Have you thought about growing and scaling your agency, but feel like you’re getting stuck? Maybe you’re still wondering if an agency model is even for you or maybe you feel like you don’t know the steps to take to make it happen.
In this episode, I talk about the top reasons I see business owners NOT scaling their Agency and how you can overcome these hurdles. This is not to convince you that an agency model is the right fit for you. It’s to share information so that you can use it to make an informed decision. Ultimately you need to do what’s right for you!
Episode 122 – talks about fear of what your current clients will think if you make changes.
Episode 115 – talks about different types of business support (free and paid)
Accelerator Program – open now! Setup your agency operations to delegate 50 – 90% of client work.
Agency Program – Delegate 50 – 90% of client work in 12 months or less.
Agency Money Bootcamp – develop a clear money plan, grow your agency and delegate client work.
Hey everyone. Nicole here, and welcome back to the show. So most service providers that I talk to, they want to grow their businesses. They want to make changes to make their business work better. They wanna be able to serve and support more people because they have a service that helps and supports and is of really high quality.
And oftentimes when it comes to growth, these service providers are still trying to figure out exactly how to do it. And this is even true if they’ve already committed to a certain type of business model, like an agency, even if they don’t publicly call themselves an agency. When I say agency, what I mean is that they are delegating client work to a team that is delivering.
So I wanted to talk to you today about the top reasons why I see companies not growing and scaling their agencies and how you can overcome some of these hurdles if this is coming up for you.
And this is not to convince you that an agency model is the right fit for you. I’m not here to convince you of that.
I think that is a personal choice and the purpose of this episode is to just share information with you so that you can make an informed decision whether or not it be to grow and scale with an agency model. You need to do what’s right for you. You need to do what’s right for your company.
So here are the top reasons why I see business owners not scaling their agencies, and then some information around if this is a hurdle for you, some information around how to overcome it. And again you can then make that informed choice based on the information that I’m sharing.
So the first thing that I typically see is that they’re wondering about the business model in general, the agency model. Some people that I talk to have tried an agency model and it has not worked.
And this is actually a lot of the clients that I work with have tried and it hasn’t worked, and they’ve had to really revamp some things. They’ve had to learn a lot and they’ve had to then approach things differently.
If you have tried an agency model and it hasn’t worked, you may be thinking that an agency model just isn’t the right fit for you, and that maybe another type of business model would work better.
So it could be a coaching business. It could be a consulting business. It could be staying a done for you service provider and offering one-on-one services and charging a certain price point for those services.
If you have tried and an agency model has not worked for you, and you have found something else that has worked great, but if you have tried and it hasn’t worked out and you haven’t really found anything that works for you, this is where we get into just this constant circle of questioning and not committing and not taking action.
Now, I will say that there is a time for this, right? We don’t wanna force you into action when you’re not ready, when you haven’t really processed what’s happened. If you are taking action and moving forward with only one foot in and not two, I think it’s really useful to have time periods where we just stay in what I call the messy middle. So really processing what’s happening, what’s for you, what’s not for you, why. And you can even be having conversations with people about this. You can be testing different things. But ultimately you will come to a period of time where you’re ready to move forward and take action.
So what I want you to know about this if an agency is something that you have tried and it has not worked out, is that you can do things differently to make it work better. And I know this because I have helped dozens of clients do this that have had agencies where it hasn’t worked.
I have a client, Amy Bradbury, and she has been on this podcast before where she’s talked about how when she first started her agency and this was years back, that she would have a team and it wouldn’t work out and she would go through these hiring and firing cycles. And eventually she was able to put some pieces together and make things run better. She was able to hire again and she was able to learn a lot. And now she has a really successful accounting agency with great team members and great clients, and they’re continuing to grow. And it took time. It took time for her, and I’ll link to an episode where she shares more about that. But I think it’s really important to know that just because it hasn’t worked out for you in the past doesn’t mean that it can’t work out for you in the future.
You can do things differently and by following some frameworks, this is something that I share inside of my AGENCY program, you can learn what are the main components of what goes into really being able to create a agency that has the ability to thrive and then customizing it specifically for the way that you want to do business and the way that you wanna run your team.
It’s understanding what’s worked for other people, but then also applying it to your specific business because there are different ways to run an agency based on the industry that you’re in, based on the type of service that you offer and based on the roles and responsibilities of your team members.
Okay. So the second thing that I see when it comes to an agency business model is folks wondering if it’s actually going to be profitable. Because you do have to pay team members to deliver client work, and you also have to pay yourself and any other overhead expenses. My belief around this is that any business model out there has the potential to be profitable or not profitable, depending on how the business is run.
So I recommend to everyone to do analysis on their profitability. And this can be before they start hiring. It could be if you’ve already hired in team members and you’re realizing that the financials just aren’t working, but really doing this analysis so that you create a delegation strategy. You create a team hiring strategy.
So if you’re somebody that doesn’t have a large amount of funds to invest into your agency upfront, which is often the case with many of the business owners that I work with, they start by offering the service one-on-one and then slowly start expanding to having team members, but it’s not like they have investors that are giving them a bunch of cash to be able to invest in their business.
It’s very important to have a very strategic hiring plan and to be able to know what financial markers you need to hit, at what point in order for you to bring on the next level of team. That will allow you to be able to remove yourself more fully from client delivery. What markers do I need to hit when it comes to revenue, number of clients and new business in order to be able to bring on the team that I need to support me.
Cuz that’s a big question I get from people is it’s well, I feel like I need to have a team in order to take on new clients, but I need new clients in order to take on a team.
The second area that I see become a hurdle for people is that they’re afraid by shifting to an agency model and bringing on more team members, and making it actually work, they’re afraid of the changes that they’ll need to make and how those changes will impact both the business owner and also their current clients.
So some of the changes that depending on where your business is that need to happen, it could be the packages that you’re offering and the scope that you’re offering within those packages. With that, it could be pricing. You might need to shift and adjust your pricing for both new clients, but also current clients.
It might also be changing the delivery process and if you, if your current clients are used to working with you in a certain way and you’re wanting to change, The process in which they work with you. Depending on the types of clients you have, you may look at your roster and see. Oh, I have some clients that would have no problem with some of these changes, and I have other clients that would not be happy, like they really wanna work with me in this way, and you can’t really see them changing to work within a process that would work for a team.
And all of these reasons are very valid. And I actually talked about this during my last episode. It’s episode 122: Avoiding taking on new clients? Watch this. And we talk a bit about change and the fear of change. And so the recommendation that I have for this, and I highly recommend you go check out episode 122 because it just gives more detail, is that you take a step back and just don’t think about your current clients for the moment. Think about any new clients that are coming in. You don’t have an established relationship with- what changes would need to be made in order to make the agency run better. And that way you’re not, you’re really you’re not getting stuck in trying to change things for some current clients that you might have that might not even be ideal. So let’s just start with thinking about new clients and then I talked about it this in the last episode too, if you are at a place where you do know that you need to communicate changes to current clients or maybe even transition from having some non-ideal clients to more ideal clients, then I can also record a separate podcast episode on how to do that.
That’s something that I support clients with inside of my AGENCY program. Depending on how your business is set up right now, and this has happened with some of the students inside of my Accelerator program, they actually joined that 60 day program because they wanna see what changes they actually have to make their agency work.
Sometimes what we find is that the changes are pretty minor. And so I’ve had some clients who’ve signed up for that program where they’ve had to increase their pricing for new clients and change up some of their delivery processes, but they were able to see which clients that they have right now that would work for. And usually they’ll identify a client or two that’s not a good fit. They have new business coming in, they’re easily able to replace those clients, and then they’re on to the next phase, which is all about team.
So some clients coming in realize that almost all of the clients that they’ve been working with just aren’t a fit for an agency model moving forward that those clients have really enjoyed working with them one-on-one, but just aren’t going to be a good fit for team members and process changes and package changes.
And so in this case, the reason why they like to join a 60 day program like the Accelerator is cause they wanna learn what changes need to be made, but then they know that they need to go implement those changes and give them some time and space to do that so that they can start building up attracting new, more ideal clients and really getting their agency in a place where they can start to hire in more team members based on those up-leveled operational foundations.
And so the thing about change that I want to share is that if you’re in a situation right now, that’s not ideal when it comes to your business. You’re going to have to change one way or another. And you can either change by choice or by being forced to change.
And I will say sometimes we do need to be forced to realize what needs to change. Sometimes we just don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard to identify what’s happening in the moment. Sometimes we need to like really learn that lesson over and over again in order for it to stick, in order for us to understand. But I know, and this is true for myself especially when I had my own agency is that there would be times where I knew something was wrong, but it felt way too hard to make the changes and have the conversations like I just didn’t feel capable of being able to handle that with everything else that was going on. So I would pick the things I would focus on and I would definitely avoid other things that just felt too hard and it always would come back. And so I think the way that I really grew as, as a leader of my own business, was starting to recognize the changes that needed to happen a little bit earlier by starting to work with more ideal clients and have more open forms of communication with clients and team and just not avoiding and resisting change.
So if you’re somebody right now who things need to change and you’ve been avoiding it, I just wanted to share that with you and encourage you. Maybe you feel like you need to make this one really big change, like fire all of your clients and start brand new. My, my sense is that there’s probably some small changes that you can make as well that could make things way more enjoyable for both yourself and your team. If you have one right now.
it could be, communicating a boundary. It could be just not even communicating about a boundary with a client, but just working in a different way internally to better support your team. Really break down what are the things that need to happen in order. For in order for things to run a little bit more smoother, and maybe you’re not implementing all of the big things right away, but you’re taking small steps to get yourself closer to where you want to be.
So the third area I see resistance around when it comes to growing your agency and scaling your agency is around team. And I see this especially with like earlier agency owners, maybe around like the two year or three or four year mark, where they feel like they have some people on their team that they wouldn’t be able to lose that they wouldn’t be able to continue to run their business without, and so they become very dependent on a particular team member.
I see this happening a lot with team members who are at the managerial level where maybe you finally found an account manager that works really well for you, or maybe you finally found a project manager or a business manager that works really well with you and you just can’t imagine running your business without them.
I have a client who said this once and I thought it was perfect because she said, I originally stepped into running an agency thinking. I want an agency that could run without me. And then she said, what I realized is that I actually want an agency that doesn’t rely on any one person.
And so if you’re at a point right now where you feel like if someone were to leave you you would just be totally screwed then you can think about okay, what are some of the things that might need to shift and how can I create a business, an agency that doesn’t rely on any one particular person?
What do we need to streamline here? Where do we need to document some processes and those level two processes, I talked about this a lot in the last episode 122, where you really start documenting your intellectual property and the way that you make decisions and strategic decisions to be able to distribute to your team.
And you can even think about the team member that you would never wanna lose and think about what is it about them that makes them so special, and how can I start documenting that? And what do we need to change about this so that the business isn’t relying on them? So it might be a process change, it might be a documentation change, like processes.
It might be how to, how do they make decisions in a way that I really appreciate what goes into that? And really starting to form systems around your business so that if that person leaves for whatever reason good or bad that your business can continue. They can continue and that puts a lot less pressure on your team member as well which can be really supportive.
So the last reason or hurdle I wanna share, and this has come up recently, actually, a new member of my agency program who started two months ago had said she was just like, I don’t, I wanna grow and scale an agency. I just don’t know what to do. Like I’ve hired in some team members, there’s some things I need to change. I feel like I have one offering that’s really scalable and one offerings that’s not. But I just don’t know what I don’t know, and I feel like I need that support to continue to move forward. And that’s where I recommend actually getting support with your agency because I understand being in that position.
I think there’s two things I think that you can, it’s important for you to find the right support and I actually did a podcast episode last year that talked about that talked about different types of support from free support to paid support, that would be really great. I’ll link to that in the show notes. I forget the actual number. So definitely listening to that. But it’s important to get the right support.
Having a step-by-step process or what I like to call a framework can be really helpful and supportive, but also having, getting support where there is a someone or a group of people that can help you customize that framework to your particular business is equally as important. So I have signed up, I remember when I had my agency, I signed up for this program. This guy had run like, I don’t know, a million dollar, multimillion dollar agency and had sold it. And I just thought like he had all of the answers.
And so I signed up for this program of his, that was like everything, you nee everything you need to grow your agency. And I went through it and he was giving like the same advice for every single. Agency owner, it’s like the first person you need to hire as a manager. Here is the exact proposal that you need to send out to people.
It just like all of these things and while I appreciated seeing what had worked for him Maybe I don’t really know how well his business, his agency was run operationally. Just because he sold it does not mean that his agency was running well. There’s lots of different people reasons why people buy it didn’t really help me because I had there were certain things I knew I wasn’t going to do proposals the way that he did them. I knew that I didn’t really need to hire a manager first cause I had a project management agency and it just, it wasn’t the right fit.
And so while, having a framework is helpful and again, I frameworks a little bit better cause it shows you the different components. But then a good framework should give you some options for what to implement within, inside those areas. But then also getting that support and the customization and working inside of a program or with a person that has customized the frameworks for different types of agency businesses.
And and this is also feedback that I’ve gotten I asked my clients all of the time because I wanna continue to grow and evolve my program delivery for my clients. And one thing that they’ve mentioned that’s been different about my program that’s been different from others is that there’s so many different types of agencies that’s within the program. From accounting to human resources to copywriting, to branding and web designing. There’s a bunch of different types of agencies within the program and that the frameworks really work for everyone. And then, but being able to get that unique customization, not just based on the type of agency, but also the services.
Let’s say you have two different copywriting agencies. Their packages and services and areas of expertise could be totally different. And so based on that, they may have different team members that they hire. They may have different team members they hire at different times. They might have different roles and responsibilities within the business.
And so that’s where it’s really important to be inside of a program that knows what questions to ask so that you can actually be creating a delegation strategy that works for your particular industry and your offerings, but then also for management, like how your team is configured, what the roles and responsibilities look like, what the organizational chart looks like, what the growth strategy looks like.
There’s frameworks, but it’s all very customized for your particular business. And so if you feel like you have your foundations in order, those operational foundations, and you’re really ready to start. , getting your team in order, getting your management and leadership in order, and your growth in order.
That’s where my AGENCY program is a really good fit and you can learn more about that at nicolejacksonmiller.com/apply. And then we’ll link to all of this in the side of the show notes so that you have some additional resources, including all of the episodes that I referenced today.
Okay, so this has been lovely. I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have.
If you have a reason why you ha why you know you have not scaled your agency yet, and I did not include it inside of this episode. I would love for you to reach out to me. You can DM me on Instagram. It’s @nicolejacksonmiller. Let me know what is it. I’d love to learn more about where you are at right now and if I can I’ll provide you with some resources, whether it be podcast episodes that I’ve recorded or just some general guidance that I’ve seen from working with dozens of clients helping them grow and scale their agencies. And I would just absolutely love to hear from you.
All right, everyone, thanks for joining today and I will see you next week.