Tag: Agency


Depressed and suicidal

This is a bit of a vulnerable share, some of the stuff in here I have never openly talked about, some of it I deleted before adding back in realising that there is no shame in my story and that being brutally honest is the only way to truly help others. So here we go, be gentle on me. If the topic of being depressed and suicidal is upsetting to you, proceed with care.

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Three years ago I found myself in a difficult place in my business – financially and mentally.
Even though I had built a multi million dollar company – something I had never imagined possible for myself growing up – even though I had followers from all over the world and was well respected in my field, even though I was well connected and had amazing people around me, I was beginning to question myself and my business.
Something wasn’t clicking, the fire in the pit of my belly that I once had had diminished. The rush that had come from making so much money had flushed through my system (as it always eventually does) and I was left standing there realising that I just wasn’t that excited about what I was doing anymore. Problem was, I was just as confused about what, if anything, it was that I wanted to pursue.
Because I was making crazy sums of money and because I was getting accolades from people for the work I was doing, my mind rationalised away my doubts and concerns. Even though my entire body and soul was screaming out for change, I kept telling myself that walking away from it all would go down as the dumbest move in history. Why would I walk away when I had worked so hard for it all? When I didn’t even know what it was I wanted to do or what would fulfil me. When I was making a great salary. Why?
It just didn’t make any sense on paper.
And so I stayed.
And the longer I did, the longer I ignored these thoughts and telltale signs, the more my confidence began to plummet, the more my self worth was left in tatters, the more skeptical and cynical I became. The more the hopelessness of depression began to set in.
By this stage the business revenues had already plateaued and no matter what I threw at it, no matter how much money I invested back or who I hired, nothing worked to shift the needle.
On the surface, the declining revenues were the only signs that something rotten was happening inside of me. No one around me had any idea just how bad things were, I was a functioning depressive. Slowly the revenues continued to dive and dive and each month would be a scramble to make payroll and pay expenses.
It was an exhausting way to live. Being sad and fearful is exhausting.
I was desperate to heal and get back to the old version of myself, the one who had passion and enthusiasm and could turn anything she touched to gold.
And so I frequented therapists, escaped to self help retreats and workshops, did plant medicine, tried reiki and scientology and climbed to the tops of the Himalayas to meditate with monks. I went so far to go under the knife several times thinking this would make me love myself just a little bit more. Over one hundred thousand dollars later, still nothing worked.
Until one day I hit a wall and had a mental breakdown. I walked into my fancy inner city office and resigned as CEO. My whole team sat there with me and cried and I confessed just how bad things had gotten. I was bed bound for the next two months, barely able to feed myself or get out the door.
It was like my nervous system had decided to step in and take matters into its own hands saying ‘Look here Cat, you’re clearly not going to step away from this thing you want to step away from but are too afraid to, so we’re gonna do it for you – here’s a mental breakdown to force you to your knees so you will have no choice but to listen.’
But quitting did not solve it, it only exacerbated the decline.
I became actively suicidal and tried to end it all, I was out of hope.
It was after a failed attempt that I came to fully know rock bottom, for there is hardly anything more discouraging than not even being able to do the one thing you think you still have dominion over in a world that feels completely out of control – taking your own life.
With only the perspective that time can give, I can hand on heart say today that I am grateful for that rock bottom for it was in that moment that the penny finally dropped.
After years of searching for answers in the most exotic of locations and the sterile offices of a therapist, I finally connected the dots: That what I had done to initially attract money into my life was exactly the same work I now needed to do for my sense of self worth and fulfilment.

You see, the penny dropping was the realisation that my entire sense of wellbeing was conditional on outside circumstances.

I had never learned or developed the skill of making myself feel well irrespective of what was happening to my bank account, where I was in the world, my womb, my relationship status, the width of my thighs and other people’s behaviours.

Instead, I had been going through life chasing the dopamine hit of making a sale or of having sex, or of being up on a stage in front of people …. all of these were great, but short lasting.  I always needed more, it was never ending.

There is possibly no feeling more exhausting and terrifying then to spend your entire life chasing money or some desire that you believe will make you feel a certain way about yourself or life only to discover, upon standing on top of the conquered mountain, that there will never be enough peaks to fill the void inside.

It’s the kind of stuff that leads straight to drugs and alcohol and depression.

Unfortunately, this is how the majority of people – especially entrepreneurs – live their lives.  Thinking that making a million will unlock happiness, then, upon realising that it doesn’t, thinking ten million will do the trick, then one hundred million and on and on. Where does it end?

“When I make the money… then I will feel abundant…”

“When somebody loves me… then I will feel worthy…”

“When my clients stop being annoying… then I will feel calm and at ease…”

“When I can get through my to-do list… then I won’t feel so overwhelmed…”

“When I hire more people, then I can stop the hustle…”

And so we spend out days plotting and scheming, writing out pros and cons lists, attending conferences, hiring coaches and staff, building and launching and releasing and pushing.

We try to solve internal discomfort by changing the outside.

And we get shit-whipped by life because of it.

No matter what amount of effort or mental intellect is poured into the problem at hand, no matter what you do, who you hire, how much money you throw at it, how long or short the to-do list is – the burnout, the plateaus, the doubts, the fears remain the same.

A telltale sign that the work at hand required is an inside job and that nothing on the outside of you could ever solve for X.

I had grasped this concept six years ago when I worked to attract wealth into my life. I had practiced and developed the ability to FEEL like a millionaire without the millions and this isn turn led to an in-pour of cash beyond my wildest dreams.

As if by magic.

Unfortunately for me, when I first stepped into money, I got cocky.  I was on top of the world, the rush from the cash still strong in my veins, and I thought I had it all figured out. So I stopped doing the work, and not long after the doubts and fears and depression set in.

It took the rock bottom to steer me back to the basics: on the importance of cultivating well being unconditional and irrespective of the outside.

Positive expectation MINUS the attachments.

I can already hear what you’re thinking: ‘and how exactly is one supposed to do this?’

If you would like to hear more about the dots connecting and what I did to build this skill you can catch a replay of a call I did this week about the subject here: https://cathowell.com/reprogrammingreality/
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If you are currently going through a difficult time, rest assured there is light at the end of the tunnel. Know that you are deserving, it is possible, and you can find hope and purposefulness again.
If suicidal thoughts are crossing your mind, reach out and tell someone as soon as you can, it will do the world in relieving the load. If you don’t have anyone send me a message, your light is important and matters.
x Cat

My one year ‘mental breakdown’ Anniversary

Almost one year today marks my mental breakdown.

The day I walked into my high loft ceiling inner-city office (that was always more of an ego play than a necessity) and through puffed cheeks and eyes told my team I was resigning as CEO effective as of immediately.

I was prepared to lose my business in that moment, as difficult as the idea was to swallow, it had come to be a matter of life or death. I was on the verge of killing myself, I needed a change of skin ASAP.

With only the perspective that the gift of time can give I can now appreciate this heart wrenching and difficult stage of my life. I can hand on heart say that – were it not for the depression – I wouldn’t be where I am today, which is now the complete opposite: joyful, fulfilled excited again and purposeful.

I can also see now why I had the dark thoughts I had. That I was living in a state of fear, my soul was no longer fulfilled by what I was doing but yet my mind was rationalising everything and telling me to stay. I was depending on my external environment to validate my internal state and was getting shit whipped by life in the process. I had it all twisted. The more I ignored it the more I sped myself straight into a proverbial wall at eighty miles per hour.

And so, in a drastic move my nervous system took things into its own hands and drove me to my knees.

I was one of the lucky ones who was unsuccessful in my suicide attempts. I barely scraped by with my life.

It never had to get that far. If only I had just listened sooner.

I want to take this moment to give gratitude and thanks to the people that supported me through this difficult stage. To the team at Eight Loop and our online communities who banded together to give me the space I needed, to mama Brooke and Kirsty and Charlotte and my lil sis who took turns babysitting me on suicide watch. To Tim for being the first person I felt comfortable telling about how bad things really were. To Guy who gave me perspective. Alyssa and Sergei for the trips! My mum for the late night calls. To my two business partners Justin and Brandon – it is no coincidence that the depression began to shift the moment you came into my life in the way you did. To my ex husband who withstood the psychological abuse I threw his way.

The list goes on and on, and in many ways, helps to shine a light on the success of my recovery.

A year on, I have found my smile again and fuck does it feel good! I’m excited for what life has to bring and am almost in shock that I ever considered doing the things I once considered doing to myself.

If you are experiencing a difficult or dark time in your life, tell someone ASAP, do not martyr yourself in silence. If you don’t have anyone, reach out to me.

Know that better times will come, I can promise you this – physics demands that love and light always follows strife x

Secrets of A $1.6M Revenue Agency

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a seven-figure agency?  The staff and team pulling the levers and the organizational structure and strategies driving growth?

 

I know when I first started out as a freelancer back in 2013, there was virtually nothing online about the topic. I had to figure everything out for my own and this meant I made some pretty epic and expensive blunders along the way.  Was I meant to hire before cash flow could sustain it or wait till I had enough clients and then hire quickly? How did the big boys land the million-dollar contracts and what sort of margins should I be working towards?

With the boom of the internet and pure online markets, it’s been a gold rush for agencies and now the opposite can be said – there is almost too much information online about how to grow this type of business that it can be overwhelming.  Not surprisingly, most of this information comes from “gurus” who have never actually built or managed agencies themselves – leading many down a costly road of misguided advice.

So for the curious who care to know what the set up of a seven-figure agency looks like,  I wanted to take a moment to share some insights that I wished I had gleamed during the formative years of my business in the hopes to help give you clarity on how to structure and grow the machine that is your business.

Some important distinctions:

  • You don’t need investors or large startup capital to make this work (although disclaimer, growing business will always require an investment of either time or money, the benefit of a service-based business is that you only really need $5K-$10K to get yourself going as long as you’re willing to reinvest profits back into your business)
  • You don’t need inside connections or a huge audience
  • Your agency is a gateway to other ventures. For example, if you start working with eCommerce clients it will probably make sense for you to invest in your own ecom shop and use your own strengths and internal resources to grow another income stream for yourself.

Here’s what I’ cover in the below:

  • The organisational structure of our agency and the team behind it…
  • Core viable final products, and how these are costed…
  • How leads and referrals are generated and tips to keeping clients on for longer…

At the core – growing to seven figures isn’t very complicated, it actually boils down to three key parts.  The beauty in this “keep it simple” system is that you don’t need to incur massive staff overheads, you won’t be required to micro-manage every aspect of your business and you will be able to position yourself in a way where you never have to get into process wars with other agencies again.

 

Overview of Eight Loop

Ok so before I dig into the juicy stuff, a quick intro of Eight Loop (my agency).  I founded the agency in 2014 and initially, I was offering all kinds of services – from social media content through blogging and email marketing and Facebook ads.  This lead to burnout and I quickly realized this wasn’t going to work so I refined our core offer towards Facebook ads.  Through the years we have changed our niche from coaches to ecom and now specialize in building out marketing systems for other agencies.

Another big mistake I made at the beginning was to fall pry to the desire of having a big team and office for the sake of having a big team and office – call i9t ego and pride.  I quickly realized this was going to make me bankrupt and – in light of the pandemic and current economic conditions – many agencies have come to appreciate that running a small and lean ship is far less stressful than having massive overheads.  This, of course, is only possible if you refine your service offer and positioning.

 

Our Team & Structure

We currently turn around $130K/mth in revenue and work with about 20 clients max at any one time. 

Surprisingly, we only have THREE core offers in the agency:  a done for you funnel and lead generation ad campaign management. We offer additional bolt on services such as promotional video creations and email nurture sequences but these only represent a small fraction of our revenues and some of this is outsourced externally.  We also work with brands (usually lead generation or awareness campaigns) but this is only 5% of our client base.

Although we are based in NZ – local clients only represent 2-3% of our client base.  Most of our clientele is overseas and the average lifetime value of a client is about $9,000. International clients and deals from even the most remote place on earth.  So the thought of – “my town or city is too small” is no longer a viable excuse.

We have five key team members behind the agency:  an account manager, a business developer (sales), funnel builder, media buyer, and copywriter.  As we grow of if sales are up we have trained account managers and copywriters we bring on to support as required on a client per client basis. This keeps our overheads low. 

 

How to Avoid Micro-Management

This is something that took me a very long time to crack! I am a perfectionist at heart and couldn’t figure out how to hand over the production of services without getting anxious over quality or needing to come in and fix everything (doubling up my workload!). It all came down to processes.

I used to hate processes and systems – “I’m a creative, the strategies I come up with are intuitive and can’t be taught” is maybe a line you’ve used yourself.

This type of thought pattern is the fastest way to burnout and bankruptcy.  You will never be able to scale your revenues if you are keeping yourself as the main person behind the production side of your service offer.  Think about it – there’s only one of you, how many clients can you realistically look after before you start to lose the plot.

The good news – processes are VERY easy to build once you refine your core offer and positioning.  And when you have solid processes in place, the scale can be achieved very rapidly without it doubling down your own workload and stress on your plate.

 

The Final Piece

Finally, the most important part of any business is arguably it’s the ability to generate new business.  Your leads and clients are the life-blood of your business and if you’re like most agencies out there you’re likely completely dependant on referrals or word of mouth and this is essentially stunting your ability to grow at the rate that you would like to.

After running lead generation campaigns for clients in the agency I began to realize that I too could automate my marketing.  Instead of having to attend conference after conference or have to cold call or harass people on LinkedIn I figured out a way to drive interested prospects straight into my calendar using paid ads to drive interest into an online funnel.

These would be highly qualified and vetted leads in the market for the services we offered. 

What I never expected was just how quickly and effective this strategy would be for growth. Within two months of automating the agency’s lead generation we had scaled from $10K revenues to $100K/mths. 

To this day, this continues to be our main and most reliable source of lead generation for the agency. 

Now, cracking one of these funnels isn’t as easy as it sounds – and maybe you yourself have experienced the frustration of spending thousands with little to nothing to show for it.

The key comes down to your positioning and messaging as well as the UX of your funnel and quality of the traffic you’re buying. If any one of these parts is off the whole thing is broken.

Another big issue we encounter when agencies try to run their own funnels and fail is that they are often too close to the source. When it’s your client ads and campaigns you crush it, and yet, when it’s your own it’s like nothing works. This is really common and is the same phenomenon of a writer trying to edit their own copy – they are too close to see the spelling mistakes and their brain fills in the gaps. 

 

RECAP

Ok, so as a recap, here are the three essential parts of a seven-figure agency:

  1. Having the right team and organizational structure
  2. Positioning yourself around a core offer(s) and building processes around these
  3. Having a reliable and consistent way to generate leads

With these three things in place, growing to seven figures no longer becomes rocket science or luck of the draw and you’ll be able to:

  • Increase your profit margins, reduce your workload, AND pay yourself more…
  • Retain clients for longer and generate more testimonials and happy customers…
  • No longer need to rely on word of mouth and be able to put a plan in place for growth…

If you’ve made it this far hopefully its because all of this is making sense to you and resonates.  Likewise, it’s probably because you yourself are hungry to grow your business and ready to start implementing systems that are actually proven and tested by agencies. 

Over the years, my team and I have helped over 700 agencies and freelancers implement the exact same system above by:

  • Refining your core offer(s) and pricing these correctly
  • Building processes to guarantee quality for each and every client (without you needing to micro-manage everything)
  • Nailing your messaging and positioning
  • Closing your leads and sales calls scripts & processes
  • Your lead generation pipeline and automating your marketing with paid ads and funnels

All of this for less than the cost of building your own agency website!

So instead of trying to continue to trial and error everything on your own, spending thousands of recruiting the wrong staff or team members and tanking thousands on lead generation efforts get a structure and marketing system in place for your growth to take you into the future!

To find out more about the system and if it’s a good fit request your free discovery call today: https://agencyfunnels.eightloopsocial.com/form-application

Cat

The 5 Team Members You’ll Need To Run A Six Figure FB Ads Agency

I’m posting this because I can remember, when I was at the starting point of shifting from freelancer to agency owner – right when I had cracked the system on how to onboard clients and was suddenly needing to hire a team FAST – thinking to myself – crap, WHO do I need to hire?

Just like everything else in the FB ads world – they don’t teach you this stuff in school!

Below are the five people you’ll need on your team in order to run a very effective/efficient and highly lucrative agency. With these five critical players, you should be able to build a $100,000/mth business. 

PLEASE REMEMBER: DON’T hire your team until you know how to onboard the clients and have consistent revenues. I made the mistake of taking out a bank loan to fund my team the first time around and it nearly took me under (if you want to check out how to scale properly, view the live training I ran)

 

CRITICAL TEAM MEMBER #1:  Your Account Manager

This person is usually the first one you will hire internally.  Why?  Because they will relieve you from the work you are  most likely dreading the most and that is consuming most of your time:looking after your clients!

Some of the tasks of the Account Manager include:

  • answering emails & phone calls
  • reporting (monthly or weekly)
  • client meetings
  • upselling/crosselling

In short – their role and how they are KPI’d is in maintaining retention of your accounts – basically keeping clients happy 😉

 

CRITICAL TEAM MEMBER #2:  Your Facebook Ads Specialist

While you would think this role is one of the most critical and important ones in your business,and it’s usually the first role most people hire for – the reality is that your FB marketer is usually the LAST person you would hire internally, simply as – with the right processes in place – it’s relatively easy to outsource this role.

Typically you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who is an expert at the tactical side as well as on the creative side (copy etc),especially if you are recruiting internally.

 

CRITICAL TEAM MEMBER #3:  Your Funnel/Integrations Specialist

With the exception of brand awareness type campaigns, success on Facebook will generally always involve funnels and integrations.  You know the stuff:

  • connecting lead ads to client’s CRM
  • ensuring SMS notifications are triggered
  • ensuring landing pages convert where they need to
  • and so much more!

This role is a pretty key role in your FB ads agency, if you can find one that already knows the FB ads side, even better but they are normally freelancers themselves doing their own thing (and can therefore be difficult to hire internally).

 

CRITICAL TEAM MEMBER #4:  Your Operations Manager

The glue that holds the team together.  Your Operations Manager will typically be the last hire (until you bring on a CEO or Managing Director to complete replace yourself if that’s what you’re after) and is what we free your time from your business!

Some of the tasks include:

  • managing the team
  • ensuring KPI’s are being met and targets are on track
  • building processes to support the team and client results

 

CRITICAL TEAM MEMBER #5:  Your Content Marketer

Adding text to videos, gifs, and graphic images usually requires someone adept in the Adobe Suite or other program.  If you’re lucky enough your FB Specialist will have this creative and copy skills, but don’t count on it (typically, FB Marketers that are great at the data and analytics side aren’t so flash on the copy/creative side).

Your Content Marketer pulls together visuals and copy based on the client’s branding and assists in the ads and funnel builds.

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With the above team structure, you should easily be able to hit $100,000/mth in revenues (NOTE: this assumes you hired the right people and that they are all preforming well).

Check out the live training I ran on how to bring in that much revenue into your agency – click here: https://www.facebook.com/socialuplab/videos/1722795361064407/