Episode 5 // Grow Your Business While on Vacation or Maternity Leave

February 3, 2015

In today’s episode of Being Boss Emily and Kathleen teach you how to be boss, and even grow your business when you’re on vacation or even an extended maternity leave. We’re going to talk about why vacation is important for the creative entrepreneur and how to grow your team so they can do the work even when you’re out living the dream.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
"Sometimes work can break you down. Growth happens in the recovery."
- Kathleen Shannon

Discussed in this Episode

  • Taking a paid maternity leave when you are your own boss
  • Why it’s important as a creative entrepreneur to take a vacation
  • How many weeks of vacation (and “staycations") we take per year and why we don’t feel guilty about it
  • Plus, how taking little breaks in your day can keep your mind fresh
  • How to set boundaries for yourself even if you do work a little while on vacation or maternity leave
  • How to take a vacation without losing business
  • How to continue making money even while on vacation by creating a digital product
  • Implementing systems and growing your team so your business can run itself while you’re out
  • Delegating the stuff you don’t want to do or the stuff someone else would do better
  • Ways to grow your team


More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:05
Get your business together, get yourself into what you do, and see it through.

Emily Thompson 0:09
Because being boss is hard, winning work, and life is messy. Making a dream job of your own isn't easy.

Kathleen Shannon 0:18
But getting paid for it, becoming known for it. And finding purpose in it is so doable.

Emily Thompson 0:25
If you do the work, being boss, a podcast for creative entrepreneurs, from Emily Thompson, and Kathleen Shane, welcome to Episode Five. grow your business even when you're on vacation.

Kathleen Shannon 0:41
Alright, so today we want to talk about how you can be boss, and even grow your business whenever you're on vacation, or even taking something like an extended maternity leave. So I have a baby who just turned one around this time last year. And after I had him I was getting a lot of questions about how I would manage work and having a baby. So I a lot of people were asking me if I would still work, or work with the baby at home, which is probably another episode altogether. But what people found the most surprising about me and my job and being my own boss and having a baby is that I was taking a paid maternity leave. So not only did I take maternity leave, but since then I've been able to reduce my working hours and still grow my business over I think 25% from last year. So maybe you're not planning a family yet, but you just want to take like a really long vacation. But you're afraid to step away from the hustle and lose out on business. That's what we're going to be talking about today. How can you take a vacation? How can you take an extended leave of absence and still grow your business?

Emily Thompson 1:53
And this whole topic has come from a reader question that we have. Heidi wrote in to us saying, Hi, ladies, I'm a freelance writer and editor and we are getting ready to adopt a baby. Most likely we won't be matched or have a baby in our home for over a year. So I don't want to turn down work. But many of my projects are long term MIDI projects. Right now I'm booked six months out. And when the time comes, it's probably going to happen pretty quickly. Without a lot of warning. At most, we might get two to three months warning, but it could just be a couple days, and then we would have the baby. I would love to hear any advice you might have about negotiating new contracts that will leave me room to walk away from the project, or put it on hold if I need to take maternity leave unexpectedly, but at the same time won't leave my clients in the lurch. Perhaps this means that I would need to hire a writer slash editor to complete the job on my behalf. Or I would need to ask for a significant extension. I'm open to suggestions. Thanks so much, Heidi. And since we're since receiving this email from Heidi, we've had at least two other really cool being boss listeners who have written in asking similar questions about how to stay creative and grow business when you're sleep deprived and attached to a nursing baby, or simply wanting to grow a business with this extra ton responsibility in your life.

Unknown Speaker 3:28
I'm feeling that.

Emily Thompson 3:30
Good. Good. So um, so let's get at it.

Kathleen Shannon 3:34
Well, first off Heidi, congrats. And I hope that you get your babies sooner than later. What an exciting time. Before we get to the how and why of all of this. Let's talk about why you as a creative entrepreneur should be taking a vacation.

Emily Thompson 3:52
Yes, because you should be taking vacations. Period, you really really should. So um, I love taking vacations. I was actually just texting a friend this morning. We're planning out a vacation, rather impromptu one for me. And it's one of those things that I have to actively not feel guilty about. Because as creatives we work a ton, and most of us don't take vacations for the first couple of years at least. But you really, really should sort of step away from workaholic Ism pneus and take vacations. I take lots of vacations as much as many as I possibly can. Because I've discovered that vacations make me work better.

Kathleen Shannon 4:40
How much how much vacation Do you take a year Emily? Like if you had to, like how many weeks Do you think that you take?

Emily Thompson 4:48
probably at least for Oh easily more than that because I also take like full Christmas I take off two full weeks for Christmas. I take a full week for Thanksgiving. So it's three right there. I would say probably At least six. That's another thing too is I don't really count it.

Kathleen Shannon 5:03
I just go. Exactly. And me too, I probably take six to eight weeks of vacation a year. And so last year even more, because I had eight weeks of my maternity leave. And then a few vacations, not as many vacations as I would typically take, because I had this brand new tiny baby vacation like vacation changes whenever you have a baby, it doesn't feel so much like vacation anymore. And I don't say that to discourage anyone from having a baby. But but there are different

Emily Thompson 5:36
it is it's different, but time off regardless. So you know, Heidi, I don't know if if you are going to be adopting a baby that's going to require you to travel to go get said baby, at which In which case, you're going to have to drop in, you know, take at least a couple days vacation right there to go to go get baby. Or I like to set aside days in. In my schedule. I did this just before Thanksgiving this year, I think two weeks before Thanksgiving, I hammered out like three days where I did not let go to work. I didn't answer emails, I did not work with clients stuff, I sort of set aside days off just to like, let my brain restart and see what sort of what sort of business growth things I could come up with. Because I knew the interviewer is coming, I needed to focus on focus on sort of the big picture business stuff, and knew that I could not do that at work, answering emails and sitting in on client meetings and meeting deadlines. So even if it's not like really fun vacations, and it's a good staycation is just as important.

Unknown Speaker 6:43
Yeah, so

Kathleen Shannon 6:43
one of the things that I was thinking about whenever it came to planning for this episode, again, I like listening to all the podcasts I listened to while I'm working out. Again, I'm trying to be a bodybuilder. So I was thinking about this. And I what I know about working out right now is that growth happens in the recovery. So like I want to build some muscles. And that what I'm doing at the gym, whenever I'm lifting heavy weights, is I'm tearing down the muscles. So I'm this truth truth, you're tearing down the muscles whenever you're actually lifting weights. And then the growth happens, like you get fit. Whenever you're sleeping. Whenever you're having your post workout meal, its growth happens in the recovery. And so the same thing with your business as a creative entrepreneur. So whenever you're doing the work, sometimes that can break you down. And it can, if you if you never recover with things like vacations, you just won't grow. And so my favorite thing to do is to get in the car with my sister, and who you've heard a million times by now, if you've listened to our past episodes, my sister's my business partner. And I like to just get in the car with her go on a road trip. And we end up doing so much planning in the car on the way. And we never even really planned for it. That said, we went on a big family vacation last year to the beach in Florida. And I thought that we would end up brainstorming a lot about business and whatever. And we didn't talk once about braid

Emily Thompson 8:23
created amazing.

Kathleen Shannon 8:24
Yeah. And so it was, that was really nice, too. And then by the time we came back, we were ready to hit the ground running. So I think that vacation, it gives you some new perspective. And it allows you to really just brainstorm new ideas to get out of your head and to grow.

Emily Thompson 8:44
Yeah, I found I found that your best ideas like your most unrestrained brilliant ideas happen when you just allow your mind to wander. And actually think of all the lightbulb moments that you have when you're in the shower. Those happen because you're forced to not do anything other than this standard routine of washing your hair. And your mind is allowed to just sort of think about whatever it wants to think. And that's why that's why people have so many lightbulb moments and showers like there's just so much freedom that comes from from not forcing yourself to think about anything. Yeah, that's

Kathleen Shannon 9:24
a good point. So not just vacation, but allowing yourself mini breaks throughout the day. And we're going way, way off of Heidi's question, which we'll get to your question, Heidi. But again, it's talking about I want to talk just a little bit about why vacations and breaks are important. And so like the shower, and morning walks are fantastic. Yeah, I'm reading aryana Huffington, his book called thrive, the third metric for success. And yeah, and so I'm catching up on that book. I'll include that in the show notes. And there's an entire section dedicated well one to sleep, which made me cry because I'm a sleep deprived mama right now, but then also walking. And she talked a lot about how walking does the same thing allows your mind to open. And it allows you to receive new ideas. And she even recommends to having walking meetings. So which turn I have actually done a couple of times where it's like, hey, let's just go for a walk around the block, and talk this out. And it allows you to not be thinking about anything than the conversation at hand. So if you can't take a big vacation, take some mini vacations in your day, go for a walk, take a shower,

Emily Thompson 10:43
right. And the big thing to say I think about this and the importance of taking vacations, whether you're Heidi and you know, you're having to plan, this maternity leave, or whether you just need to take a vacation is that you should not feel guilty about it. Like it should not be this guilty feeling that you have and that you're going to stunt your business's growth, or that you're going to negatively impact your clients. Because if it's well planned, and you do it right, taking a vacation will only help grow your business, it really gives you lots of opportunities to to make your business better. If you give yourself the freedom to take a majority leave or take a vacation or take a walking meeting. It's okay to to let loose a little bit. Because it can actually help you grow.

Kathleen Shannon 11:35
Well. And I imagine that whenever people become their own bosses a big part of it. Well, in fact, the reason one of the reasons or a catalyst for why I quit my job in an advertising agency is that I had a month long vacation to go to Mount Everest to trek through the Himalayas in Nepal. And I only had three weeks of paid time off at my job. My vacation was four weeks, and it was in October. So I had already used up some of my vacation time at my day job. I didn't know how I was going to account for this vacation. I didn't know if I was going to have to ask permission for paid time off. Or if I was going to get fired. I ended up just quitting my job a few months beforehand.

Emily Thompson 12:21
Of course you did, Kathleen,

Kathleen Shannon 12:23
by having I know right. But having this four week vacation on the horizon, it made me realize that one of the things I love the most about being my own boss is I can take vacation when I want to. And if I start feeling guilty about that, well then what's the point? I might as well go work a day job where I have the perks of a day job like security and a steady paycheck and health insurance. And so vacation like that's part of living the dream. But it like you said, Emily, it's part of what makes you grow as a creative as a person. Don't be that workaholic. No,

Emily Thompson 13:04
those aren't cute. workaholics are not cute.

Kathleen Shannon 13:07
That's it. I mean, we work hard we do the work. That's a lot of what we're preaching on this podcast, you have to do the work and sometimes, okay, so. And, you know, even whenever I'm taking vacation, I've learned so it used to be about completely unplugging. Whenever I was trekking through the Himalayas, I didn't even turn my cell phone on.

Unknown Speaker 13:25

Kathleen Shannon 13:26
but now like I might go to the beach on a family vacation. And if I don't check in at all with my work, sometimes I get more anxiety than being completely unplugged. So if I can spend maybe even just one hour a day or 15 minutes creating boundaries around that to check in. Because the thing about being your own boss is that your work never leaves your head. I mean, you're still whenever you're the boss of your own business, it's with you. So that's why like this work life balance. It doesn't make sense. It's more of like a work life. Blend, because it never leaves you and never it becomes a part of who you are, your work does. So if you need to do something to check in while you're on vacation, or on maternity leave, even do that if it's going to give you peace of mind. So for example, even I was three days in on my maternity leave. And I had a client who I really was excited about their project. And I had seen them through most of most of their brand platform. And our brand director Liz sent me her final materials, the final presentation. And I was three days into my maternity leave. And I wound up working on it a little bit because I was just so excited but I also really, really cared about making it look as good as possible. So I didn't tell anyone

Unknown Speaker 14:53
that I was working

Kathleen Shannon 14:54
three days into my maternity leave and it wasn't like a you know Sheryl Sandberg, Lena kind of thing where I was strapping my baby into me and going into an office, I was in my bed, you know, just responding to an email and providing some creative direction.

Unknown Speaker 15:10

Kathleen Shannon 15:12
anyway, this is to say that you get to define how you take vacation and what that looks like for you. You do

Emily Thompson 15:19
and it can be different from from vacation to staycation to maternity like it can change every time you do it. For example, I went to Mexico last year for a yoga retreat. I did not check my email for seven days. And it was the first time that I think I'd ever done that like a whole seven days without looking at my email. But then, then, three, four weeks later, I was in Disney World. And I was checking my email occasionally, and was setting up client meetings for the following week. I mean, because at that point, like I had done my real vacation where I really got to unplug. But whenever it came to the next one it was about, it was about sort of staying on track and keeping the business going a little bit from that side of things. But it doesn't mean that I enjoyed my vacation any less, because I took a couple minutes to answer emails a couple of times during the vacation. So I agree, you get to you get to dictate exactly what your vacation or maternity leave looks like. It doesn't have to be 100%. Like not communicating, you can still like touch base with your clients, you can still you can still take an hour to work occasionally. Whatever, whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane. It's really hard for me to unplug from email for days. Even if I'm not answering, I need to know what it says just so I can know exactly. And

Kathleen Shannon 16:42
so yeah, I like what you said about not feeling guilty about going on vacation. But also don't feel guilty if you decide to work while you're on

Emily Thompson 16:49
vacation. No, don't have boundaries. Like Don't be one of those people who sits in the hotel room the whole time answering emails, that's really lame, and we don't like those people.

Kathleen Shannon 16:58
I will and I also think that you know, just like we talked about in our previous episode about redefining what's professional, is that you get to draw the line, but you can break your own rules once you make them. So you can say okay, I decided I was going to completely unplug for seven days, but I'm about to have a panic attack if I just don't look at my email. Sure.

Emily Thompson 17:16
And I instagrammed like I was still on Instagram. And I think I was still like doing some like business Facebook stuff. So even then a redefined what that vacation looked like for me. And it was no email. It was no compliant communication at all. But I was on social media. And I it's not one of those things where like, you know, people have these likes 30 days social media detoxes like, I don't need that like that, that that's not going to make me more productive business owner, it might it might Could it be it might it very well might. But at this point in my business, it's not for me, not what you need.

Kathleen Shannon 17:53
Yeah, you have to do so I think it is like addressing, like, what is it that I need? And what do I need to do to get there?

Emily Thompson 17:59

Unknown Speaker 18:00
Oh, okay.

Kathleen Shannon 18:01
So we've talked about why you should take vacation, I think that we can all agree that it's important. So let's really dig into the how, how can you take a vacation without losing your business. And so just a few like really simple ideas that we're going to throw out. One is to give your clients a heads up, heads up. So Heidi, you're you have a special circumstance in that you don't know when this is going to happen. It could happen a day from now, it could happen a year from now. But I think that giving some of your clients, especially the ones that you have a more ongoing working relationship with, like let them in, not only on your plans, but like on the excitement around your plans. Like this is such an exciting time for you that you're gonna have a baby any day now. And you don't know when. So you maybe give some of your trusted clients a head heads up about that.

Emily Thompson 18:58
I would give them all a heads up. I

Kathleen Shannon 19:00
heard this. I heard this. How would you literally do it though? How Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. No.

Emily Thompson 19:06
It's an email. I actually had this happen. I guess it was about two years ago, I had a grandmother who was very sick. And I knew at any moment that you know, she was going to pass away and I would have to I would have to you know, deal with that didn't just do the family stuff. But it was also one of those things that she'd been sick multiple times before and he never knew he really just never knew. And I spent all of my clients in email was like, I just want to give you guys a heads up like heads up that I'm not looking for pity you're not one of those sorts of things. But literally just this is what's going on in my life, I will try to make it not affect you or at least not affect you hugely. But know that these are the circumstances because if you're working with your dream customer, they're going to understand

Kathleen Shannon 19:49
and I think that having a solution to like so here's the heads up and Heidi will talk about some more solutions for you later in the episode because you're a special circumstance. But saying, here's the deal, here's what's happening. I'm about to go on vacation in four weeks. So I need your final revisions or whatever it is that you need your client to do. So you can wrap up your project or put it in a good holding pattern. And let them know what actions they need to take in order for you to do what you need to do. Or let them know what the solution is. So I might unexpectedly be out for a week or two, you will let them know a timeframe, because my grandmother is ill. But here's how, here's how it's going to go down afterwards, I'm going to touch base with you or I'm going to wrap things up beforehand,

Emily Thompson 20:42
right, or here's someone to get in touch with. If you do have an issue while I am unavailable, I think giving someone a second contact is really imperative for making your clients feel like they're being taken care of still, like even if you're not around having someone else that they can go to.

Kathleen Shannon 20:57
And we'll dig, we'll dig into that. Because like let's say it's just you, how do we get that second contact.

Unknown Speaker 21:03

Kathleen Shannon 21:04
so that is digging into growing your team, which we're really going to dive into in a minute, so hang with us. But in the meantime, if it's just you, and how you can take a vacation is give your clients a heads up, heads up. But also just save your money so that you can afford what's going to happen not just the time that you're off and not working. But the time that you are losing out on like all the new business leads that could happen while you're away. So it save your money so that you can afford this. I whenever I was at designer vaycay one of the designers there Her name is Julia coast Riva? I'm not sure if I'm saying her last name, right. Sorry, Julia, if you're listening to this, but she is a graphic designer, and she took a month off of client work, just to work on her own products. And yeah, which is like another really cool idea as far as what you were talking about Emily like a staycation. But she really saved up her money so that she could afford herself a month like she was gifting herself a month just to work on her own thing.

Emily Thompson 22:15
Yeah, before and that is huge, like, really, really huge. And it's really good. If you're in that case, to pick a month that you're usually slow anyway, I think is really important. That's where like being really aware of of how, how you intake clients. And if there any sort of ebbs and flows in your business during the year. I know january, february for us is usually pretty slow. So that's whenever I do things like are we designing the new indigent biography website. And we're doing that because we knew that January, February, we're going to be slow. July is also usually pretty slow for us. So that's when like every year I go to New Orleans, for a very long weekend in July. And I do that because I know that business is going to be slow. But I do also save up that money knowing that there's going to be this slow time. So pay attention in your business and see, see when it's going to be easiest for you to take time off. But no one hiding in your situation at any moment, which is kind of a fun, exciting thing.

Kathleen Shannon 23:18
It really is. Some other things that you can start to do to take vacation, one of the things that I'm not sure how much you do it, Emily, but I've done it before, whenever I've taken a vacation is to schedule out my blog content. So I release posts weekly. And just scheduling those at home so that my business is running itself, at least as far as like my positioning and my content and outreach and that sort of thing, even whenever I'm gone. And so it means doing a little bit more work leading up to your vacation, or time off. But it pays to keep your stuff fresh and to keep new content out there.

Emily Thompson 24:00
Yeah, you're way better at that than I have ever been.

Kathleen Shannon 24:04
way i'm not i'm not as good at it. Now. I used to write a post every day. And whenever I did that Nepal adventure, I schedule out a post for every single day that I was gone. Okay, so one thing that I did to keep my business running even whenever I was on maternity leave, is designing a product that people can buy. So I'm a service based creative. I do graphic design and writing and creative coaching for other working creative entrepreneurs. Whenever I went on maternity leave, I wanted to create something that people could buy without me being there. So I wrote out a DIY coaching for creatives, email sessions. So for 40 bucks, someone can buy a daily email from me for four weeks, and they're on a schedule and Emily, you helped me set that up. Being my web guru. And I even think that maybe you gave me the idea for it like this email series, you're just you're so good at that stuff. Thank you. So you always come up with this genius stuff. And I'm like, I'm gonna do it too. So anyway, I have this DIY coaching for creatives, email sessions, and I set a goal for myself, I thought, I want this product to pay for my maternity leave. So I figured out how much I make in eight weeks typically, and then use that to set my goal for selling this, this product. And it actually hasn't, I don't think it's quite paid my salary yet. But even if it's two years after my maternity leave, I finally hit that number, then I can say, Yep, that paid for that. And so creating a digital product. Now, I wouldn't recommend this for everyone, like even Emily and I were talking just before we got on the podcast about how hard it is to design things like e courses, and just the managing of it and writing of it. So you really have to have someone on probably on your team, like I had Emily to help me set up like I just wrote the content. And then she helped me set it up and schedule it to go out and figure it out all the logistics for me. And so again, like, I'm not trying to make you create more work for yourself, if you don't know how to do that sort of thing. But if you are product minded, or tech savvy enough to create something that can be an automated

Emily Thompson 26:33
e books, new books would be really great. Yeah, the email series, I love those. It can be if you want to do big things, you could even do apps and, and yeah, e courses or have pre record some webinars, those sorts of things you can you can do digital products and, and continue to promote them. And that's really what it comes down to is then your job is just promoting it. So if if you know you're struggling up a new baby, and your work consists of just sending out a tweet occasionally to help promote it. That's

Kathleen Shannon 27:08
well and even schedule those tweets out in advance. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, you might be able to do it while you're nursing the baby or while you're laying out on the beach, but you'd also schedule it in advance. Again, no, and this is just like warning, is that digital product, like there's a lot of work that goes into it. So it's not like oh, I'm just gonna write an ebook. And this is going to pay me. Like, again, this goes back to you have to do the work. To make it successful.

Emily Thompson 27:37
Yeah. And it's not just the work to do it. It's ongoing work.

Kathleen Shannon 27:41
Yeah, it's the work to promote it.

Emily Thompson 27:43
Yeah, 101 of the things that that I like to do whenever talking to my clients who are having problems, taking vacations, or really just taking any sort of time off, is you have to get systems in place. And Heidi, you're really lucky before I really get into systems, you're really lucky because you get to you get to decide how your business is going to operate. And once you have a baby. For me, I had to build a business around a baby. So my daughter will be seven really soon. I know I see. Yeah, seven.

Unknown Speaker 28:21
So Oh,

Emily Thompson 28:22
no, she'll be seven soon. And and I was I was able to build my business around baby. So I never had to really worry about you know what was going to happen with daycare once I had a baby, because I just had daycare and a baby and work. But there's something to be said, I think about knowing that in the future, you are going to have this obstacle for really lack of a better so whether that's a baby, or whether that's a long vacation, or maybe it's a series of short vacations, you get to plan out what that looks like for you now, and it's hard and it's confusing, and it's probably something you've never done before. That doesn't mean it's impossible. And the way you can do that is by putting systems in place. So that it's either easier for you to do it. Once the time comes that you need to do things, do things very efficiently. Or if you get someone on your team to actually help you do it, and they have everything outlined, to do the work for you or to make it really easy for you to do the work. A basic way of doing that it's just daily tasks, to really pay attention to what you're doing during the day. And in start sort of scheduling that out. So I'm one of those people The first thing I have to do every morning whenever I come like sit down at work, is I check my email, and I I look at how much money we've made in the past however many hours since I checked my email and I write all that stuff down so I have a ongoing tally of how much money we're making. And then then I answer the important emails. And then I go to scheduling the days to dues. So that for me is my like morning system that is my morning routine for work that I do to make sure the rest of the day is going to run super smoothly. And I have that stuff. Most of that stuff scheduler should probably should be creating better systems for this kind of stuff. But whenever I'm out, I can just give this system to my employee, and they will, they'll do it for me, they'll check my emails, they'll write down my income, they will shoot me an email of any to dues that I have to do. But it'll also allows you to schedule your day around the things that you have to do every day. So Heidi, if you are going to be forced to communicate with your clients every day, then schedule that for naptime. When you have a baby like it's set up systems for your daily. Good luck.

Unknown Speaker 30:55

Kathleen Shannon 30:58
I never want to be that mom. That's like, yeah, good luck to you. But my baby doesn't nap. So

Emily Thompson 31:04
no, I remember putting Lily in her little bouncy chair when she was a very small baby. I remember putting her in it and like balancing it with my foot while I answered emails, like that was totally a thing that so I did every morning it was part of my morning system was I would get up feed Billy breakfast put on her bouncy chair bouncer while I answered my emails, and then we'd go about our day. So it is it's about defining what that would that day looks like for you. Is it? is it doing your emails in the morning? Is it going to be waiting until the middle of the night to do those because you can do those too. But setting up a system for how

Kathleen Shannon 31:37
if your baby sleeps in the middle of the night.

Emily Thompson 31:41
Kathleen's working on getting this anti sleeping baby chip off of her she's

Kathleen Shannon 31:45
working on it. I'm working on it.

Emily Thompson 31:48
It's happening. It'll happen real soon. And then you can put these systems in place for other things to like your important business stuff. Maybe it's going to be time to finally outsource due to having someone do your taxes or payroll or just general bookkeeping. Who's paying the utility bills for for whether it's your house or if you have a studio or a workplace that you need to, to manage? And then also breaking that down into client or customer work? Who's going to fill the orders? How do you like your orders field? That's really important. We set up a system in the studio. Oh, probably about six months ago where David was Melling out our rent check. And no, it wasn't it wasn't a rent check. It was actually a call to someone who had asked us to sponsor them for like a local school thing. So as a graphic design student locally, David was sending it out, and a horrible blue envelope with his like chicken scratch scrawled across it and no note on the inside just like a check to sponsor her. And I saw it sitting there before he mailed it. I'm like, What is this? Like, what is this? And he told me what it was absolutely not like, this is not how I send mail. So like I got out, I got out like our envelopes and our note cards and I and I made him sit with me while I showed him like in a branded business like, feel good kind of way. Here is what mail looks like whenever we send it out. And then I even went as far as to create like a graphic and Adobe of for for everyone to see. Like if you're sending out an invoice like, here's what that envelope looks like. Or if you're sending out a thank you card, like here's what that needs to look like. So you can be really picky about it.

Kathleen Shannon 33:34
Well, and to get more specific about that as well, Emily, you manage all of our web stuff in our digital products for us. And one of the things that I had you do whenever I hired you to do that, for us is to create a manual like an operations manual. How does this actually work? now because I don't want you to do it month to month because I want you to do it for us forever. But so that one like if you need to hire someone who needs you, so you can delegate it down to someone else managing our account, or let's say, God forbid, you get in a car wreck or something. And we need to get people into our ecourse we have a video or a manual or something that shows us how to do it step by step. So even though we don't want to do it ourselves, we need the systems in place to know how to do it just in case or to know how to delegate it to someone else, just in case. So um, yes, but whenever it comes to Okay, so, Heidi, you need to take a maternity leave on a moment's notice. But we want you to be able to grow your business and stay reliable for your long term clients. And it goes beyond just building these systems that you can really delegate pretty easily as long as you have processes in place. You hinted at the quit you hinted at the answer in your question, and that is to hire someone and I think it's especially hard to delegate down the creative work, the stuff that we hold really near and dear to our hearts. But it is so important to grow. There is no way in hell, I could have taken a paid maternity leave without a team in place. So I've got my sister who's my business partner. And she does a lot of the stuff that you're talking about Emily, like the accounting and billing. But she also serves our clients, and she's a brand consultant and a writer. We've got our brand director, Liz, who is also a consultant, but she also writes and designs and does a lot of project management for our projects. And then we have Kristen, who is our full time graphic designer, we have a nice hefty team, then we've got our contractors. So like you Emily, maintaining our website, making sure that we're good to go there. We also have a freelance writer who helps us with our client load, whenever we've got just too much to handle, we're looking at hiring on more graphic designers as freelancers to help us out. And hiring help is scary. But in order to grow your business and stop playing small, you have to have a team in place to not just for the admin stuff, but for the creative as well. And this can look different for you just depending on your circumstance, it can look like full time employees, it can look like contractors and freelancers. Or it can look like even just getting software that's going to help you more like freshbooks for your accounting or project management software like Basecamp for managing your clients more efficiently. So I'm curious, Emily, you have a team as well. And I'm curious like how growing your team has afforded you growth, and time off from work to do things like take a vacation.

Emily Thompson 36:56
Yet my my team is the reason that I'm not still a lonely web designer is sitting in my basement making less than 20 grand like they are why if I did not have them, that's exactly where I would still be as you're building a business, and making it through the grind, it's super important to pay attention to what you're good at in your job. And what you really hate doing, I actually have this little thing that I'm gonna do with my my own employees this week, hopefully, where I sit them down. And because I think it's about time for us to even hire another person. And we're going to sit down and see, you know, what are the tasks that we're doing? What do we like to do? What do we not like to do? And what do we want to try doing, and the things that you don't want to do, that's when you start delegating those to someone else, creative entrepreneurs, especially when starting out where a lot of hats, but there comes a time when you need to start passing those hats off to people who will do that job better than you do. For me, I was really, really bad about making time to keep up with my bookkeeping, about a year and a half ago, I guess. It was tax time. And I had like nine months of bookkeeping to do. Because I literally just had not done it. And thankfully at that time, I was still pretty small. But it was still a hassle. And David stepped in to help me with that and is still doing it. He just never stepped away from that role. And now he runs the entire business side of my business from bookkeeping, which he does religiously every week, which is really great. He's also doing our payroll, he makes sure that goes out on time, every or twice a month, he pays my business licenses, like the kinds of things that I literally do not have room in my brain for anymore. So he manages all of that stuff. And the same goes for the rest of my team. I have Corey, who's my client support guy. And he takes care of all of my clients after their projects launch. So any of our web design clients want this they have want if they have ongoing maintenance, or questions or just need general support. Corey deals with those. And

Kathleen Shannon 39:10
what's so cool about that, too, being you know, our teams working together, Emily is that I know that I can just email Cory for a simple web update and not bother you about it. So I think that a lot of times our clients almost feel intimidated, like, Oh, I don't want to bother you with this request. And so they like having someone that they can go to Yeah, and they know that they're not distracted detracting you from your core genius, which is consulting and coaching other creative entrepreneurs on how to get their shit together online and look good. I know that I'm not taking you away from that and that I can just ask Cory to fix a typo on my website or whatever it might be

Emily Thompson 39:52
and He'll do it and He'll do it quickly if you email

Kathleen Shannon 39:54
Exactly. It's gonna take a week

Emily Thompson 39:57
will but if you email him, he can usually do Get to it, you know what, by the end of the day in most cases, or at least have it scheduled really, really soon, much sooner than then it would if you were going through me and I hired Cory at a time in my business, when I was almost not even making any money anymore, because so much of my time was spent with these, like little updates from this bucket of clients that I had cultivated. And I wanted to keep giving them you know, this really great service, but I was doing so much of that, that I couldn't book new projects anymore, which is where I made the money that like, fed me. So So hiring Cory was, was really huge for my business and allowed me to get back to booking new projects. And just, you know, sort of raising the income and allowing me to continue helping other people.

Kathleen Shannon 40:47
And I think a lot of the stuff in our business, like bookkeeping, and even responding to emails, and maybe for you some of the coding or web maintenance, it feels really productive, because it's stuff that you can check off of your to do list. But it starts to, it starts to keep you from growing. You know, and so I once worked with, or one of our clients was a, she helps small local businesses grow their business. And she was telling these business owners stopped doing all the tagging, like, so let's say they own a boutique with clothes, like a clothing boutique, she's like, stop tagging those clothes yourself. Like you need to be focusing on growing your business, stop doing busy work that feels important or makes you feel accomplished. Because you need Apple, the bigger stuff.

Emily Thompson 41:40
You know, I completely agree with that. I think I think we all get so used to doing the small like, we're not I don't really want to call the mundane, but they are like the small tasks that we forget that as entrepreneurs, our job is to create this process that is this process process and this product that we test again and again until we get it just right until we're selling it really easily. But then our job is to take that process in that product and delegated so that our job is growing the brand that we're creating,

Kathleen Shannon 42:11
right. And so just like we were talking about creating processes around this stuff like admin, like bookkeeping, or managing your ecourses, or even how you send out your mail, you need to create processes around your creative work. And so this is the big like, this is how you grow whenever you're a creative and it is hard, it is hard to let go of that control. So whenever it comes to your talent, like writing or designing, but you have to in order to grow your team. So if that's not your jam, if you don't want to give up the creative control, outsource as much of the other stuff as you can, so that you are only doing the creative. So for example, Heidi, let's say even after your maternity leave, you're you know that you only have really three hours a day to get stuff done to get your writing done. You don't need to be spending the that three hours responding to emails or doing your bookkeeping, you need to be spending that three hours just doing the thing that only you can or want to do, which is probably the writing. And so that's like a whole other I mean, this is basically what Emily and I have built our businesses around are creating creative processes, especially here at braid, we have our braid method, which is what allows us to not have to reinvent the wheel every time. But it's also what allows us to hire other creatives to do the work as well. Okay, so let's talk about ways that you can grow your team. And one of the things that you said Emily earlier was listing out your job duties. And this is something that her and I have done as well. We hired a business consultant to help us with our internal organization. And she told us to write down everything you do. So one of the things that we were doing is we were really attaching our from like, who we are our identity to our roles within our business. And we were also hiring from an emotional place rather than like a really rational and logistic goal place. And so let's say your job duties and write down everything you do from the administrative to the creative, then get out a highlighter and highlight like you said, Emily, all the stuff that you actually like doing, or the stuff that serves your purpose and your core genius. Now in another color, highlight all this stuff that distracts you from doing what you're best at the things like bookkeeping, or responding to emails, or even like if you're a graph. Okay, so for you, Emily, it might be that you actually really like coding, you know, but you don't like managing your social media. That's not really true.

Emily Thompson 45:00
It's partly very basically, okay, so

Kathleen Shannon 45:02
highly the stuff that distracts you from what you're best at, and then delegate that shit out. whenever it comes to being boss, you want to delegate your way out of a job. Really, the only thing that should make you you're replaceable is the vision you have for your company. Only you can know how to grow your business.

Emily Thompson 45:23
Kathleen, I needed that today. High five did that, that is so true. That is so so true, it hurts. Um, because creating processes and handing all that stuff out whenever it comes down to you. If you're if you're actually creative entrepreneur, and that is what you're here to do. Then your job is running your business. If you are a graphic designer and graphic design is what you do hire someone else to run your business for you. That's exactly what it comes down to is finding out the pieces of your business that you love the most. And you just rocking that shit out.

Kathleen Shannon 46:01
I think that maybe we should save growing your business for like growing your business even more for a future episode. So like things that you can do like hiring a virtual assistant versus hiring a part time employee, versus hiring a full time employee and everything that's involved with that from, like payroll to, it's just a lot, either. Let's save it for a future episode. Yeah, and we can share more with you all about that at a later date. But for right now, and start dipping your toe into that by maybe looking at getting a virtual assistant, or you know, for you, Heidi, I think maybe it is just getting some systems in place. And maybe start looking for a writer or edit, or writer or editor that can help you with the stuff that you're the most talented at.

Emily Thompson 46:50
Yeah, and my basic go to is simply to get organized, because you cannot run your business efficiently. Off vacation if you don't have systems in place. And if you are on vacation, or if you are on maternity leave, or if you need to drop everything at work, drop everything at the drop of a hat

Kathleen Shannon 47:13
is that what it is dropping the pin if you need to,

Emily Thompson 47:16
if you need to drop everything. If you need to drop everything, you still have these systems in place, you can hand it off to you know your husband, if it's that if it's that imperative to get things going, get organized, put systems in place, find some people that you can count on to help out. Being a new mom is hard being a new mom and an entrepreneur is will feel impossible, but it's totally doable. People do it every day, you just have to be really smart about it.

Kathleen Shannon 47:47
And I think that being a boss is like the difference between being a freelancer and being a business owner. Whenever you're a freelancer, your work relies on you being around to do the work. And I think it's a great place to start. But whenever it comes to being a boss, it's about growing your business so that it can run without you. So for me, for example, if I die tomorrow, I want to have a business that keeps food on my table for my family for the next 50 years. So just thinking in a bigger scale, I think it's going to help you come up even with your own ways to grow.

Emily Thompson 48:24
Definitely and get creative about it. And kick create because every business is different. And but it's fun, it's fun to figure it out for yourself and, and create these systems and hire people hire people who you like, is one of my big things. Make sure you like the people that you work with. Because that makes it even even better and easier to do all the things that you want to do.

Kathleen Shannon 48:48
And I want to just jump in and say that like hiring help is scary. And it is as scary and big of a leap as maybe even quitting your day job, do your own thing. The feelings that come up whenever you hire someone are very similar to quitting your job. It feels the same. And I think it's best to hire one of the things that we've heard from a consultant that we've worked with, is you should hire whenever you're at 125% capacity. Like whenever you're really feeling the pain. That's a good time to hire.

Emily Thompson 49:20
Yeah, but I think I love is you put these we have little notes for our podcast. And Kathleen wants me to talk about the money cushion or goal you need to hit before you hire. But I'll be super candid and say that I have no idea where the money like I had no idea whenever I heard Cory or Chris or coronary even David, like if the money was there or not. It was really one of those things. I mean, I knew it was there. But you know, 145% like I had no number. For me it was once every time my life begins to hurt. Because I'm doing so much work in this dream business that I'm building. That's when I sort of take gut feeling and and higher and it does not have to be a full time employee that in that's, I think, a very clear line that we need to draw in that full line full time employees are great, but you have to get there. I think for me, all of my employees right now part time, they will all be going full time this year. But actually two of them even started as interns and contract labor is or contracting people. I hate contract labor. It sounds so mean.

Kathleen Shannon 50:28
But if you're someone like, like paving stones, I know like bricks, like you've got someone laying bricks and digging ditches for you, right?

Emily Thompson 50:37
That's your fee. That's what I do know. But once your life begins to hurt because of this dream business that you're building, it's time to get help. Because that's the point when you're being taken when you're being taken away from your core genius that's going to make make it really work. And that includes also the time when you take vacations or need to just leave for a while.

Unknown Speaker 50:59
Mm hmm.

Emily Thompson 51:00
So high five, Harvey on new baby, set some systems in place, save some money, and make some time for you to just love own it.

Unknown Speaker 51:12
Oh, babies.

Emily Thompson 51:17
Thank you for listening to be involved. From Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shea find Show Notes for this episode. I love being balls calm. Listen to past episodes and subscribe to new episodes on our website, at iTunes and on SoundCloud. If you like our podcast, show some love by reviewing being boss on iTunes and sharing it with a friend. Do the work. Be boss and see you next week. I'm trying not to touch anything.

Unknown Speaker 51:46
Don't touch anything. Stop touching things.