3 Mistakes Small Agency Owners Make Which Prevent Growth [+Video]

Jason Swenk

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3 Mistakes Small Agency Owners Make Which Prevent Growth [+Video] Blog Feature

Published on June 4th, 2019

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Frustrated your agency isn’t growing as rapidly as you’d like? Feeling like your business is not as far along as it should be?

It’s totally natural and in fact, very common for your agency business to stall out.

But don’t give up!

I’ve worked with agencies of all different sizes, from a few hundred thousand in revenue to over eight figures, and you know what? I’ve discovered similarities in the way they grow their businesses as well as the things they’re doing which hold them back.

Sometimes it’s a mental block. Sometimes they just can’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ve been there too and I’ve pretty much made all the mistakes an agency owner can make.

That’s why I’m sharing them now so you can avoid or stop making them! 

3 Mistakes You’re Probably Making When It Comes to Growing Your Agency:

#1. Not Charging Enough

Most agencies don't fully understand the value of the service they're providing their clients and end up undercharging what they're worth.

When you undervalue the worth of your services, you’re cutting into your potential revenue.

Think of it this way. Your clients should be getting a 10X value on what you charge. In other words, if your services net the client $100,000 in revenue, then you should charge $10,000. Easier said than done though, right?

Often times we either don’t know our worth or we’re overdelivering because we undervalue ourselves. You cannot grow your profits if you’re not priced accurately.

How do you fix this?

Raise your prices.

It starts with getting a full understanding of the value you're bringing your clients.

The best way to determine that is by talking to your clients -- ask them what a lead is worth and make sure you understand their 3 I’s.

When you have the client themselves define what success looks like, you can do the backward math to determine what you should be charging them.

I'll bet with certainty that once you're aware of your value you'll discover you need to raise prices.

#2. Not Hiring a Project Manager at the Right Time

This is pretty vague and up for interpretation, I know.

You’re thinking “When is the right time and how will I know?” But you’ll know, trust me :)

So often this is the one mistake I see agencies make that is totally avoidable with a little bit of self-awareness and a giant leap of faith.

When you're first starting out, it's natural for the owner to wear many hats.

You're making good money but you're stuck doing everything -- from sales to design and development work to bookkeeping -- but here’s the thing.

If you're doing everything, you cannot focus on growing the business, so you're feeling a lot of ebbs and flows.

When the owner is focused on new business, the pipeline is full, but when the owner has to concentrate on fulfillment and delivery, the pipeline suffers.

It’s a constant roller coaster, and when it comes to hiring, most agency owners tend to worry about covering a salary so they think the best solution is to hire for a billable role -- such as a creative or someone to focus on the sales pipeline.

I’m here to tell you the answer is almost always to hire a good Project Manager (PM).

If you free up your time from being in the middle of every client project, you will be able to work on new business and forge new relationships in order to grow the business.

When you’re able to focus on growth, you will be able to cover a PM’s salary because the agency likely won’t experience drastic ebbs and flows.

Always hire when a goal demands it.

In this case, look for the right PM and higher them early. Your PM can manage projects and you can focus on growing the business, filling the pipeline, building strategic partnerships... everything except direct client work.

#3. Not Being Patient

Now, this one is the easiest to digest and yet the hardest to follow through on.

There’s no substitute for hard work --Especially in business.

As entrepreneurs, we’re sort of wired to expect instant gratification so we can move on to our next big idea or chase the next shiny red ball, but, the real secret to a successful agency is consistency and patience.

I know you’re putting in all the work, hustling hard, and paying your dues. Keep plugging along! Overnight success isn’t a thing -- and when it is, there’s no longevity. It fades fast.

So have patience and give yourself the time to be focused and clear the direction you're taking the business.

Be the agency owner you want to be by creating an agency you’d want to work for.

Be clear on what you do and what you don’t do, who you serve and who you don’t serve.

What Does Success Look Like For You?

Beyond a certain revenue level, what does your future success look like and how do you define it?

You’ll be amazed at the growth you can achieve (personally and professionally) when you’re really clear on your definition and measures of success and, of course, avoid these three mistakes.