Growing an agency, like any business, comes with its woes. Is it possible to scale your agency without growing pains?
In this episode, we’re exploring the most common growing pains that are connected with being an agency owner and stepping into the CEO role of your business. You’ll hear about the 4 ways to help mitigate the pain and discomfort that come along with the growth of your business. If you’ve been wanting to grow an agency but are worried about the frustration, overwhelm and anxiety that comes along with it, this is the episode for you!
Welcome to the Scale Your Way podcast, episode 84.
You’re listening to the Scale Your Way podcast, where we share simple, proven strategies just for fun 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 dive into today’s episode.
Hello. Today we were talking about growing agencies once again and asking the question, is it possible to grow an agency that doesn’t cause you pain? For those of you who are listening, if you have tried to grow an agency, maybe you have in the past and then decided you didn’t want to anymore, and maybe you’re thinking about it again. Or for those of you that already have agencies, I’m sure that as you have gone to grow and expand from you being the one delivering the services to having a team deliver the services, that there’s probably a lot of growing pains that happen.
There are tons of things that I’ve heard from people who I chat with online on Instagram and Facebook. And then also my clients, too. And so today we’re going to dove into if it’s actually possible to grow a business that doesn’t cause you pain or insert any word frustration, overwhelm anxiety, all of those, all of those things. So before we kick off, for those of you that 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 create a really awesome experience for all of the people inside of their business.
And that those are the people that I’m referring to are their clients, their team members and themselves too. So we want to grow businesses that actually serve and support all of the people. That is my mission. I have been inside of a lot of businesses that have prioritized one of those groups, and I’m here to change that. I’ve seen that it’s possible. I know that it’s possible. I’ve helped build businesses that do prioritize their people. And so if this is something that’s important to you, I’m your girl.
All right. So let’s dive in. So let’s talk a little bit about the pain that people experience when they’re going to build an agency. So one thing that can happen is that a team member, you’ve hired a team member and they’re needing to get some work done, and all of a sudden you can’t contact them. They’ve totally disappeared.
Has that ever happened to you? You know, maybe it was. They disappeared for the day or for a week, and it puts you in a bit of a bind, right? Because you’re relying on your team members to deliver for your clients. Another thing that pops up is clients and having problems with clients. Maybe they are being very demanding or they’re not following your process and you’re not quite sure if it’s them or if it’s you, or maybe you know it’s them, but you also want them as clients. You want to be able to have that revenue coming in and you’re feeling a little stuck knowing. Do I keep them? Do I release them? Do we need to change something?
You may also feel at times that you don’t even want to open up your computer in the morning. Have you ever experienced that? I know I have. I grew a project management agency and there were definitely mornings where I just didn’t. Even I was like, I don’t even want to look.. Can I just go back to bed, please? You know, and things that come from that, those experiences are feeling exhausted and feeling burnt out. And just also, you know, I think that there’s this quality with small business owners and entrepreneurs where you feel motivated and you’re excited and you want to take action, right? Because you’re the one who’s really driving your business forward. And so it’s important for you to feel a certain way when it comes to your business to feel motivated and to feel energized, right? Because you are responsible for not just growing, but also just keeping your business running, too. And so when you’re experiencing things like exhaustion and burnout and all of these like really kind of painful things, it prohibits you from doing from being in a state that allows you to do what you need to do to continue to operate.
And so this happens a lot. A lot of times a reason why people reach out to me is because they are trying to grow their agency and they’re feeling stuck. Definitely, they figured some things out. Usually they have team members that are already helping them deliver their services, but they’re feeling like they’re just stuck in the space and they’re wanting to break through to the next level.
So I think the important question to start with is, is there a way to avoid business pain completely? And unfortunately, there is not. You know, I believe that 50 percent of life can be uncomfortable and can be painful and can be a bit of a struggle, and 50 percent can feel great and experiencing success and wins. And I think when you try and only experience success and wins and avoid pain and discomfort, it causes more problems.
So because of this, I think that we might need to change our our minds a little bit and our thoughts a little bit around avoiding pain because that tends to cause more pain, which is completely the opposite of what we want to be doing.
But I do believe that you can prevent and mitigate some pain and discomfort and growing pains. And I believe that there are and I know this to be true because I’ve been there myself, I’ve been supporting clients running their agencies now for over, oh my gosh, over five years. I remember when I first started my business and I was saying like how long I had been in business and I was like, Oh yeah, I have been doing this for one a year, and I just remember thinking, I can’t wait to say, like, I have been doing this on my own for five years, and here I am.
And of course, I had experience before working in television, working in managing projects and managing people and moving things forward. And really, this is where a lot of this work came from when I started my own business. But I just remember wanting to be to this point where I’ve been helping people for this long. So here we are.
But, you know, I do believe that there are ways to be able to mitigate the pain and mitigate the discomfort. And I think it’s from being in a community with people who are going through the same thing and who have tried different things. And I think it’s from having the guidance of a teacher and a coach to help move you through these different spirals.
For those of you who follow me, you know that I talk about the concept of spiraling up and that at every single level, there’s going to be different things that you’re going to need to address in your business, and you actually need to address the same things over and over again as you grow. And it can sometimes feel like why on earth am I having to address this thing again? I already did this right. But when it comes to growing your business, when it comes to locking in your services, when it comes to growing your team, when it comes to being a leader, you don’t just check off the box and move on and never have to deal with it again if you were truly growing. You were going to get to a point where you’re going to need to reevaluate all of those things right? And by implementing the right system and actually gaining the experience from implementing. So, for example, with team members, from hiring team members and then letting the business work with those team members, you’re going to learn things and gain experience to be able to when you get to that next spiral to get to that next level, to be able to use that experience to make decisions moving forward so that you can continue to grow.
So here are a few ways that I have found to actually reduce the discomfort that you will experience as you grow your agency. And when I say you will experience, I mean that you will actually experience these things. However, if you implement some of these things, it’s going to make it feel a lot. I want to see easier with caution because sometimes easy, it’s like, Oh, you know, so super easy to do. But it will allow you to know that you’re working towards something that is going to be better on the other side. That’s probably a better way to say it.
So the first thing that I hear from people is that they have challenges with their clients and they have challenges when it comes to having a team deliver their services. And so the key area of this is really or the key solution to this is really revisiting the foundations of your business. And so this is something again that I know from doing it myself and making a ton of mistakes. By the way, I’m not somebody to say like I grew a multi six-figure agency and it was a breeze, right? But you know, there were some things that I learned along the way and that I did. Plus, I have the added benefit of being a people person and I love managing. I wanted to manage since I was like a child, but that’s like a whole nother story when you know you’re asked what you want to be when you grow up and I’m like, I want to be a manager. So who says that? Me! Nobody else.
So it’s really going back and starting with those foundations to make sure that you’re building, you’re continuing to build a business that is able to support having a team deliver. And so the things that you want to look when you revisit your foundations, you want to revisit your offerings because if your offerings are built to have one or even just two people deliver, it’s not going to work when you bring in more team members to deliver the services. Now, it doesn’t mean that you need to completely change what you’re offering, but you need to examine it and look to see if there’s anything that you need to tweak and change to make your service more scalable. Now, I’m not saying when I say a scalable service, I don’t necessarily mean that you have. It has to serve hundreds of people because I know there’s a lot of you out there that do not want to grow an agency that can serve hundreds of people. However, there’s things to look at that will be helpful regardless of if you want to have five clients or 200. There’s things that we need to look about when it comes to your offerings.
The same thing goes for your clients. A lot of people start their businesses, myself included, working with clients that wanted one person delivering that service. And it’s great, right? It gives you a lot of experience. It helps you build up your business. It gives you some testimonials. But ultimately, as you shift to having team deliver, you’re going to want to examine your clients to make sure that it will actually work for each of them. You may have clients where it will work great. You may have clients where it won’t. You may already have team members who are delivering, but you’re now realizing that you’re having some problems with clients, and that is probably because they’re not an ideal fit for your company and its direction moving forward, so we want to examine who actually is your ideal client as you spiral up and how can we invite more people in who are ideal clients?
So the second thing that I hear a lot about is struggles and discomfort and some annoyance when it comes to delegating to a team. And so what’s interesting is that I really like to explore the root cause of issues so that we actually make sure that we address the root cause and the root cause can be different for different people. But some pain that I hear about when I know that delegation is what we need to focus on is, you know, I assigned out these tasks, but they’re not getting done in the way that I want them to get done. They keep having questions for me or I know these tasks, but I’m getting more questions that would be faster for me to just do this work. I feel like I already delegated this, but yet I’m still doing it right? Those are kind of red flags or orange flags to clue you in to know that it might be something that you need to address.
So the second thing that I recommend is learning how to delegate better, and there’s different ways to do this, depending on again, what that root cause is for you. And so some of the things I work on with my clients is what tasks to delegate and when to delegate them. And so we want to make sure that we’re removing things off of your plate strategically and also making sure that it’s going to work financially for you. Because I do know that some people are like I. It took me so long. I know I need to delegate. I know I need to hire people. I’m just going to hire everyone.
And while that’s nice and I’m glad that you’ve overcome your fear of hiring, it’s good that you’re in that mentality. But we also want to make sure that you’re hiring the right people at the right time so that your business continues to work and you continue. You can continue to pay yourself as you grow this team. The third thing that I think is important to look at is learning how to manage your team and lead your team. And so there is a difference between managing when you shift from being a done for you, a service provider and or the only done for you, service provider. Or even if you just have a few team members, you are primarily managing yourself and your clients.
And when you move to agency owner, you have to shift to managing your team who is managing your clients and managing the rest of the team members. Right. So there’s this shift that happens, and it’s important to learn how to do that and how to do it in a way that works for you, that works for your team members. All of my clients at some point have or are going to hire in a manager inside of their business that manages the clients and the team, and managing a manager is different than managing an implementer.
And so that’s like a whole nother skill set that these business owners need to dive into. And so if you’re somebody who maybe you’ve hired a manager, but you’re feeling like, I still feel like I’m involved and managing, there’s some definitely key areas and things that you can do to make it work better so that your manager feels empowered. And then you also feel like you’re not having to step in and continue to manage. And then lastly, really stepping into a leadership mentality, and this is where it’s really funny. I, as all of you know, and if you’re new to me, you’ll know now is that I am a full supporter that you know, we need to acknowledge and understand people’s feelings inside of the workplace. I’m a total feelings person.
I think that we should be able to express ourselves, and I have been told by clients that after working inside of our program for I don’t know, some people say like a month or two and other people say a year, they cry less. So while I fully support crying and really being able to release all of that, I also know that there’s definitely some leadership and resiliency that’s being built inside of these business owners. And I think this is a big thing so that when you’re going through those spirals, you know, it’s a spiral. You’re able to be aware of that. And while it can still be uncomfortable, and while it can still feel a little painful, you have an understanding that this is required and that it will be better on the other side and that this is just a spiral and that everything will be OK, right? There’s this sense of stability and calmness and feeling grounded, even though there is some chaos around you. And so that’s the fourth element of how you can truly start experiencing your business in a different way, especially those moments where you’re stretching yourself and where you’re feeling uncomfortable.
So just to recap the four different ways that I mentioned for really helping you with that discomfort is one starting with the foundations. Right, really making sure that the business that you’re building and that you’re continuing to grow is going to work with you having a team learning to delegate better learning management skills and being able to lead a manager on your team and managers on your team and then being able to really step into that leadership mentality and building up your leadership resiliency.
So with that, I am sorry to say that there is no way to completely avoid pain. I wish there was and, you know, by avoiding pain, we’re actually creating more pain. So, you know, we want to be careful with that. But there are ways to be able to make it feel a little bit easier to feel more supported as you go through those moments that are definitely going to stretch you as you continue to grow your businesses. If you are interested in learning more, if you are interested in actually implementing some of the things that I chatted about today, we do this inside of my program. It’s called AGENCY. It’s to help you delegate at least 50 percent of client delivery, if not more in 12 months or less. This is something it takes time and it is a process, and it can be so much better with a really great framework that you can customize to yourself and with a community of people who get it. And that’s what agency is all about.
If you want to learn more, head over to NicoleJacksonMiller.com/apply. You can check out the program, and it feels like a good fit. You can apply for it, take an assessment, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. So I hope you have a great rest of your day, a great week, and I will see you all next time, bye everyone.
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.