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Are you growing your agency to sell it in the future or prefer the idea of building a lifestyle business? Maybe you don't have to choose. When Anna Mannerfelt created Wired Mustang, an agency specializing in brand development and equine marketing, she decided selling her business was not the ultimate goal. Instead, she created a business to support her lifestyle. In today's episode, she sat down with Jason to talk about her negative experiences with agencies and why she fired a few plus the two-fold job of agencies. She also discusses why creating a lifestyle business doesn't mean you can't one day profitably sell it.

3 Golden Nuggets

  1. Why clients fire agencies. Before starting her own business, Anna dealt with many agencies and even fired some after growing tired of a common mistake: the over-promise. Agencies assured they had the capabilities and experience to take on the task and then ultimately would not deliver. “It’s like dating,” she says, “anyone can be a good salesperson, but can you actually deliver what you promise?” Make sure you’re really good at something before you find yourself in a situation where you can’t deliver on promises to clients.
  2. The two-fold job of agencies. In her opinion, an agency should, first of all, make their clients look good, whether by brand design or website or billboards. But most importantly, an agency should increase their clients' sales. Analytics is all good but by the end of the day, are you increasing sales? She makes sure to ask clients if her agency is getting them more business. And if not, it’s time to find out what they are doing wrong.
  3. Having a lifestyle business. We usually talk about the mindset of growing an agency to then sell it and enjoy the lifestyle you want. Anna says she would be bored out of her mind without something to do and preferred to build a lifestyle business. In Jason’s experience, we should all strive to design our business around us rather than having a business that controls us. There are a lot of negative ideas about having a lifestyle business but you could also sell a lifestyle business if you choose to. After all, any business is about setting up the right system and the business operating without you.

Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today's episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design and development agency that has provided white label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out and get 10% off for the first three months of service.


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Building a Successful Lifestyle Business That You Could Sell in The Future

{These transcripts have been auto-generated. While largely accurate, they may contain some errors.}

Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, everybody? Jason Swenk here and got another amazing episode for you. We're going to talk about growing and scaling your agency and really creating an agency that's a lifestyle business. I know a lot of times we talk about growing an agency building up real big and selling it, but what about if you just want to do a lifestyle business? On today's episode we're going to talk exactly about that, so let's go ahead and get into the show.

Hey, Anna. Welcome to the show.

Anna: [00:00:31] Thank you, Jason. It's great to be here.

Jason: [00:00:34] Yeah. So I'm happy to have you here. Tell us who you are and what do you do?

Anna: [00:00:38] Sure. I'm Anna Mannerfelt. I’m the co-founder of an agency called Wired Mustang and we're based out of Denver, Colorado.

Jason: [00:00:46] Awesome. And, uh, tell us, how did you start the agency and why did you do it?

Anna: [00:00:50] Oh, my goodness, Jason. So I've been in marketing for 30 years, started way back when in Sweden and advertising. And then when I came to Colorado a few years ago now to start over, I saw there was a need for businesses to be represented correctly online with actual professional digital marketers. And having hired and fired a lot of agencies throughout the years, I saw there was a gap for this and a need for it, and also, uh, an opportunity for us to set up a business that we feel very, very strongly about, but also more of a lifestyle business that coincides with our personal interests with horses. So, there you go.

Jason: [00:01:31] That's awesome. And what were some of the things that when you were working with agencies and in your past, you said, I fired a lot of them. What did they do to get fired? Let's start it there.

Anna: [00:01:43] The over-promise. They said, we can do this or we've done this a gazillion times. They over-promised and they come in and do, it's like dating, you know, you go in and you work for the agency.

They, they, they're singing and they're dancing and they show their pretty graphs and analytics and all that goody stuff. But most of it was just show. It was all bullshit. I don't know if I'm allowed to curse. I'm sorry if I do.

Jason: [00:02:03] No, you’re allowed to.

Anna: [00:02:05] Okay. Awesome. It was just smoke and mirrors and it's just like any relationship. Anyone can be a good salesperson, but can you actually deliver what you promise? So that was something that, uh, throughout the years and in the advertising agencies and also in marketing, when I was on the corporate side, it was just very frustrating because you get sold this big hoopla of we’re going to do this for you.

But by the end of the day, Jason, in our view, in my view and agency's job is twofold. Number one is to make you look good, whatever that is. If it's a brand design or website or billboards, whatever it is that you are a professional at. Then, more importantly is two, are you increasing your clients sales? Not just make you look good.

That's something that we are super stickler at over here at Wired Mustang. We are a little bit of control enthusiasts, some will call you a control freak. I say that that's awesome. Analytics is all good, but by the end of the day, are you increasing sales? We ask our clients, are you getting more patients? Are you getting more signups with your insurance?

Are you getting more of this and that? And if not, what are we doing wrong?

Jason: [00:03:15] Yeah, that's kind of the thing that I've seen over the years when we're interviewing agencies for the show or for the mastermind, you know, the prerequisite is, is like, are they delivering the results? And I have so many people that go to me and they're like, hey, um, does your training show me how to do a particular service?

I'm like, no, it doesn't. It shows you exactly, like… It's already assuming you know how to do something really well. You shouldn't start an agency if you're not really good at something. I see these people creating courses, going live anywhere, travel the world. Own an agenc… like, I'm like, no, I don't do that.

So let's switch to the lifestyle part because I liked the lifestyle part. Because a lot of us think, let me sweat in blood guts all over the place for five, 10 years, build up an agency and sell it. And then I can have the lifestyle I want. Why did you decide right off the bat to create a lifestyle business for your agency?

Anna: [00:04:15] First of all, I'll be bored out of my mind if I retired on nothing to do. That's number one, you have to have something to do. And when it's a lifestyle business, it doesn't feel like work, Jason. It's we get up in the morning at 4:30, we go to the gym cause we all have to stay in shape, right? The older you get, the more you have to work. Same goes with your business.

We start at 6:30, 7 AM every day, but it doesn't feel like work because it's work, but it's just part of it. You become so close with clients that you're feel that you're part of their process of becoming successful. And when you share the same values of whatever it is that their products, goods, and services are, it's so easy to just become part of your everyday without feeling it it's a job.

And working in corporate and worked for agencies and you, you don't work for anyone. We're all working for our clients, but it doesn't feel like a job. And a lifestyle business is something that when we repositioned Wired Mustang, we said, you know, this is our lifestyle.

We do this so we can ride our horses so we can be part of the equine industry and build brand successfully, and also be better for even smaller brand owners out there to help them to be better with their business.

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Well, yeah, I believe everyone should design their business around them rather than have their business control them. Because you know, for many years I thought the opposite. I thought, you know, I'm going to build the business to sell it and basically created this huge prison around me. And then when I did sell it, I was depressed cause I, I did want to work.

You know, I didn't want to work as much, but I want to be able to pick and choose. And I think just the stigmatism when people are like, oh, I have a lifestyle… It’s like, this is a lifestyle business now, but it's a big business. And it fuels a lot of different people and industries and all that different kinds of things.

So, but I designed it around my lifestyle, but then it has to help out other people and just go around and around and around.

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Anna: [00:07:32] Right. Everyone’s probably heard of operating within your sphere of genius. And then that's so easy to do that. And you are operating within your sphere of genius and so am I. So it's our team.

So I mean, that's, that gets their blood, sweat and tears and some days I just kind of wish I'm like, why am I doing this? Why am I not back in corporate America and the next second I go, oh, here's why.

Jason: [00:07:54] Yeah. And, and I feel you can sell a lifestyle business if you want. It's all about… Any business is about setting up the right system and the business operating without you.

Because when I look at a lot of lifestyle businesses, I look at, wow, man, they have a lot of freedom to do other things because they have allowed it, and it's not all dependent on that owner or that one particular person that does everything. So it does open up the door, but I just wish people would not say lifestyle businesses are a bad thing. I think it's a really good thing.

Anna: [00:08:28] Oh, no. As long as you have your brand lingo and your brand positioning, you can let someone else run with it. And I think that's why we're doing, I'm knocking on wood here, knocking on wood, whatever I'm doing. It, it works for us, uh, really, really, really well because everyone within Wired Mustang, they know our brand lingo, our tagline is increased online horsepower. Yes. We trademarked it.

And I've seen other agencies out there that have genius positioning because they stand on and then it makes it so much easier to not have to be involved in everyday. And whomever is taking over, stepping in, if it's a project manager, does that, they know there's certain look and feel with Wired Mustang probably was saying with your business, you know?

Jason: [00:09:11] Oh, yeah. And there's freedom in that. And one of the questions I ask a lot of people is like, like, how happy are you in your business? Like, on a scale of one to 10. And like, if all of you listening, the two people listening out there… So if you really are honest with yourself, like give yourself like 10 being the best one being the worst, uh, seven is a cop-out number. You're not allowed to do seven.

Where would you rank your happiness in your business? And I think a lot of you would find that you're in a failing grade. And so what are you going to do about it? Especially with, you know, new year coming up, you know, or new year's already here depending on when they release this or when you listen to it. Yeah, you need to figure that out and make those adjustments rather than the reactive, because I find too many people being reactive out there.

Anna: [00:10:00] Yeah, you'll have to be proactive. I mean, it's, it's, you can sit on the pity train or you can get off it and do something proper. No, no one's going to, and that's the benefit of being a business owner and you probably agree with this, Jason, is you have the power to do whatever you want to change it. If it's not for you, you can always go and work at… I don't know, Starbucks or Walmart or whatever you want to do, or step back to corporate, if you do that, but you have to give it a go if you're brave enough to do it, you won’t regret it.

Jason: [00:10:27] Yeah. There's always something else and there's always multiple paths that you guys can choose. Well, this has all been amazing, Anna. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience?

Anna: [00:10:37] Oh, my goodness. That was a, that was a very pregnant pause right there. No, not at this point, but one thing I think is super important. You have to stick to the benefit for the audiences that if you believe in doing something, go for it. There's always going to be a Debbie downer saying, oh, you can't do that.

Of course, you know what? If someone says, I can't do it, I'm going to prove you wrong. I'm going to do it even better. And I think that's something that when people say can I do this? Can I do that? Of course you can. It's, it's all in your head.

Jason: [00:11:03] Yeah, exactly. I love it. What's a website, what's your website where people can go and check out the agency?

Anna: [00:11:08] Well, it’s www obviously, but and focusing predominantly on the equine-related businesses here in America. And it's a big business, uh, not just horses and tack, but everything around it. So, yeah, anyone want to feel free to go there and feel free to shoot me an email as well, if they want to.

Jason: [00:11:28] Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Anna, for coming on the show. If you guys enjoyed the episode, make sure you subscribe, hit that little bell button so you don't miss out on any episodes. And if you want to be around amazing agency owners that can see the things you might not be able to see and show you the things that are working for them and others, where you can have a hypergrowth and scale faster and scale smarter and have a lot more fun, I'd love to invite all of you to go to and check out that page for you.

That might be the thing that's looking or that you've been looking for to get you to the next level you might've reached your top of the mountain that you think of, but I can promise you there's a mountain behind you that we can help you out.

So make sure you go there now and until next time have a Swenk day.

Direct download: Can_You_Build_a_Successful_Lifestyle_Business_To_Eventually_Sell_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT