Change is something you’re probably very familiar with as a small business owner. But the past few years have brought on a dizzying amount of pivoting, and it’s left most of us with a severe case of business whiplash.
Luckily, Chip Griffin, founder of Small Agency Growth Alliance, is here to be a guiding light during this season of change.
How to weather the storm
In a recent episode of That Solo Life: The Solo PR Podcast, Chip shares some helpful insights on how to navigate this period of uncertainty and constant change — plus three tips that will help strengthen your business.
There will be things we can’t control
Every business has to tackle the unexpected head-on. From losing clients or employees to shifts in the economy, it’s all par for the course. But as Chip puts it, “The 2020s have just made it a little more dramatic.”
It’s safe to say no one was expecting a global pandemic that would change the world as we knew it, economic uncertainty, supply chain issues or international conflict in such a short period of time, but here we are. It can be incredibly distracting to run a business during such an intense and uncertain time, but Chip insists it’s important to instead focus on what we can control.
“There's so much going on out there that we can't, I mean, yes, we need to be aware of it, but we can't worry about it. Because if we do that will distract us from the key task at hand, which is making sure that we're doing a great job for our clients and we're finding new clients,” Chip explains.
In other words, the show must go on.
Chip suggests maintaining and growing your flexibility. That might look like building a bigger financial cushion than you typically would, or it might look like diversifying your clients so you’re not dependent on one or two of them.
“It's definitely key to have a varied book of business so that you're not hinged on one thing,” Chip says.
In every crisis, there’s opportunity
Let’s be real — life is never going to go back to what it was before. Instead of trying to reclaim what was, it’s important to look ahead and make tweaks to your own business and to your clients.
Ask yourself three questions:
- What are the gaps?
- How can I be of value?
- What problems can I solve?
Once you’ve answered those questions, make sure you communicate to your current and potential clients what you can do for them to get past any struggles or uncertainty. This is a great time to shine as a trusted advisor.
“The key is to find ways to take advantage without taking advantage,” Chip explains. “If you can find a way to be a problem solver, to be of service to your current clients or to new clients, that does create opportunity, and it solves a problem that they have.”
You have to know your value
Now is the perfect time to build the business you want, to believe in yourself and to get paid for your value. As a solo PR pro, you don’t have time to work for clients who don’t think you’re valuable, and you don’t have time to charge less than your services are worth.
“If they don't see the value that you're creating, go somewhere else. Nobody is telling you, ‘You have to service these clients.’ And if you've got people that you're working with that don't value what you do appropriately, go find other clients — work for someone else,” Chip offers.
While the services you provide may come naturally to you and seem simple, they are not — you’re just skilled. Chances are that you solve huge problems for your clients that save them tons of money in the long run. As an outsider looking in, you’re able to see gaps and blindspots in their organization. Give yourself some credit!
Another important factor to consider is inflation. Things are just more expensive right now, and as businesses around the world are raising their prices, you should follow suit.
“I can almost guarantee you that everybody listening to us was not charging enough before inflation kicked in,” Chip says. “So you absolutely need to be looking to make sure that you're pricing correctly, that you're scoping correctly and that you're not over servicing clients. Because if you do those things, you will get into a lot of trouble.”
3 ways to equip yourself during this season of change
Here are three expert tips from Chip to be as smart as you can be at this moment.
1. Look inward
It’s important to understand your ambition as a solo agency owner — what do you want to get from your business? What changes need to take place to get your business from where it is now to where you want it to be?
Map out what needs to happen in time increments. You’ll need to have clarity first so you can prepare as much as you can and anticipate challenges you might encounter. You can continue to do this and pivot whenever needed.
2. Identify your risks
Every business is different, so it’s important to know your specific risks. Take a look at your client base and determine what will most likely impact them in the months ahead. Think about how your clients can be communicating more or in a better way to help their business.
“If you start thinking not just in terms of defensive but also offensive, that's how you'll come through these times in the best way possible,” Chip explains.
3. Build a business you want to own
Breaking news: you have a right to enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re taking on all the risks and stress that comes with owning your own business, it’s so important to enjoy what you’re doing.
Chip says, “I'm not saying you're gonna be happy every single minute of every single day. But on the whole, you need to enjoy what you're doing. If you do, you'll be much more successful.”
We want to hear from you! How are you navigating this intense period of change? Let us know in the comments or on social media using #solopr!