I talk a lot about my trademark program, Self Care Through Scaling™. It’s something I learned the hard way, and I coach my clients so they can get there faster. In my latest YouTube video, I explain what Self Care Through Scaling™ is, and how I burnt out (and then learned) to do it for my own business.
Meet Bri Luginbill, coFounder of People Picture Co and Better Body Image Conference. In order for her businesses to grow, she had to scale. Here is what she learned. Catch her tomorrow in the Fempreneur Forum for this month’s workshop on Scaling!
What got you interested in becoming an Entrepreneur?
I think I’ve always had an entrepreneur spirit. When I was in 5th grade, I started “The Animal Club.” We met bi-weekly and we had $1 dues each meeting. During these meetings we talked about our love for animals and what types of activities we’d like to do to help animals. We volunteered at animal shelters together and then we saved up our dues and donate $100 to one of the shelters. I guess you could call that my first business.
From there I always had part-time jobs in different areas from a clerk at a local consignment shop to serving at a restaurant. In college I then worked with special needs children and adults and then became interested in documentary photography and writing. I loved the connection with people and learning their story.
What do you love about what you do?
I’m all about the people. I love connecting with new people and staying connected with old friends and colleagues. I think what I love most about People Picture Co and now Better Body Image Conference is the mentoring. I really love seeing what people like to do and helping them grow in their skills. Whether it be my clients or my co-workers and contractors. The one things that’s hard for me is I can care so much that it’s hard for me to see people go through hard situations whether through their business or personal growth. I want people to succeed so much and I really care about them a lot.
Tell me a story from your work.
Hipster Santa – one of my best PR moves. This year since I was more freed up to do business development and public relations, I worked with Abbey from the Paper Studio and others on my team to create Sessions with Hipster Santa. A Santa that you didn’t just have your kids visit, but adults, pets, etc. We wanted to show that there was a more inclusive Santa out there than the mall Santas – so we went to different communities and had him be photographed with people at the PRIDE center, the Hispanic Center and many more!
What has Scaling meant for your career?
Scaling has meant that I can focus more on Public Relations and Sales as well as mentoring and training our contractors.
What do you suggest for any Fempreneur who is starting to scale their business?
I suggest finding business partners, employees, or contractors that have different strengths than yourself. A company needs an assortment of personalities and skills to survive.
The 70-hour plus work week is a sham. Pride in overwork is misdirection. These cliche’s are completely false, and they are distracting thousands of Entrepreneurs from the truth: something in your business is out of balance.
In fact, you could easily be working less than 10 hours a week on your business. You should also be making more in those 10 hours than you did in the 70 hours you used to work. Think I’m crazy? Read on to learn more about the amazing effects of Scaling a business.
What’s out of whack?
If you are working more than 40 hours a week in order to earn a living, something is truly out of balance in your company. Typically there are two possibilities – either you’re charging too little or your lead generation pipeline is broken.
Charging Too Little
It is all to common that women charge too little for their products and services. Especially services. Over and over I’ve seen my clients undervalue their time out of a place of giving. I love that my clients have big hearts, but our time is valuable! It is used to make sales, project manage, order inventory, and more. If you give all your time for free, you will quickly find that you are hurting your company and its growth.
If you feel like you may be undercharging, look at your competitors — in all markets. I happen to live in a city that has extremely low cost of living, so it would be easy to price myself lower than the true value of my work. If I had done so and had a consultation with someone in New York City, they would have thought I was way underpriced (and probably not worth their time). Your pricing matters, not only to ensure you make what you should, but so others believe in your worth.
Alternatively, you may be priced on par, but your lead pipeline is broken, so you’re spending way more time hustling for clients and customers than you should be. I tend to see this in clients who equate sales with sleazy used car dealers (and the like).
First of all, sales and marketing are two different things. Marketing is your pipeline. Sales is what happens once someone reaches you through the pipeline. You need both.
Look over your lead generation over the past few months. How are you doing? Did you get many leads but not convert them, or are you not getting many leads at all?
If you’re providing a service and either of these is broken for you, I highly suggest taking a look at the book “Book Yourself Solid“. It walks you through creating your Target Market, how to talk about your business, and then how to create the pipeline for marketing your work.
But I’m the only one that can do this!
Wrong. If you truly were the only person in the world that could do what you do, you would be making way more money, and probably for an institute or organization. So let’s rework this mindset.
I used to think I was the only one who could create websites that went deep into my client’s target markets. I certainly am the only website developer in my city that has a degree in Anthropology. While that is unique, that didn’t make me the only person in the world who could do what I did — or even the only person in the city.
In fact, once I stopped being stubborn and started looking for someone who could do what I did, I found someone even better. That’s right. Instead of finding someone who was as good as I am, I found someone who is even better. Not only does she have the ability to see into the minds of others, she is also certified in other tools that I am not, and dreams up way cooler design for our clients.
What about the techniques and systems I had created specifically for my company? I trained her on those, and she rocks them out from her unique point of view. Since hiring her, our portfolio has quadrupled, all because I now have more time to sell and market our services.
Hiring a VA
Perhaps you’re not ready for employees. That’s alright. You still are doing work you shouldn’t be, like scheduling your social media posts, writing up contracts or proposals, ordering supplies, and more. Yes, you need to oversee some of this through daily, weekly, or monthly checkins, but you don’t need to be doing these things, yourself.
This is when an Intern, Virtual Assistant, or Personal Assistant is absolutely the right fit. They can be available to you as little as one hour a week, and they free up the valuable time you use to bring home the bacon. More time to sell and create partnerships equals more money!
I am a big fan of Shared Hands (my friend’s VA company) which is 100% based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The fabulous part of their service is if you do happen to grow to fill your Assistant’s time, you can buy out their contract and bring them on as an employee of your business.
Systems, systems, systems
Finally, it may be that you are spending too much time working simply because you need to systemize. How much time do you spend scrambling when a new client comes on? I once asked a new client how she would feel if she had ten new clients sign that day. She said she’d probably run away — she didn’t know how she would manage onboarding that many clients.
The truth is ten new clients should make you jump for joy. If it doesn’t, or if you feel like you’re spending extra time doing small tasks, it may be that you need better systems. Take a look at your repetitive processes. Is your contract standardized? How do you onboard your clients? Do you have standard milestones that can be a part of an automated system?
Some of these things must be created internally, but some of them can be outsourced to an app. For example, I found I was spending a lot of time emailing back and forth to schedule meetings. I now use an app called Calendly which does it for me. Some CRMs come with automation that handles your entire sales process for you. Make use of such services to ensure your time is free to do the work that matters — and to see your family once in a while.