As someone who runs a business that specialises in helping digital agencies to grow, I love it when I get someone saying, “Digital agencies are totally unique; there is no other business like a digital agency.”
The implication is that nothing anyone has learned from working with other businesses will be of any value. Or rather, the implication is that you need to live and breathe digital agencies to be able to help or work with them.
Much as I would like to flatter someone who believes in the uniqueness mantra, I am afraid to say that it is simply not true. Granted, digital agencies do have a series of unique characteristics, but that doesn’t mean that the only person who can pass comment on an agency is someone who lives and breathes digital, 24/7. Let me explain
We have now run surveys of over 10,000 business and over 1,000 agencies.
We asked, “What keeps you awake about your business?”, “What are your top three priorities?”, and “What’s holding you back from running the business you want to run?”. We asked business advisers, consultants, bankers and researchers about what they saw in the two populations.
Top answers from ‘all businesses’ and ‘digital agencies’ categories come out pretty much identical.
The top answers to “What keeps you awake about your business?” were as follows:
· Getting more, better clients
· Getting more, better people
· Cash-flow and profitability
The answer to “What’s holding you back from running the business you want to run?” was a whole mish-mash of answers all starting with the word “they”:
· The customers
· The staff
· The competition
· The banks
· The platforms
· The accountants
· The government
· The chamber
· The trade association…
The one thing all these answers have in common is that the problem is always someone else. They all blamed other people. Interesting enough, it is recognising that “it is up to me, so what’s holding me back is me” is the breakthrough. This is the paradigm in thinking that separates the successful for the rest.
The business advisers, consultants, bankers and researchers were unanimous that the biggest limiting factor (and enabling factor) was mindset.
Of course, digital agencies possess a series of unique characteristics. They tend to be young-minded, technologically focused, and live in a fast-moving world where the rules change every five minutes. The business environment is constantly challenging with new technologies rattling or even disrupting the marketplace on a regular basis. The rules of the game are almost made up as we go along.
On the other hand, there are specific things that the successful agencies do differently from the rest. Understanding these specifics are what enables agencies to flourish.