As some of you may know, I’ve started building a digital agency called Hidden Link Studios. It officially started back in January 2020 and have been trying to grow the agency during a global pandemic.
It was already hard growing an agency given how competitive the landscape is.
Also, thanks to the ‘gurus’ that tainted the agency industry. Many gurus created YouTube videos and courses saying building an agency is easy and you can make a shit ton of money.
This led to people selling services and not being able to fulfill their promises, which ended up burning the client in the end.
Add in a pandemic, and now it’s become almost impossible. Many businesses are on the brink of shutting down or some just want to keep their expenses low.
These past few weeks have been hard and I’ve been battling through obstacle after obstacle.
Starting something is easy, continuing to work on it is the challenge.
I’ve made it clear that I was going to be transparent about building out my ideas.
This article covers the topic of wanting to quit and how I’m getting over it.
Obstacle #1 No motivation
My motivation has been in a constant flux. One day I feel like I can conquer the world, and the next, I have no motivation to even open up my computer.
I’m sure this is coming from a mixture of things that include frustration, lack of discipline, bad time management, burnout, and some laziness.
Let’s face it: going hard at something day in-day out is exhausting. It also doesn’t help to see your peers enjoying the down time to either relax, do things they’ve never done before, or take the time to figure themselves out. If I can explain it in a picture, this would be it:
Obstacle #2 Selling services is hard as hell
Business owners are already skeptical about agencies and marketing. Now, add in a global pandemic, the efforts to gain clients is an uphill battle. We can also add that I’m a terrible seller to the mix.
Combine business owner skepticism, global pandemic, and a terrible seller, you can imagine how tough winning new clients is going.
When it came to gaining clients in the past, I’ve always done better when I can speak to someone face to face. It’s easy for me to relate with someone and connect with them on a deeper level.
Now that everything is digital, I’ve been having a hard time reaching people and connecting with them. Although the digital space has opened the door for unlimited possibilities, it also opened the door to a lot of noise.
One tactic that I’ve been using to get new clients is through cold email. I know, not the best way, but that’s all I can work with right now.
For those of you who never tried doing cold email, it’s a lot harder than cold calling. It’s easier to ignore a cold email. Oftentimes, open rates are less than 2% for cold emails.
So I haven’t been having any success to be completely transparent.
Obstacle #3 Stuck at home
I’m sure everyone that has been quarantining is starting to get that chaotic feeling and just needs to get out of the damn house.
We all miss human interaction.
We miss enjoying the day, whether that be going to the gym, seeing friends, eating out, etc. These were luxuries we all had and definitely shows how much was taken for granted.
It’s impossible to disconnect from work when you’re stuck at home. Throughout the day, I see my workstation and I know there’s a never ending task list that needs to be worked on. It feels like even if I’m not physically working, my brain is still in work mode.
Obstacle #4 Running out of capital
I’m sure you’ve heard people saying to save at least 3-6 months of expenses as an emergency fund. Well now imagine that account getting close to $0. Watching my cash reserve dwindle is the main driver of wanting to quit. I mean, who wants to lose all their money? I’ve thought about going back to a job, shutting the doors, and begin working on my next venture while I have a steady paycheck.
I also think I’m missing that consistent paycheck and the ability to budget my expenses. The inconsistent revenue has made it tougher for me to organize myself.
Fighting the Urge to Quit
I understand that I should be grateful that I’m working and building an agency during these times. But that does not mean that the internal struggles of building a business will go away.
Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful to have an opportunity like this and continue to make the most out of it.
I’m also thinking the reason I lost motivation is because I’ve lost sight of my why. I originally started Hidden Link to help others, something I’ve always felt passionate about.
I know I’m capable of helping other business owners and I lost sight of that.
I’ve spoken with a few other entrepreneurs about their journey and the general consensus is: it doesn’t go away. Building a business is a constant battle against going back to my comfort zone.
What I can do is take the necessary steps to break past these obstacles and get back on track.
Solution #1 Take a Break
We all know, you can’t be motivated 100% of the time. There will be days where I’m just unmotivated and can’t get anything done. I’m slowly coming to terms with that.
But I have to remember this concept called the 20 Mile March by Jim Collins.
The concept is about going everyday for the same amount of effort on a consistent basis will beat sporadic effort every time.
Keep a consistent balance between work and rest.
So I’m working on finding that threshold where I can continuously put out the same effort.
I’m experimenting with a schedule right now that gives allotted time for each of my daily responsibilities that I need to do, which includes:
- Working ON Hidden Link
- Client fulfillment
- Side projects
I will test this out for a few weeks to see how it goes, plus tracking my time to see where things are falling off.
As for seeing my friends and peers enjoy this down time, I have to remember… I chose this life. I want to build something. This is going to take sacrifice, but I don’t have to sacrifice everything.
I’m giving myself permission to take a break.
Solution #2 No more selling
I’ve realized I can’t just reach out to someone and expect them to buy right away, whether that be online or in-person.
I need to build relationships. I don’t know where that switch turned off, but I was solely focused on trying to sell right away. I need to find a way to offer some value for the target market that I want to work with.
I also need to focus on cutting through the noise of the digital landscape. I need to put myself out there through content, social media, and overall being helpful to people across the internet.
So moving forward, I plan on publishing a lot more:
- this blog – Sharing my lessons, experiences, and experiments around marketing.
- Hidden Link’s blog – Helpful resources about growth marketing and design
- Las Vegas Guides – Your go-to resource for what to do in Las Vegas
- Instagram – Web design concepts and marketing tips
- Twitter – Mostly growth marketing tips and designs
Solution #3 Go outside
This one is simple. Just get out of the house more. I’ve stopped exercising, I rarely go outside, and it’s definitely affecting me emotionally and physically.
I need to dedicate more time to taking walks, running, and just being outside more frequently.
I had a client take a video call while he was working from the park. That’s definitely not a bad idea and going to try it out.
Solution #4 Stop complaining and get to work
I don’t want to sound cocky, but I know I have skills and experience that can grow businesses.
I can always get a job to pay for bills and expenses, but that’s definitely the last thing that I want.
Growing a business is a grind and to be completely honest, a lot harder than I expected. But if I don’t want to get a job and don’t want to close the doors on Hidden Link, there’s only one option.
Get my ass to work and push through. Focus on what’s important and what’s going to grow your business.
For right now, my main priorities are to build brand awareness and land new clients.
Like I mentioned before, I chose this life. I need to have faith in myself that I will make this work at any means necessary.