94. Scaling Your Online Business By Outsourcing Your Business Management With Kat Jarman

 
 
00:00 /
 
1X
 

Do you want to run your business successfully while gaining more time or yourself? Meet Kat Jarman.

In this episode of the Bean Ninjas Podcast, Kat Jarman of Your Online Team, joins us to talk about operations management.

If you want to learn more about building and running remote teams, systems and processes, communication, then the information in this episode will truly benefit you. It’s high time for you to give importance to something that can contribute so much to the scalability of your business.

In this episode, we discuss:

[01:17] The difference between visionaries and integrators.
[02:24] Kat Jarman’s definition of an online business manager.
[04:31] Problems of entrepreneurs who can benefit from online business managers.
[06:10] The story of how Kat Jarman got into her current business.
[07:56] The status of her current team and business.
[09:08] Meryl’s experience with a business manager at Bean Ninjas.
[12:05] Steps on optimizing online businesses and team effectiveness.
[13:37] Secret #1: Have clarity around your goal and vision.
[17:43] Secret #2: Effective team communication.
[22:22] Types of communication and channels she recommends.
[24:46] Working through team members in different time zones
[26:18] Tips on how to effectively use Slack.
[31:11] Secret #3: The power of systems.
[33:00] Tips and techniques for storing systems and procedures.
[36:44] Thinking about having a right-hand person.

Transcription

Scaling Your Online Business By Outsourcing Your Business Management With Kat Jarman

Announcer Welcome to the Bean Ninjas Podcast, where you get an all-access pass to see what happens behind the closed doors of a fast-growing global bookkeeping and financial reporting business.

Meryl:

Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Bean Ninjas Podcast. I’m back recording again on the Gold Coast today and talking with Kat Jarman who’s just up the road on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

I’m talking with Kat today about all things related to operations management, talking about building and running remote teams, systems and processes, and communication. And a lot of entrepreneurs, I think, have a blind spot when it comes to operations. They might be great at strategy, vision at bringing in sales, and that’s great for topline revenue growth, but isn’t necessarily helping with the profit that they’re making because they haven’t systemized their operations, and is therefore inefficient, not profitable, or it’s just causing a lot of stress and overwhelm, and it feels a bit chaotic.

We talked about visionaries and integrators, and I wanted to give a quick definition around that for those of you that aren’t aware of the framework from Rocket Fuel. And in Rocket Fuel, they talked about visionaries as basically like an entrepreneur’s personality profile.

And the visionary is the greatest strategy, big-picture thinking, looking into the future and seeing where the opportunities are. And often they’re not so great at details and holding people accountable, running projects to get things done.

And that’s where the integrator comes in. And the integrators, they’re great at details and pushing along projects, making sure that everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing and by when; hitting their targets.

And within the context of the Rocket Fuel framework, the integrator role is very similar to an Operations Manager or an Online Business Manager. So having that context, I think, will help with the discussion that I have with Kat.

Enjoy. I’m sure there’s some juicy tips in there that you can apply in your own businesses.

Hey Kat, welcome to the show.

Kat:

Hey there. Thank you so much for having me.

Meryl:

So, Kat, you’re the founder of Your Online Team, which is a boutique Online Business Management Agency. Could you start by defining what is an Online Business Manager?

Kat:

That is an excellent question. So an Online Business Manager is – that’s probably a term that’s only sort of been a thing, I guess, over the last couple of years. And some people know there’s an Online Business Manager, but in more traditional terms, I would say that it’s more; if you think of it as an Operations manager or perhaps a Project Manager, that sort of thing.

So we help online business owners predominantly. We have a few brick and mortar businesses that we help, but mostly online business owners – free themselves up from the day-to-day operations of their business so that they can get on with doing the more important things that they should be doing that comes with being CEO of their company.

Meryl:

Wow. That sounds super helpful. I know, just from the entrepreneurial circles that I’m part of, that a lot of entrepreneurs are great at the idea – the vision strategy relationships, but when it comes to to-do-lists or getting the repetitive work done, they might not be so strong in that area. But sometimes, they need a bit of help identifying that weakness, too.

Kat:

That is true. That is true. Yeah. And most entrepreneurs, you think about the lifespan of an entrepreneur, they start; they’re probably bootstrapping it when they begin so they wear all the hats. And then eventually, hopefully, they become successful, and they start to make some money, and things get busier, they hire a team, and that’s when wearing all the hats doesn’t necessarily work out very well because most of the entrepreneurs, like you just said, are the visionary.

And the visionary, generally, is a really, really bad Operations Manager. So the two don’t really go hand-in-hand that well. It works okay when the business is smaller, but as the business starts to grow, that’s when travel can really stop.

Meryl:

Let’s dig into that a little bit. There might be some people listening to this that might identify with being a visionary but not have had that defined before. And I know I touched on that briefly, but what are some of the traits you see of these entrepreneurs that can really benefit from an Online Business Manager? What are some of the problems that they’re facing in their business or some of the things that they’re not doing that well?

Kat:

Yeah. So some of the problems that we see; we quite regularly hear people say things like, “I spend all day answering questions from my team,” or “I have no idea what my team is doing,” or “I have to do everything myself because nobody else knows how to do it,” the entrepreneur that is perhaps working 50 or 60-hour weeks.

And they know that they don’t want to do that but they can’t see any way out because they kind of feel like nobody does things as well as they do, and they don’t have the organizational skills to be able to break that down and go, “Okay. How can I get myself out of this mess?” because they’re so big picture. Visionaries are generally really big picture.

And if you take that and then try and break it down into little steps, and go, “Okay. How am I going to get myself out of this?” There’s just a disconnect in their brain between taking the big picture and then breaking it down and being able to think about, “Okay, my team. How can I use them more effectively? What can I do to make sure that I put procedures in place so that they know what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis?” But it just doesn’t really come naturally to most entrepreneurs.

Meryl:

And how did you get into this business or discovering that there was an opportunity in the market? Could you give a little bit of the backstory around that?

Kat:

Of course. So it was a little bit by accident because I naturally am; I tend to lean a little bit more towards the visionary entrepreneurial type. And so, I ran my own online business for probably four or five years until I had my second child. And when she was a baby, I was just tired and I didn’t really want to run my own business anymore because it was still in the moderately successful phase; I was still doing a lot of things myself. And having a newborn, I just didn’t want to be all the things to my business anymore.

So I literally just stopped doing it and started doing some work in a project management capacity for some of my most successful entrepreneurial friends. And that’s kind of how it evolved. I realized that a lot of them just needed somebody that was similar level to them in experience and had the ability to be organized, push projects forward, help out managing teams and things like that.

And I found that I was actually pretty good at it. Even though I do lean more towards visionary; Meryl, you and I have talked about how we’re a bit of both. So we can kind of be really good in operations and be really good with the vision as well. Doesn’t always happen that way, but I found I could be pretty good at that side of it. And it gave immense value to my entrepreneurial friends and it kind of just grew from there.

Meryl: 

And so, what does your team or your business look like now?

Kat:

So what we do is generally help out entrepreneurs who are at the level where everything’s getting a bit crazy. They find us. We’ll go through and do a bit of an order or a strategy session and kind of break down everything operations. So when I’m talking about operations, I’m talking about projects that they want completed, systems they have in place; like their back end workflow; team, communication, that sort of thing.

So we’ll go in and we’ll identify things that need to be; maybe tweaked a little bit, or fixed, or maybe there’s no systems at all. And then, we will start working with people on a retainer basis to help them, push them in the right direction.

And some of them will be big enough to need a full-time Online Business Manager. Generally, that’s not what we’re offering. We’re kind of bridging the gap between somebody being able to use us for ten hours a week as opposed to someone needing a 40-hour a week full-time Online Business Manager.

Meryl:

Yeah. And I wanted to share a story from my own experience with Bean Ninjas. We actually ended up; we call the role Operations Manager, but I think it’s very similar to Online Business Manager where we ended up with one by accident. And it was a game-changer.

And we have a blog post about this, but I haven’t really talked about it on the podcast before. But Fiona joined us as a Project Manager; just came on board for one project around helping us to document processes and move it into a different piece of software. And that project went really well, so it led into a couple other projects.

And then I realized that back then, I had a lot of different team members as well as contractors reporting to me, and I didn’t have anyone helping; it was me holding those people accountable, following up on all the projects, making sure that everything was delivered on time.

And then Fiona stepped into that role, which evolved into an Operations Manager role. And all of a sudden, all of these different contractors were reporting to her. She was holding everyone accountable, making sure the deadlines are hit, the projects were pushed along. And then, I was just communicating with her; so communicating with one person and getting updates rather than five or six different contractors.

And that was amazing. It freed up time, but it freed up so much headspace as well around not having to think about all these different elements of the project. And I would say, I think in a business, you can grow slowly, and then you make these leaps when different things change, or you try something new.

And for us, that was one of those leaps at Bean Ninjas where it really felt like having an Operations Manager took us to the next level and enabled me to work on other projects. It was incredible.

Kat:

Yeah, it does. And I like that that happened to by accident. That’s really cool. It must have been the best feeling when you realized that, “Hey, I’ve got some of my time back.” And I think also the key there is that you actually let somebody else in to help you. Because quite often, the stressed-out entrepreneur that’s working 50 or 60 hours a week, sometimes, they can be their own worst enemy. And they won’t let anybody else help.

So there is a really good lesson there is you actually have to let that happen. And it’s not always going to be quick and easy and straightforward, but you can take baby steps. So you got her to manage just the one project, and then it kind of grew from there. And the end result is pretty awesome.

Meryl:

Yeah, you’re right. And I did have to learn to do a bit of letting go there. And I think by easing in around doing one project, and we actually use that for part of our recruitment process now where we do a project, or if it’s accounting work, then we’ll do some tests accounting work together.

And I find that that’s a really nice way of seeing whether someone needs a good fit for the team. And in an interview, you could say you’re great at hitting deadlines, but when there’s a practical project, then it’s easy to see what someone can deliver.

So I wanted to turn the conversation now to the topic of optimizing online businesses and team effectiveness. And I know you’ve got some steps around how to do that, specifically for virtual teams. I was wondering if you could talk through those three areas.

Kat:

Yup, sure. So one of the things that we get asked about the most, or when we do videos or anything like that, the most popular thing that we talk about or get asked about is to do with teams because I think everybody struggles with teams.

Sometimes, they start with the Filipino Virtual Assistant, and maybe they have a few of those. And then they have maybe a copywriter or a graphic designer or something like that, and suddenly, they were angling all these team members and it gets a little bit crazy. And everybody wants to know, “How do I make my virtual team perform better?”

So we came up with; we call it the three secrets of high-performing virtual teams. And it’s really nothing crazy. It’s just three steps that we find are the most sensible way to make sure that your team have clarity around what they’re doing, everybody is working as a cohesive unit, and hopefully, keeping you out of the loop so that you’re not the bottleneck because that’s what most entrepreneurs find themselves is that they’re the bottleneck. Even if they have a team, everybody wants to know their next steps and they’re asking the entrepreneur that question.

So secret number one is to have clarity around your goal and your vision. So all entrepreneurs should have that for themselves. If you don’t have clarity around the vision for your business, then that’s definitely something to work on first.

But some of us forget, and I’ve been so guilty of this, to actually communicate it to your team. So you’ll have all these team members working together, but they might actually not really understand why they’re doing it, or they don’t know much about your company, or they’re not really invested in the success of your company, and they’re not really that excited to be a part of your company. It’s just that they’re there to do a job and get paid.

And so, I find that if you start sharing your goals and your visions and your dreams for the business, and start to include them in that, try and get them excited about coming to work and being part of your company, it can help just make everybody work a little bit better as a team, they get a bit more excited about being there, they like hearing more from you.

Most of your team members actually want to hear more from you because a lot of entrepreneurs, we can kind of keep our team at arm’s length. And so, you don’t have to have a bazillion team meetings or anything like that, but when you do talk to them, let them know what’s happening.

That’s number one for me is make sure that they understand what the whole purpose is. Like, why do they come to work every day apart from the fact that they’re getting paid?

Meryl:

It took us a little while to realize that at Bean Ninjas. I think it was probably 18 months into our business that we actually really sat down and articulated the vision. And before that, I think the core team who aren’t interacting with regularly kind of new division. But as the team grew, then that message was probably changing with the team members I wasn’t interacting directly with, and yeah, we had never taken the time to actually map it all up.

And originally, the vision when Ben and I started our business was more about what we wanted from the business around working less than 20 hours a week, and me going surfing more, and him spending more time with the family. And then I pretty quickly realized that’s not a very inspiring vision for anyone else in the team. That was all about me, and really, our vision needed to be about who we were helping, and for the team to feel inspired by that.

So we then changed our vision to be more around helping entrepreneurs with stress-free finances and to create freedom through that. And so, we really found that that actually made people feel like, “Oh, we’re not just doing bookkeeping compliance, we’re actually trying to help our clients run better businesses, understand their numbers so that they can have freedom in their lives.”

Then we found that that was a much more inspiring vision that the team could get behind. But yeah, it took us a little while to actually figure that out and figure out the importance of it. And now we try and talk about that vision regularly, as well as our values, and try and bake that in. But yeah, that’s definitely a great starting point.

Kat:

I think so, and I’m so guilty of that, too. And sometimes I even forget to talk about; you know how your vision changes as an entrepreneur? You’ll come up with a new idea or something like that, and you completely forget to communicate it to your team. And you realize a few weeks later that they’re super behind because your brain has fast-forwarded a few months and you’re already where you wanted to be, and they’re still trying to catch up and trying to keep up.

So just regular communication of what the company is striving for. And I like the way that you turned it around to make sure that it’s not just about the business owner being able to go surfing every day; it’s actually about building better lives, not just for your clients, but for your team as well. That’s really cool.

Meryl:

And so, what is secret number two?

Kat:

Okay. So secret number two is something that I find super important, and that’s making sure that your team communication is effective. And a lot of entrepreneurs, we struggle with this because we just kind of want to be in front of our computer and we just want to get on with things. We don’t really want to have lots of team meetings, we don’t want to be answering questions all day every day.

And a lot of entrepreneurs get overwhelmed by it because the team is just constantly; it feels like the team is just constantly annoying them, wanting things and asking questions and all that sort of thing. But the team just want to be able to do their job.

And so, one of the parts of the team being able to do their job effectively is giving them guidelines about communication, and how they should communicate, who they should communicate to, where they should communicate.

And it’s as simple as just figuring out a few rules for your company and going, “Okay. So when the team is communicating in a group, how are they going to do that?” A lot of us use; I think you guys use Slack, don’t you? For team communication? I know we do.

Meryl: 

We do, yeah.

Kat:

Yeah. So it’s a very popular tool for entrepreneurs to use and I find that’s really good for really quick, “Hey, I need help with this. Can you just answer this one question?” Everyone gets the message, everyone stays on the same page, and it’s not super invasive for anybody.

It also keeps all of that chat in the same place so that next week, when you’re going, “Oh, what was that answer to that question?” You know where to go to find the answer to that question. You’re not searching through your emails or trying to figure out where that conversation took place. So if you have just one or two tools, probably just one tool where people do like day-to-day really quick question and answer stuff, that’s really recommended by me.

A project management tool as well. So if you’re using something like Asana or Teamwork or Trello or whatever; whatever team management or project management tool you decide to use, have some rules based around what sort of communication happens in there as well. So if somebody has a question about a project inside your project management tool, and they’re sending you an email asking about it, is that where you want that communication to take place?

Probably not. It probably needs to happen inside of the project management tool. But if you don’t have any rules around that, how’s your team going to know what’s appropriate? So just have some procedures in place for what type of talk happens where. Have a place for people to have some conversations as well.

So inside of our Slack channel, we have a water cooler. We call it the water cooler channel, and that’s basically if people will just want to chat and get to know each other better, slack off a little bit and have some fun, that’s where they can do it.

And just creating more effective ways for team communication, identify what is overwhelming for you as the business owner, put boundaries in place, and then also, just make it more cohesive so everybody feels that they’re actually part of a team.

Meryl:

I think that’s really important. And I know, we’ve had feedback from our team when we were picking our new project management tool. We were moving from Trello, and we ended up moving to Wrike at the time. But we surveyed the team to find out what some of their frustrations were. And one, the common thing was too many forms of communication and not knowing what tool to use for which situation.

So we had Slack, which you’ve mentioned. And then at the time, we were using Trello, and that was where all of our workflow was set up. So one question that came up was with our client, “Should you be commenting on the particular Trello board with the task, or should it be in the Slack channel?” And we have a Slack channel for each client.

And then, we have Help Scout, which is the tool that we’re using to communicate, and you can add notes on there internally to raise a discussion question about that client issue as well. And then, we try not to use email, but occasionally, something comes in as an email. So it just felt like there was too many options. And we then tried to narrow down, “Okay. So post it in Slack and then put the Help Scout thread, but don’t put the note in Help Scout.”

But do you have any tips around how to identify what the right tool is? So if you were coming to help us and we had all of those different forms of communication, are there particular types of communication, for example, we’re discussing an email that’s coming from a client. Where would you recommend? What channel do you think would be best for that or what kind of framework do you use to make that decision?

Kat:

Yeah. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong here. I think that you just say, “Okay. If you’re dealing with client communication that’s coming via email, but somebody needs to address, this is the rule.” And so, it doesn’t matter whether that happens inside of the project management tool, or if it stays in Help Scout, or maybe you have client channels in Slack; it doesn’t really matter where that communication happens.

There’s going to be some more logical places than others, but as long as there’s just one rule that everybody knows and it’s communicated, then it just stops that same type of communication happening in different channels.

So it doesn’t really matter which rule you decide, which one you decide to go with. Just make sure that everybody is aware of it and everybody sticks to it. But in that case, I would probably; if there was a project-related to that specific piece of communication, I’d be tempted to make all communication happen inside the project management tool.

If it was just a little bit of back and forth that probably wasn’t going to have any tasks come out of it, then we have client channels in Slack that are used for just really quick day-to-day thing. So that’s a possibility. But we don’t have; we don’t use the email management like the Zendesk or Help Scout or anything like that.

So that does add another element of complication to it because there’s so many places you could check for that communication So I would just decide what the best workflow is, and then make sure communicate it to your team and make sure everybody sticks to it.

Meryl:

Yup. So here, it’s consistency that is the most important thing. It’s not whatever method you decide. So it’s all about making a decision and then having the team be clear about that.

Kat:

Exactly.

Meryl: 

Related to communication, I think this is actually a really important topic that sometimes isn’t talked about enough. So I’ve got a couple of other things related to communication. One is, it’s something that we do internally with virtual teams with different time zones; it can be challenging.

Things can really slow down if I write to someone over in Europe and I haven’t been specific enough in my request, and they have to ask a question back, and then I don’t get that ‘till the next day. And then, I’m not specific enough again.

And so, something we talked about internally is if I’m writing a piece of communication, even though it’s really tempting in Slack just to whiz something off really quickly and have a conversation, but different time zones make this really slow.

So I try and ask team members to ask the question to themselves, “Well, if I was on the receiving end of this message, have I been specific? Have I been precise? Or will the other person have questions?” So if I’ve said, “Refer to this email,” but I haven’t said what date or who it’s from and been specific, then someone might have a question about that.

But if I was really precise and said exactly what I was talking about and exactly what I wanted and by when, then it really speeds up that communication. And not doing that caused a lot of delays for us in the beginning with a team that’s spread out over multiple time zones.

Kat:

Yeah. That’s really smart. And if you think about it, if you’re going back and forth with somebody in a really awkward time zone, that could take a week just to talk about like one little thing. So it’s just never effective at all.

Meryl:

Yeah, absolutely. And the next question for you around Slack, I’ve noticed that a lot of people, especially if they’re new to Slack, they’re usually better at managing, not missing things in the email because they move it out of their inbox when it’s being actioned. And I really don’t like using email as a task list, but it seems to be a good way for someone to make sure they do something.

Whereas in Slack, it’s very easy to open something. So you can see that there’s a channel that has a message for you. But then, if you don’t reply to it straight away, then it’s easy for that to get missed. So do you have any tips around how to effectively use Slack to prevent just missing things or not replying?

Kat:

Yes, definitely. So we had a team member come on board with us earlier in the year, and they weren’t familiar with online business at all. So they had never used Slack. And they’d never really used any of the sort of like messaging channels or anything. So that particular team member was missing things all the time.

If they weren’t tagged in it, even though the little notification still comes up, they wouldn’t get it. Even if they were tagged in something, as you were saying; like they might have read it at the time, and then completely forgotten about it.

So that actually forced us to put a lot of rules in place around how to use Slack and how to make sure that not only do we make sure that we action things that come through on Slack, we also communicate that to whoever the person was that sent the message in the first place.

So if you have a rule that says everybody has to acknowledge something, if they’ve been tagged in something or if they’ve actually specifically been asked to do a task, we have a rule in our company that says everybody must respond to make sure that they’ve; I mean, they’re just confirming that they’ve seen it and that they’ll action it.

Even if it’s just doing it with like the thumbs up emoji or whatever it is, it just makes people aware. And it makes the original communicator don’t sit there feeling like, “Hang on. Am I talking to myself? Did anybody get that message? Is anybody going to do anything about it?”

So just make sure that there’s a rule in place for everybody to respond. And we actually make everybody respond to a lot of things just because we want our team to be all over it, like the whole business. You might not need that in your business. You just might need the person who’s been tagged to respond or whatever it is. But think about the rules that apply for your business and put them into place.

Another thing that we use quite often is there’s a feature in Slack where if you’re asked to do something, you can actually; what do you call it? You star the message. Like there’s a little star thing that you can click. And at Zapier, there’s a zap that you can use, which will send that to Asana for us.

And so basically, it’s sending something that needs to be actioned from Slack where it’s probably not going to get actioned because it might get forgotten about, and it’s putting it in the project management tool, which means that it has to be actioned because everything inside that project management tool is a task that will be assigned to somebody that needs to get actioned.

So that gets used quite often. Anything that needs actioning, we star it. It appears in a project in Asana, which we call the inbox, and then it’s somebody’s job every day to make sure the inbox gets emptied and everything gets assigned. So that’s probably one of our little tricks that we use the most.

Meryl:

That’s a good process. I know our Operations Manager is great at that. If we’re having a conversation in Slack, then I’ll see that pop-up in Wrike, which is our project management system, if it’s a task, because Slack is a terrible project management system. It’s so easy to lose things, and I really appreciate that she’s very disciplined with that. But it either requires the whole team to be disciplined with that or having a process, like you said, that every time something’s a task, it gets flagged and moved across the project management system.

Kat:

Exactly. And these procedures are only as good as your team isn’t following them as well. So it did take a little bit of time for us to teach people that if I’m speaking to them, and it doesn’t matter how I’m speaking to them; if it’s in Slack or if it’s verbal; and I say something that needs to be actioned, it needs to make its way to Asana. And it did take a little while to teach them that, but once they’ve got it, it means that everything appears in Asana; nothing’s left out, and it just makes life easier for everybody.

Meryl: 

So I think this is a nice segue into secret number three.

Kat: 

Secret number three is talking about the power of systems. And by systems, we mean the procedures and processes and SOPs and everything that you’ve got happening in the backend of your business that make sure that; ‘cause it’s kind of good to have all of these things in place.

You’ve communicated your goals and your vision to your team. They’re all excited to get started. They know where to communicate, they know how to communicate, but do they actually know what they need to do?

So that’s where the power of your systems come into place because one of the biggest problems that the business owner or the entrepreneur has is that everything can be inside of their head. Nobody does things as well as they want them done. And that’s where the power of your systems come into place.

So lots of businesses don’t have any. Some businesses kind of have gotten halfway there. But wherever you’re at with your systems, just start to try and think about, “Okay. What is one thing that I’m doing today that I don’t necessarily have to do?”

See if you can systematize that. Just make a video or something like that. Get one of your team to turn it into a procedure, and then put it in Google Drive or somewhere central that your whole team has access to, and there’s the start of your systems. So it’s as simple as that.

So it’s just about taking everything that’s in your head, start to put it into a central place so that everybody can start working on things the way you want them worked on, and that’s the key to freeing up your time, basically.

Meryl:

And do you have any favourite places; you mentioned Google Drive; in terms of storing the systems? And then, any tips around; I don’t know if it’ll be naming conventions or anything like that to make it easy to find the right procedure when you’re ending up with a whole lot of procedures so that the team know where to look to find the right one?

Kat:

Yeah. So we like Google Drive or G Drive just because it’s very easy. It doesn’t; nothing disappears out of there. I used to use Dropbox for a lot of things, and you’d find that things didn’t save, or they wouldn’t sync properly, or you’d end up with like three of the same document, and it didn’t work for me. So G Drive is my favourite.

There’s also online programs where you can store your procedures online. I think ProcessStreet is one of them. They’re really good. They’ll charge you a monthly fee. But your procedures will look really fancy and they’ll be housed in like an online library, which is really cool. So if you’ve got the budget for that, that’s a bit of fun. And they do make it very easy to create your systems and your processes.

But we just stick to Google Drive. We have a naming convention. This doesn’t have to be super complicated. Just figure out like what your organization structure; what you would like it to be inside of Google Drive where just create some folders for certain things. So maybe there’s an administration folder, maybe there’s a finance folder. Figure out what your naming convention is, and then just start building a library of your systems.

We take it a little bit further. We have a spreadsheet, which is our actual library. It’s kind of like an index of all of the procedures and systems that we have in our business. And so, we had a new Virtual Assistant start last week, actually, and she is making herself familiar with everything that happens in the business via that spreadsheet.

So that’s kind of like her bible at the moment where if I say to her, “Can you do this?” She goes to that spreadsheet, she has a look for that procedure, and she can then click through and follow the procedure from there. So having a library spreadsheet or an index spreadsheet has been such a game-changer for us.

Meryl:

We actually use an index spreadsheet as well. So we use SweetProcess, which is where we load our videos and our written procedures. But to actually get everything in there, we had a spreadsheet and then different tabs with different departments in the business like bookkeeping or sales, and then just listed out so that then they’re all numbered; so each procedure had a number, a name.

And then, we also use the spreadsheet just to see what stage it was at? So had it been written, had it been loaded, had it been tested by someone?  And it’s a really nice resource to have a snapshot of the names and where everything is to make it a bit easier to find. We can do that in SweetProcess as well, but we’ve found that spreadsheet really useful.

Kat:

Yeah. I find it amazing. And I didn’t come up with that. I actually got the idea from some friends of mine, Jill and Josh Stanton. So thanks, thanks for that guys. But it has been a game-changer for us because before that, we just had, we had a really well-organized Google Drive, but there wasn’t one central place where you could just click and go, “Okay, here’s a list of everything that we have or everything we do in the business.” So I think it’s kind of essential, really.

Meryl:

Yeah, I’d agree. So before we wrap up, did you have any final thoughts that you wanted to share around anything related to operations, project management, team, online business managers?

Kat:

Integrators; they’re called integrators these days as well. It’s become a big buzzword, especially for the American entrepreneurs. I think what I would like to see is I would like to see all entrepreneurs who get to; generally, it’s around when people reach like the six-figure in revenue mark where things start to get a little bit chaotic and crazy.

And it can be really hard to take your mindset from like the bootstrapping mindset where you do everything yourself to this mindset where, “Hang on a sec. I’m actually doing pretty well. This is really successful. How do I grow?” And that’s where a lot of these entrepreneurs get stuck.

And then, perhaps they start to throw money at marketing companies, or Facebook ads people, or graphic designers, or they get a new website built, but sometimes they neglect to think about throwing money at their operations. And I think that it’s probably one of the most effective things that you can do is to – you’re essentially coining yourself when you get an Online Business Manager.

And if you’ve ever said to yourself, “I wish there was two of me,” this is kind of as good as it gets or as close as it gets. So just be open to getting some help from somebody who is high enough level that they can understand what your vision is, somebody who has a bit of an organizational project management mindset so that they are really good at getting into the details and making sure things are done.

And put some time into thinking about what you can do to make your team more effective. But at the same time, protect your time and your brain space as the entrepreneur because if you burn yourself out working in your operations, everything is just going to come to a standstill, and that’s what we hate to see.

So just put a little bit of thought behind what would happen if you had a right-hand person and to see if you can make that happen. I think it’s just essential for everybody when they get a certain stage in business.

Meryl:

I had to laugh when you talked about the entrepreneur spending more on marketing or spending more on Facebook ads, and not sorting out operations. And I see that time and time again often because we’re prioritizing revenue, but not profitability. And really, at the end of the day, it’s the bottom-line profit that matters; what you can pay yourself out of profit.

And so, you could spend a whole lot of money on marketing, but if your operations aren’t sorted out, then it’s kind of like the leaky bucket where the profit is just flowing out. And something that I learned with Bean Ninjas is spending time in operations and really building a solid foundation there actually sets you up to scale more effectively.

So if you’ve got that sorted out first, then you’re going to get a much better return on Facebook ads or other marketing strategies that are bringing in your ideal customers. So I wanted to reiterate what you said there, Kat, it’s really important, this operational piece and actually lays the foundation for growth in the future.

Kat:

It does. And I think people forget that every time they hire a contractor, it’s kind of essential in other team member that needs managing. There’s not that many companies out there that will be able to come in and completely do what you want them to do without some input from you.

So if you hire somebody to do your Facebook ads, they’re still going to need direction from you on what you want. They’re going to need possibly like ad copy created. It’s another project essentially, every time you hire another contractor. And if you don’t have somebody to help you manage that, then you’ve just put more and more and more on your plate.

And you’re also not setting these contractors up for success either because you’ll become the bottleneck, you won’t answer their questions in time, you won’t give them what they need. And then, in 3 or 6 months’ time, you’ll wonder why that contractor didn’t quite work out when perhaps if you had somebody who was dedicated to operations management or project management, they could have utilized that contractor a lot better.

Meryl:

And Kat, you’ve put together a giveaway for the Bean Ninjas audience. And I believe that’s at youronlineteam.com/ninja, and that’s an effective team management plan. Is that right?

Kat:

It is. And that just goes and reiterates what we’ve talked about today and goes into a little bit more detail about some of the other things that we do on a day-to-day or a weekly basis just to make sure our team is super effective, super cohesive, and set up to give you time freedom back. Because that’s essentially what a good Online Business Manager does, it frees up your time.

Meryl: 

Well, thanks so much for coming on the show, Kat. It’s been great talking all things operations and systems.

Kat:

It has. Thank you so much for having me.

Meryl:

Want to better understand your business, make better financial decisions and also drive more profit? If yes, then understanding your numbers is key to achieving these goals.

If you’re like most business owners, you’ve never studied accounting and you’ve never been taught how to really understand the critical numbers in your business or how to use them to make effective decisions, grow revenue, improve profitability and increase cash. That’s why we created the Bean Ninjas Know Your Numbers Course.

And here’s what business coach, Justin Cox, shared about her experience with the training:

“I’ve been using Xero for a while but it really helped me to know the pieces of Xero that I should focus on and how that can help me in my business. Understanding where the numbers are at in my business is the Profit First principles and that cash flow management. I can stop worrying about money because now I know exactly what I’ve got to spend where. I am proud of the fact that I’ve actually started to put away some profit. So that’s been amazing.”

So if you’re someone who might be getting overwhelmed with the idea of going into your Xero file and not really knowing what’s going on moneywise with your business, or you just want a simple way to understand Xero and finances for your own peace of mind, our Know Your Numbers Course can help.

You’ll have a rare chance to work closely with an accountant and also have the support of other like-minded business owners who are going through the program. Head to beanninjas.com/KnowYourNumbers to learn more about our course. And register to receive updates about our next enrollment period. That’s beanninjas.com/KnowYourNumbers. All one word.

Contact Kat Jarman:

References and Links Mentioned:

Related Posts

Spread the love