This is part 3 of a 3 part series on a “Behind the Scenes Look at Gen Y Planning.” Feel free to start by reading Part 1 on “How I Built the Kind of Business I Want to See in the World” and Part 2 on “Yes, You Can Run a Business and Still Have a Life”. Also, if you’re a financial planner who is interested in finding out about the next mentorship program that I’m launching, you can sign up for the waitlist here.
When I first launched Gen Y Planning, I did pretty much everything myself. I met with clients and created their financial plans. I wrote this blog and my email newsletter. I marketed myself. I slaved over PowerPoint slides when hired to give a presentation. I worked a lot of nights and weekends from home, coffee shops, and while traveling.
Eventually, something had to give. As I said in a previous post, it was going through a divorce that made me realize I needed help with my business. My clients needed my guidance when making huge life decisions, and it was a struggle to handle writing, marketing, and other tasks and still be there for them.
I decided that I wanted to be a true partner in my clients’ financial decisions, and it was time to get some help with the rest. And I have to say, the moment you let go of the belief that you have to control everything is the moment your business really begins to grow!
So how do you assemble your team, especially if you have no experience hiring or managing people?
Before You Hire Anyone, Start With “Team You”
As you get a new business off the ground, a few people will be instrumental to your initial success. Begin by outsourcing complex things like compliance, taxes, and legal matters. (No, I don’t do my own taxes. They are the last thing that I want to mess up!). I have a CPA, small business attorney, and compliance consultant that are all on a monthly retainer. Their expertise is invaluable and I can reach out to them as needed.
Creating and incorporating a new business can be complicated. Having the right people helping you will keep you from running into legal and tax issues down the line when you begin taking on clients or hiring employees.
Another important part of Team You are mentors and coaches. There are people in your industry who’ve been where you are and can walk you through the different issues you’ll encounter. I’ve been fortunate to have a number of amazing mentors by my side as I launched Gen Y Planning, and I pay it forward by coaching other financial planners who are starting their own businesses.
I recently coached a group of four awesome financial planners, and it was such a great experience that I’m doing it again! If you’d like to find out more about this program, join the waitlist!
Grow Your Team Slowly and Steadily
If you’re a currently a one-person operation, don’t think you need to suddenly hire five full-time staffers and provide them with office space. Financial planners were floored when I told them I wouldn’t have an office and would be entirely virtual back in 2013, even though other industries had been this way for over a decade.
We live in amazing times where you can work from anywhere, and tons of talented people are looking for freelance work that they can do remotely. Start small with a freelancer to complete simple tasks that you don’t want to do yourself, but are important to the business. They can help with things like building your website, designing your print materials or presentation slides, or doing research for you.
Over time, you’ll bring more people onto your team, and within months you’ll wonder how you ever launched a business without them by your side. But hiring can be scary and sometimes it doesn’t go well. Take it slow and add new responsibilities to your team members’ plates at a sustainable pace.
Once You Have the Team, Empower Them
Your business is your baby, and it’s easy to believe that no one else cares about it as much as you do. But the people who work for you believe in your company and they want it to grow as badly as you do. The most important thing you can do after hiring great people is trust their expertise and get out of their way. Develop your team so they can learn more complicated skills and take even more off your plate.
No one likes to work for a micromanager. If you can’t let go of control of every single task, you will not get great work out of your team. They’ll quickly learn that it’s best to just do what you ask for, even if your instincts aren’t correct.
You want a team that pushes back when they disagree, that can bring ideas to fruition, and can find new and more efficient ways to get work done. If you don’t give your team the room to fly, they’ll quit to work for someone else who will.
How I Built the Gen Y Planning Team
Sometimes people think I’m a one-person shop and don’t understand how I can “be everywhere” and have the time to create so much new content. I might give the illusion that I’ve cloned myself, but it’s actually because I have a solid virtual team of contractors whom I trust with my business. How did I find my hires? As it turns out, quite randomly!
My First Rock Star
Kali Hawlk, who had a millennial-focused financial blog, sent me a cold email about six months after GYP launched. She said that I “seemed busy” and “was wondering if I needed any help with blogging, my newsletter or social media?”
Hiring her to take on these tasks saved me 3-5 hours per week that I could instead dedicate to working with my first few clients.
Kali now runs her own digital marketing agency, and if you’re looking for someone amazing to help you with blogging, content management, social media and marketing strategy, I highly suggest you get on her calendar. I have a feeling she won’t be taking on new clients for long!
My Content Manager
I was two years into my business when I realized that Kali needed help. I decided to advertise in my own Gen Y Planning newsletter that I was looking for a Virtual Marketing Assistant. I had applicants create sample tweets, link to articles they’d written, and tell me why they wanted to work for me. By reaching out to my dedicated audience, I heard back from around 20 people who were already familiar with my brand.
I hired one of them and she’s been on my team for nearly two years now, handling my newsletter, helping me with my blog, and even taking on some financial planning tasks as she completes CFP® classes.
Sara’s expertise and hard work not only saves me time, it actually expands my time! And now that Gen Y Planning has more than 50 clients, I don’t have to switch my focus from client work to marketing as often as before, which makes me much more productive.
If you already have a list of email subscribers, try posting a job opening there before turning to bigger job sites. I believe that I ended up with better applicants this way, and training a new hire was easier because she knew my voice, my brand, and my mission so well.
My Associate Planner
I met Alexandra (Alex) Hopkin at the XYPN conference in September 2015 when we were dancing to 90s music. You really never know when you’ll meet your next hire, so if given the opportunity to dance, clearly you should take it.
Alex is a mom and a military spouse. She lives on an Air Force base in Oklahoma. Before that, she lived in Japan for four years, where she worked on the military base assisting with financial counseling for soldiers who’d lost limbs and military spouses who had lost their husbands to war.
I knew that I could train Alex to work with clients the way I do because she had the ability to empathize. I wanted someone who could sit in on my meetings and not shy away from vulnerability.
Other advisors often say to me: “I need an Alex.” But the best part about Alex is that she’s actually working on solving that problem. Her side hustle is a website called Simply Paraplanner. She’s helping connect advisors to other people that want to work virtually in financial planning.
An Amazing Team is the Key to Growing Your Business
I wanted to “introduce” my team to you because I want you to see how much more we’ve accomplished together than I could have accomplished on my own since launching Gen Y Planning four years ago.
It’s hard to justify spending money on freelancers when you’re just starting to bring on a few clients. But if you bring the right people onto your team, their value is many times their pay and will allow you to serve many more clients.
Start creating processes now for all the recurring tasks that you’re doing and then start tracking how much time this takes you to do this work. When you’re ready to hire your first freelancer, it will be much easier to outsource specific tasks and slowly hand off bigger projects as you build trust with them.
Get that time back so you can focus on the reason you started that business in the first place — so you could have the freedom to do the work you love!