Agencies have growing phases just like children. Each phase has its own set of “growing pains' and issues.
If you have ever been a parent or been around children, you know each is designed differently and has its own personality.
Guess What - So Does Each Agencies!
Just like with children every agency needs to be “raised” a little differently but there are certain things every agency has in common at each phase of growth.The Agency Success Journey is defined internally by our staff by four different phases; First phase Freelancer, Second phase Successful Freelancer, Third phase Small Agency, and Fourth phase, Small to Medium Agency.
What Phase is your business/agency in?
How do you handle the growing pains of the phase you are in and how do you prepare for the next phase?
Breaking down the Four different phases of growth/maturation of most agencies is simple but making sure you are prepared for each phase and ready to go the next phase may be a little more difficult. If you are wanting to take your agency to the next phase - without losing your mind - it is vital you know where you are right now and even more vital you have everything in place to go to the next phase.The reason we divide agencies into four different growth stages or maturity growth phases is because each stage represents a milestone in your business's growth and it should be celebrated. We should all celebrate our successes while also preparing for the next milestone.
Find the phase you are in and what you need to get prepared for the next phase.
Below we compare the growth of your agency to raising a child, there are a ton of similarities and hopefully it will help you easily understand where you are and what you need to do to reach the next phase in your agency growth journey.
The Freelancer - Baby Phase
The wonderful BABY PHASE - where most of us started. Excited about the new adventure. It is on your mind 24/7. Maybe working in your spare bedroom, picking up contracts and constantly fine tuning your craft. You're getting jobs but having to do most if not all of the work yourself. When in this phase you have questions but now sure who to ask. You need an accountability partner. You are exhausted at times and need to know you are doing things the right way. You also need the right templates/tools and a support group dedicated to your success. Oh and on top of all of this -You also need to stay on a budget.
There are so many tools/resources that can take you to the next level faster and with less stress and help you stay within your budget...To be prepared for the next phase, you must have the right processes in place to make sure things do not slip through the cracks. Now is the time to start thinking about what your niche will be. What area do you want to build your skills around? Read my blog on how to Niche Down and check out my Agency Support Plus. All the resources you need for free or around $47.
The Successful Freelancer - Toddler Phase - Pre-K
This phase is when your child starts to learn to talk back and starts to push the boundaries or what we call Scope/Profit Creep. There are ways to keep your toddler from running all over you. To teach them not to cross certain boundaries or there will be consequences. It is all in the Processes you put in place. Managing Scope Creep is vital to making sure your agency is running smoothly, on time and is profitable enough to allow you to grow into the next phase. Again, I highly recommend finding your Niche - no more - Jack of all Trades. Then focus on getting your product line dialed in, then get the right tools and processes in place to take care of your agency and its clients. Check out my Agency Support System or Agency Sales System for more information on what you might need at this phase.
Small Agency - School Age Phase
What a fun phase! Where your agency is GOING TO SCHOOL on its own but still needs lunch money, more expensive clothes, after school activities and a lot of help with homework. You are ready to loosen the reins but not quite sure how or what steps to take to make sure your baby is going to be ok on their own while you are out for a while. It is time to not be so tethered to your baby. You should be Niched down, Have a product line, Proven processes in place for Project Management, Accounting, and now start to get the ball rolling on delegating certain tasks to proven leaders within your agency.
There is a time when you need to start to untether yourself from your agency. I wrote an article listing 8 Traits Every Successful Agency Owner Must Have with one being having a tribe. Meaning having a Mentor to bounce ideas off and speak truth when needed, having the team in place you trust so you are not tethered to your agency all the time and can focus on lead source diversification, brand positioning elements, etc...
This can be an exciting phase where your agency is growing, not quite an adult but showing more responsibility ( if you have raised it right) but you are still not comfortable with it being alone without your oversight. Now is the time to start learning to go from entrepreneur to CEO; meaning learning the art of delegation, creating and managing systems instead of employees, understanding KPI's and so on. Surprisingly, this is more difficult than you think. It could take you years or decades to achieve your goals without the right guidance. I recently did a podcast with Mike Zeller on How to Transition From Entrepreneur to CEO. Listen to the podcast and the tips suggested to make that transition. I have the tools and experience to help you make that transition with my One on One coaching or my Agency Sales System
SME Agency - Adult
This phase can be the best. Your hard work has paid off. Congratulations - you have broken through the glass ceiling. Your baby is grown-up and is ready to spread his wings and fly. Your Agency is a Grown Ass Adult (but still needs advice and input from you).
You have a leadership team in place, solid deliverable systems, and a dedicated team of employees. Some of the areas at this stage that may need a little attention are needing Scalable Labor, real time KPI Dashboards, Accountability Rhythms and the ability to dial up leads On-Demand. All without you being completely tied to the processes. At this phase it is crucial you have the proven systems with primary touch points for management to review performance and make adjustments. Also, that you have truly made the transition from entrepreneur to CEO. It is a role adjustment and there is a skill to master for you agency to continue to be sustainable and thrive.
At this level you can feel like the kid that no one understands the pressure you may be under. No need in being on an island all by yourself. Reach out - find someone who has been in your shoes and has successfully transitioned!
I have been working with agency owners in every phase and know the pain points at each level. Click here to read what a few of my students are saying.
More than likely you started your agency not truly knowing what you were getting into. No idea what you were doing.
(Like most of us with children).
This is where having knowledge and experience comes in handy. Having someone on your side whose has raised their children and lived to talk about. Someone you can ask the hard questions.
I have been where you were and where you are heading. I understand each phase of growth and the steps to get through those phases.