Episode 228 // Sustainable Business Practices

April 14, 2020

Ebbs and flows are inevitable, so having sustainable business practices is key for long-term success. Kathleen joins Emily today to talk about those basic practices, which include starting small and bootstrapping, leveraging what you already have, marketing tactics, not over-committing to social media, and big picture CEO-level management.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"You want to create a foundation and a backbone that is sustainable no matter what is thrown your way."
- Kathleen

Discussed in this Episode

  • Basic business processes for sustainability
  • Starting small: bootstrapping vs. going in debt
  • No new things: leveraging what you have
  • Practices for sustainable marketing
  • Not over-committing to social media marketing
  • Stepping back and focusing on the big picture management of your business

Resources

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.

Transcript

Emily Thompson 0:00
How are you doing Boss, I know that many of you are feeling an edge, an edge to make the very most of this downtime and to move your business along even if things are feeling slow, to prepare for what I truly believe is going to be a new economy, and to connect with a community of business owners who are figuring this out as we go. Well, the being boss conference is now online, making it accessible to every one of you, no matter where you are. And in light of world events, we're shifting our content in ways that will make it most helpful to you now, focusing on time management and marketing in this new world of doing business, keynotes, panels, breakout sessions, Live podcast recordings, and more. Making up three days of a virtual conference for creative business owners that is unlike anything that's been done before. Sure, we won't be sipping Zaza rocks in the French Quarter, not this time, but you can wear your yoga pants and still get insights and tactics from top creative business owners, who are also navigating this disruptive moment in history and connect with creative business owners from all over the world. Get your virtual ticket and join in, make the most of this time and figure out how you and your business are going to make it through to the other side at better than before. Learn more and join us at being boss club slash conference. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 1:27
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Emily Thompson 1:29
And this is being boss. In this episode of being boss, join Kathleen and me as we talk about sustainable business practices including overall business tactics, and a deep dive into marketing and CEO level tactics. As always, you can find all the tools books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club.

Kathleen Shannon 1:55
being your own boss means finding ways to optimize and better manage your time. Have you heard of freshbooks It's a suite of business tools that include things like easy to use automations. To help you spend less time invoicing, expensing and tracking projects, and more time becoming the CEO you always wanted to be freshbooks is packed with features to help you manage your always valuable time. Send automatically payment reminders on invoices, create recurring invoices. And if you want to get fancy use subscriptions for hands off billing. It's all ridiculously easy to set up and use and it leaves you more time to focus on being a boss. For a limited time freshbooks is offering our listeners 50% off your first three months when you upgrade to a paid plan. Go to freshbooks comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section that's fresh books.com slash being boss for 50% off your first three months.

Emily Thompson 2:58
All right, Kathleen, how you doing?

Kathleen Shannon 3:01
Well as of recording this. So far, so good, we're just kind of hunkering down as a family. And you posted some homeschooling tips A while ago on Instagram that have been tremendously helpful. Um, but yeah, just hanging in there. How about you?

Emily Thompson 3:20
Same, same, it's kind of life as usual, more or less, because we have been homeschooling for five years. Also, if you want those homeschooling tips, they are on our Instagram being boss club, I added them as a highlight. So you can go check those out anytime. So yeah, it's kind of life as usual, striving for business as usual, which is something we're here to talk about today. And it's also funny, I keep having some interesting conversations with people who found themselves almost being led in this direction. And like weird and interesting ways. And my illustration of that is, the topic of this episode was packed months ago, and just sort of comes out at a time that I feel is wildly appropriate for where we all find ourselves.

Kathleen Shannon 4:08
Well. And you know, it's funny too, because every day feels like the longest week ever. And that's only gonna continue to change, like things are changing very rapidly. So in full disclosure, we're recording this in advance, I have no idea what's going to happen even by the time we launch this podcast, but I think that no matter what phase you're in, in your business, or kind of business that you're creating, creating a business that with the aim of lasting a really long time with the aim of lasting five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years. I mean, whenever I think about braid, I want it to be the business that I retire from. Whenever I'm a little old lady. So for me really thinking about creating a sustainable business will hopefully ride any sort of ups and downs in the economy, or even just in the more micro level of changes that naturally come with business, whether it's hiring a team, firing a team, changing business models, pivoting, all of those things are going to happen, and they will happen. But you want to create a foundation and a backbone that is sustainable, no matter what is thrown your way.

Emily Thompson 5:30
Exactly. So that's what we're going to be diving into. together today. And the way we've sort of broken this up as into three main sections. So I think we're gonna start kind of vague and sort of overall, like good basic business practices, and then heading into to sort of narrow new fitness, to more narrow sections, being marketing, and then just like general high level management of your business. So let's dive into some of these just basic business practices that are sustainable or important for building a sustainable business that can weather any and hopefully all storms.

Kathleen Shannon 6:12
Okay, Emily, whenever it comes to creating a sustainable business,

Emily Thompson 6:17
what what do

Kathleen Shannon 6:17
you really think of whenever you think of sustainability? And how does that kind of overarching, like big picture, how does that look for you?

Emily Thompson 6:27
I think on a very basic level, it begins with managing your resources, like a good management of your resources. And this is true, whether you are a solopreneur, with a side hustle. Or if you have 1540 80,000 employees, whatever it is, you have to know how you have to know what your resources are. And you have to manage them responsibly. And so you can think of this in terms of your own time, I think that's the one that probably you will hit home for everyone listening to this, you only have so many hours in a day, and you only have so many of those hours that you're actually going to be productive. So burning yourself off, or burning yourself out, is actually the correct word there. When things are easy, leaves you incapable of coping whenever things are difficult. So by learning to manage your resources you are you can sort of save up your energy or your money or your team's time or whatever it may be. So that when you need it. It's there.

Kathleen Shannon 7:36
Yeah, we talk a lot about resources with that even in the book where we talk about time, energy and money.

Emily Thompson 7:42
Yes, the beam boss book, being boss, clubs, slash book, folks.

Kathleen Shannon 7:46
There you go. So we talked about time, energy, and money being the three primary resources that we're always making sure, are in balance. And so especially right now, usually, it's time for me and getting burned out is usually means that I'm working a lot of hours. Right now, I'm going to make the time because we're in a moment of Okay, I will scramble to find time, right now, my resources are dollars, I've got to make sure I've got the dollar bills, and there's only so many of them. So that's the resource that I'm really glad we've spent the last year at braid, really stocking money away, and not pulling profits, but putting all the money that we have back into the business and not even investing but saving, like a good cash buffer. But, you know, dollar bills. That's, that's a big one right now. And then also energy. Oh,

Emily Thompson 8:40
sorry, go ahead. I want to throw in here that it's not just like saving them, but it's also using them in the right places. So it's making sure that whenever it is, whenever you are purchasing something, or investing in something, it's something that's going to have the kind of impact that you want to have.

Kathleen Shannon 8:56
The other resource I've been really protective of since our burnout episode at the beginning of the year is energy. And so right now I feel like I took really good measures, including selling a chunk of being boss to you, Emily, you know, like really seeing what is my capacity? What can I really handle. And sometimes you have to push up against your boundaries to know what that is. Sometimes you have to overextend yourself. And I think in times like now, I'm in a place where I'm seeing, okay, what can I handle and I've been like we've all as creative entrepreneurs have seen ups and downs naturally in our business, probably more so than people who work for corporate do so in some ways, I think that we're probably more prepared in some ways and less prepared in others. Of course, there's so many pros and cons to the kind of support that comes in doesn't come with with the traditional workforce, but all of this to say, I think though, whenever it comes to your resources, you're going to weather, some storms, and you're going to see what you're made of, and you're going to get real crafty and resourceful, you're going to figure out how to draw more time, more energy and more money into your business. But it's also something that you want to sustain over long term and think big picture about, like, how can you kind of steady those ups and downs to be more of a level, hopefully upward incline.

Emily Thompson 10:23
Yeah, and I love that you brought up the topic of boundaries there, because this, or having boundaries is imperative for managing your resources in all ways. But also having good habits and routines, that can help sort of keep you in check is really helpful. So it's like really going back to these core being boss pillars that will help you help you in building a business that is sustainable. I also want to say one of the things that I've felt coming very strongly out of this is one of your return on investments I've made in my community. So having so many support, or so many people offering support, and even if that support is just like send me a text message checking in, or whatever it may be, I think one of the best things that I've done for my business is building relationships with people who end up having my back when I need it.

Kathleen Shannon 11:27
Yeah, this is huge. I think that we always come back to the idea that business is personal. And it is, especially right now. I feel like everybody's in it together more than ever. And I'm seeing the ebb and flow of generosity.

Emily Thompson 11:48
So yeah, right, good relationships, client relations, leaders, employees, all of those things like how building a support system of people will help you stay afloat longer than if you've burned every bridge you've ever built.

Kathleen Shannon 12:05
You know what that's also true with business partnerships. I mean, we've had some tense conversations through the course of Well, I mean, since we've been working together, but I think that the fact that we've prioritized even our own relationship, people, it blew their minds listening to our episode about the business buy out, you buying a big chunk of my shares for me at being boss, and that we're still so tight. You know, and, and even just in the past few days, we've had some tense conversations, because we're both freaking out, well, I shouldn't say that, we're not freaking out, I'm probably more so than cavalese. freaking out, at least keeping your cool. It's so weird, I will, I do want to just say transparently, in this time that I'm trying to be like that grown up that like mature, I get, I get it, I get to decide how I respond to all of this. And it's really testing my character, like, I'm not going to let my anxiety take over, I'm going to meditate every morning, I'm going to hydrate. And I'm going to keep my energy grounded. So I'm really trying hard. But I also want to be honest, in that this is scary for everybody. You're self included, you're keeping your cool, but everyone's a little bit scared in a time like this. And in times of economic crisis, like in 2008. Now I know how the grown ups felt, then I was still a little young. Or, you know, after things like 911 this is what we're going through right now is completely unprecedented. So of course, there's going to be some fear that comes with that. But whenever you maintain good relationships, you can be scared together. Or you can come to solutions together, you can brainstorm together, you can be generous together.

Emily Thompson 13:49
For sure, I will say I'm probably most at ease about this because I am in constant contact with people with other people who have businesses who are in similar but obviously very different situations because no one is experiencing this in the same ways by any means, which is also just one of the fascinating things about it. But it's because I'm staying in constant contact, working through others peep other people's problems, helps me deal with my own house put my own in perspective. So I'm not sitting here sort of swirling in my own demise or whatever it is. So good relationships, I think are one of the most imperative. sustainable business practices that any entrepreneur can practice.

Kathleen Shannon 14:30
I'm having a conversation with some biz besties tomorrow and I keep thinking about canceling it because you know, My days are getting hijacked by homeschooling and just conversations I wasn't expecting to have about everything that's going on and I was like, No, no, I'm gonna keep these meetings that I have that are touching base with my biz besties and peers and colleagues because they're important to

Emily Thompson 14:56
it's very, I have been finding them to be very useful. According to a otherwise completely nebulous timeline, like, if I can just show up for these meetings or you know, have these calls, whatever, I find it very helpful and can come out of it more ready to move forward.

Kathleen Shannon 15:15
I also want to point out like, we're, we're talking about this in the context of what's going on right now. But this all relates to things. I mean, these are all practices that we've had in place of building relationships, having masterminds, having business bestie chats, we've been doing this for the lifespan of our business. And so it's these habits and routines that you develop in the good times, that will float you through the bad times. And that's what sustainability is about. 100%

Emily Thompson 15:44
for sure. So, um, I think next up one of my most important, like basic business practices that everyone should absolutely be following if you want your business to live for any length of time period, is that, sure you need to learn how to sell. But more than that, you need to learn how to deliver and making sure that whatever it is that you are here doing with your business, whatever it is that you're creating for your customer or your client, that you know how to deliver that thing. I oftentimes find people, especially new entrepreneurs, who have great branding, great website, but a weird product that they don't know how to deliver, or their ability to manage their customers or clients expectations and deliver on those expectations are lacking. I've seen so many businesses falter because you don't lock in on that key piece of business. And that is actually delivering what it is that you're here to deliver.

Kathleen Shannon 16:41
Well, that segues perfectly into my number one tip for sustainability or the number one thing that makes me feel sustainable, is being an expert at something and having a process that backs up that expertise, and allows me to have a process that I follow every single time in order to deliver a brand platform that is graphic design, logo brand identity and messaging. And I always know exactly what I'm doing. I always know exactly what's next. And I can communicate that to my client, especially whenever they're investing in us. The last thing that you want is to leave someone who either wants to buy you or has already hired you feeling unsure about what's next. You want to be able to deliver on even just the communication between point A where they start and point B where they end with you. You want to explain Okay, here's how this works. Next, here's what's going to happen next. Here's how we're collaborating. Here's what we expect from you, here's what you can expect from us. So the way that I always think about delivery is going back to a contract which might sound really funny coming out of my mouth because I'm so right brained creative practically allergic to lawyers. Sorry, autumn with Boyd, you know, I love you

Emily Thompson 17:58
know, is allergic to autumn.

Kathleen Shannon 18:00
not allergic to autumn, but like, you know, that kind of stuff overwhelms me. And it's always all about worst case scenario. But I have flipped the script on contracts and really thinking about, okay, you're doing XYZ, you're paying me this amount of money, I am invoicing you on these dates. And then here's what you get from me. Here's our touchstones, here's our milestones, here's where we're gonna deliver actual things, here's what you can expect and when you can expect it. So for me, that helps me really frame up what that delivery is. And then from there, of course, I'm a branding expert. So I want to bring some branding into it on the outer layer, I can let people know what to expect, on a website, in my email exchanges, on my social media, it's always pointing back to what they get after they work with me.

Emily Thompson 18:52
And I even want to bring this into the product space is sort of bringing over that line from service into product, we keep these things in mind to at Almanac and it's not that different. I mean, making sure that your website explains what it is that you're delivering in terms of the product that you're making, or creating or have sourced from somewhere, making sure that you are delivering in the timeframes that you've said on your website, you're going to deliver them and then making that you know, unboxing scenario special or at least in line with what you're putting out on your social media or your website or in those pieces of communication. You can absolutely be consistent no matter what kind of business you have, so that you are leading your customer client through your process, and you are delivering and just the way that you say you're going to, if not maybe a little extra sometimes, but at the very least exactly the way you've said you will.

Kathleen Shannon 19:50
Another basic business thing for creating a sustainable business is to start small. So if you're at the beginning of your business, start small Use what you have before you invest. So for example, starting this podcast, we were literally recording, with our earbuds from our apple, you know, headphones, we were you were editing the podcast yourself. I mean, we were just running a lean operation just to know, okay, this is something that we're interested in doing. And we can do it. Whenever you started Almanac, you were only selling a candle, you know, and probably perfecting your systems and processes with selling a candle before you add more inventory. So that's something that I think is incredibly important, whenever it comes to running a lean business is to one practice, you know, practice what it is that you want to do before you invest a lot into it. And then once you know, okay, I liked doing this thing, and I want to continue to grow it, that's whenever you start building on to that foundation, so you're perfecting systems as you go. And as you're building them. And, and it keeps you from getting overwhelmed and burnt out on like, Okay, today, I need to figure out freshbooks and Asana, and podia. And, you know, Shopify, and all these systems and processes, and I need to figure out how to train my employees, start small, I'm also a big fan of solopreneurs, figuring out how every single aspect of your business runs, and really trying to DIY it, like, even if you're not a graphic designer, try and do your own branding, try and do your own customer service, try and do all the things so that one, you understand the amount of work that goes into it. And then to you understand, whenever you who you need to hire, you know, you'll, you're you'll really and this probably goes down into the management section we're going to talk about so I'm going to put a pin in this before I go too deep.

Emily Thompson 21:50
I will I do want to throw in here too, though, my friend Kelly knight who runs modern mystic is one of these amazing bosses and I watched her do it, she runs a multimillion dollar business. And every time she gets a new system or decides to create something new, or whatever she is doing it like I have heard her get into her email marketing platform just to figure out how it works so that she can adequately offboard it. And she knows what goes into it. So no one is above getting their hands dirty. And I think that is a very important mindset for building a sustainable business.

Kathleen Shannon 22:23
Yeah, and we're talking literally taking your own trash out.

Emily Thompson 22:26
Oh, cleaning your own toilets like that, like the whole thing for

Kathleen Shannon 22:32
that makes a boss a boss. And honestly, as I grow my team, it makes me feel really boss to get my hands dirty. It's like, Yeah, get on the ground level and do what needs to be done.

Emily Thompson 22:44
Yeah, for sure. I want to hit on one new thing that we have implemented before it being boss. It's something that I've implemented, I currently have implemented at Almanac. And this is especially helpful for creative business owners, because you have a ton of ideas I know you do. I know your type. I've talked to you a couple of times in my life. And I know that there's no shortage for all the amazing things that you want to do and accomplish. But sometimes you need to turn it off, and maybe not turn off the new ideas, but turn off the implementing of them. So previously, we have implemented this thing that we just simply called no new ideas. And so every time and as yet no new things, no new things. So whenever a new idea pops up, it's fun to share it for sure. But then the other one looks at her one looks at the other and says But no, no more new things. And then you're like, Okay, we've implemented this, we've done this at almanaque. As we have brought on our first full time employee, we wanted to dedicate the first sort of three months to really onboarding her into all the systems of the business. And in doing so we implemented no new things, none. We did, though, create a notebook where we're keeping all of our new ideas so that whenever this like no new things timeframe is done, we can go back to that notebook and see all the great ideas we've had and choose the things that we want to implement. And I think this is really great for record keeping. But I also intend to use it as a tool of teaching, just to show the team that if we were to implement every new idea, think about like how many things are in that notebook, there's no way we would get all of them done and the work that we have to do. So having no new things, I think implementing our new idea, notebook and understanding that you just cannot implement every idea that you have and that there is a time for the right ones, which is not always now is very important for sustaining growth and then just sustaining once you have grown.

Kathleen Shannon 24:53
I also love leveraging what you have and then growing upon that. So the braid method is how we've been Working upgrade creative for almost the past decade. And even as we expand our business to include things like broader marketing tactics, or, well, let's start with marketing tactics, you still have to go through the braid method first, so that we get to know you and who you are. And then we can do digital advertising. Or we can implement some additional tactics, or we're expanding into buying media, you're still going through the brain methods so that we understand who your target audience is, so that we're getting you on the right channels and in the right platforms, or even as we expand into working with organizations and nonprofits and companies, we're still taking them through the braid method, it might be a modified braid method to work for, how does it look, whenever we're taking a board of 12 people through the braid method versus a single creative solopreneur. So we're always expanding on that base foundation of who we are and how we work because it's how we work best. In order to do that, instead of reinventing the wheel every time, which is sometimes the sexier thing to do. Like

Emily Thompson 26:10
there's not a cow years into it guys exactly. hire some

Kathleen Shannon 26:16
think or you know, even whenever we launched an E course, it was rooted in that foundation of how do we work with people one on one, so we're really just taking, I shouldn't go too far into the course because we no longer offer it. But, you know, is the kind of thing that well, and also no longer offering that was also a decision that helped us streamline and create a sustainable business as well like looking at where our time, energy and money was going. So all of this to say is that build, create a solid foundation and then build upon that even whenever you are building new things and new ideas that it makes sense in your business.

Emily Thompson 26:56
Want to hear a little truth about me. Because of the work that I do building businesses and masterminding with creatives to help them build businesses, I'm a systems snob. If it's not easy to do business with you, I won't do business with you. If I have to fax my order to you because that still exists, I will find someone else. If Facebook is the only way I can contact you. I'm not buying what you're selling. In my experience of business worth my business takes time to make sure that they make it easy to do business. My favorite tool for doing business in a way that's easy for me and my clients acuity scheduling acuity makes it easy for me to schedule meetings, send follow ups and gather information. When it comes to coaching and masterminding interviewing guests here are being boss, chatting with our brand partners, and more acuity scheduling the scheduling assistant that works 24 seven behind the scenes to fill your calendar so that you don't have to, and make it easy for folks to do business with you. For a limited time only you can get 45 days of acuity scheduling absolutely free, no credit card required by going to acuity scheduling, calm slash being boss. Alright, now I want to talk about marketing. Because I think anyone listening this can understand that marketing, unless you're one of those blessed folks. And there are plenty of you out there who don't need to do a ton of marketing, though, I'll be talking a little bit about this in a second. Marketing is a very huge part of what it is that you have to do to have a business. So I want to talk about some some practices that creatives can have to build a sustainable business through having sustainable marketing practices.

Kathleen Shannon 28:47
Well, of course, I'm going to start with branding, because I believe that good marketing starts with good branding, being able to position yourself with solid messaging about who you are, what it is that you do, why you're different, and why people should hire you, while at the same time, your dream customer looking at you and saying Yes, you are. For me. That is what branding is. So having a solid brand is the first step to a solid marketing plan.

Emily Thompson 29:18
I will second this and that. You know, several years ago, I had braid do my branding for my web design company that I ran for eight years. And I think I got you I heard you guys need three years and do it. And that branding, the messaging that you guys created for me, stayed true through a couple of different, not quite total pivots, but shifts in my offering and shifts in my dream customer. All of those things really good branding, sustained my business for years and still to this day. If I were still running that company, it would still be just as true.

Kathleen Shannon 29:54
Well and that's part of it is whenever your business is personal and whenever you're putting yourself into it. Your values are going to come through the branding process that we take you through. And that is who you are. And that's we're always looking for what's never going to change. You know, as business models change as the economy changes as technology changes, things are going to evolve, of course. But what won't change? And how can you leverage your branding so that instead of a rebrand, it feels like the next chapter in your book. And I think that that's what you've done, as you've evolved, Emily, is that you've just layered on these chapters in your book that create one big, beautiful story.

Emily Thompson 30:35
I mean, maybe there's only in chapter three of what I hope is an epic.

Kathleen Shannon 30:41
So what you want to do is think of your brand as the outer layer of your business. It's the front window, it's your website. And what it does is it simply allows you to explain who you are, versus feeling like you constantly have to be selling for me, good branding takes a lot of the egg out of the selling, because you can just simply say what it is that you do. And then I think about the next layer of branding as your content. So I think of that as the newsletters that you're putting out the podcast interviews that you're giving the social media posts that get maybe a little bit more personal, they just continue to support the story of your brand and allow people to connect to you in a way that keeps you top of mind whenever they need to hire someone for whatever it is that you do.

Emily Thompson 31:29
I want to touch on something you just kind of brought up a second ago and one of my most important tactics for good marketing practice is to not oversell your audience. I think that's something that, especially for an overly eager entrepreneur can be very easy, or someone who is maybe just starting out and doesn't quite get the nuances of marketing. Marketing isn't just about selling, selling like hard selling constantly and buy hard sell. I mean, you're telling someone to buy something, as opposed to suggesting an outcome that maybe your product or service could, could help them with. So by hard selling too much, or even soft selling too much, you can oversell your audience, so that they're not going to buy from you anymore.

Kathleen Shannon 32:17
Well, it goes back to what we were saying at the beginning about relationships. So you have relationships with your business friends, you have relationships with your vendors, you also have a relationship with your audience. And it has to feel like a give and take asset, feel good for everybody, you have to be offering value, even if somebody never hires you,

Emily Thompson 32:39
right, because that is the world that we live in these days. And so a good rule of thumb, one of the things that we say, and I, you know, train my team on whenever they are doing marketing is to give, give, give, then sell. And you can take that very literally this idea of like, if you were posting or creating a week's worth of Instagram content, three of every four posts should just be content, just sharing something valuable, something interesting or funny, or whatever it may be, and then sell the fourth one can be selling. And if you do that, then really only one post per week, if you're posting every day is going to be a hard sell. And that's actually posting a product or posting about your service and asking people to click through LinkedIn bio and buy this thing. Similar with your email marketing, give them really great engaging content more often than you're asking them to buy the thing that you're selling, or also in networking events, whenever you are face to face with people. I know that's a touchy subject these days. But if you are at a networking event, don't be the person who's walking up giving out business cards and telling people to call you so they can buy your thing. Have a conversation, give give, give, then sell.

Kathleen Shannon 33:47
I have a question as this relates because we have a wildly different businesses. So you have an almanac, where really a lot of the content that you're posting is viable at the same time. Whereas braid creative, I'm probably only hard selling once a quarter whenever we happen to have an open spot. I mean, we usually have a waitlist for branding projects. So if there's the rare time that we have a couple spots open, I might just send out an email that says hey, by the way, I never feel icky doing it because it really is I think of being of service like I'm doing you a favor letting you know that we have spots open. But for you it's a little bit different because your your product kind of is your content. So how does that work for you?

Emily Thompson 34:29
One of the best ways to do this, if you're product focused is to think about sharing with people how they can use your product as a way of like that giving piece and this can be kind of tricky. There's like some gray area here, but my example is that I sell crystals. And so you know not every post on our Instagram or even in our email newsletter is like, Hey, here's a crystal go by it. It's like here's an affirmation or a mantra or a meditation for this crystal. It's just simply sharing Some information about the product without asking anyone to buy it, maybe they already have one at home. And I'm teaching them how to better use the crystals that they already have. So or another. Another way to think about this is to think about how you can share content that helps support the lifestyle of your product of your product brand. So one of the themes of Almanac is to embrace the season. So every, every turn of the seasons, we're sharing things like Tarot spreads, or forecasts, or meditations, or o or seasonal blessings, you have content that supports the lifestyle that your product can plug into. Simple as that. It's about being creative with how you talk about your product, basically,

Kathleen Shannon 35:48
um, let's touch on social media marketing, because that's like the thing that seems to get the most clicks, whenever we're talking about it. Like people are really excited about social media marketing, it's

Emily Thompson 36:00
also really easy to burn you out. Yes, if you're not doing it sustainably too, for sure. I mean, this is the thing that most This is the number one marketing avenue for most businesses these days, especially those of you who are listening to this podcast. And it's very easy to think that oh, I need to be posting two times a day because that's what makes the algorithm happy. Or this expert says that I need to do this or whatever it may be, I think that you need to define how you need to do it for yourself in your business, and then do that, because anything other than that, and we can talk about really what that looks like, is not going to be sustainable for you. So my biggest thing around this is to create a regular posting schedule for whatever, like whatever platform you're posting on, whether that be a blog, or your Instagram or your email newsletter, but don't overcommit. A lot of times people will be like, I'm going to blog two times a week and post everyday on Instagram and do a weekly newsletter and all of that. And then you literally spend your entire life just making content. And that's no good for your business at all. That is like a mismanagement of your most important resource your time. But by not over committing, and really thinking sustainably about how much time you're going to be putting into your business in terms of especially social media marketing, the better off it will be and having a regular posting schedule will make it easily easier for you to implement.

Kathleen Shannon 37:33
I've had such an interesting relationship with content marketing, because we started as content marketers, and I loved it, I was literally blogging. It's hard to remember, but I think every single day

Emily Thompson 37:47
does, yeah, he did for years. For years, every day.

Kathleen Shannon 37:52
It seems so impossible now that I don't even remember that person who was blogging every day. And then I was instagramming every day and doing lives and stories every day in one capacity or another. And then I was blogging some more and sending out newsletters every week. And then with the burnout, and then just really focusing on client work, I became too busy to do any of it. So one of my goals this year was to really get back into content marketing. Or I don't even like saying content marketing, because for me, it's really engaging, like engaging with my Instagram and newsletter and the people who follow along and read and hit reply. So for me, I had to start small again. So I started just with Instagram, I didn't worry about the newsletter for a little bit, I just started by getting into the rhythm of Instagram. And getting into that rhythm meant creating a content calendar. So on Mondays, it's about something inspiring, maybe a quote, because those are always fun. Tuesday's is about our company culture. So maybe a vignette from the office or highlighting a specific person that we work with. And then Wednesday's is a blog post from the archives. Again, I don't have time to be writing new blog posts right now, leverage what you have guys leveraging what I have. So I'm going back to my archives, and posting old blog posts for content and they're great. I'm like, oh, wow, I wrote this might as well repost it, because if I forgot about it, surely my audience forgot about it too. And then maybe sending out a newsletter on those. Well, I'll get back to that. Then on Thursdays, I'm sharing a case study Fridays, I'm sharing something in pop culture. So all this to say I had to find this editorial content, like this editorial calendar rhythm in order to get excited and then automate it. So this is also a huge part of having a sustainable business is automating your own system. So I know every Monday I'm gonna load up my Instagram for the week, and I'm loading it up so that it publishes itself and that's the it's an hour. It's an hour of work, and it's done. So then from there, once I got to the tene of that after a couple of months, then I can start adding back in newsletters. So now my goal is a newsletter a week, and really trying to hit that. And then after that it might be writing a new blog post, maybe just once a month. But starting small and sustainable is the key to it. And really tackling and gaining confidence in one thing before you add on a new thing,

Emily Thompson 40:21
right, and you're also building repeatable systems that you can hand off to someone in the future, if you ever choose to do so, which is a great idea. One thing I want to add to the social media specifically, actually, literally any marketing channel that you're using is to consistently check your metrics and sometimes be open to changing your tactics. So if you are killing yourself trying to post on Instagram every single day, and you're not paying attention to if it's actually working for you or not, then you're just wasting your time. If you are going to be committing yourself to doing some marketing, also commit yourself to tracking up as to whether or not it's actually working, and use what you're seeing to make decisions moving forward. You don't have to post on Instagram every day, if it's not working for you by any means. We did this at Almanac recently leave some comparisons year over year as to how much money we had generated from Instagram, our website platform gives us some of those metrics and saw that our revenue generated from Instagram actually greatly declined last year, even though my efforts into Instagram had greatly increased. So we decided to spend less time on Instagram this year, because it's obviously not paying off. And that's going to save us a ton of time and not make us any less money. If anything, we can put those efforts into more more effective tactics that will make us more money. So being very aware of how your efforts are like what the ROI is, what the return on investment is, in terms of your time into marketing is imperative to actually making marketing work for you.

Kathleen Shannon 41:57
I disagree. But with a caveat. I'd love to hear it. This is like a classic Emily and Kathleen, this was right olden days, right boss,

Emily Thompson 42:07
let me see Kathleen, okay. So

Kathleen Shannon 42:08
I love the way that you are able to mathematically figure out time and dollars. I mean, I've seen the spreadsheets and we've made some really like easy decisions because of this formula that you use at being boss even. And so I think that that works for something like Almanac where you can directly see, but for something like braid or any other service providers, let's say that you're a coach, I do think it's important to continue to be consistent, maybe not even posting at the frequency that you were at Almanac, that posting with frequency because it's not really about the volume that you need of click throughs and metrics, it's really about providing proof of reliability and consistency for that one person that wants to hire you. So again, this is probably more for a service provider. But if someone's thinking about hiring you, they're checking out your website, and they're like, oh, check out their Instagram, and they see that you've been posting content that's relatable and that they like and resonate with, for the past year consistently, they know that you're showing up, they know that you are engaged in your business and you are there and that you're going to be engaged with them. So that's where that's the only place where I kind of disagree, I think that we would obviously meet in the middle if we hash this out and more. But do you see where I'm coming from on that, like just providing that proof, for sure. But

Emily Thompson 43:33
consistently doesn't need to be two times a day too much exactly like one time a week, it can be just as effective in that scenario as five times a week.

Kathleen Shannon 43:44
Well, also with us specifically on Almanac It was almost like a pendulum because I remember whenever you were like, I'm gonna double down on Instagram, I'm gonna post like two to three times a day and really go hard. And I think if that's what allowed you to see if that experiment worked. Like sometimes I think going all in eliminates a lot of the variables of knowing like, Is this working? Is this not working? So you're probably going from like, I want to completely delete all my Instagram and social accounts, which is where you probably were two years ago, two

Emily Thompson 44:15
or three at a time or two in my life

Kathleen Shannon 44:17
to I'm gonna double down on this. And post three times a day to now you're probably in the middle where the rest of us are. And you're like, I can do a post a day. Right? batch them all together once a month. Spend a few hours on it and be good.

Emily Thompson 44:34
Yeah, yeah, I mean, I think the point here is like, know what your goals are and then track those metrics is I even think do if you were showing up consistently on Instagram once a week for your service based business, but none of your people are on Instagram, then get off Instagram like there are still times when when that is completely relevant, like find the place where people are.

Kathleen Shannon 44:54
Okay, but do you want to hear something funny? Yeah, like one of my biggest clients is on Facebook, and I live really push my Instagram posts to Facebook just for her. And she likes every single post. So like, that's it's funny because it's a single person, but that metric is so incredibly important that it's worth it.

Emily Thompson 45:14
That's funny. I like yeah, okay, I want to move out of social media for just a second because it has, it works for some people, it doesn't always for everyone, but I want to tell you what will always work, no matter what, no matter where the economy is, I mean, it'll obviously be a little different depending on the times, but you have to make word of mouth marketing, easy. Use real people, their real experiences and their connections to market you. And you'll never have to post on Instagram ever, if you don't want to. Because people will generate business for you. You also one, you do this by delivering amazingly, which we talked about a minute ago. And two other ways making it easy. Sometimes that's prompting people in saying whenever you're done with a project, hey, do you have any friends that you know would benefit from working with me, or is asking for reviews of your products, and then over to Facebook to leave a review or do a post it on Instagram, have a hashtag on Instagram so that people can tag that hashtag in relationship to sharing your unboxing or your products on Instagram, there are lots of little ways that you can do that. And I'll tell you, it will make your business if you can get word of mouth marketing flowing for you.

Kathleen Shannon 46:40
And again, good branding allows you to talk about yourself in a way that other people then also know how to talk about you. So one of my favorite exercises for word of mouth marketing is to imagine that you're sitting at a coffee shop, and you're overhearing a couple of people talking about your business. It's someone that's worked with you or bought your product or has hired you. And they're talking to a friend who has no idea who you are or what you do. What is it that they're saying about you? And this is such a cool exercise because it gets you in the mindset of real language, you know, not over jargon, like your languages and over jargon, or you'll start to realize, Oh, my positioning statement or my elevator pitch is a little bit too long. Or here's where they might be comparing me to something that I'm not quite so how do I talk about that in that context? For example, with braid and branding, a lot of people might think that we also do websites, you know, and so whenever I think about my overheard conversation in a coffee shop, they're like, Oh, so did they do your website, I imagined my client being like, no, they actually set me up before with all the assets and words and graphic design that I then give to my web developer, you know, so that's the kind of stuff and then I'm able to say that to potential clients whenever they're asking about website. So think about it as an overheard conversation. And before we go too deep on this one, we are so passionate about word of mouth marketing, we did an entire episode on it. So Episode Number 213, of being boss is word of mouth marketing. Please go back and listen to that one if you haven't already, because we really do a deep dive there.

Emily Thompson 48:21
Yeah, word of mouth marketing will outlive any algorithm change or you know, platform failure, or whatever it is like people will talk about your product. If you deliver amazingly and they know how to talk about it. You want to hear some crazy stats. Listen to this. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, you are less than 50% likely to stick to your resolutions for change. With an accountability partner, your likelihood of accomplishing your goals raises to 65%. That's better, right? But if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person to check in on your shared goals, your chance of success rises to 95%. What this means is that by showing up on a regular basis to share and check in on your goals, you double your chances of accomplishing whatever it is that you're here to accomplish. In the being boss community. We're doing this together. Every Monday bosses from around the world are coming together to check in with each other in what we call our Monday meetup. Whether it's looking back at our beginning of the year goals or mapping out our big tasks for the week, we are committing to sharing and taking this journey together. And guys, we're getting work done. If you're looking for some accountability and some boss friends comm check out the being boss community for as little as $11 per month, you can double your chances of accomplishing your big business goals. And then we'd love to help you along the way. Learn more and join in at being boss dot club slash community.

All right, next up, I want to talk about really top level think like SEO, sort of mindset practices, that one can have to really sustain their business on that very, like, Swift, 30,000 foot view. And we've talked about like, time management, which is, you know, quite granular, like, Where are you spending your time, those sorts of things and, and that specific marketing piece, because so much of our time does go into marketing. But I really want to think of like, big picture business stuff that people need to be practicing to build a sustainable business.

Kathleen Shannon 50:44
Well, the first one I think of is knowing what it is that you're doing. So I know that we talked about where you're spending your time, but what is literally your job. Yeah, and so for me, this was huge whenever it comes to a sustainable business, because it's easy as the CEO, to get bogged down with managing people managing money, like all that big picture, stuff that you're talking about, even toilet, the toilet. But for me, whenever I really look at my job description, I'm a creative director, and I want to be creative. So for me, that means designing, interfacing with clients, working with my art directors and my team to get a product out, directing them, you know, internally, meeting with marketing directors, at organizations, you know, as the creative director of our agency. And so that, for me feels huge is just knowing what it is that you do and what your job description is, and what your job roles and duties, we even have an exercise in the CEO day kit that helps you do this, and then it helps you figure out, Okay, if this is my job role, then what am I doing that I don't want to be doing? And who can I hire to do that. And I have lots of thoughts on hiring and management whenever it comes to how you hire and who you hire. But I want to hear your thoughts first on other big picture things.

Emily Thompson 52:08
Well, before I go into that, I do want to say that yes to this. And I think what makes this session important sustainability practice is that it keeps your relationship with your business happy. When you're spending too much of your time doing the shit that you can't stand doing, you begin resenting the time that you have to spend your business and you're not going to stay in your business for very long. So really pinpointing the parts of your business that you want to be doing and prioritizing those things that you keep a healthier relationship with your business long term.

Kathleen Shannon 52:38
Yeah, because here's the thing is that every job is a job. And I know that our podcast is called being boss, and we're all take control of your work and do what you love and all the things. But at the end of the day, especially in a time, like now, your job is a job, and they're going to be stressful times. And whenever you are clear on what you're doing and why you're doing it and what your actual job is, you can always point back to that true north. And for me, it makes me understand what I'm willing to fight for and what I'm not willing to fight for. You're like what I need to hire out or let

Emily Thompson 53:12
go of, for sure. So you did bring up CEO daycare, which is something that I actually want to talk about. One of the things that we really want bosses to do, to build a sustainable business is to take themselves out of that sort of granular here's what I'm doing every minute of every day or tomorrow or even next week and think about what you're doing for an entire year. We've systemized this using something we call CEO day kit, which is a a set of videos and worksheets that walk you through a planning day that will help you plan for an entire month. And what why this is so important for building a sustainable business is that you can set aside time where you are focused on planning your business. And on that day, you can think about that 30,000 foot view of what are you marketing for the next 12 months? What are you creating for the next 12 months? When are you making your next hire? When are you taking your vacation? When are you doing these things by having this plan in place, you can go at this plan with more sustainable momentum than if you were just like putting out fires and being reactive and just trying to make it do and implement all of your new ideas, all of the things by sitting down once a month. Know once a year for sure. once a quarter, I think at least once a month if you're really gonna do this is very important for you to build a sustainable business. So we do have CEO day kit. You do not need CEO day kit in order to have that 30,000 foot view but it is our favorite tools that are built for creative minds who want to do business.

Kathleen Shannon 54:55
It's also tools that we literally actually use so whenever I'm taking my coaching clients through, I mean coaching, either I'm constantly referring back to this kit. So whether they want to make a hire, or they want to understand what they're marketing and when or even what their goals are for the year, I'm constantly going back to CEO daycare, because we really, truly use it. Again, you can piece it all together, if you're just listening to all of our podcasts, we're giving you a ton of good free information. But I go back to it time and time again. And so I mentioned the job roles and duties so much, probably because I just took one of my coaching clients through it. And we discovered that what she needed hire was not a VA, but a senior account executive who could manage projects like a boss. So actually, I want to talk about hiring really quick because I get asked a lot when to hire and that first hire and this goes into managing like literally being a boss of other people. So my general I'm just gonna quick fire this my general rules of thumb are I hire whenever whenever it was just me at 125% capacity, or whenever it was me and my sister 125% capacity we make our first hire. And so then once they are at 125% capacity, I see okay, where are you overextended? And where do we need help next. So for me, it always feels almost making a hire always feels a little bit like that quitting your day job leap, it always feels like a really big deal. And then the second thing, whenever it comes to managing those employees is just always touching base, we should probably just do a whole separate episode on how to work with your employees. So I'm gonna put a pin in that one. But yeah, hire whenever you're feeling the pain whenever you're feeling at 125%.

Emily Thompson 56:48
I love it. Okay, I want to bring up two things, both money related. Actually, before I bring up those, I do want to go back to marketing really quick, because I think marketing is one of those places where you can easily like just sort of get ahead of yourself in this exercise that we have in SEO daycare, but you obviously don't need SEO to get to do it is to have a marketing calendar that you plan out well ahead of time so that you know when you're or what you're marketing when, so that you are not one selling out your audience. And two, you have a plan in place for that very big chunk of your business. So that's one now there's many things. Let's talk about these because these are two of my favorites. One, pay yourself if at all possible, you should. In this time, I will allow you not to pay yourself because I know things are a little wacky. Hey, you know what? I'm not paying in this

Kathleen Shannon 57:41
time. The government? I'm still pulling a check. But you better believe those quarterlies are put on hold? Yeah, right. I don't. I don't know. Maybe Yeah, no, you can post that, Cory because that's where I'm at.

Emily Thompson 57:56
Yeah, and I think the again, the asterisk around that is only because like shits real.

Kathleen Shannon 58:03
And the Asterix, you'll go to jail if you don't pay your taxes. So eventually I'll pay them but right,

Emily Thompson 58:09
I think you cannot at the moment for a little while, which is nice. I think they're working on some sort of extensions. We'll see. We'll see. Regardless, pay yourself if at all possible and as much as you possibly can. Because again, this is like one of those sustaining a healthy relationship with your business. You didn't start this so that you could starve you didn't start this or that you lose your house. You didn't start this so that you could be in financial pain consistently you started this so that you could have an abundant bank account. So prioritize that and my favorite resource for this and this is actually like money. Tip number two is to follow the profit first model for how it is that you manage the money in your business. Profit first is a book written by a man named Mike mccalla wits, he we had him on the being boss episode to talk about profit first previously, if I'm not mistaken, it was Episode 126 speak and check the show notes to double check that and this book gives a very clear guideline for how it is you should be dividing up the money that comes into your business to cover the important parts of your business expenses such as owners compensation, setting aside money for taxes that you either pay now or pay later. Setting aside money for your operating expenses, which includes being able to pay your team and those sorts of things. If you put this into place for your business, it is a health indicator for your business and a health indicator is an indication of the sustainability of your business and it also builds in your ability to pay yourself so when it comes to building sustainable business that is my sort of number one tactic and oh, it's just a really good important one. And Mike mccalla Wits will be one of the speakers at the being boss conference which is now going to be held online. Just A couple of days after this episode goes live. So if you do want to join us there who will be answering some questions about profit first, but he'll also be answered talking about some time management thing, which is gonna be amazing. Anyway, that's the thing. Probably first, your business please though, please,

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:17
I second all of that with profit First, it really helps you see the health of your business, a lot of us might be shaken up a little bit right now. So it gives you something to aim toward. But there's a big mindset shift to in paying yourself and for me, with any sort of newbie boss who's just now getting set up, you want to open a business bank account. And you're gonna have to have some things in place like an LLC, and you can figure all of that out. I think we have episodes about it, like the actual logistics of that kinds of stuff. But have a bank account and literally move money from your bank account to your personal account. I know far too many people who are just leaving money in their bank account because they're thinking of it as well. This is all my money anyway, so I'm just gonna leave it here. No, literally, if you can write yourself a check, because I also think there's some magic in that there is some magic in writing yourself a check and depositing it into your personal bank account, that you've done the work and that you earned it.

Emily Thompson 1:01:17
No, I love it. I feel like we've sort of covered a very real gamut of all of the most basic and important practices for literally any business owner to build a sustainable business high five. Thanks for listening. And hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations and more. Go to our website at www dot beam boss dot club.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:48
Do the work the boss