Are you hesitant to call your business an agency? Or maybe you’ve heard horror stories from people trying to grow their businesses as an agency? I know when I was growing my business, there was a part of me that was hesitant to call my company an “agency.”
What I realized is that the reason most agencies did not work is because they did not prioritize leading their team with intention and great communication. In today’s episode, I’m sharing some of the misconceptions around businesses that operate as agencies and why company culture is so important to changing the conversation and misconceptions around agencies.
Welcome to the Scale Your Way podcast, episode 81. You’re listening to the Scale Your Way podcast, where we share simple, proven strategies just for done for you service based companies. Here, you’ll learn how to scale your business on your own terms so that you can have more time money, create a bigger impact and a better life. I’m your host, Nicole Jackson Miller. Let’s dove into today’s episode.
Hello. Today we were talking about growing an agency, and if you had a past experience inside of an agency, whether you were trying to build your own and it wasn’t a great experience, or maybe you have been a part of somebody else’s agency, or maybe you have worked with an agency, or maybe you have heard horror stories of agencies trying to grow their businesses. This is for you. So before I dove into that, for those of you who don’t know me. Hello, my name is Nicole, and I help done for you. Service providers step into the role of agency owner and really create a great experience for all of the people in their business, including their clients, their team and themselves too.
So I want to start off by telling you a little bit of a story and why I really resonate with this topic. So when I first started my business, I was a project manager. I very quickly grew a project management agency and it was challenging at times and it felt natural at times. And the part that was quite challenging for me was moving from calling myself the main project manager to actually having a team who was doing client delivery and specifically explaining this to clients who were thinking about signing up with us. I remember having a conversation with some friends in the industry and they were talking. We were talking about like what I was doing and they’re like, Oh, so you’re you’re growing an agency, right? And I’m like, Oh, no, no, no, I’m not growing an agency. I just have a team that’s delivering client deliverables and they’re like, Nicole, that is an agency.
And so when I think about it, I obviously wasn’t very comfortable with calling myself an agency, and I really had to ask myself why. Because I loved developing people. I loved managing people. It was something that I did a lot when I worked in my job prior to running my own business, and when I stopped to think about it. After having these conversations, I realized that I had a lot of resistance around calling myself an agency, and this is something that I hear from a lot of people. I was really fearful of using that word to describe our services. And when I thought about why I realized that it had to do with everything that I had been hearing about, about agencies in our industry. So in the online small business industry, where team members were unhappy or underpaid, clients were dictating the schedule and the scope of work. People weren’t on the same page, team members being told they were replaceable. And so just like not really great leadership and management practices, once you start having a team deliver client services and an agency model, the quality of services go down. And we actually worked with some agencies when we project managed for our clients, and there were some experiences that were great and there were others that weren’t great either.
So I was really hesitant around this. And I’m curious if you’re listening to this right now, like, why do you think that you’re hesitant to call yourself an agency? And maybe it’s not even calling yourself an agency when it comes to your website or your brand, but when it comes to the way that you are setting up your business, you know this can really happen. If you’re hesitant on calling yourself an agency. It does then impact the way that you’re building your business because you may not be fully stepping into the agency model, which is then prohibiting you from being able to grow. If you’re not really committed to that model because of all of these things that may be running in your head that are very legitimate.
You know, we don’t want our team members to be unhappy, especially if you’re a service provider. The thing I love about service providers is that we’re all used to doing work for other people. Right? So all of the service providers that I work with at least really care about their team members, right? And if you’re in this position, then you don’t want your team members to be unhappy and underpaid, right? And you also don’t want there to be times where your clients or your team are on the same page. You don’t want to have a decrease in the quality of your services for your clients, and you’re not wanting to grow your business, maybe in the way that you’ve seen other people growing their agencies and their businesses. And so I realized the reason why these agencies failed is because first off, they weren’t set up to be agencies. They weren’t set up to have team members deliver services for their clients. They didn’t know how to delegate effectively. And ultimately, it came down to a lack of leadership, right? So the good news is that you can really take your experiences and create a company culture that you wish that you had. And what this often looks like is better team communication, better project management, better client management.
And so I will share that sometimes. It’s interesting when you go like, let’s say you Worked inside of an agency yourself, and then you go, there’s a bunch of reasons why you didn’t like working there. You go to build your own business and you’re so focused on not repeating the things that had happened in the past and what you may find, as well as you get experience running your own company is that, you know, maybe there were certain decisions that were being made that maybe you didn’t agree with when you worked in the business. But now, as the business owner, you kind of understand more about what was going on, but maybe you didn’t agree or don’t agree with or it didn’t feel right because the owners of that agency or company were not operating with good intentions or you didn’t like their leadership style or how they communicated.
So instead of stopping you from building an agency that you love, let it fuel you to build an agency you wish you were a part of. So I would love for you to share. Why will your agency be different and what makes it different from other companies that you’ve worked out from other agencies that maybe you worked at, or maybe you worked with on various projects? OK, we have some comments. I had no idea I was pushing against the agency. Maybe. How is agency different from just having a company so an agency can be a company? And actually, when I had my project management business, the business name shifted from the project designer to the project designer company. However, what I realized is that I actually had to step into and commit to building an agency model business. So it wasn’t necessarily me saying we are the projects designer agency. It was me committing to the agency model, which is having a team deliver your services for you. So that’s how I’m designing it for the purposes of this. So it’s not being involved in client deliverables anymore and really building a company where you have team members that are delivering that done for you services for your clients.
So for me, I didn’t call myself the project designer agency. I actually called myself a company, but I still had to fully commit to that business model in order to be able to see success there. And what I realized is that some of the things that were holding me back from owning the agency model was because of past experiences that I had had with project managing and working with agencies that where we had issues communicating, it was from seeing other agencies in our industry who were not, you know, doing well. Or I had heard from team members that they weren’t having good experience for various reasons. And so all of those things. It wasn’t just calling myself an agency, it was committing to that model.
And all of those things were kind of all of those thoughts and stories were playing in the background, which was really prohibiting me from fully stepping into growing an agency. And when I was able to do that, when I was able to to remind myself why I was different, that’s when everything changed for me and a big thing and a big reason why I share that. What I’m really after is creating a company, creating an agency where all of the people are taken care of because a lot of the businesses that I had either been a part of or worked with, not all of them, but some of them you would see like the the business owner paying themselves and going on vacations and doing all of this stuff and doing photoshoots and all of these things, the team would just feel like they weren’t taking care of or the business owner would feel like they would not have. They couldn’t pay themselves for months and months because they were paying their team and they weren’t able to actually be able to take a break or the team and the business owner is doing OK. But the clients were the quality of services were were going down right, and so it didn’t really serve everyone. So just as I’m asking all of you who are listening to really define why you’re different and why you’re going to create something that’s even better than what you’ve seen before. I’ve done the same thing myself, and that’s really where this all came from. For me, I was like, You know what? I really believe that there is a world where, you know, with the right clients and with the right team members and with the right leadership skills, we can really create an environment that thrives for all people. And I think that that’s a really amazing and healthy way to grow a business. And I know that it’s possible.
And so that’s really what I love to teach and what I love to teach my clients in the agency. Owners that work with me also are aligned with that value because there’s plenty of agencies out there that really don’t care about people. That’s not like their mission is to create a great company culture for their team members and for their clients and for themselves. That’s just not their number one priority. So I don’t we don’t work together, right? My marketing doesn’t resonate with them, right? But what I think really attracts the clients that I love working with is that they do care about people. They love their craft and what. They do, and they also want to create this really good culture for themselves and then for everyone that’s around them as well.
So with that, thank you for joining. And if you are interested in being able to delegate client delivery and really focus on creating a good culture for all of the people in your business, and you’re really looking to do things differently than maybe you’ve seen the model before. I highly recommend you check out my program agency. It’s actually open for enrollment starting next month, so if you’re interested, head over to nicolejacksonmiller.com/apply. You can read all about it, and if it looks like it may be a good fit for you. Send over an application. We love to read it. And yeah, get to know you better. All right, everyone. I hope you have a great rest of your day and I will see you next time.
Thanks so much for tuning in. If you are ready to stop settling for being a done for you service provider and really fully step into the role of agency owner and CEO and lead a team that you love that just delivers excellent client results, then you have to check out my new program called Agency, which is specifically designed to remove you from at least 50 percent of client delivery in 12 months or less, so that you can have the time in the space to be able to run your business and, you know, to take a tech free vacation, too. That’s always nice, right? So if you’re interested in learning more, head over to nicolejacksonmiller.com/apply. You can learn more about the program. If it looks like a good fit, then apply and we will send you before our call. We’ll send you a free business assessment that will really explain more about the framework that we use to remove you from client delivery, and it’ll give you an assessment that you can take to really show where you are now and where you’re going. We’ve had so many people get a lot of insight just from taking that assessment, so I can’t wait for you to check it out.