I've written before about how agency leaders have to wear too many different hats, and that it's hard to make time to wear the higher-up hats of being the owner, a board director and the CEO.

It means we tend to fall into the trap of only wearing those hats reactively, when something needs dealing with. But that means our strategy drifts or is non-existent.

And, in the absence of properly wearing the owner hat, we also lose sight of the idea that we started the business to achieve something for us rather than purely to be its loyal and busy servant.

Let's make 2022 the year to change that. Let's be more mindful of what we want to gain from the business as owners, and what we will therefore consciously put into it as owners. It's a different role, and we need to fulfil it rather than ignore it.

Before you do all the usual business planning for next year, have an owners retreat day. Even if you're the sole owner. Take a day away from the business, and all your other daily obligations. Work through the big questions about why you started this business, what its purpose is, what will make you proud of it, what it needs from you, and what you need from it.

Having all of these things clearly thought through, and clearly written down, will then put you in a much better place as CEO to then do the business planning — with everything connecting up at all levels of the agency.

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The Agency Leaders Playbook keeps expanding, with a wide range of guides and checklists to help run a great agency. Recent additions include a guide to Covid-safe workplaces for those seeking to increase person/days in the office, practical guides to improve general CEO skills such as giving and receiving feedback, and a whole section on the 'Smarten-up stage' of agency growth, as you grow beyond 30ish people and need to grow a leadership team, develop more solid processes and so on.

The playbook is one of those tools to have in your CEO toolkit that you'll get huge value from as you face the challenge of designing and building a great agency — and dealing with the problems that crop up. Find out about subscribing to gain immediate access.

We also published a board briefing this week on Avoiding the Margin Squeeze, one of the key issues identified on the Agency Radar report. It's a concise and highly practical guide for CEOs to work though with the board or leadership team to explore the pressures on margins and how to address them.