It’s that time of year again. The time when you’ve finally seen the end of the fourth quarter tunnel and come up for air in the new year. The normal reaction during this time is to take some time off, relax, have an adult beverage or two and then get fired up for the new year – YAY!
As most of us do when a new year approaches, everyone is fired up and ready to go. You’re ready to shift your agency, your book of business, and your prospecting efforts forward at lightning speed. You download our Agency Planning Documents, start to fill them out, and then BAM…life happens.
You have more renewals in January than you thought. You’ve got a sick kid that is out of school for a week. A key agency employee is out on maternity leave, and you have to take over some of her work. Slowly, but surely, the time that you were planning to use for focusing on agency processes, building pipelines, and building a marketing strategy is a distant thought, and you’re in the thick of it.
Quite frankly, even though all of these “fires” may seem to be okay reasons for shying away from spending time dedicated to focusing ON your agency. But let me be the resounding voice in your head…THEY ARE NOT.
If you’re starting out thinking that building a sales, marketing, and operational strategy is going to be easy, it’s not. It takes time away from your normal, comfortable routine that most of us are more than ready to get out of, but have a hard time moving away from. It feels good to put out that fire, or help someone through a claim issue, as it should – you got in this business to help others.
But what it shouldn’t do is keep you from focusing on your business and why you built it in the first place. Before you decide to dive headfirst into the dream of creating these strategies and processes, make sure you consider the following.
It’s going to take effort, A LOT of it
Many times, agencies are accidentally founded out of a desire to help others and make money while doing it. They get several years into it and realize they never really built a solid foundation for the business. Owners are wearing every hat, not able to delegate or hire anyone, and end up struggling to prospect and/or keep the clients they have.
These agencies WANT to create strategy. They WANT to create processes. BUT they also want to stay in their pattern of chaos (as odd as that sounds) because it’s more familiar.
And, let’s be honest, it can be tough to really do some soul searching about your business – sometimes you might see things you just want to remain oblivious to. Ignorance is bliss…right?
Shying away from things that make you uncomfortable is the worst thing you can do for yourself, or your agency. Many times, it’s in the uncomfortable spots that we find the most room for growth.
So, what does that mean? When you commit to making a change, commit to it. More importantly, understand it’s going to take a decent amount of time and effort to get these things accomplished. If there were one easy answer, everyone would do it.
Get ‘er done
Once you’ve taken the time to do the planning, your work doesn’t stop there.
- It’s up to you to own it and keep up with it.
- It’s up to you to ensure you’re having regular check-ins with yourself and your team to make sure those goals, strategies, and processes are going to work for you.
- And it’s up to you to hold your team accountable for keeping up with their own annual plans and goals.
Unfortunately, as enlightened as you become during the planning process, that killer plan you create won’t just miraculously work for itself.
The three things
Here are some small steps you can take now to help you complete the potentially daunting task of planning for your agency.
- Dedicate time for your business. EVERY WEEK. Block out time to focus on your business. That means shutting off email, turning off phones, and creating a clear goal of what you want to accomplish during that time. I’m calling BS on those of you that are rolling your eyes saying, “I don’t have time,” “You don’t understand, I’m different than other people.”
Come on folks, we’re all busy, we’ve all got obligations, we’ve all got things going on. You make the time for things that you feel are important, and although you think that planning for your business is important, it takes a lot of self-reflecting that many would rather avoid than face.
- Prioritize what comes first. This can be tough when everything seems like a priority. But really focusing on what is most important to get done first is key.
- Put it on your calendar and stick to it the best you can. A year in advance, yes a YEAR, you should block time on your calendar for agency planning (kick off meeting and quarterly meetings) and one-on-one time with your team to go through their quarterly plans. Think that’s too many meetings? How’s not having them going for you now?
The bottom line is, the work isn’t going to do itself. There is no easy fix, there is no outside company that’s going to do the work for you and do it the right way. You’ve got to make a focused effort on making your business what you dreamed it to be. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a lot more time than you planned for.
Need a team to hold you accountable to your planning? Shoot us an email, we’ll kick you in ass…in a very friendly way of course!
Photo by valeriy