Overwhelmed and Exhausted

I was overwhelmed, exhausted and lying flat on my back. I was sick for weeks, I couldn’t talk or even get out of bed. I couldn’t go on because I had worked myself thin. I had no systems in place. I had no help. It was only me.

Like your favorite roller coaster at the best theme park, I slowly climbed to a peak only to be hurled toward the earth near zero gravity—completely out of control—only to climb back up and plummet back down. Rinse. Repeat. I could only hope that the camera caught me with a big smile instead of a grimace of fear.

The One Man Band

I have been in business for myself for over 15 years. I’ve managed many different teams across multiple countries while coordinating simultaneous projects. Up until recently, everything has been on me. I have been a one-person show. Like the one man band, I was trying to play the guitar, harmonica, a drum with my right foot, a trumpet attached to a hat and some symbols with my left foot all while keeping a beat and a smile.

I had no systems in place. No procedures to follow. All of my ideas and plans were in some random notebook or in some file on my computer—or just floating in my head. I was the only one who knew where things were and even then it wasn’t very efficient. I had no band. Something had to give. And it did.

For example, I’ve had a good business relationship with a development team from India. As we both grew, the quality started to falter. I’d spend precious time on quality control. I had to send constant follow-ups and corrections. A small project turned into a time drain at the expense of my growth and sanity. I was going backwards—watching my hard work evaporate.

There was no way I could keep going like that. I had planned my own downfall without even knowing it. I couldn’t scale my business like it was much less keep going at that pace. I needed the ability to acquire new clients, manage workflow, assign tasks, automate redundant tasks and all without sacrificing any work quality. Plus, I needed to do more of all these things if I was to scale like I dreamed—like I knew I could.

Move On and Up: Scale and Grow
I realized it was time to get out of my comfort zone and kick start my growth.

Here’s how I did it.

  • Restructure the Old. My Indian business partner has what most do not—my trust. We’ve spent many years working together and it’s hard to find people who do good work, are on time and who are trustworthy. There is a tremendous amount of value in our business relationship so I didn’t want to ditch the whole thing. What I did do was restructure our arrangement. Instead of relying on them for all sorts of tasks, many of which were not their strong suit, I now only assign them work that I know are a match for their strengths. When I was overwhelmed, I was looking for anyone to take a task off my plate. Now, I take the time to assign clear, concise tasks to those whose skills match the assignment. This will save me much time and heartache in back and forth corrections and clarifications.
  • Build and Develop a Team. If I want to truly scale my business, I won’t be doing it alone. I’ve developed a team, each with a specific superpower, to handle very specifics tasks. My team currently consists of:
  1. Google Analytics Specialist: set up advanced Ecommerce, Goals, Sales Funnels, Conversion metrics
  2. Graphic Designer: We all need one.
  3. Programmers: My development team
  4. Bloggers: Different writing skills for different niches
  5. Copywriter: Words sell
  6. Drip Specialist: Help develop advanced drip flows for automated email marketing
  7. Klaviyo Team: help me set up advanced flows for automated Ecommerce email marketing
  8. Facebook Ads Strategist: help develop ad strategy, set up ads and pixels
  9. Virtual Assistant: to help on subject research
  10. Quora and Reddit Strategist
  11. Instagram and Pinterest: soft growth hacking

  • Interview and Find the Right Fit. I had been delaying going to places like Upwork and spending time interviewing people. It takes a lot of time and sometimes you still don’t find the right person. However, I put in the time interviewing many different people for many different jobs. It paid off. I’ve found the right fit.
  • Develop Team Members. I hired some team members to do one job and found that their real talent lay somewhere else. Instead of firing them, I simply leveraged their talent in the other area. This process led me to discover the potential of Quora and Reddit opportunities. I can now see that this person’s special skill set, not apparent at first, will be highly valuable in the near future. Her strength in research and passion for new discoveries is contagious. I’m very excited to watch this opportunity grow.
  • Implement Project Management Software. I’ve recently set my team up in Asana. Asana links each project with the team members and all actions can be tracked, communicated and modified in Asana. It’s a central clearinghouse for all my projects and delivers email updates to me whenever something is accomplished. Workflow is key when working across multiple timezones on multiple projects.
  • Use Cloud Based Files. I strictly work with Google Docs and DropBox. Working through a cloud-based system is a no brainer. No matter where you or the team may be, access to the cloud is always available from any device. Plus, it allows for instant collaboration to make edits, create revisions and live interaction.
  • Invest in People: Much of business is “nuts and bolts”, such as project management software. But people are the real value of any business. You can always buy more equipment or software. It’s hard to find good people who do good work. I have implemented a strategy to train the people I already know and trust instead of hiring new team members. Each person has a value to me or to my business and I’m investing in them—their friendship, trust and reliability. There are two keys in my investment strategy:
  1. Invest in those who have been with me for a long time
  2. Find new team members who have a drive to learn and an eagerness to succeed

With these two approaches, I have surrounded myself with a team of professionals who inspire me on a daily basis. They explore new areas, are always there for me, and accept me as a leader. Together, we will achieve new heights.

We’d love to hear what questions or successes you are having with growing your business. Please leave a comment below and don’t forget to share this post with your colleagues and friends if you found it helpful!


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Kinga Dow

Published May 9, 2017

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