We hear this often, and it’s common for any growing business, but fear not, we have the answers to help you!
When I think of great leadership, Sir Alex Ferguson always comes to mind. Talk about building a brand and philosophy with the talent he had and never wavering in the face of adversity. I'm sure you'll have your own inspirational leaders - think about them when reading this guide.
As you are time conscious people, I’ve broken our thinking down into six clear steps you should take to enable you to both, lead an agency and run new business. Once you have accepted and completed all six steps you will be on the road to success:
1. Stop focusing on the short term. The problem is that you are ending up in a perpetuating cycle looking for quick results and if you stepped back to look at the bigger picture, you’re likely to find that you’re not growing all that much. You need to take stock and recalibrate - this may mean taking your foot off the accelerator for a moment. Trust me, the car will eventually go faster and further and this will be better and more cost effective than getting a mechanic in to fix it every five miles. Get the engine supercharged, do it once, don’t look back. But whilst you’re reflecting over the Christmas break, move on to step two…
2. You must stop thinking of new business (sales) as a job function and start understanding that it’s a culture. A common mistake is that agency owners think, “I’ll bring in a sales person and they will sink or swim and that will be the answer. If it doesn’t work, we’ll go back to the drawing board”. What usually happens is that they fail; you blame them; and you fire them. The reality is, the reason they failed was most likely your fault for not supporting them by building a new business culture. If you want a key indicator of whether you have a strong culture are; ask anyone in the business what the vision/mission is of the organisation and you will get the same response. Once you have created this culture then everyone in the agency will be motivated towards contributing to its success and it will no longer just rest on your shoulders. “But that’s madness! How do I create this mythical culture?” I hear you say.
3. A new business culture starts with a brand story. So far, you have built a business (pat on the back - it’s more than most), but you haven’t built a brand (yet). Brands will outlive businesses and they are much more valuable. They also allow you to diversify your service offering over time. Once you have a brand it will impact everything in your organisation, from who you hire, to who your clients are, to the work you do, to the colour of socks you put on in the morning. You need a brand. You need a brand to differentiate yourself and you need a brand to make your decision making (and life) much easier. But now you’re going to ask me, “how do I build a brand?”
4. Start with Why. You are going to need to ask yourself some deep, introspective questions. You cannot do this alone. You will need a facilitator, normally a stranger who has no preconceived ideas about you. It’s impossible to be objective with ourselves at all times. You’re going to need to open up and be willing to talk about your life, family, friends, experiences – all of the stories and people that have shaped the person you are today. Firstly, you have no idea how amazing it will feel to share these emotions with someone! It will be like a weight or dark cloud has been lifted from your mind (ask our clients). Everything will become much clearer. The reason you require a facilitator is that they will see the red-thread and trends that have recurred throughout your entire life and this will determine your ‘Why’. They can also help you articulate it. Now what you can do is share your story will all your clients, employees and partners – make sure they know about all the ups and downs, what you went through to get them here and why they should fight for you every day.
5. Be consistent when you tell your story. Many agencies act like they’re schizophrenic, changing their story from year to year, trying to chase the latest buzzword, like a dog chases its tail. Don’t get sucked into all of that. ‘What’ you do will always change (at least I hope so!) but Why you do it will remain true for eternity. Building a brand and a culture is not about intensity or quick wins. Great culture is about consistency, it’s the accumulation of doing things repeatedly over time that changes things. For example, cleaning your teeth for two minutes a day will do nothing, but doing it every day for a lifetime will. Your brand story needs to come from the core and it can then impact everything, from the way you greet clients at your reception, to the content you promote, to the stories your employees tell about you, to the design of your website. Everything should look, feel and sound like you. We advise once you have found your story, put some behaviours in place and a way of measuring them so that you can scale the business and the culture can remain consistent.
6. Be a leader. Many agency owners start their business to get rich or because they don’t want to be told what to do any more, but once you have hired a team, you can become a leader. Some people think leadership is a job title but if you are leading an organisation, then you have a duty to your people. Simon Sinek says “the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.” Put simply, if you care only about yourself and the bottom line, then you may have a business and you may be wealthy but you will not have a brand and people will not follow you for respect, love or inspiration, you will not change the world or turn around any of the negatives you have experience in your lifetime. “Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.”
So, there you have it. Change your thinking, embrace your story, live it, breathe it and act like a leader. If you do hire a new business person, then don’t think of them as the ones who are going to bring in all the cash, think of them like the car engineer that is going get under the hood, tweak a few things and make you go faster and further.
If you would like to discuss further how Kiwi Gray could help your agency, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 07979 007 400