There’re a lot of great resources out there for creatives. From making a living with your passion, to running a creative business like a photography or design studio. From wedding photography to graphic design, you can find a ton of great stuff to both, get your creative juices flowing, and to get a few bucks in your pocket.
There’s also a lot of great stuff to learn how to do SEO, online marketing, code, program and so forth. But, there are very few good resources about building a full blow agency or a larger scale business.
What happens when you get past the ‘struggling to stay busy’ stage, and past the daydreaming entrepreneur phase? What happens when you start getting more and more clients, and you need help to finish all the jobs? Do you hire full time staff, do you work with freelancers? Sure, you should increase your prices and be more selective with the clients you take on, but you’ll eventually have to make a decision: do I grow and scale my business, or do I continue being a solopreneur and freelancer?
Thats exactly the decision I had to make this past year after finding myself up to my neck in projects, putting out fire after fire, and working myself to the point of exhaustion. I was working on 12 different projects at a time with 10-15 freelancers, and I realized after a few weeks of chaos that I had zero systems, and my day to day had turned into an overwhelming monster that I was just trying to hide from.
My mission is to help as many businesses succeed as possible, and deliver exceptional service and results. Most people in our industry are all over the place and don’t know how to deliver. I thought, if I could do what everyone else failed to do, actually care, do great work, and deliver on my promises, everything would be good. And it was, for a while. Then referrals started coming in, my marketing started to kick in and before I knew it, I had more business than I could handle.
I did everything I could to meet the demand and increase my capacity, but after a certain point, I was starting to loose client opportunities, miss deadlines, do less quality work, drop the ball in communication, and *gasp*, it even ended up in me having to give my first deposit refund because I just couldn’t crank out projects fast enough.
So I took a deep breathe, and started to dive into learning how to actually build a business that was bigger than myself, scaleable, had room for growth, and that was sustainable. I’ve now developed systems and processes, worked on streamlining production, and now bringing on our first full time hires.
To help me through this process, I hired business coaches, talked to agency owners, bought books, listened to podcasts, bought courses, went to meetups and attended conferences. I researched, tested and implemented different project management softwares, CRM’s, sales & marketing automation tools, and really, did anything and everything that could help me conquer the chaos that my business had become.
I can finally say that after a year of nonstop storms, frustrations, and mistakes, I’m finally starting to put everything together.I’m great at marketing, sales, and connecting with clients, but I had no freaking idea about how to build and run a business.
This is my attempt to consolidate all the headaches, frustrations, pains and lessons I’ve learned since starting my agency in 2012. I’ll share a few good resources I follow, some thoughts, as well as the tools, softwares, systems, and some processes we use. A lot of what I’m doing, I’m learning from other successful agency owners, clients, and general business and entrepreneurship experts. Everything I’ve learned lives in my Evernote, Google Docs, Project Management system, CRM and isn’t in one consolidated place, until now.
This is the resource that I wish I had when I started, and I hope it will help someone in their journey. I’ve shared my story with other agency owners, and I for a fact know I’m not the only one banging my head against my desk trying to figure all of this out. Hopefully you’ll find this beneficial. If you do, or if you have specific questions, I’d love to hear from you! Tweet me @fernandezmzk.