“For the first time in 20 years, my business is running without my fingers in it!”
For those of you participating in our programs, Christeen Era is a familiar, and greatly appreciated person. Christeen has a special story. Setting up her business to run without her direct involvement became mission critical a few short months into our work together when Christeen announced her pregnancy. Would we pull it off? Read on…
“I reached out to Dr. Sabrina when I was really at a point with my business trying to figure out what direction I wanted to go with it.
I was asking myself, ‘Do I want to downsize my business and make it only me, or do I want to get to the point where I could hire people and expand so I can better service the clients that I have?' To a degree, I felt like I was doing them a disservice by not being able to give them 100% of how I run my business and service them.
I was at a crossroads, deciding, ‘Am I going to go left? Am I going to go right?' Of course, the option of no employees, downsizing, working on my own, dealing with my own things, it was very attractive because it was the easy road. But, the employee side, there were all these considerations and worries if I were to go down that road.
The other aspect was my vision of moving my business to completely exist in the Cloud, and be a Cloud based accounting company, 100% green, and move the clientele I had towards that direction, because I know that is the future of accounting. It was the dilemma, ‘If I do that by myself, it's going to be a nightmare. I need somebody to help me.' I knew that the longer, more treacherous road was the right road. I had to figure out how I was going to get there.
I attended an annual conference intending to hone in on the parts of my business vision that made me cringe— employees, expansion, growth, and everything else. The last class I took was one on Profit First. It stuck with me the most. I started considering, ‘Okay, this is consulting I can offer my clients.' I got an email almost instantly introducing Dr. Sabrina and the opportunity to take part in Tap the Potential's Profit Maximizer Consultation where I qualified to take part in the Tap Your Profit Potential Analysis™ of my business.
I've worked with businesses for many years, doing accounting and consulting. The SWOT opportunity really spoke to me, because I could relate, in working with my clients, the struggles and difficulties they had, and the guidance I gave them. But, as an entrepreneur and business owner, when it comes to your own business, you have horrible discipline.
It was an area I constantly lacked in— doing my own accounting, or my own admin, or my own expansion, or implementing the things that I instructed my clients to do. The SWOT opportunity really spoke to me because it would give me the direction that I needed. Not only would it give me an inside peek on implementing Profit First in my business, but it would give me the perspective of, ‘How could I implement it and become a consultant to assist my clients further in succeeding in their businesses?'
That was the upside, but the other thing that I really liked about it was that I have a tendency to run in many different directions and try to get too many things done at one time, and I think that's just the nature of the beast when you're a business owner, and it's also your worst nightmare. You solve your biggest problems in your sleep, 'cause it just doesn't stop.
I knew that if I was going to accomplish anything, I needed a plan, and I needed somebody else to look at my business, just like I look at my clients' business, to find out, ‘What is my plan, how am I gonna get there, and what is it that I'm trying to accomplish, and what's most important?' Because what I may think is more important may not be the thing that's going to get my business from point A to point B the fastest. It's just my biggest obsession or worry.
Tap the Potential's Analysis gave me a plan of how to get where I'm going, and what are the things I need to focus on, which led to, the next step was I couldn't do this by myself. I needed somebody to help me get from point A to point B as fast as possible.
Before working with Dr. Sabrina, my business was structured where I was doing all of the closes, all of the checks and balances, 100% of making sure everybody was satisfied, and everybody met their deadlines, which made my life miserable and tax season a complete nightmare! Then on top of it, I have this dream of growing my business, and implementing all these technologies, and developing a new website, and 100 other things. How was I going to do that myself?
My biggest dread, which I think all business owners have, is employees. Even if they start out great, they end up your worst nightmare. I've seen it, not only in my business, but I've seen it with my clients’ businesses, as well.
I took Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best Workshop, and I also read another book she recommended. I started writing out a process to interview and find an A-Player. I learned how to really look at the aspect of hiring and how it's going to fit in their business, not only financially, but what purpose is that person supposed to have, and what problems are they supposed to solve?
While I was going through my process of implementing the hiring process and doing the interviews and everything else, I was able to take those tools and help two of my clients hire some key players that have worked out very well for both of them. In turn, I ended up hiring an accountant that has the experience and is at my level, so I don't have to do everything on my own.
When I started working with Dr. Sabrina, my team consisted of me and a limp-along subcontractor, who drove me bananas half the time. Two months later, I hired an assistant who was so capable that I turned her into a bookkeeper. She's gone through her certifications, and she's been trained one on one by me, on how to deal with the clients. She has taken a lot of work off of me and helped me with business development. Then we hired an accountant, who's now doing things that I would typically do, and she's doing them the way that I would do them.
I now have two employees who are working almost full time, about 30 to 35 hours a week, who are taking the weight off my shoulders, and they're tending to my clients the way that I need them tended to. On top of it, we've implemented all of the Cloud technology that was on our wishlist. The clients are truly embracing it, and are very thankful.
Just 11 months ago, before working with Dr. Sabrina, we didn't have one process documented. Every client now has a complete workflow and writeup of process, from their payroll, to their monthly closes, to their specialty needs that they may have. They're all available, not only to my accounting staff, but also to them as business owners, which makes them feel more secure.
We are also almost done with developing our new website, which my assistant/bookkeeper has contributed to quite a bit. We also have a company workflow calendar, so we all know what everyone of us is doing for what client and when, and we maintain that.
In addition to that, we now have one on one meetings, where I meet with each one of my employees on a weekly basis to go over what they're working on, their struggles, what processes we can improve, where there may be hiccups in our workflow, not only with the clients' workflow, but internally. We have team meetings where we just come together and we talk about what we're working on.
Currently, everybody knows what everybody else is doing. Even if we're not working in the client file, we know how to work in the client file. If somebody disappears, we don't go down, which is a really big achievement, as any business owner knows, where the left hand usually doesn't know what the right hand is doing. We've managed to figure out the processes to make that happen.
We all work remotely and we live in all different states. We're not under one office. I'm in Colorado, one of my employees is in California, the other one's in Oregon, so we're kind of spread out all over the place.
Recently, I sent my assistant/bookkeeper through Tap the Potential's Leadership Bootcamp because I noticed her hesitation here and there, when we would have conference video calls.
Since she has gone through Leadership Bootcamp, she now leads by example, not only through her actions, but through her words, and I don't have to be the only one saying these things. I'm confident that the level of professionalism that she is displaying is to my satisfaction.
Leadership Bootcamp not only uncovered the things that she was struggling with in the company and helped her to grow and move forward, but it also helped her in her personal life, which is really big to me.
I want to make sure that all of my employees have that wonderful work-life balance where they love their job, and they want to come back to it regularly because I want to invest in them, to where they really provide top-notch service to my clients, they make my life easier, and they're going to be dedicated and loyal. That's really hard buy-in to get from anybody.
When you bring on an employee, you're presenting this gem to them, that you've worked your whole life on, and you're saying, ‘Hey, nurture, and love, and care for this as I do.' You try to figure out how to convince them to do that. You worry they are going to burn out.
Since my employee has gone through Leadership Bootcamp, those worries we have as business owners are gone. I know she's not going to get overwhelmed, she's not going to burn out, she's going to know how to handle certain situations, and if any of challenges come up, she's going to feel more than comfortable communicating those to me.
The other thing that I got out of Leadership Bootcamp that is just priceless, is she now stands where I stand, to where she can help guide the other employee and future employees in the company, and I don't have to be the only voice that is being heard when it comes to, ‘This is the business structure, this is the business process, this is how we communicate with our clients, and this is how responsive we are.’
Leadership Bootcamp brought these things out of her. It was something that was there, she just didn't know how to piece it together, and I didn't exactly know how to communicate how I wanted her to piece it together. Leadership Bootcamp was a great experience for her to do on her own. I was involved and learned how to support her, and continue to support her, but I wasn't there telling her how I expect her to be. She developed this on her own through Leadership Bootcamp.
My expectations of where we would be right now, 11 months since I started, continue to just blow my mind, where I'm like, ‘Wow, we have all these processes documented,' or ‘This workflow's done.' I'm not getting as many emails with them asking me, ‘Hey, how am I supposed to do this?' and me going it over with them for the 20th time, because it's documented and it's in writing, they know what to do. They have their resources.
The other thing is that one of the reasons why I was looking at making these changes in my business was, my husband and I wanted to have a baby. I knew that if these changes weren't made, and these problems weren't solved, it was going to be an ultimate nightmare for me. I didn't know how I was going to be able to take that time off of work, or be a mom, and at the same time run my business. My business consumes 40 plus hours a week.
I was hopeful that by the time the due date came and we had our baby, that we would be able to take the time off and not worry about it, but I really didn't think that that was something that was going to be achieved. My thought was, ‘Okay, I'll go. I'll deliver. I'll take maybe two days off, and I'll just continue to pop in my office for two to four hours a day, keep my phone glued to my hip so I can manage all emails, and I'll figure it out. Baby in one hand, business in the other, and it will all be fine.'
As time approached, over the last couple months, it really started to become real to me where I'm like, ‘Oh. I think I can actually take some time off.' Then my clients started asking, ‘Hey, when are you going to take this maternity leave? When are you going to clock out for a while?', which communicated to me that my clients are comfortable and confident with my team, that they're really not worried about me stepping aside for a little bit.
Then I started planning out my maternity leave, and when it was going to happen, and how long I was going to take off, and it was not something that was in my plans to be able to accomplish something like that. That's above and beyond where I thought I would be 11 months ago when I was standing at that crossroads thinking, ‘Am I gonna go right or am I gonna go left?'
It is just a relief to know that at this point, I can take that time off. My team knows what they're doing. They have my back, and my clients are totally comfortable with it. This is the first time, really, in being in business for 20 years, of being an entrepreneur, that I ever had this ability to step back, and my business is going to continue to function without my fingers in it 100% of the time.
That comes from Tap the Potential's Analysis, it comes from hiring the right people, it comes from sending them through Tap the Potential’s additional programs to really find their strengths, and continue to get them invested in your business. It also comes from working with other business owners through the Small Group meetings that we have, and seeing their struggles. It's also great from my side as a business owner and an accountant, to contribute to helping them through their struggles because that's my passion. That's why I do what I do.
I also have a client going through Tap the Potential's Small Group Program,. I've seen him grow and his company grow by leaps and bounds through the program. I've seen my company grow, and I can see how it helps all of these other business owners who are involved.
They're getting sanity, and they're loving their business again! It's not a nightmare, and it's not a struggle, because they're being given the tools they need to succeed, and the direction to focus on the right things. That is what's really feeding their success.”
Congratulations, Christeen! Your focused work is paying off. You have a lot to celebrate.
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