It’s officially been one year since I joined the Tilted Chair team.

Woo hoo! It has been a crazy year of change and growth here. For those of you who are visual learners I put this together:
Tilted Chair Post-Erik YOY Gains
We actually had a nice little company profile in the Austin Business Journal two weeks ago discussing our growth. You can read it HERE. Since then a lot of people have been reaching out and asking for more details on what we did to accelerate Tilted Chair’s growth. For easy implementation I will share the top 3 things we did, or rather, stopped doing, to help propel our agency’s growth.

#1 Stop Focusing Only On Your Clients.

This was the first challenge that we faced when I first came aboard at Tilted Chair. And it’s the same challenge that many, many other businesses face. We focused so much on the needs of our clients that we didn’t pay attention to our own needs.

Think about it this way: if you were a personal trainer who was weak and out of shape would you be as effective of a trainer as someone who was strong and looked like Thor? In theory, you could be, but would anyone trust you to train them? Probably not.

So as an ad agency, it was imperative that we spent time getting our brand in shape. We sat down as a leadership team an extra 3 hours a week outside of work hours and in the span of about 5 months we developed a mission statement, core company principles, a brand story, revamped our website, created internal processes for almost every department, developed some great case studies, and finally restructured our vacation and benefits for employees to further demonstrate our brand culture.

It was not an easy task, but it has paid off tremendously. We have literally closed new business with clients because they said our website was just that “damn awesome” and they loved what our company stood for. So no matter what your expertise might be, make sure it shines though your company’s walls, marketing materials, and its people.

#2 Stop Letting Yourself Be Held Down.

This applies to both internal and external forces. As a small agency there wasn’t anyone really holding us down other than ourselves, but I’ll get to that in #3. Internally we were sound. It was externally that we had some problems. There comes a time in every business’s life when they start thinking more about the money, than about the craft. You start out with this plan of rebuilding classic Mustangs or designing sport stadiums, and you find yourself one day working on a 2002 Civic or designing homes for rich yuppies in Round Rock, TX.

If you don’t drop bad clients, you’ll find it much harder to reach your goals. This was really difficult for us. We turned down a few financially lucrative, but boring clients, because they were not going to get us closer to our dream. Those clients weren’t going to help us innovate and inspire the kind of advertising we believed in doing.

So even though it was difficult at first, we quickly realized that by getting rid of clients that were holding us down, we made room for clients who could help us grow. For example, if we hadn’t turned down a major furniture store opportunity we probably wouldn’t have been able to work with our awesome friends at Camp Gladiator. What a shame that would have been!

#3 Stop Dreaming Small

The biggest obstacle we had to overcome was ourselves. One of the first clients Mike and Jamie tried to pitch was Red Box (a big red box outside grocery stores like WalMart where you rented round discs called DVD’s which contained movies…weird, right?) which at the time was a pretty cool and fast-growing company. They had big dreams! As time went on they settled for smaller and less sexy clients. They started dreaming small.

I think this is probably the case for any business, but especially true for a company in that 3-5 year range. You start to get complacent. It’s easy to lose that passion for what you’re doing. You forget how to dream big. If you’re a leader in your company it’s up to you to dream big. If you’re not a big dreamer or have forgotten that big dream, then you better hire someone who is a big dreamer. I think Tilted Chair had forgotten that big dreams existed and I simply reminded them of it.

We started to put together plans to build Tilted Chair into an agency that could compete with any other agency in Austin and work with any client that fit the “Challenger Brand” personality. We started dreaming big again. Guess what? We started landing dream clients like Torchy’s Tacos, Hostgater, Camp Gladiator, SpareFoot and a few more that we can’t tell you about at the time of this writing, but that you’ll be hearing about very soon. Dreaming small is a great way to stay small. If you want to experience big growth, then you have to believe that big growth is possible and actually reach for those dreams.

“Dreaming small is a great way to stay small.”

Were these three things revolutionary ideas? No, not at all. There are entire books written about these ideas. Some of my favorites include Start with Why, The Lean Start-up, and Good to Great. Additionally, two of the three items cost us $0. It didn’t cost us anything to get rid of the things holding us down, and to stop thinking small.

It was ultimately just an attitude and motivational adjustment. Focusing more on ourselves and revamping our company image was probably the most costly, but it was the easiest item to tie back to increased revenue and a happier company culture. The return on our rebranding investment has paid off exponentially.

So if you are launching a company or you’re an established brand that has become stagnant, try to stop doing these three things and see if you’re company can grow some wings like Tilted Chair did. Good Luck!

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