5 Questions Every Micro Agency Owner Needs to Ask
No one starts a business, let alone a micro agency, thinking about the highs and lows, but they’re inevitable. Which is where this episode comes in, as I’m sharing five questions every micro agency owner to explore. They may not be what you’re expecting, but I can guarantee they’ll get you thinking in a new way.
In this week’s episode, we’re wrapping up our series for micro agency owners with five questions every agency needs to ask. Some of these may surprise you, and others may challenge you to think differently.
As a micro agency owner, one of my favorite things is that I get to do things my way. There’s no handbook or rigid set of rules to follow.
A good example of this was the second Friday in January in early 2022 when I simply decided we were taking Fridays off. Or the time in the Spring when I went to the grocery store and decided we needed to adjust team compensation.
These were significant decisions, but because of how we’re small and values-driven, we were able to make them happen. Let’s be real, we all know exactly how hard those moves would be to make in a bigger organization.
And that’s where these questions come in. They’re more reflective than what I typically share here on the podcast, but they’re important, as running a micro agency can be challenging at times.
But if you spend the time considering these (and potentially putting them into action) you’ll feel a hell of a lot more secure as you deal with the ups and downs.
What Do You Want Your Agency to Be Known For?
Building on last week’s episode talking about thought leadership and strategy, it’s really easy for an agency to fall into the full-service trap. Where you do a lot of things, but you don’t have a clear, core competency that you’re known for.
With a micro agency, you can’t be everything to everyone, by niching down to a specific focus area or industry, you have a chance to be known for what you do.
Case in point, my agency Scoop is a content marketing agency. But more specifically we’re a content production agency working with mid-market B2B tech companies.
Drilling that down further, we’re known for our case study work as that’s something we’ve focused on building thought leadership around. When clients come to us cold, it’s usually for case studies thanks to that positioning and marketing.
If you can’t quickly and easily answer this question, take some time and look ahead to 2023 to consider how you can get laser focused.
What Are Your Agency’s Values? (And How Are You Living Them?)
Remember those values I talked about a few minutes ago? Having clear, documented values, means we have a compass for our decision-making.
Fun fact, our agency values are the exact same as the ones for Small Business Boss. While they’re implemented slightly differently, the intent is the same.
Trying to figure out what to do with a client? Values. Trying to make a hiring decision? Values. Trying to nail down pricing? Values.
If you’re going to take the time to define your values, they need to be more than words or hidden away in a PDF that you look at once a year. It should be an exercise that you invest time and energy into on an ongoing basis.
They need to be top of mind every single day so you’re living them. I worked with Danait Berhe on our values, and it was worth every single penny as we looked at how they would be put into action across the business.
What are your agency’s values? Do you know what they are? And if you do, what can you do to ensure they’re infused into every single area of your business?
How Big (or Small) Do You Really Want to Be?
This is a question I ask my clients often. And it’s funny to me as I literally couldn’t have answered it definitively three or four years ago.
And if that’s you, that’s totally okay. But I will say this, when I was in major growth mode, I didn’t see why I wouldn’t want to keep continuing to grow. I may have just looked directly into the heads and hearts of some of you with that statement.
I encourage you to explore the question even if you don’t have an answer so that you don’t just keep trying to grow and grow and grow and literally end up hating what you’ve built.
In asking how big you want your micro agency to be, you can start to define what you really want this to look like. That may not be about a specific revenue level, but rather how things feel overall.
In my case, I reached a certain point and knowing the investments involved to grow further, I opted to stay where I was. I’m happy here, things aren’t super stressful and this is good for the foreseeable future.
Your answer may be different, and that’s okay. But if you never think about it you definitely won’t have an answer.
How Does Your Agency Support Your Life?
I started my business as a lifestyle business. I wanted flexibility for when and how I would work. While my life is very different than when I started my business with a baby, that flexibility is just as important to me.
And back when I was working around naps, I wasn’t thinking about building an agency, but rather how I could work and get back to my life. And now, as a micro agency owner, I need to be diligent about ensuring that I stay true to my vision.
Which is why I encourage you to explore the question of how your agency is supporting your life? Do you have the time you want? Do you make the money you want to make?
Does this business you’ve built support the life you want? Or is it at least getting you that much closer to where you want to be?
This question may make you uncomfortable, and that’s okay. I simply am asking you to consider the gap between what you want and the reality of where you are right now.
Awareness is key, as it’s far too easy to simply keep your head down and then realize your business has taken over your life.
What Experience Do You Want Your Team to Have?
Finally, building and running your micro agency means you have a team. That team is critical to everything from your ability to take on new clients to your overall client experience.
A lot of the conversations about your agency team get focused on things like how to hire or how to ensure your team delivers on time. We get caught up in the day-to-day operations side with our team, when really, the biggest focus should be on the experience and culture.
To what degree you do this will vary based on if you have employees or contractors, how much they work with you and so on. Your team’s experience needs to consider these factors as it’s unrealistic (and really unfair) to create all these extra layers of things for a 10 hour a month contractor who’s running their own business.
On the flip side, your most committed team members, especially if they’re employees, need you to constantly be working on their experience. Ultimately, you want them to have a place to work that they love, so they can continue to grow in their role, and you can retain them for months and years to come.
Start by considering how you want to lead. There’s no one way to be a leader, but make no mistake, you are a leader. Even if you have an amazing operations person or integrator. Even if you don’t want to be!
The other aspect of this is your culture. This can feel tricky as it’s less tangible but your culture is a mix of your team and company’s shared practices, values and beliefs as you deliver on your agency’s mission and vision.
To make that more tangible, your team culture is about everything from building relationships with your team to fostering psychological safety to helping them grow in their role and as leaders to how you give feedback.
As a micro agency you have limited resources, so this isn’t about fancy perks, but rather how you do the day-to-day work as a team and ensuring everyone has a shared sense of purpose.
Which Question Has You Thinking?
To wrap things up, I have one final question for you. Which of these questions have you thinking about your business and your team?
As I said off the top, the goal here is for you to reflect, not to necessarily put all these into action. These are questions you need to be asking as you build and grow your agency, so you’re doing it strategically, intentionally and with people at its heart.
This episode wraps up our series on micro agencies and next week we’ll be back with a fresh episode. If you’re a micro agency owner looking for a community of fellow agency owners and support as you grow, check out the Agency Mastermind and get on the wait list for our next round.