Dear Agency Owners… You’re Braver Than You Think

We will all be touched by mental health issues at some point in our lives. Either directly through our own personal moments or through those that we love and care about. It’s important that we’re able to recognise these moments and find the strength to take a step forwards.

This post is a continuation from a couple of recent newsletters that we sent out to our customers and our email subscribers. As it’s World Mental Health Day, it’s important to share this message and to look out for each other.

I want to take a few minutes to remind you that you’re a human being and you’re braver than you think!

You’re Braver Than You Think

Choosing to start your own business and be an agency owner, web designer, marketer or creative was a big decision. Possibly one of the biggest you’ll ever make (if we ignore marriage / children / what you’re having for dinner).

Starting your own business is liberating – whether you want to be in control of your own future, make design choices that matter to you, or perhaps you just hate authority and being told what to do. The freedom to express yourself is a gift worth keeping.

Yet, it’s also an intensely difficult role for us to master. The pressures of running a business and often looking after a young family as well, can be intense. Every single mistake is amplified and when there’s blame to be apportioned for your efforts – no-one else is stepping in to bat for you.

It can have an intense drain on your mental health and leave you wondering why you bother to start work every day. The feeling of dread when you hear a notification sound from your emails and wonder if it’s going to be [crappy client] with another rant or moan about a current project.

The thing is, you’re stronger and braver than you think. You took a brave decision to start your own company. You chose to do this alone, and right now, you’re winning. Whether you have one project on the go or dozens, you’re achieving something that many small business owners fail at every single year.

No matter how great your processes are, there will still be a project that slips through the cracks and ends up being one that you wish you could run away from. That’s the nature of our world.

You do everything you can to only work with the best clients and when your guard is down for a split second, something slips through. And that’s okay… you’re not a robot that awkwardly drinks water live on TV during a Congress debate.

I want you to know that you’re awesome, you’re strong and you’re braver than you think. When I was writing this as an email to our audience, I couldn’t sleep the night before as I was thinking about how important the message is. I’m so proud to personally know many of our customers and how wonderful they are as people in this world.

This is one of the great things about how social media has changed the agency landscape too. Thinking back 10-15 years, we didn’t have many spaces that we could congregate online and get immediate feedback from our peers. Yes there were forums, but they tended to be faceless and full of noise / self-promotion.

I’ve spent the last 5+ years watching other agency owners in the various Facebook groups we’re all in, listening to stories and providing feedback whenever it’s needed. I love seeing people helping each other and bringing stories to life. The hive mind is so valuable!

For each of our Funnel Packs customers, I’ve been through every single one of their websites, read their stories, looked at their projects and enjoyed their blog posts. It’s breathtaking to see the wealth of talent spread across design, copy, marketing and more.

You are braver than you think. Never forget this.

We’re All Human

I’ve seen a lot of people struggling with clients over the last few weeks, in various Facebook groups.

Some of the usual issues such as late payments or not respecting boundaries. Clients saying yes to a fantastic new proposal and then vanishing off the face of the Earth. Or even just clients that are downright rude for what seems like no reason.

I’ve been surprised at the comments from some of the affected agency owners and the names that they’ve called their own clients when talking about their issues. Yet, I do completely understand just how difficult this can be on your mental and physical wellbeing.

It’s awful when a client relationship sours and things go downhill, especially if it’s on a large project or when we’re working on something that we’re incredibly passionate about. No-one wants to fear the ‘ding’ of an incoming email or that moment just before you check the Caller ID on your ringing phone.

We are all human beings and we all feel pain. The stress and frustration at these times has a dramatic effect on your mental health. It can also affect how you treat those around you.

Our clients are human beings too. Sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and thinking about a situation from a purely logical perspective and putting all emotion to one side.

Your client might be having a hard time in their own business or their life. They might not mean to come across badly in communication. They may genuinely have forgotten to pay your invoice. They may have a family emergency which means they can’t contact you.

We’ve all sent at least one immediate angry response at least once in our lives. And I imagine we’ve all regretted at least one of these, when it turned out to be a complete misunderstanding.

Taking a little extra time to gather your thoughts, be logical and let your emotions settle can work wonders for resolving a situation. You don’t ever have to reply straight away to any communication.

That being said, if an abusive client genuinely doesn’t respect the relationship, do remember that you’re free to walk away. You owe that to your mental health and the mental health of those around you.

If you’re in a situation like this now, where you’re feeling pressure from a negative client situation, I urge you to take a little bit of “me time” out of your day.

Even if you’re busy, please just take a couple of hours. Go for a nice walk, watch your favourite movie, take your family to play mini golf. Whatever it is that you truly enjoy in life, make that your time right now.

Giving yourself the space to mentally rest and recharge will help you to refocus your energy, bring back positivity and increase your productivity.

It’s something I’ve done myself very recently, with the events over the last month. Two of my friends passed away in September and it affected me greatly on a personal level, to the point where we had to delay our Funnel Packs release schedule.

I took time away from our business. I feel better and more positive now and I’m extremely grateful for the support and kindness that our awesome customers showed to us.

Look After Each Other

Mental health struggles don’t come with neon lights. There are no giant warning signs or alarm bells that sound for everyone.

Take the time to look out for your friends and comrades in the agency space. Let people know that you appreciate their friendship. You never know just how much that person needs to hear your positive thoughts right now.

Our friends over at WP&UP have just launched their latest campaign – #NeverGiveUP.

If you are able to contribute a few dollars towards supporting a wonderful mental health charity in the WordPress space, please do. It will make a world of difference to those who need it. You never know, it might be you that needs a helping hand next.

Above all else, please be kind to each other and remember that it’s okay not to be okay.

You’re braver than you think.

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