You’re listening to the flourish and grow to CEO podcast. This is episode 26.
Are you a lady boss making $50 to $100,000 in your business and you’re ready to break through that six-figure barrier?
Have you done a great job of creating a nice life as the ultimate gig master, but know your inner CEO is calling you to greater heights? You’re in the right place if you want to create and implement solid fundamentals in your business without sacrificing fun.
I’m Pam Ivey, I’m certified in small business management and I concentrate in the areas of training and certifying real estate assistants, coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs in online business, marketing, growth and profit acceleration, and I take men and women business owners aged 40+ to bucket list destinations around the world for a month at a time to work, explore, and live in community.
I’m Jane Garee known as the sales strategist for the non-salesperson, and I work with business owners who want to increase their conversion rate, shorten their sales cycle and have more impact and influence with the work they do, all while having more fun with selling.
Oh, if I only knew then what I know now, and hindsight is 20/20, right?
Well today, Jane and I are going to be chatting about what we would do differently if we had to start our businesses all over again today. There are a ton of things that I would change if I was starting from scratch again. And we’ll bet you would too. So today, we’re going to go over some of the things that top our list. And I know Jane, when we were talking about it, one of yours was focusing on only one revenue generating idea.
Yeah. This would probably be my biggest piece of advice to myself. If I could go back in the way back time machine and start over, I know that I’m not atypical of business owners or entrepreneurs, which is, this is what happens. You get a fabulous idea every 13 minutes and then you kind of sorta act on it. And until you get your next great idea, which is going to come and you know, 13 minute increments, and then you act on that one and then you act on the next one. And so what happens is you get all excited because entrepreneurs are there. They’re visionaries. They’re idea makers. You know, they’re the people that actually start things happening in the world. Unfortunately, we’re usually not the people who make things complete in the world.
I was just going to say, “Jane, are you watching me?”
Yeah. You know, we’re the people that allow other people to have jobs who are brilliant at implementation. As true entrepreneurs, we’re visionaries. We create opportunities. We create jobs. We can get things started. We’re just not great at finishing them.
This is kind of like a two-part answer here on focusing on one stream of revenue. Pick one stream of revenue for the sake of generating revenue, because it is enormously difficult to generate revenue when you’re scattered and you’re squirreling and you’re all over the place. Ten really brilliant ideas that never get finished are not going to make any money. One really great idea that gets across the finish line or you’re focused where you’re implementing or you’re getting the help to implement – that is what’s going to make money. And with the money that’s coming into your business, then you will have the opportunity to go pursue all of your other really great ideas.
So part one is really just pick one lane and stay in it for revenue generation. The, part two to that is to find people who are really brilliant at implementation. I personally think that they, they like do God’s work. You know, they are the angels on the earth. And when I find people that just have that mind for implementation, and they’re incredibly systematic and they’re super focused and they can just know, this is the first step, and then we’re going to do this step. And then we’re going to do that step. They are amazing people to have on your team. Find some of those sooner rather than later, because otherwise you’re going to spin and sit and nothing’s going to happen.
Absolutely. And you know, I always said, I want to be like Richard Branson. He’s the idea guy. And he has brilliant team members that bring his ideas into fruition. He makes that dream a reality. And that’s because I’m so much like you and so much like so many of you that are listening out there – great at starting, not so great at finishing. So what’s perfect for Jane and I is, we finally found really, really good support that are super results-oriented and they love to cross the finish line. That’s a beautiful relationship.
Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more Pam. We have an amazing team and they keep us in line and they keep us moving forward with momentum. And if it weren’t for them, I’m sure the whole Flourish & Grow… I know we’d still be batting around ideas, but nothing would be in the can so to speak.
Yeah, we certainly wouldn’t be on episode 26 of our podcasts. That’s for sure. So a huge shout out to the Flourish and Grow to CEO Team and something, you know, that’s really related. One of the things that I totally would do if I had to start over again, is to put systems and processes in place as I was doing things. Because, like most entrepreneurs, you realize at some point that your foundations are really the bedrock – the foundation for your growth, and systems are a huge part of that. And handing off to team members and stuff, you need to have systems and processes in place. But the real key is to either record or write down or whoever you’re going to document your SOP or standard operating procedures as you’re doing them. Instead of, I decided, “Oh my God, I need to get my systems and processes in place NOW!” and it was this huge overwhelming ordeal to get it done. And it was like pulling teeth to get it out of me too. So yeah, it’s just much easier to create the process doc, while you’re doing the particular activity. It’s easier to eat an elephant one piece at a time. Right? My other big, big thing was, or is getting a system in place for my bookkeeping and my taxes that needed to be done immediately because I was always late for my taxes.
Yeah. Paying your taxes and getting your finances and accounting and bookkeeping in order cannot be underestimated. That needs to happen as quickly as possible.
Absolutely. You know, when left to my own devices, revenue gets entered immediately because that’s the fun part, right? I want to know how much I’m making, but expenses wait until the government sends me a letter that says, ”Hey woman, get your taxes done and in.”
The government sends you a letter, not good. That’s right. That’d be the litmus test of where am I in my accounting? Here’s the hot red letter from the IRS. Exactly.
And we’re, you know, we’re always kind of trying to drive home the importance of really keeping track of certain metrics in your business. And of course, profit is one of the most important metrics that you can keep on top of, because really we’re in business to make money. That’s the purpose of a business. But if you don’t know your numbers because you haven’t entered your bookkeeping details, there’s no way you can monitor that. So, it’s really imperative if bookkeeping is not your deal. Totally, totally, totally find someone that can do them for you. It won’t cost you a ton of money. They will usually recommend ideas to get your shoe box of receipts to them, and it just won’t niggle at the back of your mind all the time.
What else would you have done if you had to start your business over today?
Well, I know one of my big challenges and one of the hurdles that I really had to jump over was I would say this to myself when I started my business, “Get over yourself and get visible more quickly.” So ,I’ve been in the coaching and consulting industry – this is going into my 11th year, and social media was still a little bit of a baby. I think Facebook was two or three years old at the time. And I just thought it was the wackiest thing, which I’m sure most people did in general. So, at the beginning. Nobody’s really sure. What is social media really? What is Facebook and why is posting pictures of French toast going to help me build a business? I’m sure all of us went through that a little bit at the beginning.
However, just even two, three years ago, I was really still fighting about getting visible, especially on video and all that. All I could ever think was whether I was putting something out in writing, which was much easier on social media for me than actual pictures or photos or videos, but, you know, what do I look like? I don’t like the way that I look today, my eyelashes look funky. I look like I ballooned up 20 pounds overnight. Look at all the wrinkles. You know, this voice of condemnation about my physical appearance, which is so crazy, kept me from getting visible. So that was the physical part. And then the emotional or the mental part was, what if I don’t really have anything to say? And I certainly went through imposter syndrome, or people are going to say I’m stupid, or most recently, in the whole cancel culture. What if I say the wrong thing? The wrong way at the wrong time to the one person who catches it and not that the PC police are gonna come and get me, you know, that you’re all these reasons and all these stories about why getting out there and putting yourself in front of the world is not a good idea. And I guess to be fair, to some extent, they’re always going to be people who aren’t going to like what you have to say, or judging you or who are going to troll you or whatever, but, you know, whatever I know that’s not a super professional deep thought, but truly, whatever, just get out there and be who you are. You know, where your heart is. Yeah. Watch your language. We do need to be sensitive to not just ripping things off the cuff that your best friend might think is hilarious. But you could be misinterpreted, but really your heart’s in the right place. You know that you are wanting to make the world a better place. Get out there, get over yourself and just speak your truth. You be you.
As you’re talking, Jane, the only thing that’s going through my mind is you’re the only person I know that would worry about having funky eyelashes. When we asked Jane, if there’s one thing that you wouldn’t leave the house with ever, she says mascara.
Eyelashes and lip gloss. That’s it. If I was stranded on the proverbial desert island, and everybody says, what are the things you’d have to have with you? Sadly, yes. Eyelashes, mascara and lip gloss are going to be two of the three. I’m pretty sure it says something about me being a horrible person, but there you have it.
Not a horrible person. Absolutely not. But I just thought that was hilarious.
So bad eyelash day–not getting on camera today.
And yeah, you’re not going to please everyone with whatever you’re going to be talking about, but if you’re not, if somebody is not into it, they’re not your ideal client anyway. So, let them go on their merry way. They’re self-selecting or self-opting out. Right? Yep.
Awesome. Another one of the things that I would totally do, and this is such a misconception with especially service professionals, like people who provide services is I didn’t start building a list until I think it was year five of my business.
Yeah. This is a really big one.
It is a really big one. I started my business as a virtual assistant and I thought, well, I don’t need a list. That’s for, you know, the coaches and the consultants and the people that I was working for. But you know, if you don’t have a list, you don’t have anybody in the market to. And, I know that in the service industry a lot of our clients come from referrals, but we also need that brand recognition and to build relationships with potential clients as well. So we’ve really got to be building that list.
Yeah. The community and the email list, that can’t be overlooked. Social media is great. It’s fun. It serves a lot of purpose. It serves a lot of people and plenty of business owners have made a great business out of it. You can absolutely get clients and generate revenue from social media. It’s a phenomenal tool and vehicle for business. And here’s the thing: Email has proven the test of time. Social media can be unpredictable. You know, the owners, the people who run the social media, they can be capricious. You just never know. So click, click, click on somebody’s side on a Friday morning when they randomly decided they’re going to change up some things you can just zip out your whole social media presence, and then therefore your, your business community. Email, however, has stood the test of time. And interestingly enough, when they do the data on it, more people actually make purchasing decisions from email. So, social media is kind of like your party and getting your visibility. And again, yeah, you can get clients directly as a result of social media, but you do not want to overlook the power of your email community.
Yes, yes. You got it Jane!
Hey lady boss, do you think like a CEO when your business starts taking off, you’re ready to scale up at this point, you’ve got to stop thinking of yourself as a solopreneur and start thinking yourself as the CEO of your company. If you remain in the mindset of a one person operation, then you won’t be able to grow. You’ll never have the time, energy or expertise to do everything by yourself and your business won’t be the success that it has the potential to be. So, are you thinking like a CEO? Take our free assessment to find out you can find it at www.flourish.biz/think – that’s F L O U R I S H dot B I Z forward slash T H I N K. All right, lady boss, let’s get back to the show.
Oh. And I also would have put a system in place to nurture my list consistently. If you’re on my email list, you know I’m not good at this. So, that’s one area that is on my list to work on for sure. But we’ve gotta be consistent with it. Have people expect that we’re going to be coming into their inbox and look forward to receiving our emails. Remember the conversational style and you’re nurturing. So you’re really building relationships with your email members.
Yeah. It’s all about those relationships. You definitely want to make sure you keep nurturing your community and provide value and love them up. Absolutely. Well, speaking of managing your community and nurturing them and just loving them up, one of the ways to make that happen is to make sure that you’re very consistent in sending out contact and communicating with your community. And if you are like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably not going to love this part of it because it’s a rote task and you have to stay very consistent with it. And we just talked earlier about how entrepreneurs tend to not be super consistent a lot of the time.
So next point, if you had to start your business over, if I knew, then what I know now, what would I do? I would hire a virtual assistant much sooner.
This was actually the thing that changed my business. And I was caught in the same trap that maybe those of you who are listening to this have experienced or you’re experiencing right now, which is, but I really can’t afford it. And I kept telling myself that for years and years and years, well, I’ll just do it myself. I mean, I know how to send email. We’ll all just whatever, because I know how to, I can’t afford it.
And finally, I thought, you know what? These emails are not going out. I don’t have any deadlines. I’m having a hard time even creating the content because nobody’s waiting. The only person waiting for me to send out the email is me and I’m not going to do it. So, I finally just pulled the trigger and I got a VA and I had to put her on retainer.
It wasn’t even like I could budget it so that if this week was good which is really kind of what I was looking for. But it was a big leap of faith. I had to get a VA. I had to have her on retainer. It was a monthly commitment and there really wasn’t any way out of it. But I will tell you once I got over the lack mentality and the fear of doing that, it really was the thing that changed my business because now I had somebody who was saying, where is your content because I need to send it out. And then it would actually go out on a regular basis. So that alone started to build my community, which of course then started to generate more clients. The other thing is she was available to me if I ever needed any kind of tech advice or guidance. And when I say tech advice or guidance around marketing, so if I wanted to send something out or if I was a guest speaker and they needed whatever they needed from me, or there was a giveaway and I needed to get that set up. So really, it was the best decision I ever made was getting a VA. Get a good one who really understands your industry or who understands the back operation side of what you do. And they’re invaluable. It really will change your business.
So true. And as I said, I started off my business as a virtual assistant. So I’m a big believer in getting assistance, but you know what, my, well, you know, Jane, what my problem is is that I’m really tech-oriented — I can do so much. So, I definitely had an assistant and a bit of a team that just worked on my business early on in my business career, but I would still continue to do graphics and website design and that kind of thing because it’s kind of my jam, but it took me away from revenue generating things. So really take a look at the things that you’re good at, the things that you want to release. And you really have to take a look at; Is it the best use of my time, even though I love it? Or, is it kind of distracting me from generating revenue?
Yeah, yeah. You really got to pay attention to that because if it’s not a revenue generating activity, you really shouldn’t be doing it. You need to get that outsourced.
For sure. And my last one is I would have picked a niche or “nich”, as you say in the U.S., immediately in my business, because I started my business back in 2001, and I offered marketing and web design services. And my marketing was aimed at, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this, “anyone with a heartbeat and a wallet”. So my message was really watered down and wishy-washy because I was trying to appeal to everybody. Once I discovered the real estate niche, that’s where I jumped in and honed my messaging and directed my services toward everything. It freakin’ took off! It was ridiculous how fast it took off to the point where I had over 19 team members to support me in my support of real estate professionals. So, the more narrow or succinct a market that you can choose, the sharper you can hone your message that really resonates with your ideal clients and your target market.
Yeah, this was something I kind of lucked into – specialization by accident, because my first job out of college was I was hired to be in the sales department of the Marriott corporation, which is a fantastic corporation and they’re all about specialization. They have different brands. It’s the Marriott brand, but the Residents Inn which is where I worked, it serves a very specific type of clientele, which is different from the Courtyard brand, which serves a very specific type of clientele. So, they really trained us to know what our niche was to stay in the niche, not veer from it and really gave us, um, it was, incredible training because what it really did was say, Hey, these are the clients that you serve here in the sales department at the Residence Inn. Here’s your checklist, basically. Now, if a prospective client needs this, this and this, you need to kick them out, call the Courtyard, call the full service Marriott, call the sales department over there because they are out of your niche of the residents in, and they would be a best fit for this particular niche.
So it was a really fascinating study. It wasn’t just, hey, people need a hotel room and they can stay at any old Marriott. And then from there, I actually went to Robert International and again, same thing. Totally, totally unplanned. I just lucked into it. A high level of specialization because they had different divisions. Robert was a job searching, from huge billion dollar thing. For those of you, if you, if you have not heard of it. And I worked in the accounting and finance division, so we recruited and placed employees for recruiting and financing positions. That was it. So somebody called up and they needed a logo designer, not our division, not the brand that I was working under. So it was really amazing because when I came out of corporate and started my own business, the whole concept of picking a niche and staying very, very focused and saying, this is the type of client I serve. And if this client needs X, Y, and Z, that is not me. I need to refer them, came very naturally to me. But I realized when I started working with my clients, it’s something most people aren’t aware of, or they kind of fight it or they get stressed out about it. Most people just really haven’t heard of it. I just happened to get jobs that that was their whole focus. So it was an amazing education and training ground. And I cannot tell you how that served me and continues to serve me and so many powerful ways, because it is just, it’s just become a part of who I am, you know, cause that Marriott job was 25 years ago. So, I kind of grew up in business understanding and adhering to a niche mentality.
That is a gift that’s for sure. It’s amazing because a lot of people shy away from narrowing down their focus because they feel like they’re leaving a whole bunch of people out, but it doesn’t mean that you can only take on real estate clients, if that’s your niche. For instance, you can work with other types of people, but your branding and your messaging is targeted toward your niche.
And you’ll actually get better quality customers and you’ll have a better customer experience and your customers will have a better customer experience when you kind of tighten that up and you stay, you know, you stay focused. So, quick example that I can think of is the Courtyard brand by Marriott is geared. It was created for and created by and then is geared towards the business traveler. So if you think about hardcore business travelers and what’s important to them, very specific set of needs. The Residents Inn brand on the other hand, was geared towards and is geared towards and serves long-term residents, hence the name, right? So, think about this really simply; you’ve got a business traveler they want in and out. They want to have access to a quick meal. Does all the technology work in the room?
You know, there’s a very specific set of needs. Now imagine a businessperson and they’re relocating. They need to stay in a city that is not their home city for four to eight weeks at a time different set of needs. There, they’re going to want to be able to make a home cooked meal. They’re going to want more room because they’re, they’re living in this hotel room. So everything from the size of the room, to the food, to the availability of the food, to the amenities, very different because it’s catering specifically to a particular type of person. So you get better customers when the customer understands, because imagine the professional hardcore business traveler sitting over at a sitting over in a hotel room, that’s got a fireplace in it, you know, a kitchen and it’s, it’s lovely in theory, but they’re not going to have time to enjoy all that.
And they’re certainly not going to want to come home and cook a lot of them, right? So they’re going to be happier knowing they’re in a place that’s serving their specific set of needs. So the customer has a better customer experience. And as a result you do too, because you’re not going to get complaints and pushback. And why is this happening in my world? Because I don’t want this and I don’t need this. So it really creates a harmonious relationship niching. When you get down into it, this is who I serve. This is what is important to them. This is what they need, and this is how I’m going to provide it very specifically. It becomes a very powerful way of doing business.
I think that was super well said. That was a really good example. And it’s so interesting because as you’re talking, I’m thinking, Hmm. I wonder if we should with Jane and I, let me back backtrack a little bit. Jane and I are talking about heading to Quebec city 1) we can get together because we enjoy each other’s company, 2) is to work on Flourish and Grow together in person and3) I’ve never been to Quebec city, but all of my friends from the U.S. have been there. And I think it’s time I go there. But you were talking about the differences in the Marriott brands. And I was looking at the Marriott full-serve in the industry. Yeah. Um, cause I love the Marriott flag. But maybe we should be looking at a Courtyard cause it’s more business focused.
Yeah. It’s a great thing to look at or depending on how long we stay, because we’re dragging everybody into it, we’re processing out loud, our travel plans, but there’s actually some points in there depending on how long we stay. So, for those of you who are really wanting to create the laptop lifestyle, you’re on the road, you can work from anywhere. So, you know, Pam, you and I could go to come back and go, let’s just stay here for the month, if that’s what we want to do. So then we would look at more of like a Residence Inn type of thing. It’s much more roomy. We could cook. We can spread out. And then, you know, it’s got a full-size kitchen, it’s just got some different amenities. So yeah. Think about that in terms of your own business, what’s really, really important to your clients because you can save time and money by not offering things, things that they don’t really want or need.
Yeah. That’s so true. Honing down your services, I think is another really great point so that you become a specialist in whatever you are. I mean, I know you guys are specialists, but just really honing it down will make your message so clear that you’ll be like a magnet for your ideal clients.
And you get better referrals. It sounds like we’re repping for the Marriott. We’re not getting to the affiliate commission on anything. But if you, if we go back to using that as an example, niching will bring you stronger referrals. So Pam, if you were to come to me and say,” Hey, you know what I was looking at the Marriott and I think we need to stay there for a month. Then I would be able to say, “well, okay, tell me what your needs are.” You would then tell me. This is the hotel brand that we need to go into because they’re going to have these types of amenities. And so that would be a really strong referral. So then Pam, if we just kind of carry that through, one of your friends comes to you and says, Hey, I’m thinking about going overseas or I’m going wherever and I want to stay for a month or longer. You’d go bang, you know, Residence Inn as opposed to Marriott – I’m in and out in three days, there’s some business facilities. I don’t have a lot of time and you go, okay, well Courtyard, then that’s the brand for you or full-service if you really want the pampering and the spa on-site and the pool and the, you know, that kind of more high-end service, that’s what the full service are designed for. So there you go, everybody, you got a hook, you got a hotel education today, in addition to everything else. J
Just listening to you talk is so interesting because my very last corporate job before opening my business was in the hospitality industry. So ,we were the people who offered movies and internet in the rooms. And we only worked with the higher end hotels. So, my friends actually used to call me, you know, this is an aside, but my friends actually used to call me “The Porno Queen” because that’s what everybody thinks about when they think about hotel movies, right? Believe me, we had more than that, but anyway, it’s just interesting. The similarities in our background, that’s the only place I was going, but we are very chatty today. Aren’t we?
So let’s wrap it up. So those are some of the high-level things that Jane and I would have changed if we could start all over again today. So what can we take away from all of this? Well, while we can’t go back in time and change what we did or didn’t do at the beginning, we can certainly take a closer look at how we’re doing things today and then see if there are things that need to change. And then you create a strategy to level up to where you want to be. Personally, I’m going to be hiring someone to keep my expenses up-to-date for my accounting, because it’s still hit or miss on getting them entered in a timely manner, even after 20 years in this business. So, it’s really time that I squished this niggly bugaboo. How about you, Jane?
Ooh, what am I going to? You know what? I’m going to focus on one thing. That’s revenue generating because I’m back in furious creation mode and a lot of stuff started without a lot of stuff finish. So, time to finish some stuff.
Awesome. And a great place to finish the episode. I hope you enjoyed and it got you thinking a little bit. Have fantastic week!
All right, everybody have a great one. We’ll see you on the next podcast episode.
Well, that’s a wrap everyone. Thanks for joining us this week on the Flourish and Grow to CEO Podcast. Be sure to visit our website at www.flourish.biz. That’s F L O U R I S h.biz, where you can subscribe to the shows in iTunes, Stitcher, or via RSS, so you never miss an episode. You can also find our show notes and resources there too. And while you’re at it, if you found value in this show, we’d love for you to leave a rating on iTunes. Or, if you’d simply tell a friend about the show that would sure help us out too. Now get out there and flourish!