Hiring and developing others w/ Kate Izell

In the season finale of Production Ready, I talk to Kate Izell. We discuss making the transition from freelancer to agency, and how to grow their employees.

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Transcript
Glenn Stovall:
[00:00:00] Hey everyone. I'm here with Kate Izell, who runs a remote digital marketing agency here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And we're here today to talk about making the transition from being a solo freelancer to a business owner, running an agency. How are you doing today? 

Kate Izell: [00:00:12] I'm doing well. How are 

Glenn Stovall: [00:00:13] you 

 

 doing great.

Great. we were talking earlier that you're helping someone else who was a developer, grow their business from, they were an individual freelancer and there's, you're helping them level up. to more of an agency and a business. Is that right? 

Kate Izell: [00:00:29] Yeah. That's something that we're early stage working on right now.

Glenn Stovall: [00:00:34] And, 

 

yeah. So 

 

what was the sort of inflection point that led to wanting to make that leap for your friend? 

Kate Izell: [00:00:42] I guess it's. Similar to a lot of people where they come to this realization of, I do have a lot of independence as a freelancer. and I do like my phone stability and control, but there is a sense of, there's a little bit of a sense of instability with it.

when you're a freelancer, you can really only stretch your resources so far. and then when you start thinking, if I get a whole team, I can Close more of these, retainer contracts or, be more confidently onboarding these larger projects that will pay out over, several months or years.

so I think in this particular case, there was certainly some of that, of course there's so just this, the, or of an individual, some people are more risk averse to what that might. Look and then some are just ready to jump into something exciting. But I think in this case it was, he's seeing that he has the skills and abilities and an actual business owner and is realizing he likes those parts.

I think there's also, there's commonly this idea that, I really like doing the work. I don't want to stop doing the work and manage other people. I love this stuff and then I don't get to do it. And then you the people who do make the transition find actually I really the management side, cause it's very satisfying to see a cohesive team function really well.

And it starts Oh yeah, I think I want to be here. Cause you do get to jump in when you want to and get involved or get in the weeds when it makes sense. But, it's not expected in a day in day out and I think there's some comfort there too. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:02:18] Oh yeah, for sure. And yeah, it's very much like correct.

The book that E-Myth revisited talks about, that how, if you are ever someone who bakes pies and you want to open a bakery, you'll spend so little of your time in the kitchen. 

Kate Izell: [00:02:31] Yeah, but, 

Glenn Stovall: [00:02:32] yeah, I'm want to zoom it. The first you talked about being risk adverse, what are some of the risks you think people take on when they're trying to make this leap?

Kate Izell: [00:02:41] the risk is, It can get fairly, personal, because some of the risks are, if I make this leap, now I'm in control of someone else's income or someone else's the livelihood, essentially. Yeah. That affected me. just because I, I care about people when I know them like a care a lot and.

there was this kind of moment of wait if I'm paying someone's salary, then literally if I fire them, they might have to go on unemployment. there's this sort of fear around having control like that. Of course, I'm not, you're not the end all be all, but I think that's part of it is I'm accountable for more lives.

That's how it feels. and there's also just the risk of the, it feels risky. Yeah. Have go into the unknown, you get used to handling a handful of projects here and there, but, you know structurally things have to change once you start scaling and you don't really know what those changes look like until you make mistakes and have to.

fix them and then come up with new systems to make sure it doesn't happen again. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:03:40] Yeah. It reminds me of a, there's an article I read somewhere that talks about when you start running a business, it's not so much that you ever solve problems. it's the, when you solve problems, you don't have fewer problems.

You've just won bigger and better problems for yourself. 

Kate Izell: [00:03:54] Yeah. And sometimes the problems are a lot scarier. Yeah. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:03:58] So how did you tackle it when you started hiring on full time employees? Like, how did you deal with that fear of, Oh, no. Now I'm responsible for someone's 

Kate Izell: [00:04:06] livelihood. Yeah. the point for me was.

So I was a freelancer. Most of my work was, paid advertising, like digital advertising. And so it's really easy to get kind of retainer clients like that because it's like, there's no point that they don't need to advertise themselves. either they've already done it before and they know they need someone reliable to keep doing it, or they haven't tried and they get in there and they realize, Oh, I can make money doing this, but either way, it's pretty reliable income.

So I wasn't really worried about that. Like the financial part, but, the thing that really pushed me was that I realized I'm really tired of doing this work. I was just like, this was my job. This is what I had to do at my last job. And I'm doing it as a freelancer and now it's been several years and it's interesting, but I have very diverse interests.

So I was very, I was all about, what's the next thing, what's the next challenge. And so I was interested in the challenge of what does it look like to hire somebody, but I was extremely slow and hesitant on the process. My first full time hire actually worked for me as a contractor.

For about a year before I hired her full time. and then it was like another year until I got another full time employee. And then once you get a couple, it becomes more natural to, see, okay, we have these in the pipeline. when this thing closes, I'm going to be hiring for this position.

And it becomes more natural at that point, but it's certainly, it was very slow, it took probably like three years to say, okay, I have two actual employees now. and of course in our digital world, you end up using a lot of contractors and partnering with people. It's like closing the gaps until you have that reliable team.

And that's also part of the challenge is knowing who are you? Who should you actually hire versus who should just be a contractor? And that's one that I feel like I'm constantly uncertain about. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:06:07] who should be an employee versus contractor? 

Kate Izell: [00:06:10] A lot of it for me is because it's a service business.

So much of service is just really good client communication and management. of course, internal project management, but the client facing stuff can become. Very involved. obviously that to a degree depends on the client and the service, but for the most part, when they're investing, certain amounts, for us, we have very small clients that don't invest a lot.

And then others that invest quite a bit and you never know which client is going to care so deeply about that dollar they spend, sometimes we'll have a small client, or what we've considered small and we have to be very high touch. And we spent a lot of time to help them understand what's going on.

and so that unknown of onboarding a new project or a new client, and then knowing, okay. Someone has to be at the head of making sure these people, have expectations set that they feel cared for. just the whole laundry list of things that we need to be careful about. that's the part of the business that I can't outsource.

Like I really can't because it very much reflects back on the company. and there has to be a company tone and. A sort of definition around what is this active client management look like? cause it can really make or break a relationship and in some cases, so I have found if I'm hiring, it's going to be someone that does quite a bit of client facing.

I've tried hiring for individuals that were a little bit more behind the scenes, but I think I've ultimately found those make a lot more sense as contractors, because they are really just extensions of our internal process. But once I get into, okay, you're going to really handle this.

High level, like all facets of this component, like that needs to be a full time person. I've tried outsourcing that before and that did not work out well. So again, this goes back to what I said before is the growing pains of you, just things go wrong and you realize, Oh, there was, that has taught me some truism about how this should actually be done that you can't really know until you go through that.

Glenn Stovall: [00:08:21] Yeah. Yeah. For sure. what are some other growing pains that you've experienced or seeing with others? 

Kate Izell: [00:08:28] I've said before in my own experience that, it starts getting scary on the cashflow side. Once you go from freelance to agency. So as a freelancer, you Expect that there are going to be some months where, I'm in a dip, I might have projects on hold, but I just don't have as much coming through my pipeline or I'm not getting that as many referrals or whatever it is.

and then some months where you just flush and get like big payments all coming through. And so you learn how to manage that. okay, here's my basic expenses as an individual. Here's how I need to plan out my finances. But at the point where you start actually. Scaling a UN agency, and these like higher dollar amounts start coming in and you start increasing your expenses by hiring people and getting contractors.

that part, I think is a so whole learning curve, because if you didn't know much about business before, you're very much, Forced if, I would say encouraged if you haven't done it, but you really want to understand business finance at that point, like understanding your actual accounting reports and things like that.

and in my case, hiring to get someone to manage that full time, there does come a point where it makes sense for something that. Complex to be like very diligently managed by somebody. So that's another part of the growing pain is not just, okay. I need to make sure I have the right people for these services, but also how do I make sure operationally like administratively on my business that things are being handled.

and so that crops up at some point we were like, okay, I can't manage this anymore. Yeah. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:10:02] And you mentioned cashflow, that's something I've wondered about because I, I freelance for about five years at a point in my career and I. I, I have subcontractors here and there and thought about, could I scale this?

But the sorta Canyon I always got stuck on is, you need these bigger clients in these very cashflows to be able to hire employees, but you also need employees so that you can be confident that you can handle that amount of work. 

Kate Izell: [00:10:27] So 

Glenn Stovall: [00:10:29] w what do you do? 

Kate Izell: [00:10:31] Yeah, that's why it was so slow for me.

Is there's, when you're thinking about cashflow, fortunately for, the knowledge work that we do that has very low overhead, like most of what we would have to pay for is really just, people's time. some tools, but tools are generally a much lower expense. So yeah, that, the biggest thing that becomes a risk in terms of cashflow is if I hire somebody or even just starting, Some sort of agreement with a contractor you like that can sometimes be so substantial.

but for that was definitely the challenge I experienced, for me, part of it was as a freelancer, if you're starting to think about becoming or building an actual agency or something like that, it becomes, okay. I need to start thinking about the money I'm bringing in freelancing as.

You know that buffer I need for my cash. Hello. When I am ready to hire, like I have to be thinking about keeping this in my business. and not thinking about it as my money coming into the business, you have to start actually CA like compartmentalizing when I get income. And after I pay all my expenses, and once I set aside what I'm going to need to pay for taxes, what realistically, should I be paying myself?

And what should I keep? in my business account, because of course, as a freelancer, it's all your technically, you can, you're using it as an independent contractor yourself. but you have to shift your mentality and start planning that way. I think that's the easiest way to do it as almost like a budgeting, between what you're now considering your future agency and you're yourself, as an individual making income.

And that mentality has to shift at some point before you actually go into that scaling mode. but also it can help if you. Can get lucky enough to sign, on a client that pays more, but doesn't require as much time. obviously you have the better hourly rate you can get out of something. The more buffer that you're going to have, in your account to hire, because you do have to consider things like, onboarding costs and the fact that you're going to be.

paying payroll taxes, new taxes start coming into play once you start hiring people. and then you have to think about, employee retention, are you going to offer benefits and what are they? And that stuff really starts adding up. I've commented before that we offer, healthcare benefits.

I'm just like, wow. If employers didn't have to pay for healthcare, I could hire a whole other person for my company. It gets so expensive. So things like that, you just don't realize how much those costs can snowball. So you have to go into this like super frugal mentality around the exciting thing about freelancing is, Oh, I feel like I can make endless income, but then it's you can't think that way anymore once you start making that shift to agency.

Glenn Stovall: [00:13:22] Yeah. Yeah. I think a lot of people don't realize that with their payment than what in your salary, even before taxes is probably like. Maybe like 50, 60% of what it costs to hire you depending on the company. 

Kate Izell: [00:13:35] Absolutely. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:13:36] Yeah. especially in the, before times then you'd have to factor in things like office rent and equipment desks.

Kate Izell: [00:13:42] Yeah. even as a remote agency will purchase the, desks computers, we just find creative ways to get them shipped to these people's homes, but we provide all of that. Cause it's, we're trying to think in terms of. If they're doing this work for us, we want that equipment that they would normally have in an office.

because there's a lot of perks for the individual, the employee to work remote. but it's not as great when you feel like you have to do all the work to make it feel like, you have a space. it's okay. like here, I'm going to hire you full time. If you can't afford a desk, sorry, I guess you can just work on your couch. So we cover all of that, but that's all stuff that we had to think through. we now have these ranges of, okay, this is what it costs to onboard a with an employee. And here's, it includes things like each piece of equipment. what do we already have ready or stored away.

and of course, thankfully we, we personally hire Very understanding and very flexible employees that are like, okay, I understand this is like a small business that, we're a bit scrappy, so everything's not going to be like super, corporate in terms of, everyone gets the same exact, monitor or whatever.

and they're really understanding about us just going through some of these growing pains, especially the earlier employees. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:15:06] Oh, yeah. Yeah. some people just love being like the early adopter, the sort of employee one through 10 is a very 

Kate Izell: [00:15:12] different, and then you don't, you might not like it as much when you make it several years in and you're, you don't have any authority over time.

That's actually something that has very much occurred to me is if I'm hiring people and keep them around, I can put myself in their shoes and think. I want there to be a point where I feel like I've really grown a lot here and that's reflected in yeah. My position, and my authority within the company.

And so that's actually a big, a very satisfied part of the job I like is that I, actively. pursue what that looks like for each person. Some people do not want that. some people really are just like, no, I just want to keep doing it. Yes. I don't want to, I don't want to be in management. I don't want to, I just want to do this thing.

I really liked. And of course I want to check in with those people and see if that attitude changes. Cause I know when I started in my career when I was 23, 24, very different mentality than I have now about like, How business works and what I actually enjoy, I had a notions about what I liked and notions about what I didn't like, but, your preferences change and your understanding changes.

Try to keep tabs on that too. But I think that's the most fun part is not just having the business group, but watching how other, like each person develops, like how much of that is my decision as in terms of running the business and how much it's like giving them the creative space.

So go into a natural direction. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:16:39] Yeah. I really liked, radical candor's model on that with people they. they talk about people being either rockstars or superstars and not in the Silicon Valley job posting sense, but rockstars are people who solid as a rock and they really like being good at their craft and doing whatever it is they do.

And superstars are like you said, people who want to grow and authority and responsibility at their. They're wherever they are, they're working. And not that one's not better or worse than the other, just different people have different intrinsic motivations and at different points of your career. 

Kate Izell: [00:17:14] I think you need both really.

there's always gonna need to be someone who is the rock. who's like really reliable and you just know I can pull this person in and things will get handled, because I think the superstar. People are, I guess in the corporate world, we would consider them the ones that like climb the ladder or whatever, but those exist in other space.

People like that. I exist. I'm one of those people and I don't want to work in it. I've never worked corporate. But I do climbing to, different sort of levels of achievement or trying new things, just 

Glenn Stovall: [00:17:47] entrepreneurially. 

Kate Izell: [00:17:49] Yeah. but it doesn't have to be that kind of corporate version and it can just be like constantly, trying different things or what's the next level of what I'm doing.

And am I interested in that or I'll dabble with it. but I have certainly learned that. There's a lot of value in having that sort of, I consider the rock stars, like the extreme loyalists. Like they are a very hard to lose once they're very comfortable. Like they like their flow. They like. The they feel challenged enough and that's like all they need.

there, I think from what I've observed seemed like much harder for companies to poach. Once they're like super complacent and feel like they're valued. Then they'll just stick around. I think those are great employees. but I do think the superstar, but it did want to mention that. what I found interestingly is when I, when I started growing, I really wanna, intentionally wanted to hire women, specifically just cause I have personally had, felt very limited, in my growth opportunities when I was managed by men.

And so I was really interested in what. What if I could just give other way an opportunity to be managed by a woman? Not that I'm a great manager, but I was just very interested in that notion. and what I have found is I hire women who are very intelligent, like extremely sharp, but do not have this natural drive to.

even though they have very much like a super star potential, I guess you could say, or, like that from someone else's, you might be a very clear path for them. it doesn't occur to them to pursue that. And I think part of that is honestly, some level of socialization for women who have worked in very male dominated environments is that kind of gets suppressed out of them.

where they think, Oh, the guys get promoted anyway. So I'll just stay in my lane. And then, what I have found is I have to introduce them to this idea of being the superstar of Hey, this actually could be something you do, you don't have to, just know it's an option.

And in some cases I've presented that and it's actually they were like, Oh, okay. And then they, Thought about it and realized, Oh, Hey, that actually is totally what that's me. I do want to do that. so I actually do have an employee that is very much like superstar track and it's taken quite some time, I think, for her to leave this mentality of one little piece of the puzzle that just exists and supports and saying, no, you have like real leadership potential.

But that's, I think that's worth mentioning just because I think it's important for leaders or managers to identify, That sometimes you really have to coach someone there when they don't recognize it. either because there could be a number of reasons, socialization, or I don't know, I'm not a psychologist, but it's something that I noticed.

I was just curious about it. Hey, I think this person could actually do more. and I just kinda gave that option out there and ended up being what she needed. and I'm just glad that happened because I don't know how often that happens. Other places I just haven't witnessed. Enough to know.

Glenn Stovall: [00:21:00] Yeah. am that's awesome. Like just, based on my personal experience is that kind of management investing in your employees is a rare, incredibly rare. yeah. So I guess, yeah. What can managers do to do better about encouraging their employees like that? 

Kate Izell: [00:21:15] I think it helps too.

I know, cheesy to do those, business personality, assessment things. I know they're really common in corporate spaces, but I don't know that they're used as, as well as they could be. It's like when someone says, Oh, I am an Enneagram eight or whatever. and then they just think that.

Stat represents facts about themselves versus like actually applying or demonstration. this is how that manifested life or how it gives me perspective on particular things. I see that similarly where they churn now these corporate personality things. but we actually do use one of those.

We use the Birkman method. I work with a local business consultant. His name is Mike Carroll. actually would love to plug him Mike Carroll. He's a business consultant and he used to work for Firestone, back in corporate Firestone way back when they first started like telecommunications. Yeah.

Internet, but he's just really empathetic, sharp guy. And, he's the Birkman method and it really, I think helps identify strengths of people that you wouldn't know. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:22:26] what is the main message? Can you give us a quick, like 

Kate Izell: [00:22:30] yeah. The Birkman method is, an assessment that basically, has these sort of they all have these four quadrant things.

but it puts you categorically in a business in terms of whether you're more of a, what we would consider the Dewar. which is more of an extroverted quality, communicator, also an extroverted quality. I think one is an analyzer. which is of course, introverted. And then I can't remember the other one, the fourth one is like a lot of developers, like really wanting to be more problem solving and independent.

but you map these based on your usual interests, your, natural behaviors as well as your needs. so your, each of those falls into some quadrant and it could be all on the same one or all three different. So me, for example, my usual behavior falls into the Dewar quadrant. So like I really like getting things done and working through tasks pretty quickly.

but my interest is in the, Oh, the strategy quadrant. Sorry. That's what I meant there. Analyzer is the developer one strategy is, is considered a little bit more of the introverted, creative type, So it's like I span these sort of extrovert, introverted things, and then your needs fall into one.

The needs part is supposed to help where, especially in, communication and understanding how to work together, you don't necessarily know what somebody needs because they present a certain way. But you don't necessarily see. So for example, I present very assertive. and in some ways, have been told that sometimes that can be intimidating, I think because of that.

but I'm actually extremely sensitive. And that shows up in my needs that people think that they can just be very assertive with me and that, because that's how I operate. and they don't understand that I can be hurt very easily. and so that's really cha historically it's been challenging for me, cause I didn't quite understand that, I knew that things hurt my feelings, but I didn't think about it.

wow, I present a certain way and people don't even understand this about me unless I say it. so that kind of stuff actually comes out. So it like really gets an enmity gritty of like fine tuning your communication as a team. but I mentioned that. your original question was like, how do you identify that?

Like being able to like better manage and coach people, things in these reports, as I learn about them from my, business advisor, my Akil explain what it means. And so when I see something in someone else, like this particular employee I'll see aspects in it, that's this is a great empathetic leader.

she operates as a supporter, but she has a lot of potential in her report for leadership. that, she, she didn't even realize, so that became a helpful tool. that's like a tangible way to approach it. Otherwise it's just Use your intuition. It's like, all I can say is get to know your people really well.

and listen and ask them questions and give them opportunities to try stuff. Yeah. Don't, don't feel like you have to locks them into like their priorities or whatever. I know that's challenging because you also don't want to exploit people. There's this idea that some people get stretched into so many different roles and then they're still only paid for one.

I think it's like you want some in between where you give them these growth or learning opportunities, if that becomes a serious thing and it develops, obviously you want to think about their compensation, with that and keep that in mind. if you are encouraging people to grow up, be thinking, okay, there's a point I'm about to pay them more and be ready for that.

you shouldn't want to pay or people who are. Definitely a mentality you have to have, if you're going to go from freelancer to agency is, I cannot think about number one, if I'm, That can be a big deciding factor if you're not sure to be a freelancer or run an agency, know that if you start running an agency, there could be a point where, the best choice is just stop, pay yourself, on a given month, if it's best for the company and best for everybody else and keeping your team strong, you have to think about I'm the one that needs to take that hit first and you have to be ready to, I guess they call that servant leadership of.

No always going in and taking the fall when it has to happen. yeah. And making sure you're supporting your team. Because otherwise you end up being that boss that everybody hates. I think we know those. Yeah. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:26:41] And the, the other thing too about talking about the mindset shift is if you're giving your employees some room to experiment, then you're also giving up a lot of control, which can be really scary, especially like you said, it's very, like you said, like how those clients, those relationships are incredibly important.

Kate Izell: [00:26:58] Yup. That's a really good point because something that you inevitably experience every single time you pull someone in and give them that level of authority to be client facing or. trust them with conveying ideas. and that represents, the company. there's always in my experience, there's always some level of growing pains through that.

because it takes time for the individual to understand your company culture and, and in some cases you're hiring somebody that hasn't done this before, it just depends on what you're hiring for. but I do think that can be scary. I personally feel like something like that happening or getting messed up is redeemable.

I feel comfortable going into fix it mode with that kind of stuff, but I can see where that could be really. Scary and nerve wracking, especially when you're early on, maybe with that transition. And you're used to, let's say you've been freelancing with a client and you've been working with them for two years and you want to introduce someone else in, cause you're ready to grow.

that kind of transition I've experienced can be really a little scary. Cause you, you find that you're like, okay, I want to make this transition smooth. So I'll still be involved. But you have to keep being involved, but less and less, like you have to actively remind yourself to pull away and, defer to the other person.

this is, I don't know if totally in context, but this is, it's a nice trick I really to use is if you are used to a, especially as a freelancer, if you're the one that's been communicating with the client for awhile, or you've built up really good rapport. And you want to bring in a new account manager.

What you need to do is, have the account manager involved behind the scenes, have them have some really clear success case studies. So like in our case, it would be, let's say we bring in a new account manager for a like Google ads account. we have them, in the account, we're a guide we're working alongside the, but they identify opportunities.

We encourage them. That sounds great. Go ahead and test it out. If they get some successes out of that and we get to relay those success to the client, then what I'll do is just say, Hey, I actually pulled in, so and so into this account to really help out. And they thought of all these good ideas. I'm going to have them go ahead and share that with you.

And then what it does is it allows them to come in We'll call this cool stuff or all this potential is here. And I identified it as the new person and it makes the client immediately think, Oh wow, this person really knows what they're doing, or this person can really take me to the next level.

and it makes it a lot easier to just hand it off because you come out the gate with look how strong this person is. So you want to internally kind of orchestrate that to a degree don't manufacture it. Like you legitimately want the person to have like case studies. but I have done that to her, I think repeatedly, because it is so successful, they start automatically thinking, wow, this person really knows what they're doing.

Cool. I'm going to keep listening to them. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:29:49] Yeah, that sounds like an awesome way to set them up for success and get them started in a positive light with the client. and as you're talking and about, moving from your clients as you're starting this process, how did you communicate your.

I guess branding for a lack of a better word. Cause I'm just thinking back when I freelance, like people worked with Glen, it'd be hard to be like, Oh, you're like, are they working with Kate? And now it's ISEL marketing. How did you? 

Kate Izell: [00:30:13] Oh, that's interesting because I actually, when I started freelancing, I called it sell marketing group.

I already gave it this sort of agency name, not intending to make it an agency. the reason I did it is because I wanted it to sound more reputable than just this random person doing my ads. And because I didn't know, there could be times that I might work with a contractor. I didn't have thoughts that I would, grow and develop a company.

But I did have thoughts that I might partner with people and it would be more of like an actual group effort. So that's why I named it that way. But I did not name it thinking I'm going to have an agency. so you know, that actually wasn't relevant in my case, cause I already gave it a name. I think that to answer the question, I think what happened is, you would, if you have those clients that you're freelancing, you would say, you know what.

You've been. So you've been so great to work with and you've been so such a big part of my kind of operation building. you can be just very transparent with clients and they'll actually be really excited. cause I have found, even when we hire some of our longterm clients will be excited.

Oh, you got another person like. They are aware that means you're growing and you're succeeding. so I feel like you can just be really sure the spirit when you're freelancing and say, Hey, I'm here more people on. And I'm, in that process, swaying to be really diligent about continuing to provide as good or better quality.

and you can even ask Hey, I love your, just some candor about what that, if you notice something goes wrong, like front with me, if you do notice that not being cared for as much, I think that can go far as just being super upfront about it, because usually when you're freelancing, if it's just, you do really build that sort of personal connection.

With your client anyway, where I think it's appropriate to come at it that way. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:32:05] Yeah. No, that makes total sense. That was really good. 

Kate Izell: [00:32:07] Anything 

Glenn Stovall: [00:32:08] else you'd want to share with developers out there who might be at this point in their career? 

Kate Izell: [00:32:12] Yeah, I actually did want to, I came in here wanting to talk a bit about a development specifically going from freelance developer to, maybe forming a development agency.

I think that maybe a challenge, a lot of. And I might be projecting a little bit because I do have a lot of developer friends as but, and my father's a developer, so I like, I feel like I very much care. Like I have a lot of care for this community. and I've worked with them a lot, but what I just notice is, the developer at his core who really loves just programming and problem solving, If he's making that transition to running an agency, it does mean that he really cares about, building solutions.

he's an, he has to really make a decision around. What does my role look like? And it doesn't have to look like, okay, now I'm running my company. I don't get to be a developer anymore. I think what's cool is about, some developer I've worked with are ones that have made that transition.

they get to decide those rules for themselves, about what parts of my business is me strictly being like. Mrs manager operations. and what parts do I really get to guard and say, okay, this is me. So being a developer, I think that it's very fair for you to make those rules yourself. And I would think that developers, Probably would intuitively want to do that anyway, but might not know what that looks like or like how realistic that is because they haven't maybe experienced business yet.

but I think that also, making that transition one challenge is usually you make this transition because you're really good at getting referrals. So as a developer, a lot of people keep sending you business because you actually like. No, what you're doing and can deliver. and then clients don't get mad at you later or within the process as often as in other cases.

and if that's the case, what can happen and is your referred stuff that you maybe. Would not necessarily take on otherwise, like it wouldn't be a project you would pursue, I guess we'll put it that way. very commonly you might be sent like, Oh man, I have this, former colleague that.

Told me, they had this company build an app, and they just found out like, XYZ issues with it, but they had no idea. And so they are like desperately looking for a, a better partner for this kind of stuff. Or, that's probably a scenario that happens a lot. and so then you get handed that and you're like, okay, I could do this, but maybe I would rather my, development agency focus on, building ground up solutions.

Maybe I don't want to just be like putting out fires every single day. I think. To enjoy your work as a developer, you need at least some healthy mix of that, of like I'm actually crafting and creating solutions versus just fixing junk that other people have ruined. Because I, you know that, unfortunately I think you can easily get bogged down in that.

that kind of work. So that's what I'm thinking is if you're in that position of going from freelancer to agency is it's probably going to be more natural. You can become an agency by potentially getting these contracts. are going to help pay the bills are certainly going to get a lot of billable work, but might not really be the kind of thing you want to do.

I think that there's plenty of opportunity out there to, I'm talking from a marketing perspective, cause I'm a marketing background. there are so many places out there to just get in front of conversations where people have not actually, been like. Dumped on with some sort of dumpster fire, like they're at the beginning stage.

and I think there can be a marketing approach to get more of those opportunities because those are not going to come through as organically. They will hopefully to a degree, but that's the thing is when you're completely re rely on referrals, just take what comes. I experienced that in my agency.

We get referrals all the time and I have to get better and better at just being like, okay, this is, this is a good marketing opportunity, but no, that's not really what we want. and learning how to discern it actually fits, What we want to do. So I think when you go into agency, you should consider it's okay to say, what do I actually want to be doing?

at some point it's okay to say, I don't want that junk. Yes. It pays my bills, but that's not what I want. What does it mean to actually identify a solution to getting in front of opportunities? That would be, much more exciting for my team. something that we feel like we can really put our stamp on something.

We would feel confident, like making a case study out of, like that kind of stuff. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:36:49] Yeah. It's yeah. I ex I feel like all, like all client dollars you make aren't the same. You definitely wanna find projects where you said you can get good case studies and get some kind of, I think it's counterintuitive that as you advance, you get specialized.

It's like picking a major in college that you. It sounds like it would cut you off from clients, but it actually tends to have the opposite effect. 

Kate Izell: [00:37:10] Yeah. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:37:11] It's then it's Oh, at the dev agency, what do they do? they build stuff. Just for example, I know an agency in Atlanta and they're like, we build Shopify stores and I think they've actually, now that we just do Shopify premium clients and that helps a lot.

Cause it's a such a clear. positioning for you and what you do. 

Kate Izell: [00:37:32] Cause the market's there you've come down, you've come up with a system, we have found if we use these sort of like boilerplate templates, we can get this done in six weeks and I was going to cost, if you can plan that as a business owner, it's much more comforting.

So it makes a lot of sense to me that companies do that. That they try all these different things and they're like, you know what? This thing makes more money. It's less of a headache, some other stuff. So therefore that's just going to be the thing we doubled down on it. and that's, point because, people will ask.

Ask my it and see Oh, are there just certain types of companies you work with or are there just certain this or that? cause they think like there must be some really special niche that you're doing. but in our case we, a differentiator, I guess it's not really a differentiator, but coming into this, even as a freelancer, I was like, I just really challenging projects, like ones where.

There's a clear challenge ahead or so much is unknown, but there's so much opportunity to capture data and understand it. Like we just take on stuff where that opportunity is. And sometimes that looks like a healthcare company. Sometimes that looks like a small online retail store. like it completely covers any sort of size and type of company, but each time it's like a.

It's a solution that, in some cases that's very, or a problem that some sometimes has very similar solutions. It's just catered to their, their business messaging or their approach. and that's the fun part is like taking all these same tools and using them in dramatically different ways for different companies.

And that's the fun part to me. so I think there's. in developer world, there's some parallel to that of okay, we're going to be, say language or platform agnostic. We just want this kind of solution, to put out there. We know that we love crafting this kind of solution. So what does that, what's the problem that meets and how do we identify those opportunities?

and it doesn't have to be that your niche is, Oh, we work with. The, just logistics and we build like CSM or something. it's actually gonna maybe be like, we just really like crafting solutions for these types of problems. And then you just find where people are searching for solutions to that kind of problem, then you can in front of it.

Glenn Stovall: [00:39:46] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. 

Kate Izell: [00:39:49] Cool. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:39:49] yeah, sounds great. Is there anything else that you wanted to share or talk about? 

Kate Izell: [00:39:53] Man I could talk all day, Glen talker. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:39:58] Alright. I think we're wrapping up for there. Maybe we'll have you back on for future episode, but, yeah. Kate Izell of Izell marketing. Thanks again for your time.

Kate Izell: [00:40:04] Thank you, Glen.

 

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