3 Things I’d Do Differently if I had to Start Over

On webinars and at networking events, I frequently get questions beginning with this phrase: “If you had to start over…” Really, there’s a question underneath the question. For new digital marketers and entrepreneurs, they’re asking, “What should I do?” and, “How can I grow my agency as quickly as possible?”

If a more experienced marketer asks it, they might be looking for camaraderie. Or, they want to hone their marketing game, here and now. After all, some people don’t even have an awareness of better or faster ways to grow until years into their careers. I personally learn new things all the time that make me think, “Man, I wish I knew that when I started!”

So, in that spirit, let me share the best tweaks to my game that I would implement on day one if I lost it all and had to begin from scratch.

ALSO READ: The Art of Prospecting

  • Read less, work more.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I believe that the best entrepreneurs are also voracious readers. We have to continually consume knowledge and wisdom from other people in business to level up our own game. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today without the right books.

By the way, we have a bookshelf of recommended reading for you to peruse.

However, this comes at a diminishing return. Some people spend too much time reading at the start of their agency, and not enough time simply working. If they don’t progress fast enough, they assume they just need to learn more. So, they read more… instead of working.

I fell into this trap early on. I found it easier to read than perform vital, revenue generating activities (RGAs) day in and day out. Thus, my level of knowledge exploded beyond my level of results. We’ve all met “armchair experts” in our businesses who seem to know everything about running a business… and they have zero successful businesses.

To avoid this trap, set a limit on how much you read. At the beginning of your journey, just read one or two books and get going. Work through a course or two, then immediately put it into practice. Even when you’re more established, consider limiting your reading to outside regular working hours.

  • Focus more on outbound marketing.

Generally, we feel extremely excited about our new business at the outset. We want the world to know about our agency, so what do we do? We design (or pay someone to design) a fancy logo. Then, we spend weeks, if not months, building our website, writing our blog, and getting business cards.

We call all this “inbound marketing,” because the potential lead has to come over to you to see what you’re all about. Inbound marketing is all well and good… in fact, it’s completely necessary. The problem comes when someone neglects outbound in favor of inbound, especially early in the career.

As you look for your first client, you will find them much easier if you start sending 10 cold emails a day, or walking into 10 physical businesses. If you invest all your time and energy into your website, nobody will see it. Worse yet, those who do see it won’t care, because you don’t have the reputation or results yet.

So, make a viable website, promise yourself to improve it later, and get going on outbound. If I could start over, I’d spend 80% of the early days on outbound and 20% on inbound.

Once you have more clients than you know what to do with, score high ticket clients through inbound marketing.

  • Delegate sooner.

In the early days, I wanted to do everything myself. This led to burning the candle at both ends, working well over 40 hours every week in my home office. In fact, my home office started to feel like my home and the rest of my house started to feel foreign.

I made the mistake many new marketers make: I failed to delegate.

If I could start over, I would have trusted other people with some of my weekly, routine tasks as soon as I closed my first client… which happened on my first day of business. Instead, I impeded my business’ growth by insisting that I go it alone. After all, other people are hard to trust, but I trust myself.

If I had outsourced design, customer relationship management, writing, ad campaign management, social media, inbound, accounting, and personal assistance earlier… well, there’s no telling where I would be.

As soon as you can, start offloading your tasks to others. The reason you don’t feel like you have enough space to properly delegate? It’s because you don’t delegate. Buy some of your time back, and use it to grow your business exponentially instead of linearly.

Ideally, a new marketer should learn as much as they can for a few weeks and get their mindset right. Then, they should work on getting their first few clients through outbound marketing. As soon as they begin landing clients, they should bring in team members to help them and free up time for the most vital tasks.

If you’ve been in the marketing game for a while, what would you do differently if you had to start over? If you’re just starting out, which of these tips is most relevant for you? Leave a reply!

FURTHER READING: 5 Tips For Growing Your Agency Through Delegation and Outsourcing

Picture of Tom Gaddis

Tom Gaddis

Attended the School of Hard Knocks. A former restaurant manager in Oklahoma, Tom always wanted to be self-employed and free from the butt-smooching of the corporate world. He wanted success bad enough that he picked up his family, including two small children and moved to beautiful Maui, Hawaii. Starting from zero, Tom embarked on building a local marketing consulting business. And promptly fell on his face! It seems Hawaiians were lovely people, until you tried to sell them something! But he persevered and learned from his mistakes. Today he's arguably one of the most successful in his niche and expecting to grow over 100% this year alone.

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