Systems

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

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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:

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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:

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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!


Why I moved to ConvertKit from MailerLite

All affiliate links are annotated with an asterisk (*). Links without one are not affiliate links. I only recommend products and services I actually use and love.

The money is in the list, so they say.

Most online businesses spend a lot of time and money on their emails, because unlike your followers on social media, the emails are yours to keep and the people who genuinely want to hear from you.

While that’s all great and important, I constantly remind myself to see my email list as what it actually is: real people. Each and every subscriber is a person, with unique thoughts and feelings and unique reasons why they opted to be on my list. And it is a huge honour to have them give up their email address for me. I know I don’t do it easily myself.

Over the last few years in business, I’ve built a list but never actually focused on growing one, which seems to be one of the cardinal sins of being in business. It wasn’t until this year, when I finally decided to step into my own and take my business reins as a CEO, that enough was enough and I needed to get my email marketing in order. Like legit order. I mean the whole shebang - tagging, segmenting, multiple lead magnets, automations, sequences… You name it, I want to be on it.

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In July I set out to test quite a few of the email marketing systems on the market - namely MailChimp, MailerLite (which I was already using), ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign. I seriously dug into each one, and even read all the pages of Drip multiple times (I didn’t want to try it because it needed my credit card to start, which was a bummer for me). I wanted to find The One. In many ways it was harder than finding the actual The One (sorry, hubby), but I did eventually settle on ConvertKit, as my title suggests, and I wanted to share a little of my findings about each platform I tried.

I want to also point out that there is no perfect system. I am still not totally convinced or in love with ConvertKit. But of all the platforms I’ve tried, this is the one that works best for me.

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ConvertKit: Pricey but Fast

I am starting with ConvertKit* because that’s what most of you clicked to this post for. ConvertKit is a funny fella. It has some of the most robust automation functionalities, yet remains very basic on other features, intentionally or not.

Basically, the dealio on ConvertKit is they want to make it simple. Make it fast. Because you don’t want to spend your entire day in ConvertKit, you want to spend the day growing your list.

In my opinion, ConvertKit has very basic analytics and data. You get only what you need, and nothing more. This can be a problem for product-based businesses, where you need to know a lot more data at every touchpoint to segment your list and engage subscribers.

This took a little getting used to, but personally, I’m not a huge data nerd, just a small one, and I also mainly sell services right now. I will say this though, ConvertKit makes it easy to test and tweak, which is just about my favourite thing to do in business right now, so detailed analytics aside, I have the testing to also help me determine the best way forward in terms of email marketing.

If you are the creative type or you offer mainly services or do online business, this should be your preferred tool. It was made for selling online.

 

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT CONVERTKIT

Interface is fast and easy to get used to. They have the best Welcome Tutorial which walks you through setting up your account and getting you acclimated to their software. Everything is kept clean and simple, with no additional bells and whistles, and organisation is clear and concise.

I have multiple lead magnets, and that’ll only grow as I write more blog posts and create more products and services, and ConvertKit was hands down the quickest from creating forms, editing the incentive email all the way to actually delivering the lead magnet (right from the double-confirmation link - easy peasy lemon squeezy). This was one of the biggest reasons I chose to go with ConvertKit.

While I would love for more filters and better organisation throughout (subscribers, forms, automations, triggers), it was always fast to set up a trigger or automation. I spent minutes in ConvertKit compared to the hours I used to spend in my EMS.

My other favourite part has to be the Sequences function. On top of normal automation workflows, you have the Sequences tab which is basically where you write out all the emails that automatically go out to your subscribers after they get your lead magnet. This means that I can create rules for automation and use Sequences repeatedly without having to manually copy and paste each email in each sequence.

 

That means ConvertKit makes it quick to:

  • Create multiple forms with different lead magnets

  • Tag each subscriber quickly according to what they signed up for

  • Give the lead magnet while double-confirming without multiple emails

  • Create email sequences and add them to different automations

  • Create different automations

 

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT CONVERTKIT

As a huge organisation nerd, I didn’t like that there was no way to toggle different views for your subscribers, or organise your forms, automations and triggers (rules). Everything is lumped together and if you have very many of them, it can get very confusing and messy.

The limitations to the forms are another thing to take note of. Because ConvertKit intentionally keeps things simple, adjusting things like form widths or adding custom fields to your sign-up forms are not as easy as other systems.

Lastly, the price. It is pricey for me, but I am a bootstrapper, so you may feel differently. Personally, I took the plunge after seeing how much time it saved me, and how it forced me to really view my and take email marketing seriously and create sales funnels.

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ActiveCampaign: Powerful but boring

As a designer, I am a really visual person. The entire ActiveCampaign interface was unintuitive and clunky for me. I dreaded every time I had to sign into it, especially if you are on the free trial and had access to all the functionality. I am relatively quick with tech, and could figure things out, just that it took me longer than as with ConvertKit.

As a software, ActiveCampaign is very powerful. It has robust analytics, segmentation and automation functions. But they are less intuitive and is often the “older” way of doing email marketing. They also use a lot of industry jargon in their sales pages and also their systems, so it is not as user-friendly to total beginners. But if you’ve been in business for a while, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

If you’re the analytical type, you will probably like ActiveCampaign the most. It is reasonable, fast, has great deliverability rates and is everything you could ask for in an email marketing service. That’s if you don’t mind the interface.

ActiveCampaign matches the price of ConvertKit at 1000 subscribers, but has a lower priced 500 subscriber plan.

 

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT ACTIVECAMPAIGN

Automations were fast and easy. Tagging was intuitive and there was not much of a learning curve. Analytics are powerful, so that means you can create almost any funnel you could dream of in ActiveCampaign. If you were grandfathered into their old plans, the prices are really attractive, making it only $17 for 1000 subscribers as compared to the current $29 per month.

Their Customer Service is also very helpful, and it really is a professional email marketing software that is reliable and can grow with your business for many years to come.

 

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT ACTIVECAMPAIGN

As I already mentioned, the user experience was not great for me. It could just be me though, as different people use software differently. I didn’t like the interface and how “corporate” it felt, and it made me want to spend less time figuring things out or creating automations.

Also, they don’t have the sequences function, so if you had, say, 5 emails that you sent automatically through a funnel that you want to duplicate elsewhere with a condition (e.g. “clicked this link”) you would have to duplicate the emails one by one. This is just my experience, maybe there’s a better way to do it and I missed it, I can’t be sure.

Their Help Documents also felt very unkind and too professional, almost. I read their Refunds Policy and it made me not want to be associated with the company. Same goes for their affiliate program, which brought me to multiple help documents and terms and conditions that only made me more confused.

Lastly, their functions are robust but can be very overwhelming if you have the full plan. You don’t know where to start and what to do, which made it even harder to set things up quickly and forget about it.

I also found that their most basic plan (for those who don’t require CRM) limited things like form types (you could only use a normal, embedded inline form). Which seemed like quite a petty thing to limit.

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MailerLite: Best value but worrying

I’ve used and loved MailerLite for more than a year. It is relatively easy to set up, and the free plan is super powerful. You won’t get this value anywhere else. You get access to all the functions, which are pretty robust, and also to the customer service. Which is amazing!

I haven’t wanted to move away from MailerLite, but they were recently hit by a spamming issue and it made me really take a hard look at my systems. My list was fast becoming my focus, and I wanted a platform that could grow reliably and had a direction, just like my own business. With MailerLite, the functions were great but I never felt 100% sure if it was my content causing lower open rates or deliverability.

I still recommend MailerLite to people, just as I would MailChimp to product- and Shopify-based business owners. MailerLite is great for service-based businesses as well, with landing page functionality and different types of forms. It is a great starter system that you can grow into.

 

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT MAILERLITE

The generosity of it all. They want you to succeed and they give you the tools. Automation is on-par with many other systems, and there are a ton of form options to choose from. Their customer service is prompt and helpful, even when you are on the free plan.

The way they organised their interface also made sense, so everything was relatively straightforward. Instead of jargony names, they named everything very clearly (“Subscribers”, “Forms”, “Campaigns” and “Automation”). They have reports that give you analytics on most things you would need, and even has a heat map-esque tool that allows you to see where readers are dropping off.

You can make almost anything you want to grow your list with MailerLite, as their forms gave you options like “Pop Up” and “Landing Page”, which is great for a free and then relatively inexpensive platform.

They even let you map your domain onto your newsletters, which is a premium feature with most other email marketing service providers.

Overall, I think MailerLite would be great for a bootstrapper, and you don’t mind having to do a little more legwork and spend a little more time to save quite a bit of money.

 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT MAILERLITE

They can be really slow. Sometimes page loads take forever, other times they are pretty quick. I live in Singapore with fibre internet, but still, sometimes it takes a while.

And then there’s the spam issue. With any generous free plan (like MailChimp’s, too), this comes as a problem. People abuse the system and then get it blacklisted, which means that deliverability rates (people actually receiving the email in Inbox) are typically lower.

Since I switched providers, I’ve noticed my open rates about doubled. Which seems crazy to me, and also reminds me of how many subscribers or customers I could’ve potentially missed out on.

Similarly to ActiveCampaign, creating forms and delivering lead magnets is no way as quick as ConvertKit, and you need to set up an individual automation for each lead magnet if you want an automatic delivery. Automation is also powerful here but takes some duplicating if you are creating a relatively complex funnel.

 

Why I eventually, finally, went with ConvertKit

I wanted to save time. Honestly. I wanted quick and decent, so I could spend less time on systems and more time on content creation. So I could spend less time tweaking stuff, and more time actually selling. And ConvertKit provided me with that.

Even though the price point deters me a little, I’ve become much more serious about growing my list and have built more sales funnels (that worked! I had 2 sales come in just this week when I was sleeping - this has never happened for me before!) and improved my systems.

If you want to try ConvertKit for free, here’s a 14-day free trial with my affiliate link*. I would be super grateful if you used mine, as it does help my income, but I also wanted to give you another option.

The “big names” like Pat Flynn or ConvertKit’s own webinars have a 30-day free trial. Do a quick Google and you’ll find it! While I would love the affiliate commission, I also wanted you to know of this option. A 30-day trial will help offset the cost just a little and also give you more time to explore and get used to the system before you start paying the pricier fee.