Are you a service provider who’s looking to grow beyond 1:1 services and wondering if an agency model could work with your business? Or, did you “accidentally” start an agency and are still trying to figure out if it’s the best model for you?
If either of these is true, this episode will help you work out whether or not your service is currently set up to scale with an agency model. If it is – great! The option is there for you. If it’s not – don’t get too bummed. Even if it’s not set up now, this episode will give you information on what changes need to be made for you to make an agency model work.
Join the Agency Accelerator to revamp your Agency Foundations before implementing your parental leave plan! This will ensure that your business is set up to have a team deliver client work and manage your business while you’re out! Our next round starts in April, but there are some special bonuses you get when you sign up early. Check it out here!
Hey everyone, Nicole here and welcome back to the show. So today we’re going to talk about how to know whether or not you have a service that you can actually grow and scale with an agency model. Because an agency model is a great way to be able to grow your business, but it’s not the only way. And so if you’re somebody who’s thinking about starting an agency, this will be really helpful to see what indicator.
Need to be in place in order for you to be successful in growing an agency model business, or at least to start out to set you up for success. This episode is also good if you already have an agency model and it’s not quite working the way that you want it to be working, or maybe you feel stuck in its growth, you can go back and look at these indicators to see.
Are you hitting all of them? Where might you be off a little bit and what can you do to get back on track? Okay, so let’s talk about three different signs that you have a service that you could scale with an agency model. So the first is going to be a financial indicator. Now I say financial indicator because.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the exact dollar amount. Revenue is not everything, but there’s a few reasons why I like to look at revenue and I wanna explain them to you so that maybe you’re not hitting this exactly, but you can understand my thought process behind it to know whether or not. You’ve checked this off the list or if it’s something that you might need to work on.
So I think generally it’s a good indicator if you have a service and you’re delivering the service yourself that you could make at least a $100K a year doing it yourself without any team support.
So there’s a few different reasons, and I wanna share those reasons with you now. So you can see maybe it’s not a hundred thousand, maybe it’s 80,000, or maybe it’s 150,000 for you. But here’s the reasoning behind that number.
So I’ll talk to people and I’ll ask them a few questions like, are you booked out right now in your business or close to it? How, what does that revenue look like? And some people will say that they are totally booked out in their business with a waitlist, which sounds great. And then I ask them the revenue amount and they share that they’re making $2K or $3K a month. And so there’s no judgment around this, but typically I like to see this be a higher amount because when you shift to an agency model, your financials shift as well.
So when you are the only person providing the service inside of your business, you are direct expense. So you have a new client come in, you deliver the work, you pay yourself.
When you shift to an agency model, you are shifting to paying a team as the direct expense, doing the client work, and you’re also needing to pay yourself as an overhead expense.
And so it doesn’t mean that tomorrow you need to have enough money to be able to pay yourself a full on salary and pay a team to do all of the work inside of your business.
Inside of my programs, we lay out a transitional plan to do this slowly, but the closer that you can be to that rate, the easier it will be for you to actually be able to bring in team and spend a little bit of money bringing in team to be able to get that support to deliver to the clients, because oftentimes you do need to adjust your rates a bit when you start hiring in team members. And what I have found is that when this happens with agency owners, they have a sense that they need to raise their rates anyway, even if they were the only person providing the service, they had this feeling that, you know what the value that I’m providing, is so much greater than what I’m charging. And because I’m charging this amount, I’m having to do so much more work and I’m totally burnt out in that capacity.
So they generally have a sense that they need to raise their rates anyway. But then when it comes to actually shifting to have team support, they understand that they’re doing it for the good of the company, and it actually becomes a little bit easier to wrap your brain around versus just doing it for yourself. Even though wouldn’t be nice if we just did things for ourselves sometimes.
So this also shows that you can manage a service-based business at this level. You know, if you’re making a $100K a year, you likely have at least a handful of clients. You’ve gotten used to onboarding. You’ve gotten used to dealing with renewals or referrals you’ve gotten used to dealing probably with client issues. And it also means that you definitely have something figured out when it comes to delivery. So if you have generated this much revenue for at least a year or a certain period of time you know what it takes to be able to deliver so that if you, let’s say, have a monthly retainer, clients wanna continue to renew, or if you’re more project based, clients are referring you to other people. And that’s a really good indicator that you have a good service.
It also gives you the experience of running a business and I think that, there definitely is this experimentation phase, especially when we’re providing services and growing and building where we’re trying to figure out if we, maybe we have clients that really love our services, but do we really like doing this?
Do we like running a business? Is this for us? Are we committed to both the uplifting periods of running a business and also some of the dips that happen and the challenges that come And really being able to show that commitment can be really helpful and having a business that’s been able to generate this amount of revenue for a certain amount of time can help do just that.
So this also shows, and this goes into our next sign, that your service is in demand. And that’s a very important indicator to show us that you may have a service that would work really well with an agency model approach. So what does it mean to have an in-demand service?
It means that you have something that people want, which is really big. There’s a difference between having an idea in your mind of what would be really awesome to offer and then actually testing it out in the marketplace and having people confirm it with the money that they are paying you for that service.
And it shows that you have something that people want. And it also in terms of having that in demand service and also mixture with the a hundred thousand dollars in revenue when you are going to build out an agency with and really tweak the foundational aspects to be able to work with a team, start to hire in a team.
It does take a certain amount of energy and time on your side, and so if you have demand and even a wait list, it will allow you to be able to focus in on the operations without having to worry about having to bring on a ton of new sales. We want your problem or challenge to be more around the operations than we want it to be around the marketing and sales.
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be focused on marketing and sales because that is one of the two of the very important pillars of running a business. But we want you to be able to have that flexibility. So let’s say. You’re bringing on a new team member and now you have some more capacity.
You have people who are coming to you, who are wanting to work with you who are ready to commit without you having to dedicate a ton of time to a ton of extra time to be able to pull that in so that you can really focus on that operational side. So the next sign is that your results are repeatable.
So you’ve started to see a trend in how you deliver for your clients and in terms of your service? I recommend to agency owners that they have a scalable service, which means that it’s repeatable. And while there’s certain areas that may still feel quite customized, like quite customized, or you might still be deciding which offers are the most scalable, you can still see a pattern that when repeated leads to a really good.
Working relationship. And so I use the phrase working relationship as opposed to happy clients because we are only so much responsible for the happiness of someone else. That’s very I think can be very tricky to try and take ownership over, but it’s more about that working relationship. So if there’s certain things that you repeat with clients and you can start to see these trends that lead to a great working relationship, this is a really good indicator that you have a service that you can continue to grow with an agency model.
Let me give you an example. So when I had my project management agency, We obviously managed projects and each project was a little bit different. We had decided to stick primarily with course launches and program launches for the most part. There were sometimes a few other projects that we would work on with repeat clients because we already knew their teams and their systems and everything.
But each project was a little bit different, but we still could see. trends and what would get a client pretty good results and have it be a successful relationship, which from our perspective was a well managed project. So some things that we would look at, it would typically be starting about two months in advance of whatever they were launching.
Anytime when we would have kickoff calls with the team and then review the project plan and get everyone sign off, that worked better when a client already had team members in place and established relationships that worked better. And then we would usually take about two months to manage the deliverables, and then we would probably need about two weeks post-project with them.
And so we started to see like what situations what trends were in place with projects that worked really well. And those were some of those areas. Obviously if you have a service that is very repeatable right now where. It can be very systematized. That’s awesome.
And also a lot of agency owners come to work with me and some of my programs because they feel like things are too customizable. But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mean that’s something that you can’t change. I would say the more repeatable, the better. And if you can start to see ways where you could make it repeatable it’s great, but it’s more just to see, like we have a trend in getting clients good results and this is what we do to get those results.
That’s a really good sign that you have a service, you can scale with an agency model. Those are really the three signs that you know, regarding the, your services that show that you have a really good service that you could scale with an agency. So just to recap, You could make a hundred thousand dollars per year doing it yourself.
And we talked about some of the reasons why, just in case it might not be exactly a hundred thousand dollars for you. And there are always exceptions. Of course, your service is in demand. And that your results, you’re starting to see trends where your results and your services are repeatable. So I wanna give you a little bit more though, because if you are someone who’s thinking about starting an agency there is more that goes into it besides just the service itself.
And so there’s two things that I wanna mention. The first is if you were considering an agency model. This is more about you than it is about your service. The first is that you like working with people. So I know some people out there that they’re like, I like to show up. I like to deliver my service, and I like to leave.
I like to show up. I like to deliver my service and leave, and they do not want anyone else involved in the delivery of their service. In that case, an agency model is not going to work for them. . It’s very likely that it’s not going to work for them, but if you enjoy working with people, and it doesn’t mean that you have experience maybe having a fully built out team yourself, but if you’ve been on other teams where you see the idea that several minds are better than one, and you have seen how things have come together, even if there were issues.
It’s a really good indicator that you desire to have an agency. Now, this also doesn’t mean that you haven’t had experiences with teams that were horrible. I’ve worked with some agency owners who. Started their agency because they were a part of other agencies that were managed terribly and they saw the potential and they didn’t wanna repeat some of those really bad patterns.
But again, they’re still you still see value in having support. And even better if you have had a few team members that you’ve hire. Maybe on an as needed basis to help and support you with projects and you’ve seen the value in what they’ve delivered. Maybe you’re still trying to figure out how you might delegate other pieces of your client work or more client work or management, but you see the value and having that support in place inside of your business.
The second part, which I think is really important, I’ve been having a lot of discussions with friends about this recently, is that building an agency model that works can be quite boring. And it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. You really have to be committed to doing it for the long term. And it usually requires you working on things that aren’t, don’t sound like super cool. Are necessary in order for you to have a company that grows and is sustainable. And so it takes time to make an agency model work. And I would argue that it takes time to make any business work.
I was just having a conversation with a friend and we were talking, I think she was telling me that she, she was like, yeah, I think it really takes 10 years for you to get to the point in your business where you’re like, yep I’m settled. This is what I’m doing. Because you have all of these experiences. You’ve tested out a bunch of different things and while that may seem like a short amount of time for some of you listening, or a really long time, for some of you who are just getting started, It takes time to make this work.
And so I talk about the concept of spiraling up and what that looks like is that there are aspects that you need to focus on when it comes to your business. And this is part of the framework that I use inside of both my accelerator program and my agency program. And so the framework is your agency foundations.
Clients you’re offering your delivery process, your financials, your team, your delegation process your org chart, your roles and responsibilities, and then like your growth and operations and how you’re continuing to evaluate your company and proactively make changes to improve it. And then coming up with new business opportunities and ideas.
So these things are always going to be present. And sometimes when we are working and running our business, we hit roadblocks when it comes to these areas. And we may have felt like we already addressed it. We already addressed the delivery process. Why are we having problems with delivery?
Are we already handled that team challenge? Why is it coming up again? Or, I thought our offerings were priced appropriately, but now we’re having. Like financially. And so these is, these things will come up time and time again, and that’s what I call a spiral. It’s when you have to evaluate your operations to figure out what’s going on and use the experience that you’ve gained over the course of the last, let’s say, year in order.
Change so that you can really grow to the next level. And sometimes this can feel like you are spiraling out when you are really spiraling up. And it can look like so many different things. An unhappy client, a loss in revenue. It doesn’t also, doesn’t even have to be negative. It could also just be like, “Hey, we generally just wanna improve our team culture and experience here. What are some things that we need to either change or improve, or update or add to make this a better experience for the people who are working here?”
But this is the concept of spiraling up. You have to go through the spirals. You can’t skip spirals. And so oftentimes people look at business growth as this like straight line up and that’s just not the case. It’s really this like series of mountains and valleys and, dips and eventually we need to build the resiliency and really have that commitment to be able to stick it out long enough to make the changes that are necessary to keep moving forward.
And so I have a client that shared recently that her agency just feels boring. It’s boring, but building this boring business has gotten her to about like $800,000 per year in revenue. It takes a lot of boring stuff to make the business run. You have to be do willing to do this boring stuff.
Boring, sometimes stable looks boring. But boring allows you also to have fun in other areas. It could be in your personal life. It could be for generating new business ideas that doesn’t disrupt your current business, but like new business ideas and new ways to grow. Like those are all things that are needed and you can pour yourself into those areas versus you.
Getting really like dramatic inside of a business that doesn’t need it that, that would prefer more of a hands-off approach. Make it boring so that you can pour this energy into other areas. So what does this all start with? Regardless of whether you. You’re thinking about starting an agency and you’re wanting to make sure that you get off on the right foot or the right start, or you’ve had an agency for several years, but you’re feeling stuck. You’re not really accelerating in the way that you want to, it all starts with revamping your foundations, and you need to do this at least every quarter to make sure that your foundations are set up to support where your business is right now, which is going to be different than where your business was six months ago, and it’s going to be different than where yours, your business will be six months from now.
So you wanna really revamp those foundations. We wanna make sure that your you’ve audited your clients. And your offerings and your delivery process processes are built upon those ideal clients and all of the lessons that you’ve learned over the course of the last year of business. We wanna make sure that your financial support, the team that you have now.
For some of you, you may be just starting to delegate client work for others you have may have fully delegated client work and now you’re looking to take on more overhead expenses because you’re starting to build in a managerial team and really start delegating a lot of the management piece. That regard that requires revisiting your foundations again to make sure that they are set up for that level of support.
So I know it’s a little early. But I like to plan and I wanna share with you that I’m launching the Agency Accelerator, which is totally focused on revamping your foundations so that it matches not just where you are in this current moment, but also where you’re going over the next three to six months.
And so if you wanna learn more about that, you can head over to nicolejacksonmiller.com/accelerate. Our next cycle of this starts. In April. And so we have a little bit of time, but there are bonuses if you sign up early. So I wanna make sure if you are a planner like me, that you get to check it out.
You get to check out those bonuses. And if you sign up now for the April start date, you’ll get some extra goodies that you can start right away.
I will put a link in the show notes to this episode where you can learn more information and if really accelerating your agency this year is what it’s all about for you. Again, whether you’re just starting out or whether you’ve already been in business for several years and you feel a little stalled and wanna continue to grow, you should definitely check this out.
All right everyone, I hope this was helpful to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and I will see you next week!