There are a million things you need to focus on in an agency, and recently I wrote an article about wearing many hats around how learning to do lots of things is a superpower in your agency.
This is because it’s what worked for me, and helped me grow a 7-figure business in a couple of years. By learning many new skills fast while staying small and lean.
But running your own business needs to be about doing what you want, and I speak to many agency owners who don’t want to end up wearing “all the hats” - and that’s totally fine.
Instead, you can focus on what you do best, where you have the most impact, and what you enjoy the most. This is your superpower.
Whether your superpower is software development, UI/UX design, sales and marketing, or whatever - there are ways to optimize your time on these tasks and leverage them to build your business.
Let’s be honest - there’s no way you can just be a software developer who codes 100% of the time and also runs an agency. That’s an employee.
But you can use strategies to ensure you spend the most possible time doing what you do best - let’s run through a few of those.
Leverage you niche 🎯
Working on every project that comes along can work well to get started, but being a “jack of all trades” comes with its overheads, whereas having a niche can reduce some of those.
A lot of times an agency revolves around sales, marketing, and building a brand - because this is how you get work.
But what if instead, people came to you because you were the #1 expert in your specific field?
And the more projects you get of that certain type, the better and more efficient you get at it, and the more clients are blown away by your agency's awesomeness, the more they cannot help but come back to you and recommend you to everyone they know.
Building a niche is not something that happens overnight, you can’t avoid putting in the initial work, but long term it can reduce your sales and marketing efforts, increase your referral rate, increase your profits, and optimize the time you spend delivering projects, not searching for them.
Leverage humans 🧍♀️
Outsourcing or insourcing is another way to ensure you stay focused on what you do best.
There are hundreds of tasks that other humans will be better at than you, but just make sure you're not delegating your competitive advantage to someone else. For example, if you’re awesome at paid advertising and lead conversation, that’s probably not something you want to outsource (unless of course you very specifically train someone on your methods).
There are hundreds of tasks that other humans will be better at than you, some include:
- Hiring an accountant to do your taxes
- Hiring a sales and marketing team to create and implement paid advertising
- Hiring a tester to help with quality assurance
- Outsource basic website creation to a freelancer (yes, even if you’re a programmer you can focus on the more impactful code!)
- Outsourcing copywriting to a freelancer
- Outsourcing graphic design to a freelancer
- Delegating admin tasks to another team member
- Delegating admin tasks to a virtual assistant
- Delegating all client inquiries, lead followups, and sales funnel tasks to a virtual assistant
Leverage tools 🛠️
A great way to save time on tasks is via automation and optimization - and computers are awesome at both of those.
There are a ridiculous amount of tools at your disposal here, but some that I use include…
- ChatGPT for everything 🙂
- Xero to get your accounts in order, keep track of finances, and cut down the time your accountant needs to lodge your taxes
- Tweethunter and Taplio to automate your social media, and get great content inspiration
- WixStudio to create and manage websites, specifically built for agencies and freelancers with some pretty amazing AI
- Apollo.io for lead generation and email automation
- Calendly allows people to book meetings that fit everyone’s schedule, avoids ten emails trying to find a suitable time
- Loom can easily record and host video for asynchronous and repeatable communication or training
- Zapier and Make.com can automate all the things
- Userdoc for software requirements management and automation with AI (shameless plug!)
Leverage documentation 📚
If you don’t want to do something again, then write down how you did it, and next time you can get someone else to do it. Simple.
It’s amazing how many people don’t do this, but seriously, this is how businesses scale - and if you are a one-man-show documentation will allow you to outsource and onboard a lot ****easier. Plus it’s an investment in stopping a lot of future questions you will be asked such as “What do we do when X happens?”
Examples of what you can document…
- Your lead conversion steps - what you do when you have a new lead (e.g. tell them about Y, ask about X etc.)
- Standard client contract
- Your client onboarding steps - what to do when your lead becomes a customer (e.g. send them through the client contract to sign via DocuSign, set them up in Notion, Jira, Xero - whatever)
- New hire onboarding steps - this is how we work, this is where we keep our code, this is where we keep our requirements, this is where we keep our shared passwords, etc.
- Coding standards - we use tabs (or spaces), we leverage this coding standard (e.g. AirBnB JS), we use semantic commit messages, we do PRs using this template etc.
Documentation can seem like a ridiculously large task - but you shouldn’t write it the first time you do a task. Write it the second or third time, so you have time to optimize your process, plus it doesn’t seem like you’re spending all your time documenting.
An important note with documentation is it’s often easy to write, but hard to maintain.
You need to embrace continual, living documentation, that just becomes part of your business foundations and creates a living, breathing resource that evolves over time.
Whilst the tactics covered above still take a bunch of work to implement, the payoff is an increase in the time spent on your thing - your superpower.
And ultimately, you need to build a business you want to work in.