Episode 050: Step Up
Hey babes! Can I let you in on a little secret? I didn’t have a big desire to start a podcast, but my coach convinced me that I needed to do it. So I took her advice, stepped up to the plate, and got a little uncomfortable. When I started out, I had no idea how to podcast, but we both knew that I love talking to people. I decided to just go for it and here we are on Episode 50!
So why am I telling you this? Because as business owners, we need to do things that stretch us out of our comfort zones. That’s what I want to talk about today! Our businesses are bigger than us and there comes a point where we can’t do everything ourselves. The only way to grow a business is to stretch that courage muscle and build a team that will grow along with you.
Michelle Lynne began her interior design career after spending more than two decades working in Corporate America. She began in the home staging arena and has since built a successful, award-winning, full-service interior design firm, employing talented designers and serving clients across the country.
In the summer of 2018, Michelle began focusing on a big gap she saw missing in the interior design industry: teaching interior designers how to run the business of an interior design business. She now engages in private coaching and leads an in-depth, 12-month group coaching program, both options focus on teaching designers profitable processes, systems, strategies and mindset needed to run a streamlined, profitable interior design firm.
Her motto is simple: we rise by lifting others.
Connect with Michelle
You can follow Michelle on Instagram or join her Free Facebook Community! You can learn more about Michelle's program, Designed for the Creative Mind right here. You can also learn more about Michelle's Interior Design Firm here.
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Hello, welcome back to the podcast. I am shocked. This is episode number 50. Y'all. Five-zero. We just started this podcast in 2020, and honestly, I came to podcasting kicking and screaming. I really didn't have any desire to do it. Zero. My coach was like, you need to do it, you need to do it, you need to do it. So I had to follow her advice and step up to the plate and get a little bit uncomfortable.
Why was I uncomfortable? Because I didn't know, I don't know how to podcast. But she broke it down to the fact that, "Michelle, you know how to talk to people. So shut up and do it." That's about what she told me. So here I am 50 episodes in. And why am I telling you that I didn't want to do a podcast while you're listening to my podcast? Because here's the deal, you have to get uncomfortable.
As a business owner, you have to stretch and do things that may not feel safe. I thought I was gonna get out here and make a fool of myself in the podcast world. And maybe I have a couple times, but nobody died. I have to take my own advice. I tell my team, you know, we're nobodies. We're not working in the operating room. If something goes wrong, it's not a problem. So here I am doing this podcast. And in all honesty, I have had a freaking blast. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. Have you ever said that to yourself? I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. So that's what I want to talk to you about today.
I want to talk to you about this business that we're in, interior design. Being business owners, being entrepreneurs, being solopreneurs, whatever the situation is for you, whether you've been in business for two days, or 20 years, I'm here to tell you that it might be time. Being a business owner is hard, and getting uncomfortable on your own accord isn't always easy.
So, some things to think about is that our business is bigger than us. We are impacting, you are impacting your clients lives. You are leaving a legacy in a sense, because you're going in and you're changing their homes for the better. A lot of times we take this for granted, because this is what we do. Okay, but stop and think that this job, this j-o-b, this business that we have, this possible hobby that turned into a career, dare I say it. You are going into people's homes, and you are creating a refuge for them where they can begin their day at their best, and end their day at their best and everything in between. They might go to battle, but they can come home and feel safe.
So because it's bigger than us. This job is bigger than us, this business, this industry, and the things that we do. We have to step back and take a look at how is it also impacting us. So how is it impacting you, honey? Is it? Are you just working your ass off? Are you spinning your wheels? Are you not sure what to do? Or maybe you do know what to do. And that means that you might need to expand. You might need to hire some help.
I have talked to a lot of interior designers, and this seems to be a really big obstacle from a mindset perspective. Then once you decide, oh, yeah, I do need to hire, then it becomes logistical. Being the boss is a blessing and a curse. Being a business owner is a blessing and a curse. Right? You have total control, but I'm going to tell you to get a coach.
Seeking outside counsel, you don't have anybody holding you accountable. I started this podcast because my coach is the one who told me you need to do a podcast. She held me accountable. You can imagine I'm a stubborn little booger, but it gets done. So if you don't have a coach, grab one because being the boss, like I said, is a blessing and a curse. If nobody's holding you accountable, sometimes you're going to miss what's right in front of your face, like a podcast, or just choose not to do it because you don't have the discipline.
Now, as a business owner, I can tell you that I am often the one that creates the bottleneck, but I'm going to encourage you not to cause the bottleneck in your business, because you're afraid to hire employees. I was just talking to a client of mine, a coaching client, and she is overwhelmed, overworked, and her health is starting to decline, because she hasn't hired. So we walked through all of this, and she to stretch. She hasn't hired because she doesn't want to give up control.
Does that sound familiar? Yeah. You don't want to give up control, but you have to hire in order to really grow. Now, if you don't want to grow, that's okay, but if you want some sanity, then quit taking the jobs on because you don't have help. Otherwise, stretch that courage muscle. It's time to hire because the courage it takes to hire somebody is going to allow you the freedom to scale your business.
Do you want to grow to seven figures? Yes or No? Neither answer is negative. But is there stuff that you could hand off that isn't something that you should be doing? Administrative work? What about getting and returning memos? What about expediting during the procurement?
A lot of this stuff is not going to be your bread and butter. This doesn't make you money. What makes you money is your design genius. Okay, so you don't necessarily have to bring in another designer. Why don't you just bring somebody in to help you with some of these small tasks that are taking you away from your CEO mind?
You cannot be the leader in a business if you don't have time to think, if you're just working solely on reaction. I can tell you this strictly from experience, personal experience, as well as observing, coaching, and mentoring hundreds of designers. So, if you are going to hire, then you also need to stretch yourself and understand that not everybody's gonna think like you do. And that's okay.
What you need to do is teach them how you do it, and ultimately what the end result is going to be. Give them some coaching along the way, and then let them fly. That's a very simplistic explanation, but you have to let your people fly. You also have to let them fall. Your space needs to be a safe place to fail. Now, you don't want to put it out there that you are going to close the doors because you've given so much responsibility to somebody and they screw something up. I mean, be realistic about that.
But let's talk a little bit about what you need when you have mentally decided that it's time to bring somebody on board. You're just overwhelmed, you're overworked, your health is starting to suffer. You're exhausted, you're crabby, and you don't have the patience with your family like you used to. But here you are doing your dream job. It's out of balance.
So let's grab some help. Some things that you need to do is create a workload structure. What I mean is that if somebody can't work up to your standards, your standards are probably too complicated. What you need to do is simplify your processes so that you can train a team. And a team could just be an assistant It could be part-time. It could be full-time. It could be somebody who you're going to groom to help you design. It could even be somebody that you're grooming just to be strictly an administrative function.
But simplify your processes, boil them down to the nitty gritty. You're probably operating and doing a lot of things from instinct. Step back and ask yourself why. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing that? Why am I going about it this way and that way. It's taken me so long to get from point A to point B, why? Analyze your own processes.
The easiest way to do that is simply to write it down. Write down step one, step two, step three, step four, step five. Because oftentimes, it just makes sense in your head, but when you start writing it down, you might see that you put some extra steps in there for some reason. So, again, start making sure your processes are documented.
Now, this is a lot of what I teach in the Interior Design Business Bakery, because every project is different, but the process should be the same. So, getting your business set up in its processes is key, and not just for yourself. You might be thinking, well, it's just me. I don't need to write it down. But what you do, it's big, it's bold, and it impacts people. So, running it like a business instead of like a hobby, is actually going to make your job easier in the long run. Because when it is time for you to bring somebody on, it might not be for you, but heck, you might have needed to bring somebody on two years ago, and you've just been stubborn. So start writing these down, it's a priority to write down your processes. Review them. Ask yourself why. Why am I doing it this way? Is there a better way to do it?
Now, don't get lost in the minutiae. What I mean by that is just stay close to what moves the needle in your business. Perfection is overrated. Perfection is perception. Okay? Now, also think about the problems that you've just applied a bandaid to, and put a star next to it, knowing that you need to come back to find a permanent solution. You might not do that immediately. You don't need to solve the problems right away, just start writing your processes down.
Again, consider working with a coach. I'm not promoting just myself, there's a whole lot of coaches out here in this industry. Find somebody that resonates with you, and allow them to give you that feedback and the support and the accountability that we offer.
Now, most entrepreneurs, especially in our industry, we don't set out thinking of ourselves as a visionary leader. More than likely you got into this business because you'd like to make spaces pretty. And that's watering it way, way down. I know. But at the same time, you probably weren't trying to create an empire. Maybe you were. Kudos to you, babe. But if you weren't, and you're just like, Oh, I'm not a visionary leader.
But if you want your business, your interior design or other creative business, to operate as a business and give you some freedom, well, then you really have to step back and be that leader, that CEO. Okay? You need to be sure that as you bring your team on, that you express to them what your expectations are. You have to build trust and communication, and mutually beneficial relationships with these individuals that you're going to bring on in whatever capacity you bring them on in.
Never, ever underestimate the impact of your relationship with your employees. People leave jobs because of poor leadership more often than they do becasue of the lack of money. It's imperative that what you do is that you don't expect your team to invest more into the business than you invest into them. Let me say that again. Do not expect your team to invest more into the business than you invest into them.
Your team will take care of your clients. Whether they're in a design capacity, or an administrative capacity, or expediting, or any sort of role in your business. Your team will take care of the clients the way you take care of them. If you talk poorly to your team, and don't give them the opportunity to learn and grow, or if you criticize their selections, or you know, scoff at the fact that it's not as good as what you would have selected, well, then don't expect your team to treat your clients as well, in the long run. Don't expect them to stick around.
I know that seems very, very, very basic, but I don't believe leadership is something that they teach in school. It wasn't back in my day, and I haven't heard about it lately. That's where a coach can help. That's where reading books and listening to things about leadership can help. Management is the technical aspect of it, but leadership is where the real magic happens. So the more your company grows, the more critical it is to have a team in place because you can't do it all. You can't be all things for all people.
Something to think about as well, a lot of times, people will tell me, hey, they're not going to do it as well as I do it. And here's what I'm here to tell you, babe. That's okay. That is okay. Can they get to 75, 80% of your ability? And by that, I mean, they're going to start slow.
Starting a new job is like having three thumbs. Like half the time, they don't even know where to find the stapler, and it takes longer. It's okay. One thing to think about is, if you've ever had children, and for those of you who might be new here, I have a three and a half year old. As she was growing from this little itty bitty teeny tiny baby, she starts to crawl, and then she starts to stagger around and walk, and then she starts to run.
This is just like hiring a new employee in any capacity. They're going to crawl first, they're going to be really slow, and they're not going to be very confident to begin with, because, like I said, they don't even know where the stapler is. They're going to be slow. And then they're going to pick up some speed, and they're going to be, you know, wobbling around walking, but they're not going to be very competent on their feet.
Once they understand the ins and outs, and the nuances, and you have encouraged them, well, then what's going to happen is they're going to get that confidence, and then they're going to be able to run. You're going to be like, oh my gosh, look at the ease in which this job is becoming. It's operating with so much less work, because you delegate it and you offloaded a lot of stuff that you were carrying on your shoulders.
So, the individuals that you hire are not going to be as fast or as good at first, and if you're hiring for design, they might not even have a better eye than you. Yet. Your goal, just like with your children, is going to be to elevate them. Continue to draw out and encourage that creativity. It's only going to make your firm better.
When you're hiring, you hire slow so you know you can trust the individuals. It's very important, especially with a small business. You have to build that trust. Hire slow, fire fast.
Again, work on the relationships that you have with your employees. Make sure you almost over communicate. Communication is imperative in this relationship. You're training. Sometimes it's just on-the-job training. I should be telling you, you should have everything written down and then you should have standards that you train them to. Blah, blah, blah. But in all reality, you're probably just going to tell them to hop on, come along for the ride, and I'm going to teach you as I go.
If you have a larger firm, you can have an operations manual and you can train them accordingly. But more often than not, your first hire isn't going to be that succinct. It could be because you've been too busy running your business to create an operations manual or anything. But as a leader, develop a love of teaching. It's a lot of work, especially your first hire, but after that, it gets easier. So you teach them, you coach them. and that means you give them custom, specific, real-time feedback on their performance.
They can't read your mind, and you're not there to make them happy. Well, I mean, you are, but you can still deliver difficult messages. So if somebody doesn't meet your expectations, it's your job to tell them. Don't be a jerk about it, but it is your job to tell them. You know what I mean?
So, this is the big five zero, podcast. I'm going to have to write my coach a note and give her a call to tell her she was right. But, that's what I wanted to pass on to you today. Grow. Get uncomfortable. You need to hire coach. I've had quite a few on this podcast. You could definitely go in that direction.
Here's a little plug for my business, head on over to the Interior Design Business Bakery. You're not just stuck with me, but you've got a community of badass women that are here to support, and encourage you, and sometimes push you out of your comfort zone. Have the courage to step into the unknown and recognize that your business is more than you. It is an impactful, life-changing service that you provide. Why wouldn't you want to share that with more people, take on more business, and help others realize their dreams in creating beautiful spaces? There's so many reasons why not to. But there's more reason to do it than not, and there's so much reward if you do.
So, I'm off my soapbox. Happy five-zero. If you have been here with me since ground zero, it's been fun. I'm always welcome to your feedback. Now, I also really appreciate any sort of reviews that you guys want to leave. If you don't like what I have to say you can just email me directly. But if you do like what you've got here in this podcast, wherever you're listening, Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Stitcher, drop a note. It helps us stay relevant in the searches.
And if you're not sure about the Interior Design Business Bakery, come over to the Launch Pad. It's a free Facebook group. I go live once a week, and then we also have some wonderful workshops that we conduct. One is called Rolling in the Dough, and it's a free five day workshop. So come see me. Come stretch yourself. Get a little bit uncomfortable, but know that you're not the only one.
Have ideas or suggestions or want to be considered as a guest on the show? Email me!