To help your SEO agency survive in a seriously competitive world, I’ve taken a look at 5 of the most common pitfalls that damage small businesses. From undervalued services, through to unhealthy emotional attachments, this article will help you overcome some of the most dangerous hurdles to business success!
5. Undervaluing your products and services
Whether you’re trying to build a portfolio, or just scraping-by on whatever work you can get, SEO agencies everywhere have probably done work for a fraction of its true value. Whilst successful businesses will gradually build-up their rates, many business owners still manage to significantly undervalue their services.
Thankfully, there’s an easy way to bring your pricing up to a fair and profitable level. Whilst securing a high-quality backlink for a 1-man business may involve the same effort as doing the same for a 100-man enterprise, the value that backlink provides to your client will vary hugely. A link to a small business may bring in $50 worth of business – but for a huge client, that link that could equate to thousands of dollars in revenue.
Your prices need to reflect this value, as well as the cost of the work. As long as you can justify your pricing in terms of the value your services will provide, you shouldn’t shy away from big-number pricing.
4. Not monitoring your finances properly
When I first started out in business, the words finance and accounting made me run a mile. After all, when you’re starting a new business, your head is a whirlwind of exciting ideas and concepts. The idea of tedious bookkeeping isn’t just boring – it’s a serious distraction from building your business.
Unfortunately, as your business grows, the necessity of serious accounting amplifies. As your pricing gets more complicated, and your revenue streams begin to increase, poor record-keeping can land you in trouble with clients, freelancers and even governments. To prevent this from becoming a problem, bite the bullet and get to grips with a cloud-based accounting platform. Whilst accounting will never be fun, these types of service can at least make it painless to monitor invoices and expenses.
3. Trying to do everything yourself
When enterprising business owners and agency founders first start their business, they have to juggle dozens of different roles. Aside from the fundamental job of providing clients with a killer SEO service, they also have to play at accountant, marketer, designer, copywriter and sales manager. You’ve probably experienced the same with your business – simultaneously building your website, writing sales copy, chasing up leads and performing SEO services.
As your company grows, it’s essential to let go of this ‘I can do it all’ approach to running your business. As your workload increases, you’ll find your efforts spread out across dozens of different tasks. At best, you’ll scrape by – but at worst, you’ll start underperforming on your service delivery and losing customers.
If you aren’t in a position to hire a new employee, it’s a great idea to turn to freelancers. Their expertise will allow you to focus on the parts of the business you excel in, without neglecting the areas you aren’t as skilled in. You’ll be able to tightly control your expenditure, and provide top-quality service across all areas of your business.
2. Forgetting to separate work and personal life
Anybody who starts a business becomes emotionally invested in their company. After all, it’s the product of thousands of hours of time (not to mention blood, sweat and tears). It’s something that you’ve built from the ground-up, and it’s incredibly easy to let your business define you.
Whilst it’s fantastic to care deeply about your business, there comes a point when you should begin to separate yourself from it. Making the best decisions for your business requires objective thought – something you can’t do if it dominates your entire life. High levels of emotional investment will stop you from ever selling the company, or delegating responsibility to another person. Worst of all, every business struggle and fresh hurdle you face will not only damage your business – it’ll also affect your personal life. This isn’t sustainable, and it will only damage your agency in the long-run.
1. Thinking that your business should appeal to everyone
Rejection can be hard to deal with, especially when it’s your business and your services being judged. As a result, many small business owners try to make their services appeal to as many people as possible. They broaden their range of services to suit all manner of businesses, and try and avoid pinning themselves into a specific niche or industry.
Unfortunately, this is one of the easiest ways to relegate your SEO agency to the bottom of the business pile. Agencies that refuse to specialize will find themselves competing against every other SEO agency around. These agencies will have bigger budgets and more employees, and will be able to specialize in a particular facet of search marketing –out-competing you in the process.
The only way to thrive in a saturated market is to become highly-specialized. Choose a niche you enjoy, and one that you can excel in, and focus all of your resources on that area. Specialization reduces the number of agencies you’re in direct competition with, and allows you to target your marketing with laser-point accuracy. Instead of being one of thousands of search marketing agencies, become the world’s leading authority on a niche subject, like B2B healthcare search marketing, or link intersect analysis software.