Ever feel like you can’t possibly take more on your shoulders than you already have in your business? If so, it might be time to scale. That can sound scary, but as you’ll find out in this episode, scaling your business, even at a small scale, has loads of benefits.
To help give us a guide and proven path for scaling a design business effectively, I’ve brought back Avani Miriyala, CEO of UX and Design agency AMSD, to share what she’s learned in scaling a 6-figure design business effectively.
The strategies that we lay out in this episode will help you free up time, focus on tasks you love to do and can truly help your business soar.
In this episode:
03:25 – Greeting to Avani
05:39 – Micro or Macro level
08:41 – When to scale
12:19 – Listing your tasks
14:27 – Evaluating tasks
20:35 – Benefit of evaluation
23:07 – Mindset on higher level
24:07 – Fear of hiring
29:59 – You’re not alone
31:31 – Small but scaling
37:11 – If things go wrong
40:06 – Outsourcing sales
41:44 – Having an SOP
48:09 – Offboarding playbook
54:39 – Final thoughts
You can also view the full transcription of this episode below.
Connect with Avani:
Featured links mentioned:
Episode presented by:
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Hey, everybody, welcome back to the podcast. This is Episode 96. And in this one, we’re gonna be diving into how to scale a six figure web design agency. For this talk, I wanted to bring in somebody who is very in the weeds on this because she’s doing this herself. My guest in this episode is actually a repeat guests who was just recently on the podcast. This is Avani Miriyala, I had her on recently on episode 84. And we talked about hiring designers and freelancers. And what was interesting is we were actually supposed to talk about this subject in scaling a six figure web design business. But we actually just ended up focusing on hiring and that episode, so I wanted to bring her right back on to really talk about this and get into the weeds. And man, you can tell the Avani is super passionate about this. And just kind of FYI, she’s actually scaling her business to seven figures right now. So I wanted to, to bring somebody on who knows a lot about how to scale at the six figure level. So for those of you who are advanced freelancers, and are growing a team, or maybe you’re a design agency, and you’re really ready to take things to the next level, this is going to be your episode. And I should say too, even if you’re just starting out, and you just want to scale on a very micro level, even if it’s just with a couple part time subcontractors, you’re going to pull so much great info from this episode Avani really gets into the weeds on how to practically scale because you’ll often hear about growth and in scaling, and team building, and revenue and sales and all this stuff. But sometimes I find it really hard, unless I hear practical examples of how to actually scale and that kind of the steps you need to take to do so. And that’s exactly what we cover in this episode, she’s gonna lay out a proven path for you to follow. And you can implement right now to scale again, no matter you know where you are in your business. So I’m really, really excited to hear how this one helps you out. And it was awesome having Avani right back on the show.
Now before we dive in one thing we talked about is, in order to scale effectively, one thing you need to have in place are really solid processes that are easy to follow and that you can teach your team to run with. And I have a web design process course for those of you who are running your web design agencies and you just feel like your web designs are just a mess. They’re taking forever, the process is scattered, there’s really no clear checklist to follow. My web design process course is going to be the exact guide that you need to be able to launch your websites successfully and even before that plan and build them because planning is the first step in a web design process. Building is the second and launching it is the third and that’s exactly what my web design process course will enable you to do. It’s my five phase 50 step in depth process. And I would love to help you in your agency have your web design process down before you start to scale. So check that out today. It’s open right now for you to join. There’ll be a link in the show notes to join that today. Alright guys, without further ado, I want to welcome back Avani Miriyala, who was super passionate in the last episode about hiring but even more so passionate about scaling. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Avani, welcome, right back on to the podcast. It’s good to have you back on again, my dear.
Thank you. So good to be here, Josh. And great to see you after a month, month and a half.
Yeah, it hasn’t been that long. It’s funny, because I had you on episode I think was 084. Yeah, 84 you were on. And we were originally going to talk about scaling, more specifically scaling a fixed six figure design business. But we ended up basically just talking about hiring, which was a great episode, I got so much great feedback. But we really went straight into just hiring on that one. So I wanted to have you right back on to in fact talk about scaling. Because now that we’ve talked about hiring, I really want to dive right into scaling. It’s been a hot topic for a lot of my audience and a lot of my students and web design club members. A lot of people are now taking that next step to delegate and to scale. And I’m really excited to pick your brain about your experience, because I know you do have a lot of experience in this. So before we dive in, can you just refresh my audience? who maybe didn’t hear that episode? Where you’re based out of and what you do now? Exactly?
Yes, absolutely. Well, first of all, scaling is probably one of my favorite things to talk about. So I’m so excited to dive into the topic today. My name is Avani. As Josh said, I am based out of Austin, Texas, I run a UX and product design agency called AMSD. And it’s been almost four years which is crazy to think about that feels like a lifetime, especially when you’re running a business feels like forever, even though it’s been like five minutes. So really, really grateful for my amazing team and everything we’ve done, this is a big year for us, we are doubling once again. So kind of putting all of these scaling concepts into effect one more time to scale even more. So it’s a really great time to talk about it. I also talk about helping freelancers in, prove their mindset and scale for six figures and beyond. So I love talking about anything regarding mindset, the brain, I really believe everything starts in our brain. So I’ll probably talk about some of those things here and there throughout the conversation today. But that’s a quick snapshot of who I am. And what I love chatting about.
Well, and that’s what’s really cool is when you scale I’ve found and you have a lot more experience with scaling that I do. But either way I found, you can do it on a small like micro level. Or you could do it on a very big macro level. I know. And you told me last time that your goal is to hit seven figures this year. So I don’t most of my audience isn’t there yet. But a lot of my audience are in the 50 to $75,000 to six figures range. And now they’re ready to scale. Once you get to that point as a solopreneur, I always recommend getting stuff off your plate, because you can only take your business so far in any industry as one person at some point, you really need to automate things and delegate and to free yourself up to do what you want to do. And I love that because you can scale on them on a smaller level or a bigger level, like you’ve talked about. So I’d like to start out with when you know it’s time to scale. Because I know this depends on the person, whether they’ve scaled before whether they are business minded, or in my case, I was a solopreneur, who didn’t even know I wanted to start my own business, I just kind of fumbled my way into it. So I delayed scaling for like six years, I went way too long as a solopreneur. And I did enjoy it. I enjoyed doing a lot of stuff myself. But I was also a rare kind of person who could wear every hat and stay sane doing it. Most people I find are going to be should probably be quicker to scale. And it’s hard for web designers, my audience because we’re used to doing the tech stuff. So we feel like well, why hire out web designer? Why do why hire out the tech stuff? Because I can do that and do the sales and run the business? So that’s the first question I have for you of any is when do you know it’s time to scale?
This is very interesting, because as designers, web designers, even developers, we, in some ways are in a unique place, because we can figure it all out.
I was just gonna say we’re our own worst enemies, probably,
I think like we’re very talented people, a group of people the way we think is really special. – Avani
I was gonna use a different word. But I don’t want to use negative word because I think like we’re very talented people, a group of people the way we think is really special. And because of that we’re really good at a lot of things, we know how to figure it out. So there’s this tendency to think that you don’t need to scale or that you think you are not ready or you don’t need to, or I could do it myself. A lot of times in this industry, we come across perfectionist. I myself was one. And I would always be like, Oh, I don’t want to teach someone to do this. It’s gonna take me forever. I’d rather just do it myself and do it in five minutes. But we’ll talk about that. I think that’s a mindset thing we can touch on later. But most of the time, I think if you’re a designer, a web designer, or even a developer who runs an agency, or you’re just doing it on your own, you’re doing it by yourself right now, you’re probably one should want to scale sooner than you think. And let me tell you why. The moment you come across a task or something in your business that you dislike, that feels like it’s draining your energy that feels like you’re procrastinating, you’re procrastinating, you’re procrastinating, that’s a signal that you’re doing something that one could be handed off to someone else. And maybe your zone of genius isn’t that thing, maybe you should be focusing on something else that is more money making or brings in a higher ROI, or even brings you more joy. So that’s the way I look at it is the moment you feel like and whenever I I could talk about this little rating system I use to figure out what to hand off to other people, we can talk about that as well. But the moment you start to realize that you’re doing it, you’re like, someone else should be doing this. Why am I doing this? You’re feeling those like heavy feelings of dread and procrastination or like, I I’d rather poke a needle in my eye and do this. When you feel those feelings, it’s time to consider scaling up and that doesn’t mean you need to run an agency. It doesn’t mean that at all. It could just mean extend your time. Give yourself a little bit of peace of mind and a little bit more happiness and you can go live your life because why did we leave our jobs to do this? Why did we start these businesses because we You wanted to have our business support us and not the other way around.
Yes, the Well said, That’s so great. Yeah, that was, for me, I, I have in me, I am a blue collar guy at heart, I can put my work boots on and get something done. It’s the job, I was a cabinet maker. Before I was into design. I’m just a blue collar guy at heart, which has served me really well. But it has also been a bit of an Achilles heel for me, because instead of hiring stuff out years before, I would just do it myself, I just say you know what, this is part of the gig, I just got to do it. And I would sit there for two hours and do something that I dreaded, or even more important than that I just wasn’t well suited for. So now as a full blown web design entrepreneur, which is what I call myself now, I am very quick together to delegate stuff just yesterday, or actually, this week, I hired out some Zapier work, that integrated a lot of stuff and automated stuff between MailChimp and my web design club, I tried to figure it out myself. And the old Josh would have just kept on going, I would have blown 10 or 15 hours just figuring this stuff out. Now, I just talked to my network and my club and I said, Hey, guys, who’s good at Zapier, I just, I don’t want to figure it out. If somebody knows how to do this, I’ll pay and we’ll do it. And I did it. And they did it in like an hour. And it was awesome. And it freed me up to work on the high level stuff. So that’s a great, that’s a great point tasks that you hate, or maybe that you’re not well suited for. I think that’s a good red flag to watch out for. But here comes the next step is figuring out those tasks, like what are the tasks that are worthwhile handing off? And what are I think it’s sometimes it’s hard as a new designer, or a new entrepreneur to figure out what’s most valuable, because they’re all valuable tasks. But at the end of the day, there are 100, 1,000 $10,000 an hour tasks. And then there are five to $10 an hour tasks. So yeah, what’s the rating system you have in place to help us decipher what we need to decide to hand off.
This is great, I was just talking to somebody about this the other day, and it’s, I’ll see if I can explain it, I would love to draw it out. But we’re on a podcast. So I can’t really do that very easily. So the way I like to describe it is list out everything. So let’s say you’re a solopreneur. Right now, I recommend listing out every single thing you’re doing in your day, do it for a week, so you get like a good snapshot of all the activities you do, and list them all out, then make a ranking to we’re gonna have two numbers, two rankings assigned to each activity. Number one is, how crucial is this to your business. And you can choose if it’s like a scale of one to 10, that feels easy for you, that’s probably the best thing to start with. You could do a scale of one to 100 if you want, but it doesn’t really matter. So how crucial is that activity to your business? So let’s say the activity is writing captions for Instagram, picking something out of thin air. Also, it’s a really good example because I see a lot of people do this. So writing captions for Instagram, let’s say I spend three hours a week doing this. So I say how the ranking for how crucial is this to my business? The way I’m going to decipher like or decide how crucial it is to my business is I’m going to look has that activity produced results for me in the last six months. So let’s say I spent three hours a week doing this Instagram curation slash caption writing. And I’ve been doing it for six months. And I’ve gotten zero clients from that. I think it’s crucial because people say like social media have a presence do this do that. But actually, how crucial is it to my business is close to zero. So I write that task out or write that number. So writing is zero. And then the second column is how much do I want? How much I don’t know how to phrase this. How much of my time, my time it doesn’t need. In this case right now is leading 100% of my time. And you could even add a third column. That is how much do I want to do it?
Okay, that’s I was gonna ask Yeah, what is the desire?
So let’s say it’s a zero. So let’s say it’s zero 10 04. The value it brings to my business 10 for how much of my time it needs, because it’s taking a lot of times it’s taking so so right now a lot of things are going to be 10 because you’re a solopreneur, right? Yeah, you’re the only person doing it. We could rank that in a different way. You could say, like, what percentage of my time does it take and then that gives you even a finer granular way to rank it and that could be really good. So if it’s three hours, A week, maybe it’s three out of 40, let’s say 10% of my time, or 8% of my time, so you can do it that way as well. And then the last number is how much do I like doing it, I don’t like doing it, I hate doing it, it’s zero. So you could probably cross that off your list completely. Drop it from your activities, and nothing would happen to your business. So there’s going to be two types of things we’re going to we’re going to be cutting things out of what you’re doing on a day to day. And you’re also going to be seeing what can you get off of your plate. So there’s two pieces to it. Because a lot of times we are doing things we don’t need to be doing, we think we need to be doing them, but we don’t need to be doing them. So that’s the first example.
You’re talking about stuff that could potentially be dropped completely right versus stuff that you just want to get off your plate or need to get off your plate.
Like you’re putting on a chopping block, you’re you’re chopping it off your list, you will not revisit that until you do like a six month or yearly planning. And you’re like, Okay, let’s come up with a new strategy. Like, if it’s not producing results, one, you might be doing it wrong. So you need a new strategy, or two, you just don’t need to be doing it all.
You know, I think even maybe a third one in there is you don’t need it anymore. I know. That’s how I felt when when I ran my web design agency, I did print work for a long time. And it was great in the beginning, because it opened up a lot of doors. And I encourage my students, if you have some secondary services, that’s fine. But as soon as they become costly, drop them as soon as you don’t need them, get rid of them, because I held on to my print stuff way too long. I think we may have talked about this in our last interview Avani but I remember having website jobs that were three, four or $5,000 that were sitting on the sidelines, because I’m sitting here working on a $250 business card. And I realized it dawned on me, I could hire this out. But then what am I going to make 50 bucks on a business card when I have a $5,000 website that needs to be worked on. And that’s when it dawned on me that I just need to chop this off. And it’s gonna be hard. It was weird, telling people that I’m not doing print work anymore graphic design, but that was a game changer for me. So I definitely want to echo that for everybody. And yeah, yeah, cuz there. There’s a time there’s a time there’s Yeah, I think it’s a good way. I never thought about it. But there’s kind of three tasks that will likely help us scale stuff that we shouldn’t do at all, like you mentioned, that just can be gone. stuff that we don’t need anymore, that can be gone. And then stuff that we just don’t like doing that we need to get off our plates. Yeah.
Yeah, absolutely. And so I want to give another example that what you mentioned is a really great example, I want to give one more example. So let’s say I am a web designer, who has been doing everything. And the task I’m looking at right now, like the activity I’m looking at is development, like let’s say WordPress implementation, let’s be really specific about it. WordPress implementation. So the first column is the ranking of how crucial it is to my business. I run a web design agency 100, it’s really important to my business. How much of my time has it been taking? So the second column? It’s been requiring, let’s say, 70% of my time, because I’ve been like going through bugs, I’m implementing maybe 60 to 70% just rank it as like a six or a seven. And then the third column, how much do I love doing it? I would rank it a one, I really don’t like it. I love designing. But I don’t like implementing very much like, and by the way, personally, for me implementing is a zero. And we cut it out of our business. And we have like, that’s another conversation. But personally, for me, it’s a zero. So let’s add one for in this example that we’re talking about. That’s really important to the business taking quite a bit of my time. And I’m not able to do money making activities like writing scopes, or writing proposals, like having calls with potential clients. So that item can be something you pick off. And it’s definitely contained, like implementation for WordPress, definitely well contained. Right, you can pick it off. And you can say, I can start by outsourcing and getting a developer to help me out with this.
So I’m giving you just like one off examples here. My recommendation is to do this holistically, make that full list, make it make a chart for yourself, do it on a whiteboard, do it on your spreadsheet, do it on a piece of paper, and rank those columns then go through and I would like to start working from that rightmost column which is how much do I want to do it? And start with the zeros. See, and then see like is that thing actually needed? Like is the crucial quality to my business? Is it How much is it needed in my business? That is 02 if that is potentially cut it out? If it’s higher if it’s like five to 10 Okay, this is really important. And then the next question is, Is it someone something someone else can do? WordPress implementation is Definitely something someone else can do. If I give them the guidance, if I give them a design and specs, they can do it, right. So I’m trying to, after I make the whole list do the ranking is now I’m going in and basically triaging the list and working one by one, and you’ll be able to identify a handful or more than a handful of things, you can start getting off of your plate and getting someone else to help you with. Yeah, and that I would say, is a first step to scaling, you can then take that, because you’re gonna get that off your plate, you go hire a contractor to do WordPress implementation, wow, I now have 20 Plus, like, maybe 25 hours a week extra to do other things like imagine how much more you could do now you could just not work, you could go get more clients, you could work on some other parts of your business that actually bring you joy. So that’s really the benefit of offloading these tasks off of your plate. And maybe like, I know, development prices are really range. They’re they’re big range and can be anywhere from like, I’ve seen like 25 $30 an hour to even more than that 100 plus, so depending what it is, it’s definitely a big range. But if I, let’s say $50 an hour pick that paying $50 an hour, 20 hours a week, 1000 hours, 1000 $1,000 a week. And I use even five of those hours to get new contracts, let’s say close one $5,000 contract or even $3,000 contract, I just gave myself the ability to add 2000 more dollars or 5000 more dollars onto my plate onto my revenue.
…even if it’s a task you enjoy, it still might be worthwhile and more cost effective by handing that off. – Josh
There’s the key, that’s just what I was thinking. And I’ve really, I found that to be true. When I started scaling my business, I suddenly had more time to get more clients to do more marketing. Well, for me, quite honestly, because I had already started my personal brand and doing courses, I was able to focus on that, as opposed to putting it back into my business. But for the person who is running their agency, all of your time back, you can do however you want, you can first of all, you can work a lot less if you want, instead of working 60 hours a week, you can work 40 or 35, I, I really encourage my students to work 30 to 35. Because generally, if you’re working 40 hours, you should be able to get done in 30 to 35 what you do, if you scale like we’re talking about. The other aspects that that I think is really important that I kind of, I really was thinking about as you were talking there Avani is, even if it’s a task you enjoy, it still might be worthwhile and more cost effective by handing that off. And it looks like you were probably gonna allude to that because for me, I’m I just recently and actually based off of some interviews that are gonna be upcoming after this episode that I’ve already done, really encouraged me to get podcast editing off my plate. It’s something that I enjoy, I actually really enjoy podcast editing, I crank some tunes, I go for it. But at the end of the day, I realized, if I’m spending three hours a week editing a couple episodes, that’s three hours for me that I could be making new courses or supporting my members or students or creating more free resources or researching or learning like, there are more high level tasks that I know only I can do that I need to focus on. And that’s the mindset I want to encourage everyone have with this because I was even thinking, as a web designer, let’s say use, you know, let’s say five hours a week that you could potentially offload for somebody else to do some of the design and the implementation, even if it’s costing you a few 100 bucks or whatever. That may sound really costly. It’s like a few 100 bucks. That’s scary. But what if you had five hours a week extra to email past and current clients and do upsells and and connect with clients and make really good relationships and sell more? Like you just said, I mean, you might make several $1,000 instead of just you know that 300 that you would have saved? So it definitely it’s it’s I know it can be scary for people. But it’s so worthwhile. And I actually want to ask you the same question that I’ve asked a couple guests that are going to be coming up because I’m going to have this episode come out before some other talks around the subject. And I asked this question numerous times, I want to ask you as well, for somebody who is afraid to start hiring out or it’s just like, Oh, I’m so nervous about paying somebody when I’m going to lose that money. What would you say to that?
Good question. I would just say, pick $1 amount that if it like you, let’s say it’s $50 that’s too little $100 minimum, your minimum is 100. Take $1 amount above 100. That if you lost it today, you would be fine. You’d be like 100% A Okay, nothing happened. Like brush it off your shoulder, you’re good to go. Pick $1 amount, whatever that is. It could be small. If you feel really nervous. Maybe it’s 100. I think the minimum has to be 100 though. Okay, now. Just start with that in the month of February $100 is what You are using to get help from someone else to hire someone and get help. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay. Because you said you wouldn’t be okay with losing $100 already, right. So my recommendation, let’s say, video editing, you want to hire a video editor, you might be going on Upwork or somewhere else. And I’m going to put $100 aside for or video or audio editing. And that’s your budget for that for the month of February, test it out, try it out with something that’s a little bit lower stakes, like, Okay, if your your podcast isn’t edited perfectly, things aren’t gonna blow up. If your podcast is a day late, I think things are going to be okay. So, put it pick a lower stakes item so you can test it out. And the goal is for you to start being comfortable giving money to other people to help you do work. Allowing that release of trust allowing that release of energy, which is money flowing out so that you can get value back. And it’s kind of like a test for yourself, you are getting comfortable, you’re realizing Wow, I spent $100. And the world didn’t come crashing down on my head. Yeah, great. Maybe next month, I’ll spend 300. Or maybe I’ll up at $200 a week. And now you can start putting a little bit more of those higher, slightly higher value tags, maybe you hire an illustrator to make graphics for your website. $400 is a great budget for that you can get some amazing illustration, illustrations from someone from Upwork to help you out, and your website will look amazing. So now you’re you’re taking those, sorry, I talked with my hand and sometimes hit my microphone, taking those baby steps forward. And now you’re getting more and more comfortable. So jumping in and say I’m gonna invest $5,000 if you don’t feel comfortable with that, start small.
That’s great. Well, if it makes you feel any better have any the other two guests I have coming up echoed that exact same thought start small. And I know for me personally, I was thinking back to when I first delegated a website design. It was I was nervous for sure. Because the OCD in me and I had things done my way and everything. But I tried best I could to empower my than designer Jonathan who took over all the design after a little while. And I remember waking up the next day. And then realizing that he had like half the project done while I slept because he was in Australia. So he was working. And the next day I woke up it was like the first time where I woke up was like, Oh, my God, I went to sleep and didn’t work in a project is like half done. This is amazing. And really set off that. Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know what the research is the science behind it. But like the endorphins and the energy thing gets done, and you don’t do everything. That is key. And I think what you’re hitting on is a good point too, because it’s not like we’re saying everybody needs to have a multi million dollar agency and you have to become this big SEO person. Now that’s not what we’re saying it’s, you can absolutely stay small. But get rid of the things that you don’t want to do, that you hate doing or you’re just not suited for, or you know that need to go which is huge. I love that I would definitely echo that sentiment of start small. And I love I never thought about it like that by having $1 amount that you could get rid of that isn’t gonna break the bank, or make it turnovers. I love that concept. Well done. That’s great.
And just to follow up when the first time I experienced that I like I wanted to cry it was so amazing because I finally saw how much I could do by getting other people to help me out getting it not trying to do it by myself not trying to hold it together. And one of the biggest mindset mindset shifts I made actually just the last year is allowing myself to trust my team trust other people who have hired to help me out to do their job. Know that I have done a good job picking these people. And if you want to know how to pick them, you should listen to our last episode together.
I was referencing Episode 084 because yeah, that will come into play big time here.
Trust that you’ve done a good job choosing those people to work with and let them do their thing. If you give people the space to shine, they will absolutely shine they will blow you out of the water. They will like wow, you and you’ll just be like How did this happen? I am now empowered to do even more to grow the business more so that they can continue to have work so that maybe you can even pay them more like the best feeling ever is to say, hey, our business grew so much this year and you’ve done such an amazing job. I want to pay you more like imagine how good that feels. Because you’re so comfortable. You’re so such a good place financially. And now you can let your team reap those rewards as well.
That’s great. There are a lot of hidden benefits to scaling apart from just profit numbers and the stuff that you might think of it is, there’s a lot of aspects that are very rewarding. I totally echo that. Because you see somebody draining progress. A lot of people, they’re thrilled to get work, and they get an opportunity. And then when you see them Excel, then I know, for me, too, I learned a lot from the people I hired. Now, I’m hiring people that are better than I am at a lot of these areas, like my podcast editor who’s gonna be taking this over, he’s just way better at audio and video than I am. So I’m gonna learn a lot from him. I know. And I learned a lot from designers, I’ve worked with encoders. So there’s that. And there’s also a sense of not being alone, which I think is more important than ever. Did you? Have you felt that as well? I could you feel like once you scaled, it wasn’t all on your shoulders, you could share the load a little bit?
Absolutely. I’m glad you mentioned that. It’s can be lonely. When you’re running a business by yourself. You can you can minimize that by getting friends or business business besties, who you hang out with and talk to, like hang out with virtually and talk to. But it’s still not the same as just knowing that there is someone else you could be like, Oh my gosh, this project bla bla bla bla, like, Oh, yeah, me too. I feel that way too. But also this and you’re just not alone anymore. And that’s a kind of, it’s a priceless feeling.
Yeah, it really is. Yeah. So that’s great. So we’ve covered some good stuff. So far, I would like to talk about Oh, you had did you have something I want…
I want to say one thing. So you were talking earlier about? You know, some people may want to keep their business small, but just give themselves some more time back. And there’s also some people who do want to scale to multiple six figures, six figures, multiple six figures and beyond. And so for that person I highly recommend and that little chart or matrix that I talked about. Not only and you touched on this to Josh earlier, not only should you say how much do I enjoy this? but also how much does this need me? Because at some point, like you said, you’re going to have to hand this video editing or podcast editing or designing blah, blah, blah off to somebody? And how much does it actually need you most of the times, tasks or activities need us less than we think. So I used to always think that, you know, designing a full app needed me because Oh, I’m so good at this, I’m the best blah, blah, blah, I know exactly how to do that. I’m quick and get in and out. And then I realized, oh, but I can train someone. Oh, there are other people out there who were actually better than me at this. And the moment I realized that just actually doesn’t need me a lot. Now that work, that activity is now something I can outsource as well. And you can definitely find people out there who are better than you.
That’s great I think there is a lot of, yeah, there’s a lot of value in writing down the tasks that only you can do or that only you can do for your business. Because you just said it. There are often typically always people who can do a better job, a lot of this stuff that can be repeated or is more task driven. And I definitely think it, you have to swallow some pride and you have to get over the perfectionist that all designers face. That’s a biggie again, I just think that web designers and designers have it much harder than the average industry because we can do the stuff we’re good at doing the tech stuff or the figuring out the you know, the figuring out hat that we have on on stuff, which again, can be very crippling because we can hold on to that stuff. But yeah, getting that time back. I mean, I was even thinking. So I really push again, my students to work between 30 to 35 hours a week, Max, you I really feel like you don’t need to go beyond that. And let’s say a task takes three hours a week and you you’re you’re crushing it, you’re only doing 30, that’s 10% of your week, that’s 40% Well, you know, that’s an a month, that would still be 10%. But that’s a lot of time. And if you can have an extra 10% to invest in something else. And to have a little more headspace. That’s really I think the the key to scaling and some of the benefits is that time is our most valuable asset.
Yeah, it’s really, really cool when you can zoom out and look at it like that and see how much you can get back and extend your energy in other ways.
Yeah. Now I would love to ask you about so we talked about you know, if you’re afraid to free to start hiring and stuff, but for you have any you’re pretty experienced with building teams. And I’m not again, we don’t need to get into hiring. I think we covered that very in depth in Episode 84. But were there any setbacks or troubles with scaling that you found was it Did you ever have any experiences where some areas of the business that you scale did not go well, that you learn from or that you would maybe go back and do again, I don’t often like to focus on negative stuff. But I do think it’s worthwhile looking at lessons learned, like, for me practically I know, when I started scaling the design and development aspect of my business, I did a pretty good job at laying out how I design and how I code. But one thing I didn’t really have in place is like a standard operating procedure. For the design, I had my courses at the time, which my my subs went through. But there was a lot of things that I realized I should have documented this first, even though it would take some time, they could have at least followed something. Have you ever experienced anything like that, that you learn from? When it came to scaling? That was like, wow, I wish I would have done that differently.
Yeah, honestly, I wish I would have done it sooner. I did did start scaling pretty quickly, because I hit a snag in one of my first projects like I can’t do this development I do, I think I am sitting up at 11pm trying to figure out what went wrong with that plugin on WordPress. So like immediately, I outsource that, but I wish I did even more sooner. Like I wish I outsource design sooner. I’m I come from a design background, I’ve worked in house as a designer for different companies. I should have done that sooner. I remember just working on things. If I do love design, but then there’s some design that’s very grueling. It’s very like it’s there’s different types of designing. And I remember just feeling like I was spending my time on this and not able to spend my time on other things like the creativity levels are different when you’re designing different things. And we design a lot of apps, a lot of b2b products, things like b2c products. So I remember feeling that way. And I wish I design outsource to design sooner, in order to extend my time do other things. Similar to you, we’ve we’ve started documenting our processes have a year and a half ago, so maybe two, two and a half years into the business. So we’ve been doing that. And we have an entire design playbook now that we just created because we’re shifting our offerings a little bit. So I’m glad we’re doing that I’m trying to think of other things. We haven’t had any. The thing is, I know that when you’re scaling, things will go wrong. They’ll always go wrong here and there. And it’s just kind of…
They go go wrong if you do it yourself too.
Yeah, it’s all in whether you do it or yourself or you scale, things are just gonna happen, and you’re just gonna have to work through them. And we’ve just realized, just like you’re designing a website, just like you design a product, you come across kinks, then you figure out okay, is this a bug? Did I do something else wrong, like foundational thing? Do I need to rework that? Do we need to go back to this, the code, blah, blah, blah, do I need to do that. So if you approach your business in that way, and just take a look at it experimentally, you don’t have to attach feeling or emotion to it as much in which is hard to do, especially because like, when you’re a solopreneur it’s almost like you are I’m the business the business is Yeah, I understand that. But viewing it a little experimentally, it helps you make those bumps in the road feel a little bit less bumpy.
You know, I was thinking to when we were talking about documenting stuff and creating some sort of SOP a standard operating procedure. I did not realize how much I was doing in all areas of my business. But I’ll just use the podcast as an example. I you know, I know it’s quite a bit of work when I was doing the podcast all by myself, because I do have a VA now who’s been for a while. She does all the transcriptions and outlines and publishing and everything. I did all that in the beginning, I did you know, excellent. The episode did all the editing, made the graphics and did all the post production and posting and stuff. And it wasn’t until I listed it out that I realized, oh my god, there’s a lot of work. I mean, it doesn’t often, you know, take that long, but there’s still a lot of tasks. And even with editing, I’m creating that. All right now getting ready to hand off the editing. Actually, side note, this is going to be the first episode Nathan, my, my editor is going to edit. So that’s kind of coincidence. So we talked about scaling. We’re talking about scaling, this is the first one but I’m making all of those processes right now really write them out. And it’s amazing how much you don’t realize you do until you hire it out. So I think that’s that’s, it’s also freeing. It’s like, Oh my gosh, I don’t have to do this every week. It’s amazing. I would like to ask you, because we talked a lot about good principles with scaling, there is a big difference with scaling certain tasks. And what I mean by that is, you talked about designer development, those are often some of the first things you can delegate if you’re running a business. Now one area that’s tricky is sales and marketing. I feel like that’s a whole nother ballgame, delegating because a lot of designers, if they get to their point where they become a business owner, which is the path that I took and that most designers take is you just become a web designer. Then you’re a freelancer, then you’re running your own business, you’re a solopreneur then you start to you know, off board. A lot of Design and Dev and stuff like that. But then all the sudden, wow, you’re a business owner, and you think I’m still gonna do all the sales and all the marketing? What would you say to that? More importantly, how do you scale that into the business?
Yes, I’m so glad you brought that up, because that’s what I’ve been doing as my primary job for the last year and a half or so. Yeah, I would say one to between one to two years. And I thought that, how can I ever scale this scale and outsource, especially outsource sales? Like I know, it’s in my like, is everything that I know inside of me? And I can just do it like this? How can anyone else ever do that? I had to really drop that attitude last year, especially because if we are scaling to a million dollar business and beyond, no way will I be able to make all the sales that need to be made. I mean, possible, it’s possible for a million dollar business, I think actually, like because we are having bigger ticket bigger ticket items. However, there is a point in this year will I have where I will have to make that switch.
On the business type too. I still technically do all the sales for my brand. But shocker, it’s a personal brand. So it’s gonna be hard. There’s some ways I could potentially have affiliate stuff, but I’m gonna, you know, but I can do things at scale. Now, as a web design agency, you can become an authority and do free resources and stuff. But there’s still gonna be a lot of boots on the ground, meeting with clients, calls that literally if you’re one person doing that, and you’re gonna scale to high six figures or even lower six figures, that’s a full time job right there.
So although our referrals are amazing, you know, one of the things that is going to change how you grow is the number of leads that you get so that you can get on sales calls. – Avani
Absolutely. So I want to share a little bit about what I am doing right now. So currently, I am doing all the sales. However, I’ve outsourced the marketing. And I want to clear, I also had took me three months to actually I had the idea. And then it took me forever to like pull the trigger, because I was like, What if it doesn’t work out? And what do people think, and like when I reach out to them. So this isn’t like an outbound marketing effort, we get so many referrals, so many great inbound leads, we have outsourced SEO, so we optimize your website last quarter. So we’re getting a lot of great inbound leads. And what we didn’t have that was it was just me. And it wasn’t really great, because I didn’t have as much time, we didn’t have a good outbound marketing engine. So in marketing, when you are trying to get leads, you can have leads come to you, which is inbound, and you can go out and reach out to people, which is outbound marketing. In order to scale the way we need to scale, we cannot just rely on our referrals. So although our referrals are amazing, we want to when you’re scaling, you know, one of the things that is going to change how you grow is the number of leads that you get so that you can get on sales calls. So that’s why we started an outbound marketing effort. Where initially, what I used to do is I used to do research to find people, I wanted to work with craft special emails and have like a really like customized way of reaching out to them and talking to them and make a connection. Sure, I talked about this one my podcast episodes, but we used to do something where we’d give them an example of how we might work with them. There’s all these things that I used to do and use take some time for me to do that. So I was only able to do a couple a day. And I didn’t do it most days, if you did a couple of day five days a week with it, which I was able to do three years ago, not a year ago. So I was running out of time in my day, you know, so then you have to prioritize. So what I did last quarter q4 of 2020 took all of that that outbound marketing effort, bundled it into a process, like you were saying exactly that. We use clickup as a project management system. And it is game changing, because it’s so customizable. I created a click up section where I have a board. And I have a team member who’s marketing marketing assistant who does this for me. She knows our criteria for clients, she goes out does a research she finds who we should reach out, reach out to she puts it in our clickup as a new row. Reach out to Mr. SpongeBob SquarePants. Who does this, this and this. And then that comes into my queue as an approve or reject is this actually a good client for us to reach out to yes or no, I will approve or reject it that will also be eventually outsourced because I don’t need to do that. But I’m doing it right now because we’re getting our process down. As soon as I approve it. She then drafts an email. She already has a bunch of templates. She drafts it. I’m not even reviewing it anymore. We have someone else on the team reviewing that draft. We have some things we put into that email as attachments. Then she sends it out. So this process we started getting getting going in early January. We’ve been doing it we started with five messages a week. Now we’re up to almost 20 we’ve been getting a couple of responses every week. So this is an effort that we’re growing. And you can see, obviously, I’m doing it right now. So I can’t say like, oh, I’ve gotten five clients from it, but we will. So we’re scaling this process that I used to do once upon a time on my own. And so that’s our marketing efforts. And we get our inbound marketing by just like being awesome. So people love to work with us, they tell other people about us. So marketing is completely off of my plate. Now, except for that one little review task that I talked about the moment that individuals ready for a sales call, they come into my board, and I’m the sales team, right now, it will be the sales team, no other people in the sales team, but it comes into my board, and I set up a call with them. And I go through the process that I have on my sales board. So this is all in a project management system. Eventually what I’m doing on a sales call the emails like, Hey, nice to meet you, let’s set up a time. And Hi, let’s talk about what it is you want to do all that stuff, I’m going to be standardizing that process, helping someone learn about how to then use that process to then sell. So that’s what marketing and sales could look like.
Wow, that’s great. You know, and the other aspect that kind of goes beyond that, that really, I never thought that I would ever feel comfortable with his project management and client management when it comes to your team talking with clients. Like, of course, I started scaling at the beginning of 2018. And Jonathan, my guy who did the design, I got to a point where I was finding myself just playing middleman. And I was just relaying messages from him to the client. And then I realized, alright, I’ve got, this is not gonna cut it. So what I did, though, and what was really cool, and hopefully this is encouragement for everybody is that never had any standard operating procedure for that or anything. But what I did was I let Jonathan See how I talked to customers and clients. And what was cool is when I had him, just give it a go, at some point, you got to put some trust in somebody, if you feel comfortable with them. He did really good at first, and then he got better and better and better. And then I noticed he started talking like me, which was really cool. It was like, the core vision over whatever you want to call it for a company in a weird way. Like I just saw him kind of talking like I did. And I always encourage people to be themselves. But I think what you’re talking about there is having some scripts, having some templates, or at least having like some I guess we’ll call buzzwords or things that you know how you would like the company to come across. Those are great to put into place, because your team can use that. And then even though they don’t, you know, I’m not going to talk exactly like have any I can at least know Okay, this is the parameters that we generally want to talk in. So I think that’s a great way to go to for whether it’s sales marketing, or the next step with Project Management, at least I found that to be really key.
Yeah, oh, my gosh, getting like an account manager or project manager to help move things along. We actually haven’t done that yet. Because that’s kind of rolled up in our designers roles, but really helpful to have someone to first so then you don’t have to check in every few hours on things or even everyday things.
Now, what about off boarding? Because we’ve talked a lot about the team processes, the scaling, sales, marketing, some project management, but off boarding. I always took that on myself. But had I you know, had I not had this personal brand. And what I do now, I absolutely would have really taken the agency to a whole nother level and had that all standardized. What have you learned in that regard for offboarding? And then following up? Like, do you create processes that your team is going to follow for, you know, certain people to reach out to certain clients or follow up? Or do you automate that? Yeah. I’m be curious to see what’s worked for you with scaling that in because that’s often the area of business that people neglect and forget about is once you get a project done, don’t just leave your client in the dust, but make their offboarding experience amazing. Get testimonials, get reviews? And then more importantly, what’s the game plan for following up? So yeah, how do you scale?
So great question, we actually just implemented some SOPs for this. And we’ve written it all out in our playbook, which is really exciting. So in when a project is complete, a designer will know that the lead designer on the project will know the project is complete when it’s complete. Usually I have a pulse on the project anyway, throughout the project. If things are delayed or anything like that, we’ll know that when the project is complete, that kicks off a task with a bunch of sub tasks on things to do to close the project, which includes closing, closing the click up project and our project management system closing the Slack channel closing out. For me, they send me a message right now, me or finance person, a message that hey, it’s time To send the final invoice. And so we do that. And then the last thing is a bunch of handoff or follow up pieces. So we actually we work in figma, we do designs and figma, we actually created a template to hand off like a handoff document. And it’s it’s like the deliverables, the final things I give to a person and make sure they know where everything is, because inevitably, someone will be like, Hey, we’re the logos. And you’re like, Oh, I didn’t, I sent you an email with the logos, and you have to like re send an email, which feels really silly. And they might still do that, by the way. But what we’ve realized is that, if they’re gonna do that, anyway, let’s make it easy on us first of all, and what we’ve done is we created a designed out page with it looks, figma is a tool for designing UI. So it looks like UI has like here, your logo files, click here, and we link that to the Google Drive folder of the logo files here. Here’s your designs, click here, here are your brand guidelines, click here. So it’s just like a page that we’ve designed for them customized with their logo, their name, our logo, that we send them as a link, here’s your handoff, document, everything you need, from what we did together is here. That’s great. That’s one piece we do for our onboarding. And the second thing we do is, we do a testimonial request, we have a form for this as well, that’s connected to click up. And what we do is we send this out a week or so after the project has ended, saying, Hey, we loved working with you. We’d love to hear we’d love a two to three sentence testimonial. We’d also love to hear your feedback. How was it working with us? Do you have any constructive feedback, anything you loved or hated? So getting that input as well, because we are we’re designers, we like to think like designers, we always want to improve our process. So we have that also. And then that’s kind of where things cut off right now. In terms of re engaging or keeping in touch. I do that on my end. I do like a yearly Happy New Year email where I give everyone free coffee for an entire week. Which if you’re curious, we can talk about that. But I do like here and there send out things to continue to let people know that. Hi, we exist. Keep up. Keep us top of mind. We love you. You love us. Don’t forget that.
Yeah. Well, this man, that’s awesome. I love that. And I love the the playbook stuff you talked about and also love that document the handoff document for clients with links to everything. that’s crucial. Yeah, we’ve, we’ve experimented with a couple different things with that. Because inevitably, yeah, clients are always gonna respond back, you know, six months later back, Hey, didn’t you send me my logo. So that’s awesome. We
had the email you sent them, then yes,
We had actually experimented with having an assets page on every website build that just has all this stuff on it. So they can just which they would forget about it anyway. But you could just say, Yep, just go to your site, slash assets, or whatever. So it’s always an option as well. And I just want to make sure everyone knows listening to this designers, those of you who have been through my business course, this is all laid out for you. So you don’t need to come up with all the tasks, I basically have everything there. And then you can take the tasks, whether it’s my business course, or some of my other like my process course. And you can use that to decide what to delegate. So I want to make sure I don’t overwhelm everybody thinking, Oh my gosh, I’ve got to make all this up. No, follow a proven path. Even if it’s not me follow a proven path, somebody who’s done the business, and then then you can make it your own and delegate it. So well. This has been awesome. And I’m really, I felt pretty good about what we covered. I think we’ve covered a lot of the reasons why you want to scale the different mindsets that people might have some of the reasons you might want you know, we’ve kind of hung on to it or delayed on it. But I love the idea of listing out what you do in a week or maybe a couple of weeks depending on the type of work you do. Really getting a good feel for those tasks. see which ones are high level versus low level and then I love the columns you mentioned about like zero to 10. What do you hate doing what are you good at what do you notice needs to go and I felt like we did a good job of covering scaling the the sales and marketing but then also project management and, and some of the onboarding stuff. So this was great. I was just looking at my list of questions and I think we’ve covered everything that I wanted to hit. Last thing for you. Do you have any final thoughts? For somebody who is listening to this? They’re pumped, they’re ready to scale but they might just need a nudge what would you what would be the final thought that would just make them want to go Alright, let’s let’s do this.
Start right now start today because the every single day that you put off scaling put off just putting in $100 investment to hire someone to extend your time. Every single day that you do that you’re leaving money on the table, not just like a couple of dollars on the table. You are leaving a pile of $100 bills on the Like not a small pile like a large pile like a large $100 bills on a table. And that is value you could be creating for other people. It’s not just money, its value you could be creating for other people. But it’s also money you could be bringing into your business to then pay other very good people. good money, you know where we’re doing this to add value to the world have an increase in our quality of life, and live our lives the way we want to live them. So the longer you procrastinate it the longer you’re just procrastinating the really the life you want to live. So it’s up to you. But start now.
Well said I mean, I don’t know a better way to end than that of any. That was awesome. That was great. And I apologize if you hear my golden retriever at my door scratching the seas dying for her afternoon walk here. So man, that was awesome. Thank you so much for coming on. Again. I’m super excited for you even just from when we talked a couple months ago to see what you’ve done already. And I have no doubt that you’re gonna hit your goals this year with the scaling stuff you have going on. So yeah, man, this was cool. Thanks so much for coming back on and Sharon sharing the goods.
Thank you for having me, Josh.