Running an agency isn't easy. Take it from the Princess Bride, sometimes the entire gig seems designed to prove the Dread Pirate Roberts was 100% correct.
We should know, because we're all out there selling something! All sorts of things! We're selling our services so we can sell something for our clients!
The madness that can happen is pretty rough. Business partners who get up and leave. Cease and Desist letters from companies who think your name is a little too close to their name. That clever thing you thought you were going to pull off for a client that blew up in your face (and theirs). Those months where you thought you were going to die of malnutrition because all you had to eat was ramen.
Nobody would blame an agency owner for throwing in the towel.
But before you do that, you might want to take a look at what these 7 owners and consultants have to say about what keeps them motivated and what you can do to make it through the hard times.
Marketing Agency Owner Motivation #1: Focus on Happy Clients
"The motivation that keeps me going through the inevitable ebb and flow of running an agency is the positive feedback we receive from clients."
"A simple 'thank you' for all your hard work, or 'I appreciate how responsive your team is,' is sometimes all you need to remind yourself why you're in business during the hard times."
Marketing Agency Owner Motivation #2: Become Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
"I remind myself that it's the people who don't stop no matter how hard it gets that come out of the situation stronger. If I can figure out how to make it through this tough time then I can figure out how to handle anything else that comes my way in the future."
"Today, my mindset is: bring it on! When this is over, I'll only be smarter, stronger, and more successful!"
Marketing Agency Owner Motivation #3: Don't Take It to Heart
"First, I remember I'm building an asset, network, and reputation. I know that I'm building something for the long term, even if a particular product, service, or market is a bust."
"I also remember not to take rejection or failure personally. The majority of businesses fail. Most successful entrepreneurs have more failures than successes. During tough times I remind myself that it's not me. It's the business."
Marketing Agency Owner Motivation #4: Perform Personal Maintenance
"I have come to appreciate that if I do not feel good, I am not going to be at my peak performance level for my team, or my clients.
"I recommend taking breaks for exercise. Go to the gym. Walk around the block. Find an empty conference room and stretch out."
"Find other ways to shake up your routine. Plan lunch meetings. I get out of the office 3 to 5 days a week which is a great way to stay connected personally and professionally. With technology and social media we're on 24/7 today, but all work and no play is just not a sustainable option. If I'm not at my peak performance, I'm not going to be useful to anyone else either."
Marketing Agency Owner Motivation #5: Keep Learning
Steve Kurniawan of Nine Peaks Media
"The push that has helped me stay afloat over the years is the fast-paced, always evolving nature of digital marketing, which forces me to always learn, to stay updated with the latest trends, changes in Google's algorithms, tactics, and channels."
"I personally like to learn about new things, and the new knowledge I've gained from the field never ceases to amaze me."
Marketing Agency Owner Motivation #6: Focus on the Final Result
"I realized a thing a couple of years ago that is so simple it blew my mind. If you don't give up, you will be successful."
"Just think logically. If, for a fact, you are not giving up, you will reach your destination. It is Common Sense 101. Like the wise philosopher, Rocky Balboa, said: 'It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."
Marketing Agency Owner Motivation #7: Just Keep Swimming
"Just do the one task that comes next. Think about when you don't feel like exercising, or going to the gym. You come up with every excuse in the book not to do it. What happens when you say: 'Okay, I'll just drive to the gym, and then if I feel the same, I'll come home?'"
"Chances are, by the time you get there, you decide, okay, I'll do the minimum. And eventually, you're so far into your workout that you perform 100x better than you ever had before, and you're glad you did it. What changed? Nothing but your mindset."
"The same is true in business. Just do the one next small task that will move you forward. When I didn't get a single client for weeks and started doubting myself, I focused on doing the next small thing instead of quitting. This allowed me to turn the situation around and reach my goals."
Bonus Tip: Change Your Thought Process
Forget motivation...sometimes you just need to solve the problem ASAP.
This one's from me, because I've certainly been through my own share of tough times. A few years ago Google fiddled with its algorithm again and a whole lot of my clients either went out of business within months of each other, or decided they weren't going to invest in content anymore. At least, not content as I'd been writing it.
I'd been coasting along for a long time on referrals and on the clients I'd had for years. And for some reason, all my old methods of finding business didn't work anymore.
After nearly two years of this crap, I was pretty depressed.
One day I decided to go ahead and write a couple of articles about this thing I had been doing for years like I was some sort of expert or something. (I did not, at all, think of myself as some kind of expert at the time). I just had tricks, things I'd tried that had seemed to work for clients, and literally nothing else to write at the time.
I guest posted them to the Local Search Forum. Sure, it's a no brainer that getting into a place where a whole lot of my potential clients might be could boost my business, it wasn't really about that. It was about allowing myself to feel, to really know, that I had something to offer and say, and to get over my massive impostor syndrome long enough to get it up there where other people might hear about it.
When all the motivation fails, thinking of yourself differently and doing something different as a result...anything different that's legal and even remotely helpful...could be the key to turning the whole thing around. After making that post it took less than two months to turn my business around.
Sometimes it's not about motivation at all. Or grit. Or feeling good about yourself or your business.
Sometimes, when the going gets tough, the tough can only get going by getting out of their own way.