I love writing these BTS posts and apparently you love them too, so I’m thrilled to bring you another!
The last BTS post I did was our 2020 year-end recap, so if you haven’t checked that out, give it a read too to get up to speed on what’s going on around here!
I’ve come to quite a few realizations around team in the last couple months.
Realization #1? I don’t enjoy managing people.
This honestly shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, when I was deciding how to scale my business I was debating between scaling to an agency which was very much so the done-thing and was common in the industry at the time (still is in fact) or scaling with courses.
I chose courses genuinely because they felt like a business model that would fit my life & personal preferences best.
The idea of needing to manage a large team of people, being on call all the time to answer to people’s questions and solve issues when say a client wasn’t satisfied and it got escalated to me or something of the sort just sounded like my nightmare.
I wanted the freedom to peace out on a trip and have uninterrupted ‘non-work-time’.
I wanted my work to be my work and truly give me time for my life, not always be encroaching on it.
More people felt like more stress to me.
Now the funny thing is, the courses have gotten so successful, there’s no way around bringing on a bigger team.
Others in the industry with a business of my size often have MUCH larger teams, while we’ve been rocking over here with 3 people.
Granted, I think that’s been good in some ways, we don’t do anything unnecessary in this business and are super hyper-focused on just following our strategy and not getting distracted by shiny objects or sexy-but-questionably-helpful activities every month. (eg. new social platforms.)
But it’s gotten to the point that we really needed more hands on deck and aren’t able to serve students to the standard I want or create the new products and implement new strategies that are needed because of a lack of team members.
Before diving head first into just mass hiring, I wanted to be sure we were doing it right, with intention and operational efficiency at the top of mind.
Run Like Clockwork is a book on small business systems, processes and team. It’s about as un-sexy of a business topic as it gets but regardless, hellah-valuable if you get that aspect of your business right.
So we signed up to their Accelerator program, completed the time tracking exercise and were floored by what we found.
The feeling I had of “I feel like I’m always answering questions, doing BTS-business maintenance tasks or getting people stuff they need to do their job but not actually getting any of my own work done” was proven true. Our team member who is doing our marketing was also being dragged into a bunch of other tasks that didn’t fall into what she should be spending her time on either.
For me, I spent 50% of my time over our 4 days of time tracking on things that got put into the “Trash” or “Transfer” categories.
So that led to the very clear realization that our first hire needed to be an Online Business Manager (OBM.)
Our new OBM would manage:
Hiring, training, managing team members, answering their questions and renewing contracts
Head new projects in the business, creating project plans, set project goals & KPI’s, set milestones for team member projects and seeing them through accordingly
Implement Run Like Clockwork
Work with external contractors on projects (eg. with a brand designer, web designer, copywriter, lawyer, etc.)
Consolidate & improve our stats tracking
Organize & manage team meetings
We found the perfect fit with Shaundra from North Carolina and then it was on Shaundra to take on the next big project, hiring the other team members we needed.
We then hired for both a Tech VA position and a Customer Service role. We are just wrapping up that process as I write this, so you’ll have to stay tuned for who we hired in a future post!
So that’s everything that happened on the Team & real behind the scenes business-running topic.
Ads are a big focus for us going forward. Content creation is of course still a focus, but now we have the ability and resources to do both well, we’re on to really getting our ad strategy up to snuff.
Myself and Dean our marketing gal had a call with a lady in my mastermind who is an ads expert who cleared up a lot of grey areas for us and really helped us refine our strategy and solved our budget setting questions.
Our ads strategy call will lead us to creating a new low-cost offer for web designers which we’re excited about! That should be out in the next couple months, so keep your eyes peeled on your FB feed, haha.
(I hope you read that like Ross from friends.)
We did our once-a-year Square Secrets™️ course launch in February and part way through I came to a realization that I’d been ruminating over for a few months. I added a quick 20 second survey to the beginning of the course and got my answer in a matter of minutes as new students signed up and answered the survey.
The vast majority of people aren’t taking my Square Secrets™️ course to learn to build a website for their own business as was the case a few years ago when I first created and launched the course. Now the vast majority of people are taking it specifically to learn the skills they need to become a website designer.
This realization meant mid-launch I hustled to rewrite our sales page and sales emails, meaning it was a heck of a lot of work in a week, but the results spoke for themselves. We raised our conversion rate and really aligned the messaging with the actual reason people decide to take the course.
I’ve had a pretty solid new product idea if I do say so myself which I’m thrilled about.
I’ve truly been waiting and listening and the next requested product has come out really clear to me.
I noticed a very consistent theme and request from our last survey and the projects people mentioned they’d be focused on in 2021 and it’s thankfully something I’m exceptionally well-suited to create, and would be genuinely thrilled to talk about.
It also perfectly lines up with a major struggle I’ve noticed my audience and people in the wider industry are having.
A lot of creatives are looking for ways to scale, and offer something other than just 1:1 services.
For the people who have jumped into creating a product, often upon launching they realize they put the cart before the horse.
They launched a scaleable product to an empty room to less-than-pleasing results.
There’s a MAJOR difference between the relationship-marketing that’s necessary to sell services versus the mass-marketing that’s necessary to sell scaleable products.
If you don’t switch your marketing strategy and truly build an audience and get some people in the “room” you’re going to be selling to, it’s not going to go down well.
(Also side note: I thought of the CUTEST name for it! Seriously, just. you. wait. for the name of this one!)
This is a topic I LOVE and, if I’m allowed to toot my own horn for a minute, something I’ve mastered pretty darn well the past few years.
Every time I talk to a follower or student or heck, even all the people we interviewed for our 2 jobs this past couple weeks, they ALL found me through the blog or Pinterest (which obv, relates back to the content created on the blog.)
I cannot tell you the number of times someone has told me “I was searching for something about Squarespace and your site KEPT coming up, and then I looked at your posts I was surprised at how genuinely helpful your content was and that you were giving all that away for free.”
Probably the best thing I heard was during one of our interviews in which an applicant said “I actually thought you were some sort of scam at first. Like why is this girl giving this away for free? There must be some catch. Then I realized, no I think she’s just genuinely super helpful.”
People have told me they are excited for their Tuesday & Thursday commutes via the subway because that’s when they know there will be a new post on the blog.
I’m honestly too lazy to do the math, but if I had to guess I’d estimate I have a 97% record of getting my content out consistently by the intended posting dates, something which is no small feat to achieve.
And what did all that result in? A very successful transition from services to products.
So if you’ve been hoping to make the switch and scale with some sort of digital product, lemme just say, you’re seriously going to want THIS course first.
Don’t go creating your product and launch it to an empty room.
There’s enough flop stories out there to show you it’s just not a good idea and I really don’t want you to go through that kind of heartache and disappointment.
Every successful entrepreneur out there will tell you their email list is the most valuable asset in their business.
And how are they building that list? How do you even know of that entrepreneur? Their consistently created content.
Think about it for a minute, legit write a list of everyone you follow online.
Do they create content?
Yes? Thought so.
I mean legit, why else would you follow them at all?
(… I kinda feel like I’m writing a sales page right now.)
But honestly, this is the way my friend.
So yeah, if you want to scale, don’t get it twisted, you first step is NOT to create a product. It’s to build an email list of highly interested potential customers.
Feel free to hop on the waitlist for the course below. There will be some seriously special perks for those on the waitlist.
(Think special pricing, first access & amazing bonuses.)
I’ve always been a work-from-the-couch type person. And given that in our new house up until now the living room has really been the only finished room, that trend continued.
But it was leading to no real boundaries between my life & work and seeing that I do have the luxury of my own office in our new house, it was time I started making use of it. That meant I had to actually unpack the boxes and get some furniture for it. This is now my super cozy office chair.
(Because let’s be real, working from a couch or lounger is just a heck of a lot more cozy and comfortable than an actual office chair.)
The room isn’t fully, fully finished, I’m not a fan of the tile and the mirror cupboards feel a little dated (not pictured), but it’s a work-in-progress and at least has some proper furniture now.
I showed our bedroom redesign on Instagram and it’s safe to say the people loved it, so I’ll show it here too.
Seeing as we’ve been in lockdown for foreverrr (more on that below), all the time & money I would normally spend on travel got reallocated towards furnishing and decorating our new house.
And legit, I’ve loved doing it! This is the first time I’ve got to completely overhaul a room, from the flooring to the walls to the furniture and decor.
I have a feeling a love of design knows no boundaries, I don’t discriminate when it comes to making pretty things. I love making pretty websites, pretty outfits, and pretty spaces. So I guess I’m in the right line of work with web design.
I put together a Canva inspiration board and popped in all the furniture pieces I was thinking of to try to see if it would all cohesively fit together.
And I’m loving the result.
The black wardrobes I feel like bring something a little more masculine to the room which is otherwise a pretty white & blue feminine paradise, which my husband definitely appreciated. I also learned how to use a power drill and put up the mirrors and hooks myself.
Ready for this before & after?
As you can see we did it ALL, from flooring, to wallpaper stripping, to light figures to furniture.
Decor-wise it’s not fully finished, there’s some large empty wall space which needs to be polished off with some decor and my Canadian goose painting needs to be framed and hung, but we’re getting there!
We also moved a couple of furniture pieces from my office into the bedroom just to test the furniture placement, so now I need to move them back and replace those items, so it’s like 90% finished but has a little more to go still.
We’re on month 7 of hard lockdown in Germany.
That means no restaurants are open, no shops, no bars, etc.
Pretty much, no fun.
The rules are always changing so I’m not even sure what the rule is right now, but all along you’ve only been allowed to meet 1-2 other people outside your household at a time.
We’ve even had curfews of 9 PM for the past month as well. (TBH, the curfew makes no difference to me seeing as there’s literally nothing to do at night anyways.)
But anyways, to say lockdown for 7 months has been boring AF is an understatement.
Thankfully, I took up some new hobbies, since lockdown. I’ve tried Zoom yoga classes, become a skincare fanatic (I’m loving this YouTube channel and this one), done water-color painting, embroidery, reading more, watching Netflix (this is NOT something I normally do), learning interior design, line dancing from YouTube videos and horseback riding.
I considered learning the piano too but my husband had the forethought to mention that I’d likely buy a piano or keyboard and never follow through and use it, so that idea got (rightfully) quashed pretty quickly.
The riding however has actually stuck!
I’m loving the sport itself, being outside and of course, buying the relevant outfits has been fun too.
Granted, it’s reallyyy getting old not being able to go home to Canada or do legit anything other than going for walks so I am READY for a vaccine and my life back.
I read this article about languishing in the New York times and I think it’s a pretty accurate description of what lockdown for 7 months has been like.
Life has been kinda ‘meh’ which is not at all how I normally feel thankfully.
Germany is finally getting their act together with their vaccine drive so I’m hopeful that by the next time I do one of these BTS posts, I’ll have my life back and can give a more positive update on the personal side of life.