Episode 53

The Value of Staying Small

January 5, 2016

Today we’re chatting about the pros and cons of what it means to stay small in your business. Now at the beginning of the New Year we hear so many creatives talk about growing, and expanding, and increasing their social media presence and followers, but at the same time finding more intimacy and a close-knit community in their business and brand. So we’re really digging into what it means to stay small vs. what it means to grow your business, and how you can maybe even have the best of both worlds.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"Try not to be everything to everyone. Part of staying small is keeping your offering really narrow."
- Kathleen Shannon

Discussed in this Episode

  • Building a brand vs building an agency
  • Employees vs contractors
  • Why having a small social media following might be a good thing
  • Obsessing over numbers
  • Knowing how big you need to grow to make a living and meet your own goals
  • Nurturing relationships in your following


More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:05
Hello, and welcome to being boss, Episode Number 53. Brought to you by fresh books, cloud accounting,

Kathleen Shannon 0:12
or you guys day, it's just me and Emily and we're going to be chatting about the pros and cons of what it means to stay small. Get your business together, get yourself into what you do, and see it through.

Emily Thompson 0:27
Being bosses hard. Blending work in life is messy. Making a dream job of your own isn't easy.

Kathleen Shannon 0:33
But getting paid for it, becoming known for it. And finding purpose in it is so doable if you do the work. being bossed is a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. Brought to you by Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon. Check out our archives at love being boss calm. So I just got an email from freshbooks. revealing that coming soon, they are going to have a card reader. So like the claim that you attach to your phone and can literally swipe a credit card. So if you are a service provider that offers lots of services to local clients, freshbooks will now be an amazing way to just take their credit card. Obviously, they take online payments as well. But I just think it's so cool, we're gonna have a little What do you call that swiper card reader, a little

Emily Thompson 1:26
card reader. Just techie solutions, it plugs into your iPhone jack or your smartphone jack and you can swipe people's cards so they no more entering credit card info, just swipe and go.

Kathleen Shannon 1:40
One of the things that I really love about it is that there's complete transparent pricing whenever it comes to your

Unknown Speaker 1:45
card fees.

Kathleen Shannon 1:47
So the card reader itself is $29. And then the transaction fees are 2.7% plus 30 cents of each purchase. And I can say that that is a pretty good rate. I feel like it's not bad. Yeah. So um, check it out. I think that it is something that's going to help a lot of freshbooks users

freshbooks is the easy to use online cloud accounting system designed specifically for creative entrepreneurs. They are there to help you run your business and make you look like a pro especially a black card reader while doing it. Try fresh books for free today go to freshbooks comm slash being boss and select being boss in the How did you hear about us section. Alright, let's get into this. Because today I want to talk about and it's something that's been on my mind a lot lately is staying small versus growing big. And there are so many things that come up around this, I feel like so many creative entrepreneurs feel like they need to have a huge social media following in order to make think. Um, for me, my own struggle right now is even in the being boss Facebook group and trying to manage a sense of community while growing that community beyond my wildest dreams. So

Unknown Speaker 3:06
today, I

Kathleen Shannon 3:06
just I want to chat about what it means to stay small and what it means to grow your business and how you can maybe even have the best of both worlds. What do you think about that? Emily? What are some of your initial thoughts on staying small?

Emily Thompson 3:23
Um, I don't know, this is a struggle that I have as well. I mean, just earlier this week, I had a meeting with my team when we're talking about like, what our plans were for 2016. And one of those was like a final confession both to myself and to my team that I'm not growing an agency like, I do not want any shop biography to become something big, I want it to be something small. So I mean, literally as of like four days ago, I finally like made the decision to say just to stay small. And so it's been a it's been something for me, that has always been a really big struggle. And I think it's it's obviously different for everyone, in every kind of business in any in every situation like I think everyone has their own like place to be in terms of size. But I do I think that there's so much value in staying small. And I know that in the entrepreneurial community, especially online where you can amass huge numbers of anything, that it's being big. That's given all the kudos when I think that just as many kudos can be given for people who intentionally stay small.

Kathleen Shannon 4:37
Whenever Kara and I first started bringing creative one of our goals was to just be the two of us we had just come from an agency which wasn't huge by any means it was maybe 20 people at its peak. And we wanted to say just two people. And part of the reason why we wanted to do that is because we wanted to be able to stay nimble. We wanted to be able to change direction whenever we wanted to and you know even thinking back to our interview with david heinemeier hansson basecamp is only what do you think the five yeah i think the people so relatively small and they're doing that intentionally but obviously basecamp is probably making bank

Emily Thompson 5:21

Kathleen Shannon 5:23
also whenever turn i first started break creative i remember we were having kind of a coffee chat with a local leader in the industry and she she ran a women's mastermind essentially and we told her our vision for staying small and nimble and she called us out on it she was like that is bullshit do you think any man is ever saying oh i just want to small and nimble little business so she kind of called it out as even a feminist issue so i started to really think on that and probably around this time last year i was coaching a really brilliant creative and even the name of her business had the word tiny in it and she's brilliant really incredibly smart and she was talking about wanting to grow her team but staying small and i kind of regurgitated what that mentor had told me about staying small and how it's ridiculous but a year later i think maybe i changed my mind and i'm only changing my mind because i'm starting to experience growing pains so i don't know if it's like you know whenever you're running to jump off a cliff how you do way more harm whenever you change your mind in the middle of the jump and you're like on the side of the cliff trying to crawl back up versus just jumping and getting in the water or maybe not jumping at all like this is kind of how i feel about staying small versus

Emily Thompson 6:57
growing i mean just hanging on a rock right now i want to point out do that like you and tara certainly winded this with the idea of it just being the two of you but it was not very long before it was not just the two of you i mean you guys had a design intern and a full time designer pretty quickly so but even but even then that's not very big like four people in a business and you know now i guess it's three is it three now how many how many how many people are officially working for braid

Kathleen Shannon 7:27
i know it's funny because we're about to have redo our website to really position ourselves more as an agency so that again this is a question we're always asking ourselves are we building a brand it's kind of specifically around our personal brands or are we building an agency and we've learned that it's a little bit of both but we're going to try going into the new year positioning ourselves a little bit more as an agency really because of its similar conversation that you have with your team where i don't want the work that we get in at braid to hinge upon our personal brands because i might not be available to do all the client work as i shift my focus toward growing being boss right so it is interesting like you have that conversation with your team also about maybe not taking on as much client work and keeping in the shop biography small but it's not that we don't have grand vision i mean i think that you and i have both admitted to ourselves and to each other that we want to make bank we're not shy about that and that we want to grow being boss into a larger media conglomerate right so that includes building a blog that maybe focuses a little bit more on lifestyle it means and focusing more of our attention on to our newsletter and making that really valuable for our subscribers it includes revisiting our editorial calendar and includes how we interact with our sponsors a lot of that stuff is going to take a lot of our time and even our being boss team is growing so it's just really interesting so sorry back to your question as far as how many employees right right now it is tara and myself we call on break creative and then liz is our brand director and she couldn't do it without her she basically can do the job of both tara and myself she's i just had killer i love her anyway so we've got liz and she's on full time with us we are working with contractors but they still have like a break creative email so we've got caitlin who yeah caitlin is amazing and then she kind of acts as our right hand man as far as helping us answer our emails get our schedule together project flow but lately she's really become someone that we're bouncing content ideas off of. So her role within our company is growing a lot. And then we're also working with a fellow boss, and Jessica, and she is doing some contract work for us as well. But I think that's going to become a more steady thing. And then even is thinking about our website, because a lot of times, the changes that you're making in business can be reflected on your website first, or if you think about like how your website is structured, it helps you think about how your business itself is structured. And so tip for anyone who's like trying to figure their shit out, think about how your website is structured. Because that is huge as far as figuring out what's actually going on in your business. So he's imagining a About Us page, and instead of it just being me interrupt you front and center. And you know what it looks like to include our entire team. So obviously, me Tara and Liz, I think we would include Jessica and Caitlin, they're steady enough with us. And then I was like, well, would I put Emily and nd shop agraphia on there, because you do so much work for us keeping our website going and strategizing with us. And so whenever it comes to everyone that helps us make things happen, it starts to become a little bit of a higher number. So like five or six, if you include the entire indie shop biography team, by all of us, it doubles it. So it is, you know, there's there's a lot of people that are helping us make our business run anymore, it's a new way, it's really a new way of building an agency that still feels kind of small. It's interesting.

Emily Thompson 11:40
No, I completely agree. And that's where I was about to take it as well. So you know, in the we have, we have myself and David. And then we have Korean Chris and they are like employees like we pay them as employees as opposed to contract. And then we have a junior designer, Junior designer, Liberty who is contract. And then we also work with a couple of different people we work with Abraham and Susan row from Abraham row photography to do a lot of photos for our client work for our indie boom projects. We work with Lexi content a lot to do content for our client websites. Like whenever whenever you are building something, especially especially if you're out there and you are a freelancer or a one woman show or a one man show or whatever you may be, you can still grow to the size of something that's capable of doing a lot without you being the one who doesn't, but also without you being the one who has a ton of employees to take care of. I was actually telling Korean Chris the other day, like I have no intentions to hire more employees, anytime and at least near future, because because I like the size that the four of us are now. But we also rely super heavily on our contract employees, which which makes us feel and act a lot bigger than we actually are. And it allows us to make huge impacts in ways that I have no desire of employing on an on a consistent basis. 10 people like that is not like the management of that is super daunting to me, I'm not in this to build to build something like that. But that doesn't mean that I can't pull in people when I need them. And I think I think that sort of that direction in terms of how it is that we can all build businesses that support ourselves. But we can all interact in ways that we can do projects that are bigger than ourselves is I feel that it's almost even the direction that online entrepreneurs are going at the moment. It's not about hiring each other as full time employees. It's about finding ways that you can help each other and doing so on a contract basis. And if you like whenever I think of who my team is, I certainly think of Lexie content as being part of my team. Because they certainly assist me in doing what I do. But they're not people that I you know, pay health insurance for or anything like that it works out really well.

Kathleen Shannon 14:14
I want to mention Oh, and I forgot a contractor that I needed to mention was Erica midkiff because she helps us a lot with our content for our clients as well. And even for our own content, she helped us really shape up our ecourse. And remember, we talked about writing a book, God help us. We always imagine bringing Erika in the loop on that as well. So she helps us with our internal work, even our external kind of work. And same with you guys like you helped me with internal planning for rape. And then also our client work as well. We share a lot of clients. So okay, so I want to talk real quick about the difference between employees and contractors and I think that the biggest difference is that contractor can still have their own brand, a contractor you're not paying taxes for you're not paying for their health insurance. But if they're working for you more than what, 25 hours a week, there might even be laws around this. So just look it up. And if someone's working for you as an employee, and you have them as a contractor, sometimes that can be illegal. So it's like some people's way of getting out of paying taxes for their contractors

Emily Thompson 15:27
will. And I think one of the differentiating factors is if they're doing this similar type of work for someone else, then they are contract, if they are only doing that work for you, then they you should be paying them as an employee. I. And again, that's not official, but I think that's a pretty good rule of thumb.

Kathleen Shannon 15:44
One thing that I I think about when it comes to hiring someone, as an employee versus a contractor is really thinking about the health of my business. And, and the health of my business is more nimble. Whenever I have contractors, yeah, and there's a lot less emotional stress, I think, I don't feel quite as responsible for a contractor. And again, I think we've talked about this before on previous episodes, that hiring someone as a contractor first is a great way to start to grow. Alright, now we're getting into growing. Let us Let's bring it back into staying small, though. Sure. Well, I

Emily Thompson 16:24
think I think contract people allow you allow you to stay small, I think. I think that having these really, really flexible relationships with people where you are not responsible for them paying rent every month, because you are not their sole source of income allows you to stay small and and I know that and the nimble factor i think is what plays into people's desire to stay small the most. And whenever you are able to sort of pick and choose the kinds of contractors you need based on what you're doing at that moment, whether whether you're going full force into this, you know, into your core business, or if you want to take a little time off to write a book or if you want to focus on creating digital product. That nimbleness is made much more possible whenever you whenever you just sort of have people around for contracting to help you do whatever project it is that you're working on in the moment.

Kathleen Shannon 17:21
And I want to talk about staying small whenever it comes to social media, newsletters, kind of like a more broad following. So we were talking about kind of one on one services. But I want to talk about like the one to many aspects of staying small. I know that myself included. A lot of people can look at someone else's numbers and automatically feel like Well, of course they can make bank, they have 20,000 followers or 100,000 followers, they can just throw anything out there probably make $100,000 in a day. So I think it's really easy to feel that way. So I want to talk about why having a small following specifically with your newsletter list and on social media, why that might be a good thing?

Emily Thompson 18:11
Sure, I think that's, I think that's so huge. Actually, it goes back to about this time last year how I cleaned out my entire list, I had finally grown to some numbers that I felt were acceptable. But whenever I looked at my metrics, those acceptable numbers actually sucked a time because you know, my open rate was really low, which means even though I had big numbers, I wasn't actually reaching very many people. So I think that's just one of many examples. I actually had a client recently do this as well, she had almost 1000 people on her list, she went through and she physically cleaned it out. And did went down to about 200 people and her open rate was way better. She She started getting sincerely more engagement because she was able to Super target the message that she was sending to just the people that she wanted to send it to. And I think that that by doing that you're not you're not cutting yourself off at the knees, you're like you're putting a pretty hat on.

Kathleen Shannon 19:19
I think trying not to be everything to everyone is really important. And I think that's part of staying small too is like really keeping your point of view or you're offering really narrow like that's a really good way of staying small.

That will still allow you to attract even more dream clients or even more raving fans than you would if you were to have 20,000 followers or whatever it might look like. I remember whenever I first started blogging on my old blog spot, Jeremy and Kathleen

Emily Thompson 19:55
remember those day

Kathleen Shannon 19:57
so I had Okay, on blogger, like in the little sidebar, you can see little icons of people following you. And there was a little number. And so I started become a little obsessed with that number. And I remember the day it hit 50 I felt like hot shit 50 people are reading my blog, and we laugh at it. But it, here's the deal. I knew every 50 of those people I was going to their blogs, we were interacting. And guess what we made friends. And to this day, I am still internet friends with a lot of those original 50 people. So I think that getting intentional about who you're following, and who is following you is a great benefit to staying small. And like you said, you can really target your message or I think there's also a liberty to just being yourself. I think that knowing that there aren't as many eyes on you gives you a certain amount of freedom. Absolutely. So

Emily Thompson 21:00
this is some Oh, can we talk about this?

Kathleen Shannon 21:03
Let's talk about this. Because this is I think something that even you and I maybe experienced, it's easier with the podcast, because right now I literally feel like I'm just talking to you. So talk about things. But knowing that this is going to be heard by 8000 to 10,000 people.

Emily Thompson 21:20
Yeah, and this is something that I am finding myself struggling with a lot. And, you know, obviously, I try to watch my words on some level. But in part of that, like almost a fear of of, who am I going to piss off at some point one of us is probably going to get a stalker, or like something really crazy. Because once you begin growing your numbers, and once you are in that spotlight on such a huge level, everything you do and say is under a microscope.

Kathleen Shannon 21:54
But we're not even like that big time. No, no, no, not yet. But

Emily Thompson 21:59
imagine, imagine our media conglomerate like goals. Because we do have some big goals for the kinds of content that we want to put out the kinds of impact that we want to have. And and I believe that we are building a platform where we can initiate some sincere change in both the online entrepreneurial community. And I know in terms of my personal brand, I want to save the fucking planet. Like there are some things that are going on, and I have messages that I want to share. But in doing so, who are we going to piss off? And what is that going to do? Because there are certainly people out there who have differentiating views. I mean, we are all woman power and like masochism is a thing because it's a thing. And we are absolutely speaking against a very large part of the population. So just all of those things that get all heated, like I'm literally kind of sweating right now even thinking about this. But I think that is certainly some very serious advantage there and staying small is that you can be much more unapologetically yourself. Whenever you don't have the fear of pissing off the masses.

Kathleen Shannon 23:13
I think that like I'm not afraid of pissing people off for being who I am. I think my fear is accidentally saying something. Yes.

Unknown Speaker 23:22

Kathleen Shannon 23:23
So for example, after we interviewed Jay Pryor, who is on our episode, a couple episodes back, you guys have to listen to it. It's been one of our most talked about fantastic date. But Jay prior reveals in it, he so he's my executive coach and has been for a long time. And he talks in his podcast about how he used to be a woman. And I mentioned something like Yeah, but you're so a dude, like, you're totally a dude. And then I call them afterwards. And I was like, you know what I'm really sorry, for I didn't mean to be dismissive of you being transgendered. And that being just as much a part of your identity as being male identified, you know, so I felt like I was insensitive, but on accident, so like, that's my biggest fear. Is that just that kind of misunderstanding, but that can happen even whenever you're

Unknown Speaker 24:18
that will happen. I mean,

Kathleen Shannon 24:20
it happens in conversations with like your in laws,

Emily Thompson 24:23
right? Oh, my best friend is the world's worst about saying offensive shit without meaning to I mean, like, he's just he's just talking and then sometimes he'll say something he's even gotten to where sometimes they'll just sort of like, under his breath, say things to me, just so I can check it for that he's not to be not about to be really offensive and amazing. It's just human nature. But once you once you get to a certain level, like, that's not acceptable, like human nature is not acceptable for the messages that you put out. In a lot of ways. So anyway, I think I think that that aspect is is Certainly a very real advantage to keeping it small enough so that you don't have to really worry about everything that comes out of your mouth.

Kathleen Shannon 25:10
But I don't think that that fear should hold people back from wanting to grow. And that's what that's what I'm battling against is not getting paralyzed by the fear that I see so many other people having to create and to put stuff out there to have the courage to be vulnerable enough to make a mistake on the podcast, you know. And so, I think that it's just that feeling that maybe you're under a microscope, and whenever you feel like you're getting picked apart for lots of things taken out of context, or is just I don't know, but I have other feelings about to like, hey, maybe it is important that I noticed when I'm being insensitive, and I'm calling and saying I'm sorry, and good

Emily Thompson 25:54
to know, when you're being a dick, for sure. But like, but on the flip side of that, like, I completely agree, I mean, if you have messages to share, that's going to change the world for the better, then by all means, speak up. And I don't I certainly don't want my fears to keep anyone from from holding you back. And they're not going to keep me back either, by any means. But these are real struggles that, that we get to deal with.

Kathleen Shannon 26:21
Oh, but what I wanted to say sorry,

Emily Thompson 26:23
no. And that was and that's it.

Kathleen Shannon 26:25
So what I was gonna say, though, about my blog, and having 50 followers is I remember having far more meaningful connections whenever I had a really tiny following versus, you know, now I can hit 5000 followers on Instagram. It's kind of like money where once you start obsessing over that number, that number will never be enough.

Emily Thompson 26:47
Yes. Yeah. This is a practice I have at my clients consistently, where you kind of on this very serious level have to stop watching the numbers.

Kathleen Shannon 27:01
Let's talk about this for a second.

Unknown Speaker 27:02
Yeah, I want a blog

Kathleen Shannon 27:04
post you remember on my personal blog, maybe a year or two ago, that was all about how I'm going to start a stop looking at my Google Analytics. Yes.

And I want to talk about that a little bit. Because I did become a little bit obsessed with the numbers in the same way that it's just easy to kind of turn it into a game just like with me or anything else. So I was looking a little bit too much at the numbers. Um, and it was making me what it was doing was stifling my career.

Emily Thompson 27:36
It was making you obsessive? Yeah. Which, which will definitely stifle creativity.

Kathleen Shannon 27:42
Exactly. So I'm going to talk about like, why analytics matter. But like how you have to find that balance,

Emily Thompson 27:49
I think you have to have a sincere and productive goal. If you have a sincere and productive goal, then looking at your metrics is important. So let's say you really need to, you really need to launch in or sell an E book because you have, you know, rent to pay, or you're just trying to make a living or whatever. And you know that you need to have your list be at whatever numbers that you can sell to one to 3%, because that's usual conversion rate to make however much money you need to continue to survive. Like that is a sincere and productive goal. And so watching your numbers and pushing the subscriptions to your email list so that you can get to this productive goals. You can sell this ebook and continue to live doing what you're doing, then watch your metrics. But if you're just watching them to obsess over them to see where your website traffic is getting every single day, just to look because you're obsessing stop doing it. This is something like even as the web person I do not look at my metrics. I don't any of them. Occasionally whenever we are doing a launch of something, or or I will get client sites because those are productive metrics I have to make then I will look at the metrics of other sites or my own metrics if we're doing something, but on the daily I'm not looking at anything because it doesn't matter for what I'm trying to accomplish.

Unknown Speaker 29:30
Hey, bosses,

Kathleen Shannon 29:30
did you have a case of FOMO

Emily Thompson 29:32
that stands for the fear of missing out when you

Kathleen Shannon 29:35
saw all the being boss magic go down for our being boss vacation in New Orleans

Emily Thompson 29:40
if you're not friends, because we are planning another boss vacation this spring in

Unknown Speaker 29:46

Kathleen Shannon 29:49
So it was really hard to figure out what location to go to, but we've never been to Miami and the reason why we do these boss vacations is to cultivate our creative pack. see different parts of the world get some face time with each other connect with each other and live the boss life so to learn more details about this boss vacation just go to love being boss calm slash miami

Emily Thompson 30:12
we hope to see you there

Unknown Speaker 30:20
alright i want to tell you a plan that i have for staying small go alright so i haven't told you this yet we we have

Emily Thompson 30:31
made it when you do this to me while we're recording here's another cabling plan what

Kathleen Shannon 30:38
i feel you always think i'm about to tell you that i'm pregnant

Emily Thompson 30:42
that is consistent fear that kelly is gonna call me one day i'll never forget the day that you that you told me you needed to tell me something and i'll look at david and i go she's knocked up and i go upstairs and i get on skype and kathleen's like i'm pregnant i was like i know

Kathleen Shannon 31:01
was that it like whenever i actually really was

Emily Thompson 31:03
yes fox yes and but quite often you do give me that look and i'm like oh my god what's about to come from now so okay as long as you're not pregnant you're welcome to tell me whatever

Kathleen Shannon 31:16
okay so i've been thinking a lot about what i want to do with my website and kathleen which is awesome stems from my original blog jeremy and kathy and@blogspot.com it's a place where i've done a lot of personal writing and it's a place where i love to exercise my creativity but i have been feeling stifled i think a little bit by the numbers and the people falling in i think that blogging is a little different like i feel like in some ways the podcast has taken over my space for sharing candidly so i've been really thinking about my blog and what i want to do there and i think i'm going to kind of do something a little bit like what you did with your newsletter list so and kathleen is now going to become a hub for here's who i am and here's my projects that i work on so including braid creative and being boss then i think what i want to do instead of blogging is either one direct people to my instagram because i'm kind of like a mini blogger there or two you can sign up for my email list and maybe i'll start doing more personal writing but it goes straight to an inbox and literally again if i only have 50 people following is kind of just it starts to feel a little bit more personal but then also there is something to publishing your work and having that feedback channel so not like i want to create more email for myself by having a straight to the inbox kind of thing that's actually something i need to think about why don't reply to this i don't know that that's what i want either but um but really creating creating a more personal place where i can feel more freedom to write what i want to write on a personal level because then again i think that we're going to be blogging on being boss i want to start writing more on our newsletter for being boss to really get in some of the behind the scenes stuff or really expand that offering a little bit share more gifts of knowledge there so anyway that's my plan for and kathleen and in a lot of ways whenever i think about that whenever i think about kind of i think i'll still have all my blog content there but maybe even hide it so that it's not easily easily found but if someone was to link through to it they're not getting an error page anyway and also there's a lot of like good memories there but i'm thinking about kind of scaling back on that platform in a lot of ways what do you think

Emily Thompson 33:50
i love that that idea i think i know for you that that level of writing is one of those creative outlets that feeds your soul in a really really great way and i know that having fox and braid growing and now being boss have have sort of taken a front seat to the blog sitting in the backseat and i think i think there's a lot to be said about that more intentional more personal to the inbox writing that i think could serve you quite well

Kathleen Shannon 34:27
and you know i have new intentions for selling to this newsletter list but it might be interesting to see i am a creative entrepreneur so i can't help but think what products might end up coming out of this and depending on the kind of writing i'm doing if it's more about geared towards motherhood or spirituality the things that i'm not necessarily putting in the forefront at braid or being boss even though i talk about those things if it's on the forefront there who knows what kind of product like there might be something that you end up creating just for moms or just for this tribe of spiritual junkies or that's a Gabby Bernstein phrase, but I'm not like starting a spiritual junkies brand. Um, but you know that kind of

Unknown Speaker 35:14
that kind of

Kathleen Shannon 35:15
aspect and or maybe not like, I don't have to monetize everything?

Emily Thompson 35:20
Sure. Oh, and I think, I think the joy of doing this and I think this, this goes back to that staying small mindset is I think it's a, it's a constant conversation you have to have with yourself. And I know that, you know, you being a writer, and a creative and an entrepreneur, like at some point, I can only imagine what crazy way you're gonna think of demonetize it. Because you're an entrepreneur, that's what we do. Like, one of the things that makes us entrepreneurs is our ability to make money on on things and our ourselves even as as people who are personally branded. So so I wouldn't write that off as like a bad thing, because it's not a bad thing. I think. I think if it goes that way, absolutely do it. But I think that, just again, tying that back to staying small or growing big, you know, is this newsletter going to be something that you keep small, and maybe you do for six months to a year, and at some point, you can change your mind, I think I think that's where that's where we tend to lose our power as creatives or as entrepreneurs, as people as humans, is this idea that you can absolutely change your mind about anything at any point. And that's not a bad thing whatsoever. So I think go for I think that's exciting. I'm excited to talk about that a little more. And see how that ties into all kinds of things. Because that's also a fun thing that I look forward to, to exploring with you, especially now that we have been bosses. But we also want to grow these personal brands, and we have our businesses is in what way this all ties in together and in what ways we keep what we do completely separate into ourselves. Because I think that it's going to be a really fun juggle where we can, you know, create these environments of content and

Kathleen Shannon 37:16
all kinds of fun stuff. Well, and you and I even have a meeting because it's like, okay, and this is what we've been doing. This is why we started a podcast together because you and I are people that get on the phone or get on Skype, and we're like, okay, here's my thoughts. what's worked for you? What, what is your vision? How can I copy your vision a little

Emily Thompson 37:34
bit? So,

Kathleen Shannon 37:37
so it is this, like, if I'm like, Hey, I'm thinking about doing this for my personal branded site, MIB that you end up doing the same thing for yours, too, and that we kind of mirror each other a little bit, or that you try something a little different, see what works, and then I might take some of that. And that's part of the cool thing about creative collaboration. Okay, so one thing I also wanted to mention, kind of in the bigger picture of things, one thing I've noticed with myself is as I'm able to grow one project, or one business, is kind of like growing a tree, right. And then something a branch, a new branch starts to kind of sprout from the growth of this tree, right? So in some ways, I'm thinking about really, like I'm the trunk, and what are the different branches growing off what is my tree look like, um, is huge. And so I noticed that as like, one branch becomes more solid and is sustaining itself, like another little baby branch grows. So initially, my big branch was my personal blog, from that braid started. Now braid is really doing well on its own and running itself. So then being bossed started being well, and you know, even there, like many branches that came off of braid, so we started with services, and then we tried the ecourse. And then DIY coaching, like there are lots of different products that have come out of that, that will continue to come grow out of that branch, then there is being bought, and that's starting to really grow. And that still needs a lot of nurturing to continue to grow into what we want to grow into. But now I'm seeing another little branch or really, maybe coming full circle back to that trunk of like personal writing, which is definitely tugging at me, but again, I don't know where it belongs. So it Who knows. And I think that this is like the interesting thing to talk about also is that one way to stay small and this is something that we talked to Paul and Jason about recently is to try lots of different things. I think the challenge there is not diffusing your focus or your expertise like you really have to be disciplined in order to do a lot of projects and see them start to finish. We're talking idea to launch.

Emily Thompson 39:55
Yeah, that I mean that I also want to use Just to illustrate that, like, as far as Kathleen and I are in this, we're still having this conversation of like, well, I don't know what comes next, like, do I do when he was letter? Or do I not? But but then yes, yes, on the discipline of, of doing things like, you know, we did an episode a couple of times ago about focus, and how like focusing on one thing at a time is good. And a lot of the a lot of the bosses that we've interviewed for the show, they talked about doing this, I remember Daniel chrissa was one of those that was like, I have to have one day for emailing. And one day for writing my book. And one day for doing this, like dividing things up like that, and focusing on one task at a time is super important. And it's that focusing on one thing at a time that allows you to focus on multiple things at a time. Living in the paradox, right there.

Kathleen Shannon 40:50
Totally, totally. I think that staying small actually allows you to create a lot of products and projects. So because at that point, like so let's say you have a small social media following, you're actually able to have real conversations about what people really need, you can absorb that information and create a really meaningful product around it that speaks exactly to the people that you're speaking to. And that alone might help you attract and gain a following.

Unknown Speaker 41:23

Kathleen Shannon 41:24
here's another thing. And I've been coaching a lot of creatives around this lately, too, who don't necessarily have the numbers, use someone else that does have the numbers. So you don't have to have a huge blog, maybe you just need to show up on someone else's huge blog, you don't necessarily need to have a podcast, maybe you just show up on someone else's podcast. That's another really great way that you can stay small but still leverage someone else's audience.

Emily Thompson 41:51
I completely agree with this. And I think one of the things, one of the places I would like to take this too is knowing your numbers, period and knowing your numbers in terms of how much money you need to live. And growing to a size where that's all you need to do. Because whenever you are growing something, you can get caught up in this idea of getting up there to those other people's numbers. But if all you need is a couple getting seen on those places, is what's going to grow you to the size where you're going to meet exactly what you need. So if it's for you, if it's if you just want to like hunker down and develop websites, like there are some really badass website developers out there who have no desire to blog or podcast, or whatever. If you know that you need to stay small and you know those numbers so that you're okay with things small because the push out there is to grow big, then use other people's platforms to sell what you do enough to make your numbers I think there is no shame in that game whatsoever.

Kathleen Shannon 43:02
There's a couple of different ways that you can stay small. So I'm not I I think that you can even have half a million Instagram followers and still stay small in your processes. So chalene Johnson is an example of that whenever we interviewed her, almost towards the beginning of our podcasting. Um, we were, she seems huge, right? She has a top podcast, she's a Beachbody celebrity. She's kind of a big deal. And I asked her how she keeps herself from, you know, feeling spread thin or overwhelmed. She's in my life is good. All that stuff I created I created a while ago. So in some ways, her celebrity and her fame is based off of passive income, she only had to record those Pio videos once she's showing up in recording a podcast, you know, once a week or whatever. I mean, I know a lot more goes into podcasting. Now. But I'm not saying that she's not doing the work, but she's not killing herself over it. So I think that you can still have huge numbers so you grow big and big. As far as your following goes that you can still work in small, concise, intentional ways. If you have huge numbers, you can stay small by not maybe offering one on one services and creating products that create passive income for you. But we need to do a whole episode on how passive income isn't so passive. It is a full time job promoting that machine so that it can support you financially. But like I guess what I'm really trying to get at is how can you stay small and still make bank because I feel like some of the people in our Facebook group were talking about this. They feel like just because they don't have a huge following that they can't make a good income being their own boss.

Emily Thompson 44:49
Ooh, that's bullshit. Okay, so Okay, so whenever whenever I started my my business or my web design business I mean, it wasn't until four years in that I had 1000 people on my email list. I mean, like, I had a really small list because I wasn't being a social media marketer. I was not out there growing a list and growing a Twitter following and and doing all those things. I had my nose to the grindstone working. And I think, and I mean, I was making, I guess in your for I was making almost 100,000. So certainly enough to keep myself quite happy. And making enough bank that that I was that we were living just fine. And I had Corey assisting me with, with client support. So um, on that note, I think it's just about it's just about treating your clients and your customers really, really well. So that they tell everyone they know about how awesome you are. It goes in that in that place is not about you know, launching the ideal tweet, and having everyone come buy your products and services. It's about it's about keeping those small one on one relationships, so airtight and amazing that you don't need to worry about having big numbers because you don't need them.

Kathleen Shannon 46:14
I know I totally agree. And I think that staying small and one on one services is a good way to make good money. So then it becomes an issue of charging what you're worth, which again, that's a whole other podcast episode, right?

Emily Thompson 46:28
Well, it's charging what you're worth, but also knowing how to package what you offer. I think those two things go hand in hand perfectly and done right, you can make your bank without needing to worry about how many people are liking your Instagram photos.

Kathleen Shannon 46:46
And that's totally where positioning and branding come in. So I can't help but plug the

Emily Thompson 46:50
brain please do. And websites so that people can buy you.

Unknown Speaker 46:53
Yeah, right.

Kathleen Shannon 46:56
So try taking the Brady course so you can know how to brand and position yourself as a creative expert. So that you can charge what you're worth. And then getting really good website

Emily Thompson 47:08
comm comm sign up to toolkits where we will teach you how to build an online business that makes you back. Perfect. There we go. So um, so yeah, I think I think every person needs to sort of weigh what's important to them how it is they want to share what it is that they do whether you want to you know, just make your jewelry or develop your websites or, or coach your one on one clients. Or if you want to speak to the masses, if you want to move people and have big impacts, I think depending depending on what you want, and that that means getting really hardcore serious and like honest with yourself about how you want to feel every day go go read about some core desired feelings from Danielle Laporte or God, I mean, there are so many, so many resources out there to help you just sort of figure out what it is that you want to be doing. Get really honest with what you want to be doing all day. And if that involves, you know, taking Instagram photos of yourself and cute outfits and having you know, people want to sponsor you with free bedazzle meant to then you know, grow that Instagram following but if you just want to sit here and you know, give your one on one clients a really great experience and, and help change people's lives on that, on that really close net highly engaged engagement, then keep it small and find the people who can help you do it at the best.

Kathleen Shannon 48:41
I think that that's something that I'm keeping Top of Mind as we're growing, being boss, because I do want to grow it. I don't want to stay small with it. Because I know that the bigger we grow, the more people we can help. Right? Yes, so that's huge, too. But I still I mean, there are billions of people on this planet, and I don't want to reach every single one of them. So it is kind of relative whenever What does it mean to stay small, and I have to recommend the book. We are all weird by Seth Godin. So I have like a few business Bibles. We all know Bernie Browns Daring Greatly is one of them. rework by the guys who do Basecamp is one of them. And then Seth Godin is we are all weird is definitely probably number three spot. So we are all weird is all about narrowing in on your message and getting really targeted with who you're hitting with that message. And it really gave me a lot of confidence whenever it came to

Unknown Speaker 49:42
staying small in my own platforms, but also having a really high impact.

Kathleen Shannon 49:50
Now so I think that our challenge, though, is continuing to have high impact as we grow our reach

Emily Thompson 49:59
Yes. Oh, yes, I agree. And I think the way we do that is still in staying relatively small. I think that is in becoming so narrow on the kinds of content that we're sharing and making sure that that dream customer profile is so airtight, that, that we can still remain high impact while still growing to a place where that that high impact makes a really big powerful difference.

Kathleen Shannon 50:29
So I think another way to stay small too. I mean, I just imagine some creatives listening to this being like, I don't need advice on how to stay small. But one way that even regardless of your size, I mean, I know someone who just Well, we even did this as we started our businesses, and you still do it your three and 30 conversations, where you're giving away three conversations a month or quarterly, they're 30 minutes long, and you're really getting to know the people who are following you. Granted, it's three out of 1000s. But wouldn't you say it still makes you feel really in touch with

Unknown Speaker 51:09
your customers, they're

Emily Thompson 51:10
my favorite things that I do. I mean, like doing my three and the reason I do, we do three of them every single month. Every time I get off one of those phone calls, I like send Chris a message. I'm like, my God, I love doing these. I mean, like, just giving giving it away is every thing to I think the creative entrepreneur, I think the way we are built, the way we are wired and the way we are here, we left traditional life to build something greater than ourselves. Because we had a difference to make in one way or another. giving it away for free is what feeds what we do. I love doing them. I absolutely love doing them. And they have done really fantastic things for my business.

Kathleen Shannon 51:56
Well, and I was about to say giving it all away for free is another way to grow your business. So if you do find yourself with 50 followers, send an email to them and say, Hey, do you want to Skype there? I swear your conversion, like so let's talk about this. How many of your three and 30s have hired you? Do

Unknown Speaker 52:15
you know the metrics on that?

Emily Thompson 52:16
I don't know, exact, exact metrics, but I would say 25 to 50% of them. And yeah, I mean, and maybe a good chunk of income, right? Yes, I mean, I have had more than one free 30 minute phone call turn into a $5,000 or more project. And it's just because they want to speak with you. And your job is showing them how you can help them and once they realize that they can be helped by you selling to them as a million times easier. And they get that one on one interaction. You make them feel special because they are and it makes it a lot easier for them to take that next step knowing that they have someone there with them to make it do. Emily here to talk about running an efficient

Unknown Speaker 53:11
online business.

Emily Thompson 53:13
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Kathleen Shannon 54:17
I think the final thing that I want to iterate is just that hits so relationships and building relationships is so much more meaningful and in some ways easier whenever you have a smaller following then 1000 random likes from you don't even know who

Emily Thompson 54:36
I disagree with that damn bucket but because doing three three and 30 calls is the exact same if I'm doing it to a mailing list of 100 as it is if I'm doing it to a mailing list of 10,000 I'm like you can still absolutely have really great one on one engagements. You can have more of them or Or a higher percentage of them if you do have a small list, but um, but with the effort, you can have just as many quantitatively of those engagements if your list is really big.

Kathleen Shannon 55:17
So I guess it's like making an effort to keep those meaningful relationships intact. But that's the key word, there's effort. And I think that you have more incentive to have really personal meaningful relationships and over your tribe is a little bit smaller, versus whenever you have hundreds of 1000s of followers or even just 2000 followers, whatever a big number looks like to you. Um, so I think that's a really good point.

Emily Thompson 55:47
Yeah. I think that that piece, though, is absolutely right, though. It's not letting it get to your head. 10,000 followers doesn't actually make you a cooler person, it just means that 10,000 people stumbled across you on Instagram. Like, that's exactly, you're not too cool to give it all away, and

Kathleen Shannon 56:05
like, you're still gonna feel the same either way, if, again, the cons to growing might get to your head and make you feel worse. So I think that's what I'm really trying to say also is that, keeping the mind keeping like a, let's say, intimate, instead of small, like keeping an intimate mindset, whenever it comes to how you conduct business, can allow you to grow beyond your wildest dreams and feel really good about it. I don't, I don't feel good. Like, I don't get validation out of getting 300 likes on Instagram, like there's that kind of like ego validation. But whenever it comes to what really feeds my soul, as a creative entrepreneur, it's the meaningful relationships. And so even with this podcast, it's still about talking to you. We're still about learning from the experts that we're interviewing, I feel so lucky that our numbers allow us to interview some really incredibly smart people.

Emily Thompson 57:10
Yep. I completely agree for us. For us. It's not, you know, I don't get on and look at our our podcast metrics, unless one of our sponsors is like, Hey, what are your numbers, or Kathleen, and I want to talk about numbers. It's not something we obsess about the favorite things that we have done are the coolest people, we get to talk to the fact that we get paid to hang out with each other every week, and our boss vacations, where we get to go have real face to face time with people who are just like us, like it's, you have to be in a place where the numbers don't affect you, it simply gives you the power to do more of what you love and have a bigger impact doing it.

Kathleen Shannon 57:52
Okay, I want to mention this to you really quick, because this is the first time I've seen being honest about being small work to our advantage. So our podcast probably gets right now between eight and 10,000 listens per episode, it continues to grow as as we continue to grow. And it whenever it comes to sponsors and people advertising on your podcast, they don't know what your metrics are. I mean, definitely, there's the top charts in iTunes. But it really comes down to being honest

Unknown Speaker 58:24
about what your metrics are. So we were really honest with freshbooks, about our metrics. And they were like, well, that's

Kathleen Shannon 58:31
on the smaller end of the podcasts that we typically sponsored. At this point, I think that we might be one of their highest paid podcasts, because while our numbers are really small, again, it's about that super targeted thing happening there where our conversion rates are super high, because our bosses actually use fresh books. And they're listening to our recommendation to use fresh books, and they believe us, they trust us. So our conversion metrics, and this is what you were saying about newsletters earlier. Also,

Unknown Speaker 59:05

Kathleen Shannon 59:06
means so much more than like your general broad numbers. So again, let's say you have 50 followers, but 90% of them are buying what you're selling. That is a huge conversion rate. And I think that I mean, I'd be curious to see. And I would imagine that the larger you grow, the lower your conversion is, but I don't know if that's true or not. But I would just imagine anecdotally, it might be

Emily Thompson 59:32
Yeah, well, I mean, usually, especially in terms of newsletters as you're small, it's easier for you to manage it. Like there for a long time. I was pretty anal about going in and you know, deleting all the bounced emails and things like that I don't care about I get other things to do now. But as you grow that bag, you're less likely to manage it well enough. And I mean, think if you have 100,000 people on your list, I mean 50,000 of those are bullshit emails like that's That's a very large number of people, you're not reaching. And if you're just throwing around this big number, the impact probably isn't there. I think that staying small and staying, staying super narrow and keeping those people engaged and nurturing. And I think I think that's, I think that's one of the missing puzzle pieces in this idea of growth is is making sure that you continue to nurture who it is that is following you. And you know, if you have a big blog, following them, and it's giving them you know, helpful entertaining or whatever blog posts if, if you are, if you are going your your newsletter list or your client roster, like it's maintaining a high level of engagement and nurturing that, that keeps that number healthy, as opposed to just all wildly trying to get everybody on your list that you can and really that number not not mattering whatsoever.

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:54
So it's about the people, not the members.

Emily Thompson 1:01:00
Bad. Sounds good to me.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:04
Thank you for listening to being boss. Find Show Notes for this episode at love being boss calm. Listen to past episodes and subscribe to new episodes on our website on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher.

Emily Thompson 1:01:17
Did you like this episode? Head on over to our Facebook group by searching being boss on facebook and join in on the conversation with other bosses or share it with your friends? Do the work be boss and we'll see you next week.

Hello and welcome to being boss episode number 30. Not 3350 sorry,

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:56
do over.

Unknown Speaker 1:01:58
Do we need to say some ridiculous shit so that we have some bloopers.

Emily Thompson 1:02:03
Just put that in there.