How many times have you found yourself using that line?

I hear it all the time from agency owners, and sometimes it’s true. But often, it isn’t.

Sometimes you are moving through a difficult phase in the business because you have taken on new people who need developing to get up to fee-earning level, or because you are at the beginning of a new marketing plan, or you’ve made a bigger strategic move.

The real problem is when you find yourself saying it regularly and there is always a “difficult next phase”.

That’s when you have to take some perspective.

You set up this business to give you and your family a great life – that might be financial freedom, holidays, choose when to work, etc – but if you’re going from month to month in struggle then that’s definitely not you get the life that you want and it really doesn’t need to be like that.

Agency owners become consumed with growth, but growth can’t be the goal. Growth doesn’t give you a better life. Your business performing is what gives you that life and it can perform at the size it is right now, or even if you make it a little smaller.

The difficult decisions we often help our clients to make are:

  1. Should we exit some clients?
  2. Where can we increase prices to drive profit, even though it will price us out in some situations?
  3. Should we put a hold on recruitment for a while?
  4. Will we perform better if we actually let some staff go and avoid the need to feed those hungry mouths?
  5. Should we stop spending money on these particular overheads that are not necessary and not delivering value?

There are lots of definitions for growth, but for me real growth comes from growing the performance of your business and there is no truer reflection of performance than profitability because it encompasses everything – growth in your sales and marketing, operations, people, management, and leadership will all be required to achieve growth in profit, so measure and improve profit and you will naturally grow everything else.

Make the difficult decisions now that will take your business into high performance. It will make everything less stressful, more rewarding and you will grow in the right way, with the right clients paying the right price and assemble the right staffing to deliver great client service and great profitability.

I recently wrote a blueprint on this subject of financial success for agencies. I outline everything that I would want if I was running a digital agency. If that’s of interest, you can download it here.

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