Episode # 90 - Mindset Blocks for Agency Owners
Mindset is the thing. It keeps you going and makes you successful. Every business owner has a crisis around mindset sooner or later, but there are reasons it’s particularly important for the agency owner.
Agency owners have a different challenge than other business owners. They hand off their work, and their relationships to their clients, much earlier. In a small business the owner is front and center. At a franchise they rely on the brand of the parent operation. In the agency very quickly the client is handed over from you as the business owner to someone executing the work. They represent you no matter how old the client or how new the team member.
In this episode we talk about some of the mindset issues that plague business owners and agency owners in particular. We also talk about some techniques to help you navigate through those challenges.
Here are the things we cover:
- The mindset challenges agency owners are particularly prone to
- Tools you can use to avoid getting bogged down in your business
- Examples of how to work with your team to empower them to deal with clients the way you want clients to be dealt with
Welcome to the Get your act together podcast. I'm your host, Kelly Reynolds. And today I want to talk to you about mindset and agency owners. It is, it's one of, it's a big deal, right? I've said this before, mindset is the thing, it is the thing that keeps you going, it keeps your sanity, it makes you successful. And I think there is a kind of mindset shift that you need to work on. That is exclusive to agency owners, that other people don't have.
Agency owners are dealing with their team directly talking to their clients, the work is going with the clients like they're not there. They're not dealing with it, and your name is on that agency, they have become your team and become a representative of you, with your client. And that can be so hard, right? So many people come and talk to me about their agency. And the first thing they say is it's too hard to let people touch my stuff. It is too hard for me to trust people that I barely know that I've hired with my clients, like this is my livelihood, this is my business, how do I let go? How do I let them touch my stuff, as we say around here.
So I think that what I can say to you is all it's all mindset, it is all mindset. And it is something that I have done an enormous amount of work on in the last couple of years. And in the last six months, I feel like it has been such a like, it's come due, like I was doing all this mindset work for I wasn't sure why. And then I got to these really hard places in my business. And I was like, Oh, this is why I could go through this. And I can be okay. And I can be seen. And I think having that mindset of letting go is a huge, huge thing for agency owners, which is different from somebody who maybe just has a team, maybe you have your clients and your team at a meeting, but you're there. So you see how they're acting, you see what kind of work is being done. If they present something to the client, you don't like you're right there, you can deal with it, right? It just you don't have that you are relying on your person, your team member, your representative to deal with the client directly without you there to referee it's different than maybe a franchise owner, where they are trusting in the system to make the business run, they kind of bought a template system, a template business, and they are letting that be the faith. There they are there they're putting their faith and that's how it's going to run.
In an agency, you will be wasting time constantly as an agency owner meddling in the things that your team should be doing. If you do not know your role or where you should be, then you will, you will go all over the place and trample all over everybody else's roles. You need to really think about what your team is supposed to be doing and let them do their jobs.
A lot of us as agency owners started out as solopreneurs in some way, we came from corporate maybe. And then we got to work. And we realized, Oh, this is an agency because I hired people to help me. Most of the time, most of the people I talked to at least didn't set out to say I'm going to grow an agency. So we've come from a place where we are the ones doing the work. So it becomes our work. And then people are now touching our stuff. Instead of a much more intentional model, where you're saying, I'm going to bring in a client and give it to this person. I'm going to bring in a client, let this person that work on it, it's more of an intentional thing. And if you start out purely like that, in the beginning, maybe you can avoid some of the mindset work, but I don't know that many people do think most people start out doing a thing and then bring on help. And then they have a hard time giving that work to that help.
How am I supposed to trust them? They're gonna mess up. Well, yeah, yeah, they're gonna mess up. Just like you mess up. You mess up things, but then you can fix things because you caught them. And then it didn't exist, right? Like if it's like a tree falling in the forest. If no one sees it doesn't really fall here. If no one caught your mistake, did it really happen, right? I mean, I've had this like, I've had this happen to myself, right? Like I've caught the mistake. So it didn't really happen. Client ever knew it was fine. But now, how are you supposed to catch all the mistakes? If you're not watching everything your team does? Well, you're not. They're gonna mess up and you're going to deal with it and it's going to be okay. They are going to learn to do the work. and they are gonna mess up. And it's gonna be okay. I'm just gonna keep saying it. Because it's so important.
You need to remind yourself of what your role is, maybe you're the CEO who is in charge of marketing or in charge of financials, whatever your role is. But your role is not to create every spreadsheet, is not to create every graphic, it's not to create whatever the thing is you create, your team creates. And then they need to know what they're doing with clear expectations. This is the chaos that I'm talking about. So let's say let me give you an example. We have a thing we do for a client, I have brought on a team member to help me with that client thing. And we have training for that, which is an excellent way to show your team how to do things. And it's also an excellent way for you to feel like they know what they're talking about. Because more training, you know, they have, then they go, Okay, well they know how to do this gives you more confidence that they will be fine. But what if you give them a 12 step process, a spreadsheet, or I'm sorry, what if you give them a 12 step, SOP. And they say, awesome, and they go in and they do 12 steps, except you only wanted them to do 4 of them because you're scared, they're gonna touch all the things or they don't really know how to do those things. And you didn't set the expectations, you didn't tell them that they were only supposed to have four steps completed. Now, they feel like they don't know what the hell's going on. Now they have touched things, and they feel like they've messed up, even though they thought they were doing a good job by doing all of the steps. And everything is everyone feels bad. Everyone feels bad about it. Nothing is done. Right. And the client's work may have suffered because you weren't clear with what you wanted to tell them. Whenever this happens to me, and it has happened, I am not perfect. I don't always set clear expectations. Like I want to I realize that when my client on my team asked me questions like, oh, when is this too, really important to tell them that. And they are great at asking for those expectations so that it is more clear.
But what happens when something does get messed up? What happens then? This has been a big mindset shift for me because I, my first instinct is to flip out and want to scream and say like, how could you have messed this up? Like, what are you doing? Why? You know, like, why are you an idiot? Right? I think that's the first thought that comes to my head. Maybe not anymore, but definitely the beginning that I had to really work on. Okay, how am I going to deal with this? And I always assume that I was not clear with the expectations on whatever they're doing. Now, maybe maybe I was super clear. Maybe they just messed up. Maybe they had a bad day. But what I have to do, to not freak out and to not lose trust in them is to say, I must not have been clearer. Then I can go to them and say, okay, hey, maybe I wasn't clear here. This is what I needed you to do. Nine times out of 10. They come back and they go, Oh, that's not what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I thought I was supposed to be doing this thing over here. So just that mindset shift of, you're an idiot, I'm going to scream at you, instead of moving to I must not have been clear about this. Let me reiterate my expectations here. That solves an enormous amount of problems. And I think it's you can use in any business, but I think it's really important in an agency, this idea of okay, what are we doing? And how can I calm down and really deal with this role? And this task and this mistake, whatever it is? What are my expectations? Let me tell you about them again, in case I wasn't clear the first time. Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize you didn't want me to do all 12 steps. I thought you wanted me to. I was trying to do a good job. Then you can say Well, that makes sense. Now why you? This has been messed up because I wasn't clear. They feel like they're being heard. I feel like I'm being heard. Now the next time they're going to maybe ask, Hey, do I do all the steps or just four. Now you end up having this better relationship with your team? Because you can start asking those kinds of questions. And they can start asking those kinds of questions. It's a two way street. It's not just here's the thing, do it when you start asking questions, but letting them ask questions as well. That's another mindset shift.
When my team has the autonomy to ask questions, and also to make decisions that I have empowered them with, my goodness, you have no idea the things they can do. You can do that day one. You can't just have someone come off the street and say, sure, go make a whole bunch of decisions about things you don't understand, right? Because you just got here. But as you get more acclimated to having a team and letting them work with your clients, you need to not only accept expectations, but also expect them to ask questions, and you need to let them know it's okay. When they know they can come to you with a question. And they're not bothering me. I hate when people are like, Oh, I don't want you to, but I don't want to bother, you know, bothering me, I want you to ask me questions like, if you are unclear about something, please ask for clarity. Are you supposed to be doing four steps or 12? Because if you have that, that kind of culture, to let them ask questions will, then they're going to start asking questions. And then the funny thing happens, it's really this mindset shift that happens. That happens there, you need to shift your mind into, they're not going to be psychic, they need to ask questions, I need to make sure that I am open to questions and encouraging questions. And then they can move to the next stage, which is when you can wrap your minds around letting them make decisions without you and saying, Okay, well in these parameters, I trust your judgment, to make decisions for my client, because it's our client. So then they can start working without you. That's another big mindset shift is you in the beginning, especially, or if you don't trust them, or you haven't given them the autonomy there, they are going to always feel like they have to ask you questions.
I've had a lot of people come up to me with coaching. And then they have these issues with the, the, the team is asking a million questions, I'm on calls all the time, they're always on Slack, they don't handle it. And a lot of the time, it's because we don't allow that kind of control to be given away to them. We want them to ask questions, because we want to know everything that's going on. And it is super messy and super chaotic. It's also exhausting. The reason that I have a lot of whitespace on my calendar is because I let my team have the autonomy to make decisions. And they know, within kind of parameters. If there are things like, look, I don't know about this, they come to me and they know they can ask me those questions and say, Look, I don't know about this one. Like, have you dealt with this before? Or I could really use an outside perspective, or am I allowed to make this decision? Am I allowed to do this? And then I can say, Yeah, well, like, alright, well, this is a really big deal. Let's sit down and talk about it or no, you're, you're within bounds there. And a lot of times in the beginning, when you're starting to teach that kind of thing. It's a mindset shift for you. But it's also a mindset shift for them. When they come to you in this situation with a problem. Instead of answering the question, ask them how they'd handle it. And then if that sounds good, reinforce that like, okay, that's, that's what I would do too great. Go do it. And as they start learning the ways you would handle things, you get more confident that they can handle it themselves. And then they get more confident that they can handle it themselves, and you stop handling so much. That's the way I've gotten whitespace, that's the way you can get an agency where you are not in the middle all the time. You need to let the people do their jobs, because you've trained them well. Because you trust that they can make good decisions. And you've given the autonomy for them to make those decisions on their own. While having a culture of them being able to come to you with any questions you can at any time. In case they are outside of the bounds of where they feel confident or where they're not sure of a problem.
All of these things mess with your mind. They are hard. They are hard to deal with. It's and one of the biggest parts of my coaching is how to help people get to a place where they go from. I need to know everything you're doing and I need to look at all your work so I trust you to make decisions on your own for these clients. And come to me if you need me. That's like there's a spectrum there. And that's hard. That's where the mindset work comes in. And there are a million million different ways to work on your mindset. A lot of it is just repetition.
I am a big fan of Brooke Castillo at The Life Coach School. She has a great podcast where I have like when I'm having a bad week and I'm like I am having really hard mental mindset problems dealing with this thing. I'm losing my mind over it I'm freaking out. I I tend to turn on her podcast comes out on Thursdays and I turn it on I'm like Oh, thank you for like you because she's too Talking about the thing I'm having a problem with today. So I highly recommend her. But there's lots of places for mindset work.
Sometimes it's just putting sticky notes, I have sticky notes all over the place, saying, like, stop worrying, you know what you're doing, or you've got a great team, or they're gonna be fine. Like, sometimes it's just reiterating those kind of, you know, the things you need to say those those, what's the word, I'm totally lost on the word, the things you say over and over again, that I'm totally forgetting the words. And it's on the tip of my tongue. But sometimes it's just reminding yourself, you can do it, reminding yourself, they can do it, and it's going to be okay. [Affirmations]
Sometimes it is remembering that business is really hard. And even if we build this business we love, we are still going to have to do hard things, we're still going to have to, you know, market if it's scary, or even if it's not scary, but you're going to have to do scary things. Because that's business. It's not all butterflies, and roses, we can't just do the things we like and hope it all goes well. There are things we have to work on with our business. So I encourage you to start your mindset work. I encourage you to start looking for places where you freak out or you have problems or I can't, and start talking to yourself of like why you think that and how you can help yourself get out of a place where you you are in a can't mindset, I guess, getting out of that can't mindset or that it's everyone else's fault mindset, and getting into a place where how can I help this? How can I problem solve to fix this? How can I bring a little peace and sanity to my brain? These are the places you want to move to? I highly encourage you to start exploring those things. And I have to tell you like it has been my savior, I will say that I was on a call with my coach. And in the middle of all of this blow up with this client. We were booking all these hours, everything was crazy was working all this time. Everything was really uncertain. And I was on a call and she's like, I'm so proud of you like you're very zen today. Like I was within my power, I think is what she said. Because I believed that I knew what was what I was doing. I believe that I was really good at my job. And I believe that I could figure out how to figure it out. And that is been a lot of mindset work. So I really highly recommend that it's something you focus on. It's it's an intangible. It's not like a course where you get a certification and now you know how to, you know, do launches or make spreadsheets or whatever it is. It is much more intangible, and it's a constant work. It is constant work. Multimillionaires, dozens owners, you know, eight figure 10 figure businesses, whatever it is, they still work on this all the time. Your mindset is always fighting you. So I highly encourage you to work on that. And good luck! And I'll see you next week.
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