Stuck in a 7 Figure Agency Plateau? Here's How to Overcome It and Scale Your Agency

SUMMARY
We can help your business navigate through common plateaus by refining processes, optimizing management, and fostering a metrics-driven culture.
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Every business and agency owner dreams of growing their small business. But the greatest dream of all is when you reach the point where your team can run a business without you.

But to keep that dream from becoming a nightmare? Your agency business has to be at the 7-figure agencies mark and scaling.

Most businesses consult marketing agencies to implement strategies for their products and services to reach their target market and increase revenue. For marketing agencies, helping clients reach their goals equates to a great feeling of fulfillment, more clients, and revenue.

But what happens after more clients come your way? Besides greater cash flow, will it mean more growth for your agency? And does it mean that your agency is successful?

When marketing agencies reach the seven-figure point, they often think their growth will continue. But not so fast. This, unfortunately, isn’t always the case.

Many 7-figure agencies crash-land hard on a business plateau. Dreams crushed and cash strapped.

Will the same techniques you used pre-7 figures still apply once you break past this point? Where do you start so you can continue growing?

Seven figure agencies continuously scale themselves for sustainable growth.

We answer all these burning questions and more. And to help you overcome your business plateau, we’ve created a seven-figure agency roadmap and coaching plan that you can use right away to reach your dreams and scale to 7 figures.

Continue reading for your seven-figure agency coaching!

What Does a 7-Figure Business Mean?

Simply put, a seven-figure marketing agency is a marketing agency that earns multiple seven figures each. These agencies are considered to be million-dollar agencies due to the number of clients and amount of revenue they rake in.

Usually, seven-figure agencies are considered to be successful agencies. With their financial freedom, they often rapidly establish authority in the digital marketing industry, making their marks as world-class agencies.

But usually, what your seeing when you come across one of these beasts of business is the end-result. It’s been many years of blood, sweat, and tears to get there.

We can’t forget that these agencies did not have overnight success. They also started with few, if not zero, clients.

But, they applied the right combination of strategies to overcome obstacles and avoid complete failure of those strategies. Also, consistently applying those strategies, helped them land clients and earn consistent income.

Once most agencies reach the seven-figure mark, they plateau. So the question is, how can you overcome this and build a profitable agency? Juliana Marulanda, the founder of ScaleTime, explained how agencies can overcome this stage in the podcast titled “How to Stop Your Agency From Plateauing.”

In the podcast, she explains why businesses plateau and how it happens, why many businesses plateau once they reach $1.3 million, how to get through it, and potential pitfalls. Let’s learn more from her expertise in the following parts.

Identifying Your Growth Goals and Creating a Plan for Achieving Them

Before we can become 7-figure agencies, we must first look at the actor in the starring role — us, the agency owner. And how do we win an Oscar in this role? We start by evaluating our marketing agency and determining our strong points, weaknesses, and best-performing niche.

Before we can lay out a plan, we must first identify what do we need to achieve. This will set our priorities straight and our plan as concrete as possible.

In addition to our strengths and weaknesses as a digital marketing agency, we should also identify our goals. Without them, an online marketing agency won’t have any direction to grow.

As business owners, we get our team onboard because we know what we intend to achieve as a digital marketing agency.

Do our goals go beyond becoming 7-figure agencies?

Do we plan to continue chasing prospects, landing clients then turning them into loyal ones?

Once we have our growth goals in place using these 7 figure agencies roadmap, we need to determine the best way to achieve them. Ultimately, seven figure agency principles are goal-focused.

We can work together with our teams when formulating plans to achieve these goals. In fact, for your agency to grow, you must always remember that successful agency owners grow together with the agency and their employees.

Business Plateau and How it Happens

Stages to breaking the 7 figure agency plateau

Digital marketing agencies undergo four stages in their business lifecycle:

  • Startup
  • Growth
  • Maturity
  • Renewal or decline

Each stage of the business lifecycle entails progress and growth. However, it’s impossible to experience progress and growth all the time. Agencies can stagnate at any stage of the business lifecycle, which can be frustrating for digital marketing agency owners.

Business plateaus can happen due to limitations to management or even the business lifecycle itself. However, you should take note that once you hit a plateau, the strategies you first applied probably won’t work anymore.

But don’t panic. It’s totally normal for even the most successful digital marketing agencies to experience multiple plateaus over the years.

According to Juliana, most businesses plateau at $1.3 million, $3 million, and $7 million. So, to be a successful digital marketing agency, using the right approach can help us overcome these common plateau points and achieve continuous business growth.

A business plateau indicates stagnation in an agency, we do not create more value nor lose some.

How can we know if we have reached a plateau?

When assessing our own agency, and whether we’re at a plateau, don’t rely on gut feelings. We should evaluate our business strategies to go to the next level.

Here are some questions to ask to assess the agency:

  • Have revenue and profits stalled?
  • Does the agency have a consistent cash flow?
  • Do we have consistent lead generation?
  • Is the agency at its breaking point?
  • Is employee performance improving?
  • Are employees engaged and motivated?
  • Are our clients satisfied?
  • Do clients have concerns and pay their invoices on time?

Answering these questions can help you identify why the agency business isn’t progressing as it should be. The answers will also provide us with the right tools and combination of skills to overcome the business plateau and drive internal growth.

Why are $1.3 million, $3 million, and $7 million considered the common plateaus?

As we mentioned before, business plateaus can happen at any point in the business lifecycle of a marketing agency. At ScaleTime, we determined certain revenue points where too many agencies experience business plateaus — the $1.3 million, $3 million, and $7 million plateaus.

  • $1.3 million — Once you reach 1.3 million, you plateau because the take home $250k-300 to 1 m isn’t much of a difference. You delegate execution for the most part and are dealing with collaboration. Plus, you probably weren’t checking profitability that much.
  • $3 million — You need management because you have figured out how to make things repeatable. You need people in an efficient team that know how to do things. If you don’t have a team in place, your agency will plateau at this point.
  • $7 million — You need to offload and oversee management. Lacking the right collaboration will cause a plateau at this figure.

Getting through the first plateau to break a million: Scale your team and quality

When we start to transform a few leads into more conversions and clients, we usually feel like we are in a rush. We want to deliver results as fast as we can to as many clients as we can. Because of this, progress comes quickly. But then it may come to an abrupt stop.

Here are some cutting-edge ways we can make 7-figure agencies break from their first plateau: the $1.3 million plateau.

Building a team and delegating tasks effectively

A digital agency cannot make the magic happen for its clients without employees. Our hired teams possess their own unique sets of skills, which can help in achieving one or two of our growth goals. But, the important thing to remember in this step is to analyze each of these skill sets so we can assign the right tasks to the right people — and at the right time.

For example, we can assign a team solely for social media marketing campaigns, such as Facebook ads. Or for an organic content marketing plan for a blog or LinkedIn.

Grouping teams with common skillsets will make delegation easier and performing tasks more efficient.

Sell like crazy until you hit that mark

Project revenue and profit are typical drivers of growth, as these show that more and more business owner clients trust the particular value of (perhaps) our first digital marketing agency. So, we might think that overcoming our first plateau would require complicated strategies.

But the good news is, it may be as simple as it seems:

Continue converting leads into customers and provide clients with an outstanding experience to reach the income ceiling that we’re trying to hit.

Identifying your initial tech stack

In order to deliver results and provide our clients with an outstanding experience, we must optimize our processes in digital marketing. First, we need to determine which tech tools can help in optimizing our digital marketing campaigns, such as during the client onboarding process. Or when presenting our own digital marketing proposals.

Once we’ve identified our initial tech stack, we can focus on the more complex details instead of performing repetitive, time-consuming tasks.

Getting through the $3M plateau: How to scale your management

After we’ve celebrated surpassing the million-dollar plateau, it’s now time to rethink our strategies to maintain monthly recurring revenue exceeding this amount.

So, we should know that the strategies we’ve implemented during the first plateau will not work on our current hurdle. In the $3 million business plateau, we must look at the management and optimize how we oversee our seven-figure agency as the agency owner.

Refine and create repeatable, standardized processes

Creating manual prospecting and refining our very own standardized process takes into consideration the initial tech stack we identified during our first plateau.

However, in this stage, we should think more broadly — how can we standardize the already optimized processes? We can check each step of our sales process and assess which can be improved and which automation tools we can use.

Create quality assurance across the business

Becoming a 7-figure agency means that our clients trust us and expect us to deliver quality results.

A great way to strengthen our clients’ trust in our agency is to determine quality assurance controls at every stage of the sales process. And we can inspect for points that may be contrary to the quality of results we’re trying to deliver.

But remember, we’re not striving for perfection. We’re striving for customer satisfaction.

Developing quality assurance standards will help create satisfactory and consistent deliverables.

Build clear communication across your operations

7-figure agencies know how to properly communicate their clients’ brands to their potential customers. Before we can start marketing for our clients though, we should first learn how to build clear communications across our business organization.

So, we need to implement strategies on how we can let our teams know exactly what we expect from them as agency owners, and how they can perform their tasks well. This may include having brainstorming sessions or table talks with employees, to using tools such as email for communication.

Optimize account management and retention

Retention is an important aspect of growth. When we can retain our clients, this indicates they’re satisfied with our products and services.

The same thing applies to our employees. We must make them feel that they are not just cogs in the machine, but are treated as valuable assets to the digital agency.

When we retain clients, we not only maintain a steady revenue stream, but also benefit from the potential for additional business through referrals and cross-selling opportunities to land more clients. In addition, retaining clients is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, as the cost of acquisition, which is mostly done through advertising, can be high.

Revisit technology and make it better

This step comes hand-in-hand with the standardization of the process.

So, we’ve identified our initial tech stack, but as mentioned beforehand, this may not help us overcome the $3 million plateau. We can revisit our initial tech stack and assess whether these can still help us grow.

Don’t worry. You can replace and remove technology from your stack as much as possible — as long as you know that doing so can help optimize the process.

Automation creates a more standardized process, but it will also need to be reviewed for further improvements.

Make sure management is managing

Many 7-figure agencies hit a plateau because management becomes too confident of their progress. Some managers become sloppy with handling their teams and often leave the managing to the top agency owners.

To overcome the $3 million plateau, ensure our managers, from low-level managers to c-suite managers, collaborate in managing the whole agency.

Offload strategy

Implementing an offloading strategy creates an independent work environment. When teams fully understand what’s expected of them, they won’t heavily rely on their managers (and on you) to accomplish their tasks. Instead, they’ll be empowered to stand on their own two feet.

This makes the whole sales process optimized and efficient, and any issues and challenges will be dealt with quickly and easily.

Create training

To continuously create value for your marketing agency, we should constantly upskill our employees and teams.

Upskilling should not only be limited to management. Instead strive to improve skillsets at all levels of the business.

We can start with training on how to take advantage of different marketing techniques such as SEO and social media marketing. This way, our project teams can easily solve problems and challenges when they arise.

Conducting seminars and trainings fosters an educative work environment, which is both beneficial to employees

Measure team member performance

As much as we monitor the quality of our results, we should also measure how well our team members are performing. We should recognize every milestone they accomplish, no matter how small they are, so that they can stay motivated to perform.

Breaking the $7M point: Scale your culture

Scaling a marketing agency starts with the project teams and ends with dynamite sales funnels and a full pipeline of paying clients. Additionally, upgrading and transforming our company culture promotes quality and builds trust among our clients.

Have business KPIs and quarterly goals for the team

Performance is highly linked to goals. Without them, teams steer away from important matters at hand and produce deliverables not meeting quality standards. This is why we should set key performance indicators (KPIs) as well as goals for our employees, from the sales team to the IT department. It keeps them motivated and engaged in the tasks they have and will do.

KPIs and goals help keep teams aligned with your overall goals and objectives.

Develop dashboards for management

What manager doesn’t love a dashboard? This invaluable tool serves as the window into what our agency operations look like. However, if we’re thinking of scaling our business, then you’ll want to develop separate dashboards for each management level. This way, we can promote granular, precise management among our teams and cultivate an independent work environment.

Implementing a data-driven decision-making process

You can’t make accurate, sound decisions through guesswork. Rather, you want to base your decisions on relevant data gathered from different sources.

Ultimately, relying on a data-driven decision-making process makes your decisions more accurate and beneficial to the agency and its customers.

Train your leadership

As you scale your agency, upskilling your managers becomes essential. So, provide training for your management team to enables them to make more accurate decisions and become more independent.

Additionally, your upskilled managers can pass their new-found knowledge to their team members — a win-win for the agency.

(Re)Design your culture

Our workplace culture heavily affects team member productivity and engagement. So, you’ll want to re-evaluate and possibility redesign your company culture as necessary to ensure it’s aligned with your goals and objectives for scaling.

The cost of 7-figure agencies

All seven-figure agencies worked hard to reach such heights. Although they generate millions in recurring revenue, the risk of plateauing, regardless of revenue totals, never reduces.

The cost of planning, evaluating, and implementing these strategies may go up, but their benefits are even higher. You can transform your agency from earning $320,000 a month to a million or more in a relatively short time.

Innovating and adapting to changes in the industry

As much as the tech industry evolves, so does the marketing world. We’ve shifted from written marketing campaigns to a far more technological, internet-based approach to brand awareness. This fast-paced marketing industry demands that we keep innovating and adapting to industry changes so that we won’t be left out. So, continue evaluating and assessing your entrepreneurship strategies to keep up with the industry leaders.

Measuring and optimizing your growth strategy for sustainable growth

We always suggest setting attainable and measurable goals. This is the same for our growth strategies.

Fortunately, there are many key performance indicators that can help 7-figure agencies measure progress toward their goals. Additionally, measuring our growth performance and strategies will also help us pinpoint areas needing improvement and optimization.

So, for us to fully scale our digital marketing agency to its full potential, it’s best that we measure and evaluate all aspects of growth, from the goals to the strategies needed to achieve them, like what was discussed in this seven figure agency roadmap.

Key Takeaways: Overcome the 7 Figure Agencies Plateau With These Steps

As we reach the conclusion of our exploration into overcoming the 7-figure agencies plateau, it’s crucial to distill the multitude of insights we’ve shared into actionable steps.

Breaking through to the next level of growth requires not just strategic vision, but also the tactical execution of plans that address specific areas of weakness and opportunity.

Here’s a quick recap of the steps you can take to propel your agency beyond that 7-figure threshold:

  • Step 1: Amplify Your Workforce and Quality — Foster growth and quality output by focusing on team expansion and effective delegation. This ensures the right tasks are in the hands of the right people, optimizing results.
  • Step 2: Enhance Management Efficiency — Propel your agency forward by refining existing processes and developing new ones that are repeatable and standardized. This fosters efficiency and consistency, which are the foundations of scalable growth.
  • Step 3: Cultivate a Metrics-Driven Culture — Establish a performance-oriented environment by setting clear business KPIs and quarterly goals for your team. This encourages a shared vision and measurable growth, keeping everyone aligned with your agency’s aspirations.

Embarking on this journey demands perseverance, agility, and a keen understanding of your agency’s unique value proposition. By implementing these steps, you’ll be well-positioned to break free from the 7-figure plateau and steer your agency toward new horizons of success. Remember, growth is a process, and these steps are part of a larger strategy.

Keep refining your approach, and you’ll see the change you’ve been striving for!

How can you measure and optimize your 7-figure agencies’ growth effectively? You can grow your agency and diagnose 50 system operation gaps in just five minutes using The ScaleMap: Agency Growth tool!

Business operations consultant Juliana Marulanda
Juliana
Juliana Marulanda is a business operations expert, speaker, and the founder of ScaleTime. With over 20 years of experience across Wall Street, the non-profit sector, technology startups, and family-owned businesses, she now helps service-based businesses.