Ready for another sneek behind the business curtain? I’m going to pick up where I last left off on my business updates.
I recapped Q1 of 2021 in Behind The Business: What’s been happening behind the scenes so far in 2021 and before that I recapped all of 2020 in my mega end-of-year update post: Business Anniversary 2020: Year in review.
So friend, lemme share what’s been happening in Q2 of 2021!
Where I left off last time we had just hired two new team members, our new Tech VA, Arielle, and our new Customer Service gal, Amy. Our new OBM Shaundra has been onboarding, coordinating and managing the team which meant I finally had the time & mental space to focus on other tasks – like creating a new course! (More on that in a moment.)
Shaundra truly took over onboarding the new team members which had always been something myself and/or Dean had done which meant less time to spend on our own roles. It’d been a strange (but truly freeing experience) to have pretty much no part in onboarding.
Turns out, someone else can indeed bring on new team members for you, both Arielle & Amy have been doing a beautiful job in heir roles and are up to speed on exactly what they need to get done.
You’ll also notice from this business update that a LOT has been happening, which I 100% put down to actually having the amazingly capable team members necessary to kill it in their roles and just the woman-power to make a lot of projects all happen at once.
We’ve joined the Run Like Clockwork program to get the backend of the business in order, but had struggled to actually get through the module content with so much time spent hiring, interviewing, and onboarding. In Q2 we got the new team members on board and then seriously focused on prioritizing getting through the Run Like Clockwork program. We’ve been cruising through about a module a week which is a pretty solid speed as previously we were just about stalled.
Time tracking has genuinely been the MOST valuable experience I could ever imagine. Wether you have team members or not, I highly recommend for just a few days tracking all your tasks and time because I promise you it’ll be an eye opener and give you really specific marching orders on what needs to change in your business.
Time tracking led us to realize an OBM was really necessary, where gaps in onboarding was and catching issues we would have otherwise never noticed as we’re a fully remote team and obviously therefore don’t really know exactly what people are spending their time on.
With time tracking we’ve found inefficiencies and tasks that were completely useless or just not worth the time/effort that I didn’t realize people were even doing which we could scrap.
With a team in place that could own their roles that gave me the space to do something I’ve been thinking about for months, create a new course!
I admit mindset definitely got in the way here for a few weeks. It felt like ages since I created my other two courses and I was suffering from that typical “I don’t know where to start” feeling, which let’s be real is often just an “I’m scared to do this” feeling. I looked back at my Asana tasks when I created the other courses which gave me a task list. But still, I felt afraid to start in case I wasn’t creating what my audience wanted/needed.
After about two weeks of procrastinating I got my mindset in order, made a plan of attack and a task list and started going all in on creating course content.
But just as I was getting the ball rolling on creating course content …
Y’all I went HOME for the first time in a year and a half and boy was I happy about it.
As the vaccine rollout was moving along at a sluggish pace in Germany and Canada’s was picking up, I figured my best chance at getting my life back (ie. getting vaccinated so I could travel between my European home and my Canadian home) was to go to Canada and get vaccinated there.
Turns out I was right, I got my first dose the day after my 14 day quarantine ended and the second almost as soon as the 21 day wait period between the 1st and 2nd dose passed. I got Pfizer and couldn’t have been happier.
Though slightly ridiculous, I genuinely started feeling teary eyed as I got it, not because I was afraid of the needle but because COVID truly messed with my life in so many ways (being stuck away from home in Canada for so long, postponing our wedding twice, putting all life plans on hold, having the world’s most unexciting 30th birthday, and 7 months of brutally boring lockdown and nighttime curfews) that I was just so darn grateful to scientists for having created it and it being the key to getting my life back.
Even with having to do the Canadian governments hotel quarantine for 3 days and 11 days at home quarantine after that, the trip back was so worth it. I decided I was going to look on the positive side of quarantine and looked at it as a course-creation marathon session.
You know how authors often go on “writing retreats,” well I had a “course creation retreat” during my 14 day quarantine.
In government hotel quarantine you get served 3 meals a day and have a quiet room all to yourself. After that I went to another hotel in Toronto to do the rest of my quarantine so again I had uninterrupted work time.
I truly accomplished a heck of a lot in that time, but admittedly after quarantine ended, work-task-accomplishing has gone out the window.
Every day I tend to polish up work early at 3 or 4 PM because I’m off doing something with friends and family; trying on wedding dresses with engaged friends, going golfing, heading to house warming parties, helping people move, etc. and I couldn’t be more pleased about it!
After missing what felt like a zillion life events of my friends and family this past year and a half it’s been so nice to partake in their lives again. With all this socializing though my ambitious course creation schedule was no longer going to fly.
I had intended to launch this content creation course in the end of July, but a few opportunities came up which took time away from course creation and then with my social life being prioritize at the moment while in Canada, I determined a July launch wasn’t feasible.
We rearranged our launch calendar a couple times and have settled on the following:
August: Square Secrets Business Launch
September: Promote Copywriting for Creatives as an affiliate
October: Content Course launch
November: Black Friday
As the Content Course still requires my to actually create it still, I needed to push it back. Granted Square Secrets Business is fully created and ready to launch anytime, so we pushed that one up, moved the Content Course back and filled in other months with affiliate promos and a Black Friday sale.
The ability to rearrange these dates and give myself more time to truly be with my family and friends when I’m home is truly one of the BEST aspects of working for myself. I’m so grateful I built a business that allows that kind of freedom.
As a business owner it’s a bit of a conundrum when your personal values and your businesses needs collide. iOS 14 is a prime example.
We use Facebook & Instagram ads to market the business, but with the release if iOS 14 and consumers ability to tell apps “no I don’t want you to track me” we no longer have the ability to know if our ads are working or not through Facebooks ROI tool. Facebook now guesses if the ads are resulting in leads and sales, but can’t tell us for sure.
Knowing that Facebook couldn’t give us accurate numbers anymore, we started a little low-tech tracking system of our own. We note down each week how much we spend on ads and how many sales & leads we get.
Turns out after a few weeks of tracking, our ad ROI got worse and worse to the point it was genuinely not worth running them. We turned the ads off and have continued our low-tech tracking, noticing that a good 1/3 to 1/2 of our sales and leads weren’t coming from ads anyways, making the ad ROI actually even worse than we originally expected.
As a person I agree, it’s creepy when you say something and then suddenly Facebook shows you an ad on that thing and so “more privacy” feels like a good thing. (Though as a business owner who even uses the ad platform I don’t actually know how they’re doing this.) Granted as a business owner with these tracking tools taken away, the effectiveness of our ads has gotten terrible which means more work for us coming up with an alternative gameplan.
With Facebook ads no longer effective for us, the team and I had a meeting (a rarity in this business, we almost NEVER have meetings – wild I know). We all brought ideas to the table, with ads no longer effective, what were we going to do?
First we decided to schedule in for an ads audit to see if there’s tweaks we can make to improve the effectiveness of our ads or if iOS 14 just made ads useless.
Second we decided on a few organic marketing strategies. We’re going to:
Increase our content frequency from 2 pieces of content a week to 3
Go back to improve the SEO on old posts
Get on podcasts
Get active in the Squarespace Circle
Start doing giveaways
The more frequent content we’re going to make a mix of behind-the-business vlogs, guest posts and student stories. So if you’d like the opportunity to guest post be sure to get on the email list as that’s where we’ll be sharing those details.
Last year Teachable sent me an award for surpassing $1 million in course sales and it was SO appreciated. As a small business owner you’re just plugging along in your own little world, no one outside your business really with a clue of what’s happening and what accomplishments you’re having.
Which made me think, for my students there’s really no one to recognize their achievements and congratulate them on them either.
So I decided to change that.
We created an internal project within the business to both keep up with students as they achieve milestones and recognize them for their achievements. We rewarding students when they hit the following 3 milestones:
Students getting their 1st paid client
Students reaching $50,000 in web design business revenue
Students reaching $100,000 in web design business revenue
We set up a system by which we have students let us know when they’ve reached the relevant milestones and then send out rewards & gifts when they do. I won’t share what the gifts are here because we want them to be a surprise for students, but just know if you’re a student, be sure to update us so we can join you in celebration & recognition of your achievements!
On the flip side of this, we also combined this project with something else we’ve been thinking about for a long time but never got around to doing without the team in place to make it happen.
We’ve had thousands of students go through our courses now and have the most unbelievable successes.
Our students have been landing clients left and right, booking out months in advance, leaving 9-5’s and going full-time as designers, doubling and tripling their web design prices, hitting $10k & $30k months, etc.
And we wanted to take time to share their stories, successes and advice.
So because we’re now frequently checking in with students on what milestones they’re accomplishing, we’re more up to date on where they’re at and can get in touch as they make those achievements to get more info from them and then share about them on the blog and YouTube channel.
So expect to see a LOT more student success stories coming your way. These ladies have made incredible achievements and it’s both a testament to their hard work and the fact that our processes & course systems WORK!
We hope that these stories encourage others to think “Hmm, well she’s not so different from me, maybe I really can be a designer too. I think I’ll sign up for a PB course!”
Summer is here and I am READY for some time off work!
I have perviously found a direct correlation between me taking vacation and me being a more productive, effective worker. (I got the MOST accomplished in 2019 when I took 3 months vacation, versus 2020 where I took almost no vacation and spent a whole lot of time running in circles in my business.)
Taking time off forces you to get serious about only doing the needle-moving work and scrapping the rest.
My husband and I have a packed 3 week Canadian vacation ahead of us. We’ll be cottaging, having a “redo 30th birthday” for me, seeing my family (including my sister and her fiance who have been in Vietnam this whole pandemic), golfing, and generally socializing with those we’ve missed so much over the last year.
I intend to do absolutely NO work on vacation, no messaging, and no answering questions.
Dean (my longest-term team member) is also going on vacation at the same time as me, so the two people who have been in the business longest won’t be available for answering questions and making decisions for a period of time this summer.
I’ve actually always found going on vacation when new team members come onto the team to be a very good thing because suddenly they are forced to think, make decisions & it results in them building confidence in their roles and decision making abilities.
Prime example, 1 week after Dean joined the team I threw her the keys to the business and peaced out to a conference. The result? She gained confidence fast and had to think from the perspective of “if this was my business, what would I do?” which is exactlyyy what you hope for your team members to do as a business owner.
On all the occasions I’ve taken time off when we have new team members, nothing has burnt to the ground (or come remotely close to it) and sometimes that push off the deep end is just what’s needed to realize “I’ve got this! I can do and decide a lot more than I originally expected!”
The week I get back from vacation we’re launching Square Secrets Business, so I won’t be there for any of the launch prep.
Prior to having an OBM this would never have been an option (most launch work happens prior to the launch) so this should be a fun experiment in releasing control and letting someone else take over. If it goes well I’m going to be over the moon!