How to Transition From a One-Man Show to Over a $1 Million Digital Agency

By Jason Swenk on May 13, 2014

Rich Wilson is the CEO of Big Scary Cranium who recently transitioned from a one man shop to a million dollar agency. (With a bunch of full time employees!) I talk with Rich about some of his biggest challenges, what he’s learned, and mistakes he’s made along the way.

Failure is forensic.

If you’re an entrepreneur chances are you expect success, and probably put a lot of pressure on yourself to succeed.  And like most entrepreneurs, you’re terrified of failing.

Rich recommends looking at failure in a different way. “Look at what went well. Look at what went wrong.”

For Rich, being able to moderate and handle failure is an important skill for entrepreneurs. Expect there to be disappointments. Learn from them and move on.

Don’t neglect your relationships.

Rich works hard at maintaining his relationships, even when he’s busy. While he admits that following up isn’t always the easiest thing to do, he strives to do it. You never know when you’ll need to call on that relationship down the road.

Problem solving for happy clients.

Rich believes in focusing on the client and making them the superstar. Part of that focus comes from having a total commitment to solving client problems. By understanding what your ideal customer looks like, you can develop a strategy for dealing with them. He warns against becoming a people pleaser, though.

W-2 vs. contractor.

When it comes to full-time hires and contractors, Rich says it’s all about what kind of business you are and what kind of expectations you have. You need to set up goals – whether it’s grow and bring on full time or flex in size with contractors – so that you know how to get from Point A to Point B.

“As an entrepreneur, you probably specialize in one area, but you need five things to run a business.”

As far as who to hire, Rich warns against bring on a bunch of mini-you’s. Of course you are really great, but it’s having a good diversity that makes for great teams. This way you get the right people to help you figure out where you’re weak.

He also recommends using assessment tools to learn about potential hires and determine where they might fit in with the team. He uses Introspective Advantage to help him find people for his team.

Rich on getting to the next level.

“It’s all about the relationship with the client.”

Rich calls it “land and expand,” also known in the web world as incremental engagement. Build relationships with clients where you can add value, not just grind out work. He also warns against staying too comfortable in your niche.

“You’re good at one thing if you’re small, but don’t be afraid to open the scope of what you do. Otherwise someone else will swoop in.”

Would You Like To Get Access To A Proven Agency Framework For Growing Your Agency?