Starting an agency was supposed to be a slow burn for Nicole Magagnin, who began pursuing her business in 2020, while so much remained uncertain during the pandemic. However, Nicole’s rapid transformation from a self-proclaimed “side hustle” into what is now PR, personal branding, and marketing company Growth Grabber Agency left no doubt about the idea of pursuing her passions.
Within six months she was running the agency full time and discovered how much it gave her purpose, she says. Adapting to change is a feeling Nicole knows all too well – earlier in her life, she was diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome. Following brain surgery and despite further complications, she survived. Her experience has only further motivated her drive for success.
“It was almost like an epiphany came one day, realizing how much helping clients related to my past,” she says.
Today, Nicole manages clients across several industries and backgrounds, helping them stand out from the saturated market of content creators. She’s also working around the clock practicing what she preaches, raising her own profile as a content creator across multiple channels. She attributes her growth on her past informing her present and future.
Below, Nicole shares insights on success, being a content creator, what she’d do differently, and the advice her past self may appreciate.
Editor’s note: The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
How do you think about work/life balance?
There is a running meme/joke on the internet about quitting your 9-5 to become an entrepreneur and now working 24/7. I look at that and chuckle a bit every time. It can feel that way at first because you are risking everything on this new venture, but it is very important to have that work life balance.
Not only for your health both physically and mentally but also the impression you give to your clients. Make sure to set boundaries on your time with clients and time for yourself. Working 24/7 does not give the impression that you are successful, it has the opposite effect in the eyes of clients.
Take time for what you enjoy in life, it is actually a benefit both personally and professionally.
Knowing what you do now, what would you do differently if you had the chance?
This is my first venture into entrepreneurship, but it will not be my last. I have thought about this question recently as I just hit my two-year anniversary. I have a few things that I would do a bit differently. Some things were done for lack of knowledge, some out of necessity but having gone through them helps me to be better prepared for my next venture.
First and foremost, I would have been better prepared financially to transition into being a full time entrepreneur, while I had success right away, I did not always account for the possibility of unexpected expenses or a lull in business. I learned this lesson pretty quickly in my first year. Having a predictable cash flow and reserves are vital to success.
"While I would do this differently if I had to start over and be better prepared for my next venture, I am very grateful to have gone through the experience. I learned through my mistakes, and now can share that knowledge with others."
The other major change I would go back and start earlier on is making sure all Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Expectations, and Automations are written and put in place immediately. Being a “soloprenuer” at first, sometimes we can get caught up and overwhelmed in the day-to-day. We take for granted that we can wake up and get to work, having all the knowledge to complete our tasks. However when it comes time to scale and hire employees, it can be daunting to go back and put things in place for you to now train them. These can delay or prevent people from scaling their business.
While I would do this differently if I had to start over and be better prepared for my next venture, I am very grateful to have gone through the experience. I learned through my mistakes, and now can share that knowledge with others.
What advice would you give others who are considering your path?
Besides the things that I would personally do differently, some advice that I would give people who want to start their own agency is the following:
1. Network as much as you can, build relationships and be a connector. Doing this not only can build a solid client base, but can lead to a very strong and profitable referral network.
2. Niche down to an industry not based on the possible profitability, but by an industry/type of client that you love. Any industry can be profitable. Working with industries or a specific type of client that you are passionate about will make a tremendous difference in the relationship you have with those clients. They notice when you are just as passionate about their goals as you are about your own.
"Once your name becomes synonymous with success you will have many different options/routes you can take to monetize."
3. Work on your personal brand and social media! I may be a little biased being that I work with clients to work on these things, but it is not without proof. When I started doing these things for myself is when my business more than doubled. People want to work with people that they like, know and trust, however that can be increasingly difficult in the age of doing business and building your presence on social media.
With great strategy in place, this is achievable. You can turn followers into fans and turn fans into profit by monetizing your audience. Once your name becomes synonymous with success you will have many different options/routes you can take to monetize. Also there will be a shift, you will no longer have to search for clients and opportunities they will start coming to you.
How do you build a brand on providing long-term value rather than short-term virality?
This is something that I have always believed in, even prior to owning my agency. Relationship-building in any type of business is a key to success. Being able to have a high sense of integrity and hold the client needs and goals over the business needs.
Many agencies work with any client/business that is willing to pay or will try to offer products and services that may not fit the clients needs. That is not something we practice. If I feel that the client is not a great fit, I will try to refer them to someone in my network. We hold the client in the highest regard, and choose the lifetime client versus the short term temporary client.
5 tips for establishing & building your personal brand online
1. Do the Inner Work
Before you can effectively build your brand online you need to do a little introspection to define your personal brand. You should have a clear understanding of who you are, what you stand for, what sets you apart from others in the same field. Develop a consistent brand identity that includes your unique value proposition, messaging, visual identity (your style), and your tone of voice. An example can also be deciding whether you would like to present yourself as comedic versus motivational, etc.
2. Create and Share Valuable Content
In building your personal brand you want to position yourself as a thought leader and expert in your field. People will not automatically know these things about you unless you share with them and show them. One of the best ways to do this is to consistently create and share valuable content that inspires, educates, and engages your audience. As of now video is king on most social media platforms, however you want to use a mixture of video, text and multimedia to keep your audience engaged on different platforms.
3. Engage with your Audience
Building a strong personal brand goes beyond just sharing your content. You need to relate to and actively engage with your audience. Be likable. You want to respond to comments, answer questions, and initiate thought provoking conversations. By showing your interest in your audience, they will show interest in you. Doing this will help you develop relationships, credibility and authority in your field. This helps you turn followers into fans.
4. Leverage Social Media
This should be done in several different ways. Social media advertising can be a powerful tool to build your presence online by increasing your reach and visibility. Using a mix of targeted paid ads, boosted posts, video ads, and influencer partnerships can all be very effective. You should also use social media to leverage your accomplishments and other media. If you land a press article or a podcast you absolutely want to share these with your existing audience and possibly use these in your advertising. This has better results than traditional advertising because it's now a 3rd party verification of your success rather than you telling people how great you are.
5. Network and Collaborate
Building a strong personal brand also requires you to network and collaborate with others in your industry/field. Connect with other thought leaders, influencers, and industry experts on social media to collaborate on content, events, and other initiatives. By expanding your network and working together you can expand your reach and influence and establish yourself as a key player in your industry. This will create even more opportunities and help you start attracting clients vs searching for them.