Most businesses aspire to grow — after all, growth means new clients, new employees, and new possibilities. But growth also brings its own set of challenges. For us at Directive, it meant finding a way to support doubling our client base in just two months.
We survived to tell the tale and I’m here to show you exactly how you can experience extreme growth without drowning in potential.
1. Hope For The Best & Prepare For The Best
First and foremost, if you don’t see growth coming, you may not survive it.
Forecasting is an integral part to how Directive operates, with our entire staff laid out in a spreadsheet, copied and modified multiple times over, each one preparing for what may happen. On one tab, we lay out new employees and the roadmap for them getting their first new clients. For others, we calculate capacity for the entire company, balancing expected churn and expected projects for each month throughout the rest of the year.
While it may be a bit ambitious to assume we’ll close, say, a dozen clients a month, we’re at least prepared for that wonderful possibility. This saves us a ton of time and prepares us for the exact moment the sales team lets us know that a new client has joined the fold, as we already know which account manager, specialist, CRO expert, and directors are ready to onboard as soon as possible.
Ensuring every scenario has the highest possibility of success is integral to how we work, so we ensure it’s integral into how we grow.
2. Life (and Account) Saving Tools
Any agency worth its weight in MRR has a suite of tools ready to deploy. Most of these tools are built for organization and productivity, from Asana and Harvest to Basecamp and Trello, but how do you save time in your inbox and your calendar? These are arguably the two most critical browser tabs you look at on a daily basis and having them slowing you down is a shortcut to overwhelming frustration.
Calendly is a lifesaver, as it takes the back-and-forth “Ok, so I’m free on Thursday at 5:15, but not on Friday until 3…” email threads and turns them into a single click. For free, you can send an invite to someone that offers them any free time on your calendar (Google, Apple, Outlook, etc.) for your meeting time. All you need to do is set the parameters (length of calls, days you’re available, etc.) and you get a custom URL to share. They pick the time, you automatically accept it, and voila, no back and forth mess!
Another killer app is Canned Responses, a free Labs add-on for Gmail. This beauty lets you create templated messages for you to use in just two clicks. Have a common introduction email for new clients? Maybe you’re hiring a ton of people, week after week, to deliver all the great work you’re now being paid to complete and need to give them the same comprehensive information? Use this to cut the time it takes to send those recurring emails from minutes to seconds, which is incredibly important as more and more emails require your time and attention across your growing portfolio.
3. Delegation With Representation
Growth also creates space. We went from a small executive team with a giant specialist pool to a tiered executive structure complete with director’s responsible for growth of their departments and made room for administrative necessities like Client Success (there is no point in gaining new clients if you can’t please them enough to keep them around!).
But with all this growth comes a responsibility vacuum. Those with ambition and talent find their way into this newly created space, which also creates possible inefficiencies and time wasted. You can buck this trend right away by creating delegation with clear guidelines and, most importantly, weekly reporting.
Just as our clients expect weekly reports of the effort and work that goes into growing their business, we expect the same level of focus and clarity from our directors and leads. Every link in the chain gets the most important information distilled to them in actionable, digestible pieces, addressing key aspects of the firm’s growth and potential struggles.This allows everyone to make the most informed decision for the firm, the clients, the department, and, finally & least important, themselves.
Does It Work?
With all of these changes, new systems to adopt, and clients to serve, it can be easy to forget to track. Accountability and reporting is something our clients value about our service, so we’ve done the same internally with our own systems. During this doubling of clients, we experienced the lowest client churn in years and promoted exciting and excited professionals to positions of influence that help the entire portfolio grow. We’d call that a success, especially with another wave of growth right around the corner.
There are a lot of idioms that exist to warn you of the dangers of ill-prepared growth, but hopefully this list and these tips will get you more than ready for the future, and ahead of the competition.