When you own a business, you are going to make a million changes until you get it right. So here are five decisions I made that were absolute game changers for my business.
If you’re already an entrepreneur, you know that it is all about adaptability. You figure out what works, but then your business changes, you change, your audience changes, life changes, and then you have to do it all over again. So you are constantly adapting to get it right, and it can be a struggle.
Over the past three years in my business, I have made lots and lots of changes. I’m even changing up my changes. Of course, I am evolving every single day, but here are some of the bold, big, drastic decisions that I made that were absolute game changers for my business.
#1 Creating Packages or Productizing My Business Model
I come from an agency background where everything is really, really custom. So, someone comes to you, they say what they need, and you write this custom proposal that’s very specific to what they want. That’s a really hard way to do it because it’s hard to estimate the time, it takes a lot of time to create those proposals, and you may not even get the project.
I often found myself drawing in stuff that I didn’t even want to be doing. People were coming to me for everything when I really just wanted to focus on branding. It was hard for me to say no, cause I did have those skills, and I didn’t have a system in place to say no. So I wasn’t operating in my zone of genius, and I was wasting lots of time and energy figuring out how to deal with this. This might not apply to everyone, but this can ring true, especially for service-based businesses. Sometimes it comes down to just having a lot of clarity around exactly what you do and don’t want to offer.
So, I really focused on “productizing” my business or creating very specific packages of what I do offer and not doing anything else. So that looked like offering specific brand strategy and brand design packages with these exact deliverables, for this exact price, and it takes me exactly this long. I had never had that before. So, I was doing a lot of everything because I have a broad marketing background, but it wasn’t serving me.
Once I created those very specific offerings (which are still what I offer to this day, although I’m going to be making some tweaks soon) I no longer had to think about it. Everything was straightforward, saving me lots of time and energy as I didn’t have to spend time creating these proposals for projects that I might not even get to begin with.
It also made things easier for my customers and potential customers as I was able to say, “oh, here’s what you need, and here’s exactly what I offer for that.” I was then able to create proposals quickly and with a lot of clarity rather than having to figure out time, costs, and all of that.
It made it a lot easier for me to have clear boundaries when I didn’t wanna take a project on. As I tend to want to help people, I’m reluctant to say no, but these clear packages made it easy to say, “I don’t do that; this is what I do. And if that’s not what you need, somebody else can help you.”
#2 Systemize and Automate My Business Processes
So this came directly out of creating these packages.
Prior to automating, I had a lot of manual and repetitive processes that were a total drain on my time and energy: creating custom proposals, sending out emails, moving clients from one stage in the project to another. While it was set up in a way that I knew exactly what I needed to do and when, if I ever wanted to grow my business, no one else would have any idea what I was doing. It was all in my head. It wasn’t scalable, and it wasn’t serving me.
So, I hired Loran Elise, an absolutely amazing system specialist. She stopped offering this service for a while but I believe she reopened it. So, if you need this help, you should absolutely hire her.
I also began using a business management platform called Dubsado to create some more automation. A proposal would come in and a client would sign it, they could pay their invoice, they could sign their contract and it created this automated workflow, of triggering one step after another – I didn’t have to touch any of those. In the past, I had to manually do every single one of those things.
But the process itself was actually the most powerful part. It required me to map out my business processes – my standard operating procedures – for every one of my offerings. And I had never done that before. Every detail from how do I communicate that we’re launching, what do I need at launch, what do I need to collect from them, do I need an intake form, what does our kickoff look like, what is the exact timeline, what deliverables do they expect, when & how do I wanna off-board them, when do I ask for a referral, when do I ask for a testimonial – all of these little details that I honestly just wasn’t even doing now became automated into my process. So, the actual process itself of mapping out those procedures was really powerful. And then the automation to make it do it automatically was a game-changer.
So the outcome obviously has been that this saved me a ton of time and energy, and I no longer had to think about these things. But even more than that, it gave me a lot of clarity about what I was doing and why, as well as insight into my customer experience and how to make it better. I saw gaps where I wasn’t really serving people as well as I could or opportunities to do it better and go above and beyond – I wouldn’t have gotten that if I didn’t sit down and look at those processes.
Now, when I bring people on (in the very near future), this will help me scale because they’ll have these Stanard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) to reference, and I won’t have to explain every detail. Instead, it’ll be like, “this is how we do it. Just follow these steps!”
Finally, this has helped me learn to adapt. As I’m using these systems, I’m learning little tweaks that I wanna make to move forward more efficiently or more effectively for how I actually operate. So I will be making some additional updates to these processes in the future.
#3 Learning How to do My Bookkeeping
Now I actually learned this right when I started my business as I knew this would be really important from the get-go, and I continue to do my own bookkeeping today. So while this isn’t the case for most businesses, and you certainly don’t have to, I would recommend learning how to do it. Learning bookkeeping will give you a deeper understanding of what your business actually does and whether it is healthy.
I am very big on money – that’s why I’m doing this – I like to be fully aware of exactly how much I have and how much I will have. I wanted to totally understand the financial health of my business, especially because I decided on using an S Corp instead of an LLC or a sole proprietorship (let me know if you want more info on this, and I’ll happily make a video on it!). As an S Corp is a more complicated financial structure, I wanted to understand how to make the most of it. There are all these factors: from a tax standpoint, managing my expenses effectively, my initial investment in my business, my payroll versus my owner’s distributions – it’s complicated, and I wanted to know how to do it well.
My accountant sat me down, and for $150, she showed me how to use QuickBooks and answered all of my questions, and gave me so much insight into the financial reporting, the bookkeeping, all the detail behind my business.
As I said, I still do my books to this day. Every two weeks – if I am not like crazy overwhelmed – I go in and I track all my expenses or really just categorize them, make sure that everything is aligned. I also use Profit First which has been awesome for my business – another topic I’d be happy to make a video on for you!
This process of at least understanding my financials really changed the game for me and my business. I can have better projections of what income will be coming in and, thus, what I can afford and what I can pay myself. In the beginning, I wasn’t paying myself anything or very, very little, and understanding these things led me to know things how much I could afford to raise my payroll. Can I pay myself a little bit more each month? Can I afford to take a distribution and reward myself for my investment? Can I afford to do this event? Can I afford to bring on help? All these types of projections are crucial as you grow.
Even more, you get an understanding of whether or not you’re profitable! What assets do I have versus my liabilities? All of these details essentially determine the health of your business. This is especially important if you’re approaching this from the standpoint of creating generational wealth. That approach means your business isn’t just a job or a monthly income generator; it’s an asset that should be worth something. You want it to be very healthy.
It also makes tax time really easy – and who doesn’t want that? There’s no stress. I give her everything knowing it’s well-categorized and organized because I know what I’m doing, making it a straightforward process.
It gave me peace of mind. I’m a bit financially risk-averse; I like to feel secure in my finances. This gave me the peace of mind to counteract my biggest fears when launching my business. I have a video on that coming very soon.
#4 Referring People Elsewhere
So as I mentioned, when I started this business, I was taking on a bit of everything. Unfortunately, it resulted in me being kind of frenetic, unfocused, and not doing the stuff I love to do the most. Part of the problem was that I went full-time with my company right before COVID, so I was afraid the world was gonna shut down. I didn’t know if I was going to make any money. One of the first months that year, I only made $400 – and that’s coming off of a six-figure salary. So it was a pretty rude awakening.
I started taking stuff on just because I needed money which was not good for my mental health or my business. But, I was afraid to say no, and I wanted to help people. I had so many people coming to me – especially people just starting a business with very low budgets and needed a lot of help or didn’t know what they needed – and I didn’t have very good boundaries in this regard.
One of the things that helped me was first figuring out what I do and what I don’t do. For me, that looked like creating these packages. For you may, it looked totally different – it’s just about drawing your line in the sand of what you do and don’t want to offer. Then, I found the right people within my network – or referred to the right people – who could offer things that I don’t want to do anymore. Not all of those gaps are quite filled, so if you’re a creative that offers a service, reach out to me, I’d love to check out your work! But for the most part, I have copywriters, web designers, video editors – lots of people who I’m happy to give work to so that I don’t have to do it.
The outcome is that it has become way easier to set those boundaries because I can now say, “you know, actually, I, I don’t do this, but this person does.” And it is a win, win, win! I don’t feel drained or like I’m going beyond my limits, but I also feel like I’m able to help someone. Ultimately, the client wins because they get the help that they need. And the other business owner wins because they get a referral of someone who’s like already warm and ready to go and has been recommended. So, it’s beneficial for all of us!
Rebranding was the biggest game-changer for my business.
You may be thinking, “if you are a branding expert, why did you have to rebrand your own business?” But I’m just like everyone else – I can get in my own head, it can be confusing, and things can get chaotic and messy.
When I started my company, I had a very, very different idea of what I wanted it to be. And I spent a year building out that business and that brand, and then I completely switched it up. I changed my audience and approach, but as I was just about to quit my job, I didn’t really have a chance to really catch up with my brand. So for most of my first full-time year, everything felt out of alignment. It was really complicated and confusing for me to create marketing materials or create my social media posts or messaging because I wasn’t clear on my brand. I just didn’t feel confident in it. The tone and voice were off, and I wasn’t reaching the right people. Things weren’t resonating because there was this disconnect. The people I wanted to talk to weren’t getting it because my messaging was still geared towards the audience I used to serve. Everything was out of alignment, including me. It just didn’t feel good.
Even more than that, I have a specific niche; I serve women in BIPOC businesses who often don’t have the same resources – especially when they’re startups – as these big companies. As such, I wanted to align my business model, offerings, and my pricing to this audience – and that wasn’t the case. I was using, um, agency level corporate level kind of pricing and it just didn’t click. There was chaos.
So how did I solve this?
I literally did exactly what I do for my clients for myself. And let me tell you, it is hard to brand yourself. So if you’re out there trying to create your brand message, your brand identity, your logo, and you’re struggling, trust me, I get it. I know how hard it is cuz I’ve done it for myself. It is very confusing; It’s hard to get that detachment in order to get clarity.
I worked on it for several months. First, I researched my audience, created my audience profiles, created my brand messaging and strategy (just like I talk about in all my videos). Then, I created my brand identity. So the colors, logo, the look, and feel – everything that you see now, I created out of this process of trying to find clarity. Then I did the big rollout of my website, videos, social media – everything is in my updated branding as of the end of 2020.
The outcome of this has been absolute total clarity and so much confidence. I always say that, and I’ve heard it from my clients, but it was just crazy to see how true it really was for myself. I feel so much more aligned in my business, I don’t have to think about the things I used to worry about because I know that this is what I stand for and this is what I offer. That clarity is super powerful in my brand, but it’s also translated to more confidence for myself as a human being. As a business owner because I was able to inject a lot more of my actual personality into my business. It makes me see myself with a little more confidence and be able to own those characteristics. So a little bit of the fearlessness, the “badassness,” I am able to kind of embody that even more. Since undergoing this rebrand, um, I’ve been able to message more effectively and know exactly what to say when I talk about my business, who I serve, and what I offer. I’ve been attracting the exact type of businesses that I wanna work with – the exact people with the right challenges, so we’re a perfect fit. And that really was not the case when I first started.
Beyond that, it’s made my marketing and branding way easier because I’ve started to become known for what I do and for who I serve. So I don’t have to put as much energy into it as time goes on. Rebranding was a total game-changer all around for my business.
Businesses, like everything, are a total evolution. Just because you started somewhere doesn’t mean you can’t make a drastic change to find more alignment, more clarity, and more confidence in your business.
If it’s time to make a change with your own brand, you know who to call! Book a discovery call with me here. I would love to chat about how I can help!
Until next time, stay badass!