How to Build a Thriving Woman-Owned Digital Agency
Are you a female agency owner struggling to grow? Ever wonder if a friendship can survive the daily struggles of agency life? Women are underrepresented in agency ownership and management, yet producing a lot of the work agencies are doing. The industry can use more female-owned digital agencies, don't you agree?
In this episode, we'll cover:
- 2 basic foundations of a successful agency.
- Can friendship survive agency partnership?
- 3 tips for succeeding as a woman-owned digital agency
Erika Waters is a Founding Partner for Bright Spot Creative, a marketing strategy and creative agency in Texas, which she started with her best friend nine years ago. The two met while working as the only in-house employees at a 30-year-old boutique agency. Initially, Erika and her partner were set to acquire the small agency but when that deal fell through, they decided to start their own.
2 Basic Foundations of a Successful Agency
"The first thing we were focused on was putting foundations and processes in place," Erika says of Bright Spot Creative's beginnings. One of the first tasks on the list was hiring a good accountant. "We knew we didn't want to do our own books, but we wanted to know enough to be able to talk about them if someone asked."
Next, the two women needed to figure out what type of agency they wanted and the type of services they wanted to provide. While they recruited some old clients to the new agency, Erika says they tried to be intentional and truly focus on the type of clients they wanted to attract.
Can Friendship Survive Agency Partnership?
Erika and her business partner don't just work together. They are best friends outside of work. Their children are friends and their families spend time together. Through the first several months of the agency, they worked with a business coach. His advice was to focus on more than just the legal aspects of setting up their partnership. What did they want the agency's legacy to be? What is their vision for the future? The answer they always came up with -- no matter what happens to the agency, they always want to remain friends.
Vision is crucial to your agency's and your partnership's success; when conflict arises, both individuals must be able to work together for solutions that retain their original vision. Erika and her partner determined they're more comfortable working with a collaborative business model in which they do not manage a lot of in-house employees, but instead have a group of trusted experts they rely on to provide services for their clients. They learned the type of clients they wanted to work with. "We are nice, friendly people," Erika explains. "We want to work for nice, friendly people."
3 Tips for Succeeding as a Female-Owned Agency
The segment of female agency owners isn't as big as it should be, Erika says. When you think about it, so much of the productivity on the client-side is done by women yet the CMO's and agency owners aren't email. She offers the following three tips for those who wish to start a successful agency:
- Embrace being female. Erika started an agency not only as a female but a young woman in her mid-twenties. She says she got a lot of pats on the head in the early days, and she says it used to really get under her skin. But she decided to claim it. To lean into it. You are a woman who owns an agency, and that is something a lot of clients will see as a benefit.
- If it's not a yes, it's a no. This is advice that Erika received early on from her business coach. It's something she reminds herself of even to this day. If you are speaking with a client and your gut feels like the fit is not quite right, trust it. Back up and do what does feel right, because having the wrong kind of clients can take your agency down.
- Don't forget your passion. Erika says she loves the work of the agency -- the gritty, business aspect of it. She never wants to get to the point where the team is doing all the work and she is merely managing. However, while she still holds special products and clients close. She prices her time higher. This way the client demands do not take away from the time she needs for other responsibilities.
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