Strategic and Succession Planning Prepare Visionary Agency Owner to Lead Like a CEO 

The secret sauce in Ryan Burton’s digital marketing agency, Leads Near Me, is that he and his team lead with love.  


“We have a great team of very special people here working for clients we adore and love,” said Burton. “Our work is based on one principle: we care. We love our clients. Caring and doing the right thing has led us to success.” 


Burton, who has been 16 years in the digital space as a developer, website builder, search engine optimizer and Google Ads expert, enjoyed working in large firms. He had no aspirations to be a small business owner but felt ignored when he offered ideas on delivering a better customer experience.  


So, he started Ryan Burton Marketing in 2012 and relaunched it as Leads Near Me in Lawrenceville in 2016. 



The agency was successful from the start, its sales rapidly growing. By 2019, Burton realized he needed help managing this growth, so he contacted UGA SBDC Consultant Jessica White in the Macon office. 


“Ryan wanted to put the right team in place so he could run his company strategically,” White said. “He was ready to manage and grow like a CEO.” 


She helped him develop job descriptions and workflow strategies and put Workers Comp in place. They reviewed various processes with White, providing guidance in the areas of mission/vision statements, operations and IT, accounting and bookkeeping, and client leads. They reviewed his mission/vision statement, org chart, onboarding, termination policies and succession planning. 


“Ryan’s growth was exponential, but he wanted to scale it strategically. We worked together on how succession planning would fit into his plan.” 


“I had not given a lot of thought to processes or improving what we do,” Burton said. “Jessica has been very influential. The things she has taught me have been very impactful, important to the health of the team and the company.” 


During the last year, sales have grown 30 percent, and 3 new staff have joined Leads Near Me. 


“We’re more secure, and I’m making better decisions. A good idea is great, but you need all the strategies and tactics Jessica has taught us. They’re monumental!” 


“Ryan, as business savvy as he is, never thinks he has it all figured out,” said White. “He is open-minded, ready and willing to receive guidance. That will cement his claim to fame, his willingness to be a lifelong learner.”