It’s WordCamp time again!
This year I’m off to speak in Atlanta on Saturday, April 14th. This year I’ll be sharing my experiences and tips on building a successful 6 Figure WordPress Design Agency.
My talk is titled: Building a PROFITABLE WordPress Agency
Sounds simple enough. Grow a team, get more clients & make more money. Right?
Believe it or not … building the agency is the easy part.
Making sure you, the business owner, actually get paid … now that’s hard.
To anyone who has ever tried the transition from Freelance to Agency Owner and found themselves at the end of the year having touched more money and kept less … you know what I’m talking about.
That’s what happened to me: I hit 6 Figures, my team was paid, my clients were happy and as I look at my personal income for the year the term … wtf … went through my head. I had touched more and kept less than the year prior.
What had just happened? It’s called growing pains.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
It’s that simple. And since I had never built an agency and I can’t see the future I had no idea what I needed to have in place to be profitable.
Profit = Income - Expenses
The formula above looks simple enough but it is very powerful because it holds the answers to what happened that first year.
So what happened? Where did I go wrong and how can you avoid repeating my mistakes?
Here is the scoop
Income: My income increased (yeah) as I had more time to market and I was bringing in new work
… here comes the bad news …
Expenses: I now had new expenses I had never had before
… the nail in the coffin …
Profit: I did not raise my prices to support my new expenses
Freelancer vs Agency
To understand the issue lets look a bit deeper at the money side of these to business models
As a freelancer my money business model was simple. My income was the projects I sold and my expenses were software, office, insurance, marketing … and my time.
But here is the thing .. since it was my time I NEVER really tracked how many hours a project took.
So as long as my profit at the end of the month was enough and I was okay with my hours I did not worry if a project took extra time here and there. That was a BIG mistake. I had no idea how long a project actually took and this would prove to be a large piece of what happened that first year.
As an agency the money business model gets more complicated. The income stays the same. It is still the money from projects and hopefully since you have a team you can handle more projects and your income increases.
However, a team wants to get paid! Alas, if you are paying them hourly they want to be paid for the time the project actually took vs how long it roughly took! What does that mean for you … well, it means for every hour your team works your profit goes down. So those unexpected hours here and there get expensive.
Also, yeah it gets worse, a team brings with it overhead and that also adds cost. Overhead in software including to do & time tracking programs along with the need for someone to project manage and quality check work.
Furthermore, your new team needs to be trained on just how you do things at your agency. You’ll need to take time to both create and train them on the systems and processes of how things work in your agency … otherwise, it will become a process free for all. You have documented your systems … right? If not read “Built to Sell”
And did I mention that you, the business owner, will need to spend more time on marketing? This means your personal billable hours will go down.
My goodness, do I have any good news for you today?
Take heart … All is not lost
There is a silver lining to all this. I promise.
Running an Agency is a gift to both you and your clients
A gift that allows you to charge more for your projects and ultimately be profitable!
A team enables you to serve your customers in ways you never could as a freelancer.
No longer are you limited by your own skill set; you now have a collection of experts ready to support your clients.
No longer is your client out of luck if you go on, heaven forbid, a vacation or get sick unexpectedly. You have backup.
No longer are you alone and isolation day in and day out. You have created a mini-community working together towards common goals.
I wouldn’t have it any other way
Yes running an agency has its challenges. But it also has benefits both to you, your clients and your team. If you keep an eye on the numbers and realize your increased value and price accordingly you can have …
Have a Profitable WordPress Agency that you love!
PS - If you are ready to make the leap or have already leap and are facing some of the challenges I mentioned above I’d love to be able to help you. I welcome you to reach out!