February 18, 2021 3 min read
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Most startups and agencies fail. This sad reality is daunting, intimidating, and often prevents entrepreneurs from taking a chance.
I once read an article on this subject years before I took the plunge. It’s no longer online. If this reaches just one entrepreneur and helps them take the journey, my work here is done.
Here are three lessons I learned growing my agency to $100k+ MRR.
Process ー delegate ー scale
Whether you’re launching a tech startup or trying to grow your agency, this factor holds constant:
It’s your baby. It’s your project, your passion (hopefully), and your dreams.
This is both positive and negative.
Positive because “It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.” – Paul Graham.
Negative because the more time you burn in daily operations means less time for growth.
Your goal when building an agency that can scale shouldn’t be responding to client emails, running the entire daily process, deliverables, and more.
Why? This is unsustainable growth. Instead; process, delegate, and scale.
As you run operations with your first few clients, document everything. Organize it into categories and nested documents. Every process should be complete with checklists, steps, videos, and notes to the point where any new hire will generate the same, repeatable outcome.
Without a process-driven mindset, you can’t effectively delegate and scale.
Related: Stop Being the Hero If You Want Your Startup to Succeed
The first months of agency life are a profit-driven dream.
You only have a few clients, and yes, you’re strapped for time and patience, but your overhead is almost nonexistent.
Beyond basic expenses on software, your time, and basic freelancer outsourcing, profit margins are sky-high.
That’s a clear sign you need to hire faster. Early profits are a siren song calling in the distance, distracting you from the treasure marked miles ahead.
I waited too long to hire good people, and it greatly hampered scalability.
The moment I hired more team members was the turning point in our growth. I had more time for sales, marketing, and actually growing the business, not operating it.
Lay the groundwork. Refine it. Then put fuel on the fire.
Related: As Your Company Grows, You Need to Stop Constantly Dealing With the Little Things
The #1 source of sales for agencies is referrals. They’re great, but they’re far from reliable.
You can’t bank on them, literally. Proactive selling is a must to scale your agency. “Complacency is the enemy of progress.” – Dave Stutman.
Build a network on socials. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook Groups, Slack Groups. Simply Google search operators like [industry] Slack groups or [industry] Facebook Groups.
Email target accounts offering free value to get your foot in the door and build trust.
Relying on referrals is passive. Passiveness breeds stagnation.
Once the ship is sailing smooth, it’s your job to drive more sales and create sustainable growth that isn’t reliant on others.
Related: 10 Ways to Scale a Business from Startup to a Huge Company