Episode 77 - Uplevel like Beyonce: What to Do When You Need Help

Uplevel like Beyonce: What to Do When You Need Help

Episode 77 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of This Episode: We all like to be in control of every aspect of our business, but often we have to delegate effectively to increase our productivity. In this episode, Rachel is joined by Mandi Holmes to discuss ways to improve your workflow.

What you will learn:

  • Learning to recognize when you need help in your business
  • Identifying the tasks that can be given to someone else
  • The benefits of writing processes for everything you do
  • How to find the right people to work with you
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

RACHEL: Hey guys, welcome to the Business Bites Podcast. I am your host, Rachel Brenke, and this is episode 77. I am joined with Mandi Holmes who is the CEO of She Can Coterie, a full service business and marketing management agency for online service based women business owners. She started it in 2015 when she was unexpectedly laid off from a firm as a virtual assistant. We’re gonna talk about that here in a little bit, but she now has a fully functioning expert team of 20 plus women that do it all to help you guys. Blogging, editorial work, customer service, systems creations, travels, invoicing, you name it. The options really are endless for getting help. Mandi believes that women should run the world just as I do, and that asking for help is vital to success. Of course, having a nice latte in your hand makes you unstoppable. She likes coffee. I like coffee. We’re a winning team. When she’s not leading up her team, she’s up-leveling and helping them serve other powerful women around the world. You can find her reading when she’s not making great changes or on the floor playing trains with her sweet son or binge watching Netflix with her husband. I think she’s my soul sister, so Mandi, welcome to the show.

MANDI: Thank you so much, Rachel. I’m so happy to be here. So yeah, I had kind of a different path to entrepreneurship. I always wanted to have my own business, so I, back in 2007, back when blogs were happening and everyone was kind of doing their whole thing and doing the whole craft thing and design and all of that, and I was like, I want to do something like that. I want to be able to work from home and do something creative, so I always just kind of studied. I would read the blogs. I would see how they were doing things, but I never really took action.
So I was working for a VA firm. It was a startup in Silicon Valley, and they had lots of different VAs working for them, and I was like, this is how I’m gonna get to work from home, do this kind of online business for someone else. So I’m doing that for six months, and this is in 2015. We buy a house, and two weeks after we buy the house, I get an email from the company when I go to clock in on Monday morning that the company doesn’t exist anymore because it shut down over the weekend.
So I’m like, well, we just bought a house. I have a mortgage. I had done all the research, so I knew how to do the thing that I wanted to do. I’d just never taken action on it, and it’s funny because I had always been such an advocate for my friends who were creatives or who had great ideas to take action. Do the the thing. Here are the steps to do it, because that’s what I knew. I knew the steps to do it. I just never did it myself because I could never really find my thing. So this was the catalyst.

RACHEL: It’s funny you say that. Sorry to cut you off, but it’s like the cobbler’s children have no shoes, right? Your own stuff doesn’t get done, so I don’t think that necessarily means that you’re do as I say, not as I do. It just, when you have a passion as I know you do to help other people, that often overrides your own stuff until something like this happens.

MANDI: Yeah, for sure. So my clients that I had through that company, they didn’t have a VA anymore, and I obviously didn’t have clients anymore. So I reached out to them, and I said, “Hey, I don’t know what the future looks like, but I know that you need help.” And they were like, “Okay. We trust you. We’ve been working for you for the past six months, so let’s do it.” So I just picked up and started working with them, and I filled my time with creating my website and updating it every other second, trying to just fill my time. You know how you do. But those clients were just referring me their friends and colleagues like crazy, so I was completely overwhelmed with work within two months. I was working from sunup to sundown, not stopping to eat. So it’s not everybody’s story, the way that this happened, but I do think that if you do really great work, if your clients like you, it’s gonna be natural for them to want to refer you.
So I brought on my sister to help me out. She had just had a baby so she was staying at home, and I was like, hey. I’m a little overwhelmed. I can’t even stop to talk to my mom on the phone during the day. So she jumped in and started helping me and that was really the first step into growing my team as I started staying overwhelmed. I would bring in team members to help me out with the things I wasn’t particularly the best at, the things that I didn’t like doing, the things that kind of drained me day in and day out. So I bring in team members to help me out with those specific tasks, and that’s how we’ve grown into She Can Coterie.

RACHEL: That’s awesome. So you guys offer things like blogging, social media management, even through customer service and technical support, and it’s interesting looking at the entire list they have on the website. I’m gonna link it for you guys in the show notes, but it’s funny because, and it crosses with what you just said a little bit ago, getting people to do tasks for things that you don’t necessarily like. This list, if I had to sit and create from consulting with entrepreneurs, of things that either they don’t have time for or they don’t like doing, this is the entire list right here.
So I love, I absolutely love that. So what’d you say? Your path with this is realizing a need for yourself and for others. Would you say that dragging your feet on getting help would’ve been one of your biggest mistakes in the beginning? I know for me, it definitely was.

MANDI: Oh, yeah. For sure, because as we start our business, we’re like this is my thing. I know what I’m doing. We treat it like it’s our baby, and we don’t think that anybody else can do the things that we do or know the things that we know, and that’s just really not true. There are people out there with skills and knowledge and just the desire to help other people. It’s only when we can let go of what we’re just holding onto so tightly that we can find and get the help that we need.

RACHEL: What I realized after I got over that hump myself, and guys, I’ve been doing this for 14, 15 years, right? I still have to go through and go through this whole process of fighting against myself that I don’t know at all because guess what? There’s people out there that know even better than me.

MANDI: It’s so true.

RACHEL: Which, as an entrepreneur and as the CEO, sometimes you’re like, I know everything, and not like an egotistical way. You’re just really confident and passionate and those feelings can nix and blind you. So I think that’s why it’s really important to have an outside objective view, and in the other episode you guys have heard, I’ve been a huge proponent of having consultants come in and identify weaknesses. These sorts of tasks of what Mandi and I are talking about are things that are bottlenecks in many businesses, whether emotionally, like we just talked about of the whole mindset or actually just physically you are doing it all and don’t take the next steps.
So Mandi, I know that, it’s almost cliché to say, if you don’t know how to do something or you don’t have enough time to outsource it, and I feel like people shut off after we say that because it’s said so many times, right? In the industries, like all the [inaudible] you see, so what tangible steps, like a quick little list to really show the listeners and me, because maybe I’ll learn something here. I’m hoping to. Of when you’re ready to expand? What are the next steps to get those tasks off your plate?

MANDI: Okay, this is what I love, so I’m really happy to talk about it. So what I would start doing throughout the day or the week as you’re doing the same kinds of tasks over and over again in your business, or look at the tasks that you’re not doing in your business that you keep thinking, oh, I should really get to that, but I’ll just push it off. Those are the kinds of things that you should probably give to someone else to do. So back to us thinking like we know everything. We are the best at it. There’s someone else out there that wants to do those tasks, can do it better than you, can do it faster than you. So there is always someone out there.
You should be doing your craft. You should keep that on your plate, but everything else that drains you, you should outsource. So I would start with making a list of all of those things that drain you, all the things that you keep pushing to the side. So for me, that was social media. For a long time, I just didn’t have an Instagram account. I wasn’t posting regularly, just because I kept pushing it to the side. I was like, I’ll get to that eventually one day, but I know that it’s important to create that community, to have that outlet.
So all those things, you can make a list, and then once you have your list of the actual tasks that you want to hand off or even the projects you want to hand, you can go through them step by step and make a list of every single thing that goes into it. So you’re not just going to bring someone on and say, hey, I want you to take over my social media. Or hey, I want you to post my blog posts. You’re gonna say, “These are the exact steps. This is the exact way that I do it.” So I recommend actually pulling up your WordPress site or your Squarespace site to put in the blog post yourself and write down step by step as you’re doing it, or you get bonus points if you record a screen flow while you’re doing the blog posts, so that someone can see exactly how you do it.

RACHEL: I like this because I am so guilty of just knowing how to do something and not writing out the steps, and going through the exercise of this will actually show so many weaknesses. At least for me it did. I’m transparent, just say, I have the mindset of I know it all, but once I have to sit and explain it to someone, then I realize maybe that is not the most efficient way or smartest way to do something.

MANDI: Yeah, so you’re gonna be able to see that. You’re gonna see the gaps. You’re gonna see the things, so if you don’t have your systems and processes written down that you follow step by step every time, you’re probably, when you do it, you’re probably missing steps. Like oh yeah, I forgot I need to link and add whatever. So you’re forgetting those steps because you’re just trying to keep it in your brain. So getting those systems and processes out on paper will be helpful for you, not just the person that you hire. I would recommend doing that for everything that you do, so that you are having consistency for every single thing that you do.

RACHEL: I like that you said that about the screen flow, because for us, we do that with my team, and so we record everything. A, it’s quicker, B, it makes more sense, and C, we stick it into our private video channel, and we have an admin channel. And you can even do this on Facebook now. In certain groups, they allow you to portion out videos and tag it as certain things, and you can easily find it that way. From a personal standpoint, I love this not just from being able to hire somebody, but what if something happens in your personal life? For me, and I’ve said this before, when I had cancer, I didn’t have a lot of this in place, because I was still learning my business and so I kept telling myself, you don’t need to write down the workflows because you haven’t gotten to a solid, perfect workflow.
Well, guess what? You’re never gonna get to it, but you know what I was doing? I was going through my surgeries. I was going through my radiation, and I was having to try to keep up or explain to someone else how to do something, and that’s not the way you want to go to do things. And yes, cancer is a really extreme example, but you could get the flu for a week. You could just simply get into a car accident, or maybe you just need a brain break. I get paralyzed at the thought of writing out the workflows, but I get even more paralyzed at the idea of trying to onboard somebody without those. It just becomes this whole circle, and this whole Catch-22, and this was probably gonna be one of my favorite ones because this is an area that is my answer when people say, how are you able to do so much? And it’s because of exactly, Mandi, what you were talking about here. It sounds like these simple steps that are so revolutionary. So I love that you outlined it that way.

MANDI: Right, yeah. The how do you do so much question is so funny to me because it’s kind of like when people say you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce. You’re like sure, yeah. We all have 24 hours, but Beyonce doesn’t shift and bend time to be able to do all the things. She has people on her team doing the things that are not her strength. Her strength is getting on stage, singing, dancing, being Beyonce, and her strength probably is not, I mean, she might be good at it, but her strength is probably not meal planning and making sure that there’s food in the fridge for her kids. That’s probably not something that she needs to spend her time doing, because that’s not her strength, and that’s not her money maker. So yes, we all have the same amount of time in the day as Beyonce, but she has so much support and that’s how she’s able to get so much done.

RACHEL: One of the questions that we always ask in the team, and I say we because we’re very team based is, “Do Rachel’s fingers need to touch this? Do her fingers have to be the one to actually post that message or do x, y, and z?” And I balance that with things like, I do my own social media interactions because that is something I value for my personal brand, but in order for me to have time to do that, I offload other tasks that don’t need me to press the button to publish or to post or to organize.
So I think that is, if you go down the line, just like Mandi’s talking about, make this list, and honestly look at her website that I’m gonna put in the show notes. It has a whole list of what they can help you with, but it’s also a really good list to show you maybe areas that you do don’t like or you’re not good at. Because I can do it right here for my own stuff with a whiteboard marker and go yep. That’s something that my fingers don’t need to touch that I have offloaded or I need to offload. Makes it really, really simple.
I think one of the things … Well, so the first step we just talked about was getting the workflows in order, which will reveal a lot to you guys. It will show you, help you fine tune your processes you’ll have ready to offload. But Mandi, can you tell them when they’re ready to find someone. They’ve identified these tasks and they’re just ready to get rid of it. What is the next step from there? Maybe it’s the actual finding of somebody? Maybe that’s the financial investment of hiring someone? What are your tips for that?

MANDI: Yeah, so I would take those workflows that you created and put them in a dedicated space. So for us, that’s Asana. We like to put every single workflow in Asana, and that way you’re ready to onboard someone. I would say the next thing you want to do is write up a job description. So this doesn’t have to be fancy, corporate job description. Anytime we’re hiring, we write out what our team is like, what we want the person that’s working on our team to be like, what their role is gonna be, what the specific tasks and skills that they need to be able to do or have. Then the way that we actually have found people in the past is in Facebook groups. I know that sounds scary because especially if you’re asking for, “I’m looking for a VA.”
So I would say never say that you’re looking for a VA, because people, you’ll get like 102 comments and then you’ll have to wade through those. So I recommend giving the job a title and looking for hiring based on the skill instead of based on just generalities. So yeah, you can go in and you can post in Facebook groups where those people might be or on your social media, but I would say give them a specific way to contact you with specific instructions.
So we don’t respond to anybody in comments. We don’t respond that way or drag messages. We send them to our website where that job description is. They have to fill out a form. They have to create a Pinterest board that describes their personality. They have to send us a video introducing themselves to the team, and then I always put something specific in there, like whenever you email all of this to me, make sure that in the second paragraph, you tell me what your favorite color is. So all of these things are helping me see their personality, if they can follow direction, what their technical skill level is. So it’s giving specific touch points so that I can get a good feel for who they are, because I think that fit for the team is so much more important than technical skill. Sure, we’re hiring based on those skills, but if they don’t mesh with the team, it’s not gonna be a long lasting relationship.

RACHEL: I agree. I love that you said that about hiding something, quote unquote “hiding it” like what’s your favorite color to show if they’re paying attention, attention to detail, if they’re following directions. We just recently hired a podcast manager, and that was the lesson that I knew before from hiring, but I really saw come to action how many people would pm me when I said email. When I would say, put a cover letter. Send a resume, and they would just say, I’m inquiring about x. I’m like no, you didn’t even get past the first stage. If you can’t follow directions, and again, I look to make sure that my directions were clear and they were. But if you can’t follow directions, I’m not even gonna waste my time. I’m not gonna waste your time interviewing you.

MANDI: Exactly. Yeah, we’ll have 30 to 50 people start the application, and then it comes down to 10 people that actually follow through the three or four steps. So it really narrows it down, and then we can see based on what they’ve sent in if we think they’re gonna be a good fit, if they have the right skills, and then we move on to hiring. So it really narrows down who you actually get on the phone with, because your time is valuable and so is their time, so we don’t wanna waste anybody’s time.

RACHEL: And for me, I, after interviewing so much, if I don’t have a really good qualification process before even getting to the interview, I get just exhausted interviewing, and then I either don’t hire, which puts me right back and actually in a worse position I was before, or I end up rushing to hire. I think that, and I’ve shared this before on the podcast. I am completely transparent about this. Management hiring is one of the very hardest things for me. I’m just not a, I have to actively, really work at it, and my dad has always said, slow to hire and quick to fire, while I’ve always been the reverse because I’m like, I just need to get projects in. I need to do this.
So these kind of steps that you’re talking about are things that I’m still getting my head around. So guys, if you’re listening, Mandi is giving you the exact workflow that really will set you up for a less stressful process of finding someone and getting them in the door. And of course, so through the process, we’ve identified the tasks they need and how to get the person, but do you have any tips on how they can afford to have the person, especially if they’re really new in their business?

MANDI: Yeah, so when I say ask for help or get the help you need, it doesn’t always have to be hiring. So if you’re not in a place that you can afford to hire, please don’t hire someone and then pay them on a credit card. Don’t put their fees on a credit card. If you can’t afford help, there are still helpers around. We’ve had clients who, in the beginning, would have their mom proofread their blog post before they put them up. Or their little sister can edit the graphics for them or even just asking for advice and that sort of things, which there are always people that are willing to help you out without paying. So I would say if it’s smaller things and you’re just beginning, you can pay them in cookies or something like that.
But I would say that it’s a right time to hire when you have way too much work and you’re completely overwhelmed, which is where I was, or if you find yourself with a little bit of extra cash at the end of the month. Then you know that you’re gonna be able to hire someone and afford them. So you can always start small. This was kind of a mind block that I had was that when I hire people, I need to hire a full time employee, and I need to be ready to pay for their sick leave and give them bonuses and all of that. No, that’s not true. You’re not hiring someone full time right off the bat. You can hire someone for a couple of hours a week or a few hours a month. It doesn’t have to be a full time, 40 hour a week with benefits kind of situation.

RACHEL: I agree, and spinning this into the legal side, since that’s, you guys know that’s where I’m really heavy on. Episode 45 actually talks about the employee versus independent contractor, so you guys can check that out. Rachelbrenke.com/epi45, and it gets into the legal nuances and kind of gives you a little path for that. But I completely agree with what Mandi just said. For me, even if I know that I want to hire someone as a full time W-2ed employee, and even though I have that legal stuff under control, we still will take the approach, and it’s exactly what Mandi said earlier. Making sure that they fit with the team, we’ll take the approach of either a probationary period/independent contractor with just a few tasks to get them integrated and see how they work.
I find that it’s easy, no matter how much you try to qualify them and use all these great tips that Mandi has given us, but people can still give the perfect answer during the interviews, you know? So it’s when you’re actually working, for me my recommendation is kind of do a probationary period, and yes, it does require a bit more oversight and intention, but that little bit of elbow grease and time there will, if you find a good hire, will dramatically quote unquote, “expand your hours in the day” because then you’re able to offload whatever these tasks are.
Partnered with that for the financial stuff, I recommend, and we do this routinely in our business. We were just doing this this week. We go through and look at all of our costs. We have subscriptions that we’re not really using. Has technology changed and we can consolidate, because buffer and [inaudible] and all those kind of things, they start offering new types of functions, and maybe we’re using, paying for three systems that have all the same different functions. Those sort of things and eliminating these little costs and holes in the boat allows me to plug it and then save that money to have people to help elsewhere, and not just be wasting money, because we’re working hard. We want to keep our money or we want to invest in somebody.
So thank you, Mandi. This was so, so good. Do you have any other tips you can think of to help those that may be on the edge? Maybe they just don’t wanna let the control go or what is it that you think people need to know in order to take those next steps?

MANDI: Yeah, so I think it’s really just about getting clear on why you started your business in the first place. Did you start your business to plug and blog posts and check the links and research what the best platforms are? Is that why you started your business? It’s probably not. You probably started your business because you have a passion, because you see something that you can fix, that you can help. You probably started your business for a bigger, wider, greater purpose than the smaller, tedious tasks. So I want you to begin, as you’re working through the week, through the next month, to be thinking about is doing this task the reason why I started by business? Is this specific thing that I’m doing part of my greater purpose? When I think back on my life in the next 50 years, am I gonna be so happy that I spent my time doing these smaller tasks, or am I gonna be grateful that I got the help that I need and I was able to accomplish so much more and help so many more people?
Because I think that’s why we started this thing in the first place is to make a difference, to get our message out into the world, and it’s so important that we do that, especially in this day and age, that we bring our light into the world and shine it in the dark places, and that’s why we’re here. We’re not here for all of the smaller, tedious things, but the really cool thing is that those smaller tasks, those smaller projects, they add up to bigger things, but someone else helping you out with that, that could be their greater purpose.
So every woman on my team doing the things that I don’t want to do, that don’t light me up, that are not my greater purpose? It is their greater purpose. So by allowing other people to help us out, not only do we get to walk in our strengths, but they get to walk in their strengths, and that is where the world is gonna change and be a better place.

RACHEL: Oh, I love it. Well, thank you Mandi for coming on. This was absolutely wonderful. Guys, please be sure that you dig into the show notes. You can take notes, feel free to reach out. I’m gonna link all of Mandi’s contact information so you guys can reach out directly to her. Check out all the services that she has. She has team members ready to do these sort of tasks for you guys, and just please make sure you guys are committing to this. We are coming up on a new year. It’s a great time to start it. Don’t get paralyzed. Take the steps, and succeed in your business.

Featured Guest & Resources

Mandi Holmes is CEO of She Can Coterie, a full-service business and marketing management agency for online, service-based, women business owners. She Can Coterie started in 2015 when Mandi was unexpectedly laid off from a job as a virtual assistant herself and is now a fully functioning, expert team of 20+ women that does it all!

Blogging and editorial work, social media management, customer service, technical support, inbox support, systems creation, travel and invoicing… you name it, She Can Coterie can do it! The options are truly endless.

To date, SCC has helped more than 100 business owners get organized, strategize their next steps, and take action towards their biggest dreams. Mandi believes that women should run the world, that asking for help is vital to success, and that having an iced latte in your hand makes you unstoppable.

When she’s not leading her team, up-leveling She Can Coterie, or serving powerful women around the world you can find her with her nose in a good book, on the floor playing trains with her sweet son Henry, or binge-watching Netflix with her husband.


About the author

Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

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