Everything You Need to Start, Scale, and Sell Your Own Agency
When you run an agency, simply finding the time to sit down with a good book can seem like a daunting task. But, what if that book helps you solve key issues within your business that would lead to more freedom? Or what if a book gives you the tips needed to close more deals while growing your team faster and smarter?
Your time is valuable, and sometimes spending that time on the right book can make all the difference in the world. But with millions of agency business books out there, how do you know you’ve chosen the right one to spend that valuable time on? Here’s a list of the best books out there that will be sure to help you grow your agency. And to ensure your time is used wisely, we’ve ordered these by priority.
Built to Sell – Released in 2013, this book is written for any founder of a service based business. While the topic truly centers around how to sell your agency, the book should be read as early on in the lifespan of your agency as possible. Even if you don’t plan to ever sell your agency, this book is still a must read. You will learn how to productize your services to ensure the agency can run without you if ever needed. Agencies that don’t have to rely on their owners as the core drivers of the business see faster revenue growth, provide far more freedom for ownership, and ensure an easy exit strategy should you ever need to leave your business quickly.
Paperback vs eBook vs Audiobook? Go with the eBook or audiobook for this one. It’s a very easy read and should only take a few hours of your time.
The Art of Client Service, 3rd Edition – This is the 2016 update to Robert Solomon’s book originally released in 2008 and it’s a must read for any agency business owner. While the original book was written for leadership teams, the updated versions take into account any customer-facing employee on your team. This book offers a baseline for managing clients that will not only help you align your team and set clear expectations, but will ensure that you maintain a happy client base and healthy, repeat business.
Paperback vs. eBook vs Audiobook? Go with the eBook or the paperback for this one. It’s a great book to give to your team as a gift, which makes the paperback a better route to go. In fact, give it to any new hire on day one and plan to ask them chapter specific questions for their first few weeks to ensure they read it thoroughly.
Killer Visual Strategies – Released in the summer of 2020 and written for all business owners as an audience, this book lays the groundwork for branding and marketing your agency. If you are running a design or creative agency, this book also provides essential best practices for executing creative work that succeeds and engages. If you need to hire a creative team, part three of the book provides a breakdown of who to hire, what to pay them, and what processes to follow as well.
Paperback vs eBook vs Audiobook? This book is best consumed as a hard copy, so order the paperback if you can.
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up – Written by Verne Harnish, the founder of the Entrepreneur’s Organization and Gazelles Growth Institute, these two books provide a framework for scaling any business. While any industry can benefit from these books, businesses, like agencies, that are centered around the talent of their people will get the most out of these books. Learn how to build a business centered around your core values, how to protect and grow your culture, and how to ensure your business is financially healthy at all times by mastering the Rockefeller habits!
Paperback vs eBook vs Audiobook? This book is best consumed with a highlighter and a notebook to take down action items. If you prefer the ease of highlighting in an eBook, definitely go that route.
Traction – While the Rockefeller Habits and Scaling Up offer a great foundation for any business looking to achieve high-growth, the frameworks provided tend to fall flat once your agency has consistently achieved multi-million dollar revenue years. Traction, however, pushes organizations into their next phase of growth by taking what’s good about Scaling Up and building new processes to better maintain and manage success. Some of the best agencies out there prescribe to both Traction and Scaling Up by taking actionable cues from both methodologies.
Paperback vs eBook vs Audiobook? Like Scaling Up and Rockefeller Habits, this book is also best consumed with a highlighter and a notebook to take down action items. If you prefer the ease of highlighting in an eBook, definitely go that route.
Never Split the Difference – Written by Chris Voss, a former FBI negotiator, this book is a must read for anyone looking to up their sales and negotiation skills. When you run an agency, you are rarely selling a straightforward service. Instead, there are numerous subtle nuances to consider that drive variable value for your clients, and convincing them of that value can sometimes feel impossible. Never Split the Difference provides you with actionable tips that you can immediately implement into your sales conversations, including tips to ensure you get a response on the emails you keep sending to that client who ghosted you the other month!
Paperback vs eBook vs Audiobook? This book works in any of these mediums, but Chris Voss narrates the Audiobook, ensuring that the most important points are expressed how the author wants them to be.
The Win Without Pitching Manifesto – This is a must read for anyone who runs an agency business. Get amazing tips from Blair Enns, the CEO of Win Without Pitching and co-host of the agency podcast 2Bobs. The book helps you learn how to stand out from your competitors and earn more business by shifting the conversation with prospective customers. As writeups on the book suggest, “Anyone who sells ideas or advice will find relevance” in this book.
Paperback vs eBook vs Audiobook? This book works in any of these mediums, but it’s likely best as an eBook so that you can have it accessible on every device for quick reference until the habits presented in the book become part of your standard sales process.
These books have been essential to our own agencies as well – helping us learn as we go so that we could build a successful business, grow our teams and client base in tandem, and ultimately sell for a multimillion dollar exit! Check back often because we will continue to update this list as more great books come to our attention.