‘Owning an agency & keeping the fire burning is a balancing act’

Guest Column: Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Nucleus PR, shares her insight on how to keep moving forward in the service business

e4m by Tarunjeet Rattan
Updated: Jul 23, 2019 8:46 AM

Agency world is not an easy life and owning one is not for the faint-hearted. However, while a lot of people like the idea of owning an agency it is not easy to keep the fire burning and coffers full. It is always a balancing act. Push and pull. All The Time. Especially, if you are in the service business like me. 

A lot of entrepreneurs in this field get stuck and are unable to clear the crore mark because they let issues hold them back. 

However, if you are passionate about it and have survived the first 3 years, the thumb rule says you have a good chance of making it a success. While I myself have a long way to go, I would love to share my insights after haven being in the business for the past 10 years. Call them learnings or insights, but only after I came to these realisations or rather recognised and admitted them, did it help me move my agency up into the growth phase.  Amidst all the gyaan I can share with you, here are the ones that I zeroed in on and they have helped me move forward. 

Zero in on your ‘Why’: This is probably the most essential tip. Introspect and delve into what motivates you to do what you do. Why do you do what you do? Crystalize this in words and paste it everywhere. Live by it. This then becomes a guiding principal for every other decision you take with clients and people.  

Let go of the carrot: ‘If you do this for free/subsidized rates, then I will make it up next time you will get an entry into the organization.’ ‘Do this and I will get you payment next time.’ ‘Can you include this as an additional free service because the other agencies are giving it to me free?’ Sounds familiar? How many times has this ever worked? 99% of the times this is a one-time customer who you will probably never see again. Sometimes, this is an important step to cracking a market so the person who is offering this to you must be trustworthy enough to be able to get you the hike. But I have rarely seen undercutting work. Know your worth. Don’t let clients lead you on. The day you say no, things will happen. 

Of the guilt:  It’s nice to be nice but not at the cost of your business or your peace of mind. You have limited time at your disposal so make it work for you. A healthy (mentally and physically) and balanced leader is a must for the growth of the business. So, when you say ‘no’ to a business not suited for you (refer to the WHY of your business), believe it. Unnecessary doubts, ifs and buts will steal your peace of mind and time that is extremely precious and equivalent to money for you.

Of the wrong fits: Client or team members. If it is not your expertise or you don’t think it is a right fit for you or a team member who you realise has the wrong attitude for the business. Let go. Without guilt. You will be doing everyone a favour.  When you undersell you and your team’s services, you are not just underselling your time but also the collective efforts of your entire team. When you take on clients you know are troublemakers, your team will not appreciate you dumping the client on them without guidance. When it is the wrong fit, it is bound to create more than necessary friction and altercations with the client team. More often than not, we see agencies bending backwards to retain the client, and the client working their way up to rudeness levels that will play havoc with your team morale and peace of mind. If you are to take up something sans money make sure it works for you in some way or the other.

Create a Circle of Trust:  People who you trust to grow your business with you, support and keep you grounded.  This includes your core team at work who are essential to the growth of your business. 

A circle of powerful referrals: Create a pipeline of business referrals by developing various sets of networks that will be happy to refer you. Your existing clients are your first source. Expand this to include complimentary businesses that reach out to the same circle. Just creating one will not do. You must keep it alive by networking with them on a regular basis.  

A circle of Inspiration: This one should inspire and mentor you. Reach out to people in the industry and beyond who can inspire you with their energy, thoughts and creativity. This circle is for you. One that nurtures your mental, physical and emotional well-being. Learn and share with your other circles. Pass it on to your business, teams and the industry as well. The good karma will find its way back to you.  

Finally, set your own pace. Define your own version of success:  Set a pace that you are comfortable with. It is not necessary that what I consider growth would be like your idea of growth. Develop your own definition of successful growth and stick to it with pride. It is the calm and confidence that you project as an agency leader that will inspire and make people want to work with you. 

A lot of these you would already know instinctually. You didn’t need me to tell you this. But if you were waiting for a sign to put these in practice…this is it! 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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