Today’s going to serve as something of a rant because I’m having one of the most stressful months of my life.
Agency life, when you’ve got an inexperienced team who are doing their best but are falling short because of silly mistakes is extremely challenging.
And it’s often the struggle that a service-led business faces when it comes to a business’s success.
And finding a great team who can deliver is extraordinarily difficult, regardless of the salary you’re paying people.
This has been the struggle with Pearl Lemon Leads in particular.
The challenge of having upset company clients eats away at my soul and it’s caused me massive stress as of late.
It’s impacting my personal life and happiness and it’s become evident that it needs to change and dramatically.
So this blog post is going to serve as a rant which I’m sure all of the business owners or managers reading this will appreciate.
For context –
I got onto a client call yesterday and several things materialised leading up to that call:
It’s a call with a lead-generation client who is paying us to well, generate leads, and had challenges with our work.
Several things became apparent before, during, and after the call:
- There was no communication between the sales and lead generation side of the business because neither team had a real understanding of what the other team was doing – even though they’re both meant to be working together
- Our target was meant to be physical businesses – and yet we were targeting the marketing and advertising sector in our LinkedIn targeting – which was nonsensical
- Apparently targeting the retail sector bought zero results – and yet I ran a regular search and was able to demonstrate that the search was working fine
Our head of lead generation had a completely different sense of what the call was going to be about – and so when we went into the call – the client spent the first 10 minutes basically explaining how unhappy there were with what we were doing.
None of this would have been apparent had I not spent those few minutes checking her work.
Furthermore, our head of outbound sales came into the call 5 minutes late and did the following:
- He interrupted and opened – upon the first time of meeting people to say ‘Hi guys I tried to enter but the meeting link was saying invalid’…
This of course made no sense to introduce yourself in this manner – especially knowing that this client had some concerns.
- Charles then began to give his insights into how the calls were going which ran in complete contradiction to what I’d been saying 5 minutes previous to this which I then had to cover for
- Charles also missed a cue when it came to one of the client’s team saying ‘I’m excited for what Charles can do’ and then Charles didn’t say anything…
All in all, the meeting was an absolute shambles and indicative of how many other problems were apparent within the team.
Several clients, we’d made foul-ups I’ve found similar problems and it’s leading to clients coming in one way – and going out the other.
As you can imagine this causes me a great deal of stress.
Coping With Business Failure (and Depression)
The lead-generation side of our business is extraordinarily hard. We have companies (with skilled sales professionals) who pay us to help them drive leads for their business.
Often time it’s an unknown market for them and they want to see what kind of response they’ll get.
Other times they’re competing in a very difficult market or they’re selling a commodity.
In any event, it means that even on our best day – we might not demonstrate a result. Although arguably the ‘best day’ remains to be seen as we’re nowhere close to getting there’
It’s stressful and makes me depressed thinking that we’ve got such fundamental problems with the way we run our lead generation.
It’s difficult to say how ‘hard’ this is because it’s not even the case that we’re performing at an optimal level.
In moments like this, it feels like my small business (because that’s what it is basically) – is killing me.
It feels like we’re not headed in the right direction at all – which is very frustrating.
Small Business Owner Anxiety
So naturally – now – when it’s 6.05am and I’m meant to be more ‘zen’ and relaxed and focussed upon something that I love such as journaling…
And instead, I’m constantly firing off messages on Whatsapp to my team.
My personal time has been impacted because it’s very very difficult to relax and feel good when you’re not happy with the way campaigns are being managed and you wonder whether clients will end up leaving unhappy…as they seem to do all too regularly at the moment.
This leads to heart palpitations, and feeling constantly distracted, and not having any moments where I’m really truly switched off as would be nice.
The other element to this is that realistically – I’m reliant upon Pearl Lemon as my main means of income.
I don’t have another legit source of income that could replace this should it all fall apart.
With this in mind it means problems in business directly impact my personal life.
Why Running A Business Is So Stressful
Outside of all of this, you have the happy clients, the client requests, the team requests, managing the books, dealing with salary increase requests…and I could continue.
It is a lifestyle – running a digital marketing agency at least, rather than something you can switch on and off to.
At least with the mind that I want to aggressively scale.
In part I think it’s also about intention – I want to grow the business as effectively as I can…
Part of me now thinks that maybe I need to go slow to go fast and spend some exhaustive weeks working with the team to improve our current systems.
When you’re a solo founder, you only have yourself to deal with – and then your team.
And it’s a barrage of problems more or less – rather than good things, and so it develops a steeliness but also the destruction of emotion in you.
It’s difficult to slip into being calm and relaxed when you’re constantly fire-fighting.
A Huge Driver For Personal Growth
Of course, the upside of such challenges is that it literally makes you stronger.
When you come up against endemic problems within your business – the focus is, of course, to try and solve such issues to prevent them from recurring.
This over times makes your business, and yourself stronger.
In theory – over time this should equate with less stress, as your team improves and you learn more.
To add to this – it’s something that HAS come up in my accountability coaching sessions with Valentina and we agreed on the three breaths technique as a means of helping myself relax.
This means that whenever I task switch – I need to take three deep breaths before task switching.
Little things like this help make the whole journey easier to manage as with each new barometer of stress we find coping mechanisms to make the process easier still.
The Desire To Keep Raising The Stakes
A natural part of ambition is to want to make your agency stronger and stronger.
Like anything, you work upon – once you overcome a certain obstacle – you start looking towards the next one…
Or rather you discover that the mountain has not yet peaked and still there are many more trials to undergo.
Strategies For Coping With This Anxiety
- Journaling (which is really what these blogs are about) is important to me – every morning I’ll write (as I am now) about what’s on my mind and push it out into the content you’re seeing now.
- Developing some meditative techniques (like the three breaths) – this is new of course but I’m sensing it will help
- Regular exercise – for me this is running – I did 120km last month – this month I’d like to do something similar – starting with a 10km run today followed by sprints
- Learning from your mistakes and fixing embedded problems within your business
- Staying offline until a certain time, and ‘going offline’ after a certain time (for me I constantly battle to NOT look at my phone before 9am and NOT look at it after 9pm)
The Power Of Cashflow, Retention And Pipeline
I feel that these are the three most powerful things when it comes to reducing anxiety. Cashflow means you have money to operate with (i.e pay bills, salaries and the like). Retention means your clients are happy. And pipeline means you have a continual flow of potentially new clients to onboard.
Putting all of these things together really will help reduce my anxiety at least ;P
If you’re running a business you’ll know where I’m coming from with all of the above at one time or another within your business. If you’re THINKING about running a business – then I invite you to consider all of these things in your journey.
But ofc to f*ck it and do it anyway.
Good luck! 🙂