Do You Have What it Takes To Run A Successful Agency?

By Jason Swenk on May 14, 2020

Do you have what it takes to be a successful agency owner? Are you afraid you’ve hit the ceiling of your own success? What are the traits and disciplines of successful agency owners?

  • Why your agency might need a fresh perspective.
  • How can agencies survive the economic downturn?
  • 2 disciplines every agency owner needs.
  • Are you built for successful agency ownership?
  • Where are you on the entrepreneurial range?

Today I had the great privilege of talking with Gino Wickman, founder of EOS Worldwide and author of Traction. With 30+ years of entrepreneurial experience, Gino has helped 100,000 entrepreneurs build amazing companies with is systems and training. Today, he’s talking about vision, partners, and knowing whether you have what it takes to be the kind of entrepreneur you want to be.

Why Your Agency Might Need a Fresh Perspective

Almost thirty years ago, at the age of 25, Gino ended up replacing a partner and president at his father’s business and turned it around in what he outlines as a 4 steps process.

  1. Simplify the business. There were 5 subdivisions under the umbrella of the larger company which, over time, Gino spun off so they could get back to the core business. This is why we often talk about being the jack of all trades and the master of none. I preach it all the time, right? Do one thing and do it better than anyone.
  2. Win back every client. Gino says that as the family business took off, they got cocky and lost key clients. Listening to those former clients, learning from mistakes, and growing because of it was a huge step in the rebirth of the business.
  3. Restructure the organization. At the time, there were 50 people at the company. Gino reorganized them all and got the right people int the right seats. Of course, there were firings and layoffs as he stripped the business down its core, too. But simplifying the org chart made a huge difference in accountability.
  4. Sell, sell, sell. The final step Gino took was to pay off the company’s mound of debt. What’s the best way to do that? He says they sold their asses off and just focused on their core service to not over complicate things.

How Can Agencies Survive the Economic Downturn?

A business coach once told Gino that every business runs in 10-year cycles. You have two great years, six good years, and two terrible years that could put you out of business.

The economy has been good for a long time and we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a downturn right now. (Of course “why” is a different story!) But, don’t be surprised in 10 years when this happens again.

Like me, Gino has run businesses during the dot-bomb, 9/11, and 2008 crash. Economic downturns are cyclical. And while it does suck, it is also an opportunity to get clear and do some ‘weeding.’ It gives you time to reevaluate your business, get back to your core values, figure out what you’re best at, and develop your next 10-year plan.

The best advice right now? Get as close to your clients as possible. Give, help, teach. It’s in these times when market share is gained.

It’s been two months. We’ve had time to settle it. It’s time to get back at it. Sure, the pie has got smaller, but you can still get the larger piece while others are being lazy right now.

And don’t be short-sighted. Don’t react to the market with fear of losing everything. Gino encourages every entrepreneur to think in 10-year targets or 10-year goals. There is light at the end of the tunnel but you have to think long term in addition to short term actions.

2 Disciplines Every Agency Owner Needs

In Gino’s new book, The Entrepreneurial Leap, Gino walks the reader through three parts of what it takes to be a great entrepreneur:

Confirm you are an entrepreneur.
Glimpse, show the light.
Path to greatly increase the odds of success.

As well as 8 disciplines we all need in order to be successful. He covered two of those in detail for our listeners:

1. Determine whether you’re a partner person. Are you a partner person? Not everyone is cut out to have or be a partner. On the other hand, some people need a partner to help with decision making or that has a complementary skill set. Learning whether you’re a partner person will help you succeed.

2. Get feedback from clients early and often. You should know your clients better than they know themselves. The only way your business is going to flourish is if you evolve and change with your niche’s needs. You need to be in a position to see what they need before they see what they need. Like Henry Ford said, “If I listened to everything my customers wanted, I would have given them a faster horse.” When you know them better than they know themselves you’re going to be indispensable.

Are You Built for Successful Agency Ownership?

Gino says 10-year thinking means knowing where you want to land ten years from now. What’s the end goal? Then every decision you make today be thinking out 10 years. Time slows down and you make better decisions and get there faster.

As an entrepreneur, you need to know what you’re built for. Not every agency entrepreneur is built to run a billion-dollar agency. Some should always be a freelancer out on their own. The proverbial “glass ceiling” is not always a true glass ceiling. Sometimes, it’s just the entrepreneur trying to go beyond their capacity of what they should be doing. Certainly, the glass ceiling does exist and that’s when an entrepreneur needs to learn in order to grow bigger.

Know your vision and motivation. There no right or wrong answer, it’s just about knowing yourself.

Where Are You on the Entrepreneurial Range?

The entrepreneurial range is everything from a self-employed freelancer to an entrepreneurial giant like Disney or Oprah. When you are on the larger side of that range, you have 6 essential traits: Visionary, Passionate, Problem Solver, Driven, Risk Taker, Responsible.

If you want to learn where you land on the entrepreneurial range and what it takes to be successful, you can take the Entrepreneurial-Leap quiz. If you are on the range, you are a hard-charging entrepreneur, and knowing where you are on the range can help you drive forward.


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