Tag Archives for " Business growth "

Talking finance with Susan Boles from ScaleSpark

Today, I want to dig deep into some of the decisions you make early on in your agency that can have a HUGE effect on how your business develops in the future. We will be discussing:

Do you charge hourly or do you use value-based pricing?

Do you make sure you and your team use time tracking?

Are you sure you are making the best use of your time?

In this episode I am delighted to be joined by Susan Boles, virtual CFO and owner of organisation, Scale Spark.

We are going to be discussing all of the above and everything else in between to help you be sure you’re running a resilient and efficient agency.

[02:02] What are the common types of challenges most agencies seem to have?

[06:41] Your money mindset will have a HUGE effect on you and how you run your business. You may find that this is something you have to address, in order for you to reach your full potential as an agency owner. 

[09:25] People tend to structure their agency based on their experience as an employee at previous agencies. Why is this a problem?

[14:03] “Why are you doing it that way?”

[16:18] Let’s dig deeper into package pricing and the importance of tracking your time. 

[24:40] When you have data about how long a task takes, you can start to find more efficient ways of doing those tasks!

[27:48] Susan gives her 2 top tips for new agency owners.

[29:38] If Susan could go back in time and give herself some business advice, what would it be?

Resources 

ScaleSpark website 

LinkedIn

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

Scaling and succession planning with Pietro Ranieri

Today’s guest just so happens to be the first EVER employee I hired in my agency CIT, many years ago!

Pietro Ranieri worked at my agency for 9 years before leaving to set up on his own and I wanted to get him on the show to discuss his journey from freelancer to running and growing an agency, and to the point of selling his agency.

He went on to buy his agency back (we discuss why!) and he now has a number of offices around the world!

If you’re thinking of making the move from freelancer to agency owner, or if you’re thinking of scaling and maybe ultimately selling your agency, then this episode is for you.

[05:26] What made Pietro make the switch from freelancer to agency owner? With most of his clients based in the US, Pietro had become somewhat of a night owl which lead to an unhealthy and lonely lifestyle…

[09:37] Ranieri has a clear niche in consumer electronics, which has worked well for his agency as everyone knew they are the “go-to” experts. But what happened when he took on clients from outside of his area of expertise?

[16:22] Are you running a proper agency, or do you just have a bunch of assistants working for you? If you want to scale, you need to be able to step away from doing the client work.

[20:37] If you’re really looking to scale, it’s important you learn to distance yourself from the being the first point of contact, so the clients don’t become attached to you. Pietro and Rob delve into WHY this is so important and HOW to go about it.

[25:59] The process of selling your agency can be a very long and draining process. If you want to sell your agency, you need to know what to expect and how to properly prepare for it.

[35:15] if Pietro could go back in time and give himself some advice, what would it be?

For more info on Pietro's agency, Ranieri Communications, visit the WEBSITE.

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

The Self-Managed Agency

Imagine having an agency that runs itself.

No more slogging over client work day in, day out. No more 15-hour days to ensure you meet the next deadline. No more dealing with multiple clients all wanting to speak only to YOU.

This is something many agency owners dream of yet fail to achieve. However, if you really want an agency that runs itself, it most certainly is possible and I’m going to show you how to do it:


[02:01] If your hourly rate is £150 and you’re doing tasks below that level, you need to start delegating these and focusing only on the tasks that at level of your hourly rate or higher.

[03:51] You need to build your brand to be your agency not just “you”.

[06:23] Why you absolutely must hire the very best people you can afford, and not just a bunch of assistants.

[07:49] How building a management team as soon as possible will make it easier to move your agency forward.

[08:55] There is an art behind being a super effective delegator and learning this is so important if you want your agency to grow to the point of not needing you! Make sure you download my free e-book on delegation HERE.

[10:37] Do you have a plan that you visit every day to ensure you’re always moving your agency forward?

[13:00] You can’t build an extension on your house without foundations as the extension will fall down. Similarly, you can’t grow an agency without getting the fundamentals right.

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

Video Production with Laura Evans

Video content is dominating the world right now, but for so many of us (myself included for a long time!) the thought of getting in front of the camera can put us into a cold sweat!

Laura Evans runs a video and podcasting company called Let’s talk Video Production and I was super excited to have her as my latest guest on the Agency Accelerator Podcast.

We are going to be talking all things video and podcasting and why you should seriously think about adding these into your marketing strategy, if you haven’t already done so.

[3:49] Me and Laura both have experience of being made redundant but this can sometimes be the best thing to happen to you!

[6:20] Laura explains why businesses ought to be using video as part of their marketing strategy. Many of us are still fearful of this, but both videos and podcasts can be a great way of building a relationship with your audience, so it’s important to try and overcome this fear. Remember, it’s not all about you, it’s about your audience and the value you can bring them!

[11:25] Different methods work for different people when recording videos. Whether you use an autocue, post-it notes or you just wing it, do what works best for YOU.

[13:17] Laura gives some great tips for someone planning on recording a 2-3minute video on their own (without a production company!) including some awesome affordable gear suggestions.

[20:40] What is the ideal video length can how can video content help with your SEO?

[25:54] Podcasting is great for visibility but can it help you get more clients? 

[32:50] If you could go back in time and give your younger self some business advice, what would it be?


To find out more about Let’s Talk Video Production and their services, visit their website or email Laura at [email protected]

Links Mentioned In The Ep:

Starting Video Production With Low Costs

Microphones for starting your podcast


Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

The Ultimate Guide To Growing Your Agency During These Challenging Times

agency growth

Why on earth would I be writing a blog post about growing your agency during these challenging times when many agencies are just struggling to survive? 

Am I just not in touch with the current environment or what is going on in the agency world right now?

The truth of it is for every one agency that is struggling to survive, another agency is doing well and able to focus on growth.

I’ve seen two types of company during this crisis:

1

The first kind has decided to sit it out, furlough their staff and hope they can weather the storm. 

2

The second kind has been galvanised into action, pivoted their business or suggested to the client how they can pivot their business and supported them through the process.

You need to be the second type of company.  And to do this you need to speak to your clients frequently (whether they’re working with you currently or they have put you on pause) and make sure you are listening and serving them.

So let’s explore some practical steps you can be taking:

Use this time to learn more about your client’s wants and needs

We all like to think that we know our target audience well and armed with this knowledge we create our sales & marketing content.  But how well do we really understand our clients?

You might have done some work on defining your ideal target customer or customer avatar, but if you want to take it to the next level you need to talk to your clients and learn more about their pains and gains.  Right now there has never been a better time to talk to your clients because they’re more likely to have the time and inclination to spend 30 minutes discussing their business. During this interview, you want to identify the PAINS that they have, that they are trying to move away from and the GAINS that they want to achieve - that they are trying to move towards.  You are looking for the repeating patterns here and if you can interview between 7 and 10 clients then you’ll be able to identify these patterns. Use the recurring themes to inform the content that you create and the products/services that you deliver.

This is exactly what I do and it ensures that the content I am creating will be of value to my audience rather than just things I want to write about.  That is one of the key outcomes of doing this exercise (the other is producing products and services that your audience wants and needs – more on that later).


Have a plan

agency planning

I get it! A lot of us have been in survival mode and can’t think beyond the end of the month let alone six months, a year or even further but it’s a fine balance between reacting to ever-changing needs of today and trying to survive versus having half an eye on the future and having a longer-term plan (albeit one that you need to frequently revisit as this new world unfolds) for growing your agency.

I normally work with my clients on a long, medium and short-term plan. A long-term plan is usually 2 to 5 years (this is your vision).  The mid-term plan is usually one year and includes a quarterly breakdown (your strategies) and then from there, we have a monthly plan (your ‘to-do list’ for your business).  This is the document that you will use to run your monthly management meetings to ensure you’re focused on working on the business as opposed to operational discussions about the business.

I appreciate during this current period we need even more granular than I outlined above so I have created a weekly plan with measures, and you can grab your copy of that here.

Pivot where necessary

Agency growth

“Pivot” is one of those annoying words that we are hearing a lot in the business world right now but what exactly does it mean for you?

It means finding new ways to service your existing audience or finding a new audience.  For you, that looks like refining, amending or creating a new product or service or looking for a slightly different audience to your traditional audience and most likely, it is a combination of those two.

Don’t make the mistakes that many have made (and indeed I’ve made in the past) and that is assuming that you know what your audience wants and needs. So you invest a lot of time, energy and money in turning this new idea into a product/service to only launch it to crickets.

If ever there were a time to use my favourite expression of slow down to speed up then this is it! You need to first of all test your idea and validate it with your audience BEFORE you start marketing and selling it in earnest. This is a process of refinement. To do this you create three target groups and test you’re offering with group 1.  Using their feedback, refine it and then rinse and repeat with groups two and three. If at the end of this process you have had positive feedback and pre-sold some of your product then you know your product has been validated.

This is such an important topic that I’ve created a new e-book guide that takes you step-by-step through this process including templates for questionnaires and for letters you can grab a copy of that here.

Become a good listener

Being a good listener is an art and one that perhaps we all think we are good at but if there were ever a time to listen to your audience and hear the clues that they tell you about what they need from you, then now is that time.

Clients all have ‘jobs to be done’ and they have certain pains about those jobs that you can solve and gains that they are looking to achieve by getting that job completed.  If you can identify these jobs to be done and the pains and gains and market your business against that you’re much more likely to win new client business. Listening to your audience means marketing yourself against what your audience needs rather than what you have to offer so consider if your website and your outbound communications are they resonating with those pains and gains, and jobs to be done or are they just telling them what a great company you are, what your products & services are and who you’ve done it for before - because if you’re taking this old approach you’re not going to be winning new business.

This is a topic in itself for a future blog post but I felt it was important to include a reference to it in this post.

Get the balance of your time right

I’ve written quite a lot in the past about how leaders of agencies need to be allocating their time effectively and perhaps this is more important than ever right now, whilst we are working remotely from home which probably means working longer hours and/or having distractions such as kids at home, so we need to get even more disciplined and structured with all time.

If you want to continue growing your agency during these challenging times then you need to make sure you are allocating enough time to working on the strategy for your agency. This includes everything to do with how you are going to earn money in the future.

Time management

Learn more about allocating you time (click on the image)

A quick reminder: we can split our time across three ‘pots’

1. Revenue: (how are you earning money today) so this is all the client projects and retainer work you currently have on your books s

2. Strategy: (how you to earn money in the future): business development, sales and marketing

3. Admin: everything you do to run your business.  The ‘lifeblood’ tasks that keep your business afloat (finance, HR etc.)

No matter what kind of complicated labels we try to apply to our work, pretty much everything we do falls into one of these three categories. But while each of these areas matters, they don’t all matter equally. Particularly not for you: as the agency owner, your time needs to be spent in a deliberate manner for maximum impact.

You want to be making sure you’re allocating the right balance of your time across these three ‘pots’. There is a tendency right now to be doing as much as we possibly can to keep our clients so we are investing a greater percentage of our time in revenue but those agencies who are going to flourish and grow are also allocating equal amounts of time into strategy and strategy today might look different to what it did a few months ago. 

My advice here is to get structured with your day and schedule time across these three areas and create a list of things you do in each of these three areas.  I have created a simple tool you can use to help with this.

The second really important thing is to get good boundaries because when we are working at home the boundaries can easily get blurred between your working day and your personal time.  One approach that helps me is having morning and evening rituals (link?).

Focus on marketing your agency

Marketing plan

I have had lots of questions from my audience asking whether they should be marketing in this current climate. You see they are worried that if they send out content it could be seen in bad taste and feels inappropriate.

My response to this is a resounding YES YOU SHOULD marketing to your audience provided you are continuing to serve them and one of the ways you will achieve this is by applying the points I’ve made earlier in this article.  LISTEN and produce content that is truly adding value (as I am attempting to do in this blog!).

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of building your email list.  Consider this:

Do you know why eBay bought SKYPE?

Do you know why Facebook bought Instagram?

It's not for the reasons most people think....  

It was for their subscriber lists. eBay wanted SKYPE's 54 million members across 225 countries. Facebook wanted Instagram's 30 million users.

Why?  Well for every email subscriber you have on your list you can potentially earn £1 per month from them. Have a list of 100? That's £100/month. 10,000 in your list? £10k per month (or £120k/year!).

Also, consider that you OWN your list where you 'BORROW' your contacts on platforms such as LinkedIn. There are always new marketing fads that come and go but email marketing has always been one of the most cost-effective ways of generating new business.

I have been discussing the power of the email list for a long while and I encourage all my clients to make building their email list of potential buyers a central part of their marketing strategy. And I encourage you to do the same.

If you don’t have a list today then start one and set a goal of having 50 people on the list by the end of the month.

I have written about HOW to go about this and WHAT to send you list in this FREE guide.

OK so that’s your mail list but what else should you be doing? 

You can’t go to networking events, but you can get online – and the key here is to hang out in places that your ideal target customer hangs out and your research will tell you that. Also, think about how you can use LinkedIn to make connections and build empathy with those connections this is particularly true if you work in the B2B space.  Don’t be one of those annoying people who send out a connection request with a generic message and then send a sales message immediately you accept them.  That is a sure-fire way of being blacklisted! Instead, provide value to your audience.  Remember your goal (as with all your marketing) is to focus 80% of your time providing value and 20% selling. 

In conclusion

When times are tough we have to work extra hard and extra smart to find and win business. I have run my business through 2 recessions and now this current pandemic and have lived by that belief and it has served me well.

The key to growing your agency is to use your time smartly and get the balance right and have a consistent focus on sales & marketing – whilst communicating with your audience in an empathetic way do this consistently and you will be filling your pipeline with eager potential customers.

If you want more details on how to continue growing your agency in this challenging time, then grab a copy of my FREE guide on agency growth.

Creating a sustainable & profitable agency

Download "Creating a sustainable & profitable agency" ebook

Learn some core steps to ensure you can grow your agency in a consistent and pain free way.


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Why you should embrace failure with Miha Matlievski

What an incredible story my next guest has!

I am joined by Miha Matlievski today, who talks about his business failure and how he rose from the ashes, even after losing absolutely everything in a very short space of time. We also discuss mindset and emotional intelligence, and how you absolutely must have these both in check, if you are to succeed as an entrepreneur.

[01:45] A quick history of Miha…. He built up 4 successful businesses and a personal net worth of over $15million. However, this all came crashing down in 2009 after a phone call from his bank. He very suddenly found himself with no businesses and debt of $5 million. However, despite such a huge blow and even thinking of suicide for a while, he kept on fighting, built up a new successful company and is now known as “The Fail Coach”.

[08:39] Miha realised that a big reason he lost everything so suddenly was because his businesses had no foundations, so when the crisis came, he had nothing to fall back on.

[11:30] Miha discusses how he bounced back from learning how to be present. Mindfulness and emotional intelligence played such a huge role in his resurrection.

[16:22] It’s only when you take full responsibility for your failings that you will begin to succeed and remember….nothing magical ever happens inside the comfort zone! 

[23:22] We discuss the importance of emotional intelligence as an entrepreneurial business owner and why most entrepreneurs make it harder for themselves by not asking for help, when it’s usually right in front of us.

[27:57] What advice would Miha give to someone just starting out or looking to scale their existing business? Hint… be very careful of these so called “gurus”…

[37.18] If Miha could go back in time to give his younger self some advice, what would it be?

To find out more about Miha, visit his LinkedIn profile or go to his website.

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

Using video in social media with Ian Laurie

Standing out from the crowd when it comes to marketing your business is getting harder and harder these days and posting the odd blog just isn’t enough anymore.

So, in this episode I’m joined by Ian Laurie of Snow Digital Media and we are going to be looking at the importance of adding video into your marketing strategy, in particular using it on LinkedIn.


[02:50] Ian shares his journey of running his own business and discusses the dos and don’ts of running your own agency. It can be “lonely at the top”. Ian shares his experiences of working with business partners. You obviously have to have shared values and make sure you’re on the same page otherwise it won’t work, so how did Ian find the experience?

[08:24] Ian remembers what it was like to experience the peaks and troughs of running your own business, especially near the beginning.

[11:00] Why should video be part of a marketing agency’s strategy and why is LinkedIn the platform we should be focusing on right now?

[15:08] Is it ok to post video content using a third party app or should we only post natively?

[17:01] Ian discusses the ideal length and content for a video on LinkedIn and he reminds us why we need to make sure we grab the audience’s attention within the first 5 seconds.

[24:00] Ian loves video podcasts. They are the perfect for creating lots of small pieces of content from one big piece of content.

[27:24] So… that‘s all good and well talking about how to do videos, but how do you get BETTER at doing them? 

[29:53] Rob asks Ian what advice would he give his younger business self?

 

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

Why are we all so scared of public speaking? Interview with Steve Bustin

Fear of public speaking is an incredibly common phobia and affects around 75% of the population. As business owners, many of us (no matter how much we hate it) are unable to avoid public speaking situations thanks to meetings or presentations – in fact it’s a crucial part of building our agency. So wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we could learn to cope with it a bit better, or even crazier….learn to enjoy it?

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator, I am joined by award-winning keynote conference speaker Steve Bustin, who is going to be sharing some great tips and advice on how we can improve our own public speaking, better prepare for it and ultimately, not be so terrified by it!

[1:14] Steve has a very colourful business background and his passions and focus have evolved over the years. Starting as a BBC journalist, he then went into PR before realising what his true passion was: speaking and training others how to do it well.

[7:10] Let’s unpack some of the interesting points Steve just mentioned about his past experiences including being led by opportunity and the effects that losing a big client can have on your business.

[9:36] Steve discusses the Sunday night blues and how life is too short – and what to do about it

[11:23] There is a trend of people moving away from the retainer model within agencies. Could this be a good thing?

[13:35] Rob asks Steve why he thinks public speaking is the second biggest fear after death! Why do we care so much what people think of us? Steve also explains why we need to train our staff with the skills to be great leaders and that includes learning how to be a great speaker.

[20:41] Steve shares how he helps people overcome their fears of public speaking and he explains why you’ve got to have passion for whatever your talking about, otherwise how do you expect your clients to be passionate about it? And we must remember, we all present differently and that’s a good thing!

[23:18] Rob takes us back to a workshop he hosted and the importance of managing your ‘internal dialog’. Also, why do so many of us never rehearse our presentations before the big day? Surely this will help to get rid of so much of the anxiety we feel before speaking?!

[27:31] What is the perfect structure of a presentation? Why does great structure tend to revolve around just 3 main arguments? And how can you grab the audiences’ attention?

[34:00] Rob asks Steve what happens if you can see people yawning in the audience during your presentation? Does this mean you’re too boring and should stop right now?!

[37:40] Steve gives 3 brilliant top tips for improving your own public speaking

[44:56] Rob asks Steve: “if you could go back in time and give your younger self some business advice what would it be?”

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

Surviving and thriving in these challenging times

The Coronavirus has disrupted the entire world in ways we haven’t seen since WWII. Chances are your own business has been affected, whether it’s the amount of clients you now have or the fact you and your whole team are now working remotely.

In this episode I want to discuss 5 key areas that you need to work on in order to not just survive the virus, but thrive. They are; mind-set, serving your audience, pivoting where necessary, sales and marketing and the importance of having a strategy.

[1:45] You need to make sure you have the right mind-set if your agency is going to survive this pandemic. Remember, people are still spending money. It’s your own self-limiting beliefs that tell you otherwise. Identify your priorities for the week and write them down. When you have a plan you have a sense of control.

 

[09:20] How can you best keep serving your audience? If your business is genuinely helping people, then they need to hear about it!

[11:59] You can pivot your business in three ways; offering, price and message. Which one is best for your business?

[20:52] Should you be marketing your services at the moment or is this in bad taste?

[24:15] You need to have a strategy, and this is probably going to look different to what it did a couple of months ago. 

Subscribe & Review 

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

Links mentioned: 

PRODUCTIVITY EPISODE LINK

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Why niching your agency is so important

In this episode, I focus on something very close to my heart – the importance of niching.

Agencies that have a clearly defined niche massively outperform those that don’t in almost every way: revenue, customer retention, employee satisfaction, and in the quality of their client relationships (because prospects see you as the expert, not just as a supplier).

A big statement to make? Sure - but I know it’s accurate because I’ve lived it. Niching my agency allowed me to triple my profits inside 6 months and I’ve helped so many other agencies to substantially grow their profits after doing the same thing.

So if you run an agency and you’re still on the fence about whether or not niching is right for you, keep listening:

[01:37] Why is niching so important and how did it work for me and my agency?

[05:28] If you don’t niche, you can differentiate on two things – price and/or service. But is that really wise?

[07:40] How exactly do you find your niche? Grab a pen and paper for this bit!

[11:40] Here are the 2 key learnings to help you create your niche, serve your audience well and enjoy a profitable agency.

[15:47] Once you have found your niche, commit to it!

[17:33] One of my pet hates is when I see an agency website that is all about them and not the client. Your potential clients don’t care about you, they just want to know how you can help them. Make sure your website is about your client, NOT you!

FREEBIE – Defining Your Niche

Subscribe & Review 

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/ follow on iTunes, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much,

Rob

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