Written By: Shavonnah Roberts Schreiber, Managing Director of SNR Creative
Agency life. I must admit, it has a certain ring to it and when you work in the creative space, the notion of starting your own agency is always swimming around in your head.
I get it — the lure of new clients, new projects and full autonomy all can be very attractive.
However, there is more to owning a creative agency (and any business really) than meets the eye. A more practical side that I think many don’t consider before striking out on their own.
So that’s what I am here to do. Shed some light on the aspects of agency life that are seldom discussed but absolutely critical to consider before hanging your shingle out.
Caveat: all of the tips are things that no one explicitly told me — even those that had agencies well before I started SNR Creative. Instead, these are things that I have learned along the way and thought would be useful to others.
Here are the top three things I believe you should keep in mind before you take the leap into starting your own agency:
No matter how creative/clever/good you are at what you do, to be successful you must have clients that buy your products/services. So, that means you must sell. Yep, you read that correctly. You must sell yourself and your products/services consistently to be successful in business.
This is one of the areas that it seems many creatives struggle with. Well, actually, most people in general struggle with the idea of selling. It’s akin to public speaking, but selling is an absolute must do if you plan to start (and stay) in business.
If you are looking for a few winning sales tips that really work, I would recommend reading “Hope is Not A Strategy: 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale” and “The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them.”
Both books were apart of my on-the-job training (OJT) when I worked with one of the best sales teams in my career. I read each of these books on an annual basis (and reference them all year long).
Speaking of money, another thing that people don’t talk about is the fact that there is often a lag between invoicing clients and receiving payment. Sometimes the lag is a looonnnggg one, like more than 60 days.
So, this means you must hedge in order to ensure you have the business continuity even when the checks aren’t rolling in. More simply said, when you are running an agency it is wise not to put all your revenue eggs in one basket. This means you must always have an eye open for new business, aka selling…see number one.
I suggest making a list of all the avenues (products/services) your agency has to bring in revenue, and make sure you keep all the revenue lanes open.
Finally, team building. No, calm down. I am not talking about the kind of team building exercises that most people hate, I am taking about building the team within your agency.
In order to build a successful agency, you must build a winning team. In order to grow, you will have to hire people — period. There are only 24 hours in a day and one person (you) can only do so much, so you need a squad to back you up.
What do I mean by a winning team? You must carefully select the people that will play on your agency squad because so much rides on them and your collective ability to deliver. This means you have to do the work upfront when hiring to ensure that the people you hire not only have the technical knowhow, but that you are building a solid agency culture that each new hire fits into.
Your agency will only be as successful as the team who makes it up, even if that team is only you.
If you are thinking of starting an agency and you want it to be a successful endeavor, you must sell your products/services, diversify your client base and build a winning team that can help you actually do the work.
Want to continue this conversation? Have a different perspective? I would love to hear from you! Reach out to me on Twitter (@shavonnahsnrc) and let me know your thoughts.
And while you are building your in-house team, you can always use SNR Creative to help fill in the gaps. We bridge the gap from idea to reality in the most creative way possible.