Let me start by stating a few disclaimers:
- I don’t own a big agency. But I started planning for such a scenario since 2017, so I may know of a thing or two that may be helpful to you.
- I am not a guru, although I teach Facebook advertising classes in several countries across Southeast Asia. I am not selling you anything here. But I may suggest resources for you where I may earn something from it (there’s nothing like that in this post. But an important disclaimer just in case I include something like that in one of my future posts).
With that, let’s talk about what’s on everyone’s minds.
Sometimes in life, all you can do is say, “Wow.”
And it’s not always the kind of “WOW, this is AMAZING!”
Sometimes it’s the kind where you go, “wow”, followed by a heavy breath and a brief moment of silence.
March was probably one of those times.
Thousands of lives were lost and job unemployment rates took off like a rocket, although none of it was unexpected, to be fair.
As a small agency, it hit us too.
One client after another sent emails to pause contracts and we had to throw our revenue projections out of the window.
What followed were dozens of hours spent consuming media, a depressed state of mind, a loss of appetite, and wondering, “is this it?”
Luckily, my meditation practice paid off.
After a few days, I became aware of the negative spiral and self-sabotage. I reinstated my morning and evening routines. Within a few days, I found my old self — the hustle guy.
At-a-glance: the last 14 days
Here are some of things I did in the past 14 days:
- Wrote a personal email and got onto a phone call with every client that was affected to propose a new way forward
- Got on phone calls with 3 education entrepreneurs to redevelop their customer acquisition strategies (2 of them have implemented the ideas and seen positive results)
- Attended a client’s seminar
- Connected with 7 other entrepreneurs on a mastermind organised by Kevin Thompson at 3am on a Saturday morning
- Discussed contingency plans with 5 other agency owners/marketers in a local mastermind
- Paid someone for hourly consulting to improve the way we build funnels for online course creators (if you have built and scaled online course funnels to multiple 6 and 7 figures, do reach out. I’d be happy to pay for your time)
- Worked consecutive 16-hour days (which I “swore” not to do again in 2017 during my last health scare)
- Hosted a “live” webinar for a prominent professional membership organization (which blew past our initial expectations)
- Finished building the webinar deck for one of the top Irish boarding schools
I’m sharing all of these for two reasons:
- If you’re working 16-hour days like I do, wondering when this will end, you’re not alone. You’re doing the right thing. Keep it up.
- If you’re still stuck, wondering what to do, I hope these will give you some ideas.
You may be wondering, what’s the outcome of all the hard work? Fortunately, the results are positive so far.
We went from:
- 1 cancellation
- 3 pauses
- 1 deferred payment (but extended contract)
- 1 cancellation
- 1 deferred payment (but extended contract)
- 3 new product launches
- 2 increased ad budgets
- …not to mention several new potential projects in the horizon which we are working on
Isn’t it funny how things can look so different in a short span of 14 days?
3 key things that turned the tide
Even though hindsight is 2020, I believe these three things collectively enabled us to regain our momentum.
1. Creating internal alignment
I know “internal alignment” doesn’t sound as sexy as “10X your revenue”, but stay with me.
At the start of the year, we started operating on a new schedule. We have:
- Biweekly team meetings
- 1-to-1 coaching sessions on the 2nd week of the month.
- Performance reviews on the 4th week of the month.
As a fully remote team, this schedule brought us closer together, increased transparency, and produced new communication flows within the team.
It also gave me an opportunity to address everyone’s concerns regarding:
- Job stability
- Pay stability
- Company stability
During one of our biweekly meetings, I shared:
- What our runway was in the worst case scenario
- What our direction was in the next 3 months
…despite not having all the answers yet. But it definitely calmed nerves and enabled them to focus on their work.
In fact, I just followed up with another 4-page update earlier this week.
If anyone is interested to know what I shared during the session and how to create a deck like that for your own business, give me a shoutout in the comment section below. I’ll write about it in another update and maybe share a template with you.
2. Becoming strategy-focused
This idea was sparked by Todd Herman (thanks Todd). You can read his post here: https://www.facebook.com/toddherman1/posts/10163034241955004
Situation is what we are given.
Solution is what we create.
I recognized early on that I was being consumed by fear (or becoming fear-focused in Todd’s term).
This was by far the biggest mindset shift for me.
By being aware of my state of mind, I was able to pivot from unproductive thoughts into “getting shit done” mode.
I was able to gain clarity of our company’s financial situation through scenario analysis and cash flow schedule forecasting.
I was able to focus on developing new relationships and markets.
I was able to push myself to do 1-2 more things than I would otherwise do on a normal day.
Those things eventually encouraged some clients to un-pause their contracts and others to launch new products that we saw a need in the market for.
3. Tapping on existing opportunities
Sometimes we can get so engrossed with new opportunities that we lose sight of what we have in front of our eyes.
For example, you can increase revenues by tapping on any one of these existing opportunities without changing your entire business model:
- Create/Launch new products for an existing client (e.g. one of our clients wants to spin-off a part of his existing products to launch to a wider audience)
- Create/Launch new products to an existing email list (e.g. one of our clients just sold close to 200 students for a $97 food photography workshop to a list of 7,000 and a $200 ad budget with no upsell)
- Touch base with leads who didn’t buy in the past 1-2 years (e.g. we recently closed a rev-share deal with a sales-qualified lead who I met a year ago)
- Productize your services for people who couldn’t afford you previously (see what Chandler Welling did at Welling Media)
- Add complementary services on top of existing products (e.g. can you sell coaching services to book buyers?)
There are plenty more ways to do so, but you probably get what I mean by now.
It’s easy to feel like throwing in the towel to start afresh during times like this, but once the initial dark clouds pass over and calmer minds prevail, you may realise that a lot of opportunities are right there in front of you.
All you need to do is to reach out and grab them.
Hopefully you managed to take away 1-2 things from this post. Let me know if you think this is useful, or if it’s a waste of your time. I would appreciate and take your feedback into consideration to help anyone I can.