Shutting down your agency is stressful, but you must take the proper steps to avoid any dents in your reputation and establish a revenue line for the future. In this post, I'll outline those steps to close your SEO agency successfully.
Can you sell your agency?
Before shutting your agency down, seek an acquisition. Depending on different factors about your agency, this may not be feasible.
If you have over $5 million annual recurring revenue (ARR), top-notch staff, digital assets (software, etc.), and the agency isn't solely dependent on you, you're probably a good fit for a potential acquisition.
Without those revenue numbers, staff, and digital assets, you'll have to look for other lanes of opportunity.
If your agency doesn't fit the description above, don't worry, you still have options.
Establish a reliable referral partner
While your agency might not be a good fit for an acquisition, finding a reliable referral partner will be worthwhile.
If SEO is just one line of business, you'll want to establish partnerships with agencies that specialize in each line of business.
Finding a referral partner will allow you to earn revenue on your current book of business and any new deals that you come across in the future.
How to find the right referral partner
Commission rates are important, but so is your reputation. People frequently undervalue the latter, and it comes back to haunt them later in their careers.
You'll want to make sure that your potential referral partners have a strong reputation and can handle your book of business without significant disruptions.
You don't want to send your clients to an agency that isn't reliable. Make sure that your referral partner has the resources and systems to go above and beyond for your clients.
At Northcutt, our referral program offers a 10% referral commission per month. More importantly, we're the only agency that has openly fact-checked every ranking factor and designed a proprietary system from it.
How to notify and support your clients throughout this process
How you communicate with your clients during this process is your highest priority.
Change is hard for everyone, but you want to make sure that you communicate with your clients and keep them aware of the situation.
You need to support your clients and give them the option to cancel their engagement with no strings attached if they're not interested in working with your referral partner.
We would normally offer a template, but this conversation will be especially heartfelt and emotional. A template won't work in this situation, so we recommend that you're transparent and show empathy.
Don't forget about the legal and general housekeeping tasks
Now that you've found your referral partner, and worked with your clients to ensure a smooth transition, you'll want to focus on buttoning up the legal and general housekeeping tasks.
Liquidate your assets and sell your domain (if possible). Make sure that you cancel all of your subscriptions and close your business bank account. Notify the appropriate government agencies.
If your agency is an LLC, you'll want to dissolve the LLC. Officially dissolving an LLC is important because, if you don't, you can be held personally liable for the unpaid debts and taxes of the LLC. Many states levy a fee against LLCs each year, and, if you don't properly *dissolve a company*, that fee will continue to be charged. Legal Zoom has a great article on closing your LLC.
If you have any outstanding liabilities, make sure you settle them. If your business cannot cover your business debts, you'll have to pay the balance from your assets.
The Dissolution of a corporation is a bit more involved. You can read more on the steps here.
Transition is stressful and involves a whirlwind of emotions when an agency acquisition isn't possible. Hopefully, this post gives you the information that you need to find a referral partner, take care of your clients, and properly close your agency.