How I'm Building My Team as We Reach the Million Dollar Mark
Your Biggest Vision
Season 3, Ep. 30
Strong team, strategic plan, big results! As we approach the million dollar mark with a baby on the way, building my team has been a huge priority. Today, we are having a casual conversation about team building and my journey to building the team I have now! From being a solopreneur up until the five figure month mark to now, having a team of 5 women, I cover all of it in this episode!
Tune in to hear:
- How I am preparing for maternity leave and the million dollar mark by focusing on building a team
- My team building journey- how it started and how it’s going
- Life updates and what we are looking forward to this August
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Leah Gervais: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to your biggest vision show. It is Leah and very excited to be here with you guys at the beginning of August. I can’t believe that we are already in August this year has really flown by. I know we say that every year, but it just seems like ever since I left my nine to five job, the years have gotten just shorter and shorter and faster and faster.
But I think that’s a good thing. I think that that’s because they are so jam packed, um, that they just seem to fly by. And I am in the final few weeks of my second trimester of pregnancy, which is also wild because the first trimester felt like time truly stood still and froze. And I just remember every week, you know, counting down until I was at like a new week. Um, for those of you that have been pregnant, you probably kind of know what I’m talking about.
You know, it’s like you finally made it to week six week, seven week eight. I would wait all week to be at a new week. And now it’s like, I don’t even know what we come in. You know, it’s just flown by so fast. So it’s been a very fun, um, stage of it. I’m really, really loving pregnancy. It’s such an incredible experience and I’m so grateful.
I’ve had such a fun journey with it and I will keep you guys updated as we continue to, to move forward with it and talk about it on the podcast. And, um, of course when our boy comes, so other fun things happening this August is that we are opening the doors again to scale your side hustle our signature program for the last time in 2022, or I’m sorry, 2021 until 2022. It’s truly wild. So this is always a really exciting cohort, the fall one, because it is the kind of last opportunity.
And I don’t like saying last and that scarcity way, but just kind of that opportunity to make sure you end the year with a bang and make sure you end the year having done what you probably set out to do in 2021 at the beginning of the year. I know that before I did kind of my own version of Scale Your Side Hustle, you know, scale your side hustle is based off of the time period in which my business finally took off.
I remember just the years before that, um, years going by and feeling like I really thought that this was the year that I was going to be able to leave my job or be able to pay off my debt or be able to have more to show for this blog and side hustle I created. And it was just so defeating feeling like I didn’t, you know, year after a year and just feeling like what is really going to change?
Why didn’t this happen? What am I waiting for? Why isn’t this happening for me? I think I had more of a victim stance around it, even though I didn’t realize it. I just continually thought that things just, I just wasn’t getting lucky honestly. I know that you could kind of have the mentality and I used to have the mentality of, well, wait until the new year, the holidays are busy. I want a fresh start and maybe it’s something I could really reevaluate in the new year if things aren’t going the way that they want. And I definitely used to think like that. And I remember thinking the year that things kind of finally changed.
It was like, what am I waiting for? Just because of calendar year changes, just because the season is different. This is still just days of my life passing me by in which I’m not making big enough moves. I’m not taking big enough action. And that really shifted me out of putting anything off till the following year and really trying to squeeze the juice almost out of the situation at hand, the year at hand, the time at hand.
I think that that was a really powerful shift for me yesterday. I was interviewed on a podcast called boss on caged. And the host was talking about how he always thinks of his life as like a, um, an hourglass, you know, and every day the sand falls to the other, to the bottom of the hourglass. And that is just the representation of time that you can never get back days that you can never get back.
And when you are done, when all of the sand is at the bottom and, and your, you know, your journey here is completed, that hourglass gets turned back over time, still continues on, but you don’t continue on with it. So what are you doing during your slot of time? Certainly, hopefully not putting off, uh, days, weeks, months, metaphorical pieces of sand, um, like letting them pass you by, in which you’re not actually contributing to the overall legacy in the overall story that you want to write for your life. So I know that this got a little bit philosophical kind of quickly, but the point is scale, your side hustle is open again for the, well, it will be open again in a few weeks here. You can get on the waitlist, um, and you’ll get a discount if you do get on the waitlist.
And, uh, it will be the last time in 2021 where it opens. So we’ll start in September, you’ll go through the end of the year. And it’s really an incredible opportunity to have this be the way that you finish out the year really strong. So you can always DM me if you have questions on scale, your side hustle, but do not forget to look out for that, especially if you’ve been considering joining the program for months, or maybe even years at this point. Um, or even if you’re just new to it. And it’s kind of speaking to you, there’s always no time like the present to go for what you really want.
So that is an exciting thing taking place this month. We also are now featuring podcast sponsorships. So you may have seen me talk a little bit about this on my, um, newsletter and on my Instagram account, but we are working with small businesses and entrepreneurs to, uh, sponsor and work with them on campaigns on the podcast.
So I know a lot of podcasts out there, probably most of them that do sponsorships work with these huge companies, um, you know, and get paid to feature basically to have commercials on their shows. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s great to share what you believe in with your audience, but I believe so strongly in entrepreneurship and I believe so strongly in small businesses. And when it came to thinking about how we could elevate our own podcast, it didn’t feel aligned to work with big companies, especially when we have so many audience members that are business owners of their own or solopreneurs or entrepreneurs or creatives and have ideas, have programs, have launches, have services that would benefit the world with a little bit more amplification. And we have the ability to give you that megaphone because I’ve been building my audience for over five years now.
We have between all of our platforms, tens of thousands of people following us, particularly we have a very large and engaged email list, and we want to give small businesses access to that so that they can help grow their platform. So if you are at all interested in being sponsored on the podcast, then you can go to my website, LeahGervais.com and on the podcast section in the menu, you will see the sponsorship option has all the details there, everything that comes with it. And it is not just about being sponsored on the podcast.
You also get exposure on our newsletter, um, to our social media channels, um, on our website, you know, we really want to help blow you up. This is something I would have killed for in my early days of entrepreneurship. You know, I was able to grow my audience largely through, uh, paid ads on Facebook, as well as a lot, a lot of time spending on organic marketing on Instagram or on Facebook, on email marketing, Pinterest, et cetera.
This is such a great way to just know you’re reaching a large amount of people. Facebook ads are kind of a mystery, you know, and you have to continue to pay for them to work. Whereas with this sponsorship, you pay for it once. And you’re on our site, you’re on our podcast, you’re on my Instagram forever. So it really is such a great investment. And if you’re at all interested, you can check it out on our site and, or email us at help@leahgervaiscom.
Okay, two things I just wanted to share with you guys before we dive into the meat of today’s episode, which is really just honestly, a casual conversation I wanted to have with you guys about team building. So I have found that this is something that I’ve been asked about more lately, and it’s something I’m very focused on right now, especially as I prepare for maternity leave and as our business reaches the seven figure mark, which is so exciting.
Um, and so I wanted to just share a little bit about my journey on it because team-building has been one of those things that I feel like I’ve learned way more about what I don’t want to do and what isn’t right for me, then I’ve learned about how to do it perfectly. And I did not feel comfortable sort of coaching someone on how to build their own team specifically.
But I also feel like it could be beneficial for me to just share what hasn’t, hasn’t worked for me up to this point and kind of how I think about these things, because I think that there are a lot of almost like templates out there for how to build a team and who you should have on your team, but that doesn’t mean that they work for you. You know, and I think that the powerful part of entrepreneurship is to continually question what makes sense for me?
Do I want this? Do I like this? You know, we didn’t all quit. Our nine to five jobs go into, some of us went into debt to start our businesses, um, take these huge risks and put ourselves out there, to end up building a business that isn’t truly what we want. So, um, more so than me trying to explain to you how I think you should build your team based on how I built my team. I just want to share with you our thought process, how I think about this, what does, and doesn’t work well for me? So you can apply a similar thought process and find what does and doesn’t work well for you. So with that, let’s back up a little bit and just give you kind of an overview of my team-building journey thus far. So I was basically alone until six figures. Let me think about that.
If that’s true, that’s not true. I hired my first VA when I was making, $6,000 a month, maybe. Um, and then quickly after that started making my first, uh, five figure months. So I remember feeling really nervous to hire a VA. And I hear a lot of people have nerves around building teams and the most common nerve that I hear people say is that they’re nervous about giving up control. They’re nervous about someone else messing it up.
They’re nervous about someone else not doing it. The job of them, I understand those fees, but I personally did not experience them. I’m actually not a control freak. I’m not a controlling person. Um, I’m, you know, a big fan of the theory that you should never be the smartest person in the room that you’re in. I believe in hiring people that are smarter than me.
I don’t think that I’m the best at everything that we do. So hiring people and the fear around it, because I was worried they wouldn’t do as well as I would or could, has not really been a fear of mine. The fear that I’ve worked through with team-building is the worry that it would make me less nimble and that it would allow me, or prevent me from pivoting quickly, coming up with ideas, quickly, being flexible with thinking of things, because if we had all these processes in place and I had all these team members knowing what they were doing, and, you know, I think of a program one morning and I want to do a webinar for it in a week. Um, is it going to work where I can have them drop everything? Um, are they going to be able to do that as quickly as my brain works, I move very, very fast as an entrepreneur.
I’m a very fast decision maker and I just don’t really know anyone that is as fast a decision-maker as I am. And I’m not trying to say that in a bragging way, there’s definitely downsides to it. But, um, you know, I’ve actually found that having a team helps me kind of balance out that and see things through a bit more.
But that was something I was worried about is that I would kind of lose my autonomy as the founder, as the, as the visionary. So that is what was something that was nervous for nerve-wracking for me at first, but with a VA, I didn’t really worry about that as much. I thought that there were a lot of benefits to having a VA specifically, that it would allow me to take over more of my role as a coach, rather than feeling like, not only am I coaching these people, but I’m working with them on the administrative side of the work they do with us as well.
So I guess that would be tip number one for me. I can just kind of pull this out as I share my own story is that if you have no team at all right now, do consider hiring a VA for just a few hours a week. And here’s why, even if you’re nervous about giving up control, or even if you’re like me and nervous about the commitment that it is and the, and the fact that it could take away from some of your quick movement, um, or even if you’re nervous about paying for them, right? That’s a very common fear. Uh, you can start small and always expand, but allow yourself to step into your unique role. I think that that is a big theme in team building is that it allows you to fine tune what you can do that no one else can do and allows people to do what they can do that no one else can do.
Instead of you feeling like you’re doing everything, and if you’re a coach or consultant or a service provider or a wedding planner, or any sort of, you know, entrepreneur that gives a service and you are both providing that service. So you’re coaching someone or you’re planning for someone, or you’re a therapist for someone, or you’re consulting with someone on a topic, but then you’re simultaneously the one emailing them about scheduling, about payments, about contracts, about logistics, about zoom links. It sort of dilutes your position in that relationship.
So that is something that I think was powerful for me when I started hiring VA and that I encourage you to do so as well, very early on, it does not have to be a big financial commitment. You can pay someone for just a few hours a week at first, and typically, you know, they’ll grow with you, but it doesn’t have to mean that you’re paying them thousands of dollars a week at first or even a month.
You know, you could probably, I think I started paying someone just in the hundreds per week, um, which at the time making six and then $10,000 per month completely made sense to me. So that is the first kind of way to approach it is like, how can I start to position myself even clearer as the person who does what I do rather than the person who does everything okay.
Once I got a VA, I went through two VAs, but my second VA ended up actually being my sister Abby, sort of by default. So, um, once my first VA and I no longer work together, I was sort of desperate to have a second one because I was so in over my head at that point and Abby was at a nine to five job. And I sort of just asked her to help out with me or help me out when she could around her nine to five job, um, you know, here and there.
And it was because of that, that we ended up working together. Full-time because we ended up loving working together. She loved the business, got very good at it, et cetera. Um, and so that is kind of how that unfolded for me. Now I do feel like my journey’s a little more unconventional here because I then had Abby leave her nine to five job and work for me full time.
I think that in comparison to many other entrepreneurs and even taking into consideration where I was financially, which at the time was around 10, $20,000 a month, having a full-time person is a huge responsibility, mostly because of the financial commitment, but also because of, you know, just everything that you need to be able to do for them, the things that you need to provide health insurance, you need to pay taxes, workers’ compensation. Um, you need to be able to have HR benefits.
You need to be able to figure out these days off and just make sure that they have a good work environment. There’s so much to having a full-time person that you don’t need to do. If you’re just hiring contractors. Now, the huge benefit to my story of hiring my own sister is that I trust her with everything. I trust her with my whole business. And that is something that I do think is hard for people that are hiring out is like, do they trust the person? Is the person going to stick around? If the person doesn’t stick around, are they going to go share some of the behind the scenes workings of their business with other people? I didn’t have to worry about any of that. And I still don’t. And that is why it was 100% worth it for me to take on the extra responsibilities and the commitment. And some of the risk of hiring her full time was because I knew I could trust her for purposes of this episode I am not going to share that you should hire your own sister or that you should work full time.
But I do want to share what I did to start thinking about how to, um, T you know, take advantage for lack of a better word of Abby being full-time and just had a scale from there. So I think this tip is going to be useful if you maybe have a VA, or even if you’re just sort of wondering, like, I know I need help. I’m at my max limit. I know that a team could help me grow, but I just don’t know exactly where to start or who to hire what I did per the recommendation of Alex Charfen, who is 18 building, kind of like leader and coach was completely tracked my time intensely for two weeks straight.
So I tracked every 15 minute increment for two weeks, which was wild and honestly not my favorite experience, but it’s a very good exercise for team building, because it allows you to see exactly where you’re spending your time, where you’re spending your time, doing things you don’t need to do, where you’re spending time doing things only you can and, um, kind of, you know, go backward from there.
So a huge mistake, huge mistake that I see new entrepreneurs make is that they hire someone based on what they think would be fun for them to have in addition to their business. So for example, if they are a coach and they want to start blogging, and they think that blogging would help them with SEO, or they think that it would help them with Google or visibility, they, um, hire someone to write blog posts for them and hire someone to write SEO for. Well, it’s not that it wouldn’t be helpful to have potential blog posts or to have SEO on your site, but you didn’t get anything off your plate. And in the beginning, especially if you are like ramping it up by herself to the six figure mark, which is honestly, it’s an exciting time, but it’s so much work. Um, the best thing you can do to scale is to get more, is to be able to do more of what’s working.
So in that situation, if the person is a coach and they are making money coaching, it might sound nice to get more visibility, blogging, but really what they need is to be able to coach more if they want to scale more. So that could look like looking at what they do day to day. Maybe they spend two hours on social media every day, planning their posts, engaging, et cetera. Um, and then they only coach two hours a day and think, how could we replace the two hours on social media time, have someone else to my social media and allow me to coach two more hours a day.
You just doubled your income, right? Whereas if you’re like waiting for those blog posts to pay off, and you don’t exactly understand how they contribute to your bottom line because they never have, it’s not going to scale as quickly. So that’s what I did with Abby, especially at first, as I just continued and I just kept looking at what is Leah doing that Abby could do and how can I teach you how to do it? And that ‘s been a really helpful theme for us. Um, and then it wasn’t too long. I think it was about six months after Abby started with me when we hit the six figure month mark. And it’s definitely no coincidence that that was able to happen. Um, as Abby started and as Abby kind of picked up and I believe a big part of that, or a big reason that happened was because it was just honestly, six months of us continually going through these exercises of looking very closely, evaluating how I was spending my time, looking at where Abby was spending hers and constantly thinking, what can she be doing that I’m currently doing so that I can do more of what is really helpful for us.
So this allowed us to scale our webinars a lot. I didn’t realize how much time I was spending doing logistical things with webinars, like setting them up, running ads for them, um, you know, creating all the reminder emails, advertising them. She really was able to take all that on and I was just able to advertise them more myself and then of course do them more. So, you know, that was a big contributor to our growth. Um, and just things like that, things that just really allowed me to flourish more in my kind of uniqueness in my role in our company.
So that was a huge help. Um, and then that kind of brings us to for, well, there’s a lot that happened in between then and now, but that kind of brings us to now. And I am in a very big team building, uh, phase right now for a few reasons. One, because we are on the cusp of our million dollar mark, which is so exciting. Um, and because I also, I’m about to go on maternity leave and I’m about to have a baby.
So just thinking about how the business can grow, honestly, without me, in a sense, um, and where I’m bottlenecking, it is so insightful. I’ve been learning so much about, uh, what, what more could be happening if I just started doing things differently and started thinking about things differently. So I want to share the two biggest shifts I’ve gone through lately, or the two biggest realizations, or I think just like helps to how we’ve been growing our team.
Um, and, and, and as we’ve been doing this, I also just want to candidly share that I’ve continued to come up against the fear that I shared at the beginning. Um, which is the commitment. Are we going to get too big? Is it going to be too much responsibility for everyone, for me, um, for us all to steer it, but I am just continuing to follow my gut and work within our values. Um, we have pretty clear company values. You know, I really encourage everyone to have their own ownership within the organization and to feel like they can make decisions on their own. Um, and that takes time, you know, it takes- There’s no perfect…
I think the most valuable thing you can have in a team member is someone who can make decisions on their own, because if you don’t trust a team member to make decisions without you, you’re still making all the decisions and it might be helpful for you to make a decision, but then have someone else do the work that follows that decision. But I think the real scalable magic comes when you’re not making all the decisions because as an entrepreneur, especially as your business grows, I mean, I can definitely say here as we are dancing around the seven figure mark, the, one of the biggest things I have, um, just had to be aware of is decision-making fatigue. Um, you know, when it’s only me that makes decisions about everything, about our operations, about our clients, about our sales, about our marketing, about our team, about our hours, about payments, logistics, everything, it is so many decisions.
So really the magic is when people can make decisions on your behalf. And I have to say that that just comes with time that comes with people, working for you long enough for them to feel confident in knowing that they think similar to how you think, or that they at least can try to apply the logic you would use. It doesn’t really happen from just hiring someone, you know, randomly or new, and then letting them know that this is the decision you’d made, so they should know how to make those decisions too.
So anyway, without further ado, the two things that have been the biggest game-changers for us at this point, um, in our big hiring phase is to one shift from two to the point of decision-making shift from allowing for, from me managing projects, and then delegating the tasks that need to be done for a project to complete to someone else, managing the projects completely, and then delegating to people, including me to complete the tasks.
So let’s take a launch for example, for years. And in the past, I would come up with what I wanted our launch strategy to be. I would think of everything needed to be done, to have this launch happen, including, um, create a sales page, create a page for the actual product or service, create payment links, create sales emails, create Facebook ads, create social media posts, create creative, um, all of that type of stuff, uh, create the timeline, create the goals, create the brief of the launch, the plan. And then I would delegate all of the things that I just listed to people on our team, me included. So someone would help, you know, take charge of the emails. Someone would take charge of the ad. Someone would take charge of the landing page, et cetera. And then we’ve kind of all come together and, you know, put the launch together and put it in motion.
Nowadays we have two team members at the management level, and so they come up with a launch strategy. They come up with the list of things that need to be done to go into this launch. They come up with a timeline, they come up with the brief and then they assign tasks to people on our team for everything that needs to go into that launch, including me. So they’re almost my boss in that sense where they will kind of like, you know, be on top of me and follow up with me if I’m late and just make sure that I know what I need to do for this to happen. And they kind of see the full execution together.
So I think that that has been the biggest game changer and I think it’s really important to make sure that you’re consciously, you know, leading people on your team to be able to make those decisions and make those plans and manage those projects so that you’re not the only one doing those things and that’s really where I think a lot of scalability will happen. Similarly to that one of the biggest things, I, one of the biggest bottlenecks I realized I had in my own business about three months ago- and I think that this is why we are about to hit the million dollar mark. I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying that, but I don’t care.
I just want to be transparent is I realized that though we had a great team that knew what they were supposed to do in terms under their job umbrellas. And they each kind of owned different parts of our business. Like each of them owned a different program. Each of them owned a different, um, kind of facet or pillar, and they knew the tasks that need to be done to keep those things moving. When it came to new momentum, like a new project or a new sale or a new opt-in or a new ad, I was always the one in charge of the new things.
So my team was doing a very good job of keeping the machine that I created running, but the only one moving the machine forward or growing the machine was still me. And that is, you know, that’s a bottleneck. It shouldn’t just be one person on a team that is creating new things, or that is thinking of new things or that is conducting sales or managing sales or managing opt-ins or doing growth related things.
So that has been the other biggest change we’ve made is how can we make sure that, um, yes, the operations have to be, you know, uh, a well-oiled machine and, and they were so beyond that, how do we make it so that there’s, you know, several people on our team thinking in a momentum based mindset, not in a, like how do we get this done mindset?
So that is where we’re at today. It has certainly been imperfect. I’ve learned so much and feel so grateful for the team we currently have. It is a team of all women. I think the world of all of them, I feel really blessed and grateful and honored that they’re willing to, you know, work with me and, um, work on the vision that we collectively have for this business.
So it’s been a very rewarding experience to kind of bring these people together and get to know them and, um, watch them grow and watch them, help our company grow and watch them get to know our clients. Um, but it’s definitely been a very imperfect road here. And I hope that just pulling out the things that I do think we did right. And that, um, I learned along the way can kind of help you make your own decisions about the type of team you want to have.
How big of a team you want to have the nature of the team you want to have. Um, you know, I work pretty hard to have a self-sustaining team, but there are some people out there that have meetings with their team every single day. And they, and they love that because they love the collaborative nature of it. Especially solopreneurs working from our laptops. So you can there’s no, well, there is a wrong way to build the team, but there’s no perfect way to do it. And I think it’s just an opportunity to continue to make sure you’re asking yourself if you’re doing it the way that you want. So I hope you guys like this episode, you can always email me any questions. Um, I’m on Instagram @LeahGervais_. Um, and I will talk to you guys very soon. Here is to your biggest vision.!
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