Once they reach a certain level, business owners can get pretty cocky. Sure of themselves and their ability, they start to believe they are invincible.
That’s how I felt in January of 2020.
For nine years, I’d been running JC Social Media, a social media agency I started in 2011, fresh out of university with nothing but a big smile and a business plan of two words: get clients.
Then covid hit.
The next 15 months held disruption, growth, and a whole load of self-reflection. Thriving through a crisis brought lessons for how to grow without one.
It shouldn't take a global pandemic for you to realise you're not being the best entrepreneur you could be, like it did for me.
Last week I shared my story of building, systemizing and selling a business with Entrepreneurs Handbook, as well as the five main lessons learned from making a tonne of mistakes along the way.
Reflecting on ten years of running an agency, with a startup phase, a lifestyle phase, a massive shock and a final growth phase before selling, here are the main lessons learned and what I’d do differently next time:
- You can only play one game well
I flitted between the artist game, performance game, lifestyle game and build-to-sell game throughout the decade. Picking one and sticking to it is a better strategy for your energy, team and state of mind.
- Niche down for faster growth
When I started this agency, social media was the niche. It was fairly new in 2011, and we could win clients in all industries and do general social media work. Soon after, however, specializing would have secured faster growth. It would have led to us becoming known for a specific industry or type of work.
- Take recruitment seriously
During the middle years, I didn’t put the right person in charge of recruitment. She hired people because they were outgoing and friendly or a mate of a current team member. I took my eye off the ball with vetting and scrutinizing who joined the team, and it was by far my biggest mistake.
- Don’t make exceptions
Every time the business ran smoothly and clients were happy, it was because we took them through the process that we knew was effective. Whenever there were bottlenecks or something not going right, it was because we’d made concessions, agreed to an exception or taken something case-by-case. It’s difficult to say no, but it always worked out better.
- Build your personal brand
It’s a myth that building a personal brand means your business is reliant on you. I found that it made my business less reliant on me. How so? Not only did it win us more work, but clients and team members didn’t expect me to be around. My incredibly capable team members were free to show what they could do.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?