My Top 6 Learnings In 6 Years of Agency Business

Digital transformation is a huge opportunity in India. Due to the Pandemic, a vast adaptation business has been seen

I started DigiChefs 6 years back as a passion-driven business that has today turned into a fully integrated digital services company, serving some of India’s best start-ups and brands. As we are at the forefront of this huge opportunity called “digital transformation” in India, where big businesses are now forced to change upon, thanks to the pandemic, I have observed a vast change in the adaption.

From running this business at an age where entrepreneurship is no longer feared to learning on the go with each new business that rises, I have learnt and unlearned a lot. Running one of the most competitive businesses out there, a business that needs little to no capital to begin, involves technical jargons that some clients take a while to understand, the outcome is measurable but tricky to evaluate if it’s good or bad!

If someone comes to me tomorrow and asks, “Is it wise to start a digital agency (or any services) business now?”, my answer would be “Yes”. And that’s where the below learnings might help.

1. Get your first 20 paying clients as fast as you can

If you’re someone like me, who did not have a professional network to get their first few clients, you may have to deliver some work for free for a couple of months for say 3-4 businesses. That’s okay. What you need are referrals from them. Choose customers who seemingly have a good network (check their LinkedIn) and offer to work for them for free. Then be shameless in asking for referrals regularly until you find your first 20 paying clients.

2. Employee retention is key

Never miss hiring a good candidate, even if you may not have the right job right now. Never let a good employee go as far as practical. Remember, your business is all about the people you hire. Offer market standard salaries, perks, profit percentages, ESOPs, career roadmaps to make people stay in or join your organization.

3. Delegate right from the start

One of the big mistakes we made early on was not delegating key tasks from roles like recruitment, policy making, business development, operations, etc. Keep delegating responsibilities either to outsourced teams or to trustworthy internal team members, then reward them well when they accomplish tasks nicely.

4. Build a leadership team

We often tend to hire the bottom of the pyramid first (execution guys), hoping one of those could lead the pack. That seldom happens. I recommend you hire the leadership as you’re hiring execution-ers. So, while your team grows, there’s someone to monitor and take care of executive teams.

5. Showcase on yourself what you claim to do for others

One big advantage we had was that we took our own digital marketing quite seriously right from the start. We built a great website, did handsome SEO on it, kept our social channels up and active, regularly released great content on our blogs & mailers, and did a fantastic job on our reputation management. The very fact that we’re so organized and neat impresses our clients now. We’re ourselves a case study for the work we do.

6. Build processes and stick to them

Building processes is definitely a pain and getting folks to follow them is an even bigger pain. But that’s how enterprises become what they are, by following a nice rule book every step of the way. Don’t shy away from experimenting with processes and tools, some will always wither away. The ones you end up setting well, will benefit you for years to come.

Learning to run a services business is like a never-ending game of chess. You move a few pieces here and there, observe how it turns the table in your favour (or not), and then decide your next

move. As long as you are having fun and are excited to solve a new challenge every morning you wake up, the king is well defended.

Hope this helps budding entrepreneurs in taking the plunge!

The author is Deep Mehta, Co-Founder, DigiChefs

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