Don’t Let Your Growth Stall
The process of scaling a company is not easy. Scaling your creative agency can be even more difficult. There are many common mistakes that people make when scaling their business and these can lead to stagnation of growth – or, in the most serious cases, business failure.
This article outlines the mistakes that stifle growth, and which are commonly made by owners of creative agencies. We also share tips to help you avoid making the same mistakes.
“Why isn’t my business growing?”
One of the most common questions we encounter from business owners is why their business is not growing as they think it should. While there are many factors that may prevent the growth of a company, often mistakes made by the business owner are the root cause. Here are six of the most common.
If you are in a position where things are not going as planned, there might be some fundamental reasons why that is the case. This could be due to a lack of creativity or feeling uninspired. It could also come down to the fatigue that comes with being bored.
Boredom takes hold when you are not doing anything new or challenging. You are just repeating the same thing over again. (You make the same websites for the same type of businesses, day in and day out.)
To stay fresh, try a new challenge that will surprise your brain and force it to work in different ways. It’s also important to take time out of your day to do something different so that you can come back with a fresh perspective.
In short, get a hobby and delegate!
Not focusing on the right/next problem/opportunity
It is imperative for business owners to continue to innovate and create new opportunities for their companies. Even if your business is growing, it can stop if you aren’t focusing on the right problems or opportunities.
Too often, business owners get too comfortable with their current success and forget that they need to find new ways to grow their business. The more a company grows, the more risk it takes on by staying in a routine state of operation and growth. While this may be profitable in the short term, it will eventually lead to diminishing returns and stagnation if no changes are made.
You should be working on the business, not in the business. Continually evaluate what you are doing, figure out what needs to change, and then make that change happen for your business to grow. Here are a few tips to keep you focused on problems and opportunities:
As the CEO, it is your job to break things, and your team’s job to fix things!
As the CEO, you should have a different mindset than everyone else in your firm. You should have a need for chaos and destruction, to create something new, exciting, and productive. Your team’s mindset is more conservative – they don’t want to destroy something good because they’re afraid of what might happen if they do so. It is their job to provide stability, fix mistakes, and ensure that things run smoothly.
I’m an avid reader, and ‘Traction’ by Gino Wickman is a great book for those who are just beginning their entrepreneurial journey or are stuck along it. Wickman describes how you can use his Entrepreneurial Operating System to structure your agency to remove frustrations so that it runs seamlessly and regains and maintains momentum.
You’ll find that the advice he imparts is based upon practical experience, not some theory dreamed up and delivered by a business coach who has never been in business (cue the uproar from the legion of teenage business coaches preaching from their Facebook pages!).
Give Traction a read, and be prepared to be led in a step-by-step approach that will help to re-energize your business.
Develop a quarterly plan that keeps all aligned
A business plan can be your best friend when it comes to making sure that you don’t get stuck.
A proper quarterly plan will allow you to keep track of what needs attention so that you make sure it gets addressed and solved as soon as possible. It will also help you prepare for potential challenges and obstacles. This is far better than having them arrive suddenly without warning and then trying to find a solution on the fly.
How do you create a quarterly plan?
First, you need to get clear about your goals for the next quarter. What do you want your company to achieve?
Next, you should have an outline of what needs to be done to reach those goals.
Then, you should allocate tasks appropriately and distribute them among team members.
Lastly, assign milestones and deadlines to give people the focus they need
Set 3-4 rocks, align the business behind them and then increase the velocity of change
Stephen Covey laid out his system of creating big rocks and being guided by those to help people achieve their goals. Big rocks are the big objectives you set yourself, and you should be working on them every day. Each day that you don’t is a day that your goals will be delayed.
You should use the big rocks principle in your own business. Set three or four rocks, and make sure your teams are aligned with them.
The set of rocks must be manageable in size. Don’t make them so big that they overwhelm the business. This is especially important for smaller firms. The velocity of change can be increased as you achieve your aims. This aligns with how agile organizations work, where there is constant feedback and adjustment to plans to make sure they are on track.
Choosing the wrong priority
Finding the right priorities for your business is crucial. It will help you to grow your business and get more satisfied clients.
It’s important to take into consideration what is most important for your company, and what is not. Every priority should be aligned with the company’s mission and vision, as well as the values of the company. It should also be aligned with the goals that you want to achieve this quarter, this year, and over the next five years.
Focus on priorities that will get you more clients and provide better service to them: the two elements that are essential for growth.
Trying to do too many things at once
You must know what you want from your business and then focus on that. If you try to do too many things at once, it will only hurt the growth of your business. The best way to ensure the success of your business is by focusing on what you’re best at and not trying to take on more than you can handle.
Getting stuck with a whale of a client
Small business owners are often faced with the dilemma of having too many clients and not enough time. However, if a small agency is lucky enough to land a whale of a client that makes up more than 30% of their business, they had better be prepared for the challenges this will present.
Firms that are too dependent on one giant client will find it difficult to scale their business. If they start to lose business from their major client, they’ll also start to lose revenue rapidly. So, a large client can be detrimental to your growth, because you are beholden to that client and will be focused on doing the best for them always. This may not be the best for your business.
To avoid this, make sure that you take on clients that are appropriate to your business, both in their needs and their size.
Being too loyal
Usually seen as a positive character trait, loyalty to those who were once your superheroes can be costly. Those who were once star performers can screw up, cost you sales, damage your reputation, and crush your bottom line.
As your business grows, your needs change. Some people won’t keep pace with this change. They may not be able to use the CRM systems you need them to, for example.
You should always be willing to hire better. Even if these people are more expensive, their ability and capability will help you win more business and produce more.
Don’t Let Your Growth Stall
A creative agency has the potential to grow infinitely, but most of them are not able to do so. Why does this happen? Because they make common mistakes that stop their growth. Don’t fall into the same trap.
These six common mistakes are easy traps to fall into. Fortunately, with a little vigilance and planning, they are also easily avoided.
Take our growth phase assessment to discover where you are on the growth curve, and gain valuable insight into the strategies needed to help your firm grow faster – and avoid the mistakes that will stifle your growth.