Why down-sell products rarely work

Why down-sell products rarely work

There’s plenty to think through when deciding if your new product idea is going to be worth investing your time, energy and money in. Is it something that your clients *really* want? What price should you charge? How do you go about marketing it?

But there’s one question that gets forgotten … what job is this product going to have in your business? 

Let me explain with a story from one of my clients last year. She had been running her marketing consultancy for some years, and although it was going OK, she was struggling to expand it and increase her revenue. No matter what she did, her business didn’t shift.

Then she was given the idea of creating a membership product. What’s not to love about a membership product? Regular, consistent income … a perfect passive income! She threw herself into developing the idea; went on a course, learnt all there was to know about setting up and running a membership product and launched it.

When we started working together, she had been running it for around six months. It became very clear that she was spending 80% of her time with the clients that were generating 20% of her income. Her membership product, although packed full of value, was running her ragged.

She told me the reason she wanted to create this product was because she wanted something to offer the people who couldn’t afford her consultancy fees.

At first glance, this may seem to be reasonable … why leave money on the table? 

But her bigger vision was to scale up her consultancy business so she could outsource much of the delivery, and free up her time to start up a new business. What this membership product had done was to make her busier than ever, working more with the clients who weren’t going to help achieve her ambitions.

She’d created a down-sell product for people who realistically were never going to be worth more than a few hundred pounds a year, and yet ended up taking up most of her time and expertise.

In a very short period of time, she had closed down her membership product, which immediately freed up her time to focus on the right projects to move her towards her bigger vision, and four months later she had launched her new business alongside her current consultancy.

Of course, this isn’t about whether a membership product is a good idea or not. There are plenty of businesses who thrive having a membership product, serving hundreds of people every year, often as an up-sell or prospect product to their existing programmes and services.

The point is whether the job of your new product idea is going to help you achieve your bigger vision.

In the case of my client, it made strategic sense to NOT create a down-sell offer for the people who couldn’t afford her – because let’s be honest … it’s going to take a very long time before any of those people are going to be in a place to afford her consultancy fees (there are plenty of more effective and less time intensive ways of staying engaged with them if that’s what you want to do) – and instead focus her time and energy on what’s going to free up her time to allow her launch her new business.

So when you are pondering on your next new product or service idea, ask these three questions before your creative surge takes you too far down the launch path.

1. What is the job of the product?

Is it to give an easy, low risk way of acquiring new clients … will it be your core offering that you focus most of your time on … or to add value to your clients and increase their average spend … or is it a way of extending your client lifetime spend?

Know exactly what you want this new product to do for you and your business and keep this clear in your head as you set about the creation and launch process to ensure you don’t go off track.

2. Will it help you achieve your financial goals?

No matter how brilliant an idea it is, will it move you towards what you really want out of life and business … will it really increase your revenue and by when … or spread you too thin across too many products?

Set clear financial goals and quantify your expectations because there’s every chance you will also see you’ll need far less leads and sales to make this a success, especially in the early stages.

3. How can this product idea scale your expertise without you?

It may be that you are still very much your business, but if your ambition is to grow and scale, it’s never too early to start asking questions such as how much of your time is needed to create and deliver this product … what resources could help speed up the process and make it easier … and who can you ask for help?

One of the biggest shifts you can make to move from being a busy freelancer to having a profitable, scalable business is to change your questions from ‘How do I?” to what and who questions … it shifts you to not just being a business owner, but to being a CEO and opening up your growth potential.

For most people I speak to about growing a business, coming up with new ideas is never a problem. And it’s very easy to get caught up in all the fun, creative stuff in those early stages of a new idea. So before you get too far down the process of creating and launching a new product or programme, stop and think about it strategically.

It will save you months, if not years, of stress, worry and frustration.

Looking for your next step to take?

Let’s talk through your current product offerings and I can help you see where you could be running your business smarter – book a Next Level Business Strategy Session with me. There’s never any charge for our first call together. Click here to check out times available.

Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.

 

 

How to trust yourself to make good decisions

How to trust yourself to make good decisions

Being able to make good decisions is one of the keys to adopting a CEO mindset and growing a successful business. 

But decision fatigue is real; the more decisions you have to make each day, your ability to make decisions becomes worse. 

We’re faced with thousands of them every day, from the mundane (What to cook for dinner?) to the business-changing (Can I trust this person?). And for most of us right now, we are still reeling from the past two years of making decisions about stuff we never had to think about before (Which way do I walk through this supermarket? Do I have to wear a mask? Is it OK to hug this person?). 

I always prided myself on being able to make quick decisions. Even at the start of my career, I realised I was able to process information fast and see where the real problem was. 

But as I got older, my brain got faster as I took on more and my expectations of myself climbed, and the decisions I was making became more knee-jerk and reactive as I jumped from one task to the next. 

I simply couldn’t keep up with what life and business was throwing at me so when I hit my 40’s, exasperated by peri-menopausal symptoms of brain fog and exhaustion, I found that I didn’t trust myself to make good decisions any more. And this had a direct impact on my business. 

Procrastination not only slows down growth … it’s exhausting! 

To be able to get better at making good decisions, it’s important for us to learn how to first trust ourselves, our own judgement and instincts. 

The first step in trusting yourself is knowing that you don’t have to be good at everything, all the time.

I get that we have incredibly high expectations of ourselves, largely because of our society’s expectations (You can have it all; be a perfect mother AND run a successful business), but also because of experiences we had growing up both at home and at school. But let’s be real: nobody is perfect. Nobody ever will be.

No matter how much we try to make ourselves into some sort of superhuman machine, everyone drops a ball or makes a mistake from time to time. And that’s okay! It doesn’t mean we’re horrible people or should feel ashamed about ourselves; it just means that being human means not being perfect all the time. 

So giving yourself a break and being kinder to yourself, particularly on the days you feel more tired than usual or you’re juggling family needs, is critical to allowing yourself the time to step back and give yourself some breathing space. 

Trusting your gut is something you have to work at.

The older we get and the more responsibilities we take on, the busier our heads get and the longer our to-do-lists grow. When your head starts controlling your life, it’s easy for it to override any intuition or instincts you may have. And when you get so busy that you forget to give yourself the space to hear the advice from inside of you, that connection can get cut off. 

It’s the same as working out and keeping fit; if you stop, your body loses the muscle definition you gained, and your fitness levels go down. 

The next time you are faced with a decision, instead of panicking or saying “I don’t know” – take a moment , close your eyes and listen closely inside yourself first. If you really don’t know how to do this (and yes, ten years ago I was so ‘in my head’ that I really didn’t know how to hear what my instinct was telling me!), then take note of my next point. 

Spend more time in your body.

Many of us will exercise for the sake of fitness and health, measuring success by steps or sweat. But because so much business is often solved in our heads, these kinds of exercises can feed the brain; giving you more things to take action on and complete. 

Spending time moving your body consciously can really help you connect with the neural pathways that run around your body. Movement such as dance – prancing around the kitchen rather than following a structured class – and slower walking focused on your posture – noticing how your feet connect with the ground with each step – can be simple ways of sensing your body and spending time ‘out of your head’.

Recognise that fear is different from intuition

… and sometimes it can be good to take the moment to ask the fear what it may be trying to tell you. Is there anything that you can put in place to make your next steps less risky for you? Perhaps you need more time to put your decision into action … maybe you need to hire some help?

If you choose to ignore your fears, you may find that you procrastinate and pull yourself back from taking action. So use your fear to shine a light on anything that you may avoid simply because it feels uncomfortable as this can be helpful in making sure you don’t avoid taking action on your decisions.

Be prepared for change, even if it means sacrificing some things you really care about.

Trusting yourself means putting your faith in your ability to make good choices and decisions. It means taking risks without being afraid of the consequences. 

If you really want to take your business up a level, then there is every chance you are going to have to stop doing some of the things you are doing right now – and yes, that includes certain clients, programmes and team members you may really care about – and do something different. 

This may mean that you stop offering a particular service, programme or product; it may mean you have to change your pricing structure; it may mean you have to fire one of your team members. 

You can not grow a business without change. Get comfortable with that concept because trusting yourself means knowing when to let go and when to hold on.

You must trust yourself even when the outcome seems uncertain and you may not know all the answers.

One podcast I’ve got into recently is The Diary of a CEO. I was particularly taken by one of his more recent ones – Moment 54: How you should make every big decision with guest Rochelle Humes.

They reference a conversation he had with Barack Obama and his 51% decision making rule. Steven says “It comes down to if we are always looking for 100% of the facts, data and certainty to get our decisions over the line, it leads to huge procrastination and time-wasting. Getting to that 51% is a much more efficient system, and it reassures us that it will be the right decision to make.”

Knowing that we can make another decision or even reverse it if needed can open us up to bigger thinking and bolder decision making … and that the cost of procrastinating and trying to be more than 51% in favour for, or against of that decision is potentially huge. 

I like this idea of having your logic brain to be only 51% convinced … it opens up to trusting our intuition more.

Next week, I want to dive into the importance of slowing down, and how going slow can actually speed up your progress. So for now, comment below and let me know what resonates with you here. 

Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.

 

 


Are you ready to take your business to the next level?

Join me at Elevate – a transformational, all-inclusive business retreat at a luxury spa venue right in the heart of the beautiful Surrey/Hampshire borders countryside.

Elevate CEOship Retreat with Karen Skidmore

 

 

Breaking the YES habit

Breaking the YES habit

Last week, I was writing about the difference between being a freelancer, business owner and CEO, and the phrase that seemed to get the biggest reaction was …

“You may think you are a business owner, and call yourself a business owner, but your current work schedule has pushed you back to being a busy freelancer, simply at a higher revenue.⁠”

And yes, several of you shared with me the frustration that even though they may be selling more, they aren’t earning any more. They were busier AND poorer. Ouch!

So what to do?

The usual reactions are to work harder at finding the right marketing strategy; to create a new suite of offers and products so you have more to sell; to go find yourself more customers.

All the above can work but only to a point.

The real shift in your future growth comes from how you are thinking, your behaviour and thus the actions you take.

And this is where your CEO mindset comes in.

Most people start with action, and this is what is celebrated the most in our entrepreneurial culture (you’re killing it … let’s get shit done … you smashed your targets). Of course, action is critical, but if you are already busy, bouncing from one thing to the next, you aren’t really making decisions … you are simply reacting.

And if you are tired and already working to capacity, your ability to think strategically is significantly hampered. Your brain is working super fast, keeping multiple tabs open (and often throughout the night!) and the only thing you are capable of doing is dealing with what’s right in front of you.

Great for dealing with a crisis … not so great for strategy and growing your business.

So how do you begin to switch from crisis management to strategic thinking?

There are three key behaviours that can directly impact your ability to think strategically

  1. Trust
  2. Ability to slow down
  3. Breaking the YES habit

Today, I want to dive into breaking the YES habit, and how saying yes to everything is great at the start of your business journey, but at some point, hinders you significantly.

When you first start out, saying yes opens you to opportunities and possibilities that you may never have considered before. It gets you your first few clients and projects, and builds your confidence.

But at some point, the clients and projects you say yes to start to pull you in too many directions. And if you don’t have clear boundaries and know the direction you want to be headed, you become reactive and transactional.

You begin to behave like a fast food server … “Would you like fries with that? And a large drink?”

If you are good at what you do, then your diary can fill up over time with projects and delivery, but you speed up, work faster, and eventually you have no space to breathe. And, believe me, a fully booked diary is NOT a good problem to have. It can leave you exhausted at best, and burn out at worst.

If you’ve found yourself heading this way, then there are some quick fix ways of taking back control.

1. Go long

Don’t try to fix your busy diary in the short term; it’s too stressful to try to push back projects (unless of course, this is an emergency health crisis and you really don’t have any other option but to cancel for the sake of your wellbeing!). Go to the point in your diary where the weeks start to be a little clearer.

This may be in two months time or further … no matter … but from wherever it’s starts to clear, block out a dozen or so days for the next three months as non-negotiable, non-bookable days for anyone but you.

Don’t worry about what you are going to do with that time right now … you just need to be sure you have this time blocked out so you stop the habit of saying yes to everything that comes your way. This blocked out time in the future will be critical to give you the space you need to work ON your business, rather being IN it all the time, and to allow for strategic thinking and decision making.

2. Audit your current diary & cancel anything that isn’t business critical

Have you got network meetings or buddy support groups that are no longer serving you? Have you got meetings with people booked in with you who just want to pick your brain, rather than be interested in buying one of your programmes … or want a chat about how you can collaborate together? What have you said yes to because it felt good to say yes at the time, but now with the power of commercial hindsight, it’s just another distraction and a thief of your time?

3. Batch

Batching is one of the most powerful things you can do with your diary, because bouncing from different calls and meetings throughout the day takes a lot of mental energy to switch and transition. Ideally, you want to have sales calls on one day, and client delivery on another; you are showing up differently so stay in sales flow for your sales calls, and then stay in delivery flow for your delivery.

You also don’t want to be squeezing in tasks such as invoicing, proposal writing and content creation in between meetings, sales calls and delivery, so start to book in time chunks to get this work done.

I’d also recommend batching weeks as you start to take back control of your diary. For example, you could have full delivery weeks for three weeks of the month, which could then allow for one clear week of no delivery each month to allow you to have space to work on projects that will build your business.

4. Schedule time in your diary for preparation AND recovery

It’s easy to only put appointments into your diary, and then forget about the before and after. For many of my clients, their work can be full on, especially if they are delivering in person (coaching, training, consulting), and not recognising the need for recovery time means you put yourself on a conveyor belt of doing, doing, doing, and then collapse.

5. Set clear rules for how you want to work

You may be very clear on how you would love to work, but have you written down the rules to make this happen? For example, I hear a lot of people say they want to work less hours. So if you want to NOT work Fridays, when was the last time you said NO to a project or meeting that happened on a Friday.

Stop, write down 3 or 4 rules of how, when, where and with whom you want to work and stick it up on the wall next to your desk. Looking at these rules BEFORE you say yes to anything, will help begin to break your YES habit and set new and better behaviours.

Next week, I want to dive into the importance of trust; trusting yourself, trusting your business and learning to trust others so you break the habit of thinking you have to be the one to do everything yourself.

So for now, comment below and tell me which one of these five things you are going to do today. Then let know next week what difference it’s made to your YES habit.

Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.

 

 

Being CEO in your business

Being CEO in your business

Wow, what a week! I’m writing this just as I come to the end of our first week of our next new Momentum planning cycle, which is always a high energy, back-to-back week of calls, and I wanted to share with you today my thoughts about being a CEO in your business.

Between Melina and myself, we’ve spoken to almost all our members to ensure they are clear on what their next priorities are for the coming months, and I am super impressed with the up level of thinking this year, far more than previous years.

Visions feel bolder.

Targets seemed to be stretched more.

Health and wellbeing being taken more seriously.

One member told me this morning that his most recent contract win was at twice the price he would have considered offering at last year before he joined.

Another shared how her profits have increased tenfold since the start of last year.

And many of the conversations highlighted how much more confident they felt as a business owner.

As I have been processing and reviewing what we have been doing differently from previous years, it’s become clear to me that my focus on transforming our members from being a busy freelancer to being a business owner and then ultimately adopting a CEO mindset, has an integral part.

You see, everyone usually starts their business as a freelancer.

You do everything; from marketing and website copywriting to selling and delivering client work, and what you do sell is usually your time and expertise so it’s a trade of time for money.

At some point, you bring enough business in to merit hiring your first support person and you start to work on what systems and processes are needed to run your business.

You start to become a business owner; you may still be the only one delivering client work, but some of your focus during the week is on how the business works – the marketing systems, follow up emails, proposal templates and creation of products or programmes.

But the bigger the contracts, the more programmes you sell and the more clients you attract, the less of you there is to go round.

The dynamics of your working relationships with your clients start to change and there’s every chance you start to feel overstretched.

When this starts to happen your business can start to feel like project management hell; you begin to drop some balls and you don’t get the chance to catch your breath or take the time out to work on your own development because you are spending all your time either working with clients or working on the projects to support your business structure and processes.

You may think you are a business owner, and call yourself a business owner, but your current work schedule has pushed you back to becoming a busy freelancer again, simply at a higher revenue.⁠

And this is where the importance of having a CEO mindset comes in.

If you want to grow your business beyond a certain point, then you have to stop treating your business as something you do, and start getting clear about who you want to become … the role you want to play, the life you want to have outside of your business (because you do have a life outside of work, yes?!) and the bigger impact you want to make. ⁠

And it’s this CEO mindset that can make all the difference to how you think strategically about where to focus your time, resources and energy.

Over the next few weeks I want to share more with you about who it is you need to be and what it really takes to become a CEO, and share how to break the patterns of behaviour that keep you in freelancer and business owner mindset, and how to develop new rituals and practices to harness your CEOship power.

For now, I’d love to know where you feel you are right now. Are you behaving like a freelancer, a business owner or CEO? Have you distinguished the difference between them before?

Leave a comment below as I’d love to know how this resonates with you.

Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.

 

 

How patient are you at winning over ‘pregnancy clients’?

How patient are you at winning over ‘pregnancy clients’?

I want to write to you today about patience.

I’ve been staying with my mum since Thursday last week. She’s 81, incredibly independent and wants to stay this way for a long while yet. But she’s had another operation on her hip; to correct the one she had in 2019 which left her with one leg an inch shorter than the other, which also led to her having to have a knee replacement last year.

You could say we are getting pro at this after surgery care, but unfortunately she’s now having to deal with the fact that, this time around, she can’t put any weight on her hip for the next six weeks.

Her desire to be independent is being tested. And her need to be patient is forcing her to slow down and ask for help in almost everything, from cooking meals to washing her feet. (And yes, I know she’s providing me a wonderful mirror opportunity for my own life lessons LOL)

On one hand six weeks is a long time for her to be resting. And it’s a long time for my brothers and I to juggle the after care needed. But I also know that six weeks in the grand scheme of things is nothing, if being patient now will mean she will be walking without pain by the summer, and be set to carry on her independent living for many, many more years to come.

All this has got me thinking today about how often do we choose to play the patient game in our businesses, in particular the patience at winning over our ‘pregnancy clients’.

There are two types of clients that I talk to my clients about:

the ‘bread-and-butter work’ that pays the bills, is easier to turn around and get results quickly, but are often short-term, lower paying clients who can use a lot of your time and energy without the right systems and processes in place.

– and the ‘pregnancy clients’ that – yup, you guessed it – can take up to nine months (or more) to sign the contract or buy your programme, but they are often buying at a higher price point, can be more profitable and potentially have a longer and more meaningful relationship with you, which in turn reduces your need to rely on ‘bread-and-butter work’.

Our 24-7 society, that means we can get groceries and books delivered the same day, expect responses to our emails within hours and answers on chat within minutes, has meant that our expectations have massively increased over the past decade.

And not only do we expect results and success quickly, we, as consumers, demand far more trust and confidence in the brands and businesses that we buy from than ever before; we check out online reviews, speak to friends or family members, scroll through social media feeds to see what they are publicly sharing and may even google the CEO to see what they stand for or what causes they support with the profits of their business.

All of which has had an impact on our own businesses and marketing. These shifts have meant that we all have to work that little bit harder to win more ‘pregnancy clients’ in order to avoid getting exhausted chasing too many bread-and-butter clients.

We have to choose to spend more time on projects such as:

  • nurturing relationships
  • creating content that builds trust and confidence (rather than trying to beat the algorithms)
  • hiring the right team to support you and your business
  • having a sales process that gives them what they need to make a decision in their own time (and not because it suits you and your need to make money right now)

Projects that may not give us the immediate results we are programmed to expect. But, with patience, will allow more ‘pregnancy clients’ to come to you; clients that give you more meaningful work, and potentially better profitability.

Wherever you are at in your business journey, there is a time to hustle … but as you become more established and want to grow, there are more times needed for patience.

Not sitting back, twiddling your thumbs and waiting kind of patience.

But the patience needed to doing the work that gives the clients you want to attract, the trust and confidence that you have the skills and expertise to help them give what they want. Just like my mum right now, ensuring that she take her slow recovery seriously for the next six weeks in order to be back walking at a pace by the summer!

Until next time, be more, play bigger.

 

 

How and when to hire an Operations Manager for your small business

How and when to hire an Operations Manager for your small business

Having a good Virtual Assistant (VA) to support you in your business is an essential first step to building your support team and releasing yourself from the trap of being a busy freelancer. Not only does a good VA free you up from day-to-day admin tasks, they also give you the opportunity to position yourself better; just as a lawyer, dentist or private doctor would have a receptionist or personal assistant to take care of enquiry forms, appointment booking and follow up documentation.

However, there is a stage in every business journey where you have to review whether you have the right team members to support your forward growth; not what you need right now, but what you need to go to the next level.

Your VA, no matter how good they are right now, may not be meeting what your business needs to level up. No fault of their own, but you, the business owner, haven’t got the time or energy to delegate effectively and important projects aren’t getting done.

You have reached capacity and you’ve taken on a freelancer mindset again, trying to do too much yourself. You have become the bottleneck in your business.

Has it become time to review who is in your support team and think about hiring an Operations Manager?

Over the years, we have helped many of our Momentum members shift their thinking and take the right action to up-skill their support teams. But last year, I could see that I needed to walk my own talk.

Although we had a great couple of years, especially as Melina Abbot joined me as a Senior Coach in my Momentum programme in 2018, in the second half of last year I saw that I had become a busy freelancer again. I had become that bottleneck in my business!

It was time for me to invest in my team, and one of the big lessons of now having gone through this process myself, is that I really should have done this six months earlier.

Alexia had already been working with me for 13+ years as my Virtual Assistant. Over the years, Alexia has grown in confidence on what projects she could take on and has been instrumental in creating robust and elegant onboarding processes and client management, which has hugely contributed to the success and retention of our Momentum membership. At the end of last year, I offered her the promotion of both upping her hours, and upping her level of responsibility and contribution to the business, and I am delighted she is now our Client & Operations Manager as of the start of February.

But when is the right time to hire an Operations Manager?

Should you be worried about the additional costs of hiring someone more than a VA? And do you really need an Ops Manager if all you want is a small, easy to run business?

Let’s dive in and answer these questions.

What is the difference between a VA and an Operations Manager?

The core difference is how strategic their role is. A VA typically takes instruction from you and is task driven; you decide on what tasks need doing and they do them for you. Of course there are plenty of VAs who take on project management and higher levels of responsibility, but not all VAs make for good Ops Managers.

An Ops Manager will typically manage the systemisation and scaling up of your business, as well making sure your business runs efficiently and effectively. They become accountable for outcomes and take a longer term approach to success, rather than just ‘getting stuff done’.

There are also Online Business Managers (OBM) who specialise in working on your digital strategy, marketing funnel systems and e-commerce processes. It really depends on what kind of business you are running so for the purposes of this article, I am including OBMs in this Ops Manager discussion.

When is the right time to hire an Operations Manager?

My answer to this question is always ‘three months from when you need them’.

The mistake I see so many business owners make is to leave hiring someone at this level too late. That was almost me. I had already laid down the intention to Alexia that I would love to hire her for more hours and increase her responsibility, but I spent the next six months with the mindset of ‘when XYZ happens, then I will be able to promote Alexia’.

It wasn’t until I saw how certain projects weren’t happening that I knew I had to flip this over to ‘when I promote Alexia, then XYZ will be able to happen’.

To see the real results from hiring someone at this level, you have to give yourself and them at least three months. Yes, someone can come in to fire-fight their way through certain projects, but these aren’t the best conditions for someone working strategically on your business. There is every chance they will burn themselves out focusing on task management and getting stuff done, and not have the space or energy for strategic thinking to make your business more efficient and effective and/or to up level.

Reviewing your business every quarter (or trimesterly planning as we do in Momentum) is critical to helping you see the opportune time. Here are a few red flags that you may recognise in your business right now:

  • Your business development has stalled; you are too busy dealing with your current clients and the number of leads coming in are dropping.
  • A number of ‘love to do’ projects have piled up because you haven’t had the time to plan out and execute them; projects such as that new podcast, or write that book or market yourself as a speaker.
  • Your VA has started to irritate you; they were wonderful to begin with but now you’ve grown and the business is busier, you wish they would be able to use their initiative and come to you with solutions, rather than more questions for you to find the time to answer.
  • Your VA can’t cope with the marketing funnels or digital course platforms you’ve created over the past year; they are doing their best to do what you ask, but it’s becoming clear that although they’ve been good at building what you need from the ground up, the systems and processes aren’t integrated and your business is feeling over-complicated and messy.
  • You are spending too much of your time looking for documents, passwords or emails from key clients; you’ve even realised that several of your clients haven’t paid you but you’ve been too busy to chase them.

Now, of course, these red flags could mean all sorts of things; not just that you need an Operations Manager. But what you need to realise is how important it is for you to be thinking ahead and plan, hire and on board someone at this level BEFORE you get so busy fire-fighting that it makes it very difficult for you to have the time to go through this process.

Longer term thinking is needed and by deciding what you feel you need in your business one year from now, you will allow yourself to proactively plan ahead and avoid any of the red flags listed above.

How do you deal with the additional cost?

This one is a real doozy! Yes, it is a risk hiring someone that may double or even triple your current team costs, but here’s another way of asking this question …

How can you afford to not up-skill your support team?

If you need to motivate yourself, work out how much all those red flags above could cost you each month. And not just in lost revenue. There’s also the cost to your health and family if you are working more hours and stress than you can cope with right now.

To avoid getting stuck with this question, work out the cost of the first three months of hiring, and only look at this figure.

If you work out annual costs, and then look at your current revenue, it could be super scary. You have to remember that one of the key reasons for hiring someone at this level is that you are looking to grow and scale. If you are not freeing up your time to create opportunities to increase your revenue, then it may not be the right move for you (see below my answer to ‘Do I really need an Ops Manager?’).

Know the cost of those first three months – their initial probation period – as this is your core financial risk. If the person you’ve hired does not meet your expectations or deliver on what it is you want from them, then let them go. Don’t keep them on and pay any more in the hope that they ‘make good’ eventually. This way, you’ve only spent three months of fees, you’ve reduced your long term spending risk, and still probably gained a whole load of leadership lessons (which we could argue could be worth the money spent!).

Do you hire them on payroll or as a contractor?

First off, this is a legal question and needs to be addressed according to which country you are based. Here in the UK, we do have strict IR35 rules (I’d recommend you read them all through here on the gov.uk website).

As a basic rule of thumb, if you stipulate certain hours and days that need to be worked (ie Tuesday to Thursday 9 to 5) and you are their majority source of income, you are legally obliged to have them on payroll. And there is nothing scary about putting someone on payroll. I hired a part time Marketing Assistant many years ago on payroll and it was super simple as my accountant ran the payroll and I used all the legal contracts needed from Suzanne Dibble’s amazing Small Business Legal Academy.

If you are one of several clients they work with and you don’t stipulate hours, hiring them as a contractor/freelancer may give you a more flexible or easier option to get going with. Discuss this with the person you want to hire as they will be able to help with this if they are already working in this capacity with other clients.

Can I just give my current VA more responsibility?

Absolutely, but ensure you take the time to plan out exactly who you need and what responsibility you want them to take on. Although you may not need to do a formal interview process, you do need to talk through the new role and ensure they have the skills and qualities to fulfil your expectations.

Don’t just take the easy route and assume they can level up. Maybe you need to invest in their training and development if you feel they are the right fit for your business, but they currently lack the necessary skills. It’s often cheaper to invest in the people you have because of their knowledge of how your business runs and what your clients expect from you, then it is to try to buy in the new skills. So do consider this as an option.

Do you really need an Ops Manager when all you ever wanted was a small, easy to run business?

If your business is still under the VAT threshold or your revenue is running less than an average £5K/month, then a VA with a focus on systems and processes may be all that you will ever need. You don’t want to be ego-driven in this process, thinking that having an Ops Manager is what a successful business “should” have.

You don’t want to be over-resourcing your business and have unnecessary team costs eating into your profits, so understanding what your longer term growth strategy is important here. Scaling for the sake of scaling can unnecessarily over-complicate your business and end up being exhausting and expensive!

If your business is heading towards or already well into 6-figures, then investing in someone at the Ops Manager level can pay dividends, especially if you want a small, easy to run business.

So the real answer to this question is ‘it depends’; it depends on your ambitions, your life goals and how much time, freedom and energy you want in your life.

I believe your business is there to serve your life and leadership goals (rather than for us to be chasing business goals and getting trapped in a business that keeps us busy for the sake of being busy!). These are the kinds of decisions we help our Momentum members with regularly, so if this longer term strategic thinking is the kind of support you know you want for your business, then get in touch and we can talk through your options.

How do I go about hiring an Ops Manager?

There are several steps you have to follow to ensure a successful hiring process and long term relationship.

1. Write a job specification; what do you need them to do, what qualities does the person need to have, what are the opportunities you are can offer them

2. Go through a proper hiring process; don’t just hire friends or relatives, but nor do you have to use a recruitment agency. Use your current network, LinkedIn and even your current VA to help you spread the word. Set up interviews, including practical assessments if that is needed to give you the evidence that they are as good as they say they are. And remember references or ask to speak to some of their current clients.

3. Have contracts & service level agreements in place; again, I use Suzanne Dibble’s SBLA for all these. Don’t hire someone – payroll or contract – without the necessary paperwork and have it all confirmed BEFORE you begin working together.

4. Set them up for success; have a growth plan for them to work from, set out clear success metrics that they know they need to work towards to get the results you expect, and establish a plan for how you are going to communicate each week. These need to be done in partnership because this is how you start to wean yourself off the ‘I have to be in control of everything’ and allow them to do the job that you’ve hired them to do.

5. Review meetings; to ensure you are delegating (and not abdicating!) have a weekly Monday project meeting, a higher level monthly review meeting and an end of probation review to decide on your ongoing relationship.

6. Document, document, document; this should be second nature to a good Ops Manager, but make sure everything you both decide and take action on is documented. This is not only good practice for your whole business, but if you ever have to go through the hiring process again, you are not starting from scratch.

What other questions do you have?

Is there anything else you feel you need to do before you begin the process of hiring an Ops Manager?

It is easy to get caught up with all the ‘how do I?’ questions and then not take any action. The truth is that hiring an Ops Manager is just like anything we do successfully in business; it’s 80% mindset and 20% practicalities. In our Momentum programme, we go through in detail the steps and give you the confidence and support you need to ensure you hire right first time, so if this is something you know you want, check out our programme here.

I know I couldn’t have done what I have done in my business without my small, but very beautiful team. And I have always felt it to be important that they are invested in my business and in the success of my clients, as much as I am. So if you are sitting on the fence of whether you are ready to up-skill your support team, I encourage you to take the first step; write that job spec and then start having a few conversations.

Let me know in the comments below how this article has helped you.

Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.

 

 

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