10 Important Things We've Learned Since Starting our Social Media Marketing Agency
When Sugarpop Marketing was first born in 2017, our business scaled quickly and our brand awareness soon grew across California and, later, Nashville. We knew we had created something seriously unique, offering services to cool clients that sought to grow their brands while transforming them. But, like any business, we’ve learned a few key lessons along the way that have shaped how we run our brand and the work we do. We’re sharing our top ten takeaways from running a boutique agency.
You’ll definitely need a contract
Working with a new client or on a new project can be super exciting, but it shouldn’t negate the legalities. Trust us, we learned the hard way! When it comes to having clear expectations, scopes of work, and deliverables, you need to have a contract in place. No matter how small the project or how friendly you are with the client, it’s crucial that both parties have a clear understanding of what’s expected and the outcomes.
Just like Paris, contracts are always a good idea. They not only protect you legally, but ensure you maintain professional relationships without ambiguity! Oh, and don’t forget including a notice period in your contracts - this will save you time and stress if you or the client decide to end your working partnership.
Don’t be afraid to say ‘heck no’
A client may come your way with a project that pays well or seems like a career-defining opportunity, but you can rarely predict whether that relationship will work and benefit everyone.
Don’t be afraid to say no to clients or projects which demand too much of you and your team for little reward or compensation. Similarly, if your gut tells you that a client may not be the right fit for you, or a high-paying client becomes too much, know that you can always say ‘no.’
Remember that it’s business, not personal
We all have personal and professional standards, and often, we assume that a handshake or a contract will hold everyone accountable for their actions and behaviors.
Unfortunately, when you let business become too personal, you can end up putting yourself in a position you never thought you’d be in. Remember that not everyone will have the same intentions as you or your teams do, and it’s wise to approach every business partnership with caution!
Every moment is a new opportunity
When you own a business, you end up learning quite quickly that every moment and interaction with people is an opportunity. Here at SPM, we’re always aware that the person sitting next to us at a café or someone we bump into on the street could be a potential client.
Our best advice? Don’t just walk the walk - talk the talk, too! Ensure you are representing your business to the best of your ability; whether it’s how you interact with others, dressing the part, or how you treat someone new, every moment could lead to something amazing.
Embrace the learning curve
Every client offers you the chance to learn something, both about yourself and your business.
When we look back on past partnerships and projects, we can always find positives (and negatives) that ultimately shaped the way we do business now. There is always something to be learned from these relationships, and sometimes, what you learn can end up positively benefitting your business in ways you never thought possible.
So embrace this learning curve! Never ignore an opportunity to learn from your work and consider ways you apply these life lessons to future partnerships or projects!
Ask questions (even the ‘stupid’ ones)
You may think there is such thing as a stupid question, but trust us, there isn’t.
There have been so many occasions on which we’ve walked out of a meeting or have ended a client call with unanswered questions. For the most part, these questions have revolved around client expectations and deliverables, and the lack of clarity can seriously impact your work flow and outcomes.
Sometimes, clients aren’t even sure what they want, which can make your job more difficult. But don’t be dissuaded! Ask the questions you need point-blank answers to, even if you feel they might be ‘stupid’! This will not only provide clarity, but save you a lot of pain in the long-run.
Pick your battles (seriously)
Chances are, you have (or will) come across a client whose expectations or ‘needs’ are so far fetched, you feel like you won’t be able to keep your head above water if you take their project on.
The key here is to always be honest and open with them, stating both your opinion and your expertise. Explain why you feel you could do things differently, or why you’re saying no to specific tasks or demands.
If the client disagrees with you or repeatedly dismisses your perspective, consider whether they’re the best fit for your company (and vice versa)!
Keep your business organized
No one likes organizing their business.
But you will thank yourself when you’re in a position where having every aspect of your business organized truly pays off. Like, say, when a client asks for collateral from a project from 2 years ago!
There are many tools you can use to keep your operations organized (especially files and content), so explore your options and find the tools or apps that work best for your entire team.
Separate your personal feelings from your business
Just like we mentioned keeping your personal and business lives separate, it’s crucial you separate your personal feelings from your professional ones. It can be difficult, but ensuring you don’t let your emotions rule your working relationships or dictate your work.
At the end of the day, a client is a client and your business is just that: business. Always do right by your client but don’t get emotional where you don’t need to.
Remind yourself why you started this crazy, amazing journey
Through the good days and the bad, don’t forget the key reasons why you decided to create your own business and hustle for yourself. Whether you succeed 100% of the time or fail, it’s all an opportunity to fuel your passion for what you do and the why behind what you’ve started.
As a business owner and a marketer, you will always make mistakes, but it’s important to let them go, learn from them, be accountable, and grow as both a person and a professional.