If business is good, and we’re doing as well as last year, why do we need to focus on growth?
This is a question I was asked last week but a client, and honestly, it’s a logical thought. Why do we need to relentlessly pursue growth, if things are working well as they are?
The honest answer is you don’t have to make a growth a central part of your agency strategy – but you definitely should.
Before I explain why, I should quickly outline what I mean by growth.
I mean growth in revenue, year on year – not growth in staff and overheads.
For many people, when they hear the word growth, they see loads of new people and a much bigger office – this isn’t the growth vision at all. Of course, if you want to grow in that way, you absolutely can, but it’s not essential. It’s fully possible to grow without bulking up your workforce.
Growth, in this context, means increasing revenue so that every year, you have more cash to invest. This is the key, investment in your business. Consistent growth frees up money for you to invest into different areas of the business, and here are the four key areas for you to be consistently investing in.
1 – INVEST IN NEW OPPORTUNITIES
I was once told by a mentor of mine that the 2 most powerful words in the salesperson’s vocabulary were Free, and New.
Well, new is definitely in now. The creative world is changing every day. New technologies, new techniques, new software, new hardware, new approaches, new business models and new job roles are appearing all the time. This is what your clients expect.
They expect you to, not just know about New, but to be the masters of New.
To be masters of New, you need to be practitioners. You can read industry news, and attend exhibitions all you want, but you don’t master New until you use and practice with New.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting you are constantly buying the latest equipment and stocking it in the back office – this is a terrible business model as New gets Old fast.
What I’m suggesting is you have enough in your bank to invest in the latest training, or for your teams to go and work with a partner for a week to get hands on experience with the latest developments in the creative world.
Consistent growth will give you the flexibility you need to constantly upskill your teams so they are masters of New – without this, you’re not masters of New, you’re just enthusiasts.
2 – INVEST IN NEW TALENT
When I started my career around 9 years ago, I remember the creative industry being full of all-rounders. People that were multi-talented and could deliver a number of key project elements by themselves.
Today, that model seems to have completely disappeared. In today’s world, specialism rules – and that means that talent is expensive, as the more specialist the talent, the more expensive it is.
This is another key way to maintain your status as masters of New – bringing in masters from outside. Whatever your recruitment strategy is, you must always stick to one key principle:
Only ever bring in someone that is going to improve your business.
Therefore, when recruiting, you don’t want to be skimping on the pennies. Doing this will, in time, deliver a sea of mediocrity.
This is another key reason for growth. It allows you to keep enough capital aside to invest in people that genuinely improve your business.
3 – INVEST IN ORIGINAL CONTENT
Imagine having full reign to create something truly beautiful without the limitations of any client brief or budget…
That’s what growth can give you – the freedom to go and create your own content.
This is important for so many reasons.
Firstly, it nurtures your inner creative side, allowing you to explore new avenues without restrictions.
Secondly, it rewards your teams for their hard work, allowing them to create something they are truly proud of.
Then, you can use this amazing content as a great example of your agency’s ability.
Finally, it’s a wonderful way to prove that you are truly masters of New.
To invest in your own content, you need the capital – this is what consistent growth can deliver for you.
4 – INVEST IN YOUR CLIENTS
We live and work in turbulent times.
Economic forecasts are cloudy, and when this happens, marketing and creative budgets get slashed.
How do you respond?
Do you stick 2 fingers up?
Do you sack your clients?
Do you say, ‘well if you pay us less, you get a worse service’?
If you do any of those things, you won’t be in business long.
Your output and delivery is your reputation, no matter what you’re getting paid for it. When clients look at your previous work, they don’t say ‘this wasn’t that good, but we didn’t pay much so we’ll let them off’. They just say ‘this wasn’t that good’.
When budgets are tighter, you still need to deliver because budgets won’t always be tight, and you can always access bigger budgets when you become a verified Brief Maker.
However, to deliver your best service, even when the budget is tight, you need to be able to invest in your clients – and this means you need cash in the bank.
This may be the most important thing on this list – if you have the ability to invest in your clients, then over the long term, you will win every single time.
BRINGING IT TOGETHER
Growth is not about expansion.
Growth is about the ability to invest in your business.
The more you can invest, the more you can thrive.
Don’t leave the future to chance – embed growth into the center of your business strategy, and start investing in your future today.