get to a unique place where all of them existing, and one person is kind of rare. And I think design joy is a good example of that. And they charge well. And they make over a million dollars a year and it's a one person business. So kudos to that. 

The next one is chartfleau. This reminds me more of the like traditional productized services that I've seen, you're focusing on sort of this like niche case or small like this flow, and you're executing on that for like a monthly fee. So chart flow offers data visualization services, for web, social media, video, and print. Again, there is some of that like full stackness of being able to do it for different media and you can subscribe starting at $2995 per month. And yeah, again, I would say this is probably a little bit more bespoke, certainly a direction I could take lunch pail labs in, probably not because I don't know if there's any like one very niche sort of small thing that I would say that I'm exceptional at, I think my sort of hit is going to be like in some like weird kind of intersection of things that becomes rare. But chartfleau, for example, is also interesting, because it's not something that I think most companies would even hire a department for. So it's almost in that like opposite direction. If you do need clients' consistent quality design visualizations on an ongoing basis, like who are you going to call and you can call chart flow. 

The last one was another example I thought was super cool. It's get rice with this consultant rice, and he offers like you as a service type model. So he's a growth consultant, and you subscribe to have him on demand. So very interesting framing there. And I think some of that brilliance of the model is that it's automatically Unique, like, there's nothing more niche than being you. No one really can compete with being you. So if that is part of the selling point of a client or a customer or your like key buyer, then definitely being able to lean into that and then offer yourself as a service. I see this working very well. I think for someone who's like an influencer slash professional thought leader, people where the actual working with them is very interesting. Hopefully, one day I'll get there, but I don't think I'm there yet where folks just want to work with me, because I mean, but I think that's part of the dream. 

So some sort of like additional trends to kind of to pull out of this shortlist here is definitely seeing a lot of different parts of like multidisciplinary, especially, especially with a one-person business. And that's some like intuition. I've been feeling like if you are massive, if you have, like, I think specialization, extreme specialization, fate favors larger organizations. So and like generalists, or T-shaped Ness really favors smaller teams, all of them come with tons of years of experience, which makes sense. So I guess it's not really a game for the amateurs. But you know, the experience can always be built. And unlike other sorts of services or even agencies, they still have that, like one person's business control. So something that I really liked, especially with hearing designJoy's founder talk on the indie hackers podcast, is he still that's his clients, he's still you know, make sure there's like a fit between the two. He even limits his flow. So there's like a waiting list. I think, sometimes when I have sort of been a part of larger agencies, sort of selling lunch pail lab services through an agency, it's not, it's been kind of like anybody who comes in the door is the customer. 

And I do like that, I get to work, I have the privilege of working with people who I drive with, like, like, fundamentally, obviously, you can like misjudged a situation, but I, I thoroughly enjoy my clients. And it's cool to see this like agency of one productized service model still being applied. While having that kind of control, you have as a small team, a personal team, a bespoke team of getting to sort of choose who you work with. And also, I think another big thing is like the core positioning is this alternative to hiring somebody full time, which I think is a nice strong high-value positioning, especially if you're doing skills or you're offering is something that's generally well paid in the industry. Yeah, I automatic, clear, clear value prop, someone gets to work with a star award-winning designer, like Brett, they don't need him all the time. They just need him when they need him. And they get quality designs, but they don't have to pay like Brett's full-time price. So I think some of those things are really, really interesting. And also, some of the issues, I think that no coders fine with a lot of pricing and stuff. Because a lot of times for selling apps to people whose alternative was never to hire someone, it was, sometimes their alternative is trying to figure it out and build it themselves. So the value there is just like not that high. But if you're like oh man, like I got a growing company, and a new full-time designer, but I do need consistent design help, like am I gonna call agencies all the time? Am I gonna call freelancers all the time, which might be less reliable. A lot of this is the kind of insurance that you have someone on board. So this is a lot of this really jives with kind of where I'm trying to take lunch pail labs.

And as I think about like, okay, like, what are the barriers to pursuing this model today? Honestly, I think it's just some language change. Because a lot of our current projects are honestly like on this monthly subscription type thing. And so, I think for me probably the next steps, changing some of the languages on the website to say like, subscribe throwing a ball waitlist, because I do not have the capacity to serve as anybody else at this moment. And then I can say I'm an agency of one according to this model. So it's very, very, very interesting. There are different types too, like I definitely get hit up with the like white-labeled no code services to other agencies. And then product as a service fractional employee things is probably what I'm most interested in though. So that's all I got to say for this Monday. I hope everyone has a wonderful one and I will catch you all later.