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Smart Agency Masterclass with Jason Swenk: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies

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Business
Management
Marketing
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Growing an agency is very difficult, and you might feel unclear what to do next in order to grow and scale your agency. The Smart Agency Masterclass is a weekly podcast for agencies that are wanting to grow faster. We interview amazing guests from all over the world that have the experience of running successful businesses, and will provide you the insights you need. Our podcast is just over 3 years old, and have reached more than a half million listeners in 42 countries.

Read more

Growing an agency is very difficult, and you might feel unclear what to do next in order to grow and scale your agency. The Smart Agency Masterclass is a weekly podcast for agencies that are wanting to grow faster. We interview amazing guests from all over the world that have the experience of running successful businesses, and will provide you the insights you need. Our podcast is just over 3 years old, and have reached more than a half million listeners in 42 countries.

iTunes Ratings

90 Ratings
Average Ratings
81
4
3
0
2

Valuable For Agency Owners

By Buddhaa22 - Jul 20 2019
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Jason brings great topics and value to owners. Definitely worth your time to grow your agency.

Great show!

By CJThomas6 - Jan 18 2017
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I appreciate the interviews and advice on this show. Very helpful!

iTunes Ratings

90 Ratings
Average Ratings
81
4
3
0
2

Valuable For Agency Owners

By Buddhaa22 - Jul 20 2019
Read more
Jason brings great topics and value to owners. Definitely worth your time to grow your agency.

Great show!

By CJThomas6 - Jan 18 2017
Read more
I appreciate the interviews and advice on this show. Very helpful!
Cover image of Smart Agency Masterclass with Jason Swenk: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies

Smart Agency Masterclass with Jason Swenk: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies

Updated 1 day ago

Read more

Growing an agency is very difficult, and you might feel unclear what to do next in order to grow and scale your agency. The Smart Agency Masterclass is a weekly podcast for agencies that are wanting to grow faster. We interview amazing guests from all over the world that have the experience of running successful businesses, and will provide you the insights you need. Our podcast is just over 3 years old, and have reached more than a half million listeners in 42 countries.

Rank #1: A KILLER Outbound Sales Strategy for New Agency Business

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In today’s episode, we’ll cover: Why outbound sales is important. One killer outbound sales strategy for new agency business 4 steps to a successful […]

The post A KILLER Outbound Sales Strategy for New Agency Business appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Jun 15 2016

26mins

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Rank #2: How to Go from Freelancing to Starting a Digital Agency and Growing it over 7 Figures

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In this episode, I’ll cover: 3 steps for transitioning from freelancer to agency owner. How to identify and overcome growth struggles. […]

The post How to Go from Freelancing to Starting a Digital Agency and Growing it over 7 Figures appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Jun 08 2016

19mins

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Rank #3: First Steps to Grow and Scale Your Digital Agency

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Do you lack the knowledge on how to grow and scale your digital agency? Overwhelmed by not knowing what role to hire first? Afraid to niche down, and afraid what might happen if you don't? You're not alone! Learn how to tackle these very important tasks in order to grow and scale your digital agency.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Overcoming common challenges of starting an agency.
  • Hiring based on your agency’s needs.
  • Why and how to choose your agency’s niche.
  • Benefits of an agency mastermind.

On today’s show, I talked with Jeremiah Smith, President and CEO of Simple Tiger, a digital agency which focuses on SEO for SAAS clients. With over 12 years of SEO experience, Jeremiah has watched Simple Tiger go through many changes and has had to face the difficult decisions we all face with our agencies. He shares some of his big challenges and decisions with us and some guidance on how he knew, it was time to act. He is, admittedly, still working on some aspects, so don’t beat yourself up if your agency has some tough calls to make. Let’s just get your agency to a place, where you start making the right calls.

Overcoming Common Challenges Starting Your Own Agency

Jeremiah shared his two main challenges starting Simple Tiger and what you can do to overcome or avoid them...

1- Starting out as self-taught SEO consultant and then moving on to build an agency was difficult. It’s tough going from a “lone wolf” freelancer to building a team. It was a transition that took time and has grown the agency because of smart hiring choices.

2- It can be hard to separating your personal life from your business. When you work for yourself you can spend your money on what you want. When you start a business, this isn’t the case. It’s important to be careful and keep business income and expenses separate, particularly in regards to taxes. (You can even check out this podcast with Jason Blumer CPAs.)

Hiring Based On Your Agency’s Needs

Understanding what your agency’s needs are, will then point you in the direction of who your agency needs to hire and when.

In most cases, you will hear consultants recommend hiring a sales team first. (Although I tell my clients to hire a Project Manager first!)

However, Jeremiah’s main role is sales, and the sales role is his baby. He says SEO sales can get scammy and shady, so selling it in a truthful manner is the most important thing. He wants his agency to be seen with integrity and that starts with sales.

That’s why Jeremiah’s first hire was someone who could produce the work he was selling. Hiring the right people can be the difference between feeling like you’re a prisoner to your agency, or enjoying running your agency.

Why and How to Choose Your Agency’s Niche

There are many benefits of niching down. Jeremiah says he finally did it because:

  1. Your agency’s marketing gets easier.
  2. You will attract more of other types of businesses.

The beauty is you can still say ‘yes’ and service clients outside your niche if you choose. But, your marketing is targeted at just one specific audience. Instead of casting a wide net, you’re getting really specific.

Picking a horizontal niche should be based on your background and pretty easy. With Jeremiah, SEO was a no-brainer. Selecting a vertical niche can prove more difficult and can even be terrifying.

What got Jeremiah thinking was a client who couldn’t identify their target market and instead said “we service everyone.” It made him start looking inwardly at his own agency.

When you specialize in a particular niche, you become an authority in that segment of business. By becoming a member of my Agency University Jeremiah learned the value in declaring a niche.

He starting by asking himself these 3 questions:

  1. Who are my agency’s most profitable clients?
  2. Which clients were an easy sell, they just get you?
  3. Who do I love working with?
Benefits of an Agency Mastermind

Speaking of Agency University…. :) Jeremiah felt like he knew a lot about agencies and how they operate, so he was apprehensive to join Agency University. However, by participating in our mentorship program he realized he was making things harder and more complex than they needed to be. And, he realized he had a lack of focus.

He says he learned some real game changing strategies that helped his agency grow and scale. And hey, that’s why I do this - so it’s a win-win.

What’s Agency University All About?

Are you overwhelmed by all the information out there on various ways to grow your agency? Do you want direction on how you can grow your agency faster and easier?

Then you’re in luck! I created an innovative mentorship called Agency University.

Agency University is a program which provides the 1-on-1 mentorship and ongoing support that is crucial to the success of your agency. Click here to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Mar 14 2018

28mins

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Rank #4: Ways to Attract the Attention of Bigger Agency Clients

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Are you trying to land bigger clients for your agency? It’s hard when to communicate value when a lot your agency […]

The post Ways to Attract the Attention of Bigger Agency Clients appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Jul 11 2017

23mins

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Rank #5: Why Hiring Entry Level People Can Grow Your Agency

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Do you want to grow your digital agency with amazing talent, but worried you can’t pay top dollar? This unique “reverse recruitment model” for finding, training and keeping incredible talent might make it more doable than you think.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Why and how to implement a reverse recruitment model.
  • How to develop agency talent with an entry level team.
  • 2 big benefits to reverse recruitment.

Today’s guest is Morgan Lopes, CEO of Polar Notion, the web and mobile app development agency he co-founded 5 years ago. Like so many of us, he’s an accidental agency owner who shares with us some valuable advice about hiring a team to grow your agency. He has created and implemented a new recruitment model that’s netting fantastic results.

Why Hiring Entry-Level People Can Grow Your Agency

Morgan had an amazing mentor when he was young and new to the industry. He developed his craft through the generosity of an older, more experienced person who would not accept payment for his time. Instead, he asked Morgan to pay it forward. Years later, the solution is Polar Notion’s reverse recruitment model.

How the Reverse Recruitment Model Works:
  • Skills are teachable, personality is inherent.
  • Hire entry level candidates, typically right out of school.
  • Hiring process focused on personality and character instead of skill level.
    • Character traits to look for: teachable, curious, thoughtful, actionable
    • Skills are teachable, character is not.
  • Train skills and develop the craft in people who are already a culture fit.
How to Develop Agency Talent from the Ground Up
  • At first Polar Notion had no process and it was messier than it should’ve been.
  • Now there’s a process and curriculum in place.
  • New hires are onboarded and trained based on specific guidelines.
  • Employees follow process/steps and their appointed mentor makes daunting tasks more bearable.
  • Expectations for new hires and existing team are clear so the program is more successful.
2 Big Benefits of Reverse Recruitment

1. A Company Mission Transitions to a Way of Life

This isn’t a “thing” Morgan wants to talk about all the time or force his team do. They’re starting to create habits of mentoring and teaching each other - which is the ultimate goal. Instead of mentorship just being a company mission he aims for it to be something that is naturally ingrained in their culture and lived out.

2. A Super Low Employee Turnover Rate

Morgan's agency has only ever let one person go. Ever. When you’re hiring based on personality and character everything clicks and people stick. Also, if/when issues arise the team is more apt to talk to leadership and work through a solution.

Need Guidance and Support to Grow Your Agency 3X Faster?

Are you overwhelmed by all the information out there on various ways to grow your agency? Do you want direction on how you can grow your agency faster and easier?

Then you’re in luck! I created an innovative mentorship called Agency University.

Agency University is a program which provides the 1-on-1 mentorship and ongoing support that is crucial to the success of your agency. Click here to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Oct 11 2017

24mins

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Rank #6: Agency Growth from Zero to 8-Figures in 8 Years

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Wonder what it takes to get to your agency to 7- or 8- figures? Today’s guest tells us all about how his […]

The post Agency Growth from Zero to 8-Figures in 8 Years appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Mar 29 2017

48mins

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Rank #7: Gary Vee & Seth Godin: How to Make Big Decisions for Your Agency…. #AskSwenk ep 54

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Do you have trouble making big decisions for your business? Do you hesitate to commit because you’re afraid to fail? This […]

The post Gary Vee & Seth Godin: How to Make Big Decisions for Your Agency…. #AskSwenk ep 54 appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Nov 15 2016

2mins

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Rank #8: One Agency’s Fast Track to $3 Million in Revenue

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In this episode, we’ll cover: 2 secrets to building multi-million dollar revenue. 2 things agency owners should quit being afraid of. […]

The post One Agency’s Fast Track to $3 Million in Revenue appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Aug 03 2016

23mins

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Rank #9: The Best and Worst Cold Email For Generating Leads

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We have all gotten them. The bad email that makes you feel better about yourself 🙂 Here’s a fun interview I […]

The post The Best and Worst Cold Email For Generating Leads appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Apr 26 2017

23mins

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Rank #10: How One Agency Doubled Their Business in 4 Months

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If you’re trying to grow a agency, you know you’re going to need a foot in a door strategy to get […]

The post How One Agency Doubled Their Business in 4 Months appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Dec 06 2016

20mins

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Rank #11: The SECRET to Successful Freelance and Remote Teams: Hiring and Managing

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In this episode, we’ll cover: Creative ways to find top talent. Freelancer onboarding… or not? Managing freelance and remote teams. Today’s […]

The post The SECRET to Successful Freelance and Remote Teams: Hiring and Managing appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

May 04 2016

24mins

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Rank #12: 2 Strategies That Increased Agency Revenue 4X in One Year

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In this episode, we’ll cover: 2 strategies that helped quadruple agency revenue & client list in one year. How to select your […]

The post 2 Strategies That Increased Agency Revenue 4X in One Year appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Sep 28 2016

22mins

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Rank #13: Starting an Agency, Outgrowing Clients & Outsourcing Content #AskSwenk Episode 31

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On this episode of #AskSwenk, we’ll cover:  what to do when your agency has outgrown a client, knowing when to start […]

The post Starting an Agency, Outgrowing Clients & Outsourcing Content #AskSwenk Episode 31 appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

May 10 2016

9mins

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Rank #14: Seth Godin's Advice on Growing Your Marketing Agency

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Get ready for some amazing insight from Seth Godin, the father of permission marketing. He dives deep into branding your agency, determining value, niching down, and so much more! There’s a ton of value here to help you grow, scale, and enjoy your marketing agency.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • The future of marketing agencies.
  • How to stand apart from agency competition.
  • What’s the difference between a logo and a brand?
  • 2 steps for agencies to determine value.
  • Why agencies need to select a niche.
  • What clients really want from agencies.
  • How to leverage your strengths to win clients.

It is my distinct honor and privilege to interview Seth Godin on the show. Like so many in the industry, I’m a huge fan of everything Seth had written and I’m so inspired by his wisdom. I think just about everyone knows him, but in case you’re the one person who doesn’t… :) Seth Godin is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and most of all, a teacher. He has written 18 best-selling books, including This is Marketing and Purple Cow. Seth has also founded two companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne (acquired by Yahoo!). He’s motivated and inspired entrepreneurs and marketers around the world.

What’s the Future of Marketing Agencies?

There’s an old school definition of an agency where they bought the ads for brands and created the ads they’d place. These agencies earned a percentage of the ad spend and charge a fee for the creative elements. But, Seth says, twenty years ago that agency model started to shift.

At the early stages of the internet boom, brands no longer needed agencies to buy ads or create them. Beginning then and even truer today, Seth believes agencies need to be advisors to brands. Clients need you to help make their products or services better.

Agencies have the ear of the CEO. Therefore, the future of agencies lies in building that relationship and being the liaison between the CEO, the other departments of the business - like engineers and other creators, and the consumers themselves.

Related: The Future Outlook for Marketing Agencies in 2019

Using Pricing As A Differentiating Factor

A lot of agencies tell me they watch their competition and then charge slightly less, and that’s their strategy for staying ahead of the competition. My advice is always: don’t make lower prices be your differentiating quality.

Seth agrees and shared a story about his 1995 business venture “Get Rich Click.” While Yahoo! was selling clicks for $2.00, Seth was selling them for 50-cents. He says he knew he was only going to be successful until someone else started selling them for 49-cents. You know what happened? Yahoo! bought them and eliminated the competition.

Friends, you cannot grow your agency if you’re racing to the bottom!

What’s the Difference Between a Logo and a Brand?

Are you building a brand, or is your agency just a logo? Seth talked about the difference between a brand and a logo using his example of Nike and Hyatt. He asked if Nike started a hotel chain, could you envision it? Yes, of course. But if the inverse were true, and Hyatt created an athletic shoe, could you envision it? Not so much.

The difference is, Nike has built a brand. Consumers know what they stand for and believe in. So anything and everything Nike does, their customers know what to expect. Hyatt has built a chain of hotels, but their name and logo may as well be interchangeable with others in the industry. They don’t represent or stand for anything specific.

So - while growing your agency, be clear on what you stand for and convey that message to your audience. This is what will build your brand and help your agency stand out.

2 Steps for Agencies to Determine Value

Seth says we have to get away from the “more and better” mentality. Meaning, stop thinking about getting more clients as your way of being better than the competition. If all you want are more clients, then your worth is tied to how busy you are but if you really want to be better then there are two questions to answer when determining worth:

  1. How much do you cost compared to the alternative?
  2. How much is what you do worth to your target market?

Seth says you have to be the one and only… if you’re no better than the alternative, then you’re not worth more than them. It's that simple.

Why Agencies Need to Select a Niche

Selecting a niche does not mean serving a small audience, it means serving a specific audience. Seth believes it’s super important and here’s why... The web is not mass media. We think it is and we treat it like it is, but it’s not and users aren’t using that way. We act like there are infinite possibilities when marketing on the internet, but that’s just not true because people are online searching for very specific information. If your message is too broad you can’t and won’t be found.

As I like to tell agencies, marketing toward one niche does not mean turning down work from clients outside your niche. It just means you’re laser focused in one specific niche and aiming all your marketing toward them.

Let’s be clear -- you will not miss out on any business if you become a leader in your niche.

Truth is, you’re already missing out. Seth says “you have to figure out how to be missed when you’re gone by the smallest group that can support you.” That’s when you’ll have clients knocking on your door and they’ll bring their friends.

What Clients Really Want from Agencies

A large part of the reason people make purchase decisions has to do with status. Seth believes decisions are based on preserving or improving status. So, what your clients want from their agency provides some version of status.

“Change doesn’t happen without tension” ~ Seth Godin

Therefore, your content marketing needs to create tension in order to inspire change. Seth believes we need to create content that grabs attention, builds trust, and turns on permission marketing. The trap many fall into is making it all free, all the time. The key is giving just enough free content to make them realize you know your stuff!

Related: How to Quit Losing Clients by Knowing What They Really Want

Leverage Your Strengths to Win Clients

Agencies can use the network effect to create change. Essentially, the network effect occurs when an increased number of people improve the value of a product or service. Seth believes marketing agencies are in the perfect position to create a network effect through their relationships with brand CEOs.

He says the system that built our economy and our culture is changing forever. You must invest the time to understand the system and learn what’s necessary to create a product or service that spreads. That’s how your agency will be successful and significant.

Seth references a sign he saw when he was speaking at a Walmart event many years ago. The banner read: You Can’t Out-Amazon Amazon Walmart knows its strength is low prices. They know Amazon’s strengths too. And they know they can’t compete with Amazon. So instead of trying to “out-Amazon” the competition, they’re continuing to do what they know they do well.

Know your strengths. Know your weaknesses. Recognize what they are, what they aren’t, and what they can’t be. Stop working on your weaknesses - just go be the best in the world at what you do well.

Mar 13 2019

27mins

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Rank #15: Guaranteeing Leads, Growing Your Team & Firing a Client: #AskSwenk Episode 27

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In this video, I’ll cover: What to do when a prospect wants you to guarantee leads. My #1 struggle in growing […]

The post Guaranteeing Leads, Growing Your Team & Firing a Client: #AskSwenk Episode 27 appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Apr 06 2016

8mins

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Rank #16: What is a Healthy Profit Margin for a Digital Agency?

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In this episode, we’ll cover: What your digital agency profit margin should be. How to improve agency profit margins. 7 tips to healthy agency […]

The post What is a Healthy Profit Margin for a Digital Agency? appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Sep 21 2016

20mins

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Rank #17: #175: How to Find Your Focus and Clarity to Grow A Successful Agency

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Do you feel stuck in a rut? Overwhelmed or uncertain? You are not alone! A lot of agency owners feel the same way. If you need help finding clarity or getting focused, check out this episode. This is the perfect time of year to look at where you’re at and where you’re headed. Get re-energized and meet your goals in the new year.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 3 characteristics you need to build a successful agency.
  • Finding clarity in your agency life.
  • How to find and keep your focus.
  • #1 thing holding you back.

Today’s guest is Aaron Walker, successful businessman and life coach at the third business he’s built, View from the Top. Through his mastermind, Iron Sharpens Iron, Aaron helps people be their best selves and how to carry that into their professional lives. Aaron’s passion in coaching and today he shares with us some advice and nuggets of knowledge on how to take that first step towards clarity and success.

3 Characteristics Necessary To Build A Successful Agency

Lots of us who are out there trying to build our agency and make a name for ourselves are creators/developers, not maintainers/managers.

This can be where the problem is: you can’t get clarity.

Today we have more opportunities than ever before. It paralyzes us and clouds our judgement. The overwhelm can even cause a leadership crash.

That is why you need to have:

  1. Determination, Tenacity, Grit to persevere.
  2. Be Organized and Intentional to lead.
  3. Most importantly, you need FOCUS.

With that focus you also need consistency. If you aren’t willing to devote two years to your venture, don’t even start it.

Stay focused on the long game and do what you set out to do. Every. Single. Day.

Aaron shares a little phrase his mom used to say to him, that he hated, but now is part of his mantra: “Can’t couldn’t do it, and Could did it all.

You know, inspiration isn’t forever, it’s really about finding your purpose -- that thing that gets you out of bed every morning. That’s what is going to keep you going.

How To Find Clarity In Your Agency Life

For entrepreneurs, a lot of our clarity is muddled by constantly looking over our shoulder, wondering if we should have done that other thing instead. Stop worrying if the grass is greener on the other side and realize the grass is greener where you water it.

Realize that you will never get to a point where you will feel a sense of security, so stop looking for that. Instead, fill yourself with confidence.

The first step is -- you gotta launch. Whatever it is - just do it. As my friend Ian says, “Version done is better than version none.” He’s so right!

You need to realize that it’s never going to be perfect, so just take that first step and go from there. You will figure it out.

Once you find your purpose, it will help bring you clarity. Your purpose will become the thing that really drives you, steers your ship and it’s guides your decision-making. When you start doing this, then you will find your significance.

How to Find and Keep Your Focus

First, if your focus is on making money, then it’s not going to keep you focused long-term. You need a purpose for that! Sure, there’s definitely a portion of our focus that is tied to money. If it weren’t of any importance, we’d be giving everything away for free.

It’s not wrong to want to make money, just make sure you own your money and your money doesn’t own you.

You can, however, use money and finances as a measurement tool, not based on how much you make, but on the fact that if people are paying for the products/services you provide, then you’re helping people and are providing a valuable resource. Besides, if you gave your stuff away for free, nobody would pay attention to you.

It’s the same thing if you underprice yourself. By underpricing, you will cause people to undervalue what you provide; thinking what you have to offer isn’t very good because it’s too cheap.

Dec 20 2017

28mins

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Rank #18: How to Get Unstuck from Doing Everything Yourself

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Are you overwhelmed with tasks that keep you in the weeds instead of working on growing your agency? Are you paying […]

The post How to Get Unstuck from Doing Everything Yourself appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Jun 21 2017

19mins

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Rank #19: Want to Build an 8-Figure Agency?

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If you want to grow your agency like some of the big guys but you’re not sure how to get there, […]

The post Want to Build an 8-Figure Agency? appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Feb 15 2017

24mins

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Rank #20: How to End the Time Suck of Creating Proposals

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In this episode, we’ll cover: The #1 tip for winning a proposal. 3 key elements of a successful proposal. A super […]

The post How to End the Time Suck of Creating Proposals appeared first on Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies.

Jun 29 2016

27mins

Play