Biggest fuck up
Years ago, I nearly killed my digital marketing agency by onboarding the wrong clients. I fell for the stupid “growth or perish” mantra, and my exponential growth became my biggest enemy.
I onboarded any client who was willing to pay, so we ended up churning out fluff pieces, lots of them. To make that happen, I also hired people in a rush, and many of them were a very poor fit.
I was making more than I had dreamed of, but I was tired, unhappy, and resentful of my business.
This was NOT what I had signed up for. My agency’s tagline is “boutique approach, grand results”. When we ditched the boutique approach, the results weren’t so grand anymore, either.
Luckily, it only took me three months to realize I didn’t want to grow at any cost. I wanted to maintain quality and work with ideal-fit clients. I fired 30% of my clients and 30% of my staff.
I let go of the clients who were only looking for filler content and focused on attracting leads who understood the value of great content. The team serving the ill-fit clients also had to go, hard as that was.
My revenue took a dive, but we bounced back by the next quarter.
That’s how I learned that sustainable growth is very different from “growth no matter what”.
People confuse aspirational and actionable content.
“How I 10x-ed my followers in 3 days.”
“If I can scale to 7 figures in a year, so can you.”
Please stop “stealing” playbooks from successful people you have nothing in common with. Context is everything—you can’t replicate someone else’s growth. They have different assets, different weaknesses, different goals, different brains.
If a consultant tries to sell you their success playbook, RUN! If they only have one strategy to sell, they’re not strategists. They’re someone who happened upon a lucky streak, and they’re doggedly trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
Instead, work with someone who understands the power of context and creates custom playbooks for each of their clients.
Paul Graham’s “Do the things that don’t scale first” is the best advice I have ever heard. Take the time to talk to your customers and your audience, ask questions, and listen more than you speak.
No, it’s not easy. Yes, it takes a lot of time and grit. But you need it.
This is the only way to build a solid foundation for your business, one that doesn’t crack at the first sign of trouble. Growth hacks and shortcuts aren’t strategy, nor will they save you in an economic downturn—a solid foundation will.