The Power of Now: How Today’s Actions Impact Your Future Agency’s Success

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Running an agency is a constant hustle, focusing on serving clients in the present. However, it's crucial to consider how today's actions influence the future success of your agency. In this blog post, we'll explore the dangers of short-term thinking in agency management and unveil strategies to ensure that your present efforts align with your long-term agency vision.

The Trap of Future Blindness

Many agency owners find themselves caught in the trap of short-term thinking, where they spend most of their time on immediate client project delivery and day-to-day reactive work rather than high-level planning and proactive growth initiatives. This leads to missed opportunities for innovation and growth, client relationship management, team development, and marketing efforts, impacting the future viability of the agency.

Navigating Future Blindness

To avoid falling victim to future blindness, agency owners must focus on strategic thinking, standardising operational procedures, prioritising employee development, and dedicating time to marketing and business development.

1. Strategic Thinking Time
Carve out regular strategic thinking time away from client service to nurture innovation, create a vision, and align team efforts.

2. Standardise Operational Procedures
Document and standardise operational procedures to reduce dependency on individual team members and ensure consistent client experience.

3. Employee Development
Make employee check-ins and development a priority, invest in team capabilities and hire the right people to facilitate future growth.

4. Marketing and Business Development
Schedule blocks of time for marketing and business development to build authority and maintain a consistent flow of new business leads.

Taking Action

Agency owners should take control of their calendars, block off time for strategic planning, review overall direction and metrics, prioritise key hires, and design systems and processes to support scaling. Additionally, they must focus on team development through regular check-ins and invest in marketing initiatives to drive future growth.

Conclusion

The future version of you as a thriving agency leader will appreciate the choices you make today. By balancing envisioning the possibilities with handling today's realities, you can build the agency of your dreams.

Questions and Answers

Q: Why is short-term thinking dangerous for agency owners?
A: Short-term thinking can lead to missed opportunities for innovation and growth, client relationship management, team development, and marketing efforts, impacting the future viability of the agency.

Q: What are the four key areas agency owners should focus on to navigate future blindness?
A: Agency owners should focus on strategic thinking time, standardising operational procedures, prioritising employee development, and dedicating time to marketing and business development.

Q: How can agency owners take action to ensure their present efforts align with their long-term agency vision?
A: Agency owners can take action by blocking off time for strategic planning, reviewing overall direction and metrics, prioritising key hires, and investing in marketing initiatives. Additionally, regular team check-ins and development should be prioritised.

By implementing these strategies, agency owners can enhance the sustainability and success of their agencies, ensuring that their future selves will thank their present selves for the choices made today.

If you want to listen to this episode as a podcast, click below:

 Full Episode Transcription

Rob Da Costa:

Hey everyone, welcome to this week's agency Accelerator podcast. Now, if I sound a little different, it's because I am recording from sunny Cape Town and I don't have my normal mic with me. But anyway, let's jump into today's topic now. Running an agency is a constant hustle. Isn't it so much to do serving clients in the here and now? But in today's episode, I challenge you to rise above the day-to-day and make sure choices with your future self in mind. I'm always asking myself, does the task I'm doing right now help my future self? And you should be too. I'm going to share some examples of how I personally fell into the short-term thinking traps early on in agency life and nearly missed out on bigger plans that I had for my agency, as well as data on how over 60% of agencies get stuck in reactionary mode versus intentional growth and impact. The cost of this future blindness is really stuck on the client service hamster, wheel of Doom, declining team morale, service stagnation, and letting the world happen to you rather than you being in control.

Rob Da Costa:

Well, if that sounds familiar, I don't want that for you in your agency. So tune in today to hear four keys to ensure that your present focus aligns with your future vision, from planning rhythms to systemizing operations and more. Most importantly, we'll end with one clear next step that you can take this week based on what resonated with you, Costa, in today's episode, whether that be finalising new service plans or a renewed focus on business development or scheduling team development time, let's build momentum towards the agency of your dreams today and help your future self. So let's get started. I'm Rob Costa and this is the agency Accelerator podcast. As someone who has stood in your shoes, having started, grown and sold my own agency, I know 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. Welcome to the Agency Accelerator podcast.

Rob Da Costa:

I'm your host, Rob Costa. Today we are tackling an important topic, how your present actions can support your future agency owner self. That's right, we're going to talk about avoiding short-term thinking traps and making choices that enable long-term success and that your future self will thank you. For now, I'm willing to bet that many of you listening now often feel overwhelmed handling day-to-day client demands while trying to steer your agency ahead.

Rob Da Costa:

It can be so easy to get.

Rob Da Costa:

Lost in the immediate issues without coming up for air and asking, am I setting myself up for the future that I want? Are the choices I'm making today supporting my bigger vision for my agency and for my life? Well, that's what we're here to unpack. By the end of this episode, you'll walk away with clarity around common future blindness pitfalls, four keys to rise above them, and most importantly, real action steps so that your future agency owner self thanks you for today. I'm also going to share with you a personal story of how I almost fell victim to this early on when I launched the agency back in the 90s. Initially, I was so hands-on in delivering client work that I completely lost sight of the bigger picture and was just working from day to day in reactionary mode. It almost derailed everything that we had built. So stick around to hear what I learned. Okay, before we jump into the solutions, let's shine a light on why this trap is so easy to fall into when running an agency. Now, the statistics paint a pretty clear picture.

Rob Da Costa:

Recent surveys of agency owners showed that 60% spend more than half of their time on client project delivery versus high-level planning, and 70% report working reactively day to day instead of ever focusing on growth initiatives. They're the people that typically when I speak to a prospect, say they've always relied on word of mouth and referrals.

Rob Da Costa:

To get their business.

Rob Da Costa:

But we all know that that isn't really a solid strategy. And so in the end, they're going to head from feast to famine. And so it's no wonder that so many agencies hit plateaus or even crisis points that threaten their future viability. I saw the writing on the wall myself early on in my agency life, the danger of what I now call future blindness. Getting so caught up in immediate issues that you lose sight of where you want to go. You're pulled in 20 directions, and you let external factors dictate your sense of travel. I remember one month we were amazingly fortunate to take on three new clients at once. Of course, it was great news, more revenue coming in the door.

Rob Da Costa:

But suddenly my days were flooded with phones ringing, client requests piling up, team members looking to me to answer questions and fires that needed to be put out across all of those accounts. Now, when I came up for air two months later, I felt exhausted trying to deliver the day-to-day. But what hit me more was this.

Rob Da Costa:

Sense of that I had lost a.

Rob Da Costa:

Grip of my vision and I was just reacting to daily demands and the agency's direction felt more reactive than proactive. And I hadn't checked in with my vision or my staff or worked on any kind of future development. It was a bit of a wake-up call for me to get back on track or risk declining morale, losing clients because of service delivery and ultimately our future growth potential. I had definitely fallen victim to future blindness. Now I'm sure you can relate to that. So what about you? Do any of these reactive tendencies resonate with you? Do you feel swept up just delivering client work? Maybe you're delaying key hires needed now that will pay dividends later on because you don't have a plan, so you're not confident about making those decisions. Or maybe you've been putting off some marketing or revamping your website that would better convey your services and give you a more consistent flow of new business leads. Now, wherever the paralysis is, let's get real about the consequences before moving on to the solutions.

Rob Da Costa:

If you constantly silo your time into immediate client requests and team requests versus long-term priorities, what does that cost your agency in the future? And what will your future self be advising you right now? Here are some of the realities. First, innovation and growth. Stall. If your full focus stays on today's services, how can you possibly develop new offerings that will drive revenue in the future? And of course, that also means you're going to be losing out on future technologies such as AI. Another consequence of working in the here and now is you're not looking internally, so you've got no time to develop your team members to encourage them to step into leadership roles or go about recruiting that candidate that you need to hire now to handle next year's growth. Also, look at marketing. If you only promote yourself reactively when new business calls or you rely on word of mouth and referrals, then you're missing chances to consistently build awareness with your ideal target audience and build your and your agency's authority. Now, speaking of new business, existing client relationships will suffer without care and without attention.

Rob Da Costa:

The odd email or the checking call is not enough. You need a strategy for managing, retaining and growing clients, and if you don't have one, then of course you're going to get client churn. And of course that impacts your future viability. And don't forget your own leadership skills. Reactive agencies often lack standardised processes to help projects run smoothly. When you start to scale without scalable systems, we all know what happens. Your building will fall down and your future flexibility will suffer. Now by now, I hope you see what happens when we ignore our future agency owner sales.

Rob Da Costa:

Things chug along fine for a while, but you end up missing out on so much potential. Now let me just put a pause on here and jump in quickly to introduce you to our free bimonthly 45-minute agency workshops. These sessions are packed with value, focusing on the critical challenges you as an agency owner might face. From defining a clear niche to setting the right pricing, from preventing feast or famine to team building. We've got you covered. Each workshop includes an in-depth exploration of the week's topic, along with a Q&A session to address your pressing concerns. And remember, these are providing you value with no sales pitches. So head over to Decostacoaching Co.

Rob Da Costa:

UK forward slash agency accelerator live events. That's agency accelerator live events and save your seat. Okay, back to today's topic.

Rob Da Costa:

Now that we've identified the pitfalls, let's shift gears. I want you to imagine yourself five years from now. Your agency has grown impressively, thanks to having created and delivered a plan. Your diverse client roster provides security, you've built a rock star team to rely on, and maybe you've even opened a new office. Financial freedom gives you flexibility with your schedule, and you're genuinely well on your way to building a self-running agency. This successful future version of yourself is possible, but it only happens by making certain choices today. So what does the future agency owner need from the current you? Where should we focus our time when our heads are down? Handling today's workload? So, to answer this question, I've boiled it down to four areas. So number one is that you need to carve out regular strategic thinking time away from client service.

Rob Da Costa:

So you need to put the pause button on, step off the client service hamster wheel of doom and have time for strategic thinking. This is how you're going to nurture innovation for tomorrow, how you're going to create your vision and your plans and deliver them, and how you're going to align your team efforts. Step number two is that you need to standardise and document operational procedures so everything is less dependent on just you. This way, scaling feels far less risky and you can be sure that your clients will have a consistent experience and your employees will have a consistent experience. Step number three is to make employee cheque-ins and their development a priority. Not when I've got a moment kind of task. Investing in team capabilities and hiring the right people makes your future way smoother.

Rob Da Costa:

And the fourth key is to schedule.

Rob Da Costa:

Blocks of time for marketing and business development. This will build your authority and your pipeline to new levels to support your growing business and will ensure that you never lurch from feast to famine. Now, let's get specific on what this is.

Rob Da Costa:

Actually looks like today.

Rob Da Costa:

It starts with taking control of your calendar to regularly block off time for weekly and quarterly strategy and planning sessions, and I recommend that you have at.

Rob Da Costa:

At least half a day a week too.

Rob Da Costa:

Work in this strategy space and a full day once a quarter to focus on the future in these windows of time. Review your overall direction and look at your plan to make sure you've delivered what you said you were going to do and also set out next month's plan based on the quarter's plan. Look at metrics too. Is client churn creeping up indicating areas that need some TLC? How can you raise your profitability to hit your targets so that you can reinvest in the agency and hit your growth targets for the business? What marketing campaigns really worked what should you double down on and what should you stop doing? Then prioritise key hires. Look ahead to make sure that you're not hitting a pinch point where everyone's.

Rob Da Costa:

So stressed because you lack resources.

Rob Da Costa:

So you want to make sure that you are both filling gaps that you've got now, plus anticipating future needs. These strategy sessions are your chance to also design the systems and processes to support scaling, so you want to be documenting your sops for efficiency. Outline training programmes that you can use to elevate your team skills, build templates for centralising, best practices for client delivery and employee engagement and clarify roles and responsibilities across the agency to avoid confusion as you grow.

Rob Da Costa:

And of course, you also want to.

Rob Da Costa:

Be considering what investments you need to make in, for example, digital tools to provide structure. Remember, we start with our processes and we document them and then we look at the it systems that we can use to actually support the delivery of those processes. So that covers the regular planning window in your daily schedule. Also, plugin blocks of time for marketing and team development. Now, I know this sounds like a lot of stuff, especially when you may well be stuck on the client service hamster wheel of Doom. But unless you protect time to both focus on the future and also develop your team, if you've got one, then nothing will change for your team. Don't just wait for annual reviews. Have monthly cheques ins, monthly one-on-ones to discuss current projects to build their skills to focus on their objectives and their career aspirations.

Rob Da Costa:

These touch points pay dividends in spades because you know that your team is going to deliver what you need and what you expect and you won't have to lurch into rescue a situation. And of course, it will also aid your staff retention. The time investment in these foundations always pays off, and recognise that it actually might even mean saying no to some new client projects today to work on the business so that it can thrive later. But remember, your future self will thank your present self I saw this firsthand when we really jumped ahead of our competition by investing in our design studio so that we could bring all kinds of production in-house. And we anticipated this before the demand rose. So we created the capacity and then filled that capacity with new work and it definitely paved the way for our successful growth. Now to shift from concept to action, what's one step you can take away from this week's podcast to support your future agency leader self? Maybe it's finally plotting out that new service line to meet rising customer demands. Or maybe you would need to block off Friday afternoon for employee training that you've been putting off.

Rob Da Costa:

Or will you start scheduling regular, monthly and quarterly planning sessions? Or maybe you need to focus on systems and processes and finally invest in that CRM system to stay close to all your prospects and clients. Consider what crystallised most for you today.

Rob Da Costa:

To carry that forward.

Rob Da Costa:

Then choose just one goal to drive momentum. After all, you've got to start somewhere now. I'll wrap this up with this parting thought. The future version of you as a thriving agency leader will thank the choices that you make today. Stay heads up, envisioning the possibilities while handling today's realities. Operating in this kind of creative tension is how you build the agency of your dreams. Now, if this topic resonates with you, do drop me an email. I'm happy to offer more tactical support on avoiding future blindness traps.

Rob Da Costa:

So hit me up at robert@dacostacoaching.co.uk

Rob Da Costa:

And of course, all of these areas.

Rob Da Costa:

There are areas that we dig into a tonne more detail in my group coaching programme, the self-running agency.

Rob Da Costa:

So that's a wrap for this episode.

Rob Da Costa:

Of the agency accelerator. Thanks so much for tuning in. Until next time, friends, keep your eyes on the horizon and the road ahead. You've got this. And remember, your future self will thank your present self.

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