If you’re an entrepreneur who hates feeling boxed in by calendars, schedules, systems, processes… you’re normal. And yet, you really need those things to scale your business!
I’m the rare breed of CEO who scores high in “dominance” and “conscientiousness” on the DISC assessment, which means – I’m both a big-picture leader who loves a good challenge and a detail-oriented lover of systems.
And that’s what I want to talk about today: The importance of training yourself (as leader, as CEO) to embrace the systems + processes necessary to excel in business.
Because honestly, that’s how I’ve got to where I am today. My company is always evolving our systems + processes with the feedback we receive from team members and our Hirsh Partners. And I encourage you to create something similar for your own business!
Here’s what you’ll learn inside this episode:
- What the “Hirsh Onboarding Process” looks like today (+ how it’s always improving)
- Why a stellar process leads to fewer questions + greater independence from your clients and customers
- And why systems + processes are even more crucial today for virtual companies
Tune into this 20-minute conversation for leaders – and then share your thoughts over on Instagram (@emilyhirsh)! Slide into my DMs to ask your follow-up questions, and you might see your Q featured on an upcoming episode of the show!
[4:21] This is the only way I’ve been able to grow my multi-million dollar company in <4 years
[7:00] And P.S. This is true no matter what kind of business you have
[11:40] Consider everything in your business as a unique, ever-improving system of processes
[13:11] The key? You’re never “done” making improvements!
[15:09] Too many companies are wasting time by NOT putting systems + processes in place
[17:19] My advice: Start at the place where the biggest information exchange is happening
If this episode resonates with you, leave a review on iTunes! (These really, truly make a difference in who sees the podcast – so thank you!)
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Automated: I’m Emily Hirsh, and this is the Hirsh Marketing Underground podcast. Attention innovators, influencers, creators, and game-changing entrepreneurs: your internet domination begins right here. We are the powerhouse marketers that you’ve been looking for. You’re already making waves in your industry, and we’re here to help amplify those waves of change by creating a connection that cuts through the noise. We take everything you’ve built inside your zone of genius and find its audience. With killer strategy and laser eye for impact, we launch multimillion dollar campaigns and skyrocket your reach online. And now, we are doing the unheard of. We’re unveiling everything we’ve learned, taking you behind-the-scenes with the Hirsh marketing Team, and giving away the secrets to our clients’ success. Stay tuned for top-converting strategy, ROI reports, and insider knowledge that you won’t find anywhere else. You’re changing the world, and we’re the team to help.
Emily Hirsh: Hello, all my friends, podcast listeners. Hello, you guys. It is a hot day, again, here in Austin. They tell me it’s going to start cooling down. I’m filming… or, not filming, recording this. It’s the end of August right now, but it’s still like 98 every single day, so basically you don’t want to go outside. I’m thinking about going to California again in a couple of weeks, because I just feel so lucky. I have nannies there, and I can stay at my mom’s house, and it’s just a break from the heat, and I’m planning on spending a lot of the summers there. So, until it cools down here, I’m going to keep dragging my kids back to California. But they’re asking to go anyways. All right. So, today, I wanted to talk about my obsession that has been a huge driver behind… honestly, a main driver behind my success, my own business success, and our clients’ success.
I just think this will be a really important reminder for people in how they look at their business, because I’m obsessed with this, and that is, process and systems. I get asked all the time at events, calls, whatever, like, “How have you done this? How have you built this?” And, especially in a quick amount of time, four years, really only been building my team for two. There are a lot of agencies out there, and what I know is, there’s a lot of really amazing strategists, really amazing marketing brains, arguably some better than mine, and they were doing client work and starting the agency route, and then ditched it, just didn’t want to do it, which is great for them. The people I know and love are happy doing what they’re doing, but it’s a very known hard industry to scale, because you’re dealing with a lot of relationships, you’re dealing with a lot of pieces, a lot of moving parts.
You have to have a person on your team responsible for client relationships and several client relationships, and then everything that happens within client relationships, and it’s just hard to scale. Looking back, knowing how hard it is to grow a team and the systems and just everything, I would have gone the digital product route! I’m just kidding. I wouldn’t have, I think service was what I’m meant to do because of this obsession, because of this thing that I’m really good at, which is process and systems. My brain thinks that way. I feel fortunate, because I think a lot of entrepreneurs lack this. Actually, if you look at the DiSC assessment, a lot of high Cs are systems and process-oriented, and a lot of entrepreneurs don’t have that. They don’t like calendars, they don’t like systems, they don’t like spreadsheets, they don’t like having to be confined into a system, into a box.
And I don’t like… I like freedom. I like to have freedom of my schedule, but I like to be extremely organized, and I love process. And so I have a high C on the DiSC assessment, a very high D, 99, and then I also have a high C, which is like a 70, which is rare. And so I feel fortunate, and I think that’s actually also how I was able to be a virtual assistant in the beginning of my journey, because I have those skills, and I am able to do that. When I look at my company and I look at, like, “How have I done that?” when I get asked that, and 100%, it’s my team. Because I was just talking to someone, too, the other day who’s thinking about working with us, they’re a friend in a Mastermind with me, and I was at a dinner, and I was talking to them and I said, “You know, honestly…” Right now they have one person doing their ads, and he was complaining and saying, “The copy is just not good, and I’m not getting the reporting I want, and they’re a good strategist.”
And he was saying, “I’m not unhappy, but I know I could be doing better, and I’m spending a lot of money.” And I said, “Here’s the problem. You don’t have a team on your account. Like the one person who can do copy has a different brain type than somebody who’s doing reporting and analytics. And so you don’t have a team.” I saw this need years ago when I started building my team. It was like, “I can’t just put one person on the account. I have to piece together what each account needs.” And for me, that really comes to three core things. It’s the high-level strategy, the day-to-day implementation and management and project management and strategy management and optimization, which is the core of it. And then it’s also the creative, which is massively missing.
But in order to put together all of those pieces and then deliver to clients and then have all the moving parts that happen in the client’s side… which is, we deal with clients’ teams and not them directly a lot of the times. We’ve got launch assets, funnel assets, backend logins, creative approval. It’s insane, okay? The only way I’ve been able to do it is crazy amounts of process. And we will never be done with implementing process and systems in our company. And I have… My head of the ads team, we just shifted it, because she was supporting with some… She’s like 50/50 doing operations and helping with systems and operations, basically.
And then she was also doing 50% helping with bigger clients or escalated client issues or strategy at a very high level. So she was like the third level up, and so now we have a full-time, what we’re calling our strategic director, who is doing all the strategy of Facebook ads. So she is just the backend. If something’s not covering, she comes in, she helps the ads manager, she’s managing all the strategy. And then full-time head of my head of the ads team is doing the operations piece because it’s so important. So, things that we’re constantly updating, and this is probably true, and I don’t care if you’re a service business or digital product business, what business you are, your client onboarding or your student onboarding is going to always need refining and looking at.
We look at it about every four to six months, and we update it. I’m going to tell you guys about our recent update in a second. But your client onboarding has the most amount… or student. Student, too, because when we launched IGNITE, our student onboarding, it was an in-depth onboarding process as well. I mean, it’s a little less than client, but it has so much information transfer at the start of a relationship right there. And I can tell you, I’ve been a part of many programs or hired other service providers, and most are dropping the ball here. Most are missing things in their onboarding.
And you know what, it’s funny, because when I go through an experience where I’m like, “Hmm, that could be better.” I’m probably like a high judge of it, too, because I have a service business and I have high expectations because of what we do for clients. But I don’t actually get mad a lot of times because I’m like, “I know how hard it is. But you’re lacking in your delivery here. This is what I would’ve done different.” I don’t always say it, but I do experience it. And so, I can say that, in most cases, people are lacking here in their onboarding. And the reason why is, it’s a lot of work. We have probably refined our onboarding four times in the last year-and-a-half, and we’re constantly… We just did another overhaul. It’s so crucial, because it’s setting that expectation for the relationship. It is setting them up for success.
So for us, if our onboarding is off, it sets the whole tone off wrong. But also we don’t get everything we need, and then it’s just inefficient, or… People in courses, if they don’t have proper onboarding, they don’t actually start the course and consume the course, and they’re confused… It’s hard. And I think it’s even harder for virtual companies, because you’re doing everything virtually, and so you have to transfer all this information, and information not as just papers and logins and that type of thing, but I’m talking about actual verbal information. How you work, dates…
For us it’s like this, it’s like… Here’s our onboarding. We’ve got literally a PDF that explains this in a visual chart, but we also have to go from one person to the next, and so our onboarding is… sales, obviously, closes the client. Then they have to go in, and they sign their agreement and whatever, and I’m not going to go over every detail, but basically, what I just changed was, I created training videos myself for clients to watch before their first strategy call with my team. And those training videos were actually walking them through, “Here is everything that’s going to happen next.”
And I screenshare the onboarding process with them, and I say, “Okay, first you’re going to do this, and then you’re going to do this.” And I learned this at an event, and I think it’s genius, because do you know, when you speak, when you talk to people, when you take them through an experience, if the human mind knows what’s happening next, they feel so much more confident? And so to you it feels like repetitive or not necessary, but if they know, like, “Okay, tomorrow this is going to happen, and in two days I’m going to expect this.” They’re relaxed and confident and not asking a bunch of questions. It’s helped us a lot. So I do that video. I’m going to do it for my course, I’m going to do it for everything, like just explain to people…
And I actually do it in… I just went to a speaking workshop… on my speech. So you’re supposed to even do it when you speak, and you say, like, “Over the next 30 minutes I’m going to teach you this. And it’s a five step process.” And then once you get to the second step, you’re like, “We’ve just gotten to step two, and now we’re going to move in onto the third of [five] steps,” because you’re subtly, you don’t have to say it exactly like that, but you’re subtly just letting people know where they are, what’s happening next, and they’d feel more confident. And it really works. So I made a video about that, and then this video is almost more important… I made a video of the five characteristics that are going to set you up for success as a client at Hirsh Marketing. I feel like it was such an important information to give to people, because I want them coming in to understand, “This is a partnership, and here’s what we’re going to need from you guys, and [here’s] how you set yourself up for success.” I think if you have a course, service, whatever, that would be a great thing to include.
So, that’s like onboarding processes. But then we’ve got daily tracking and how to escalate accounts and how to get help from our strategists on our team if something isn’t working. And so, you have to look at everything in your business as a process, and that is what we do. So, if something happens, let’s say I have a situation where a client was confused about something, or they were upset about something, or we didn’t hit a goal, or… I’m talking like negative stuff, something happens. Instead of just being like… and my team has seen me do this so many times, and this is a crucial mindset change that I’m really grateful I naturally have… but instead of looking at things that happen that are bad or frustrating or balls are dropped or you even lose money over them, or whatever, and instead of just being like, “Man, that sucked,” and like, “So-and-so should’ve done this,” and “The client was wrong here,” or, “Our team should be doing this instead, and I’m so mad.”
Instead you say, “Where did the process get broken? Where did the disconnect happen?” You go in like a scientist, and you figure that out and you fix it, and then it doesn’t happen again. If you don’t do that, the same things keep happening. And so you have to look at every problem, everything in your business as a process, especially if you’re in the service industry, especially, because everything is process. The way you do everything, it’s process, and you’re never going to be done improving it as long as you’re constantly looking at feedback to improve it. And so for me, I always want feedback. I want feedback from the team. I want feedback from our clients. I want feedback from everyone. Where were you confused? Where were you uncomfortable? Where did something feel rough? Where did it not feel smooth? Where was there a disconnect? Where was there a misunderstanding in expectations that happen sometimes?
This has happened to us several times where our team’s like, “It’s awesome. We’re doing this, we’re doing this.” And our client’s like, “We’re upset about this,” and we’re like, “Wait, there’s a disconnect. Where’s the disconnect? How do we fix that communication disconnect in the future?” Through a process. And so, you need constant feedback from your team, from your clients, from anyone who interacts with your business. And then you need to be able to take that feedback and actually implement solutions through processes. If you can obsess over that, your life will get so much easier as a CEO, your time, you’ll get your time back, and your clients will be happier.
For me, this is 100% why we’ve been able to do what we’ve done, because there’s so many moving parts in an ad account and with clients that if you don’t have incredible systems… and if you asked any of our clients who have worked with us, they will say this. I think it was Steven Larson, he’s a client of ours, and I’m doing an interview… I don’t think it’s come out yet, so I won’t say much of something he is doing. And so, in it, he’s like, “You just like, breathe process. Like everything that comes out of your mouth, it’s just ‘process.’” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s how my brain thinks, and that’s how I’ve been able to do this.” And so, everyone doesn’t have to bleed out process, I think that’s what he said, not breathe, bleed out process.
But you have to train yourself to look at process and take feedback and then implement process and never be done with it. Constantly be improving it. The last thing I’ll say is, this is also super important for your internal company. For example, the next, one of the most important things that we look at constantly, I mean not constantly, every four to six months as well, is our team onboarding. Because, it’s again a ton of information transfer, and so many people are wasting time not having a very solid onboarding, because it’s hard. Because who has time to set aside a week to do something like this? And sometimes that’s how long it would take. And sometimes it has to happen in pieces. And you have this project that you’re working on over a month, and you’re improving it, and you know it’s not perfect, and you’re onboarding people, and you’re like, “Man, we’re trying to improve that thing but it’s not perfect, so let us know if you have questions.” And that’s fine.
But it’s, again, whenever there’s a massive amount of information transfer, which usually happens during an onboarding process of students, team members, clients… you have to obsess over that process. If you can do that and get it so efficient, it will save you so much time and money as a CEO, and stress. And then everything is just process after that. If you change your mindset and you look at your business this way, honestly I look at my life this way, but your business especially this way, it will make your life so much easier. I believe, when people ask me the question, “How have you done what you’ve done? How have you scaled it? How have you created this success? How have you had so many clients with a high retention rate? How have you done this?” My answer is process and team. Systems, process, team. That is exactly how I’ve done it. That’s my secret weapon. That is the only way.
It’s not about having access to Ninja amazing strategies on Facebook. Yes, we do, because we collaborate in a very systemized way and bring together all of our strategies and have an intel and data that nobody else has. But if I didn’t have systems for bringing that together, it would just be a nightmare. It would be like, “Oh, so-and-so is doing this. Let’s talk about it.” It would not be streamlined. I’ve had to streamline that and improve that. I feel like this podcast was a little bit all over the place. Hopefully you guys got takeaways from it. I get super excited about this, because I know, for a fact, it is the reason I’ve been able to scale my company.
When I look at other businesses, because I see a lot of behind-the-scenes of other businesses and I love picking them apart and being like, “Hey, they could do this, and it would be so great for them,” because no business is perfect. That’s an Alex Charfen quote, and he just said this to me the other day. “Remember, every business is broken. Even the biggest ones out there, they’re broken. If they’re growing, they’re broken.” And so, when I say I look at a business and I look at places they can improve, that’s normal. Everyone’s going to have that. But most of them are process. Most of them are process and system issues. A lot of times the process and system is communication process and system issues between team members, between our team to their team to the CEO happens a lot.
Communication is huge. There’s got to be process and systems for how that communication is happening. So I shouted Alex Charfen out now, just a second ago with that quote. But I should mention here, he’s helped me with this a lot. Luckily I’ve been able to implement a lot of what he says because I have such a process-oriented mind, but I’m so passionate about this because it will… You can hustle your way to a certain point in your business and then you have to turn to this. You have to turn to team, process, and systems, and if you don’t, you won’t scale. You won’t grow. It’ll be terrible. It’ll be so hard. You’ll feel stuck. And so, I know this is the golden ticket. This is the key. Look at your business through that lens, step back, look at that and what you need to improve, and look at the places where the biggest amount of information exchange is happening, and start there.
Okay, guys, I hope this was helpful. Let me know on Instagram, leave a review if you haven’t left a review before, but I’d love to hear. I would love to just hear what you thought about this, if this was helpful, if this made you think in any different way. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you guys next time.
Automated: Thanks for listening to the Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Go behind-the-scenes of multimillion dollar ad campaigns and strategies, dive deep into The Hirsh Process, and listen to our most popular episodes over at HirshMarketingUnderground.com. If you loved this episode of the podcast, do me a favor and head over to iTunes to subscribe and leave a review so we can reach more people and change more lives with this content. That’s all for now, and I’ll catch you next time.