Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit

Hot Seat with Sprout Creative

November 23, 2021 Sasha - Business Strategist Season 1 Episode 7
Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit
Hot Seat with Sprout Creative
Show Notes Transcript

In our Hot Seat episodes, I'm talking to real business owners and taking a deep dive into their business struggles. In this episode, I'm talking with Kristina Kury, owner of Sprout Creative who has been struggling with hiring help and taking time away from her clients to do the CEO work to help grow her business.

Sprout Creative is a marketing agency whose mission is to turn your marketing into a manageable, automated, stress-free marketing machine. Kristina realized the passion small business owners had was being stunted by the lack of time, understanding, and commitment to their business marketing needs. Their expertise lies in their business and supporting that dream. Marketing is overwhelming, laborious, and confusing. She decided it was time to jump in with them and help build a cohesive marketing plan to get them back to making their dreams shine so they can affect positive change. She has over 10 years of experience in the marketing industry with brands such as The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Wolfgang Puck, and Sky Zone.

Episode Resources:
Hot Seat with Sprout Creative: Finding Time for CEO Work

Support the show
Sasha:

Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. Whether you're new in business or find yourself in a season of change, get ready to build a strategy, create an action plan and crush those goals. I'm Sasha, host a strategy for creatives. And I help female led businesses grow their brands in authentic, measurable and meaningful ways, without the stress. There's no sugar coated here, I'm serving up real tips and actionable steps you can take to help get you organized, get off the path to burnout and grow your brand like a boss. So go ahead, pull up a chair, grab a notepad, and let's talk business. So welcome to another episode of Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. And today we're just going to jump right into it because I am super excited. We are doing our first ever Hot Seat episode. So a Hot Seat episode means that I'm going to be having business women who are going to be joining me as guests, and we're gonna be talking about the problems that they're facing in their business. And really, hopefully, they'll leave with two to three action items that they can take back to their business and implement to try to move their business forward. And the whole goal of doing this is to really let other business women know that you're not alone in your struggles. We in business are probably facing a lot of the same problems. We probably go through a lot of the same growing pains. And so by hearing other business women talk about what they're going through, working it out, and coming up with action plans, hopefully, you'll be able to take away some things that you can work on in your business as well. So my first guest ever, which I'm super excited about is Kristina Kury. And she has over 12 years of extensive marketing experience. She made the leap to launch Sprout Creative almost three years ago as she realized the passion in small business owners was being stunted by the lack of time, and I completely agree with this, the lack of time, understanding and commitment to their businesses marketing needs. Their expertise lies in their business and supporting that dream. A lot of us feel this way. And marketing is overwhelming, laborious and confusing. So she decided to take the jump in with them and help build a cohesive marketing plan to help get them back to making their dreams shine so they can affect positive change. So welcome, Kristina. I'm so excited you are here. Thank you for being our first guest. So I've know Khristina about a year right?

Kristina:

Yeah, or more. I feel like all of COVID I've known you.

Sasha:

Yeah, I feel like I've known Kristina for a lot longer than we probably have. But we actually just met for the first time a couple of weeks ago, really, which is really weird. But I'm super excited that you're here. So I guess let's start with you telling us a little bit more about your business Sprout Creative. And then one problem that you're struggling with that we're gonna focus on today.

Unknown:

Yeah, well, I help entrepreneurs get their strategy in place. So it covers website, email, social media, and online presence. And I do that two different ways. I either help coach you through it and help you to learn the skill set. Or if you're just like, I don't care about marketing, I don't want to learn, then I'll do it for you. So there's very two extreme different ways we can do that. So the problem that I'm facing, I tend to focus so much on my clients, both both kinds, the one I'm doing marketing for them, and also my coaching clients. I'm just busy focused on their business, but I start to push back on my to do list the things I need to do for my own business. And all of a sudden, I'm like, Oh, my God, It's been like two weeks, I've barely done anything for myself. Um, and I think I just I, I'm, I don't want to sound like a weird interview. I care too much. But I do and I I'm like I you know, I feel so gung ho about other people so much that I definitely leave my own needs behind. And I need to find a balance, I really, I'm realizing this, I need to find a balance to focus on my own company too, so I can continue to build it.

Sasha:

So I don't think that you're alone in that at all, especially as solopreneurs as people who are running our own business. Too often we get lost doing all of the client work and the things that of course, are making us money that we forget to take a step back and actually work on our own business and do the things that are going to actually grow our business right. Or we're just at capacity and we just have too many clients that we really get can't take on, you know, more clients. And so we're on the path to being burnt out and just being tired, which I know you probably

Kristina:

Yeah. Yeah, I am.

Sasha:

Yeah. Which I know that you're probably right there getting ready to experience. So I know on the first episode I talked about having a CEO day, and I know that you listened to it, and you had said that that was going to be something that you were going to start thinking about implementing. And I really think that's step one of differentiating client time from really kind of what we're doing in our business. Because you can't be so focused on our business and on our clients that you're not doing what you need to do, to focus and grow your business. Because if you're not really doing the things in your brands to help grow, then you're going to get burnt out, or you're not going to be able to work with your clients, because you're probably going to get sick of them. That client work might suffer. And because it's like you're doing so much and you're pouring so much into them. I really think that you need to just set aside at least a couple of hours to do Sprout Creative work, right? Like do that goal setting and start planning like, do you set goals for your business?

Kristina:

Yeah, I do goal setting. I think the one thing that's weighing on me right now, and it's time wise, is because the year is about to be over and I haven't really sat down to think okay, what is my, what is my year going to look like? How am I ending this quarter strongly and starting first quarter strongly. And my marketing calendar that I use for my clients, my own is blank.

Sasha:

So like one, I want us to do our own marketing calendar, right? We're going to do that we're going to sit down and focus on Sprout Creative's work marketing calendar. But I really think that now is a good time to sit down and start focusing on your business. Because November/December timeframe is really when we start looking forward, ahead into our business and like what we want to do for next year. So like the same way you have marketing calendars for each of your clients, take time aside and start creating one for yourself. Right, start thinking about where you want start creative to be in 2022. And what does that look like? What does the action plan look like? What are the steps to get there? And like I know, one of the things that we talked about with you is hiring out and I know as solopreneurs we often need help in our business. And so I think for you, that's also something that you need to think about right, is maybe hiring someone to do your own marketing plans, right? Because I feel like we always tend to outsource the things that we know how to do but don't do in our business.

Kristina:

Yeah, it's so true, I feel kind of blocked a lot of times for my own marketing, I can see so clearly someone else's marketing plan and everything that they need to do and how to build that funnel. It's so clear to me, but looking inward towards my own company, it's like a muddy mess. So hard to lean into, it's I guess it's like, if you're a baker, you don't eat your own cakes.

Sasha:

Well, I'm a bad baker then, because I definitely eat my own food. So I do think a lot of it comes down to really goal planning, and not just goal setting, not just writing goals down and having it in our head what our goals are. But like actually putting pen to paper, writing it down, thinking about it in a way of how we are actually going to achieve our goals. Because when we're actually working in our businesses doing day to day client work, we tend to have a general idea of like, where we want to go on our business or like, you know, I want to book three clients, or I know I want to start marketing for a workshop that I'm doing. I know you guys had, you have a workshop. What are we doing to get there? We're not taking the actual time to figure it out. How are we going to get those three clients? Or how do I need to start marketing that workshop? We're literally not taking the time to plan out what that looks like. And I know you know how to do it. You're really good at your job. Most business owners know how to do the things that they are supposed to be doing our business. I mean you know how to write a marketing plan, right. It's just a matter of taking the time. And for you especially being okay.

Kristina:

Yeah, I think so. Because that's where I fall short. You know, I keep putting my clients work in front of my own stuff, because it feels like it's important, because it is important. And I keep saying okay, well I'll get to my things later. I'll just do that later.

Sasha:

But then like later never comes right. So I think two, another way to kind of combat that is to view ourselves as our clients, right. So like the same way that you do time blocking or anything like that for your clients to do their work, do the same way for you. Write your own self into your schedule, you know. Because sometimes it's about tricking our mindset into saying, okay, you know, I got to find time to do client A, B, and C. So I'm going to do client A, B, and C and client D, which is me, right? And then like, you'll set that time aside to actually

Kristina:

yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sasha:

Like actually do the work that you need to do. And your business, right, you'll put it aside on purpose. So I also know that before we had conversations about you hiring someone?

Kristina:

Yes.

Sasha:

How's that going?

Kristina:

It's not. You know, I did it a bit ago, when I had a surge of clients. And it was really, I was really busy and super underwater. So I think I hired a little out of desperation. And maybe they weren't the best hire. And it didn't quite work. And I had to get rid of, actually hired two people, because I needed an assistant, and I needed a marketing assistant. And they both just didn't reach my expectations. And so I had to get rid of them. And I think I'm just a little gun shy now. And, and it's not a desperate situation as moment. So I know, it's a great time to start sifting through the applicants and really, you know, thinking through it a lot more methodically than I did before.

Sasha:

But you're scared?

Kristina:

Yeah,

Sasha:

I, I, I really don't think that that's unusual when we've made bad hiring decisions in the past, because you're like, I don't want to do that again. I don't want to hire anyone.

Kristina:

Yeah.

Sasha:

But it's, it's really not going to help us at all. Because one thing that you said before was that you were in a state of desperation, right? And you're not now. And so you probably are in a better frame of mind to make a better hiring decision. Because in a state of desperation, you are more likely to hire someone because you just need help right now, right? When we're not in a state of desperation, we're actually better able to make better hiring decisions. Because we're more likely to look at someone's skill set, we can look whether or not they really are going to be able to help us, you know, if they mesh well with us. You'll just be overall better prepared to like, make that decision. And so when you sit down to do your 2022 planning, I think it's really important for you to take that time and to think about, you know, because if you had this problem this year, like if you were, you know, busy this year, so much that you needed help, you're going to have that problem next year, right. And so, now is the time to really kind of work on getting to a place where you can hire someone, and what does that person look like? And I actually, like have a challenge. In my Facebook group, it's the five day be your own CEO challenge. But during one of the days of the challenge, it's it's all about being the director of HR in your business, right? And so I actually encourage you to like, sit down and write a job description, you know, what tasks do you want somebody to perform, but not only the duties that you want them to perform? What is it that you know, that person is bringing to the table? What kind of attributes do they have? Do they work well, with you, you know. Is it are you looking for someone who doesn't need a lot of hand holding who you don't need to check into having all of that ready to go when you're not in this state of desperation actually will make it very easy. When you do realize or you know, when you get to the point where you're ready to start looking at hiring help that you already have it mapped out. So you can kind of throw that out there and you're going to be able to get more quality leads. And all you have to do now is just do the research, you know, interview those people as opposed to in that state of desperation. We're just trying to get whoever we can, because we need help right now. And that's really not, you know, the best way to make those types of hiring decisions. Because you can like throw out oh, I need a marketing assistant, and you'll get a ton of people will try to be a marketing assistant.

Kristina:

Yeah, I know. I had friends say, Oh, I can be your assistant. And I'm like no. I know who you are and your experience. That's not a thing.

Sasha:

Like, just because you can like pictures on social media doesn't mean you can do marketing, right?

Kristina:

It goes deeper than that.

Sasha:

Exactly. It goes a lot deeper. And so by doing that work in the beginning, very you'll have that frame of reference and you already have what you're looking for in mind which just makes it easier to then go out and find somebody to hire as opposed to making the wrong decision and then having to retrain people and all of that so it's it's better to do that when you're not thinking about it or you're not desperate until waiting until you are. Ultimately though what I think when it comes down to you is really just, you know, taking that time and setting it aside for you, for your business, and for doing the things that you know matter in your business. It's okay to take that time to, to not work on client work. And it doesn't, it doesn't even have to be a lot like even if it's just a couple of hours, or even if it's just in the morning, right. Like taking that time and just working on your business. And hopefully, you'll work up to a full day of working on just you. But even if it's just taking a couple of hours in the morning, writing to do lists, and like writing a job description for a marketing assistant or sitting down and saying, okay, let me do my email marketing, or let me you know, write down what my goals are for next year, like just taking that time is important. Because like, honestly, if we're not taking that time, then we're not gonna be able to push our business forward, right. We aren't going to be able to do the things to grow our business, if we're just focused on the now like, if if we're just so much focused on what we're doing today, we're not going to be able to move forward. And that's the whole reason why you know, you're in business is to try to push yourself forward. So it's okay, like, it's important, and it's okay to take that time to work on your business. Right.

Kristina:

Right.

Sasha:

I also think for you, it's also about setting client expectations, right? You don't need to be available to your clients, 24/7. It's okay to like take a Wednesday and say that your admin day, and that you're not going to respond to clients. And, you know, you're not going to be answering their emails and things like that. I think that as long as you're setting those clear expectations and letting them know, upfront, like, hey, you know, these are my admin days, I'm not responding to emails, they will understand and they'll get used to it. Like, they'll know, like, oh, I can't really email Kristina on Wednesday, because she's not available. And I really think like for you, you just need somebody to tell you like, it's okay. Like, that's what you need.

Kristina:

I do, because in my brain is not okay.

Sasha:

It's just like, you're such a nice person. And like, Kristina and I sat in on this workshop, and that was all about people pleasing. And I feel like a lot of it really resonated with you.

Kristina:

Yeah.

Sasha:

And I was like no, I don't do any of this. I don't care about anyone.

Kristina:

Yeah, it was about how people pleasing is sabotaging your own self. And it's very true, I don't really set up too many boundaries with my clients, I'm too afraid of like, I don't know, pushing them away, or, you know, maybe they don't want to work with me anymore if I have a boundary or two. And that's just silly.

Sasha:

I think that's like a common fear, though of most people. And like, the vast majority of people respect boundaries. And those that don't respect boundaries, you don't want them as clients. Because they're the ones who are gonna, like, be calling you 24/7, they're always gonna want an email response right away, they're not going to respect your boundaries, they're not going to respect your time. And they will, they're going to be wanting more access to you than what they're probably paying you. They're just not worth it, if they're not going to respect your boundaries. Like I think as long as you're just professional, and you're just like, well, you can't reach me on Wednesdays, you just say it like that. As long as you're just professional, that they're going to respect the fact that you need space, and they're more likely to just respect you as a business owner and be okay with your boundaries. That's okay. And as long as you're like, clearly communicating what those expectations are, I don't think it's a problem I have on my email signature, you can expect a response for me in 24 to 48 hours, and it sets the expectation that I'm not always available. You can send the email on a Wednesday, but just know that you might not get a response from me until the next day. And there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with having those boundaries. But it's really just about setting that expectation of those and communicating that and letting them know like this is what you expect. Because we're allowed to have lives outside of our businesses like we are okay. And so I think okay, so the one action item for you, this is the action item for Kristina. And it might resonate with some of you guys, but basically, it's okay. Like, it's okay to set boundaries to say no, sometimes. You don't always have to be available. It's okay. It's okay to work on your business.

Kristina:

Breathe into that. Let me just like take that in for a second. That it's okay.

Sasha:

Yes! Because you, you are good. You're good at what you do. And I really feel like, I have no doubt that you can help a lot more people. And I think that a lot of business owners fall into this trap where they're just so worried about trying to, you know, please their clients and or not pushing their clients away, that they just tolerate behavior that they wouldn't, they wouldn't, you wouldn't let your friend like if your friend was like, Oh, this client of mine is sending me emails, 24/7. And I always respond, you will be like, Girl, that's crazy. Like, you wouldn't allow that to happen. But yet we allow it. We allow people to do that in our own businesses. So I really think for you, it's just about one, it's okay. And then like two, I really think we need to start with at least just a couple of hours of taking time, away from clients, for yourself to focus on Sprout Creative, and really putting in an effort to go plan and to do things that you need in your business, working our way up, hopefully, to at least a day of where you're just having admin tasks. But taking that first step, or at least just a couple of hours. Really giving yourself the freedom to, you know, plan for 2022. Sit down and write those emails, write a marketing plan sitting and writing a job description. That way, when you have the time and you're ready, you just have to, you know, interview people, and you're not scrambling or feeling like you're desperate. So that way, you're not like spending time hiring the wrong people.

Kristina:

No! It doesn't feel good.

Sasha:

I'm sure it does not feel good. Like we don't want to be there hiring the wrong people again. But I really think if we do more of that planning upfront, it helps alleviate a lot of that stress. I know you don't want to hire anybody right now. But if you do that planning, and you've already written down and you've put it out there, and now you just have to find people to fit that, you're more likely to make a better decision, instead of just hiring someone and saying, yep, you work. And then it not like working out in the end and upset about, like, the whole thing. So like, how does that sound?

Kristina:

It um, actually you are inspiring me because I track time with my clients my time. And I've not, I've not really ever done my Sprout Creative time. And I'm thinking I need to go create an account in my time tracker for my own company. So then I will be able to hold myself accountable seeing how often I spent on my own company.

Sasha:

Yes! And that's essentially what I was talking about treating ourselves like, as a client, right? Because you'll be able to see really quickly whether or not it's equal at all. Like, if you're spending an hour on a client for every 10 minutes that you're spending on yourself, or like, that's not balanced. I'm not gonna say that it needs to be one way or the other. Like, it's never really going to be balanced, right. Like it's gonna fluctuate. But I think that if you see, like your clients are getting a lot of your time and Sprout Creative is getting like nothing. That's not the right balance.

Kristina:

No, it's not. And I think name a numbers like that, you know, downloading that report each week and seeing the fluctuation over time, I'll really get a good idea of okay, yeah, I need to make time for for my company. I already know, that's probably what the numbers are gonna say, yeah. And that it's okay to do that.

Sasha:

It is okay to do that. Yes, it's okay.

Kristina:

I need like a post-it, it's okay.

Sasha:

Like, no, if that's what you need, like, if we need, I will send you a post-it in the mail, like, we need to put a post-it on your wall that you can see every day and you start feeling like you're working on your clients too much. That it's something that you just can't look at and say like, it's okay, to remind yourself, it's okay. It's okay. To take time, it's okay to do that. Like it really is just okay. Hopefully, you guys have been able to glean something from Kristina struggles. I know, you are not the first person that struggles to take time in their business. So I just encourage you guys, a couple of hours, once a week, start tracking your time, like Kristina mentioned, you know, to see how much time you're spending on your clients versus your own self. And that way, you can, you know, decide if you need to be spending more time because like I mentioned earlier, we can't grow our businesses if we're just focused on the now. We have to be doing the goal setting we have to be doing the action planning. We have to work on our business. Because if we're just doing the client work, we're going to feel overwhelmed. We're not going to get to a place where we're going to be able to grow. So we just have to remind ourselves that it's okay.

Kristina:

Thank you Sasha!

Sasha:

Thank you, Kristina! Are you ready to uplevel your business? Join the five day be your own CEO challenge. All the details are available on the website at www.by-sasha.com. If you liked what you heard, make sure you rate and review. It really helps other people find the show. And of course following subscribe on your favorite podcast platforms. Want to follow me on social? I'm on Instagram and Facebook at Strategy By Sasha. Make sure you tune in next Tuesday for more business tips.