Anger, Denial, Acceptance in a Digital Agency

I’m so thematic. The flow of my blog posts have gone from one extreme to another. But for good reason… Anger at clients for parting ways with me. Denial of the fact that clients are not paying me and now acceptance. Acceptance that though I indeed love what I do and know how to do it well, it may be time to do it for someone else. Though having your own digital agency is cool and fun and certainly sexy, it also presents its own set of unique challenges.

In fact, there have been instances over the past 2 1/2 months or so where I have gone through every stage on this graphic.

It goes something like this:

  • Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing that one of my best clients is tightening it’s belt and will no longer be utilizing my skills.
  • Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable, I angle to salvage the deal by offering an alternative service/skill and the client agrees but at a rate that is substantially less than what I was charging.
  • Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion. I’m now pissed that it has come to this and want to take it out on something, so what do I do? I write a blog post about it.
  • Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out, I work doubly hard with my other clients to make sure that they are happy and look for new business. I realize that times are tough and everyone thinks they can do what we do.
  • Depression stage:  My other large client has now missed 2 invoicing periods and now I have turned into a collection agency and have stopped work on their account. The final realization of the inevitable is starting to sink in. It might be the realization that maybe having a digital agency in Southwest Florida wasn’t such a good idea in such crappy economic times.. So to combat this bout of depression, I wrote a post about the situation. It seems to help some but offers little solace.
  • Testing stage:  I call this the looking for answers or seeking solutions stage. I have decided to use my network to see what else is out there, determined to make the best of a bad situation. I know the timing is not exactly the best right?  But sanity is important right now.
  • Acceptance stage: I’m realizing that it’s not only tough to run your own agency, but it’s also tough to do the majority of the work, job the rest out, manage it, find more clients, look for talented people, stay current, do proposals, write posts etc. etc., Knowing this and coming to grips with the situation  has allowed me to finally find the way forward, and realize that yes, I still love social media so much that I blogged about it. 🙂 but I can have more of an impact on a larger scale in another capacity. So though I will continue to consult in some capacity as I go forward, it’s time to see what else is out there as well.

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8 thoughts on “Anger, Denial, Acceptance in a Digital Agency

  1. Hey Marc,

    I had some of those same emotions when I was working full time at building my own business in 2008. Highs are high, but lows are low. There are definitely good and bad things about it.

    Looking forward to hearing what comes out of all this.

  2. @Jason Thanks Jason. It’s been tough, a lot of it has to do with the eggs in the basket scenario, but perhaps the tougher part has been, trying to get a foothold in down here in SW Florida. Tough economic times but made even tougher by the fact that this is essentially a construction/tourism type area and not necessarily a tech corridor. I look forward to the next challenge though..I’m not completely closing up shop but have decided to see what is out there.

  3. Marc,

    It seems the universe is *exactly* like this, if you have your own independent business. I’ve had my own tiny specialized consulting firm since 1988 and it’s always just as you say. It has actually not much to do with social media and just the nature of providing a very specialized skillset. When the economy is good, it’s great, and everyone wants/needs/pays you for what you do best. When the economy tanks…you’ll go through these cycles.

    Best thing to do, imo, is focus on the businesses that can sustainably pay you, find stuff for you to do that you’re good at, and who meet their invoice cycles or are at least honest about it when they can’t.

    Hang in, and think big.


  4. Marc:

    I suddenly realize I have never left a comment before. I should have. But now’s the perfect time to observe that you are smart and insightful – factors that will undoubtedly play into your next great gig.

    I’ll be cheering for you.

  5. Hey Marc, I just stumbled upon this. Going through the exact same thing. This post is 6 months old, what has happened to you since? Kevin

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