It can be a good thing to have an agency growing faster than expected. Maybe you have found your niche or managed to get referrals from top-quality sources. You’re doing something right, in any case.
This realization is incredibly motivating and validating. More money is coming in. High-growth agencies often have unique cultural benefits. Many candidates will be drawn to the agency because it offers the best career environment.
Agents that are rapidly growing often offer more freedom for creativity and individual input. It’s energizing to see everyone working hard to make a difference. People who feel freer to be themselves and have more control over their work can thrive in these agencies. They are eager to play hard and work hard.
High Growth, High Risk?
There is a fine line between being a free spirit and following a strict process. If you feel like you are constantly fighting fires that could be prevented, a maverick culture can turn sour. It isn’t easy to keep the positives of an unrestricted, creatively-rich, highly motivated environment intact without having to rely on others to do the job.
As a small agency, you can work in low-process, reactive, and ad-hoc ways. When you are all together in one room, it is easy to find quick solutions and troubleshoot. The more complicated things you make, the harder they will be. If nobody knows who is doing what, how much they are working on it, or if they are fully functioning, the dream team could become a nightmare.
A larger team can lead to bigger or more complex projects. However, this requires a new way of working. Higher budgets and larger projects require more planning and documentation. You will need to manage the client’s increased communication needs on these types of projects.
To help build processes and establish support structures, it is a good idea to hire an operations or delivery lead. Even if you have a delivery manager on your team, they will not be able to fix everything. They need the right tools and must prioritize the issues that impact your agency’s growth.
These are the four most common problems that an agency might face as it grows, regardless of whether they have the resources to find a role for the operational side or if you are the agency leader.
Staffing the right levels
It’s easy to want to hire more people when you’re growing fast. Although it’s fun to add new members to your team, it’s important to understand the additional resources required before you do.
It is crucial to have a clear understanding of how your resources are being used in order to make informed decisions about expanding your team. To get this overview, it is important that your team accurately tracks the time they spend on tasks. You can track time entries to see where your team is spending their time and how much they are working with clients. It also shows you which skillsets or roles are over- or under-utilized.
These facts will allow you to make better decisions about when you should advertise for new candidates and when you should keep your current employees happy.
Communication must be clear
Communication becomes more difficult as your agency grows. It’s more common for everyone to participate in every decision or project when you have a smaller team. Maybe you have a daily stand up meeting that everyone attends. This is possible when there are only seven to eight people. This will change as you grow your organization.
It is important to create the infrastructure that allows people to work together and to access relevant information from each other without consuming their time. This problem is not solved by scheduling more meetings, nor is sending too many emails.
People are more comfortable using collaborative workspaces that allow them to work in real-time with colleagues. It’s likely that having an online collaborative workspace is more than a “nice to have”. Most project management platforms let you comment on tasks and tag others, which alerts them that your attention is required. This makes it less likely that anything will go unnoticed.
Develop processes that can handle the increasing workload
Rapid growth can be achieved by retaining clients or new clients. Either you need to improve your current systems or find a solution. What will your workflow do when you have to track multiple projects, deadlines, and budgets simultaneously?
You might consider a more sophisticated and dedicated solution if your agency is still using spreadsheets. Spreadsheets can be very useful while you are small but they can be quite tedious. Spreadsheets become more complicated as you get bigger. It will also take longer to update them.