Your Scalable Seat – How to Grow Your Agency

There are key seats inside your business that you’ll need to scale as demand grows. These are the five principles that will help you define and fill those seats.

I’m about to share with you one of my favorite concepts.

When I implemented this in both my own agency and that of my clients, it had the most profound impact.

It leads to an agency owner making more money, having more free time, and becoming an authority in their market.

What am I talking about? It’s called scaling the seat.

A “seat” is a person’s spot in the business that handles a specific set of tasks and/or responsibilities.

You’re doing almost everything from your current seat, so you’re white-knuckling it a little bit, which means the business can’t scale.

When you’re in the only seat in the agency, nobody can replace you. That means you have no time for yourself and the business never grows.

I’m going to get into the five principles for creating new seats and filling them in a moment. But first, let’s look at the issues that only having one seat causes.

The Problems

The big problem here is that you’re stuck with everything.

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re doing everything inside the agency. However, you have your fingers in all of the pies. 

You’re touching on 100% of the work that comes through your business.

That means your agency can’t generate value without you, leading to the next problem that a lot of agency owners have: it’s too complex. 

Because you’re involved in everything, you can’t see a way to get this stuff off your plate. It’s too hard to assign someone else to do it all.

And what about client work? 

Your clients demand you too, so you’ve got to give them what they want. But what this ultimately means is that you don’t trust your team to deliver. 

As a result, you’re tying yourself to the business and refusing to give anybody else the authority to handle anything.

You’re not allowing anybody in the business to grow, make mistakes, and learn. 

That leaves you handcuffed to your seat.

The Opportunity

So, what’s the opportunity if you get these principles right?

Most importantly, it will give you the freedom to do what you want inside your business. 

I use the word scale a lot, but that word really means freedom to me. 

You will have the freedom to increase revenue and take on more clients. You will get the freedom to step away from the business with the assurance that it can run without you. 

That freedom means you can become the authority, grow your agency, and work with the clients that you really want.

You will also have the opportunity to help your team deliver without you.

That’s what this is really about. You want your team to have the confidence, ability, and authority to deliver great results without you getting involved.

The Five Hot Principles

Now, it’s time to make this thing work. 

There are Five Hot Principles for creating and filling a scalable seat. Let’s dig in…

Principle #1 – Identify Your Bottleneck

To do this, you’re going to look at how you spend your time.

Open up your calendar and look at the appointments that you’ve booked. You’re going to find a lot of recurring items that you could hand over to somebody else. (Here’s our blog on how to document processes so you can hand them off.)

I like to use the example of client meetings here.

For the longest time, I thought that I needed to get involved in every meeting that we had with a client. They expected to see me, so I needed to turn up for all of them.

That was a very limiting belief for my agency. Plus, it meant that all of the meetings had to fit into my schedule, which led to delays in moving projects forward.

In the end, I had to ask myself a tough question:

What am I actually doing in these meetings?

I realized that the stuff I do isn’t exactly rocket science. I’m doing presentations and getting clients to make a decision. 

Later, I realized that I enjoyed the control aspect of heading the meetings. However, that control wasn’t enough justification for me to be the bottleneck.

There’s probably a bunch of examples of things like this that you can remove yourself from.

So, look at your calendar and ask yourself the uncomfortable question of: 

How much do you actually contribute to each task?

In many cases, you’re going to see that you’re a bottleneck for something that might go smoother without you.

Principle #2 – Organize Your Business by Revenue

Your agency probably invoices for a huge variety of services. 

However, it’s likely that all of these services fall within two or three of what I call “business units”. Examples of these units may be “SEO”, “Web Design”, and so on.

I believe that every unit in your business needs to have a scalable seat for running that business unit.

So…where do you start?

Look at where 70% to 80% of your revenue comes from. There’s likely a unit inside your business that you specialize in and is your main revenue driver. That’s your starting point.

For example, let’s say that 75% of your revenue comes from new client website projects. The other 25% comes from hosting and other miscellaneous stuff.

Those new website projects are your core business unit. Usually, that’s where you’re going to look at first when you’re creating a scalable seat.

The only exception to this is if you have a smaller unit that’s taking up an exceptional amount of time. But typically, you’ll need to focus on the big revenue driver first.

Principle #3 – What Would it Take?

Now that you’ve identified the seat that you want to create, you’ve got to ask a simple question…

What would it take?

Right now, you’re doing a lot of work within the seat that you want to create. What would it take to remove you from the process and have somebody else take over?

Put your brainstorming hat on and think about the answer. 

I often get pushback from clients when I get them to ask this question. They’ll tell me that they have to be the account strategist, or whatever role it is that they think they’re essential for.

Really?

Is it impossible for somebody else to come in and do this for you?

Of course not.

Are you going to have to pay more to bring that person on board?

Okay, cool. Now we have some clarity. Now we can see what it’s going to take to fill the seat that you’ve just created.

The next question from there is what you need to do to afford to fill the seat.

Do you have to double your price?

No. But, you might be able to raise them by 10% or 15%, which would pay for it.

The point here is that you’ve got to get away from this mindset that there’s no way to replace yourself. Define the seat and break down what it would take to fill it.

Principle #4 – Find Your “Who”

Your “who” might be somebody who is in your business right now. Or, you may have to go out and recruit them.

There’s not much more to it than that. You’ve designed your scalable seat and you just need to find somebody to fill it. (Check out our blog on How to Hire.)

For us, our Project Leads were sitting under our noses the entire time – they were our front-end designers. There’s no such thing as a Project Lead in terms of typical job descriptions, so we just changed the front-end designer role to fill the seat.

That was a seat that we created inside our own business. Anybody who sits in that seat needed to be a front-end designer who’s able to meet with clients.

Think of your agency like an NFL team in the draft. You know exactly what position you need to fill. Now, you need to discover whether you have people inside your business who can fill the position, or you need to draft somebody to do it.

Principle #5 – Let Go of the Vine

Eventually, your new person will have authority and fully understand the outcomes they’re supposed to create.

That’s when you let go of the vine.

You remove yourself from that seat entirely and let them take over. If you don’t do that, your chosen person isn’t going to flourish. 

For example, think back to the issue of the meetings I spoke about earlier. When the boss is over your shoulder in a meeting, you’re going to feel nervous. That means you’re not going to perform.

The same thing happens to your people if you don’t let go of the vine.

Build Your Seat

So, what do you see as the first scalable seat in your business? What tasks and processes can you assign somebody else to deal with? 

If you run through these principles, you’ll define your seat and create more freedom for yourself in your agency.

But this is only a small part of what we teach at UGURUS. With UACADEMY, you get access to so many more training materials.

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