One of the biggest mistakes an agency owner does when starting out is not surrounding him or herself by a group of other agency owners, experts and mentors. People who can guide and help avoid some of the common pitfalls so that he or she make the journey, especially in the first few years, so much smoother than it will otherwise be.
In today’s podcast, we dig into the phrase “it's lonely at the top” and what we can do to ensure we, as agency owners, do not feel isolated or lonely at the top!
[01:20] Why it is lonely and isolating for an agency owner?
[03:00] The value of The Self-Running Agency Implementation Group
[05:06] Severe consequences of going at it alone
[05:43] Putting a senior leadership team in place
[06:11] The impact of negative feelings and thoughts
[06:45] Do not compare yourself to others. It is not healthy!
[07:50] Surround yourself with smarter people than you!
[08:11] You don’t have a point to prove and you don't need to be ‘superman’ or ‘superwoman’ - so ask for help!
"You are not admitting defeat if you ask for help, but rather, showing strength.” - Rob Da Costa
“People join a group coaching programme for the content but stay for the community.” - Rob Da Costa
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Why is it that when we start our own agency, we feel like we need to be Superman or Superwoman and to just get on with it and proved to the world and of course to ourselves that we can make this work? Yet, one of the biggest mistakes we make when we start our agency is not surrounding ourselves with a group of other agency owners or experts, who can guide us and who can help us avoid some of the pitfalls. And fundamentally, make that journey, especially in the first few years, so much smoother than it needs to be.
Well, that's the topic I want to talk about in today's podcast. And I want to dig into this phrase, “it's lonely at the top,” because it's something that I hear my agency audience say to me time and time again. So I know it to be true, and I want to talk about why that happens and what you can do to change it. So, an action-packed episode. Let's get on with the show.
I'm Rob Da Costa, and this is The Agency Accelerator podcast. As someone who has stood in your shoes having started, grown, and sold my agency and just how it feels in the ups and downs of agency life. So, this podcast aims to ease your journey just a little by sharing mine and my guests' experiences and advice as you navigate your way to growing a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable business.
One of the most common phrases agency owners say to me is, “Hey, Rob, it's lonely at the top.” Indeed, that is why they want to work with an agency coach such as me, who has stood in their shoes. Now, I hear this time and time again because they have no one else that they can talk to, who has an unbiased objective ear and who has been in the situation they are in. And that is often why agency owners, entrepreneurs and leaders look to a coach such as myself. But it's so much more than that. If you don't want to feel lonely at the top, then you need to not only have an expert guiding you and advising you, but you also need to surround yourself with a supportive community. This is one of the benefits that members of my group, the Self-running Agency Implementation Group, get from being part of the programme.
And just as a quick ad, we are on the last two days to join before the doors close until next year. And if you're listening to this after the launch day and not live, then you can always sign up for the waitlist and get exclusive access when we open the doors again in 2023.
Being lonely at the top isn't actually about being lonely. It's more about feeling isolated because the higher up the ladder you are, the harder it is to build trusted relationships and ones that not only have your back but can give you sound, objective, unbiased advice. And, of course, your partner will have your back. But they're very rarely able to give you truly objective advice. And so they become people that in the end, you'd rather not even talk to about work because you feel they just don't understand you. So, you need to find some other outlets. And that's why having a community around you is so important.
In the Self-running Agency Implementation Group, we currently have about 40 agency owners between zero and 15 staff in all sorts of different industries, providing all sorts of different services. And it's a very collaborative, collegiate group rather than one that feels like everyone is in competition with each other.
Indeed, there's an awful lot of cross-referring that happens. And the community becomes, not only the first port of call when looking for partners, but also when they have a problem because they know the rest of the group has their back. And that's the beauty of being part of a community. And I firmly believe that we should all have a community around us.
You know, sometimes, just knowing that other people have gone through the challenges that you're facing right now is comforting, even if they can't solve the particular problem that you have today. Sometimes, it's just good to know that you're not on your own, and that you're not the only person who has faced that challenge. When it comes to online programmes, someone much smarter than me says that people join a programme for the content, but they stay for the community and that is so true. That's the experience I found from my programme over the last three years and that's why the Self-running Agency is so much more than just online lessons, but is also a community that can communicate in a closed discussion group, that gets together once a month for a group coaching call, and also regularly for live training sessions with expert guests.
Now, if you want to find out more about the Self-running Agency Implementation Group and get in before the doors close on Friday and the price goes up, then head over to the dacostacoaching.co.uk/group. And remember, if you join now, you'll be grandfathered in at the current price for the whole time that you stay as part of the programme and that price will increase on Friday. So anyway, check that out and I hope I will see you there.
But the point I wanted to make today was all about the importance of community, especially for us agency owners who are at the top of the ladder and feel quite lonely and isolated. And if you don't have a community that can support you, then there are a whole bunch of consequences that can happen.
First of all, you can lack motivation. You’ll lack confidence because you're not sure if you're making the right decisions because you've got no one to ask and support you. You've got no one who can say, “Yeah, I was in that position and this is what I did.”
And once you start feeling a bit demotivated and lacking in confidence, then you're also going to start questioning, “why on earth am I doing this?” and “life was so much easier when I was just a lowly paid employee, as opposed to the leader who everybody is looking for answers.” So, you need to think about that community. And of course, as you grow, you'll be able to put a senior leadership team in place. And those guys can take some of the weight from your shoulder, some of the burdens but they are still ultimately going to be looking at you for all the answers and all the decisions, and that can perpetuate the feeling of isolation.
So as well as building the community, which I would say is the number one piece of advice I would give someone who doesn't want to feel lonely running their agency, there are a few other things that you can do. First of all, you need to recognise when you are having those unwanted feelings and also understand the impact that they might have on your well-being.
And to that point, you also need to be kind to yourself and look after your well-being, which means getting enough sleep and doing some exercise and having a good work-life balance and all the rest of it. And if you don't have an immediate community, then you just need to find other ways of connecting with people, like attending networking events or joining various online discussion groups to help give you that support network.
Another thing that I think can perpetuate that feeling of loneliness and isolation and ultimately de-motivation is if we spend too much time comparing ourselves to others because at the end of the day the other man's grass is very rarely greener. But the world we live in of social media and so on, people present this certain image that they want you to see. And that image is very rarely the truth; therefore, comparing yourself to other people who seem to have sussed it out and seem to have all the answers is so very rarely the truth. And so, it's completely unhealthy to compare yourselves with others. This is why having the community around you, who is going to be supportive but also give you some tough love when you need to, also helps you see from the other person's perspective and realise that the other man's grass is very rarely greener.
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when they start their own business is going it alone. And of course, they probably want to do that because they want to be in control. They were part of an organisation where they felt they weren't doing things very well, so they think they can do them better. So, I understand why we start our business and go it alone. But actually what we need to do is surround ourselves with smarter people, who are several steps ahead of us to help us navigate the train and not make some of the mistakes they made and make our journey in the first few years much easier and less bumpy than it would be if we try and go it alone.
I also think when we start out, we feel like we should be Superman or Superwoman, and we've got a point to prove. And this stops us from being entirely open and honest with our community because we feel like we just need to have that stiff upper lip and get on with it and prove that we can make it work. And admitting we're struggling or things aren't quite working out the way I had planned feels like admitting defeat or admitting weakness. And a lot of people, therefore, climb up and just get on with it. And of course, the opposite is true. It's actually being strong by admitting you need some help or admitting you haven't got all the answers. And again, surrounding yourself with a community of people who have been there and done it as well as having an expert coach leading you just gives you a really strong foundation, a really good support network and confidence that you are making the right decisions and are moving forward in the right way.
So, a short and sweet episode with a really clear point to make, which is that it doesn't have to be lonely at the top. Surround yourself with a great community of colleagues who can support you in your journey and will be there as a sounding board and or get a coach who has stood in your shoes and been there before you and can give you some expert guidance.
So, I hope that makes sense. I'm sure that you will resonate with a lot of that. And as I said, you have two days left to join the Self-running Agency Implementation Group before the doors close, where you will definitely be surrounded by a community of supportive fellow agency owners. So, check out the link in the show notes.
And other than that, have a great rest of your week. Please do share this episode with your colleagues and, of course, consider leaving a review.
And I will see you next Thursday for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast.