25:8 How to transform your agency
We’ve hit episode 200 and so much has changed over the last few years. I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported the show by listening, sharing, joining the group, financially and more.
Lee Matthew Jackson
There is a very special offer for our upcoming event here in the UK for those who are interested in making that next positive change in their business, so listen carefully through.
I’ve learned so much from our guests and have been able to evolve my own agencies into businesses that support the life we’d like as a family and also supports me being able to take significant time away for the many hospital visits we’ve had to make and will have to continue making for the foreseeable future.
Life is too short, and we’ve lost some very special people over the last few years. We’ve also battled health issues VERY close to home which has massively changed my perspective on what success means.
I mentioned many episodes ago about the importance of enjoying “mini-retirements” throughout our lives. The events of the last few years have taught me that we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Why work hard and none stop for years to aim towards retirement and never hit it?
This is what happened to my Dad. He worked so hard for so many years, and it was becoming clear he’d never get to retire. He’d need to continue to work past retirement age to keep making ends meet. He worked one night till near midnight, then passed in his sleep an hour later.
OK, I promise not to depress you. I want to encourage you however to take a look at what you are building in your family, in your life, in your business then consider how you might want to make some changes.
After Dad passed away, it made me realise that I need to make massive changes in my own agency. I was working 18 hour days. Weekend work was a commonplace. I had cancelled a visit to see Mum and Dad because of the work I was having to do and the stress I had. This meant I missed being there for him in his last hours.
My last conversation with Dad was me being grumpy telling him I couldn’t talk to him as I was so stressed out. I was spending less and less time with my family because I was making ends meet and working without any focus.
So something had to change. And change fast!
Back to “mini retirements”. What’s that all about!?
Simply put, making time out to do awesome things with your loved ones now whilst you all have the energy and health to! Being rich and successful need not be measured by money, but by the quality of time you can have with those closest to you.
This was inspired by the book “The 4 hour work week”. I read it as an extreme reaction to all those events, not as though I ever expected to work only 4 hours a week. (Plus I would be bored and fast!)
However there were several truths in that book that hit home, and a phrase that jumped out at me was “the new rich”. How you can create a life and lifestyle that enriches you now rather than working towards something in the distant future.
This completely changed my outlook and led to us going on many adventures together including two months in Florida where we made heaps of new friends and made amazing memories.
We are UK bound due to ongoing hospital treatments at the moment but we’ve been able to draw on those experiences and create many special holidays together here in the UK and close by in Lanzarote.
In a couple of weeks we will be spending a week together in Blockley before Agency Transformation Live. Blockley is where a BBC drama called “Father Brown” is filmed. We are huge fans and stay in a cottage that has its own babbling brook.
These moments in life are wonderful, rewarding and unforgettable. And the great thing is we don’t need to be rich to do any of it. We’ve instead transformed our agencies to facilitate these life events.
- Focusing in on our target markets and missions
- Understanding the value we provide
- Our platforms for communicating value to our target audience
- Massive improvements in how we deliver our solutions to be more efficient
- And developed processes and strategic relationships that allow us to scale for the future.
I am still on this journey, making mistakes along the way but these have been the best few years of my life in business, and it all couldn’t have come at a better time when we’ve had to deal with so much personally that the past Lee would simply have had a breakdown with.
Can I let you into a secret? I am not a millionaire, nor am I looking to become one purposefully. Instead we’ve changed our priorities.
I love my 9 year old Meriva. Our two bedroom house suits us perfectly and I even have a space I can work and chill in all to myself. Our office space is part of a much larger office so we are getting it for a very cost effective price. The office is here in the same village that we can just walk to saving so much stress in commuting and it means my wife and daughter can come in and out as they please, or we can meet up at the excellent coffee shop downstairs.
We have gotten into a great cycle of meal planning and budgeting so that we can increase the amount of things we do together as a family and saves a fortune. This is allowing us to invest our money into making memories.
We have realigned our priorities, how we spend our time and money and in turn created two agencies that facilitate our family plans.
So how do you go about transforming your agency and your life?
Let me share with you the 5 stages of transformation that we have been going through. This creates a pathway that you can use to transform your agency one step at a time.
Remember small achievable actions lead to big change.
A house is built brick by brick, and the end result is awesome.
On this show we live in the real world and we understand that being told to create content, and a course, and a funnel and yada-yada is just more frustration for the everyday business person. More things you can’t find the time to do.
Let’s change that up and start at the beginning.
Everything starts with your identity.
As a business it’s essential you understand who you are, the problems you solve and who you solve them for. This will drive everything your marketing, your offering and your messaging.
For both my agencies we went through a very specific exercise to unpack:
- Why we were running our agency
- What were are strengths?
- What problems did we solve?
- Who did we serve?
Let’s unpack this a little to get you started:
Why are you running an agency?
What gets you out of bed every day to run your business? This will be the driving force behind everything you do. This is your why, your mission and your legacy builder.
With a purpose comes direction for your agency.
My business mission is to help remove stress from agency life and help agency owners live their best life.
This drives everything I do.
Take the time to understand your why, what drives you and your team and what your collective mission is with your business.
What are your strengths
Full services agencies cannot possibly do everything really well unless they are a large team of geniuses that have also worked out the best communication strategy on the planet. If that is your business, then hat’s off to you!
In the real world we have skills as an agency that we are super talented at. It’s these strengths we should take time to focus on.
What is your superpower and how does it serve your mission?
Make a list of your strengths, then see how they align with your direction. How can those strengths be utilised
What problems do you solve?
Knowing what problems you solve becomes a key part of the story you tell every single day. People resonate with your why, but they also connect with the problems that you solve. If you were to describe a problem that I have, and you have a solution…. you have my attention!
So looking at your strengths, what problems do they solve for your clients?
Do your web designs reduce bounce rate and lead to better leads and conversions?
Take the time to make a list of all the problems your strengths and services solve.
Who do you serve?
If you are trying to work out if you have a service or industry niche, take a look at your strengths and the problems those solve.
Do any of these resonate most with a particular industry you currently serve?
Do they match the aspirations of a type of business, or client avatar?
It can help to make a list of the industries you do currently serve, and see if any in particular align best with your why and would get the most value from your services.
If your particular services solve a wider business need (like with Basecamp), and there is no one particular industry that you can align with, then you may want to consider the “service niche” aspect of your offering.
We’ve built up 100s of pieces of really valuable audio content over the years so check out the following episodes:
#160 – How to lock down your niche
#191 – How to build authority in your niche
#53 – Niche WordPress websites
#22 – How to find your niche
The next step of transforming your agency is understanding value.
Recognising the value of your work and understanding how to charge for it.
#99 – How to be confident in your pricing
#198 – How to productize your services
#163 – How to quote the right price for a project
#128 – Embracing change in agency life
#107 – How to de-stress your agency
#114 – How to get paid what you are worth
#112 – Feel the fear and do it anyway
#96 – Turning creativity into profit – Part one
#96 – Turning creativity into profit – Part two
These episodes will help you understand value, develop the skills to get the right information and to get the budget nailed.
When you understand your mission, your strengths, the problems you solve, who you solve it for and the value you have to offer you will be bursting with content.
All of this feeds your messaging, your branding and your conversations. Now it’s time to work out what channels you can use to build your platform and attract the right sort of client to your business.
Here are some questions to help prompt you:
- Where are my ideal clients online?
- How do they consume content?
- How should I show up?
Here are some episodes to help you out.
#139 – Social media and content mastermind
#72 – Your content strategy
#179 – How storytelling benefits business
#135 – How to create content that gets you noticed
#194 – how to build your local agency’s brand
#186 – How content influences your business
#155 – How to market your content
#195 – How to get more traffic and leads
As you build out your platform and your business, your next stage of transformation is to continuously improve your output. One of your best sources of leads will be existing clients who love you. Also one of your best sources of ongoing income are those very same clients that benefit from the excellence you offer them.
Therefore take the time to invest in your processes and procedures.
Be sure that the tools you use are fit for purpose and allow you to deliver on time and on budget whilst maintaining profit.
When I started Angled Crown I recorded everything. Why? So I could scale my agency by being able to give work to others in a clearly defined workflow.
I reviewed how I did things and iterated and improved. This allowed me to develop our design and development stack, and choose a small range of software tools that facilitated the workflow we’d established. Many people go for this shiny new tools or the lifetime deals on AppSumo before they’ve ever taken the time to work out how they can deliver their services to their clients in the most efficient manner.
In episode 51 I share our WordPress website build process. That was 2.5 years ago. Sure it has evolved over time as we’ve learned from mistakes etc however this process has ensured we deliver a consistent experience for our clients.
It’s also allowed us to scale as well as teach other agencies our model.
Other episodes to help include:
#199 – How to onboard better quality clients
#48 – An insight into project management
#94 – Onboarding and client communication
#61 – A WordPress website in a day
#89 – Systemising for profit
No one can predict the future, however we can plan and prepare. One of the keys to a future proof business is scalability.
It is tempting to confuse growth and scalability. Scalability itself is the flexibility to handle an increase in demand. This is achieved through clearly defined processes, efficient practices and a switched on team who are keeping their eye on the industry and on top of changes.
“Scalability itself is the flexibility to handle an increase in demand.”
It helps facilitate financial growth but in a much more stable way than simply throwing as much resource at something as possible.
Scalability by its very definition is never finished. It requires that you are able to change as internal and external influences change around you and your business.
A book I recommend to many is by my close friend Mike Killen. From Single To Scale.
He starts at the beginning for even solo businesses with a focus on developing a profitable scalable business out of your strengths.
There are a range of super useful podcasts we’ve made over the years to help agencies that are growing including planning, growing pains, teams and more.
Check out the following:
#5 – Building a better WordPress business
#184 – How to deal with growing pains
#178 – How to build and invest in your team
#122 – How to manage costs in agency life
#40 – Invest in your team
#190 – How to build an agency in your unique way
#179 – How storytelling benefits business
#104 – The evolution of an agency
#101 – Update on an agency four years in
So whats next?
What’s next for you? What stage are you at in agency life?
- Identity: Are you struggling with your identity?
- Value: Is understanding your value and how to price your services your biggest struggle?
- Platform: Are you struggling with your marketing platforms?
- Output: Has growth affected your output?
- Future: Or are you planning to scale for the future?
Whatever stage you are at, you are on a journey. If you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut for too long, then make that decision to make a change.
I’ve written down this entire episode for you to read through along with links to to all the supporting episodes.
Be honest with yourself, unpack what stage you are at, then focus on the content I’ve shared for that stage.
If you struggle to do things alone then there are to options I have for you.
You can join our premium members community. In here we have our agency reset roadmap that helps you unpack your identity, your messaging, platform, processes and more. You can also join us for weekly calls where we unpack lessons and are accountable. More information can be found on https://trailblazer.fm/
For 2019 you can join for 50% off your first payment using the code: 50off2019
Yes that means 50% either off your first month or year of premium membership.
If you want to spend some intense time making change and are listening BEFORE April 25th of 2019, then you can join us live in the UK with 20 speakers and panel members including myself and Troy Dean for Agency Transformation Live.
This is a 2 day conference full of actionable information for each and every stage of agency life. Our key tracks will be covering:
So no matter where you are at, you will be coming away with a plan to make the next 25% of change in your business.
You can get £150 off by becoming an Agency Trailblazer premium member or by listening to this episode I’ve created a special code to give you £75 off the ticket price.
Use the code: ilistened
We want to help as many agency owners avoid the hell I went through many years ago, so this is one of our ways to make this accessible. The venue is in Wellingborough, England and local hotel prices are very competitive compared to London so if you grab this offer you will have spare funds for a place to stay overnight!
And finally, don’t forget there is always our free Facebook group where we have a wonderfully supportive community who are all all stages of Agency life who can help and support each other. You can check that out at: https://trailblazer.fm/group
So wherever we meet:
I look forward to seeing you take that next step that will make a massive impact in your life.