When you run an agency, the number one difference to product-based businesses is how you make the money. Instead of focusing efforts and attention on the product, agencies are run by the brainpower behind them. Every employee brings their own experience, knowledge and viewpoints to the agency, no matter where they are in their career. Clients aren't buying into a product, they're buying into the accumulation of knowledge behind employees - and this is what makes Powerful Leaders so strong.
Whilst on a call last week, I stated that I never want to be able to afford my employees. It's a big statement, some may say a brash one, and many would say it doesn't make sense. Of course, nobody wants to be in a situation where they can't afford their employees due to cashflow, but this isn't my problem. I don't want to be able to afford my employees, because they're so good at what they do, we have to raise more capital and raise prices to be able to afford them.
At the start of 2021 I asked each member of my team whether they had a skill that they wanted to develop. I told those who did, to go away and find courses, training videos and resources to make that happen, and to take time out every week to focus on this goal. This is not unlike many other companies who prize their employees, and although they may not realize it, the mindset of not being able to afford their employees lies beneath all those who put emphasis on up-skilling and training. Yes, the employee will be bringing those new skills to the company that trained them, but ultimately, these capabilities make that employee more desirable to competitors, and harder to afford.
As the founder of a personal branding agency, I believe in the power of people. Personal brands are vital, but they are simply the collateral and the message behind incredible human beings. It would be ignorant of me to not want each member of my team to have their own identity that is powerful and impactful, just like our clients, so that they themselves can build personal brands.
Many people are under the impression that personal branding is only for business owners and entrepreneurs; for Jeff Bezos or Gary Vaynerchuk. However, personal brands are for anybody who is passionate about what they do, whether they're self-employed or as a member of a team. Personal brands are built upon knowledge and personality, and for my team, it's about what they deliver inside Powerful Leaders. Of course, one of the biggest threats to this mindset is the concern that other companies may want to poach your team members. The only real way to ensure it doesn't happen is by being the best company that your employee can work for; competitive pay, competitive benefits, and prioritizing them as a human being. I know that if I want to keep my current employees in a year's time, I'll need to grow my business and bring in more money so that they continue to be paid for their value and experience. I use this as a motivator to scale, a goal post that will never stop moving as we continue to bring in more money as an agency.
As a visionary, I know that I have big goals. I want to be the best in what I do, and I want to continue on this trajectory of building a hugely successful business and to make a movement with the personal brands we create. However, I also have my feet on the ground. I recognize that this isn't possible alone, and to make it happen I need the best people around me. To fulfil the goals that I have created for myself and this agency, I need others who think like me, who work as hard as me and who are as passionate about making an impact as me. Every member of Powerful Leaders was hired not only because of their skills, but because of their growth potential. If you aren't looking to hire those who will be with you on the journey, who bring knowledge and enthusiasm and new perspectives, then how will your business ever be bigger than one person? When you hear 'I don't want to be able to afford my employees', you may think the business owner's gone mad. The reality is quite the opposite. Without your team pushing you and the business to succeed, the momentum will soon run out. When you're building an agency, you realize very quickly that the most important part isn't the flashy website, the cool business cards, or even the products, it's the people. People are at the heart of Powerful Leaders and the heart of personal brands.
Do you believe you should be able to afford your team? What other motivators drive your business forward, how to do grow a business of the future? And how do you ensure your business continues to grow if not through employees? I'd love to hear your thoughts.