What Big Decisions Do Successful Agency Owners Make Every Year?
Agency owners make important decisions every day. But, what are the most important decisions to grow your agency? How can you make sure you’re making the best ones for the agency? Simply put, the biggest, most important decisions are the ones that positively impact your agency in the long term. Those are the ones made with the future of your business and your employees in mind. Today’s repeat guest has run a successful agency for ten years and now shares why he believes agency leaders should focus on making 10 big decisions per year while sharing a few of his in 2022. He also tells us why CEOs should allow themselves to be bored in order to spike creativity.
Manish Dudharejia is the founder and president of E2M Solutions, a full-service white-label digital agency. His agency works as a trusted partner with agencies to scale their business behind the scenes. E2M has been serving agencies for 10 years and currently works with about 130 agencies across the U.S.
Reflecting on the agency’s 10 years in business, he now identifies the changes that would set his business on the path of growth.
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- Why agency leaders should make 10 big decisions in a year.
- The yearly exercise to assess your past decisions.
- Why you shouldn’t fear boredom.
How to Make the Big Decisions and Grow Your Agency
As an agency CEO, there are always a thousand things to do and many people depend on you to make the right call at any given moment. Manish believes that a CEO’s job is to make 10 big decisions every year and tries to live by this. His agency turns ten in 2022 and that adds up to a hundred BIG decisions made over the years.
Some of the most important decisions he has made led his agency to where they are right now. To him, being an observer and learning what not to do helped him build a successful agency right from the start.
Decision 1: What is the right leadership style for your agency team?
Manish started his career working at two companies where he learned how leaders should not treat their employees. He never felt like his well-being was a priority. One of the things that struck him the most was employees being micromanaged and not given room to grow. When it came time to form his agency, he asked himself “what’s something I always looked for in an employer?” He also thinks about these lessons when he’s making a decision as an employer and thinks about whether a decision would make sense to him if he were an employee.
Companies solely focused on growth and profit end up being terrible places to work and have subpar customer service. However, companies that strive to be either employee-focused or client-focused greatly benefit from this approach because they are not putting themselves first. In the end, Manish is building his agency as a combination of these two approaches. An agency with a humanized approach to customer service which prioritizes employees.
Decision 2: How do you manage employee satisfaction and retention?
Manish says he has no strict budget when it comes to spending on employees. Usually, business owners create budgets at the start of the year, but he prefers to not set a limit and spends as much as necessary. Manish views this type of spending as an investment rather than an expense. His philosophy is “let’s do what is needed”.
Decision 3: How do you show appreciation to your team?
He also pays particular attention to payroll by paying top-dollar in the industry and never late paying his 150 employees. He knows how important this is for employees and has greatly helped his agency with retention. Employees feel taken care of and he’s very proud of that.
Employees are also an important element in his decision-making. If you’re about to make a decision, you should ask yourself whether the result benefits everyone at the agency. Remember short-term decisions to save money will not have long-term effects. If it works for everyone, then it will have amazing results in the long run.
Early Agency Mistakes: Trying to Do Everything for Everyone
Within the first 3 years, his agency was seeing great success and started jumping into trying new technologies like mobile app development. Trying new technologies is not a bad move, of course, but trying everything dilutes your team’s focus.
Decision 3: What are your agency’s strengths?
Dabbling in too much diluted Manish’s agency’s profits, because the revenue generated in some areas was then put into developing these new services. They kept growing, but the profits weren’t there.
It was the information era and people got easily distracted by every new development. The moment there was new technology available, every agency wanted to be among the first to implement it into their services. Years later, this is still the case many times. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be at the forefront of new industry developments. In fact, many times it is the only way to get ahead of the competition before the new space gets crowded. However, at some point, the novelty around these new technologies wears off, so rather than jumping from one technology to another, Manish prefers to focus on solving larger problems for his clients.
On the other hand, a way to continually try new things while also staying focused is to have an incubator division within the agency. Bottom-line, the key is to remain hyper-focused so you don’t dilute the work you’re doing.
Decision 4: What is your agency’s CORE service offering?
Manish has concentrated his efforts on running an agency focused on one space — white labeling to solve problems around customer service. When you’re starting an agency or any business you have a growth mindset. However, we often ignore the fact that, as the agency, the market also continues to grow.
With that in mind, Manish has set out to keep his agency hyper-focused on core services and in the niche of servicing only digital agencies. This has helped his agency achieve success and growth over the past ten years.
Decision 5: What can you learn from the past?
Many years ago, Manish started analyzing the prior year and taking a step back to assess how to improve its services and restructure its offering. One of the best decisions that came from those yearly meetings was productizing their service, which led to tremendous growth.
Doing this yearly exercise gives a clear idea of what’s working for your agency and what’s not. It also serves to trace the path of what to do for the following year.
In the agency business, we’re constantly looking forward to what’s next. Set aside some time to look back one year or even further in the past and realize what worked and what needs to change in your agency. You can implement this tactic in several areas. For instance, rather than just looking at new lead magnets, also look at old blog posts that did very well and think of ways to optimize that content and do similar posts.
Why Agency Leaders Need to Trust Their Gut
Manish is a quick decision-maker, so if he thinks a decision is the right one he acts on it right away. Some people stop themselves from making the right decision because they don’t haven’t figured out the “how.” Don’t let this stop you from setting the right course for your agency.
The “how” is part of what you’ll figure out later on. At one point, he decided that, since his target audience was mostly in the US he should move there. It was a bold move, but he says it’s the best decision he’s made. He learned a lot, met a lot of people, and got a better understanding of how his clients think. He took those new experiences and has been working on improving his agency ever since.
Other than trusting your gut and making quick decisions, Manish recommends educating yourself as much as you can. He dedicates a lot of time to learning about human psychology and how the mind works. This has helped him a lot in making decisions in complex situations.
Entrepreneurs and Visionaries Should Not Fear Boredom
A wise agency owner makes sure there’s always free time to do meaningful work. If you really want to grow your agency, make a list of the tasks you do and ask yourself “is this something that could be done by someone else?” If the answer is yes, then start looking for that person. It’s important to know when it’s time to delegate, automate, or eliminate tasks to free up time for more significant work.
Many agency owners fear this point where they can have more free time for themselves because they fear boredom. Boredom is not bad. Boredom leads to creativity and creativity leads to productivity. This creativity is vital for the role of a CEO in any company.
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