Agencies are hard. Here's why.
As many of you know, I’ve been building Boundless Labs into one of the top email marketing agencies over the past 12 months. Most of my posts have been about email marketing tips and case studies, but this one will be more around why it’s been so hard for us to scale our agency past just the two of us (myself and my partner David). The reason behind sharing this post is that I feel it’s also important to share challenges we’re facing as we’re going through them, and eventually I plan to create a follow-up post after we’ve successfully accomplished the things that are holding us back as I’m putting an emphasis on wanting to teach others, much like others have taught me.
We speak a lot about paying it forward. And we try to live by that as much as possible.
The rest of what is to follow will cover why it’s been so hard for us personally to scale our agency. In other words, why we haven’t hired employees even though we’ve had excess client demand (fortunate problem to have, I know, but still a problem we’re facing until we are able to implement a solution).
Doing exceptional work for our clients has become the easy part for us. We’ve worked so hard at it and invested so much time, effort, and resources into building out a proper process. More than that, the quality of our work is very consistent as there’s only two of us executing and we’ve been doing this for a very long time. Most of the time we know what will work and it’s just a matter of executing, which we’ve become exceptional at. As can be expected, this experience has come after failing dozens of times before finally succeeding. So in other words, because we’ve paid our dues and been in the trenches on so many occasions, we’ve figured out how to scale brands with an email marketing approach (and as such we’re being recognized as a top email marketing agency thanks to our awesome clients).
Our obsessiveness with the quality of our work over the quantity of our work is exactly what has made our agency (primarily focusing on email funnels and campaigns) successful but extremely difficult to scale. Let’s face it, scaling any business is no easy feat, let alone an agency. Scaling an agency requires bandwidth (people), and with only two of us currently, it’s been extremely difficult for us to take on new clients because we will never let the quality of our work suffer. EVER.
As such, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with friends who are successful agency owners and operators about this particular challenge and they all agree. Most of them are way past this point so they almost laughed at and cringed about the idea of having to start over and hire their first batch of employees again. But all are happy that they did hire employees because at the end of the day they’ve built incredible teams, met amazing individuals, and now have a culture that drives everyone to want to keep growing and succeeding. <— This is exactly what we want and are working towards!
We’ve been at a point in 2019 where we truly do want to scale and build out a team because there are so many cool opportunities that have come our way over the past 12 months (especially these past few months) and we want to be able to take them all on. BUT our problem is we can’t and won’t spread ourselves thin. The only way to be able to take on more clients is by “outsourcing” the workload.
For me, the number one thing I’m switching my focus to right now is teaching, training, coaching, and leading because I want to give others a chance to succeed. The hardest thing for me has been to silence the voice in my head that is telling me I have to do the work, or it won’t get done (which obviously isn’t the case and isn’t true). But that voice hasn’t been easy to silence so I’ve been actively committed to make a conscious effort every week to minimize it’s impact so I can get to a place where I bring others in.
As Q1 is coming to a close in a few weeks, I’m really excited that we’ve finally found a couple new team members that we’ll be working with. I am scared as can be but also incredibly excited as I know I’ll probably learn more from these folks collectively than they will learn from me.
As mentioned above, I know this post is a bit nontraditional from what I’ve posted and what I plan to post, but this has been something on my mind for awhile, so at the very least, I thought it might be helpful to share and look back on in a couple months being incredibly thankful about giving up some control. At the end of the day, I just want the best for my clients and we go into every new opportunity pretending and believing it was our business, and therefore it will and must succeed.
If you have any questions about anything mentioned here (or more importantly any advice, comments, insight) please reach out to me directly, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. My LinkedIn profile for reference, click here.
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