Breaking the Boom-Bust Cycle in Agency Life: The Ups and Downs of the Agency Rollercoaster

As an agency owner, it often feels like you’re strapped into a relentless rollercoaster.

One moment, you’re landing new clients and exciting projects, and the next, you’re spiralling into overwhelm and burnout, trapped in a vicious cycle of boom or bust a familiar adversary for many marketing agencies and one you’re probably intimately familiar with. 

So, what exactly is the boom or bust cycle, and how does it impact us? 

The Highs and Lows of the Boom or Bust Cycle

Picture this: You’ve invested significant time and resources into your marketing efforts for your agency, from crafting compelling content (AI-assisted if you’re clever) to running targeted ads and social media campaigns. 

The payoff is sweet as client inquiries flood in, and before you know it, you’re swimming in a sea of beautifully crafted proposals, new clients and awesome projects. 

It’s an incredible time as you and your agency ride the dopamine roller coaster and bask in the glow of success, celebrating the rush of growth.

It’s not just your balance sheet that feels the impact—there’s a palpable buzz in your team as members feel more motivated, creativity blooms, and there’s a general sense of achievement that fills every meeting. 

Here’s a breakdown of the positives that come with this phase:

  • New projects mean more income. It’s the obvious benefit, and it’s immediate.
  • Each new client or project adds to your agency’s portfolio, enhancing your market standing and credibility.
  • With more work, there’s often a need to expand the team, which can mean fresh talent and new ideas flowing into the agency.

But as the initial excitement fades, reality sets in. 

With a surge in demand for new business comes the pressure to deliver – and suddenly, you find yourself stretched thin, juggling multiple deadlines and struggling with overwhelm and exhaustion as you try to keep up with the workload.

Cue burning the candle at both ends and compromising your social life (what social life?).

  • Your first hurdle is balancing old and new projects without compromising quality
  • With increased volume comes the risk of diluted quality, unless processes and standards are scaled proportionally.
  • Increased workload can lead to team burnout, impacting team morale, productivity, and ultimately, the quality of work produced.

Become a business owner they said – create the freedom you’re always desired … they said

The very marketing efforts that brought in the influx of clients now seem like a double-edged sword, as you grapple with the challenge of fulfilling your commitments while maintaining a half-baked attempt at some kind of work-life balance.

Your family and friends aren’t happy, and neither are you. This isn’t what you signed up for!

The Boom or Bust Cycle Is MORE Common Than You Think!

The boom or bust cycle isn’t just a rollercoaster of emotions—it’s a painful reality that too many agencies face regularly. 

  • The frustration of overpromising and under delivering 
  • The fear and stress of maybe losing clients due to missed deadlines
  • The relentless anxiety and pressure to perform
  • Worrying whether you’ve made enough to make payroll 

This cycle can take its toll on both you, your agency, your team and your clients.

One of the most significant pain points of the boom or bust cycle is the risk of client dissatisfaction. 

When you’re overwhelmed with projects, it’s all too easy for things to slip through the cracks, leading to missed deadlines, subpar delivery, and ultimately, unhappy clients. 

Not only will this damage your agency’s reputation, but it also jeopardises future business opportunities and possible revenue streams.

Another pain point is the pressure to perform. 

As service models, you strive to meet the demands of your clients but often sacrifice your own well-being in the process. 

Long hours, tight deadlines, and constant stress become the norm, leading to burnout and exhaustion for you and your team.

Let’s not forget the financial implications of the boom or bust cycle. 

While the influx of new clients may initially seem like a windfall, the reality is that it often leads to feast or famine scenarios, where we struggle to maintain a steady, consistent, reliable stream of income (and leads). 

Ultimately, you find yourself swinging between prospecting and delivery, and your cash flow and sanity suffer in the process…

This unpredictability makes it challenging to plan for the future and can ultimately lead to financial instability and even having to throw in the towel for some agencies.

How to Breaking Free from the Cycle

So, how can we break free from the boom or bust cycle to achieve sustainable growth and success? 

It all starts with a shift in mindset and approach.

1. First and foremost, prioritise client satisfaction above all else. 

Rather than focusing solely on acquiring new clients, you should strive to deliver exceptional service and value to existing clients, building long-term relationships based on trust and mutual success.  This leads to repeat business and great referrals, meaning you DON’T need to do as much prospecting.

2. Additionally, invest in systems and processes that streamline your own workflows and improve efficiencies for both the client experience and conserving precious resources.

From project management tools (we use Asana, I hear great things about Click-up, I don’t like Monday much) to automation software, technology can be a powerful ally in helping manage workload more effectively and deliver high-quality results in a timely manner. So much software has native automation now, and with the no code platforms like Zapier – that whole incremental = exponential principle kicks in.

3. Furthermore, adopt a proactive approach to business development, rather than waiting for the next boom to come along will help you in the long run. 

By diversifying your client base, expanding service offerings, and nurturing relationships with existing clients, we can create a more stable and resilient business model that is less susceptible to the ups and downs of the market.

In summary, the boom or bust cycle is a harsh reality for many marketing and support agencies, but it doesn’t have to be a permanent state of affairs. 

By prioritising client satisfaction, investing in efficiency and technology, and adopting a proactive approach to business development, you can break free from the cycle and achieve sustainable growth and success.

It’s not always easy, but with dedication, determination, and a willingness to embrace change, you can turn a rollercoaster ride into a steady climb to the top.

Want to learn more? Book a call and let’s see how I can help you automate and grow your business with confidence!