Tag Archives for " Business growth "

Winning Your Ideal Client

In today’s podcast, I’m going to show you how to identify your ideal client and how to go about winning them, even during these uncertain times.

This is something I spend a lot of time discussing with my coaching clients because so many of us (myself included) have wasted a lot of time and money attracting the wrong types of clients.

I’m going to be giving you loads of practical advice so if you can, grab a pen and paper and make some notes because you can start implementing a lot of this information from today.

[1:19] Today is the final day for enrolment to my 12-Week Agency Accelerator Mastermind Programme! I was so excited when recording this I actually forgot what year it was (it’s 2020 not 2019 at the time of recording! If you’re serious about growing your agency in a profitable & sustainable way, this is for you. If you’re listening to this podcast in the future (are there flying cars yet?!), keep an eye out for future programmes by signing up to my mailing list.

*EDIT – Due to the current global climate, I have extended the deadline until the 8th April at 7pm.

[2:00] Can you relate to this typical scenario I’ve seen happen so many times before? An email pings and it’s an enquiry from someone interested in your services, you’re excited so you agree to a meeting but when you turn up, they are not a good fit and it turns out you’ve completely wasted your time!

[5:52] Get clear on your target niche - do not try to be a generalist and please everyone. It won’t work! Download my ebook on defining your niche - where I go into this topic in a lot more detail.

[7:51] Define your ideal target customer - what is their job? What are their pain points? Where do they go for information etc? Learn as much as possible about your ideal target customer and your life will become so much easier.

[9:04] Target the easy wins and work on your ‘know, like & trust’ sales funnel

[12:16] Education based marketing should not involve you using your time! – Do not waste your time educating an unsuitable prospect when you could have spent that time putting that info into a useful free ebook to share with potential clients for years. Let your prospects educate and qualify themselves using your online content!

[14:12] Ask each prospect some non-negotiable questions – what questions MUST be answered before your prospect moves to the next stage of the sales funnel?  Make sure they answer these before moving forward.

[15:47] Make sure you and your prospect both go to the meeting with the same agenda – you can do this in an email before the meeting takes place to ensure you’re both on the same page.

[18:00] Close the meeting properly – Put an action on you & them and get a date in the diary for the next interaction.

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

Are you a niche or a generalist -  ebook?

How to define your ideal target customer - ebook

 

Agency growth & transformation with Lee Jackson

I am super excited to be joined by Lee Jackson of Agency Transformation and the Agency Trailblazer Podcast. This episode is jam PACKED with actionable tips and advice to help you with your agency’s growth.

We are going to be looking at the 5 stages of growth and transformation every agency needs to go through in order to grow. So grab a pen and paper because you’re going to be taking away so much from this episode today.

[1:09] Doors are finally open to my 12-Week Agency Accelerator Mastermind Programme! If you’re serious about growing your agency in a profitable & sustainable way, this is for you. Doors to enrolment are only open for one week so be quick, since there are limited places available in 2020.

[1:52] Lee Jackson has been a very busy guy for the past few years with multiple projects including the Agency Trailblazer podcast, The Event Engine and his brand new podcast The Event Martech. How on earth does he manage his time and keep on top of it all?

[5:18] With so much going on, how does Lee determine what he’s going do and what he’s not going to do? Lee actually closed one of his groups recently and he explains the reasons behind this. Focus on what moves the needle forward for you.

[7:42] Let’s look at the typical journey someone takes when they go out on their own. Like many agency owners in the early days, Lee used to work 18 hours days. However, long hours and passion isn’t enough to succeed and grow (indeed it can actually be detrimental to your to agency’s growth!). Lee discusses the 5 pillars of transformation and how every agency owner needs to go through each stage in order to grow their business.

[12:47] The first pillar of transformation – Know Your Identity

You need to know your identity. Be the authentic version of you and commit to your niche. Lee flashes back to when he used to show up to meetings in a suit and tie (totally not how he likes to dress) ….which would attract the complete opposite types of clients he wanted to work with!

[17:29] The second pillar of transformation – Value

So many agency owners still don’t value themselves enough and they regularly find themselves in the feast and famine cycle. We need to recognise that we are amazing at what we do and make sure we charge our worth.

[21:47] The third pillar of transformation – Messaging

Getting the first 2 pillars nailed will make it much easier to understand your messaging and choose the best platforms to get your message across to your audience e.g. Which social media platforms are best for what you do? Lee shares with us how he found his perfect platforms and how you can find yours.

[28:19] The fourth pillar of transformation – Nail Your Output

Be amazing at what you do! We need to make sure the quality of what we deliver matches our pricing.

[32:40] The fifth pillar of transformation – Future

If we haven’t worked out the last four pillars, how can we work out our future? This is all about scalability.

[35:02] How long does it usually take for an agency owner to go through each of the five stages?

[38:06] Why agency owners need to align themselves with someone that talks their language….

[41:24] Lee tells us about his next amazing event for agency owners – Agency Transformation Live on 6-8th May 2020. Read more about the event here.

[44:08] I ask Lee “if you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?”

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

Book Links:

Mike Hyatt, Free to Focus

Lee Cockerell, Time Management Magic

The E-Myth Revisted

What does it take to run a successful, growing & profitable agency?

If you run your own agency or are a solopreneur and want to grow your agency, or aspire to start one, then this blog will give you some really useful insights in how to grow your agency in a sustainable profitable and perhaps most importantly, enjoyable way.

Back in the early 90s I decided to start my own marketing agency.  I made tons of mistakes (more on that later) but I did have some really clear reasons as to WHY I wanted to run my own business.

These included:

  • Wanting to be in control of my own destiny;
  • Wanting to grow something and make an impact;
  • That feeling that I could do it better than what was currently out there (naïve arrogant youth can sometimes work in your favour!).

What I didn't realise (at age 24)  is that you need to be able to do more than just be good at delivering the service (in this case PR and content).  Since then I've learned that every successful entrepreneur has skills in the following 3 areas and if you want to be successful you need to make sure you are focusing on all 3.

 So these are: 
  1. Be good at delivering work today (revenue).  
    • This is working in your business of today
  2. Be good at focusing on the future of your agency (strategy). 
    • This is working in your business of tomorrow
  3. Be good at running your business (admin)
    • This is working on the administration side of your business

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these:

1. Be good at delivering work today (revenue).  

I call this one, ‘money today’ and it is perhaps the easiest one to understand - after all we started our own agency because we were good at doing this. This includes everything to do with delivering ‘work this month’.  It will incorporate client and account management, producing copy, design, web build etc. and generally keeping existing clients happy (whilst also ensuring you don't over service them!). 

As a rough rule of thumb this is probably going to account for 60 - 70% of your time.

2. Be good at focusing on the future of your agency (strategy). 

I call this one ‘money tomorrow’ and it can easily be overlooked when you are super busy delivering client work.  Strategy includes everything you will do to get new clients in the future.  So that will include your marketing, business development, networking, pitching, proposal writing and so on.

As a rough rule of thumb this is probably going to account for 25 - 35% of your time.

3. Be good at running your business (admin)

This is the lifeblood that keeps your business going and is usually a cost. Whilst this area can be quite tedious for entrepreneurs nevertheless it is vital that you allocate enough time to focus on the admin part of running your business.  This will include finance, invoicing, credit control, HR, paperwork, filing etc.  You will want to delegate or automate as much of this area as possible.

As a rough rule of thumb this account for no more than 10% of your time.

So it's clear that if we want to be successful at running and growing our agency we need to be disciplined about how we allocate our time.  This is especially true if you want to avoid those nasty peaks and troughs that many businesses go through.  I.e. A peak happens when we are super focused on delivering great client work.  However, as great as that is for current cash flow, it also causes us to not focus on the future and that ultimately leads to projects coming to an end and an empty order book - so we decline into a trough.  I went through this 3 times in the 11 years of running my agency and trust me, it was not pleasant so if you want to avoid this, make sure you are allocating enough time across each of the three areas as outlined above.

If you want to read more about creating a scalable agency, grab a copy of my free eBook

5 traits of a successful entrepreneurial agency owner

Over the past 14 years I have worked with over 350 agencies and I've identified 5 traits that every successful entrepreneurial agency owner possesses, so let me outline them for you.

1. Has a clear vision

If you don't know where you are going you'll never know whether you get there and that simply is why every agency should have some kind of documented vision!  This vision should motivate and excite you. 

If you have a team then make sure you bring them along with you, so they are equally motivated to get to the destination.  When you share your vision with your team you need to acknowledge the reality that some team members will feel like it sounds like a lot of hard work so remember to make it clear to them “what's in it for me?” if you reach the destination.  This could include opportunities, new exciting projects, training, promotion, bonuses, pay rises etc.

What does a vision look like?

A vision needs to document the destination that you want to reach, and it needs to describe that destination in terms of the sales, the type of customer that you want to win, the staff that you need, what systems and processes do you need to support that vision and how you will measure the steps along that journey.

Once you have this vision (it should be on one page), you then need to turn that into quarterly strategies and then turn those quarterly strategies into monthly plans.

If you want to be successful with your vision, you cannot create it once a year and then cast in stone and not be willing to change it. This is a sure-fire way of making it fail and is one of the two reasons why so many businesses fail to create a vision, and this stops them doing it in the future (the second being that the vision is overly complex). So, make sure that you revisit this vision frequently. Your vision needs to be a dynamic document that you are constantly updating based on what you know today.

2. Has a clear niche

I have written about niching many times before (you can grab my FREE ebook on niching here) so you'll know I am a big believer in finding your niche and showing up in this niche as an expert.  

Why? 

Because it helps you stand apart from your competition and show up as a specialist rather than a “jack of all trades”.  A specialist will always win against a generalist and a specialist agency will be able to charge higher fees and finally, when you have a clear niche you can identify your ideal target customer much more easily and build sales & marketing messages that really resonate with them.

Remember your niche will be the intersection of where you get the best results, where you have previously delivered profitable work and where your passion lies.  Read more about niching in my detailed blog on niching.


3. Builds a strong team 

A successful agency owner who aspires to grow their agency knows that a crucial part of this is building a strong team.  Now I’m not a big believer in building a business using freelance staff because that's like creating your agency on quicksand (understandably, freelancers have their own agenda, will not necessarily share in your vision and often, whilst doing a good job, will not go the ‘extra mile’). 

Freelancers are good for bringing in specialist skills and coping with capacity issues, and certainly can be used in the early days to build your business (until you have enough sustainable revenue to hire a member of staff) but ultimately you will want to hire your own team.

Now a successful agency owner will be willing to hire the best they can afford (and sometimes challenging people), and delegate down as much as possible.  This approach not only frees up your time but also develops your team members.

4. Is laser focused on how they spend their time

Talking of time, if you can delegate down as much as possible it will leave you to focus on the things that only you can do.  These tasks will include developing the vision and focusing on the strategy i.e. the future of your agency.

Don't get caught up in the belief that all clients want you to work on their account and you don't have time to delegate or believe it's quicker to do it yourself.  These beliefs are a sure-fire way of you becoming the bottleneck to the growth of your agency.

5. Is resilient

Agency owners often believe that they are superman or superwoman and are the sponge to absorb all the stress and pressure that surrounds them.  However, ensuring you take care of your mental well-being is crucial to the longevity of your focus & energy, and ultimately your agency. Being mentally tough means putting really good boundaries in place and not letting things that happen on a day to day basis derail you from your vision.  Good boundaries, learning to say NO and getting your priorities right also enable you to stay focused and motivated.

So finally, here are 8 areas you should focus on in 2020 to ensure the successful, sustainable and profitable growth of your agency:

  1. A clear actionable 12-month plan
  2. A clear niche
  3. A definition of your Ideal Target Customer (your ideal avatar or persona)
  4. A sales and marketing strategy and plan
  5. Some financial planning including cash flow forecast
  6. A value-based pricing policy
  7. A method for managing clients in a profitable way
  8. A staff plan (even if you are just using freelancers)

So how are you doing implementing all of this?  What is the one area you are struggling with?  I am running a series of FREE LIVE webinars on the topic of Growing Your Agency in 2020.  Learn more here: find a time that works for you and save your seat.

Latest Agency Accelerator Podcast: Running & growing a successful marketing agency

Agency Accelerator Podcast

In today’s podcast, I will be discussing exactly what it takes to grow a successful marketing agency and I’ll be giving you some great tips on areas to focus on as well as some common mistakes agency owners make.

Now, I’ve experienced the challenges and growing pains both when I ran my own agency as well as with countless other agencies I have worked with (both start-ups and established).

So, if you’re running an agency or you’d love to start your own agency, do not miss out on this episode. 

[1:21] – Why did you start your own agency (or why do you want to?) Maybe it’s because you love the freedom of having your own business brings? Or maybe it’s because you think you can do it better than others? Whatever the reason, you must ask yourself if you have these 3 crucial skills to build a successful business.

[06:02] Let’s now look at the 5 traits of a successful entrepreneurial agency owner. How many of these traits do you have? If you don’t possess all of them, what will you do to develop them?

[13:16] A very quick announcement that my 12-week Agency Accelerator Mastermind Programme is starting again very soon! If you want to create a successful and profitable agency, this programme is for you. You’ll receive 1-2-1 coaching from me at a fraction of the normal price as well as group coaching, accountability, your own unique roadmap and LIFETIME access to over 40 hours of online content, tools and templates. Doors for enrolment open on 26th March 2020 and are only open for a few days with a maximum of 20 participants. Click HERE for more info and to register your interest.

[14:16] Finally, I share with you my top 5 dos and don’ts of running and scaling a profitable and successful agency. If you can follow all of these, you will be on your way to creating a successful (and sustainable!) marketing agency.

Other links mentioned:

Agency Sales Pack

Agency Growth Pack

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

PS BIG NEWS! After 3 months and lots of positive feedback, it’s time to ramp things up. So from today onwards, The Agency Accelerator Podcast will be published weekly!

Scaling Your Agency: A Roadmap To Guide Your Way  (Part 3)

staff development

Welcome back to the final article in this series. Last time, we covered some of the most common problems you encounter when scaling your agency from “small” (5 or fewer employees) to “boutique” (10-15 employees), and how you can avoid them. If you missed that instalment, you can check it out here.  

This week, we’re going to look at the next stage in the process – moving from “boutique” to “medium” (10-15 employees to 25-30 employees). Just like the last stage, there are certain challenges that routinely crop up as you start to add more employees into the mix. Let’s examine those issues in more detail.

Stage 2: Boutique to Medium

Scaling your agency from 15 employees to 25-30 employees is not as simple as stacking more and more people on top of existing infrastructure. As we discussed last week, a dysfunctional foundation will collapse when it’s put under too much stress. Similarly, if your agency doesn’t run well when it’s small, it’s unlikely that things will improve as you get bigger.

However, the single biggest issue that holds back agencies looking to make the leap from boutique to medium-sized isn’t infrastructure. If you focused on putting the right systems & processes in place earlier on in the process, you should find that most of your systems scale up readily to accommodate new employees. Sure, there may be some hiccups, but overall, intelligent design and selection of your internal processes will serve you well.

Anything you neglected to reinforce earlier on (e.g. IT systems, finances, communication) may come back to bite you here, so make sure to take the time to strengthen these systems now, before they can cause real problems.  

Neglected system upgrades notwithstanding, the principal obstacle you must overcome at this stage relates to skills.

Overcoming the Skills Gap in Your Agency

When scaling your business from solo to small, you had to grapple with making your first hire. Here, you had to make good choices and bring on employees that possessed the skills your agency needed.

As you continued to scale your business from small to boutique, your attention shifted away from people and onto systems. Making good hires was still important, but you also had to ensure that your infrastructure was robust enough to sustain your growing operations.

And now that you’re looking to scale from boutique to medium, your focus returns to people. But it’s quite possible that the skills you need at this stage in the journey are different from those you needed earlier on.

Many agencies are top-heavy when they start out. If you have multiple owners, it’s likely that you’re all doing a substantial amount of work. When you take on a few employees, the work starts to get more dispersed and your time frees up. The top-heaviness of the agency decreases as more and more lower-level employees join the ranks. However, this leads to a growing gap between top management (i.e. you and the other owners) and junior staff.  

This gap can cause problems, particularly as you endeavour to scale your business further. Making strategic business decisions and focusing on the future of your agency requires the space to do so – breathing room from the everyday hustle and bustle of managing operations. Without being able to safely delegate your duties, it can be hard to get this time to work on the future.  And this can be compounded by the fact that your key clients all expect YOU to be working on their account!

If you’re not careful, you can be caught in between roles: not stuck in the business, but not free to work on the business either.

The solution to this problem is twofold:

  1. Ensure that you have the right functions filled in the agency
  2. Bring in more senior staff (maybe a general manager) to oversee day-to-day operations

Let’s look at these two areas in more detail.

Functional & Managerial Capacity

Simply put – if your skills/expertise are integral in delivering great client work, you won’t have the time you need to focus on scaling the business effectively.

There’s nothing wrong with having an input into the work, or being in a position to guide your team. But if your valuable time is spent doing work that someone else could be doing, you need to consider introducing more senior experienced staff into the organisation.

The best way to determine if this is an issue in your agency is to look at your current employees. Consider the following:

  • Is there a clear skills gap between top management, your few star employees, and the rest?
  • Is there an obvious bottleneck individual in the business (someone who needs to sign off on work, or is frequently sought out to get things moving)?
  • Are you overly reliant on “Jack of all trades”, or do you employ a number of specialists?

With reference to questions like these, it should soon become apparent if you have issues in this area.

If you’re still required to oversee day-to-day operations and closely manage employees, your time is still being used up IN the business, so who is working ON the business?

The lines between your competing delivery, managerial and leadership roles blur as your agency scales. It can be hard to grow the business effectively when you have so many demands on your time.

When scaling your agency from 15 employees to 25+, you’ll probably find that there’s an awkward transition period. The demands on a handful of vital core staff (e.g. yourself, or some key employees) increase dramatically, which can then lead to decreased performance, slower delivery, and even burnout.

The solution is to identify these issues before they can cause real problems. You know you need to invest in people, but what does that look like?

  • You may need to restructure your business. For instance, this could entail the promotion of existing employees to higher positions, then making an additional hire or two to fill their old positions.
  • You may need to train up existing staff (i.e. for a leadership role, or even just a different functional skill to reduce over-dependence on key employees).
  • You may simply need to make hires in some area. Perhaps you need additional client-facing staff, support staff, or a middle manager.
  • You need to get comfortable with your new more ‘hands-off’ role as you focus on guiding the agency forward.

Whatever the case may be, you have to invest in people at this stage in your journey. The systems you put in place previously (when growing from small to boutique) should serve you well, but remember to proactively improve matters in this area too.

Conclusion

This is the final article in this “Scaling Your Agency” series. When moving from ~15 employees to 25+, it’s rarely systems that hold you back. There’s little difference (conceptually speaking) between the infrastructure required to run an agency of either size. Payroll, communication, IT, finance… unless you’ve seriously neglected one of these areas, it’s unlikely to be your primary stumbling block.

Instead, the obstacle you must overcome at this stage relates to skills. Whether you restructure your business, hire new employees or train up existing staff, you have to ensure your agency possesses the skills required for growth.

As you continue to scale, you need more time to work on the business, not just in the business. If you’re trapped in a functional role all day, you won’t have the time or energy to make smart strategic decisions. For the good of your agency, you have to step back from day-to-day operations (in both a functional and managerial capacity). Take care of this, and your journey towards building a bigger, more profitable agency will be a whole lot easier.

How to grow your agency – part 1 – hiring your first employee

scaling your agency

In this new article series, I’m going to discuss some of the most common problems you may encounter if you aspire to scale your agency – and how you can avoid them. Think of this series like a roadmap: it will detail the routes available to you, but ultimately, which road you decide to travel is up to you.

Before we start, it’s important to note that having a small/lifestyle business isn’t a bad thing – if that’s your goal. Some people are content running small agencies (i.e. 5 or fewer employees). Some people are content to work entirely by themselves. And with the right strategy, you can build a highly profitable small business (even without employees) that affords you plenty of free time and the chance to do work you enjoy.

Running a small business can be liberating in some ways. You can charge more competitive prices than your competitors, who have larger overheads. You can create more personal connections with clients and have a direct hand in delivering work to them. There’s also less pressure when you’re only responsible for a handful of employees or just yourself.

However, depending on your ambitions, you may wish for something more. You might have a vision of an agency that is number 1 in your niche. You might hope to eventually “cash out” and retire young (a hard feat to accomplish when you’re responsible for servicing clients every week).

Many agencies start out with just 1-3 people (the owner(s), and maybe an employee or two). Few businesses stay this size – over time, they scale up and become full-fledged operations, capable of creating waves in their space.

The process of scaling up your agency is not always an easy one. There are several pitfalls you need to avoid on your path to a bigger business. Depending on how far along you are on this journey, the dangers will differ. Let’s take a look at these problems in more detail.

Stage 1: Solo to Small

When you start as a one-man band, there are certain things you take for granted. No one knows you better than you know yourself. You seldom need to explain what you’re doing to yourself – the answer is already in your head. While this is obvious (and very convenient), it can be a hindrance once you have to take on your first employee or two.

The process of going from zero employees to one or more can be tough to adapt to if you’re not prepared for it. Almost overnight, you go from being able to just do things to having to explain little details to someone else (the stuff you know, but take for granted as common knowledge). That could include your preferred methods of communication, typical working processes, favoured tools/systems, or anything of that sort.

Typically, the first hire you’ll make as a solopreneur looking to expand will either be another functional person (i.e. someone who you can directly delegate work to), or an admin employee (who can handle everything that doesn’t relate to servicing clients). You shouldn’t just hire these people for their skillset – you also need to look out for adaptability and can easily be flexible enough to work in a small agency and do what needs to be done!

The growing pains you’ll experience when moving from self-employment to co-existence with someone is a huge psychological leap – you’re moving from a 1-man band and making the decision to become a ‘real’ business – that’s how it felt to me!

Let’s take a look at an actionable process you can apply to your business today if you’re looking to make one of your first hires (or just a great hire in general).

Making Your First Great Hire: The Process

I’ve heard many horror stories in my time as a business coach. I work with a range of small and large agencies. Regardless of how far along these businesses are in their scaling journeys, the owners usually have stories to tell about the mistakes they made when hiring their first employees. And from listening to all these different stories, I’ve learned there’s a general process you can follow to avoid these mistakes:

  • Figure out what kind of employee you need? An admin, client facing; a senior or junior member of staff. What will enable you to focus on the things that only you can do?
  • Figure out if you need this employee full-time, or if a part-timer/freelancer would do. This will help you to avoid spending money unnecessarily – always a bonus when your business is in these early stages.
  • Select candidates not only for their skills but also for their adaptability and cultural fit into your agency. You’ll need flexible people at this early stage as you’re still learning how to work with others, developing your processes, etc.
  • Manage your new employee’s expectations from the start. If you’re only taking them on for a month-long trial period, tell them. This will make reversing your hiring decision much easier later on if things don’t work out.
  • Invest time in setting them and you up for success. Hiring is the start not the end of the journey: put a good induction in place and meet with them regularly, to give and receive feedback, especially in the early days.
  • Make sure that you’re flexible in your approach to the work. While you’ll undoubtedly have preferences as to your preferred systems and methods of working, it’s possible your new hire will have valuable experience you can learn from. Don’t compromise your business for them, but don’t be afraid to adapt your processes if something better comes along.
  • Have a probation period that upon completion you decide whether your hire is working out well, or if you need a change. Making good hires is an inexact science, even with experience. The key here is to avoid the sunk cost fallacy – don’t feel as if you have to keep going with them because you’ve already kept them on for x length of time. That’s akin to throwing good money after bad… and that is not a good way to run a business.

That’s the abridged version of the experiences I have seen with many successful agency owners over the past 12 years. While the specifics of their situations differed, the overwhelming majority of them followed a process much like this when taking their agency from “solo to small”.

Conclusion

While part 1 of this article was geared towards one-man bands looking to make their first hire or two, the fundamentals of making great hires are the same no matter how big your agency is. Hiring typically gets a little easier as you scale – you have a better grasp of the kinds of employees you need, attract better candidates, and have stronger systems in place for making the right decisions. When you’re starting out, you lack these resources. That’s why it’s so important to have a robust process in place for making hiring decisions.

Starting that journey of growth may begin with hiring a freelancer but don’t be fooled into believing you can build your business using freelancers. I can guarantee you that it will not work. A freelancer may help with growth in the early days, and they are great for plugging a capacity gap or bringing in skills you do not need or want permanently in your agency, but they are not a long term strategy for growing your agency. (If you want to know more about why I believe this then get in touch).

Cheers

Rob

P.S. In the next article in this series, I’ll discuss what it takes to go from “small” (5 or fewer employees) to “not-so-small” (10-15 employees approx). Stay tuned!

Growing a creative business

business growth

Here is an article written by me and published last week in the Brighton & Hove Independent newspaper.

Many creative business owners start out as freelancers and then get (too) busy.  They reach a cross roads where they have to decide whether they remain a one-man band or grow into a business.  If they decide to remain as a freelancer then the can pick and choose the ideal client / type of work and create a ‘lifestyle’ business.  However, if they decide they want to grow their business then the game changes; their priorities and how they spend their time, will change considerably.

Here are 5 tips on growing a creative business:

  1. Get a plan – a business without a plan is like driving on a long journey with no idea of the destination! No doubt this will be a painful journey.  So, decide on the destination (the vision) and then work out how you are going to get there (the strategy) and then plot a detailed route (the business plan)
  2. Decide on where you sit in the market – the creative sector is a crowded market so what makes you truly different? And here is a clue – it’s not because ‘we really care’ or ‘go the extra mile’ or ‘are friendly’! Do some research and decide where you want to focus, who is your target customer and then focus on being the best in your chosen niche
  3. Use your time wisely – you will need to be great at juggling plates so work out what you really need to do and what only you can do – and delegate as much as possible (get a great support network around you, even when you have no direct employees – a virtual assistant, a book keeper, a coach etc.)
  4. Focus on the most effective ways to win new business – just relying on referrals won’t necessarily give you consistent steady growth, so what else can you do? What are the most effective sales & marketing channels to reach your target customer?
  5. Create measureable milestones – once you have started points 1 to 4 you can now focus on delivering the short-term plan and if you have some measureable KPIs or milestones you can assess whether you are on course or if you need to make some changes. This becomes particularly important when you have employees who you need to get aligned with the vision and focused on the right things.

There are many tasks a new business owner needs to focus on so it’s vital to get organised and work out your priorities.  If you want to avoid getting quickly burnt out then follow the 5 tips above, as a starting point to growing your business.

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