HR & Team

Preparing Your Business So You Can Take a Real Break with Claire Pelletreau

The point of maintenance mode is to give you time and space to take a REAL break. Not a vacation where you're checking your email or you're stuck on your laptop kind of break. But a real, genuine break.

Susan Boles
June 8, 2021
47
 MIN
Podcast
" The steps that Claire took months before she went on maternity leave that ensured her business continued while she was on a break."

The point of maintenance mode is to give you time and space to take a REAL break. Not a vacation where you're checking your email or you're stuck on your laptop kind of break. But a real, genuine break.

That step back can feel kinda scary. It might feel like you're standing at a precipice, trying to figure out if you'll trip and fall over the edge, or if it's just a tiny step down to a solid surface.

That step means that you have to trust that the systems you've built and the team you've trained can handle whatever comes up.

That's the goal, to allow you to be able to take a break from your business without breaking your business.

And what does that look like in a real business?

To go through the process to prepare for maintenance mode, build the systems, and then trust them to work and step away? That's what we're talking about today.

Claire Pelletreau is a Facebook and Instagram ad expert and conversion optimization expert. Claire also LOVES talking about money–profit, loss, the whole shebang. She asks her guests how much they charge–and how much they earn–on her show, the Get Paid Podcast.

Claire recently took a break from her business while on maternity leave for several months. She knew it was coming, so she prepared, she planned and she got her business ready to operate in maintenance mode. And then she walked away. For months. During a pandemic.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Claire changed her content strategy and schedule for her podcast to cover her maternity leave
  • How she budgeted for her leave and unforeseen expenses in her absence
  • The process of mentally and emotionally checking out from her business and what it was like to come back to work in a vastly different world after summer 2020
  • Letting go of selling herself as part of the package and giving her team ownership

Learn more about Claire Pelletreau:

Learn more about Susan:

Resources:

Episode Transcript

Claire Pelletreau (00:00):

My husband and I have talked about this in depth, which is like, okay, that salary that I pay myself is terrific, but I have not taken a vacation and had the business continue to run and make money and have clients be served. It's always been like, okay, well after this launch or something like that, I can just like put up an out of office for a while. So that's really the goal now, is the training the team that I have now so that I'm really not doing anything that critical.

Susan Boles (00:35):

After you've designed all the processes, you've used software to automate them, you've hired the team, it's time to actually step back to let maintenance mode run and well-maintained. I'm Susan Boles, and you're listening to Break the Ceiling, the show where we break down unconventional strategies you can use to save time, boost your profit and increase your operational capacity.

Susan Boles (01:00):

Now, let's step back and feel kind of scary, especially if it's your first time taking a genuine break from your business. It might feel like you're standing at a precipice trying to figure out if you'll trip and fall over the edge or if it's just a tiny step down to a solid surface. That step means that you have to trust that the systems you've built and the team you've trained can handle whatever comes up. But taking that step away from your business and taking a break is also the point of maintenance mode. That's the goal, to allow you to be able to take a break from your business without breaking your business. And what does that look like in a real business, to go through the process, to prepare for maintenance mode, build the systems, and then trust them to work and step away. That's what we're talking about today.

Susan Boles (01:54):

Claire Pelletreau is a Facebook and Instagram ad expert, and a conversion optimization specialist. Claire also loves talking about money, profit, loss, the whole shebang. She asks her guests how much they charge and how much they earn on her show, The Get Paid Podcast. Claire recently took a break from her business. She went on maternity leave for several months. Now she knew it was coming, do she prepared, she planned and she got her business ready to operate in maintenance mode. And then she walked away for months during a pandemic. So you semi-recently went on parental leave after having a baby. And you actually did quite a bit of planning before you left to make sure that everything was able to operate in maintenance mode without you. So can you tell me a little bit about what kinds of preparation you did to be able to step away from your business for a few months?

Claire Pelletreau (02:59):

Yes. So I think the most important piece that I had to have in place for my maternity leave was somebody who could continue to serve my students. So I help people run their own Facebook and Instagram ads, so that is a really tricky thing. And at the time, when I was starting my maternity leave, my main offer was a self-study course. And that came with a Facebook group, which has quite a bit of support in it. And that support primarily was me for a while. So getting somebody who could come in and really replace me, answer those questions, care at the same level as I did for my students and helping them get through the complicated ads manager, that was really the biggest thing that I did.

Claire Pelletreau (03:55):

So I had one of the people who I had previously trained on ads, she came in, she started answering questions in the group, she started answering more questions than I would answer a day, mostly because she was just pretty tenacious. She is tenacious. And then she would even take over my Q&A calls. So for a while we were doing like monthly Q&A calls for people and then we went into twice a month. And she would do one of those calls and I would do the other. And when those were going extremely well, I decided that she could just take over all of them so that I could be completely off in my business.

Susan Boles (04:37):

How did you find someone who could, as you put it, care at the same level you cared at?

Claire Pelletreau (04:44):

I had actually a number of people that I could have turned to fill in this role. And that is just the product of one of my previous offerings, which was training ad consultants to run ads to really be more successful at their jobs. And because of the way I've always done business, which is a little bit to my detriment, I have always had pretty close relationships with my "higher-end clients", just people who have invested quite a bit of money with me. I always kept those programs small and just had like deep relationships with them. So there were a bunch of people who I knew I could turn to in order to find that person.

Claire Pelletreau (05:32):

And she just happened to be somebody who I knew was doing that kind of work for someone else already. Not necessarily answering Facebook ad-related questions, but managing a group being like a community manager. So I turned to her, I offered her an hourly rate, and she kind of went ahead and did it. And then she and I would talk for a while about like, this is what I would also ask, or let's direct them more into the course than like hand-holding them necessarily in this Facebook thread. But yeah, I had an existing relationship with her. It wasn't a thing where I put up a job post. I had to do that a lot after my maternity leave.

Susan Boles (06:18):

So outside of managing your community and making sure that the people in your courses were taken care of, that they were still supported, that all the calls were happening the way that they were supposed to happen, what else did you need to think about or make sure would happen if you weren't there?

Claire Pelletreau (06:40):

Mostly, what I focused on was having my podcast continue to publish episodes. So that meant that I had to batch record some episodes. Most of them I actually decided to make solo episodes because I found them to be easier to create and kind of on my own timeline. Now, I was six-ish months pregnant when we all went into lockdown in March 2020. And my childcare got cut in half, because my daughter was going full-time to daycare. And my husband, who's also an entrepreneur, runs his own business, we were splitting up the day. So I suddenly had about half the time and it felt like a lot of work to do these ... I mean, sometimes my podcast interviews go up to 90 minutes.

Claire Pelletreau (07:32):

So I already had a bunch recorded, actually, just by chance. In February, I had said, "Okay, let's do like 10 episodes this month." Knowing that I would probably do that again before the end of my maternity leave. But we all go into lockdown, I decided to do solo episodes. And then I also chose which episodes we would bring back in like a greatest hits series. So essentially, I had enough new episodes that would last me, I want to say through 8 to 12 weeks of my maternity leave. And I like planned to come back after around 12 weeks, but I didn't think that I would jump into podcasting. And I was right. So I didn't say Claire, you have to have six months worth of episodes in order to give yourself this break. No.

Claire Pelletreau (08:29):

I said, let's get these done as many as I feel like I actually want to get done as go towards the end of my time before the baby was born. And then, all right, then I've got here are 10 episodes that people have loved and probably many people have never heard, so they will be the greatest hits series that we put up until I get back to recording.

Susan Boles (08:54):

I love that.

Claire Pelletreau (08:55):

Yeah. And guess what, I've done that a bunch of times, a whole lot of times I have a greatest hits series because I need to take a break. My show was once a once every week, right now it's once every other week. I don't really believe in and just like having to make sure you have brand new content every single week. People have a lot of podcasts to listen to, so they'll be okay if they have to wait two weeks for our next episode with me.

Susan Boles (09:25):

Yeah, it's interesting, because I'm running into the same conundrum right now of considering pulling back from weekly episodes into every other week episodes, just to give myself a little bit of breathing room and to be able to be more creatively involved in the editing process. So I'm curious how you thought about pulling back to bi-weekly episodes if you'd already been doing weekly for so long?

Claire Pelletreau (09:47):

Well, yeah. It kind of became a decision I had to make just looking at my calendar. But that'll happen like once I came back to work, and I know you want to dig into that kind of after the fact.

Susan Boles (10:02):

Okay.

Claire Pelletreau (10:03):

But the last thing that I did to like really put us in maintenance mode was to focus on building up my company reserves. And company reserves for me is just literally a digital envelope in my budgeting software, you need a budget line up, and it's just extra money. I call it like padding for extra expenses or like, what happens if suddenly I don't make any more sales anymore for me to be able to cover my salary and expenses? So I just continued to kind of pay into that or make sure that I was putting money away in case my evergreen sales took a dip. Because that's mostly how I was making money, with just an evergreen sales funnel of people coming in to watch a webinar, deciding to buy or not.

Susan Boles (10:54):

And how many months of expenses were you aiming for or did you end up with? Did you have a specific goal before you left?

Claire Pelletreau (11:03):

I actually started paying into like Claire's maternity leave, and I wanted $20,000 in that. So that was separate from company reserves, so that I could pay myself $5,000 every month for four months without touching company reserves. And that was as if like, okay, you don't make any more sales, let's just say, worst-case scenario. So I still had plenty of money to cover my expenses, which were pretty low, actually, because of kind of just what happened pre-maternity leave where most of my team had ended up going and working elsewhere, which was just a happy coincidence, because then the pandemic hit, and my sales slowed down significantly before they shut up again.

Susan Boles (11:50):

And your team had kind of naturally moved on to other things just before that?

Claire Pelletreau (11:54):

Yeah. Just before that. In January, my like longtime virtual assistant who had moved into more of like a project manager role, she and I parted ways. And then the person who was helping me with marketing, she had always said, "Listen, I have this other job, and they want me full time." And I was like, "But I want you full time." And they were like, "Yeah, but they pay a lot more." So I always knew that that was a possibility. And her last day was March 10.

Susan Boles (12:22):

Oh, my gosh.

Claire Pelletreau (12:22):

So yeah. And then I was left with my really terrific and very affordable assistant. So yeah, costs were pretty low.

Susan Boles (12:34):

That's perfect timing. You couldn't have planned that better.

Claire Pelletreau (12:36):

I could not have.

Susan Boles (12:38):

So while you were on maternity leave, what did maintenance mode for your business during parental leave actually look like? Were you working at all? Were you totally separated from your business and you did nothing? What did that look like for you while you were in it?

Claire Pelletreau (12:57):

I did nothing. And it was glorious. But unfortunately, I couldn't separate my brain from the business. That was just, I mean, really ... So my son was born at the beginning of July. And if you'll recall, the beginning of June 2020, our country underwent like a huge reckoning about race and police violence and Black Lives Matter and all of that. And that impacted my evergreen funnel, because I had finally turned on ads that were making ... They were making let's say $1,000 for every 500 that I put in. I can't remember if that's exactly right. But so it was fine. I certainly wasn't unhappy.

Claire Pelletreau (13:49):

But as soon as that hit, we turned off the ads, because it was not a time to be talking about Facebook and Instagram ads on social media in June 2020. And then the results just never recovered and I was off. So my sales definitely dropped significantly, and that's what I found myself thinking about a lot. Like, I'm not good enough. Because I'm not showing up people, they think that I'm not somebody to learn from blah, blah, blah. And then I eventually just got over it because I was like, I have the money. This is exactly what I saved for. So chill out.

Susan Boles (14:28):

Yeah. I think the mental benefits of having a decent cash reserve are so undervalued because that's really the ... It's the cushion. It's just a like a warm blanket like I planned for this. I'm okay. It's okay.

Claire Pelletreau (14:46):

Exactly.

Susan Boles (14:47):

We can work under this.

Claire Pelletreau (14:47):

It was really hard for me to say it's okay, it's okay because unfortunately I attached too much of my self-worth to like me making sales. So it really did take until almost when my maternity leave was over for me to say, you know what, that's fine. If you don't make another sale in this funnel ever, you're going to be fine.

Susan Boles (15:10):

But I could see where it could be especially frustrating to have a dip and also to have planned not to be working and to not be able to work. I can feel that frustration.

Claire Pelletreau (15:22):

Yeah. The only thing I maybe would have done differently is put together like social media content that didn't make me look so disappeared. But the funny thing is, I'm not really on social media when I'm working.

Susan Boles (15:41):

When you're active.

Claire Pelletreau (15:42):

Yeah. And so that's why I'm not 100% sure what happened that summer. If it had to do with the fact that people had been on locked down, and then suddenly, they're going out and they're doing things, whether or not they should be. Was a just because June was such a difficult time for black people in this country or for like all these white people who are waking up to their white privilege and whatnot? I don't really believe that truly stopped the hole, I still need to grow my business. But the fact that I was never super visible is what's always been a question mark for me.

Susan Boles (16:26):

I mean, everybody I talked to you had a bit of a dip last summer outside of DEI people.

Claire Pelletreau (16:34):

Okay.

Susan Boles (16:35):

DEI people saw huge spikes of desperate demand. And mostly other people I talked to kind of petered off. And I don't know if that's people had no childcare, which was my scenario. And I was like, I'm not doing anything. Nothing's happening. I can't learn anything. I can't do anything. Like, I don't have childcare at all. So here we are.

Claire Pelletreau (16:58):

I would have thought that but my business saw like a really big boom in April and May.

Susan Boles (17:06):

Well, sure, because everybody was like, what do I do? How do I make money?

Claire Pelletreau (17:09):

Yeah. But didn't they have that need to make money a couple months later? Or had they just like settled in?

Susan Boles (17:16):

So I saw the opposite, which was I expected everybody to be like, I need to manage my cash flow. Let me deal with finances. But that's not what happened. And all of my friends who were copywriters or marketers saw a huge spike in April and May, because everybody was like, I need to market, or I'm pivoting, or I'm going to ... How do I make money? What special offer can I offer to make people make money? So I saw lots of people with marketing fields spike right after then go quiet over the summer. And mine was opposite.

Susan Boles (17:53):

So after that spike in marketing, I saw like that was radio silence for me. And then just after that is when people started doing financial stuff. So I don't know if it's just the psychological like how people react in the crisis of, I must market, I must sell, I must do the things and then they realize, well, nobody's really buying anything because nobody knows what's happening. All right, let me try something else. I don't know.

Claire Pelletreau (18:19):

How did that feel for you in April and May when things got really quiet?

Susan Boles (18:24):

So I ended up doing some customer research and shifting my business model a little bit. But April felt weird. Like March, I wasn't that worried about because we lost school. And so we were trying to do childcare. And my husband was in Florida at the time that like COVID all hit. So I was doing the solo parenting plus there's no school. And I didn't really pay attention to it until probably the middle of April. And then I was like, this is weird. It's really quiet. And I kind of expected a little bit of a bump. And just started talking to people and it sounded like, marketing people good, other financial people, all quiet. And so just kind of took a breath. I mean, I was completely underwater capacity-wise anyway with all of a sudden having no time to work and dealing with virtual schooling and no childcare.

Susan Boles (19:20):

It was probably may before I had a chance to actually try and do anything about it and just started talking to prospective customers, people who had said, hey, I really want to work with you, but I can't afford to work with you. Because at that point in time, I was doing only recurring high-level CFO work with people. So very high-end consulting clients and not that many clients. So I just reached out was like, "Hey, you said you wanted to work with me. What does that look like for you?" Which ended up being me piloting a group program which led to a course. So it kind of shifted the direction of my business, but it just felt weird. It felt eerie.

Susan Boles (20:06):

And like everybody was holding their breath trying to figure out like, is this what it's going to be? How long is this going to last? How cool Can I be about this? And people with good cash reserves were like, cool, I'll just take a breather. I'm not going to panic. We're just cut some costs, see what we could do. And just wait it out. And then there was the other side of people that were kind of panicking and grabbing whatever they can grab whether it was working or not.

Claire Pelletreau (20:35):

Yeah. I straight panicked in March, because my evergreen funnel didn't make a sale for three weeks. And that was unusual. So we're at the very end of March when another sale comes in and I'm thinking, I may never make a sale from this funnel again and I've got maternity leave. I need to be making money in the following few months in order to save it. Not like using my reserves already. And then and then it was a boom. But that's very interesting. I mean, I kind of knew about the boom for other like how to make money people or copywriters, marketing copywriters, but didn't really hear about the dip. So maybe that was it. Maybe it was not just me.

Susan Boles (21:24):

Yeah. Almost everybody I talked to just went cold for a couple of weeks. It was very industry-specific who came back when.

Claire Pelletreau (21:35):

I came back in September. I mean, not me but my business. My sales.

Susan Boles (21:41):

Your business came back in September.

Claire Pelletreau (21:42):

Yep.

Susan Boles (21:42):

That sounds about what most people found, I think, and not all at once. There was still definitely the impact of not having everybody back in schools was pretty significant, I think, for a lot of people. But yeah, I'm interested to see what continues to happen. Because there's definitely like some unusual ebbs and flows that are still ongoing.

Claire Pelletreau (22:13):

Definitely.

Susan Boles (22:15):

So when you came back, and you came back from work, I know you made some changes based off of what you experienced, and you created some new systems and new processes. You mentioned hiring. So tell me about what you ended up doing when you came back. What did you need to create and why did you need to create it?

Claire Pelletreau (22:38):

So before I went on maternity leave, in fact, I was taking these long walks like really, really big around the woods near my house and thinking, I have this problem and I don't know how to fix it. And the problem was that this self-study course that I had, that I was selling for about $1,500. It was great but we had added so much support to it that I needed to take something away. I needed to like pull back on what I had offered and I didn't know how to do that. I have always felt that people would be really, really angry at me if they didn't have lifetime access to calls with me or to a group or things like that. But the time we would spend on students over years would make it be like as if they paid like 2 or $300 for the course per year. And some people had paid only $100 for it. Because we would just keep bringing people in like no matter how much we raise the price at, they would continue to get the group, and then the calls, and then like lifetime updates.

Claire Pelletreau (23:56):

So I was definitely thinking about how like, okay, I want to simplify the business, I really want to go all in on just one offer because I did have that program where I trained ad consultants. But going in on this one offer at that price point, it was going to be a tremendous slog to be profitable. Like, no doubt I could have sold hundreds of that a year, hundreds of enrollments into that course. But it was going to require a very large ad spend and a team, and it just wasn't going to end up with me paying myself any more than I was paying myself in my best year yet. Up until that point, the most I had paid myself and have paid myself was $100,000. Like after taxes. That is a great salary. Great take-home pay. But it didn't make sense. Like, what I was looking at, my business model just didn't fit if I were going to try to grow that.

Claire Pelletreau (25:04):

So I decided to take that program, add some other programs I had actually created that I didn't realize complemented it and turn it into like this hybrid coaching program plus course. So I had to launch that. It was like a kind of a complex launch. I enrolled in a coaching program to learn how to do this. And the thing was, right when I got back from maternity leave, my wonderful assistant told me that he had taken another job which was 35 hours a week. So I was hoping to ramp him up to like back to where he was before, which was probably 15 to 20 hours a week, back when we were like super busy pre-pandemic, et cetera, et cetera.

Claire Pelletreau (25:52):

But that was no longer an option. And so it became clear to me that I was going to have to replace him because five hours a week, like it was great that he knew the business very well, but five hours a week probably wasn't going to cut it, especially being like evenings and weekends for him. I also was going to need a coach for this program. And like, finally, my first full-time person. So the coach, the ads coach is that same person, Laura, who I had helping my students before, she's now helping my clients. She's still helping the students in that group. My virtual assistant then helped me find and hire the new virtual assistant, both of them are in Nigeria, and they were like working together in a co-working space. So he helped me onboard her, which was terrific. And then in March, I finally hired and onboarded my very first full-time employee, and she's more of like, executive assistant kind of project manager hybrid role.

Susan Boles (27:01):

All right. So you have from the beginning of getting ready to do maintenance mode, you've basically rebuilt a whole new team and shifted your business model?

Claire Pelletreau (27:15):

Yes. And I've had to create a fair amount of new content for that new program, but not like from scratch.

Susan Boles (27:22):

You're repurposing stuff you already had.

Claire Pelletreau (27:24):

Yes, yes.

Susan Boles (27:26):

Interesting.

Claire Pelletreau (27:27):

And it's not perfect. I'll just say that. Because especially with Facebook ads, the interface changes every two seconds. We have to make Loom videos sometimes for our clients, and they really appreciate it. So I will say that there's still improvements that I always see that we can make. But it's a program that it's super helpful, especially now with like Apple changes and things like that. And it goes just beyond the ads. And that's what was always missing. I had an ads course that was great if you already had a business that like all of your assets converted and things like that. And that was rare. It was rare that people would buy that course when they already have those things in place. So now this actually attracts a more advanced business owner or a slightly more savvy business owner who maybe hasn't grown their business very much yet, but they know that like ads will help them fast track that.

Susan Boles (28:29):

So what was the hardest part, either about getting into or kind of operating in business mode for you? Was there anything that was a particular challenge, either going into this, coming out of it or just being not in your business?

Claire Pelletreau (28:45):

I think the hardest part was the fact that I was no longer going to be in that Facebook group with my self-study course. And thinking that people were going to be very unhappy, especially if they bought while I was on maternity leave. So that they had like no access to me. I've always had this belief that people are like buying direct access to me, and it might be because I have kind of offered that on my sales pages. Not recommended. Yeah. I don't know why I thought that that was like the only way to get people to buy, it was like to offer them my firstborn. But they didn't mind. At least I heard no complaints. And guess what, if there were complaints, I had somebody in place to make sure I never saw that, which is also key. Having that assistant in the inbox, very helpful. But yeah, just really relinquishing control and letting Laura, the ads coach, really coach and just help people get the results that they're looking for. And she did a great job.

Susan Boles (29:57):

How did you convince yourself to let go? Because I know that that is an issue for lots of folks as they are kind of trying to scale or step back from being the person in their business, the thing that trips them up is this being able to actually let go and let someone else do the thing. How did you get yourself through that, this is my baby and I am the only one who can do this, into here's this person who is completely capable and is going to do this thing?

Claire Pelletreau (30:38):

Before I started my business, so 2012 to 2013, I worked for a company that it's one of like ... It's a well-known company that pivoted into a Software as a Service. But at the time, it was an info product business, like social media marketing. And there was the customer service person, Christina, who was fantastic. I forget how, but the team would often see, maybe it was because our boss like highlighted this, the emails that came in from people that were like, thank you so much, Christina, you are amazing, yada, yada. So I have always had that in my head that like, it didn't have to be my boss at the time, answering all the questions, hand-holding, doing all of that, so long as somebody cared, so long as somebody showed they cared. And I'm pretty sure she even maybe once explained that to me, my boss.

Claire Pelletreau (31:41):

So I've always had that in my head. And then when I started seeing, before I went on maternity leave, I would start seeing Laura answering these questions before I would even open Facebook for the day. And see the same kind of things like thank you so much, you're amazing, or hearing that in our inbox. Like, Laura is so great. I just wanted to say that. That really kind of cemented it for me. Like, it does not have to be me. There's nothing that I have that Laura doesn't. I mean, I'm pretty sure I had to have a friend reiterate this to me before, like in the final weeks. She was like, because she was actually in that group, she was like, "Claire, I don't care if I get an answer from you. I just want an answer." So that was what helped me, is seeing that positive feedback, but also remembering that in another company run by somebody who I respect tremendously.

Susan Boles (32:47):

Yeah, absolutely. So were there any critical parts or systems or people that you either had to have a head of time, or that you know that need to have now having been through this whole experience to make sure that your business is resilient, that it can operate without you consistently, anything that was particularly key now or then?

Claire Pelletreau (33:13):

I think it is the most important thing for me to be able to if I wanted to have another baby and take another maternity leave or just even go on a long vacation. And this is something I learned, especially from the book Clockwork, is like giving ownership to other team members. Not just tasks, but like, hey, you're in charge of this. And it doesn't have to be me. Once again, that's the motto, the theme of this episode. So that like I'm planning on taking a vacation and about a month, and so now I'm talking to the team about, okay, what has to happen? Look, I still have ownership of a bunch of things that I don't need to have ownership of. So let's get that off my plate.

Susan Boles (34:03):

I love the idea of just what's still on my plate that shouldn't be here and checking in on that regularly. Because I think it's so easy to end up either taking back ownership of something when a team member moves on that you haven't replaced. And so you take it on for a while, and then you always forget to like put it back out on somebody else's plate. So I love the idea of just checking in regularly. And vacations are great examples of that.

Claire Pelletreau (34:31):

Yeah. That was my whole goal. My husband and I have talked about this in-depth, which is like okay, like I said, that salary that I pay myself is terrific, but I have not taken a vacation and had the business continue to run and make money and have clients be served. It's always been like, okay, well after this launch or something like that, I can just like put up an out of office for a while. So that's really the goal now, is training the team that I have now, so that I'm really not doing anything that critical. And it's going to take a while. But I'm going on vacation in June.

Susan Boles (35:12):

I think that's a really good place to start to wrap it up. But is there anything you think we should talk about that we haven't touched on yet?

Claire Pelletreau (35:20):

I'm really new to the whole team thing. I guess I always like to just kind of point out the people who have taught me about this stuff. I'm a huge fan of Rachel Rogers. She has been telling me since in like a dinner in Boise, Idaho in 2018 that I needed to hire full-time in my team. And that was a really important conversation that took me a long time to implement. Yeah, I definitely I'm loving full-time. I know it's a huge leap for people and what I don't have, maybe you have some advice for like, how can people afford to make that leap where they don't have like all the company reserves? Or do you just recommend that they build up the company reserves and then go into hiring?

Susan Boles (36:19):

I think this is a conversation that I have with almost every guest. Of the do you grow to hire or hire to grow conversation?

Claire Pelletreau (36:24):

Yeah. Let's talk about it. I mean, I actually have this question about my next hire. So yeah. What do you think?

Susan Boles (36:33):

I can argue both sides of this. And I think it's situation-dependent. I think it depends on the position that you're hiring for, and what the goals of that position are. If you are hiring a marketer, or you're hiring something specifically designed to bring in revenue, then sometimes you can justify they, okay, I'm going to hire this in order to grow. I think sometimes on the operational side, we hire a little too fast. Because there's not enough operational stuff and then spending a little bit more time on internal processes and cleaning them up. One, so that you're better prepared when you hire somebody and they're a lot more effective. But also, because it can be a real capacity booster, and sometimes just an hour or two, figuring out a checklist or a process can make you realize, wait, wait, wait, I don't actually have enough work for that back end person yet.

Susan Boles (37:33):

I have my friend, Jason, we just talked about this, where he's like, "I always hire to grow. I just hire whatever." And ultimately, it comes down to how comfortable you are with risk. I think it really comes down to are you comfortable putting your business and your finances on the line to make this hire? And how confident are you that this hire is going to pay off with the growth that you need to bring in the revenue to pay this person? And everybody's got a different level of risk and a different financial situation. So some people might not have company reserves, but they've got a lot of personal savings that they're willing to fall back into if shit hits the fan.

Susan Boles (38:19):

Some people are really uncomfortable with spending money they don't have and they decide not to that. I mean, I think you could make the argument either way, and the right decision for you and for your business isn't going to be the same as somebody else. I don't think there's a right answer to the hire to grow or grow to hire question. I think it's position and situation and business dependent.

Claire Pelletreau (38:46):

So my full-time executive assistant started the very last week of March. So she has not had two full months yet. I know that she is still totally in the onboarding process but she's excellent. We brought on this new like coach for the program. She's a couple of weeks in. I feel almost a responsibility to do a much better job of onboarding them before I bring on somebody else.

Susan Boles (39:21):

Yeah. Absolutely.

Claire Pelletreau (39:23):

So I'm not crazy?

Susan Boles (39:24):

No. That's one of the reasons why I ... So I'm kind of a slow-to-hire team member kind of person. I will quickly hire a company to do a thing for me. So like Yellow House produces the podcast. That was an easy decision. I don't really have to ... You don't have to onboard consultants who work with, more they onboard you. And so it's a much easier decision. But when you're hiring team members, whether that's freelance contractor-type people employees, onboarding them into your company culture is part of the process of them becoming a part of your cohesive team. I think we forget that there is operational cost to hiring people. We have to spend time training them, making sure that they understand what their role is, that they have all the resources they need, they have all the training they need, that takes time.

Susan Boles (40:22):

And if you hire in overwhelm, that's just one more thing on your plate, which is why I always kind of recommend like, hey, just take an hour and see, is there a checklist that you can create to make this an easier process for yourself? Is this something that you can automate with Zapier and you don't have to hire a person to do. And so I always kind of recommend that folks go through that process because of exactly what you're talking about. Once you have that process, it's so much faster to onboard a new person, you know exactly what that person is going to do. You can have the time that you need to bring them on as a member of the of your team. Versus just being like, all right, you're here. Figure it out. Thanks.

Claire Pelletreau (41:14):

Yeah. There was some level of figure it out. I mean, I already had a lot of systems in place, but I think many of them needed to be updated. So the good thing is that I hired somebody who has an eye for operations. So she pretty quickly was like, all right, this can be improved.

Susan Boles (41:35):

Yes.

Claire Pelletreau (41:36):

And let her just go ahead and do that. And I said, "Yes."

Susan Boles (41:37):

But you had a foundation.

Claire Pelletreau (41:38):

Yes.

Susan Boles (41:39):

You didn't have to be like, so ... You could be like, hey, here's how the funnel works. Here's how this works. At least at a high level, you could make a Loom video explaining what's supposed to happen, which is still a process. We like thinking of processes as like this is an exact checklist. And sometimes it's just, here's how this is supposed to work. But once you've made the here's how this is supposed to work video, in use here is how this is supposed to work for everybody that comes onto your team.

Claire Pelletreau (42:06):

Yep, exactly.

Susan Boles (42:07):

So just be formal or onerous. But yeah, onboarding employees takes time and effort and energy, especially if you really want them to be good and capable and empowered. I think you're spot on with, hire people, onboard them, make sure that they are independent, and empowered, and you're not spending a lot of time training them anymore before you go to the next one.

Claire Pelletreau (42:32):

Yeah. Good. Good call.

Susan Boles (42:35):

Same as soon as, I think, anything in maintenance mode, is just one ... It's a tiny part of maintenance mode.

Claire Pelletreau (42:41):

So would you call this maintenance mode? I don't think of this as maintenance mode.

Susan Boles (42:49):

No. If you think about it from like really granular perspective, being in maintenance mode in your business is the result of putting tiny things, every tiny process in your business in some sort of maintenance mode. It doesn't have to be automatic. But having an employee that knows what they're supposed to do and knows how to do that, for the most part that can kind of just work independently, obviously, you still have to guide your team, and you're still there in a leadership role. But having an employee who can operate independently, well, they can be a little bit on maintenance mode if you're not training them. And you can focus your attention on another part of the business.

Susan Boles (43:29):

And so maintenance mode can be really big in encompassing your whole business, so you can really granular with a single process, a single employee, a single team member, a single part of your business. And then when you compound all of those, you create a really resilient, sustainable, strong business.

Claire Pelletreau (43:51):

Nice. All right. Makes sense.

Susan Boles (43:55):

So where can our listeners find you if they want to connect or learn more about you and what you do?

Claire Pelletreau (44:01):

Well, I would love to have some of your listeners come over and become some of my listeners. So I have a podcast where I ask people how much money they make and how they make it. So that's called The Get Paid Podcast. That might be easiest for people to just pop into whatever app they're using to listen to your show. But also if they want to learn more about working with me on their Facebook and Instagram ads, I'm over at clairepells.com. That's just my homepage.

Susan Boles (44:35):

If you've done the prep work, created solid processes, and spent some time preparing your business to run in maintenance mode, it won't all come crashing down if you take a break. Let me repeat that because I need to remember it too. Your business won't break if you take a break. It's okay to take time off. That's the point of maintenance mode, to give you that time and space to take a real break. Not a vacation where you're checking your email or you're stuck on your laptop kind of break, but a real genuine break. Claire is a great example. She planned, prepared and saved. And when the time came, she was able to take a real break and do nothing in her business for months. And it was still there when she came back. Nothing broke, nothing disappeared. And taking that break also exposed places where she could continue to shore up her systems and make them even stronger for the next time.

Susan Boles (45:34):

You can't know where your systems are weak unless you give them a bit of a test. So look for opportunities to test your own business for weaknesses. Can you step away for a day, a week, a month? How long could your business operate without you? And where exactly does it start to break down? Look for those cracks. They're actually opportunities to shore up, build more resilient systems and help you work towards having a business that's ready to operate in maintenance mode whenever you need it to.

Susan Boles (46:07):

Next week, we're talking about habits and the role they play in building a maintenance-first business. So hit subscribe in your favorite podcast player so you don't miss it. And if you know someone you think would enjoy this episode, please share it with them. Break the Ceiling is produced by Yellow House Media. Our executive producer is Sean McMullin. Our production coordinator is Lou Blaser.


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