In today's episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Amy Fortney of The Extra Executive. We talk all about the things you should consider before hiring in your business. It was a great conversation that I hope you will enjoy.
Would you tell our listeners just a little bit about yourself? I'm Amy Fortney and I am the founder and CEO integrator of the Extra Executive. The Extra Executive is a fractional COO integrator business where I work with small businesses of six and seven figures. I help you get your systems in place so that you have a repeatable reliable and good customer experience for your clients and so that your business is running efficiently effectively and financially soundly so that you can grow and so that you can achieve the things that you want to do inside and outside of your business. I am a team of one at the moment getting ready to do some hiring myself so this is a great conversation I do have a one-year-old sheepa doodle, my chief barking officer. He's the employee of the month every month. I love to write, I love a good view and my toes in the grass and that's basically me in a nutshell.
How long have you been full-time in your business? It has been a little more than three years. I have approximately 25 years of operations and project management experience under my belt. I've done fortune 100, 500 you know large national non-profits I've done small businesses and so I think it gives me a unique perspective because I get to pull skills from each of those roles. I understand what a small business needs is not the same thing as what a very large corporation needs, but there are some synergies there and there are some things that you can pull into that and vice versa.
The Difference Between Corporate Environments and Solopreneurships
Most who come from a corporate environment know that there's an accounting department and an HR department, but they may have been in this one little small sliver of the environment. You may not have been introduced to the inner workings of these other departments or areas. To you, it just magically happened. Things just got done.
When you become a solopreneur all of a sudden you are now all of those people and as they say the chief cook and bottle washer, the custodian the customer service person you're all of those things and I think that there's a real culture shock there for a lot of people.
How do you begin the process of getting your business out of your head and into systems and documentation that allows that to scale that allows that to grow? It’s natural and normal. It's okay because you grow to a certain point and you do need a team to help you with those things. You cannot be good at everything and you need to be able to focus on the things that are making you money the things that are your passion the things that you're excellent at but that you would do if nobody paid you and that's why you started your business.
So here’s a scenario: you're a solopreneur, you're not really bringing in clients, you're not really bringing in enough to be sustainable yet. You're brand new in your business. What is your thought behind the verbiage “you need to have a team”? What does that really look like for somebody in that type of situation?
So my first thought is you need to understand who you will be as a boss before you do anything. My colby index score says that in any given instinctive situation I am a person who is going to want order and systems. I'm going to look at my risks, I'm going to take actions a certain way and that makes me an ideal operations person, so I think it's really important to understand how you're wired to understand for yourself what you value and what your culture is.
That might sound like a strange thing because people want all the tactical stuff first and I'm a tactical person so for me I want to get the step by step down and know exactly what I need to do and we'll get to that.
I think before you even think about hiring, especially if you've never managed people or you've never worked with contractors you need to pause and you need to say to yourself how is this going to work? How do I work and how is someone going to work with me, because we all have different strengths. The next thing I would say is that they need to not consider that they're going to find a single person who can do everything perfectly and excellently because I find that there are a lot of excellent virtual assistants out there and most people start with a virtual assistant but you want to find out what do they specialize in.
A lot of virtual assistants for instance specialize in marketing tasks. That's their love and that's their area of focus, so don't be afraid to hire more than one person to get the things done that you need to get done because just because you've hired somebody doesn't mean that they're really the best person for the task.
Those would be the two places that I would start. Beyond that, it's getting what's in [your head] out because unless you're hiring somebody to do that for you and that's the first person you're hiring which is great, you certainly don't have to put together all of your systems by yourself, but people can't read your mind so you've got to put at least something on digital paper and start putting it forward that way.
This is a perfect example that coaches and people in the industry don't all speak the same language. We all don't necessarily see eye to eye on every single situation and that's okay because you've got to pick the right person that is for you
A different perspective for those who are new to business and can't afford to hire.[Dana] it's interesting because I come from a different side. My mentality is that for someone who is just starting out, who doesn't have any money and you’re really just trying to figure out what you should be doing right now in your business…you need to focus on your mindset. You need to understand who you are what is it that you're trying to accomplish in your business, what are your goals, what’s your purpose…all of those groundwork foundational things first and then understand from a process standpoint what you want, what you like, what you don't like.
What I've been seeing with clients and potential clients is the phrase or the buzzword of "you need a team" is being misconstrued a little bit and so people are running out hiring all these people and they don't have a pot to pee in.
Oh, you need this person or you need that kind of person, no first of all you need to think about what makes you money you need to do more of what makes you money and you need to do the things that are associated with what makes you money, so the list of tasks that you have to make for somebody and the things that you can off-board from yourself and give to somebody else have to be the things that are focused on bringing in your revenue and also on not overspending.
Sometimes people think their business isn't legitimate if they don't have these things, but the minute you opened your business it was legitimate. There are a lot of free tools and a lot of help out there that don't require you to get into debt.
Take advantage of the free and low-debt tools available to you as a solopreneur.
In the early stages of the business, you need to be making money and you hit the nail on the head in relation to free tools and systems that are out there because most of the big dog systems have the free versions to pull you in so that when you do start making money then you become a full-blown client because you have invested the time and the sweat equity into their tool.
There are so many people that I see who go out and get infusionsoft (aka Keap) and they're a one-person shop with 10 clients. A lot of those mistakes are coming from people who have been in a corporate or work environment and these are the tools that were used in that environment. It's not to say there's anything wrong with these big tools or these expensive tools it's just that it's not the right size for where you are in your business.
That's what scaling really is so when you get to the point where you're hiring a couple of people, you don't all of a sudden need to have this org chart where you've got all these different departments and all of these things that we've been given as tools in a different environment. You need to think about what your business specifically needs and very often it might not be a virtual assistant it might in fact be someone who does marketing. Focus on the things that are going to help get your name out there further what are the things that are going to help you find your ideal client.
Don't Try to Serve Everyone - Find your NicheWhen you're small and new to business, every client looks golden. You're like I'm going to do this, I don't care what it is I'll do it, because you have a scarcity mindset and you think I just need money. I would encourage people to just pause because it’s such a common mistake. I made the same mistake when I first started.
Say to yourself there are clients out there for me and there is a way to find them. I don't have to be afraid that I'm not going to make money if I just work with this segment. The truth is you are not.
In the beginning, I did not want to niche down at all. I was so scared about doing that. I don't know who persuaded me but I was like okay I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna niche down and that's what made the difference in my business. That's when you start to specialize in your thinking you start to attract things in a certain way because you are putting your energy and your information out there in a certain way. People understand who you focus on so they now know how they can help you.
That's what I found and ever since I decided this is who my core audience is those things have just kind of come together it's not a fear that I have anymore because I've been out there for a little while and I know it works, so if you're new trust it.
Once you niche down you are able to speak to people in a different way, like you are speaking directly to that person. It makes everything else that you're doing makes so much more sense the systems you're developing, the way you write up your contracts, the way you set up your schedule, etc. Everything feeds off of your ability to niche down and your understanding of who you serve.
I invite you to listen to the full episode to hear the entire conversation...
Amy is the wife of a wonderful, supportive man of 23 years and the mother of three magnificent, intelligent, kind young people. She is also the human of a year-old Sheepadoodle who acts as her Chief Barketing Officer and has been the Employee of the Month 9-10 months running. He’s in charge of naps, team-building, and squeaker toys. In her spare time, she is always reading or writing. She love to travel and believes in the healing power of bare feet and a beautiful view.
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The Organized Holistically podcast strives to teach side-hustling solopreneurs how to manage a successful business and life using holistic systems. I help you develop, implement and streamline unique and organic processes and organizing systems. I do this by helping you identify the right systems and processes so you aren't spending money or time on unnecessary things and instead can spend that time and money focusing on the things that are most important to you, your family.