Investing Just Two Hours A Month Has A Massive Impact On Growth At Your Firm
I get the pleasure of talking to five to seven inbound marketing agency owners each week. What I hear the most is they all have elements of their business that needs fixing and they all don’t have the time to fix them. Many of them sound frustrated, some of them have their hair on fire and others have simply accepted this condition as their new normal.
I’m not a time management expert, but I do have experience growing a digital marketing agency from three people to 50 people. I know we would have never grown to $7M in revenue by accepting the status quo or never finding the time to work on the business. I’ll go so far as to say, it’s one of the major contributing factors to our growth.
Your Sales Process
I wrote several articles recently revealing the reason your prospects pick your agency is your sales process. It makes sense. If your process makes them safe, they’re hiring you. The agency with the best sales process wins. If you’re not seeing your share of wins, around 80% of the time you should win, then your sales process needs help.
By focusing your time on improving the process you’re helping the agency win more new clients, close more new clients faster and close them more frequently. If this isn’t strategic to your long-term growth then I don’t know what is.
This won’t be a one-time project. This is something you’ll want to work on at least once a quarter. As you change, your competitors will change too. What used to work, will stop working and you’ll need to come up with something new. But this is likely only work you can do and this is very, very important work.
Your Own Inbound Marketing
This should be at the top of your list for two important reasons. First, it’s going to ensure you get more leads month over month. One of the biggest complaints from agency owners I talk to is they don’t have enough leads. The better you get at your own marketing and the more energy you invest in it, the more leads you’ll have for your agency and the faster you’ll grow. At Square 2, we have issues but one issue we never worry about is having enough leads.
Next, doing inbound for your own agency is going to help you know what works and what doesn’t work so when you get client engagements you have confidence in your own abilities and you won’t be using their budget to learn. They’ll get better results and they’ll be happier with you. Anytime you invest in helping your own shop get results with inbound is going to pay off in two critical areas, it’s a two for one, hands down.
Your Own Growth Plans
If sales are strong and you're growing then where and in what direction? How do you scale the business? Who do you hire next and why? These are all key questions requiring your thoughtful and strategic input. If you never have time to restructure the delivery team or the production team so it scales efficiently you’ll be hiring the wrong people, deploying too many resources and running an unprofitable agency.
By working on this every month, you should have org charts for the next six months, the next 12 months and even out as far as two years. This gives you and your current team a clear road map to follow. It uncovers who to hire next, who might be promotable and into what role, where the service deficiencies are today and how you plan on fixing them with changes or strategic hires. If you never work on this, your agency is going to hover around the same revenue level it has for the past few years. Sound familiar?
It’s hard getting over $1M in sales because how you got there is not how you’ll get to $2M. It’s hard getting over $4M in sales for the same exact reason. Changing your habits and your attentions is a key first step.
Here are a few techniques on how to carve out time and how it immediately starts impacting the performance of your agency.
Treat Your Time Like Your Client’s Time
I know, this is easy to say and hard to do. But you’d never cancel a meeting with a client and your team would never dream of stepping on one of your client meetings with their internal issues. That thinking should be applied to your own strategic time. It can never be canceled and never scheduled over—no matter what.
We’re not talking about an eight-hour block. We’re talking about an hour a week, or two hours a month. Everyone can find this time if they prioritize properly. If this is extra challenging, start an hour early one day a week or stay an hour later one day a week. This is going to be much easier than you think and once it’s on your calendar, people will respect the time and you’ll be good to go.
Delegate Low Pay Off Activities
If you want to find time to work on high value, strategic challenges you must give up low value, low pay off activities. These are tasks other people can do for you. Office admin details, travel scheduling, paying bills, reconciling invoices, doing agendas for client meetings, the list goes on and one.
If you’re having trouble figuring this out, keep a list of everything you do for a week. Then go back and identify those items that directly impact clients or team member happiness. Everything else can be delegated. If you don’t have anyone, consider hiring an assistant or using a virtual assistant. Any expenses associated with this assistant are going to be paid for by the extra revenue you generate working ON fixing those strategic challenges.
And don’t tell me it’s going to take longer to train someone then if you just do it yourself. That’s crap people tell themselves so they never deal with the real challenges of growing a company. Give it up immediately.
Work With Advisors
If you go to the gym and work with a trainer you’ll see better results. If you get a dietitian to help with your weight you’ll see better results. If you hire a golf pro to help you get better at golf you’ll see better results. The same is true here. If you want better results, consider working with an advisor.
They’re going to keep you accountable, they’re going to teach you skills you might not poses today, they’re going to give you short cuts and the benefit of their experiences. They’re going to help you get better results faster than if you did it all on your own.
Make sure you bring on an advisor who has done what you’re doing for their own agency, or with other agency owners like you who have seen the kind of results you’re looking for. No matter what the cost (like the assistant) it’s going to pay off 10x over in the improvements and growth you see from investing your time and theirs in dealing with your biggest challenges.
A lot of the guidance I provide is delivered with a dash of no-fluff truth. Like you can’t learn inbound marketing in an afternoon and your clients are sometimes an impediment to a successful engagement but in this case, there is some major good news. As soon as you start working ON your business instead of IN your business, you’ll see that time pay off and pay off quickly and It’s going to motivate you to do it more frequently.
Start Today Tip – The easiest way to get started with this thinking is by scheduling a meeting with yourself. Yep, a meeting with yourself. Of course, you can invite anyone else who you think can contribute, but for most of you—it’s just going to be you. No worries. This is quickly going to be your favorite meeting of the month. I recommend weekly, an hour minimum or four hourly meetings a month. If that’s too much, then a two-hour meeting once a month is also an option. Never, ever step on it, cancel it, move it, or shorten it for anything or anyone. It is a sacred time for you and make sure your team knows it can NEVER be changed.
Next create a list, preferably on a whiteboard where you can see it every day. What are the agencies top 10 challenges? They can be anything. You need more leads, you need more clients, you need more people, you should cut expenses, you need better clients, you need a better website. Anything. Now draw a line after the first three. Those are the ones you’ll be working on first. This also makes up the agenda for all your new meetings.
When you get to your first session, start with your biggest challenge and simply start brainstorming ways to fix it. There are no wrong answers, create a long list of ideas. Then rank those ideas in terms of which will have the biggest impact and take the least amount of time or resources. Those at the top of the list represent your to-do-list. Get started. Whatever those are, that’s for you to do before your next session.
Now keep a running list, crossing off challenges as you tackle them and adding new challenges as they pop up. If you need people to help you, bring them into the conversation. If challenges are not resolved, they stay on the list and you continue working them until you take them off.
Give it time, it might take a few weeks for this new rhythm and habit to settle in but it will and you’ll love it when it does. Remember, any tasks associated with this work should be just as important as the meeting itself. This is some of the most important work you’ll be doing during the week. Never let client work get ahead of it.
This is how you’re going to grow your agency, this is how you’re going to always have time to work on the most important agency issues and this set of new habits is going to transform your approach to your company.
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