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Businesses desperately need help with digital marketing, and most sophisticated digital marketing operations today can be run from a laptop. That means anyone with decent digital marketing skills and the right technology can build a location-independent business that creates full financial freedom, right?
There’s one problem: The competition.
It’s easy to dream of living anywhere you want while running a successful business with nothing but a laptop.
Except there are a lot of experienced professionals out there already doing just that. They’ve built multimillion-dollar companies. Many have years of valuable experience working for other agencies. And they invest a small fortune in staying ahead of the curve of what works and what doesn’t.
In short, they usually eat upstarts alive. That’s the bad news.
The good news?
It’s absolutely possible to start your own agency, from scratch, with no experience—and scale it to a full-time income. You just have to take the correct approach to achieve it. Here are four tried-and-true tips on how to be successful.
1. Pick the right service.
Whether you’re starting an agency from scratch or working a side gig, success begins with a laser-focused client offer.
Too many agencies offer a suite of services, diluting their effectiveness or ability to deliver. Or they rely on Facebook Ads or another hyper-specific skill that can easily become obsolete.
Instead, offer a focused service that is clearly valuable but doesn’t go out of style. The best service you can offer is one that pays for itself. And, indisputably, that service is helping businesses get new customers.
The quickest way to build an agency from scratch — and scale it — is by focusing on customer acquisition.
2. Find the right partner.
Even if you’re able to successfully pitch businesses on customer acquisition services, delivering those services is another challenge entirely. Many people who want to build a location-independent business and achieve financial freedom think they can learn the skills of customer acquisition overnight.
Yet I see a lot of would-be digital agency owners land a client, then completely fail to deliver. At best, they get demoralized. At worst, the (rightly) disappointed client drags them through the mud online, ruining their reputation.
There’s a simple yet powerful way to avoid this outcome: partner with experts.
Many people who are experts at customer acquisition are so busy working with clients that they don’t have the time to source deal flow. Instead, they prefer to partner with agencies that have clients who need their services.
You can build an entire agency off this partnership model. First, solicit new clients by pitching businesses on customer acquisition services. Then partner with experts who can deliver these services.
It’s a win-win. Customer acquisition experts get more work. You collect the margin between what you pay partners and what you charge clients.
3. Dominate the right niche.
The way to make this all fit together into a highly successful, scalable, and location-independent agency is finding a niche where you can pitch your customer acquisition services.
Contrary to some advice out there, you want a niche where there is competition. A niche with actual competitors means it is thriving. One where there are no rivaling agencies is likely too small or has no money to be made.
The key here is to find a competitive niche with high-ticket sales — or businesses that stand to make a ton of money off every customer you bring them.
Think about it. A local bar or restaurant has to work like crazy to acquire a customer. Then that customer spends $100. It’s a low-ticket sale; so you need a lot of these sales to even stay afloat, and there’s not much left over to pay people like you.
Instead, target niches with high-ticket sales.
For instance, an industry like real estate works hard to gain new customers too, and each customer buying a house nets a real estate broker tens of thousands of dollars. You can easily charge a broker thousands per month in exchange for generating just a few listings.
Will a bar or restaurant pay you thousands to bring in a few new customers per month? Heck, no. Will a real estate broker — or a professional in another high-ticket niche? Absolutely.
4. Prioritize the right mindset.
When you’re starting out, it’s easy to find reasons to cheap out. On mentors, on education, on partners.
What if I offered you $100,000 to help you out — $100,000 in your bank account, but with one catch: you die tomorrow?
No one would take that deal.
The point is this: It’s obvious to any serious entrepreneur that time is more valuable than money. To win at the agency business, you need to understand that job safety is an oxymoron. Relying on a full-time job as your only source of income is actually exceedingly dangerous, as anyone who’s been laid off or passed over for raises and promotions can attest.
But those who succeed at scaling agencies, even with no skills or while juggling a full-time job, have one big difference in mindset from those who don’t: They understand that despite initial setbacks or costs, this is a marathon, not a sprint. And at the end of this race, the reward is location freedom and business assets that have the potential to grow exponentially.
It takes a lot of time and requires investing in yourself. But where would you rather be in five years — making a little more in salary or running a company that is growing significantly in value, potentially into the millions, year after year?