Every agency owner knows that they need to devote more time and attention to their business but they’re so busy helping clients with THEIR business, it’s tough to carve out the time to take care of your own.  Any time I chat with an agency owner, they admit they struggle with the same issue —  how to make time to work on the business. Agency owners need strategic planning tips in order to make time to work on their businesses.

Every agency owner knows the way to more profits, more success and ultimately, more satisfaction is to invest the time to not only serve your clients but to work ON your business.  To think strategically about how to improve what’s already working, fix what’s not and plan for the next zig or zag you need to make.

But, as I meet with agency owners from all over North America — I find that most of them really struggle with this.  Are you wondering how to make time to work on your business? Here are five strategic planning tips that will get you focused on YOUR business and not everyone else’s.

Re-think your relationship with email:

Email is like crack cocaine for most agency owners.  Between their laptops, tablets and smart phones, they are checking email several times an hour, feeling this burning sense of urgency to answer within seconds of receiving the latest.  If you want to find time to work on the business, you’ll need to tame your email addiction.

Here’s the reality.  If a client or staff members needs you, they will probably send an email first.  But if they don’t get a quick reply — what do you think they’ll do next?  Right — they’ll call your office.  And if you don’t pick up — then what?  Yup, they’ll call your cell.  And if that doesn’t get a response?  Text.

The best business leaders do not check their email until mid-morning.  I can feel you twitching as you read that sentence.  But it’s true.  Proactive, successful agency owners know that if they can accomplish one or two key things first thing in the morning, the rest of the day goes smoother.


Move the biggest boulder when you have the most energy:

Most people find that they are at their strongest in the morning after a good night’s sleep.  So use that to your advantage.  Don’t schedule any meetings, phone calls or check that email.  Before you leave the office (or shut down your computer) for the night — identify the biggest boulder you need to move the next day.  (Read the classic Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy to get more help in this arena)  By accomplishing that one big task (it may be big in importance, in complexity, in urgency — but make it count) first thing — you know that every day, you’re moving the needle, no matter what else happens.

If you can make this a habit — you will begin to find time to work on the business.


Set goals and write them down:

Why it works we don’t know. But the minute you write down your goals, you are 93% more likely to accomplish them.  Don’t wait until January 1st.  Set your 2013 goals now and get an early jump.  And this doesn’t need to be the Mona Lisa.  Keep it to a page.  Identify the most important thing you could do to help your business in the following areas:

  • My leadership/management:
  • My people:
  • Our clients:
  • Our processes:
  • Our financial position:
  • Our sales:
  • Our marketing:

Set one goal for each area.  Then, write a 3-5 sentence plan of what you need to do to accomplish that specific goal.  Be sure to set some timelines and deadlines as well.  No one is more deadline driven than an agency owner so take advantage of that.  Share your goals with your team, mentor, peer group or whoever helps hold you accountable.  And — build in some rewards for yourself.  You’ll have earned them!


Join a peer group:

Members of AMR’s networks  meet twice a year with 11 other agency owners who, over time, become their board of advisors.  They share best practices, learn together, commiserate when things are tough and celebrate each other’s successes.  What makes the AMR networks so special is that everyone in your group is another agency owner — so they have walked in your shoes.

Other good peer group options are Vistage, Young Presidents Club (if you’re under 40) or CEO Focus.

The key to getting the most of of a peer group?  Share generously.  The more you share and help others, the more you’ll gain, learn and grow.


Take charge of your calendar and get out of the office:  

You need to find 1-3 hours a week that you guard as sacredly as you guard client meetings or family time.  Go into the office a few hours later one day and work from home.  Hunker down in the local coffee shop or take refuge in the library’s study area.  This tip is a two-fer. One — you need an uninterrupted chunk of time to concentrate on your business and two — if you don’t calendar it, it won’t happen.  Even if it’s just an hour a week — make it happen on a consistent basis.

You’ve heard the old saying “we make time for what matters.”  So, does it matter enough to make the time?


Have you been asking yourself how you can make time to work on the business. Hopefully these strategic plan tips will get you headed in that direction.  If you’d like more information about AMR’s networks or Agency Owner Accountability Coaching — shoot me an email.