Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Everyone wants their agency business to grow ... don’t they?
Well - you might want it, desire it, and be working hard towards it - but is your agency ready to grow?
In this article, we will unlock your potential for growth using two key questions, which I'll expand on below.
Ready to grow …?
Super - let’s do this!
Asking the right questions BEFORE you try to grow:
“Erm ... thats a good question, I haven't thought about this for a a while!”
This tends to be the reply I get from clients when I ask them the first question in my scoping sessions.
There’s usually a long pause and a look of confusion from them first.
My first question is always ‘Why do you want to grow?’.
Every agency business can (and should) talk about their future growth plans and where they want to end up. It's good to get crystal clear on what this looks like and why you are aiming to end up there.
Many do, but I feel it's like they are paying lip service to the topic (they say things, but they don't really have a clue about the details).
Some agency owners talk about how they're creating a growth strategy.
Some discuss how they'll have to cope for high growth numbers.
Some focus on ambitious future growth targets, though on deeper inspection these aree often 'finger in the air' goals.
Or worse, they hear the goals of others and try to aim for the same thing (but without the same content or understanding of what those goals unlock).
Many agency owners often don't have an absolute answer to the first key question I ask them. There's just an ambition that they need to grow.
You can see why it's an important question.
Have you ever noticed that the most important questions often start with 'WHY'!
Asking ‘why’ you want to do something will help get to the heart of your motivation.
Motivation is the driving force behind everything you do in life. Whether you know it or not.
If I asked you right now why you wanted to grow your business - do you have a true understanding of your reasons?
It’s OK if you don't, maybe use this point in time to take a minute to have a deep think about, or write out some thoughts if it helps you to start to explore your reasons.
Agency growth is different for many reasons.
Not everyone will want to grow in the same way in their business. Or for the same reasons. Motivation plays a big part of the 'what and why' that drives an agencies growth and development.
Remember, if your reasons are different from others - that’s OK.
You don’t have to grow because someone else does. It depends on what's right for your business.
Without understanding your WHY - you make it hard to know what growth needs to look like for your business.
Even when you know WHY you want to grow - this doesn’t mean your business is actually ready to grow!
Key questions to ‘unlock’ your business growth.
I spent a lot of time shaping up the first half of my client scoping sessions. And these sessions take a good few hours to complete together.
I spend around an hour asking questions, and working with clients about what growth looks like for them. I like to challenge my clients (in a nice way) about their growth plans.
I do this to understand their mindset, and get them to define what business growth means to them.
The reason I focus on their mindset is THE BIGGEST PART in creating growth for your business.
Without a strong and positive mindset - you’ll try tactic after tactic without understanding what you need to do and why you need to do it.
And tactic + tactic + tactic + tactic = is NOT a strategy!
Mindset is what separates the focus of one business from another. Even when they are both engaged in the same sector, and undertaking similar marketing activity.
The business which has defined what growth looks like, will be able to use the right actions to achieve it.
If you haven’t defined what growth it, you won’t be able to measure if you’re growing.
What does growth look like for your business?
The answer you give to this second question will have a huge impact on your growth plans, now you've defined why you want to grow.
Don't try and grow because others expect you to do so. They might have a different WHY and reasons for growth.
Focus on you!
What is required for your business, that will help you reach why you want to grow.
To answer this second question you need to visualise and define growth in detail.
This is the area many businesses still haven’t given enough time to work out. At least, not in the detail required to understand what to do in order for their business to grow.
To help you work through some of these challenges, I wanted to share key questions from my sessions. That way you can ’role-play’ this out for your business.
Here are some of the prompts I use to help my clients in their scoping sessions …
Financially driven growth for your digital agency:
Is growth for you an increase of turnover, or an increase in profit, or both?
What kind of increase are you wanting this to grow by?
When do you want this growth to happen?
What does the timeline for this growth look like from now to your intended goal?
Team driven growth for your digital agency:
If profit or turnover increase, will you need to increase or decrease your team?
If your team changes, will you need to change office space or location?
If your team grows, how will this impact your role in the business and other team members? (e.g. more management of people, less time on your specialisms)
How will growing your team affect your planned timeline for growth? (allow for recruitment and interview time)
Technology driven growth for your digital agency:
Will growth mean moving into new areas of business services?
How long will new service areas take to develop?
Will you need to train more people or get more technology?
How long will training on new technology take?
How does this affect your growth timeline?
Audience driven growth for your digital agency :
How will marketing help you reach this growth goal?
What marketing do you do now, versus what you need to do to grow?
Who will do this marketing within the team?
Will you need more support for marketing to grow?
What budget increases will you need for marketing? (e.g. 5-10% of yearly turnover)
Where will this budget come from if you don’t have it now?
What return on investment (ROI) will your marketing need to achieve?
How will delivering on marketing campaigns affect your timeline for growth?
Creating a plan for your agency growth.
You can see the level of detail I want to ask my clients in these prompts. By using these prompts you will hopefully challenge, affect and shape your answers to ‘what will growth look like’ for you.
For my own business, I spend time regularly using prompts like these to help re-shape and re-focus my business growth. Did I mention that you need to check in with your own focus more than once?
It's healthy to do so - just in case your evolution in your business requires a change in direction, or you experience disruption on the scale that poses a risk to your agency's survival.
Remember, it’s important to go as deep and as detailed as we can when planning for growth. The information you gather at this level will then inform what your growth strategy needs to be.
Knowing what your strategy needs to accomplish will show you what tactics will suit your needs. This stops you wasting time using the wrong tactics.
When it comes to growth - we don’t want to lose time or resources where we don’t need to. Minimise the impact of wasted resource by knowing what you need to be doing. This all becomes clearer when you ask the right questions.
If you haven’t already, go back and use the prompts above. If you need to schedule time with your team to do this - then make sure you schedule it soon. That way you’ll be in the best position to get the growth you desire for your business.
When I work with my clients - their timeline for growth is the first thing they realise needs to evolve. Their expectations for how quick they want to achieve growth begin to change. Often, they haven’t considered the impact of other growth factors, like changes to team size, or office space.
Their focus has been on overall growth as a target.
Next steps for you and your agency growth plans:
If you’re looking to grow your business, my advice is to start with these two key questions outlined in this article. Make time to properly run through the prompts to see what answers and insight these give you.
Answering these two key questions will put you at the right point to start of your growth journey. You can also go deeper - ask questions about your personal thoughts on growth, or those of your team members.
You can listen to me talking more about the importance of these two key questions on growth and agencies as a guest on the Webtrends Optimise podcast here.
If you're still struggling to know where to start with agency business growth you can book a free 30 minute strategy call with me. Understanding where you are now, is often easier on a call than email - and I can help you get started with advice and other ways to support you.