What I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Owning a Social Media Agency

by | Jul 6, 2023 | Entrepreneurship, Oh Snap! News

Oh Snap! We’re five. It’s hard to believe doing this whole business thang full time for five whole years (and three additional building the business on the side). It’s gone fast and slow all at the same time. What’s the phrase? “The days are slow, but the years are fast!” 

It seems like just yesterday I hired a business coach to help me with the literal words and the gusto I needed to quit my full time job at an agency and go all in on my own biz. But I did it back in 2018. Quit day was the most sick to my stomach, palm sweating day of my life. That being said, every ounce of my being knew it was the right thing for me and aligned with what I wanted for my life. I wanted to have the freedom to decide how much income I wanted to make and how much time I wanted to spend working without having to ask for time off because when I was blessed with a family of my own, they would come first. 

With $25k sitting in a biz bank account (from those three years of building it on the side and not taking pay) I self-funded Oh Snap! Social and quickly read and adopted the Profit First method so I could finally pay myself. After all, a cushion of a full time job wasn’t there. This lack of security was terrifying for me. But security in entrepreneurship doesn’t exist so I had to get over that…phew, quickly. 

Walk down memory lane with me as I share my lessons learned…

2018-2019: In year one I learned…

Freelancing and agency life were two very different things and I decided I didn’t want to own an agency (oh, how times change). 

The skillset to work as a fractional social media manager within organizations – this takes adaptability and patience with yourself and others as you learn the hierarchy and systems of the organization.

The power of subcontracting with the right organizations and one of those that I worked with way back in 2018, I’m still a part of today. 

How to ask for help.I hired my first contractor to help with content development and strategy. Asking for help as a very independent person (perhaps it’s the only child thing) has been extremely difficult during this journey. But it truly is the only way to grow and how I quickly realized I had a social media agency. 

The skillset to prop up minor systems and hire a temporary ads manager to keep the lights on during my wedding and 3 week honeymoon in the Mediterranean (with no wifi on the cruise ship.) This was a test for me, but to this day I remember being present in the moments rather than buried in my phone, there was something so freeing about it. The pictures in my mind are so vivid like…where I turned the corner of the Accademia Gallery in Florance, Italy to gaze upon the Statue of David for the first time (jaw dropping in more ways than one..haha), sipping a cold Peroni in the St. Mark’s Square in Venice, eating appetizers in Santorini overlooking the ocean at sunset, sipping mudslides on the dock of the cruise ship as the salty air blew my hair back. These moments I felt at peace, I felt everything at home and in business was taken care of…this is what I’ve been searching to replicate since those 3 weeks off. 

The power of networking, I had joined one of the best (obvs I’m bias) BNI groups in Northern Virginia a year prior and it taught me how to hone my message and how important it was to build and maintain relationships with other business owners within the community. I’m proud to say, I still reach out to, refer and work with many of these business friends today. Any one who is starting a business, I highly recommend joining BNI for at least 2 years (though all groups aren’t created equal) and see how it can help your skills as a business owner and boost your bottom line at the same time.

2019-2020: In year two I learned…

That confidence is everything. When a worldwide pandemic imploded my entire March 2020 content calendars, caused some brick and mortar businesses to abruptly end their contracts with Oh Snap! or severely reduce their contracts, I initially panicked. But then I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I served the crap out of those clients who were sticking it out and I developed new ways for clients to engage with our services. 

The importance of systems. Though the pandemic was still upending our world, everyone was working on defining a “new normal.” I took the time to develop some systems with help – hired our first Online Business Manager (OBM) then our second OBM to get super clear on the direction I knew was inevitable as people were going to need to double down on digital, which of course included social media marketing. I also hired a community manager to implement outreach and engagement on behalf of clients because there were not enough hours in a day to tackle this manual work and still have time to develop content, manage client relationships, network and work on business development at the same time.

2020-2021: In year three I learned…

I needed to hire more. I hired my first account manager and executive admin in September-ish time frame after what was an INSANE summer of onboarding clients. June of 2021 I think we onboarded like 5 new clients in one month — never doing that again. 

To adapt to an ever-changing digital landscape. People quickly figured out social media was something they needed with in-person events still on pause. Hiring has always been super difficult, but I’ve learned so much about the hiring process throughout year three and year four.

To slow down…kinda. Honestly, year three was and still is a blur, I was operating in burn out and had a burn it all down days every month. There were days when I didn’t feel motivated to create any of my own content (a la Reels). My creative juices were in a drought. I wanted to quit, but the alternative of going to find a “job” gave me a pit in my stomach. No thank you, ma’m. 

2021-2022: In year four I learned…

That burnout was a real thing and that if I didn’t somehow climb my way out of it I’ll be in deep shit. Thank goodness for therapists. The blur of business was still present and operating in a more survival mode. Ooof, I was focused chasing the mighty dollar and what all of the internet saw as successful — a 7-figure business. This is what I thought I wanted in year four…but it’s not until now, looking back, that there was NO way that was going to happen with the burnout I was already feeling. 

To develop boundaries and stick to them. I learned that I needed to establish a threshold for how many clients could be on our active roster— when was enough, truly enough. But that didn’t happen until year five. 

I was going to be a mom. I found out I would be starting a family and our sweet girl would be joining us in July 2022. Cue all of the work to prep and get ready for her arrival, which by the way, the resources for entrepreneur/business owners with lean teams for maternity leave doesn’t exist. 

2022-2023: In year five I learned…

Not all things go to plan. I did all the steps necessary to prep to be on maternity leave of about three months. We hired a replacement account manager who ended up ghosting two weeks before my due date. Fun times. But the bright side, my clients had been prepped for me being out and my team jumped in to take on some of the account management responsibilities. At the same time, we pressed pause on onboarding and sales — which maybe in hindsight wasn’t the best move since it took some time later in the year to build up the pipeline again. However, we used this time to develop an automated onboarding system to make onboarding easier. 

To refocus my why— the reason I started this business in the first place — my growing family. I had always prayed my business would be something that would allow me to contribute to the financial wellness of my family, while having the time freedom to be with my family without the worry or having to ask a boss for time off. For too long I lost sight of this mentality. My why got fuzzy. This was the year I am aligning my business with my life not the other way around. 

To hold my boundaries and make decisions in business based on my values. I had been saying for two years that I wanted to take Fridays off. In the summer of 2023 I decided to just choose to do it. Every Friday June – August I was not working. I’m hoping to continue this as we get into the fall season as well. 

This shift from hustle to “soft” has been more present within the business world online lately and I’m here for it! Less stress. More joy. Calm environments. Back to basics. We’re tired. I’m tired (and I’m not just talking first time mama sleep deprivation). For too long I thought the goal was to make $1M and yes, that would be epic. I welcome that bottom line, but not at the expense of working 14-16 hours a day, seven days a week which is the kind of hours I was putting in during year three and four. I was exhausted. My team was exhausted. Something needed to change. And when it’s your business it starts with you. For me it was leaning on my mantra as of late: maintain, refine, simplify. 

Maintain my bottom line from last year. Maintain expectations. Maintain boundaries.

Refine team. Refine systems. Refine who we enjoy working with as clients. 

Simplify services. Simplify day-to-day. Simplify business development and sales. 

This journey has been a wild yet rewarding one and I am so proud of what I’ve been able to do with the help of so many along the way. I can finally feel and see that business is moving in the direction I’ve always dreamed and prayed for and I can’t wait to see what the next five years bring.