Published on September 6th, 2017 // ACTION PLAN BRANDING BUSINESS BUSINESS MANAGEMENT BUSINESS OWNER CONTENT CREATION ENTREPRENEURSHIP INTENTIONAL LIVING MANAGEMENT MARKETING ONLINE BUSINESS ONLINE MARKETING ORGANIZATION PRODUCTIVITY SMALL BUSINESS TEAM BUILDING
I had the great honor to design Kathy’s website and through the process I found such respect for her as a mompreneur and we became friends. Kathy is the founder + Creative Director of Oh Yes Communications and is about to welcome her second son. I couldn’t be prouder and admire more the way she has prepared and set her business in order to give herself all the room to enjoy her family’s addition stress free. She gives us a detailed and thorough peek into her journey balancing business and life and how to build your team play by play for challenging seasons.
“Three years ago my business looked much different. I was 18 months into being an entrepreneur and the demand on my time and the size of my team is far from what it has evolved into today. Around that same time I had my first babe, Daniel, and as I muddled through those early days of motherhood, it’s clear now that it was only by the grace of God that I was able to keep my business going despite a total lack of systems and forethought. Daniel arriving 16 days early which was the first lesson in the unpredictability that motherhood would bring.
This time around, my years in maturing in business, motherhood, and marriage lead to the obvious understanding that baby #2 and leading a business were going to require intentional forethought and preparation. Needless to say, the minute we found out we were pregnant – the preparation began.
Here’s a play by play of how I doubled my team and prepared for maternity leave in a short 7 months:
1 – Invest in Business Mastermind/Retreat. In a world where I am the boss – accountability is often something I do for others but don’t end up feeling much of on my end. I decided to invest in myself for the sole purpose of creating systems and processes in my business through Reina & Co’s Introvert’s Paradise. The accountability, support, and time-sensitive nature of signing up for this was exactly what I needed to get my butt in gear. Weekly video calls and homework that culminated in a 4 day in-person retreat got me off to the organized start I needed.
2 – Brain dump and download ALL the tasks you’re doing. Old school pen and paper work best in this scenario. I blocked out an entire afternoon to categorize my tasks by client. After getting through this exercise I concluded with a column for the tasks I was doing for my own business. At the time – I had two part time team members but it became abundantly clear that more hires were in our future. If you don’t have a team yet be willing to take an honest look at your workload and identify where you might have to outsource and what has to stay on your plate. From there – I transferred these lists to a dedicated Trello board to track progress and assign due dates.
3 – Decide on systems for task management, storage, and team communication. After crowdsourcing recommendations and looking into each platform – I finally decided on Trello, Slack, and Google Drive as our teams form of management and communication. Trello is used for our tasks lists with due dates and team members responsible for completing, Slack eliminated 95% of the email threads between team members and instead we transferred the conversations to Slack, and Google Drive is where we store client documents. Ease and clarity for our team and our communications felt like next level progress after seeing how well it worked.
4 – Hire + Train. Last fall it became abundantly clear that it was time to invest and train in a second ME for the company. Someone who could alleviate my work load and eventually take over the majority of the day to day tasks to allow room for me to focus on higher level projects, attracting new clients, and polishing the Oh Yes brand. With all my team members, we start small and with a defined amount of hours and pay. This allows for predictability in my budgeting as well as seeing how far 5 hours takes us versus 10 hours, 15 hours, and so on. There’s something very vulnerable about allowing someone into your client space. Having started as a solopreneur – it took a lot of time, care, and nurturing to grow the accounts I had. A tip for those considering hiring team members: finding the right CHARACTER traits has been more important than hiring the person with all the skills you’re looking for. A coachable attitude, a spirit of excellence, and a team oriented personality makes a bigger impact in the long run. Over the course of the past 7 months we’ve brought on 3 additional team members in different capacities. When it feels overwhelming – just remember – it’s okay to start small.
5 – Schedule regular team meetings. Running a mostly virtually based business, where team members rely on my feedback to complete tasks, it became clear that in order for maternity leave to happen – my team needed to “meet” each other and begin working with one another and cross training. I decided on Zoom as our go to way to meet. Initially our calls were weekly for approximately 30 minutes. At the end of the first month of doing this – I asked the team for feedback on the frequency and we decided to adjust our calls to bi-monthly calls instead. In addition to this tweak – we also added weekly reports through slack, due every Friday by 4pm, with the following 4 questions:
If you’ve made it this far – congrats! You’ve outlined tasks, hired and trained a team, chosen platforms to communicate through and now it’s time to turn the focus from internal to external. With baby day looming in the near future – the next step was figuring out what boundaries were going to exist between myself and clients and how we would communicate that. Nancy Ray wrote an amazing post on her approach to maternity leave – and after a few reads and a preterm labor scare – it was time to jump in with both feet and start DOING.
First – I added a maternity leave note 2 months prior to my scheduled time off to my email signature so clients, vendors, and prospective clients were aware of the upcoming event! Here’s how it read:
Second– I identified the team member that would be the “Second in Command” while I was out. We set up 3 training meetings and together we went client by client (back to that task list from the beginning!) and identified what was still on my plate after 7 months and several hires – what could be delegated to someone else while I was out and what had to (or I wanted to) stay on my plate during my leave. We identified potential issues that could arise in my absence and how we would address them, as well as the frequency of our communication.
Third – I drafted and sent out personalized emails to each of our retainer clients and most frequently used vendors. We titled the email “Game plan and your point of contact during my Maternity Leave.” Here’s how it read:
Fourth – Set up your vacation responder ahead of time! The most radical part of this email is the line that states that all emails received during my leave would be deleted. When I first read this suggestion in Nancy Ray’s post I felt a bit sick to my stomach. How would clients receive this and was I okay letting go that much? After 3 listens to Michael Hyatt’s podcast on this subject and the WHY behind it – I was convinced (and convicted) to do the same. Here’s what my vacation responder looks like:
Fifth – Delete and disconnect apps from your phone/tablet. I love being an entrepreneur. I love my clients, my team, and the work we do. I see the impact it has on their businesses and most days – working is one of the highlights of my day. That being said – if there’s anything I’ve learned from watching my firstborn turn into a busy three year old is that the days are long but the years are short and 60 years from now – I’d regret missing out and soaking in these first few months of our sons life much more than I would regret missing out on work. When my maternity leave kicks in – my plan is to disconnect my work email from my phone as well as deleting various apps that we use to monitor client account interaction. Lord knows if I don’t I’ll end up checking work while nursing my little one in the wee hours of the night.
There’s a reason for the season and I know first and foremost that I’ve been called to love on my family well and ensure they get the best of me, FIRST. I know my tendency to want to stay in the mix. I’m in this precious space where I find myself wrapping up tasks, ensuring that our clients and team are good to go, and nostalgically packing my hospital bags while putting the finishing touches in Zane’s room. I’m all too aware that a new chapter is about to begin…and I can’t wait!”
Published on August 18th, 2017 // BRANDING BUSINESS BUSINESS COACHING BUSINESS OWNER COLLABORATIONS ENTREPRENEURSHIP INTENTIONAL LIVING MOTIVATIONAL ONLINE BUSINESS ONLINE MARKETING RELATIONSHIPS SMALL BUSINESS
Cindy Maka is back on the blog today sharing about building impactful relationships in business and their effect on growing and developing your business.
” By now, we all understand that relationships in business are important. Every day, I see more evidence that success in business is truly about building relationships and making connections.
Beyond the relationships with your clients and with your audience, you should also be thinking about the relationships with other business owners in your industry. If you’re not actively working to initiate and grow these relationships, you’re missing out on one of the easiest and most fruitful ways to grow your business.
Cultivating relationships and building connections is (in my opinion) the ultimate form of marketing, and the best way to market your business without feeling “sales-y”. If you set out to build relationships with the sole purpose of connecting with people (NOT to ask what they can do for you), those relationships can ultimately end up opening countless doors and opportunities for your business.
Here are five tips to help you start forming more connections and building those important relationships in your business.
Whether you’re showing up online to serve your audience, engaging with peers in Facebook groups, or talking to peers in your industry via online coffee chats: just be YOU. Others can feel when you aren’t being your authentic self. Plus, you can come off awkward. So, just come as you are! Even if you feel awkward, own your you-ness, girl! We all want to know we are just human on the other side of the screen.
Engaging with your audience over Instagram stories is a great way to build connections. I’ve made so many “internet friends” over insta-stories! Post comments to others’ posts and reply back to comments on your own posts whether on Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter and Anchor… there are endless possibilities to talk to and engage with your people!
I invite you to be more personal and vulnerable in your online presence. We are all OVER the perfect, the curated, and the buttoned up. It’s nice to have real conversations outside of business topics. Show some of your real life behind the scenes, the not-so-put-together version of yourself, some of your challenges and how you overcame them, some of the messy parts. This is what we can all relate to. This is what we all crave to see more of! As a follower or reader, it helps to know we aren’t alone when things feel a bit crazy. IMPORTANT: This is NOT about over-sharing, complaining, or gaining attention. This is about sharing REAL life moments other biz owners can relate to, and it’s an opportunity to show how you’ve grown or what you’ve learned from the obstacles in your life. And, it is an opportunity to encourage others.
Find another business owner you can work with who has a complementary, yet different, audience than you. This is win-win for everyone involved. Both biz owners get exposure to new audience, and those respective audiences get new and valuable content. This can be in the form of JV (joint venture) webinars, resources, products, programs, etc. Brainstorm people and ideas that you can work with and REACH OUT to them! They’ll probably welcome the idea, too!
You can fast-track the process of building relationships by getting out from behind the computer screen to meet new people, and engage with colleagues and potential clients at in-person events!! When you meet people IN REAL LIFE, they get to see the real you. They get to give you a hug! Most importantly, they get to see that you are the same person you are online. (Hint: please be the same person online as you are in real life!) 😉
Building relationships should be a priority in your business, and it doesn’t have to be difficult! It can start as simple as insta-story messages or a virtual coffee chat. Actively reach out…don’t wait for others to come to you. Make those connections — then, SHOW UP to support them, continue to encourage them and cheer them on, let them know you see them… and they’ll do the same for you!
The relationships you build in business can have lasting benefits, both for you and for your business growth. I hope you’ll go out and make some new connections, build meaningful relationships and be the one who STARTS the new conversations. In the spirit of connecting, if you want to continue this conversation via virtual coffee chat, CLICK HERE to pop on my schedule, because I would absolutely LOVE to meet you!”
Oh has it been a crazy second quarter? Lot’s a fantastic clients projects and some Reverie projects in prep. How are you feeling friends, now that we are on the second half of 2017? Are your goals on track? Today I bring you a very special episode of ‘a day in the business of’ and hopefully that can help with your content creation to start the get back to school season with a bang! Allie is one of my favorite people on Instagram and one of the first feeds I fell in love with and started hm stalking, following, on the platform. I’ve gotten to know her a bit more since and she’s not only an incredible creative content creator but also she’s the loveliest gal! Check out our interview below and her website verbhousecreative.com for even more visual creative content goodness.
I’m Allie, the lady behind Verb House Creative – a bright, fun, happy, hardworking social media and creative studio based in Austin, Texas. I help incredible small business owners with all aspects of their digital marketing – from their websites, to all social media channels, to photography, to email campaigns, ads, and creative business strategies, and a smidge of PR – pretty much everything! I LOVE coming alongside these business owners and helping them to not feel so overwhelmed and stressed out. I love pulling up the chair right beside them and really diving into their business to find out what’s working and what’s not, what can be expanded on and what can be retired or reworked in a different way perhaps. I love taking their vision and turning it into a beautiful reality.
I serve small business owners, mostly within the retail and e-commerce industry. When setting out to create Verb House, I thought about the name of my business for months (almost an entire YEAR!). I really wanted it to encompass all that I and the business stand for. The Verb in Verb House Creative represents quite literally what the definition of verb is – action. I come alongside my clients to create action in their businesses and to put into play their dreams and our strategy and plans together. The House in Verb House represents how I want my clients to feel – like they’re family, like they found their ‘home’ within Verb House, and like they can truly come to me with anything and everything – their wildest dreams and their concerns and fears, and we will sort it all out and make an action plan of it all together, side by side. This mission is brought into every interaction with my clients, and it truly makes such a difference in all of our joy.
I went to art school for fashion photography but got very burnt out on that industry very soon after I graduated. I took a little hiatus from photography for a bit when one of my greatest friends suggested pairing my love for writing and marketing with photography for shops and small business owners for social media purposes. I tried to resist her idea for a while – this was before anyone was actually using Instagram as a marketing tool for businesses. But, alas, she was on to something! Once I finally reached out to someone to make it happen, I found the thing I was meant to do.
It’s a bit of both. I think with any good photographer, writer, marketer, artist, what-have-you, it’s important to always draw from personal experience and thought – after all, that is one of the facets that most likely sets you apart from your peers or those in your industry. But it’s when you truly listen to your clients or audience, read between the lines, and come to anticipate what they want and need, and combine that with your own expertise that the magic starts to happen.
I work with all of my clients long-term, so the process begins with an inquiry. From there, emails and phone calls are exchanged and once we decide to work together, there is an extensive getting-to-know-you process and questionnaire for my client to complete. I love these questionnaires and refer to them often throughout our time together. I just had a client go back to read some of her answers recently and she was reminded of all of the goals and long term dreams she has. They’re powerful stuff. From there, we work together to determine their social & digital marketing strategy and get to work! I’ll work on creating the first months content of photos, email newsletters, social media posts, etc.
I love being invited into these business owners life in such a big way. I often become pretty close with each client and thank the Heavens for them daily. It’s an honor to be able to use my knowledge and skills to help them reach their goals. What’s better than working with someone to make their and your dreams come true? My least favorite part is definitely all of the admin stuff – taxes, invoicing, emails, blahblahblah!
It’s definitely difficult to keep your creative mojo all of the time. I think first acknowledging that you actually aren’t going to feel 100% creative and brilliant all of the time is key. Picasso probably didn’t feel like a brilliant artist every day either. Exercise, travel, relaxation, reading, friends, dreaming & scheming – all things that actually aren’t on the computer or on your phone – those are the things/moments/situations that help to keep me inspired.
Having gone to art school (shout out to any fellow SCAD peeps!), we were taught early on how to accept criticism of our work. I’m extremely grateful for these experiences of standing up in front of twenty of my peers to present my work and have it constructively criticized each week. Because of this, I look at all feedback as purely constructive and helpful and very rarely view it as rejection. I actually really enjoy when a client says “I don’t like this” or “this isn’t right” because it helps me to get to know them even further.
Colorful foamcore and matboards & little sticky dots help make photo sessions run smoother & prettier!
For interesting photos, try to think outside of the popular flat lay. Our eyes will always be drawn to the three-dimensional. When we can travel around and through a photograph, we’re naturally going to linger a bit longer. When creating flat lays, try to create that dimension and interest by moving the eye throughout the frame. Place your objects in a way that creates movement and life – having objects travel through & out of the frame is an easy way to achieve this.