The Accidental CEO: Nine Operational Steps to Success
It’s a common story – you started out as a talented freelancer, living the dream of only doing the work you love, not answering to anyone other than your clients, and having time to spend with family and friends.
The problem is, you’re extremely good at what you do, so you keep getting more clients and pretty soon you need help. Before you know it, you find yourself with a team of employees and a growing workload.
As your new agency expands, so do your responsibilities. You now find yourself juggling multiple roles, from CEO to project manager, from payroll specialist to creative director.
It’s overwhelming, and worst of all, it’s not making you any money. The dream of being the master of your own time and being able to do the things you love is now just a distant memory.
Welcome to the life of an Accidental CEO.
At this point in time, you have two choices:
- Fold the business, walk away and start again
- Get your house in order, implement some serious structural changes, and get back to doing the parts of your job that really add value to your fledgling business.
If you choose the second option, join us as we explore the benefits of implementing processes in your agency, and offer practical advice on how to get started.
By streamlining your operations and establishing clear workflows, you’ll:
- Regain control of your business
- Improve your bottom line
- Rediscover your motivation
The Power of Structured Processes
Every first-time agency owner will hear the same advice from any management consultancy: optimize your systems and procedures. Frequently repeated tasks, especially the ones performed daily, should be standardized.
Processes help you reliably acquire, onboard, and deliver results to clients while ensuring your entire team is on the same page. Developing and documenting your processes allows your business to tackle uncertainty, manage the team, and offer clients a fulfilling experience.
This article will help first-time agency owners identify and establish key processes to increase productivity and efficiency. We will discuss the procedures you need, why you need them, and how to develop them smoothly.
What are Agency Processes?
Agency processes are management systems that a company uses to carry out its day-to-day operations. This includes different software, tools, and methods that help business owners to plan, coordinate, implement, and analyze their projects.
These standardized processes bring stability and consistency to businesses while encouraging them towards the kaizen approach – creating continuous improvement based on the idea that small, ongoing positive changes can reap significant improvements.
Benefits of Standardizing Agency Processes
In the modern competitive environment, standardizing agency processes is critical to optimizing organizational efficiency and enhancing productivity.
Saves Time: Organizations perform countless tasks that are repeated very often. If these tasks can be defined with preset procedures and guidelines, the amount of effort and resources needed to perform routine tasks would be reduced.
Aids Accountability: Tracking and measuring performance is easier when everything is outlined. This further makes accountability transparent.
Increases Efficiency: Employees become more productive if a repeatable, consistent process is implemented with clear guidelines. Efficiency increases when the team has clear directions, as this eliminates errors and redundancies.
Ensures Consistent Service: A standard operating procedure for clients provides consistent delivery of work with assured quality, even if different workers are performing related tasks.
Now that you are aware of how important processes are to agencies, let’s look at the most common ones and how you can implement them with ease.
1. Project Management Process
A procedure that monitors a project’s development from beginning to end is necessary for effective project management regardless of whether you have short or long-term assignments. However, it can be difficult to track all the tasks, due dates, and deliverables involved in a job without a standardized procedure. This may result in missed deadlines, incomplete work, and a lack of understanding regarding the state of the undertaking.
Creating a project management process with distinct timelines, milestones, and deliverables that are frequently evaluated and updated is crucial to overcome these difficulties. This strategy can be carried out efficiently by utilizing the project management application Scoro. With Scoro, users can establish and manage projects, assign tasks, and monitor progress in relation to deadlines and milestones.
2. Time Tracking Process
You must have heard the phrase “time is money.” Whether you believe it or not, we can say with certainty that tracking the time spent on each project, task, or activity can lead to seriously increased productivity and missed deadlines.
Time-tracking is crucial for businesses of all sizes to identify areas of inefficiency and to optimize your team’s productivity. With Scoro, you can have a bird’s-eye view of all projects, analyze the time spent compared to the time planned, and further break down the time spent on a project into activities using the Gantt chart. This helps business managers to intervene if the deadlines are not being met at a reasonable rate.
3. Cost management Process
Keeping your projects profitable is the most important stepping stone on the road to making your business profitable. Striking the right balance between revenues and costs requires tracking all expenses and making necessary changes. If cost management processes are not in place, projects can lead to losses in no time.
Scoro helps you manage both your internal and external costs. The software allows you to assign hourly labor rates, add outsourced costs, track expenses, create purchase orders, and much more to manage costs effectively. Plus, project managers can ensure that the assignment stays within budget by monitoring project finances using Scoro’s budgeting and invoicing features.
4. Client Onboarding Process
Establishing a client onboarding process from day 1 is important to offer customers a consistent and fulfilling experience. Clients must be led through the first phases of their partnership with your company, including communicating expectations, team introductions, and any restrictions they may impose. Thus, a standardized process is required to ensure all clients receive the same level of attention, regardless of their size or industry.
Scoro’s centralized platform is an excellent solution for first-time agency owners who want to leave a positive first impression on their customers.
5. Client Management Process
Once the clients are on-board, successfully managing them for the entire duration of the project becomes the deciding factor of its success. Customers usually want to stay updated on the progress and be frequently consulted before making any major decision. Failure to do so can not just upset the client but also negatively impact the agency’s image in the long term.
This is where work-management software really comes into its own. For example, Scoro can aid client management by offering a centralized tool for handling customer interactions, including scheduling meetings, sharing documents, and tracking progress. Furthermore, with its CRM features, you can monitor client communications and ensure everyone involved in the procedure stays informed.
6. Payments Process
Managing payments can be a difficult and time-consuming procedure. Invoice tracking, cash flow management, payment processing, and account reconciliation are all important aspects of the payment process. Businesses often struggle with late payments, unpaid invoices, and a lack of insight into their financial situation if they don’t have a good payment management process in place.
Third-party solutions can be used to automate payments. For instance, Scoro can help businesses implement the mentioned process effectively. It gives users three payment options: fixed fee, time and material, and retainer. Which method is the most suitable depends on the type of project. Users can also schedule bills for clients through email and even include a Stripe link that allows clients to easily pay invoices.
7. Sales Process
Companies need an efficient sales process that fits their industry and customers perfectly. Turning leads into paying customers is challenging and is the most important part of any business. Thus, a proper sales cycle is vital to streamlining the conversion process. A sales cycle requires a good understanding of potential customers, the milestones they expect, and the resources they might want to access. Failure to have a proper sales cycle in place can bring a massive blow to business over time.
Scoro helps you improve your sales by always keeping you informed about new leads and deals, sales forecasts, and upcoming customer meetings, provided that your sales team is dedicated to capturing this information. It also ensures that sales targets are met by calculating deal conversions, sales results from month over month, and other key metrics. This offers a complete overview of KPIs. It further brings a visual overview of your sales funnel and defines closing probability rates for each stage and client in your pipeline.
8. Communication Process
Communication is a two-way process in which two or more individuals interact. Business communication is one type in which people share information within the organization and with people outside the company. Establishing clear communication channels within your team and with your clients, including regular meetings, email updates, and progress reports, can contribute to your business’s success.
Having a standardized all-in-one solution to all your communication needs helps streamline interactions, reducing the chances of errors and miscommunications. For example, Scoro offers users built-in calendar invites, an online chat tool, and video and audio meeting options. So teams don’t have to rely on third-party apps for communication.
9. Employee Management Process
Employee management can be argued to be the most challenging aspect of a business. Acquiring human resources to and using them to their full potential is a never-ending struggle.
Optimizing team utilization has always been challenging. Through Scoro, companies can define individual capacity and allocate resources based on availability. Managers can also review current and future capacity and ensure everyone in the team is appropriately utilized. Furthermore, getting detailed insight into your team’s capability helps with restructuring or hiring decisions based on real-time data.
Processes help agencies control workflow, track performance, and ensure that every member works together as a team. They are also one of the most overlooked resources for growth in any industry. All businesses need to put the processes mentioned above in place to ensure the company runs smoothly, efficiently, and effectively in the long run.
This is especially true in the case of the Accidental CEO. If you’re not spending the bulk of your time chasing tasks, doing admin that can be easily automated, or focussing on anything other than the talent that created your agency in the first place, you’re in for a world of frustration. So take control of your destiny and gain the structure and insight that will take you from feeling like you’re running around with your hair on fire to a place of serenity, knowledge and profitability.
Scoro is the one-stop solution you need to implement all these procedures. With features like project management, sales pipeline management, invoicing, and reporting, Scoro provides companies with an all-in-one platform to simplify operations and accomplish their objectives. We will help your business with our comprehensive “sell it, plan it, do it, bill it” strategy.