Success doesn’t happen instantly, at least not in my career. In my 15-year journey with NGNG, there was a three-year period where I kind of kept bumping up against this plateau. And this I decided I was going to bust right through it. I had a really good strategy at that time, which I still employ today. That business strategy? Build meaningful connections with strategic partners whose values aligned with ours.
After spending some time building trust, I’d eventually ask, “Why not have a relationship where we become your agency of choice and you can refer people to us?”
And you know something? Most of these strategic partners didn’t even want a commission or anything of the sort. They were just so happy to have somebody they could refer their clients to, that they could trust and rely on.
One of those strategic partners was a woman named Carolin. Carolin had a booming coaching business and I just loved what she was doing. I really wanted to be in her world, so you can imagine my excitement when she invited me to her annual conference in Las Vegas to speak on stage to over 200 of her clients!
I went ALL IN on this event.
I paid for a team member to come with me, as well as my mom and six month old son at the time. I announced I was giving away a free 10 minute website audit to each audience member. I had everything ready to scale UP at this conference!
But the morning of the event, I opened the double doors…I walked into the room, and I felt this dropping feeling in my gut. I got very still. I looked around and I thought, “ I need to leave. I can’t be here right now.”
You know that feeling when you just know you’re headed in the wrong direction, and you have a choice to listen to that gut instinct?
Well, my gut was telling me to “GET OUT!”
And so I did. I turned right around and walked out of that conference room.
I remember thinking, “Have I lost my damn mind? What am I going to tell Carolin? What am I going to tell everyone about the free audits?”
I felt sick, but I did the hard thing. I told Carolin my dilemma, and apologized profusely. Thankfully, Carolin is such a sweet soul and understood, so I packed my bags and left on a flight back home a few hours later.
When I got home, I looked at the monster business I had built. It was profitable, successful, and employing multiple team members. We were doing so much good in our industry… but I had a misstep because I was the center of the wheel. All communications flowed through me. I didn’t have leadership or accountability.
I was not scaling properly or wisely at all, so I decided to do the responsible thing – the very hard thing – and I scaled down. I ended up raising prices. I let go of a couple of clients that weren’t a fit.
I then spent the next three to four months answering these questions:
- What are my strengths?
- What’s my unique ability?
- What are my core values?
- Who do I want around me?
- What kind of clients do I want?
- What do I want my online presence to be?
- Who are going to be my strategic partners?
- How do I want to spend my time?
- What’s the relationship that I want to be able to give to my son and to my family?
I won’t lie…asking myself these big questions was scary and hard. But I can now say that since reflecting on these questions, NGNG scaled up very differently this next time.
We just hit Inc 5000 this year as a result of growing at 85% each of the last two years.
I share this not to boast or brag, but to say sometimes in growth we go through that valley and it’s painful. It’s embarrassing. It’s hard. We often make judgments and assumptions about how nobody else has hardship, and that just isn’t true.
Every business has their tough moments.
Moral of the story? Trust those instincts, protect your relationships, and grow at your pace.