Alex Koritz | Crain's San Francisco

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Alex Koritz

Background:  

Method Communications likes to think of itself as "the anti-agency” marketing agency, partner Alex Koritz said. The firm started in 2010 as a spinoff from companies associated with Utah’s Sorenson family conglomerate, and has grown to serve clients in Utah as well as the Bay Area. The Holmes Report named Method “Best Tech Agency in North America” in 2016. Koritz began his PR career working on the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and continued through working with two other agencies and having his own practice before joining Method.

The Mistake:

I hadn't really learned the business side of running an agency.

I went out on my own in about 2007, 2008 when the whole world was collapsing with the economy.

I went out on my own as a freelancer in communications, which basically was just me and then a network of some freelancers. But I was a journalism major, and that's all I knew how to do.

I had to learn the business and financial side of running a company. I didn't know the first thing about payroll or taxes. That you should set aside 20 percent of your revenue just for taxes, or you're going to be in a world of hurt. Or, how important cash flow is and how you invoice clients.

If you want to own your own business and you’re not going to get an MBA then take some business classes, and find a financial mentor.

The Lesson:

I certainly learned to have a good tax person. I had a friend that was a freelancer that had made a big mistake, the big mistake I mentioned earlier of not setting aside money for taxes. And then my friend ended up just owing the IRS a ton of money. So finding a good tax person and then always following the 80/20 rule where 80 percent of your work is on clients, but 20 percent needs to be out there finding new business.

I mean you eat what you kill, and so there were times when I was a freelancer that the work was going great, but for whatever reason, you will lose a client at some point. I mean that's just the real world, and I didn't have anything in process for building a new business pipeline. When I joined Method, I brought these lessons to my business partners that I'd learned the hard way. 

PR is a relationship business, and you need to be out there doing the networking events and luncheons and PRSA groups, the trade associations etc. You’ve got to do that stuff. You've got to build time into your workweek to tackle these activities.

I also think that if you want to own your own business and you’re not going to get an MBA then take some business classes, and find a financial mentor.

If you're going to network, don't just be focused on people in your field. Get to know an attorney or tax person. It always pays to have a friend that's an attorney, right?

Even in your personal life, it can really just help you out, so be broad-minded and open to who you're networking with. I think most people just try to network with who's in their field.

Follow Alex Koritz on Twitter at @alexkoritz.

Photo of Alex Koritz courtesy of Method Communications.

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