How-Tos

Growing your team right and hiring for your business

Business is great. You are getting more clients than you thought possible. You are doing work that you love. Well, mostly. You have a million things to do, but that’s okay. This is your dream. Your business. Your baby is finally coming together.

So you work the 10-12 hour days. You hastily say goodnight to your child, because you still have “some stuff left to do.” You are tired, but blissfully so. This was what you’ve been hoping for all these years. For the business to have a waitlist. To have your plate full. To have a thriving business.

But you are tired. You are drained and find yourself getting a little impatient with your clients, though you know it isn’t their fault. Not really. You don’t have time for that family movie night anymore, because “sorry honey, I really gotta get this done tonight.”

Sound familiar?

So often business owners work themselves into the ground, because they don’t have a plan. Well, they do, but it’s often getting the business off the ground. Beyond that, they don’t really have a plan. So you work yourself into the ground and convince yourself that it’s fine, it’s temporary and you will find a way around it. But deep down you know that there’s no way around it. You’re maxed out.

But hiring is scary. Can you really do it? Can you really trust someone else with your business - your baby? After all, you’ve worked so hard on it. You know your business.

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The truth is, you know you need help. But who? How? Where to start? What to expect? And those are all super valid questions. It’s hard to bring on someone else. Here are some tips to make it easier. 

Case Studies

To get you inspired and encourage you on growing your team, here are what some other business owners have to say about their first hire and how that helped their business grow.

>> Insert 5 case studies <<

 

Start with an Organisation Chart

It’s your turn now, but where to start? I understand how overwhelming it can be, and want to help you get started on the right foot. So often, we start hiring only when we’re in over our heads and we are desperate. So we hire to fill the gaps. But this can be disastrous. We want to hire intentionally and know that it will help us grow not only our team, but our business.

If you’ve read The E-Myth Revisited, you would’ve heard of this concept. Basically, start by envisioning the future of your business, whether that’s your end-goal or at least 5 years into the future. What does your business look like?

In order to facilitate that dream business, what roles and departments does your business need to have? What support do you need?

Download the Organisation Chart below to help you out:

Start with yourself as the CEO, then, map out all the roles that is required to support your dream business. Then, see yourself as the employee of all these roles. Yes, you can even pen your name in every box.

This exercise is what I do with my coaching clients all the time to help them determine the roles they need to hire eventually to help support their dream business. Without this organisation chart, you will more than likely hire to fill the gaps instead of being intentional about it. What that does is you end up hiring help that isn’t crucial to your business and takes from your company, instead of adding to it.

A great hire not only takes things off your plate but helps generate income, directly or indirectly.

 

Hire Intentionally, Step by Step

With your Organisation Chart in hand, first ask yourself this: What roles do you absolutely hate your name next to? What do you know is needed in your business, but you really dislike doing? Circle those with a red pen.

Then, ask yourself this question: Which roles seem easy enough to outsource very cheaply (think the US$5-20 per hour virtual assistants)? Those that are mundane and repeatable, and don’t require your micromanagement? Circle those with a green pen.

Lastly, ask yourself this: Which roles can be automated or systemitised? You don’t have to know the exact way you’re going to systemitise it, but you know of a tool that can take this off your plate. Circle these with an orange pen.

These are the roles you can focus on eliminating, first. By allowing yourself to avoid the jobs you absolutely dislike, you can focus on your genius zone and be more productive. By outsourcing simpler tasks, you can shave precious time off mundane tasks and free up time to work with clients. And lastly, by sitting down and spending time to set up a system, you can automate processes with very little money spent.

After these questions, if you’re still up for it and want to grow even further, start to circle with a purple pen the roles that generate sales or are supporting sales efforts. By pinpointing these roles early, you can start first to record down processes and SOPs (standard operating procedures) so that once you have the ability, you can outsource these roles first.

By focusing on income-generating hires, your hire becomes an investment and not an expense. You start on the right foot and each hire produces even more income, either because it frees you up tremendously to do the work that grows your business, or because it simply brings in more business.

Tips for making your first hiring process smooth and easy

  1. Make a list of the things you want done, pertinent to each role. Just brain dump it and organise later, if that’s easier for you.

  2. Set your budget and research what you can get for the price. Different price points will get you assistants or contractors of different skill levels, so set your expectations and apply that budget accordingly.

  3. Find a specialist instead of a general assistant, if you can help it. There are many great assistants out there, but a specialist one can help you do the things you want done faster and with better quality.

  4. Trial first. As they say, hire slow, fire fast. I don’t completely agree with that statement, but it is good to trial your assistants or contractors first with a smaller project, before you entrust them with a proper role in your business.

  5. Have a contract and be clear on everything, including your tasks. Especially for virtual assistants, a clearly laid out task ensures a better result. Make them concrete so it’s a one-and-done, not a back-and-forth job, since most of them charge hourly rates.


Let me know

Are you prepping to make your first hire? If so, who are you looking for? :)


How to Manage and Organise your Digital Files

It’s so easy to download digital files. You have a bunch of them. PDFs, fonts, recordings… They’re all sitting in your downloads folder. In a mess. You don’t really look at them, or learn anything from them really. Because they’re just sitting there. In a mess.

And worse still, you can’t find ANYTHING on this dang folder. What name did you name that file? Where is it really? HOW DO I FIND ANYTHING HERE?

You’re not alone. Digital files get crazy really quickly. But you already know what you need… Systems!

Putting a system in place can be a pain in the butt, but once that’s up and running, you get peace of mind foreverrrrrrr (not really, but seriously, once you’re done it’s like you’re sitting by the beach with your shades and a summery drink).

But this system doesn’t take much more than 20 minutes - though it does depend on how many files you have dumped in the “main folder of chaos” now.

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Google Drive vs Dropbox vs other?

First, let’s determine where you’re saving things on. If you’re not on any cloud storage system yet, get on it! Because then you’ll only need to organise ONCE but get managed systems on both your cloud and your computer. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

I’m not mentioning Amazon Web Services simply because I prefer cloud services that also offer an archiving function - that allows me double protection should I lose my files in the cloud or on my computer.

I was on Dropbox for ages before I switched to Google Drive, and frankly, there was nothing quite wrong with it. I loved Dropbox and the ease of it all, but the costs were quickly mounting up. I paid $9.99 for the basic plan, then an extra $4.99 for an extended archiving function (so I can reverse deleted files if necessary), and then if I wanted to sync to my computer without taking up space I had to top up again for that functionality.

So me switching to Google Drive was really an issue of cost, I didn’t love the Google Drive look, but I was already on GSuite and was paying $5 a month for my email. A quick researched showed that GSuite Business allowed archiving and also had a new app called Drive File Stream, which allowed me to see my files on my computer without taking up hard disk space!

That was only $10 a month for everything. SOLD.

As computers are moving to flash storage nowadays, storage is getting pricier. So I like to keep my computer as “empty” as possible, while still backing up everything.

Once you’ve decided what works best for you, it’s time to get your systems set up!

If you want to see a walkthrough of my entire Google Drive, sign up below for the video:

Foundation Files

I like to start with what I call foundation files. These are the folders that will work for anybody. So you can just take these and implement right now.

My highest level foundation files are:

  • Personal (I file this under Kara-Anne)

  • Work (I file this under The Petite Co.)

  • To Sort

Easy, right? Then in each of these foundation files, I have more of them.

In Personal, I have:

  • Books

  • Faith

  • Notes and Documents

  • Fitness

  • Photos

  • Travel

Think about the main categories of your life. Most people will have similar folders as I do, especially the Photos and Notes and Documents ones. I file important documents, scanned and all, into the Notes and Documents folder. You can create further sub-folders if you need to, or name it “Tax Documents” or “Financial Documents” if that is more pertinent.

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Remember, the crux is to always name it the most basic name possible. Don’t try to create some fancy, creative, or nice-sounding name. Always use terms you can always search for quickly.

In Work, I have:

  • Admin Documents

  • Business (Internal stuff)

  • Client Work

  • Learning

  • Resources

BusinessFolder.png

These should work for pretty much any kind of business, maybe tweaking the “Client Work” to “Products” if you are a product-based business.

At this point, you are pretty much set. I go through my “To Sort” folder every week and dump them into each general file, if I’m lazy. Just open two separate windows and drag them, easy peasy. If you have a LOT, you can first start with the files you want to delete, then work on sorting them.

If you want to see a walkthrough of my entire Google Drive, sign up below for the video!

Personalising the sub-folders

To really get those foundation files sorted (though those will have provided you with a MUCH neater space already), this is where the personalisation comes in. We all section things differently in our heads, so I don’t want to limit you with using just my system. This is just for reference.

In each foundation file, I have sub-folders that help me further divide down the crazy amount of files. This will ensure I always find what I need, quickly. Though having a ton of sub-folders can be a pain (you have to click into a folder of a folder of a folder), keep in mind that you will save back the time just by always knowing where the things are! But as a quick rule of thumb, I don’t usually create more than 3 layers of sub-folders if I can help it.

This is an example of the sub-folders in my Personal > Notes and Documents folder, there are no more sub-folders inside these:

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In my Work folders, there tends to be more layers of sub-folders. For example, I classify the information inside most folders by year. So for Admin Documents, there will be a sub-folder layer of 2018, and then Archived. I usually move all previous years to Archives.

In my Business (internal) folder, there is a further sub-folder after the years. Inside 2018, for example, I will have folders like these:

InternalOpsFolder.png

In my Learning Folder, I classify according to the people or course the resource is from. If I don’t have a significant number of resources from one same source, I will just file it under Miscellaneous. You can also try filing according to category (like Marketing etc.).

Lastly, in my Resources Folder, I classify according to type:

ResourcesFolder.png

Come up with a system that works for you and your brain - whether that’s by category or type, or by year, or even months. Start with more general sub-folders, then detail them further if you find that the folders still get messy or you can’t find something.

If you want to go a step further, you can even colour code the folders according to your planner or your email labels. But that’s another crazy organisation ninja post of its own.

If you want to see a walkthrough of my entire Google Drive, sign up below for the video!


Now your turn:

Are you a messy filer or a type A one? How do you organise your files? Let me know how this goes!


3 ways to generate good ideas when you don't feel creative

I wrote a post last month about having too many ideas… But sometimes, this problem is flipped on its head. You have a problem that you’re trying to solve, and you just can’t come up with an idea to solve it.

Thankfully, there are ways to help you shake things up and wake up your creativity so you can find more solutions, all the time.

I have found that very often with business owners, it’s easy to always have a new idea, but it’s hard to generate ideas and solutions for problems we already have or to improve the current process, content or product. It’s easy to chase the next shiny object, but truth be told, we all know that there are things we are avoiding in our current business. What we don’t know is that these are things we can creatively solve with a few simple tips.

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Have you heard of Design Thinking? It is a method designers use to come up with ideas and develop solutions. But this method is applicable to all kinds of businesses, and it is a concept I learned about and loved from Creative Confidence. It’s one of my favourite books ever!

Empathising and researching the process

You start by putting yourself in the user’s shoes. Who is experiencing this product, service or content? Can you find out more about them and how they interact with the product, service or content? Do you see any other linked issues that led to the problem arising? Are they other things in play?

By user research and actually experiencing what the process is like for the end-user, you get more information about the actual problem, and not the assumed issues that sometimes blind us from making something better.

Then you can start to pinpoint where the actual problems lie, and what are the other factors that interplay with it.

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Quickfire ideas

I like to call the second part of design thinking the “quickfire process.” As you can see, I’ve made Design Thinking my own, just a little bit.

After you accurately pinpoint the problem and factors at play, you can start thinking of a lot of wild and crazy ways to solve the problem. In the book, they encourage you to think outside the box. Don’t consider whether the solution is realistic or not, such as budget and team constraints, but rather, ideate to come up with the most elegant and fun of solutions. Anything goes!

For me, this is a lot of fun and forces me to break free from my nerd instincts that just want to be practical. Practicality can limit a lot of our creativity. So don’t yet think of the consequences, just focus on coming up with as many ideas as quickly as possible.

Some of the best ideas are crazy ideas

Now, go through the ideas you have. Pick out some of the wildest, most expensive or dreamiest solutions. And then break it down into sections. How can this be done (with no budget or time constraints)?

You might think, this is a crazy waste of time! But it isn’t. Some of the best ideas were crazy to begin with, and sometimes, we limit ourselves before truly finding out the possibility of an idea.

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice: I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

Through this process, you can trigger your imagination and creativity, and perhaps find solutions that you never thought were possible before! In fact, if you wanted to, you can go one step further and find the cheapest ways to prototype the idea you came up with. It doesn’t have to be a working prototype, following the Design Thinking method, you can refine this as you go, you just have to see step by step how feasible it is to make these ideas happen.


So tell me:

Are you having a creative block? Did you try this exercise? I wanna know the scoop!


How To Choose And Work On Your Best Ideas

As an online business owner trying to make sure you’ve got the handle on your marketing, content, finances and all other tasks that come with being an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to try to  focus on doing all the things.

And let’s face it: you and I both know that it isn’t possible.

Deciding to work on or focus on something means having to sacrifice something else or put it on the backburner, because you have limited time, energy and resources. And there are some things you just cannot outsource or contract out.

But with all the ideas seeming like good ideas… how do you decide which to work on first? How do you know if it’s the one you should be working on? How do you know if it is a good idea or a great one?

Do a brain dump and organise by category and time budget

As with everything to do with decluttering and making sense of an overwhelming task at hand, the first thing to do is to brain dump all your ideas and thoughts on paper.

This might seem like a duh move, but this serves two purposes, one, to clear your mind from residual tasks that are taking up brain space, and two, to make sure you never let a good idea slip away. Sometimes (or a lot of the time) we forget stuff because there’s just so many ideas and we don’t write them down.

Brain dump everything on your mind, including to-dos, ideas for products, and ideas for blog posts or marketing content. Just clear your brain from all the ideas you’ve been hoarding.

After that, go one step further and organise these brain dump ideas by both category and time budget. There’s a handy-dandy Idea Catcher Template I created for you, just sign up below and you’ll get that template for free:

Get the Free Idea Catcher Templates!

You'll also get free weekly tips on branding and systems. No spam, ever!

Organising by category is a two-step process. First, categorise them generally - so whether these ideas are just to-dos, improvements you want to make, a blog post, a content upgrade, a freebie, or a product or service.

Then, sub-categorise them into topics that pertain to your business. What are the key topics or content people come to you for? You should have 2 to 4 main categories that you regularly write or talk about. Organise these ideas into their respective topics.

For example, a social media marketing expert can write about expanding blog post reach with Pinterest, maximising Facebook Ad budgets and the best ways to utilise Instagram stories. A health coach can have topics like juicing recipes, latest health news and tips to use essential oils.

If the ideas don’t fit into any of these topics, place them into the “later” column. You’ll just safekeep them until you have a bigger time budget or you want to work on something new.

Next, go ahead and determine the time budget you have to work on an idea right now, and then classify each idea by the estimated time needed to complete the task.

What this step does is give you a bird’s eye view and content vault of all the ideas that you have, so you can zoom in on the ones that are most relevant and also take you the shortest time to complete. So whenever you have some time to work on content, you know exactly which idea to pluck and execute immediately, skipping all that time spent contemplating and trying to sort out ideas from your brain (it won’t work, your brain doesn’t have folders!).

 

Determine which idea(s) will give you the most results

Not all ideas are created equally - so while an idea can be on-topic and fits into your time budget, the idea might not actually produce the best results.

When deciding which idea to work on, you can look down your consolidated Idea Catcher list and quickly sieve out the ones that will work in your time budget. Then, go through this quick list of questions and see if you answer “yes” to every one of them, or at least 3 out of the 5. If you do, that idea is good to go - it’s relevant, time budget-friendly, and will get you your best results.

  • Can you have a quick win?

  • Does it generate more sales / traffic (or whatever main goal you have in your business right now)?

  • Have previous similar ideas produced good results?

  • Are people talking about / having frustrations around this topic right now?

  • Is it in your zone of genius?

Basically, we are trying to figure out the time to result ratio. The higher the ratio, the more likely the idea will give you the best results for your time invested. Like the best bang for your buck!

I made a handy template here for you to use, get it now for free here:

Get the Free Idea Catcher Templates!

You'll also get free weekly tips on branding and systems. No spam, ever!

Create an intentional to-do list

Doing the validation test with the questions give in the last tip again and again will help you quickly build a to-do list. Not just any to-do list, but one you can prioritise easily by listing them from highest ratio to lowest. This way, whenever you get some time to work on content, you immediately have the next best thing to work on.

No time wasting trying to figure it all out or just throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping that it sticks! Nope - you have a clear and concise to-do list every single time.

Just one small reminder: you have the option to pivot at any time.

If you start working down your to-do list and realise that some ideas take longer than you initially anticipated, go back, modify the Idea Catcher document, and then relist the item according to the time-result ratio. Or, if an idea wasn’t as much in your genius zone as you thought it initially was, move on to the next one and archive it till you have more time!

Also, if business goals or focuses change, just update your Idea Catcher list and to-do list accordingly. It is THAT simple!

Your systems and methods should be as flexible as your business is, because things change and that’s okay. As my mentor Amber McCue likes to say, test, tweak and pivot!


Now your turn:

What ideas have been hogging up brain space and isn’t getting done? Did you try this process, and if so, did it work for you? If not, what systems best work for you right now?