Most agency owners that I’ve talked to fell into their business by accident, starting as a solo founder and then figuring out how to scale their sales pipeline, find their first team members and manage the needs of a growing business.
Did you know that the number of digital agencies in the USA will increase by 13.7% from 2020. (source)
For many solo founders, the goal is to start by having it sustain their lifestyle, often working nights and weekends to grow it enough so they can:
- Do work they enjoy
- Finally, leave their day job
- Make enough to support their family
- Help other business owners and make a positive impact
Then once they succeed, they’ll reach $10K, $20K, even $50K per month in revenue. Cue happy dance!
However, at some point they look at themselves in the mirror only to realize that they feel stuck, working too much in the business, not on it.
There are many reasons for this, but from my experience working with agencies, a couple that come up over and over is.
- Stuck in the weeds: especially common when transitioning from a day job, where they’re doing the work on the ground, executing day-to-day tasks which they’re conditioned to.
- Not placing a $ figure on their time: this comes down to mindset, hesitant to bring on support, seeing it as a cost that comes out of their pocket, instead of taking into account their own time at $100+ per hour is five-to-ten times more costly than outsourcing.
- Had a bad experience outsourcing to freelancers: who don’t have any marketing experience and don’t have clear expectations resulting in unreliability and poor output.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
I know this from the emails from the agency owners we support every day who express their gratitude.
As the founder of Fusemate, a white label agency that provides creative and technical support to agency owners, it’s our mission to help them get out from the weeds and get their time back.
Like Lisa, who sent me an email telling me how she could finally make good on a six-month overdue promise to her daughter, it started with a trip to Home Depot to select paint and come home to finish her bedroom—while still having her client tasks done.
What you’ll read below…
The following five points have come from my experience working with solo-founder agencies in particular, who are using—or transitioning to use HighLevel and white label support to create the profitable agency they’ve always wanted.
- Reducing the need and expense of finding, hiring and training multiple VA’s
- Without the overhead of paying full-time staff with benefits
- Have a more profitable business and free up their time
Let’s dive in.
5 Steps to Scaling a Solo Founder Agency With HighLevel and WhileLabel Support
The rest of this post will break down the five key elements solo agency founders can consider to build a profitable agency and free up their time.
Before we go further…
- I’m going to assume you’re a solo agency owner.
- You’ve got at least a few clients and are working full-time in your agency or nearly reached that level while still holding a day job—all the more reason for you to continue reading!
1. Be crystal clear on your customer avatar
Yes, yes, I know you’ve heard this before. But, if you’re reading this, you probably know the importance of it so I won’t harp on it, just another 3.5 seconds longer, I swear.
Building a customer avatar provides the understanding and clarity of your ideal client, the niche you serve, and their pain points. This allows you to communicate specific messaging that resonates, and craft an irresistible offer they feel is specifically for them.
Without it you can’t do either of these and won’t convert!
Many in the HighLevel Customer Facebook group have discussed this topic and how vital it is!
2. Productize, delegate and release
Without you intimately involved in the delivery.
This will be a challenge as service offers are often in place before the first support person is brought onboard.
The goal is to grow and remove yourself from the implementation and day-to-day delivery.
I’m not going to tell you what services or offers should be, but I suggest you simplify your service offerings, often referred to as productizing your service.
The majority of solo agencies have two or three services that make up the bulk of their revenue.
If you’re still offering custom proposals and al-le-carte services, review your three most popular offerings and bundle those in three simple tiers that can include HighLevel features such as websites, SMS, CRM, reputation management and email marketing.
Then add-on traffic services such as SEO and PPC.
This typically starts by offloading the delivery work you’re already doing yourself. This is a great place to start because:
- You know the what, why and how of delivering that specific service deliverable, be it websites, SEO, design, HighLevel or PPC.
- It gives you the confidence to vet contractors or pre-trained while label support knowing the quality level and values they share with you.
- It’s where I’ve seen the quick wins occur that help build trust.
Then, expand service offerings or add-ons that provide more value to your clients. To get going faster, leverage while label marketing support to take care of this day-to-day delivery. More on that below.
Once you’ve built trust, you’re in the position to delegate more tasks, and before you know it…
You are released!
You’ve just released yourself from delivery and taken back two to three hours of your day.
— Take action!
- Simplify your offerings into accessible tiers using the HighLevel platform with features such as websites, SMS, CRM, reputation management, email marketing and more. Then provide add-on services such as SEO, content and PPC to provide more value and an all-in-one solution for your clients.
- Find a pre-trained while label support partner to start delegating simple tasks and service delivery.
3. Use HighLevel to get your sales and onboarding systems in place
As a solo founder, you need to be spending more of your time in sales and nurturing your client relationships. HighLevel is designed to do a lot of that work for you.
Leads and sales
Before HighLevel, this required duct-taping together a CRM, email marketing tool, calendar scheduler, pipeline management tool, and an SMS marketing platform. With HighLevel it’s all integrated—for one price.
When leads fill out a form, book an appointment, or reply to an SMS (all captured in HighLevel), you can trigger your automated sales follow up system to continue warming and qualifying leads.
You can even reply directly to lead responses via the Conversations Module directly inside HighLevel, it’s simple to use and effective.
The benefit of this all-in-one system is that you create triggers that execute follow up campaigns automatically based on actions taken by leads in the various stages of the Deal Pipeline (called opportunities in HighLevel).
59% of clients value personalization over speed when it comes to customer service. (source)
That means for the first 45 days, your client experience needs to be dialled in to wow new clients.
This period is critical as it sets expectations, builds your clients confidence and trust in you for the long term of your business relationship. So make this first impression count!
The new client is also at their most receptive, shaping how you work together, that no bad habits are formed from a communications standpoint, and getting everything you need to get them results.
1. Welcome the client
Make your new client feel special and welcomed into your family. Create a personalized experience starting with an onboarding campaign in HighLevel with a personal welcome video, even tell them a surprise is coming in the mail.
Wow them! You want them thinking to themselves, “Why didn’t I find you sooner!” Then you can introduce your team and cover any instructions.
2. Gather information
Collecting project and client information are one of the first things agencies need to prepare for starting the work. While they’re excited, you have their full attention, so start gathering this information.
Create an automated onboarding campaign in Highlevel that follows your welcome email and SMS with an intake form or preferred capture method.
In this communication, you’ll include how to share software logins via the form or a secure password tool like LastPass. You can even use Zapier with HighLevel to connect to a Google sheet for tracking data.
3. Set expectations
This is so important, but I’ve seen agencies drop the ball in this area, and it can come back to bite you.
Set expectations upfront by outlining how the overall process works, any timeframes and any specific conduct you expect of each other, such as timely replies and creative approvals.
You can set this up in a HighLevel onboarding campaign so the information is delivered via email and SMS, so it reinforces any information covered on previous calls or include a call booking link the onboarding campaign so your client feels like they have access and personal support from you.
— Take action!
- Get your automated sales follow up system in place. One that works whether you’re doing organic marketing or running paid traffic.
- Start with a simple onboarding campaign that runs for three consecutive days, including an email and SMS that include things we’ve covered here, and anything you specifically need for your agency to get started. You can always add to this out as you go.
If you don’t have time or all the knowledge needed to get an onboarding campaign in place, you can refer to the HighLevel Marketplace or Fusemate white label support to help get this done for you to remove that burden.
4. Use white label support to expand capacity and deliver beyond yourself
Do you have enough daily capacity to deliver on client projects?
It’s all about capacity. Consider this scenario.
One one hand you could hire a full-time employee with an average salary of $70,000 per year, add medical and other benefits (at least in the USA) at say $9,000. Then there’s vacations and sick pay.
Hiring a VA offshore can be a more cost-effective option, but generally requires training in your agency systems, training in marketing and normally specializes in one or two skill sets.
Let’s compare that to a remote white label team.
Where you don’t get just one specialized skill set, you get a small trained, certified team for less than a third of the annual cost of that one full-time employee.
- Without benefits or vacation to worry about
- Without lost paid-for capacity (full-time employee or offshore contractor is sick/loses power)
- Take advantage of a remote team in dual time zones that get the work done while you sleep
Now you might be thinking, “but I still have all those team members to manage.” Not so, as a white label agency can offer a project manager to remove that bottleneck from your business.
With a white label marketing team, you’re paying for that additional capacity and productivity, being able to:
- Take on new client projects you don’t have the capacity to do yourself
- A plug-n-play resource to bring in additional skill sets without expensive hiring and training
- Deliverables that remain at a high-quality standard
- Flexible capacity that can ramp up and down as you need, so 100% capacity used
— Take action!
- Decide what tasks you’ll be able to offload, get clear and list them out, from your agency setup tasks to client specific tasks.
- Remember that you’re looking for a partner that’s established, working with agencies already, has an established workflow they can walk you through and communicate in your timezone.
- Ask in the HighLevel group for white label options.
Not all label outsourcing solutions are going to be equal, with some varying in quality and reliability.
However, once you’ve found a partner and developed a level of trust and consistency, you should feel like they have your back and your agency’s best interest at heart.
After all, if you and your clients grow, everyone wins!
5. Use HighLevel for Client retention
There’s a lot of talk about getting new clients, but if you want to grow your agency, keeping existing clients for the long term will have a significant impact on your bottom line.
According to research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25%.
However, agencies find this challenging because they don’t have systems in place to do a lot of the retention nurturing; it’s left to memory—to chance.
One of the causes for reduced customer retention is the agency owners are overstretched with managing deliverables and new sales opportunities.
Give equal time to retention as you do acquisition—with HighLevel.
— Take action!
- Use HighLevel to create an auto-follow up existing client nurturing campaign using email and SMS. This campaign explains how support works, sharing a case study, tips on what other businesses like them don’t have, and reminds them they made the right decision to work with you.
- Automate the scheduling of a weekly or monthly client check-in call
- Create an automated reminder for yourself to call clients “out of the blue”. Take 5 mins to jump on the phone and ask how their family is and is there anything else you might support them with—even if it’s just a listening ear.
As an agency owner, you heed the responsibility to nurture existing client relationships. Deliverables shouldn’t get in the way if you’re leveraging HighLevel and white label support.
With this in place, where should a solo agency founder be spending their time?
Working on your business and not in your business.
Sales and marketing: From Facebook groups, cold outreach, paid traffic, to content and SEO, find a couple of channels that work for you. Make sure you’re leveraging HighLevel and its automation to follow up your leads, setting appointments and onboard your clients.
Nurturing existing client relationships: it’s generally much cheaper to keep a client than sell and onboard a new client. So make sure you’re checking in with current clients, reminding them you’re their partner in growth.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone the old fashioned way for a five-minute call to see how John’s wife is doing in the hospital. This kind of thoughtfulness is powerful and will separate you from others.
Time-blocking has been effective for me, carving out my day into chunks of time that help, that improves focus and compounds over a five-day week. For example, a solo founder day with these above strategies in place might consist of:
-> 2-3 hours for sales
-> 1 hour for existing client relationship building
-> 30mins – 1 hour checking in with the team
-> 30mins – 1 hour on business admin
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I incorporate HighLevel into my service offerings?
This can be done in several ways, such as offering the HighLevel platform as your own white labelled SaaS product you can sell in addition to your services. The HighLevel Facebook group is a gold mine for finding different ways to use HighLevel in your service offerings.
I’m not using HighLevel. What’s the benefit of switching my current CRM, page builder and other tools over to HighLevel?
HighLevel is feature-rich, resulting in the consolidation of many of your existing tools in one platform. From landing pages, email marketing, automation, SMS, calendar bookings and more are included, meaning you can save several hundred dollars per month making the switch.
What if I don’t have time to keep up with new technology?
It can be a challenge in today’s fast-paced marketing world. With HighLevel you have half a dozen tools all rolled into one. Getting familiar with one platform and how it works simplifies your technology stack, what you need to learn and reduces costs. You can also leverage a while label team who is up to date on the latest technology and a great resource to help you get your tasks completed.
Today, growing your agency is no longer about offices, long meetings and hiring full-time staff.
With HighLevel and while label support, you can undertake most, if not all, of these strategies to enjoy a flourishing, profitable, enjoyable business that supports your lifestyle or becomes something you can sell five years down the road.
Are you leveraging HighLevel and white label support to grow your agency?
We’d love to hear where you’re currently at in your solo agency journey, by leaving a comment below.