Are you guilty of having a to-do list a mile long, just because you don’t trust anyone else to do basic tasks? Or maybe you’ve been so busy keeping track of clients, that you’ve let your team fall to the wayside?
Struggling to delegate is a challenge most agency owners face at some point in their careers. The anxiety around handing over responsibilities is very real (and costly). But imagine for a moment: what if your hesitance to hire is what's holding you back from exponential growth?
Hiring to Scale
You can't scale your business as a one-person show forever. When you work alone, you will always hit a glass ceiling (even if you work 24 hours a day). So how do you know when the right time to hire is? Or when it’s time to level up your talent?
When you match your hiring strategy to your current stage of growth, you ensure you don’t bite off more than you can chew—financially and operationally.
If you want to scale your creative agency sustainably for long-term success, follow this hiring strategy:
Your First Hire:
When you're in the startup phase and earning about $50K to $150K per year, you’re overwhelmed, but shouldn’t feel pressured to clone yourself just yet. Instead, focus on finding a versatile go-getter who can handle various lower-tier tasks like inbox or calendar management, freeing your schedule to focus on strategy and growth.
Without this person on your team, you:
Run the risk of spiraling into burnout, killing the entrepreneurial passion that got your agency off the ground.
Compromise the quality of work due to overwhelming demands, tarnishing your reputation and turning clients away.
Hit a growth ceiling because you're too consumed with day-to-day operations to strategize for expansion.
Hiring Checklist for Your First Hire:
Shows multi-tasking abilities with the experience to back it up.
Demonstrates basic proficiency in industry-relevant tools and software.
Communicates exceptionally well, fitting seamlessly into client interactions.
The Executive Assistant and Project Manager Duo
As your agency surpasses the $200K mark, you'll find that administrative and project management tasks start becoming significant roadblocks. You can no longer afford to be the bottleneck; you need specialists in these roles to streamline your agency’s operations.
Without These People on Your Team, You:
Sabotage the client experience by missing deadlines or communicating slowly, eroding the trust you've worked hard to build.
Cripple your personal life by taking work home regularly, neglecting self-care, and letting down your closest relationships.
Inevitably slow down the growth trajectory due to inefficiencies that consume time better spent on strategy.
Hiring Checklist for your EA and PM:
Proven experience in organizational roles; look for specific certifications or training in project management for the PM.
Strong communication skills, particularly in written form for client and internal correspondence.
Tech-savvy, ideally with experience in project management tools like Asana, Trello, or similar.
$750K-$2M: The Leadership Team
As you approach the million-dollar threshold, your role needs to shift drastically from operator to visionary. You need department heads to oversee specific areas of your business, be it marketing, operations, or service delivery.
Without These People on Your Team, You:
Stall growth by being the limiting factor; you can't oversee every detail at this stage without hurting the business.
Expose your agency to increased operational risks and inconsistencies due to a lack of specialized oversight.
Miss out on seizing new opportunities or adapting to market changes because you're tangled in the weeds of day-to-day tasks.
Your Leadership Team Hiring Checklist:
Demonstrated leadership capabilities, ideally with prior experience managing teams.
Specialized expertise in their respective department, backed by relevant certifications or a strong portfolio.
A cultural fit who shares the agency’s values and long-term vision.
Conquer Your Hiring Hesitations
Let's be real: giving up control over aspects of your business can feel like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. But what's scarier is holding back the incredible growth potential your agency has because of hesitation or overcaution.
The key is to make data-driven, (not emotional) decisions about scaling your team. This isn't about reckless hiring; it's about strategic positioning for growth. When you base your hiring strategy on your agency's revenue and workload—as opposed to gut feeling—you ensure that you're taking steps that help you embrace the exciting (and yes, a little scary) process of growing your agency.