Spend your energy wisely. Automation, and any other duplicatable process, allows you to minimize the time it takes to execute your processes and frees up time for you and your team to think about how you can improve those same processes. The more value you can extract from a single hour of your day, the greater the outcome that you are ultimately trying to achieve as a company.
Conducting one-on-ones with every single member of your team not only creates a culture of transparency; it potentially transforms the quality of your output almost overnight. But how can you incorporate one-on-ones in a repeatable, time-efficient way?
Today’s guest answers that question. We have interviewed Stephanie Scheller, the founder of Grow Disrupt, to discover best practices for setting up a system that allows you to spend your energy entirely on what you love to do while keeping your business growing.
1) What led you to become a business and leadership coach?
I’ve always had this obsession with processes, even when I was young. I remember reading the Cheaper by the Dozen books and being amazed at how the dad was able to buy his family a massive house by providing feedback on how to streamline processes. After college, I had a lot of experience as a marketing consultant, as well as a salesperson, before I decided to start my own sales training business, which eventually shifted into a consultancy for small businesses.
2) What were some of your worst experiences as an entrepreneur?
A year and a half after starting my sales training business, I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my professional life. I wanted to be a business trainer and put together business events. Someone suggested that I put on an actual event. So I recruited a bunch of speakers for our very first Grow retreat back in 2016. It was a good event, and I enjoyed putting it together. It was freeing to discover that I didn’t have to be the expert—I could just hire the experts and provide the tools that business owners need to grow their companies.
So, we’re coming up on next year’s retreat. It was late at night and I was stressing out because we were lacking money. I needed to sell more tickets just so I could break even. I added up all the bills I needed to pay off by the end of the year and realized that I needed to get paid about $90,000 in three months. I’ve never even made $30,000 in a single month at that point. I couldn’t sleep that night.
3) How did you solve that problem?
I didn’t have a ton of tools at my disposal to deal with that at the time. Around 1:30 the next morning, I sat up in bed and picked up my laptop because I couldn’t sleep. The only thing I could think of doing was to make posts on social media. I texted my coach later for help. We sat down and he gave me a handful of strategies. One of them was to go back to my list to run what we call the “marketing touch strategy”. We had a list of about 800 people. If I sold all of my tickets for the event, I’d be fine. I reached out to everyone on that list and followed up accordingly. I actually hired an assistant, Rachel, who would run our marketing touch strategy by sending emails and setting up appointments on my behalf.
4) If you could talk to yourself four years ago and offer just one system to make your entire process more efficient, what would that system be?
For a long time, I only did marketing and sales coaching. People would ask me about how to manage their people, and I always replied that you need to run one-on-ones with your team. Cover these three things: 1) What’s gone well over the last period (weekly or monthly); 2) What could have been improved; 3) What are the goals for the upcoming period?
5) What’s the importance of doing these one-on-ones?
My team and I are constantly communicating and we’re all on the same page. But the reason we do the one-on-ones is that it creates a very specific safe space for them to come to me with problems of what I’m doing, as well as for me to come to them with problems. It creates a space where nothing is personal. It takes away the temptation to send emails saying, “By the way, it drives me crazy when you do this…” I know I can be honest during the one-on-ones because you’re in this headspace to receive feedback.
As a business owner, I’m always setting goals for the company; but my team is not always setting goals. So, having this regular meeting creates a space that incentivizes us to think and speak openly about the same topics and issues. I’ve seen the quality of my team’s work transform overnight as a result of implementing one-on-ones.
6) What software do you use to manage your one-on-ones?
Currently, we have a Google Doc, but as we get more sophisticated with our meetings, I actually want to move it into our CRM, so that instead of our notes being in different places, the team can now access them from the same source.
If you really want to bring out the best from your employees, you need to realize that not everybody is motivated and incentivized the same way you are. These one-on-ones are a really great way to figure out what you need to do to reach each individual in your team. It’s like the 5 Love Languages—everyone feels appreciation in their own, unique ways. Having your one-on-ones tied to an automated software system is a very clear and easy way to create process improvement.
7) What sorts of individuals or businesses do you typically work with?
We work with businesses that are already in growth mode and are looking to “cut the struggle curve” (as opposed to “cut the learning curve”). I focus on the energy advantage: Why would you waste your energy struggling?
We also do a lot of events—both online and live. We do some business consulting, primarily in the marketing and sales arena; but we want to bring you to the event that is the right fit for you. Our events are application-focused and they work best with those in growth mode. We can try speaking with stagnant businesses, but we have the most fun with and create the most impact for growing companies.
8) What are the first steps a small business has to consider when looking to scale?
The great thing is, if you’re growing by referral, you are the quality control; but you need to put together a system to grow beyond the hours you physically put into the work. You can build a really solid marketing plan that really emphasizes and brings out that referral tendency. Wouldn’t it be phenomenal if you could generate ten times as many referrals because you’re doing it intentionally?
You need a really strong marketing message. You need to know who you’re targeting (Hint: It’s not “everybody”). Your message needs to get beyond your tagline. Your message is, “What are you sharing with people?”
Your most valuable resource is neither your time nor your money. It’s your energy. Whatever you can minimize or outright remove from your process by incorporating repeatable systems will allow you to continue doing what you love without your energy getting sapped by, say, administration, and other minutiae. When we’re faced with things that we don’t love to do, we are tempted to put it off and may end up taking twice the time we needed to carry out the task. What’s more, at that point, we’re exhausted.
Do the things you love, and automate or outsource the rest of it. You’ll be amazed at how your entire business or department will thrive. Conducting one-on-ones and documenting your sessions via a CRM will do wonders for productivity and make business growth enjoyable for every member of your team.
Homework: Now that you know the importance of conducting one-on-ones and managing them via your company’s CRM, what are the first few areas you plan to cover with your team in order to encourage growth? How can you improve your marketing plan by defining your message more strongly?
Learn more about Stephanie Scheller here: