When you have the sales engine working, it allows you time to work on the longer term durability of your business and that means a focus on the marketing and branding of your firm. I found that hiring an external digital agency is the best path forward for businesses under $10 million. By partnering with an external agency, you have access to branding expertise, content development, SEO, Web design and lead generation campaigns on tap. Hiring for all of these functions is both costly and distracting to most entrepreneurs. Find a firm that will create a performance-driven retainer that allows you cost containment while having access to the tools and talent you need. The truth is marketing matters and I feel so strongly about it that I use, invest in and am on the boards of digital agencies that serve SMB (WalkWest) and Enterprise firms (iCiDigital).
A firm’s success or failure is a clear reflection of the leadership capacity. The realm of leadership is littered with loneliness, criticism and daily challenges to build a great firm. We must use our network of contacts to gain quick and meaningful insights into challenges we face, and thus our professional network is a strategic advantage. However for me, the key was and remains a strong advisory board made up business veterans that can support my learning real time. Additionally, once I understood that I needed my team more than they needed me, I began to humble myself to those in my employ and seek them out as teachers. We typically hire people for their experience and expertise and then tell them exactly what to do versus allowing their talents and innovative thinking to shine. The truth is people perform better, stay longer and have more fun when they work for leaders that expect them to deliver great work and provide them the freedom to do so. Individual heroics do not scale, and our job as leaders is to grow people and let them grow the business.
As leaders, we love ideas and creativity. We often fall into the trap of creating rolling targets, changing focus areas, and generally confusing our team. Ever heard of the shiny object syndrome? Well it’s likely you have the ability to see it in others, but fail to identify it in yourself. To create goal-achieving focus, we need to start with a real conversation about the things we can control and the things we cannot. We own our actions, attitudes and priorities. The truth is by focusing on things we can influence, we reduce the number of things that create worry and find more time for the things that drive progress. How many times do we get worked up over things that are not truly important and then we have a less motivation for big ticket items we need to work on? Having clear goals improves our productivity and prioritization across the organization. Clearly defined goals drive better choices.
We are all on a journey to build our dreams and my hope is that we resist the desire to do it alone and focus on building great teams. Your life will not be easy because you wish it so. You must be strong enough to endure, smart enough to learn from pain and humble enough to seek teachers to earn the right to win consistently.