Making decisions about the future and growth of your creative or technology agency doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. Often, they require careful forethought and plenty of introspection before you’re ready to take action. You may receive sound advice but not feel ready to take that next step because you need time to process, let the advice resonate, or simply become open to the various options in front of you.
This is especially true when the time comes to pivot and better position our valuable offerings for particular markets.
Recently, an Agency Leader Transformation Coaching client sent me a detailed text message that read:
Something you said to me a couple months back really connected for me this week. I’ve decided to remove paid social media management from our offerings, focusing on creative strategy and content creation at our agency. This is where we add the most value and where we can accelerate growth. Providing commoditized services will never allow us to charge a premium or work with ideal clients. I feel so connected to this direction and have since felt a huge release. Literally the day after I made this courageous decision, we were asked to pitch a $16,000/mo retainer for ongoing creative services. Immediately, I felt the need to share this with you.
This agency owner heard what I was saying and allowed himself the time and space to sit with it, digest the cause for my concern about his firm’s trajectory, and look at the aspects of the decision from a holistic point of view. He looked inward to affirm how to course-correct toward sustainable growth.
Another client recently arrived at a similar place after much questioning, pushback and introspection. In his case, the business decision was focused not on service offerings but vertical specialization.
The agency had deep expertise in the nonprofit sector, which aligned with his team’s core values. Yet, his firm was also serving professional service providers and B2B organizations—none of which truly valued the work or outcomes, or felt that pricing was in line with what they expected to pay. He just couldn’t leave that misaligned money on the table.
Until one day, it all clicked and he realized that nonprofits, foundations and educational organizations needed to be treated like businesses and that his agency could serve a percentage of them very well.
How Are You Making Decisions for Your Agency?
When it comes to making solid decisions for your business, it’s important to consider the right factors—and there may be a lot of them.
Deep expertise: In which industry or verticals is your historical expertise? Even if there is a broad category that you know moderately well (such as B2B), there are likely specific sub-verticals within that sector where you have deep expertise and would be considered a thought leader, or at least a premium service provider. Consider the verticals your team serves really well and consider choosing those as a specialization.
Personal passion: What are you and your team most passionate about when it comes to industry focus and/or the things you solve for clients? All too often we compromise, sliding away from personal passions in an effort to increase revenue. Reevaluate your level of personal passion on a regular basis, as it may change over the years—and that’s okay, too.
Market demand: What needs are there within the current market? Does your team’s deep expertise and personal passions fit into that demand? In many cases, market demand may not support the things you’re most passionate about. In other cases, you may discover that there is more market demand for your passions or expertise than you initially thought.
Profitability: Even if the demand is there, you want to make sure that any changes you make to your offerings or vertical specialization are profitable. While it’s nice to dream of doing the things you love most every day, you also have to turn a profit. Consider how to get the most out of your own life—meaning that if what you’re inwardly passionate about cannot be profitable for your business, consider turning those into personal projects or hobbies.
All that said, let’s be honest that it takes bravery to put a stake in the ground and pave a new path for the highest good of your agency.
You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both. — Brené Brown
Maybe your business has been quite comfortable for some time, and you don’t really need to make changes in order to be more profitable, but you’ve lost the passion you once had. Or, perhaps you aren’t sure that the path that’s calling you will be the most profitable for your business.
Any change carries risk, but in the end you’ll often find that you can accomplish more than you’ve dreamed. Pay attention to the details: whom you serve, what challenges you solve, and why it matters. Then, be prepared to take a stand and codify it for all to see. That’s what I call real agency leader transformation.
Ready for more? Get in touch or start below to learn more about how I can help you shape positive transformation for your creative or tech agency and your life.