Gini Dietrich

Six Reasons Agency Owners Get Stuck and Can’t Scale

By: Gini Dietrich | October 10, 2019 | 
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Why Agency Owners Get StuckIn growing your agency, have you ever felt lite it’s like bumping your head against a glass ceiling? You can see where you want to go, but you just can’t quite get there?

I’ve seen so many agency owners who are stuck in that place (I’ve certainly been there, too), and I’ve noticed some trends and similarities.

There are major reasons why smart, talented agency owners get stuck in their businesses and can’t seem to grow.

Reason #1: You Don’t Have a Business Plan

You wouldn’t just hop in your car and start driving somewhere you’ve never been before. You’d use a map (well, okay, GPS).

But so many agency owners don’t have a business map. They don’t know where their money is going. They’re great at doing this work for clients but terrible at doing it for themselves.

No matter what they try—networking, reading business books—they just can’t scale.

Bottom line: you need a plan to get where you’re trying to go.

And it doesn’t have to be a 500-point plan that you spent three months creating, only to stick in a drawer and never review again. You just need to include a few key points and metrics. The ones that will really grow your business.

Reason #2: You Can’t Break Free from Client Work

Clients only want to work with you, and no one else on your team will do. They want one-on-one service from the person with their name on the door.

If you’re in this situation right now, you know it’s a huge problem for growth.

You can’t grow the firm if your entire day is eaten up by client work.

Unless you can gain full control over your time, you’ll continually be sucked into work you shouldn’t be doing.

As a result, your business stays stuck.

(Ignoring this problem is why so many talented agency owners get burned out.)

Reason #3: Operating In Chaos

Do you ever feel like it’s just easier and faster to do something yourself, versus trying to delegate it to someone else?

Hey, we’ve all been there.

The problem is, it’s killing your growth in the long run.

The way out of this situation is through systems, which help you delegate tasks you shouldn’t be doing. Systems also help you hire when it’s time to expand your team.

In fact, the more systems you can implement, the happier you (and your team) will be and the happier your clients will be because there won’t be a significant gap between the work you do and the work your team does.

When work-life is chaotic and expectations aren’t clear, morale drops.

And low morale means high turnover, which kills your growth (not to mention your spirit!).

Reason #4: Freakin’ Technology! Who Can Keep Up?

Ah, remember the days of floppy disks, fax machines, and dial-up internet?

Life was simple then. Kids went outside to play. People had face-to-face conversations around the dinner table. Seinfeld was the only TV show about nothing.

Those days are over!

In all seriousness though, we’re in a time of rapid change, especially when it comes to technology. Something new is always replacing what came before, and it’s hard to keep up.

There’s Google Analytics, Watson from IBM, SaneBox (the love of my life), Slack, Zoom, holoportation, artificially intelligent Twitter users, and every piece of new software…not to mention the shiniest new social network (Tik Tok, anyone?)!

And not only do you have to understand what the heck all of that stuff is for, but you also have to figure out how to incorporate it both for your clients and for your agency. Otherwise, your competition will leave you in the dust.

Quick hint: you don’t want to incorporate everything just because it’s shiny and new.

Technology should help you grow, so you have to be strategic about what you implement and what you ignore.

Reason #5: Not Understanding the Whole “Measurement” Thing

OK, so you’ve heard about “measurement.” And “metrics.”

And you know you’re supposed to track these things, and then somehow, magically, you can prove to clients they’re getting a return on their investment when they hire you.

What’s worse, once you start showing metrics that result in sales, clients or executives want to know how many Facebook fans they have.

It can be frustrating and confusing, but it’s so important if you want to grow your agency.

Nothing will convince clients of your worth like showing them a concrete return on their investment.

When you can do that, they no longer see your fee as an expense. Instead, they’re ready to throw their money at you because they see you as an investment.

Reason #6: You Lose Focus

In a comment on LinkedIn, Scott Hepburn weighed on in this topic.

He said:

Another reason agencies struggle to scale is that they lose focus. When you’re chasing revenue, it’s tempting to cast a wider and wider net. You deviate from best-fit clients and start accepting clients whose goals, values, and needs don’t align with yours.

Or you take the quick sale, without asking why it was such an easy sale (and what risks you’ve just opened the door for…).

Every business needs to temper idealism with realism, particularly when it comes to landing new business, but when you deviate too far from your core, you may be creating more problems than you solve.

It’s hard to scale when you’re chasing your tail trying to live up to the expectations of clients you aren’t really designed to satisfy, much less delight.

Invest In Coaching

Did you know the masters all have coaches?

Michael Jordan had a coach (arguably one of the best of all time). Steph Curry has a coach. Steve Jobs had business advisors. Nearly every leader of growth companies belongs to a professional organization and works with business advisors.

It seems counterintuitive. You wouldn’t think someone at that level would need counsel or strategic advice. I mean, shouldn’t leaders we all look up to have it all figured out?

Absolutely!

But the reason they seem to have it all figured it out is they use multiple brains to brainstorm, innovate, challenge ideas, get help, and sometimes just vent.

The kind of professionals who bring in outside advisors are the go-getters. The ambitious. The people who are good at what they do and continually strive to hit that next level.

While everyone else thinks they can just read a book and do it all on their own, top performers know the right advisor can help you apply that material and get results quickly.

Top performers KNOW this is true, so rather than fight against it, they gladly work with someone who can help them get to that next level as quickly as possible.

It’s like rocket fuel for the growth of your agency.

The Spin Sucks Coaching Program for Agency Owners

Do any of these six problems strike a nerve? One? Three? All six?

The good news is there is a solution.

Until fairly recently, I could only offer business growth counsel and strategic thinking to corporate clients, who can pay six figures in annual fees.

But I’ve heard from so many of you who are struggling to grow your businesses. Who know what you SHOULD be doing to grow, but just aren’t sure HOW to actually do it. And I wanted to figure out how I could help you, too.

Therefore, we have launched the Spin Sucks coaching program.

This is a personal passion of mine because I’ve been where you are and I know what it takes to get unstuck.

Because I’ve been there, I know what it’s like to try to find guidance from someone who has been in your shoes.

I’ve managed to run a successful firm, stay ahead of the trends, and build a huge brand within the industry. I want to use all of that experience to help business owners like you hit that next level, too.

I take this seriously and I take your results seriously. Everyone needs a coach and I’d love to be yours.

Photo by Brandon Green on Unsplash

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She also has run, built, and grown an agency for the past 14 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.