How long did it take you to grow your agency to
$10k/mo..? $50k/mo..? $100k/mo..? $250k/mo+..?
And what's the biggest piece of advice you would offer someone who is just starting?
We're currently at 50-100, and my advice would be to learn how to hire as fast as possible.
Hire for fulfillment so you can focus on marketing/sales.
Once you know marketing/sales, hire an appointment setter/someone to manage the marketing.
Then, hire for sales.
104 👍🏽10 💟114
The best advice I can give from experience is not to hire too fast without processes in place. Build good SOPs from the start.
Yes! We hired fast and have no SOPs. It's been a nightmare
Sipho » Mawji
I've been in that position. Learn from your staff's pain points and shortcoming. Use those lessons to guide your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)s
What's not working well? How could we improve it going forward.
What part of our processes is confusing to new employees? What are common mistakes?
$10k was 5 months. $50k was 11 months later. Have never hit $100k. I don't exactly think I'm in a position to be giving advice, but If someone held a gun to my head and asked for advice, I'd probably start panicking because there was a gun to my head, and I'd say "know your worth, don't deal with cheapskates, and don't be afraid to fire high maintenance customers who are time vampires."
I agree. I waited far too long to hire but it is very tricky evolving from a freelancer to an agency and can become overwhelming…
… I'm currently working 7 days a week like crazy to automate everything and have hired a new staff member to help with the workload…
… In about a months time, I should have all my fulfilment and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)s in place, a project management and communications platform up and running, a customer support system in place and a total of 4 extra new staff, with a new project manager to help run it all smoothly
… Then I can concentrate on sales only myself to scale while my team do the fulfilment, support and deliverables… It's a grind at the moment but I should be in a good place very soon with the hard work I'm putting in.
Which PM software are you testing/using currently?
Souza ✍️ » Keith L Evans
If you guys haven't Brian Kato introduced me to click up and we've been slowly moving all of our SOPs there. It's helped productize Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to a whole different level
Keith L Evans 🎓 » Bruno– I finally have my PM testing ClickUp. And Brian Kato is another master attending NOLA. ⚜️🧠
Holgate » Keith L Evans
Currently testing Asana, Clickup and an obscure one called Taskbox… I'm going to make a decision in the next few days to which one to choose but most likely Clickup…
… I also currently use Google Workspace a lot so we'll be integrating that with the PM software and I'm undecided which in-house communication to use out of Slack and Discord but favouring Discord at the moment.
Keith L Evans 🎓 » David
You go little rock star, as you are in good company. I'm basically doing the same.
I started my agency in 2015 and we are getting close to $1.5M per month. That does not include ad spend budgets, just our top line gross revenue. My advice is to remember the 1 and 3 rule in business, meaning that the systems and processes that work for 1 won't work for 3, 3 to 10, 10 to 30, 30 to 100…etc.
Inspect what you expect, appreciate your mistakes and failures because they are the gifts that help you scale to the next level. Just make sure that you are always honest and transparent with your clients, own the mistake, and fix the root issue so that it doesn't continue to happen. Clients know that we are human and that mistakes will happen, it is how we deal with the mistake that builds trust and respect.
Lastly, focus on building a culture where you first take care of your employees who then take care of your clients, in that order. You can measure this with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) on a bi-annual basis. Listen to your team for feedback on how you can continue to increase that score.
As a bonus, I'll share this, don't worry about your EBIDA or margins if you are growing fast, staff up, but do it right. Hire an HR person then someone who designs curriculum and focuses their time on learning and development. There will be a time that you will need to hire your management and senior management, this group is very expensive, especially the higher quality A players. When you start making these type of hires your margin may go from 20%+ all the way down to 8%- but don't freak out, you are making an investment by putting people who are much smarter and more capable at these very important roles then you are. When they do their job, and do it well, they allow you to bring your margin back up over 20% and get you to a place where your business starts to grow even without YOU! You got this
P.S. if there are any other 8 figure agency owners, trying to get to 9 figures, Direct Message (DM) me, I am thinking about putting together a mastermind.
Great advice , Thanks .
& Great point about owning your mistakes & standing upto correct them . One question I have do clients at the level of spending $$$$$$ willing to accept that a mistake was made in their campaign?
Jason » Singh
Regardless of the budget, people will make mistakes. We are human. However, as your revenue grows so does your team. At that point, you start to optimize and automate the solutions to these mistakes. It's important to operate in a no blame environment where people won't feel like they will get in trouble for voicing a mistake.
Thanks for your kind words Jason . Will surely help in the long run
Syed » Jason
Is it wise to hire a sales person at initial stage if we are not good in sales?
I didn't hire a sales person until I was close to $2.5M in revenue but our case studies and quality of product did most of the selling. From there our reputation in the market generated more leads, which i couldn't keep up with personally, so we brought in a Marketing Director, Director or Business Development and a Director of Sales and got more aggressive with branding, conferences and marketing. Like I said earlier in my thread, once you get this all right…the business starts to grow without you.
Lee » Jason
This is definitely one of the best answers I've read to this type of question. We're rapidly closing in on $250k / month and have grown purely through referrals to this point. You mention profitably percentages in your response … do you have an agency profitability range you would recommend to target? This is a question I constantly struggle with as we scale.
Rios » Jason
Thanks 4 Sharing! I am in 5 countries 10 cities now, before March 2020, I was in 7 countries 15 cities. I will accelerate to 40 cities 25 New countries in 5 years, after Black Swan diminish its effects. Probably end of the year. Good luck with the expansión! 😊💪💪💪 Congrats for Such a succesful journey!
Steve Toth 🎓
About 12 months to 50k (9 months of that was a side hustle), 2 years to 100k. Still just me, a Virtual Assistant (VA) and some freelancers. Lots of balls in the air, but manageable.
That's amazing growth considering your team size. If you don't mind sharing what do you think you did differently that allowed that kind of growth without complete burnout (at least it sounds like you're not burnt out)?
Steve Toth 🎓 » Matthew
Sounds obvious, but I only take on projects where I have a high probability of success. I do a lot of feasibility research prior to signing a client.
I must also like the actual people I work with. I don't take on more than two clients in the same month. I will also partner with another SEO and sometimes work as a team. Beyond that, I've built out a referral network where I get a commission for business I refer.
Also I haven't been afraid to fire clients if they don't bring good energy.
Did you all hire in house, outsource, offshore? My problem is I live in the Silicon Valley. No one wants to work in this field here for a starting wage of under $150k, or if they will, they're looking for the next best deal at a large tech firm and they don't stick around. Where do you find good help?
A business advisor told me the biggest mistake small businesses make is hire cheap and think you can lift them up. Hire power hitters first, he said. But in this field there is a lot that needs to be done by SOP implementors, So I'm not sure his advice is entirely true.
And it's a catch 22 problem for anyone anywhere no matter what role you're trying to fill. Do you get the sales first, then hire, or hire then hope to god you can afford to keep them
"And what's the biggest piece of advice you would offer someone who is just starting?"
Don't think in terms of how much revenue you earn a month. It's easy to grow revenue by taking on more expenses.
Think in terms of how much profit you earn per month. Many small business people dig themselves into financial holes by not covering all their expenses or paying themselves enough.
You want more than a living wage. You want to pay yourself enough money that you can build up your personal savings, even if only at a slow pace.
I agree about hiring if that's the direction you want sales to go. I'm sure there's a lot of guys out there that want to keep it small (and won't hire a permanent position or will use VAs instead).
I'm on that road as well – my dream is not to be a big company as I'm in my 60's and as much as I'd love to sell the thing for lots of money some day I don't want to be so busy in the meantime I'm not enjoying other aspects of my life either. For example, I love coaching and refereeing youth soccer – it let's me give back to my community as a volunteer and gets me exercise outside plus it helps keep me feeling a little younger 🙂
One thing for the guys that are running your business the same way is to not stop selling because your current clients probably won't stay forever. People die (yes that's a large percentage of why businesses lose clients/ customers), people change positions or sell the business and the new guy or gal will have have their own "person," etc. And especially be careful if one or two of your clients is the bulk of your business – losing them would be no bueno..
So always be on the lookout for new clients and try to never say you're too busy to take on one more.
It really bothers me some of the comments in this post, because I know for a fact some people either started their agency earlier than they say or they reopened/rebranded from a previous gig that already had clients and sales.
It's like if I now close my current agency, open back up and then say that I achieved 200k in under 2 months.
These fake expectations is what creates anxiety and imposter syndrome!!
When I discovered most SEO users live in a cramped apartment and lease their Lotus, then nothing they say matters. It's only what they do.
Listen Keith, a cramped janitors closet in San Diego is still $5k/mo – show some respect
Souza ✍️ » Bea RG
Can't wait to launch my course on how to scale an SEO agency from 0 to 70k/mo in 30 seconds using 1 simple trick
Bea RG » Souza
Add me as a testimonial when I make my first 8 Billion on the first 9 days and 13h
I'm not sure I want to grow that much. I've been a one (maybe +2-3 contractor here and there) for nearly 20 years. No overhead, can leave when I want, live at the beach… Work at home, home school… Do I really wanna manage 15 people?
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