One of the most common mistakes made by marketing agency founders, is not making time to scale their business. But what does scaling mean, and what can happen if you don’t do it?
I’m sharing some insights and top actionable tips to help you position your agency for growth. Here’s why you need to make time to scale your agency.
What Does Scalable Mean?
Things were fine when it was just you and two team members. But now your small agency is restricted and won’t let you move the way you would like. Scalability is about putting foundations in place for growth. Can your infrastructure and team accommodate growth? If your business is non-scalable then your revenue is directly related to your existing resources and cannot get bigger.
A hairdresser working for himself is limited by the number of appointments he can do in a week. If he were to hire more staff, then he can increase appointments, introduce new services, and scale his business.
For a marketing agency, scalability is more complex, but the underlying principles are the same. Scaling requires strategy to prevent exceeding resources, underperforming or losing clients.
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What Happens If Your Agency Is Not Scalable?
If your agency is not scalable, it isn’t a terrible thing. You can still have a successful boutique business that performs well and delights clients. But you should prepare yourself to deal with the repercussions.
Here are some of the actions and consequences of not scaling up.
1. Not scaling your team? You’ll miss out on new business
If you’re stuck in the workflow of your agency then you’re not allowing yourself to strategize, network, and get new business. You can’t take time out to attend events or travel to seminars that could connect you with valuable new customers. You don’t have time to write great thought leadership pieces or speak at webinars.
You get the point.
As an agency founder, you should be the driving force for growth and the face of your successful business. You can’t do that if you’re stuck running the social media accounts or invoicing clients.
When you scale your agency, you should:
- Budget carefully. Some start-ups grow too soon and then find out they can’t afford their new hires. Be sure to work out your revenues (worst case scenario) and be sure before you hire.
- Be strategic about your hires. Look at the bigger picture and where you want to be. Securing that next big contract and breaking into new geographical markets.
- Be prepared to train and delegate. One of the biggest agency mistakes is failure to delegate. Especially if the scaling comes later and you’re accustomed to doing everything yourself.
- Plan and prepare infrastructure. Will you be working from an office or remotely? Do you have enough software licenses for everyone? Choosing tech that allows you to scale up or down is a big win here.
2. Not expanding your expertise? You’re missing out on new sectors
If you didn’t scale your marketing agency, then you’re limited to the expertise you currently have in-house. Perhaps you’re very strong on social media management, but you don’t have your content team built. That means you’re missing out on any contracts that require content as part of the package.
Similarly, your writers might be experienced in certain sectors, but you’ve got a void when it comes to other sectors. Perhaps you can see that a new sector is getting popular, but you can’t go there because you don’t have the right team.
Think of your team’s expertise strategically
Consider the following:
- Sectors of expertise for each team member and whether they match your target audience. If not, then what needs to happen to move you forward?
- Geographical location of team members and therefore their ability to meet different timeframes for clients around the world. this is often overlooked by founders when they scale their agency.
- Invest in career advancement for your team. If it’s a sidestep from health and fitness marketing to fashion for example, then it’s worth investing in sending your team to the right events or seminars.
3. Not investing in technology? You’re limiting your output
Doing everything manually is fine when you first start out. Money is tight, and you don’t want to blow your small budget on tech. But very soon, those manual tasks start draining your time and energy. Manually logging in and out of social media accounts to post updates, for example. Or manually creating client reports at the end of each month.
Investing in essential marketing agency tools like Agorapulse will help you to scale your agency by freeing up your time.
Agorapulse offers a range of automated options including social media scheduling, automated rules, reports that are generated automatically, and templates for replies. Those are huge time-savers and can help you to grow your agency.
Consider the value of your own time as an agency director. Is it worth spending hours messing about with manual processes or better to spend budget to get things done efficiently?
Agency essentials to free up your time and grow your business include:
- Social media management tools like Agorapulse
- A file storage system like Dropbox
- A proper CRM system like Salesforce
- RSS feeder for social media like DLVR
- Chatbots for Messenger
- Email funnels
4. Not delegating? You’re going to burn out
Marketing agency directors often hire great people and then fail to utilize them. I know because I’ve done it myself. Often, this is because they don’t take the time to train new team members and delegate work to them.
So, what happens then?
You’re paying a new team member but still doing everything yourself and that’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. You won’t take vacations, sick days, or time off. You also won’t be strategizing, exploring new business opportunities, or being a great boss.
You’ll probably just find yourself burnt out. That also means that you will always be reactive rather than proactive. Fighting fires with your face in the day-to-day activities rather than stepping up and leading the business.
Use the following as motivation to hire and train your new team members and scale your agency:
- You get to spend more quality time enjoying coffee or lunch with top clients.
- You can enjoy a vacation without logging into the system every five minutes.
- You can get excited about new business without worrying that you have a bigger workload.
- You can increase your company revenue and enjoy bigger paychecks!
Having a small independent marketing is totally awesome and not everyone has to scale. Doing so depends on your own goals and visions for your agency and its future.