Episode 32: Fix This Next With Rachel Aiken

Episode 32: Fix This Next With Rachel Aiken

As business owners, quite a lot of us are control freaks. We want things to be done our own way. That’s why we are in this field of entrepreneurship. We want to do things our way.

Susanne Mariga:Welcome to the Profit Talk Show. In this show, we’re going to explore strategies to help you maximize profits in your business while scaling and creating the lifestyle that you want as an entrepreneur. I am your host, Susanne Mariga. I am a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Profit First Professional, and a Certified Tax Coach. Today, we’re going to talk about strategies to help you maximize profits in your business.
Hello, Profit First Entrepreneurs and Thought Leaders. I’m so excited. We have a special guest today. Her name is Rachel Aiken. Rachel is known as ‘The Minimalist Systems Strategist’ and she helps six-figure online entrepreneurs really scale to become the seven-figure businesses of their dreams. She helps them by implementing systems, simple systems that allow them to increase efficiency through really within their teams and operations. Now, as The Minimalist System Strategist, Rachel’s passion is to educate ambitious entrepreneurs that make big mistakes by focusing solely on sales and marketing. And, what she does is, in her program, she really creates no-nonsense minimal strategies that prioritize systems and efficiency using her tried and tested simple formula to scale their business so they can enjoy more time, money, and freedom. Please welcome Rachel Aiken to the platform. Hey Rachel, how are you?
Rachel Aiken:Hi, I’m fine. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
Susanne Mariga:We’re excited to have you, too, all the way from the UK. How fun and interesting! I know we’ve got some listeners all the way in Australia, so it’s really great to have you.
Rachel Aiken:Yeah, so I’m super excited. I love anything to do with profit and I know we’re going to get onto that as we go. It’s really exciting to be able to talk about systems because systems aren’t sexy. They’re not the thing that people really want to hear about, but systems are the key, they really help you scale your business.
Susanne Mariga:Exactly. If it makes more profits, our listeners want to hear about it. I want to know about it. We’re about the profits. So, how did you get into this? Tell us about your journey. How did you get into this minimalistic business operation?
Rachel Aiken:Okay. So, my online journey started when I realized that my teaching career wasn’t going to match up with how I want it to be as a mom. But, I also had ambitions to have an amazing career. Actually, most people don’t believe this and somebody laughed when I told them the other day, “I actually quit my job when I got offered a promotion.” Not many people do that. But I got offered a promotion and I realized that it was going to take more time away from the kids, but I really wanted to do something amazing. And I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to quit and find something else to do.” So, I started off as quite a lot of people do, quite a lot of moms do in the VA world. I had a very short VA career because I was like, “I can do more than this.”
I became an online business manager, which for those people who don’t know what an online business manager is, it’s somebody who comes into online businesses and they help. They basically become like your business partner and they take on things like running and managing the operations and freeing business owners up to be able to work in their zone of genius. And, I did that for about 18 months. I became a Certified Online Business Manager because I’m one of those A star students that want to be the best of the best. There were a lot of mistakes that I was seeing and I also realized that the balance of the big kind of idea and dream that I had, or the kind of business that I wanted to have didn’t really work with almost being like an employee in somebody else’s business.
So, I had a lot more to give. And, so, last September, I pivoted and became ‘The Minimalist System Strategist.’ So, it’s really based on the lessons that I learned from working inside some really big seven and eight-figure coaching businesses in the UK and in Europe. There are a lot of mistakes that I saw and I knew that I didn’t want other entrepreneurs to make those same mistakes and there were simple ways around it and if I could educate people earlier, then I felt like I’m not doing myself out of a job, but because people are still going to need OBMs, but it just means that people are not going to have the stress and the overwhelm and the cost involved with not implementing systems soon enough.
Susanne Mariga:I love that. That is really good. Start early with the right system so that you can grow efficiently and scale versus making the mistakes that a lot of people will make. So, Rachel, tell us some tidbits, what can we do to scale efficiently with minimalistic operations? 
Rachel Aiken:Okay. One of the biggest things is, for me, one of the things that I saw was, if you are not running your business efficiently, then it’s going to have a big impact on your profit. You end up hiring the wrong people, you end up hiring more people. These were some of the lessons that I learned from working in some of these businesses. So, quite often what would happen is, go into businesses for the long term and they wouldn’t have implemented systems. They wouldn’t have created any systems that just be growing and growing and growing, which, it happens. We know that as soon as the sales and marketing really take off and you’ve got that, you get the cash in, it can just be this rapid cycle of, “Wow, I’m going to get here.”
And, if there’s no time to check in with two things, so checking in with your business purpose is really key at that point because there’s that same “what got you here, won’t get you there.” Your purpose quite often changes as a business, as you evolve, like your ideal client changes because you’re like, “Oh, they’re the right people for us, they’re always paying us,” that kind of thing. And, you need to then have the systems in place. So it can free you up as the business owner. Otherwise, you end up creating yourself a massive job. I think there was something I heard the other day that entrepreneurs quite often will be quite happy to work a 90 hour week rather than be in a 40-hour job, 40-hour week job. So, you’re like, “this makes no sense.” 
Most of us, as entrepreneurs, start a business because we want to have more freedom. We want to have more flexibility. We want to have a business on our own terms. And so, we want to be working in our own zone of genius. So, reviewing that purpose and putting some of the systems in place are really key, but also then, if you’re a service-based business owner, I noticed as an OBM that my business would go to the bottom of the list. If I didn’t have systems in place for my sales and marketing, I wasn’t doing it. And then it was like, “how am I going to find the time to do it?” So, these were some of the key kinds of things that I realized that now I’m really pushing. I really pushed that even if you are a service-based business, your business has to come fast first. 
And the systems in your business need to come first, particularly sales and marketing. Sales and marketing are going to be the thing. Those systems are going to be the stuff that gets you to six figures. But, once you hit six figures, you kind of want to have that streamlined and nailed, and then you start looking at profits and efficiency. One of the key things that you want to think about when you get into that stage, that kind of six-figure stage is really thinking, “How can I simplify this? And I can take myself out so then I can work in my zone of genius or maybe even take a holiday.” But, really when was the last time any of us took a switched off holiday from our business. It’s kind of unheard of. And, so, I kind of like to make that as something that the people like the clients that I work with, that’s where we get to. 
That’s the goal. To be able to take maybe three weeks off at some point in the year, not Christmas, not the usual times, but three weeks off where you’re like, “ I am not going to look at my phone. I’m not taking my laptop on that plane. I’m going on holiday.” And if I go, and so I think in terms of tips, it’s really about making sure that you’re at the right place and looking at the right strategy and the right systems for the stage of business that you’re in.
Susanne Mariga:I love that. Looking at the right stages of business that you are now, I’m interested because I know you kind of honed in on that first six-figures and then when you start to get to multi six-figures and in seven-figures, each of those areas, each of those levels is going to require a whole different strategy. I know when we’re going through, we’re like, “Okay, how do I fire myself from each job as I was going through it?” And making decisions based upon the level that we’re in and what needs to happen to eventually fire myself to get somebody else to do it because that’s how I looked at it. Just kept firing myself from jobs, even though it’s my own company, firing myself from different roles, that’s how I looked at it. But, I’m interested, let’s talk about that just for our viewers and our listeners, depending on where they’re at, let’s talk about the phases and what each phase requires?
Rachel Aiken:Okay. So, if we’re thinking about the different phases, you start your business with this idea. That’s like you’re StartUp. The most important thing at that startup is with those ideas that you’re just going to get some cash in so that you can pay your bills, pay your rent, pay for some food on the table. At that point, it’s just a free-for-all, as we all know, as we’ve all been through that stage, that is where it’s just like, “get some clients, let’s get it sorted, let’s get some money in,” then what you go through is your kind of going through the next stage, which is, you’re going to go through the build stage and it’s not the same as growth. So, this is where you’re building on the idea of the startup.
With your sales and marketing, you’re really looking at your sales and marketing strategy and the systems you can put in place for that because what you want to do at that stage is, you want to be identifying more who that ideal client is because you’ve already got all those clients in place. You’re like, “They’re the ones I really like working with. That’s my person.” Identifying that, making sure you’re bringing in the money, making sure you’re collecting the money, making sure that you’re delivering. A big thing that I really push across the board is customer focused systems are really key. So, making sure that you’re not only selling this stuff but that you’re delivering on it because once you do that, that’s going to help you. So, then, once you get to the six figures, you’re really going to go into that grow and order stage.
So, that’s where you’re looking at the profit, and this kind of makes sense. Once you’ve delivered on those commitments, you’re going to get those clients, hopefully, if your business is set up in the right way, coming back and going onto your next program, or you get those repeat customers which is bringing in more money because as we all know, bringing in that initial client is quite costly. We want to keep them there and that’s one of the key ones when we look at profit systems. So, I’m a Certified Fix This Next Advisor and that’s what we call transaction frequency. Your clients are repeatedly buying from you rather than disappearing after they’ve worked with you.
But then you also want to look at and these are some of the key things that I really noticed that people hadn’t necessarily done in March, so kind of like pre-COVID. One of the big things, when we look at profit, is making sure that you’ve got enough money in the bank for three months of cash reserves. So, you’ve got that emergency funds and you’ve got that recovery. Then we look at efficiency and then when we move from that, we then start to move into the impact stage. That’s where we really look at making that transformative impact on a larger scale. So, once you’ve got your profit in place, you’ve got that efficient business where your team is working in their zone of genius, you got the right people, you then move into that impact stage, and then after that, you work into the legacy stage, which is where you can be totally removed from the business.
You no longer need to be the CEO. You can put someone else in your place as CEO, which some people don’t want to get that, and that’s fine but that’s the fifth stage. So, at each stage, there’s a strategy that we work on and then we work within those systems within that strategy. It’s like, you can almost have a tick box but also it means that when something’s not working, you can go back and you can look at all those tick boxes that you’ve already done and go, “Is that the same? Is that the same? Is that the same? No, that one’s not.” We need to go back and revisit that if we can get it done, it may be a month if it’s a big thing, maybe it just needs tweaking and it’s just a week. And then we can go back to building our business even higher.
Susanne Mariga:I love that. And, I think that’s really critical about what you said. One of the things you said was, one of the first systems that you want to hone in is your sales or marketing, but like you said, it’s the customer-focused systems. So, like accounts receivable, because I’ve seen so many times with business owners, they just get busy. They’re busy in the sales, busy with trying to scale, but they don’t have the process in place to really monitor collections. So, although they were making sales, the sales aren’t converting to cash because nobody’s following up on these slow pay people. That happens in the midst of COVID-19. So, it was important, like you said, just to build the systems that focus on “how am I servicing my customers?”
Not only that but, “how am I making sure I’m collecting on those sales?” Because that’s going to hinder everything. If you don’t have the cash flow because you’re not going to be able to pay for those efficient systems that you’re going into because they’re probably going to require people and people want to get paid. So you want to make sure that your cash flow is really, really good. The other thing I like that you said, Rachel, was the lifetime value of a customer. That it’s not just a one-time transaction, but if you can turn that customer into a loyal rating fan that comes back and then you can up-level them into other services. Again, you’re no longer having to start all over again. It’s always easier to upsell a client that’s already happy versus finding new clients. That lifetime value of a customer.
Rachel Aiken:Definitely. And, you want to have a process like when I think of scaling, it’s about creating that lifetime offer. So, once that person is in, you are then offering them the next thing, and they’re saying, “We haven’t got this.” And you’re like, “This is what we’re going to create so then you haven’t got to go and look elsewhere. I know you, you know us and we can do this together.” That like and trust is already there. It’s so much easier and I think a lot of businesses, particularly as they go through fast growth, they quite often forget about this. And that was one of the things that I noticed when I was an OBM, like the collections thing, I can tell you some horror stories about people not checking and they just thought the Infusionsoft would just work and other CRMs and you’re just like, “NO!”
You need to keep an eye on this. But, also I think this is my biggest takeaway, which I think you’re probably going to ask me anyway, but if I was going to give one piece of advice about growing and scaling a business is that, no matter who you bring on board as part of your team, you as the business owner should know how each one of those jobs works. So, I loved how you said you had to fire yourself from positions, that is like music to my ears because there are so many business owners who,  I think once you hit six figures and this is where it becomes tricky because you’re taught to bring on team members to support you and it’s really easy for someone to just say, “I’m going to bring on an OBM to do this for me because this is not my zone of genius. I don’t need to know how to do this system. Whatever. Yeah. Not interested.”
But, actually, if you are invested at that time, the best thing that you can do is to educate yourself on how to do it. So then, your business does not become dependent on one person knowing how to do things and doing things their way. We, business owners, quite a lot of us are control freaks. We want things to be done our own way. We are in this field of entrepreneurship because we want to do things our way. I think that’s one of the big mistakes that business owners often make. “I will hire somebody to do this for me and I don’t need to worry about it,” and that’s not the case. You want to be able to go in and do quality assurance kind of checks.
And go, “Okay. So tell me about this.” You might bring on an active campaign as a CRM and you might not know it inside out, but as a business owner, you want to be going in and just going, “Okay, I’m kind of familiar with this. I can go in and see that. Yeah. That email went on Wednesday as I asked for it. That should all be working like clockwork, but I can go in and spot-check it. I can go in and see that this amount of people opened it.” Just be kind of intrigued by what’s happening behind the scenes and not feeling that you can just delegate your business to anybody. You are a business owner, you have to take responsibility for that. And then, with any team member, every single team member is a partner in your business.
Whether they’re a VA working 10 hours for you, whether they’re an OBM working 40 hours for you, whatever level, it kind of goes back to that customer-focused because if you are treating your customers with a particular level of excellence, if you do that the same with your team members, whether they’re employees or contractors, if you treat them as business partners, they’re staying in your business, you will become their favorite client. They will do their best work for you. They will do it. They will prioritize your work for you. They’ll work for you and as a result, it will elevate your business and it will help you scale because you will keep those team members there and they will stay with you, which means that your business will become more profitable because they will understand your business on a whole other level.  They will feel like they can contribute to the business on a whole other level rather than I’m just here to do a job. I think that’s the biggest thing that I want business owners to really understand. You need to understand and take responsibility for every level of your job, but trust those people as well, who you are working alongside with, no matter whether you’re at the top and they’re at the bottom, that partnership is key. 
Susanne Mariga:Yeah! People rise to their level of expectations. So, if you’re expecting them to be able to own the job and to get it done versus task-oriented types of positions, they’re going to rise to that occasion. And like you said, it also starts with hiring well, too, making sure that when you hire, you hire someone that can actually do the work, that you actually feel comfortable walking away and knowing that they can do the job perfectly. That’s important to be able to do that because you want to be able to delegate according to people’s ability. And, it’s very interesting, just like you said, Rachel, a lot of us entrepreneurs, we start our business because frankly it’s our gift and it’s almost like craftsmanship. We want things done a certain way because that is our gift to the world. That’s our art,  whether it’s accounting, coaching, creating a product, it’s our gift. It’s what we love to do. We would do it for free and it’s an art and it’s like our baby.
But, I’ll tell you this guys, it feels so good to fire yourself. It really does. And you really don’t realize it’s probably the third time you fired yourself, but it really is wonderful. I went to a convention, I think it was a couple of years ago and Simon Sinek was speaking and he was talking about teams. He had written this book and ‘Leaders Eat Last’ is the name of the book. The book talks about how the leader when there’s a hard task. One of the mistakes that people make as a leader is they stay there and they stay with their team. And, as our team is working through, and one of the things that Simon’s challenged us on was, “Next time you got a really hard project, that’s really challenging, you tell your team, Deuces, I’m out of here, I’ll see it in the morning, your results.” That’s how you get things done. That’s how you raise the expectations of your team and allow them to rise to the occasion. 
Rachel Aiken:Definitely. It’s true. So many business owners have a problem with trust and it’s like, you can’t do everything in your business or you can, but you need to change a business model and your expectations. So which one is more important. And if you are putting in the systems yourself, and it’s really simple, the easiest way to do this and the biggest tip for somebody who may just be hiring is setting up your business the right way with your first hire is video everything, using something like loom, everything that you want that person to do, you record yourself doing it on video. You don’t need to write it down as an SOP(Standard Operating Procedure)for people who don’t know what that means, but you don’t need to write it down because chances are you want that person to go, “This is how I do it.  I’m just going to follow it.” 
It stops them from asking questions. As soon as it stops them from asking you questions, they are taking responsibility for the role because they can see automatically what they’re doing. And, the beauty of that as well is that, they’re going to probably do it 20 times and go, “Actually, we could do this a lot better. I’ve got this experience. I’ve got a different experience to you. So, I think we could cut this out. We could do this.” And then, they can just record another video and it can sit in your project management tool like click-up or whatever you’re using and it’s there for someone else to just press, play, and go, “This is how I do it,” and as soon as you do that, there are no questions.
It means that you have a culture of people who you can trust because they’re not asking you the questions all the time. They’re only coming to you for the big, important questions. And that is the game changer when it comes to hiring and tapping those systems and freeing them up, and then like you said, fire yourself and going, “Okay, I’m not doing this role anymore and trusting that person to do it and we’re going to have dialogues once a month about how things are going.” That is the biggest game-changer that I know of when you’re running your own business.
Susanne Mariga:Yes! Especially with the video. Rachel, if you think about hiring for entry-level positions and you’re getting to the point that you’re hiring five of them at one time, imagine being able to give them a video. That means I’m giving them the ability to watch it and kind of work through a couple of samples before they come to talk to you. It makes your job so much easier.
Rachel Aiken:Yeah. And they can pause it. They can rewind it. They can fast-forward. They can go, “Hang on. I’m sure I’m missing something. Let me go back and watch it again.” Now it makes that onboarding so much simpler and that’s what we want. Business at one level is hard work, but we shouldn’t be making any of this level, like the operations, the behind the scenes, it should not be difficult. We need to keep it simpler. It’s just that our brains make it over-complicated like you said because it’s our baby. So, by having simple systems, working on the right strategies at the right time, you are freeing yourself up from that headache. And instead, you can put your time and energy into the things that are going to grow and scale your business to your wildest dreams.
Susanne Mariga:I love that. That is amazing. And so, Rachel, if you could leave our viewers and our listeners, as we wrap up today with one piece of advice and it can be personal, it can be business, it can be whatever you think is going to be that golden nugget that helps them really propel their lives for, what would that piece of advice be? 
Rachel Aiken:Okay. So, the biggest piece of advice is, no matter what stage you’re at in your business, there is always something to learn. Educating yourself is the biggest thing to help you really scale. There’s always something new. There’s always a new strategy. There’s always something different to learn. Don’t be afraid of the newer companies or the latest new person who is telling something. Don’t be scared of TikTok, or something that you think is for younger audiences or new technology. Don’t get scared of it because you never know it could be the one thing that can really set your business on fire.
Susanne Mariga:I love that. And also, I know it’s going to go back a couple of minutes when we were talking about the importance of an owner knowing their business and knowing the operations. I used to think because there’s a big philosophy out there that they’re saying, “Oh, you just hire for your weaknesses. Don’t bother learning it.” But, what I have found in my business personally is, when you understand how things are done, every part of it even if you’re not the one to do it long-term because that’s just not your zone of genius, but at least to understand how it works, understand that if you had to step in, you could do this is, one, when somebody’s saying they can’t do something and you’ve done it, you’d be like, “Ah, ah, ah, oh, no, no, no. Now, you’re obviously the wrong person for this job.” You’re able to recognize the stuff that’s just head trash in that case. Two, you never know when you’re going to be in a pinch and you might have to step in. So, as an owner, like you said, continue to develop yourself, continue to grow, and know the parts of your business, too.
Rachel Aiken:Yeah, for sure.
Susanne Mariga:I love it. So, Rachel, how can we find you to connect with you to work with you? 
Rachel Aiken:Okay. So, there are two ways. I have a simple business quiz, which is super easy. You take the quiz and it will tell you exactly what system your business needs right at this second for you to work on. So really simple. And then, if you want further support, I have an amazing Facebook group called ‘Get Your Together Society’ because as business owners, quite often, that’s what we need to do. We need to get our heads out of the sand and get over that. Plus, I have an amazing program for six-figure business owners that really focuses on the profit and the order, which is my 90 Days To Freedom Program, which is working with you. I don’t do it for you because it goes against everything that I’ve just talked about. But, I do with you to show you and work with you. Then, you can remove yourself from the business in 90 days by doing team assessments, hiring teams, making your team more efficient by following really simple systems and strategies. 
Susanne Mariga:I love it. Absolutely love it. So guys, if you want to Fix This Next, contact Rachel Aiken. I’m going to put her contact information in our show notes so that you can contact her so that you can Fix This Next. Thank you Rachel for joining us today.
Rachel Aiken:Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a complete pleasure. 
Susanne Mariga:It is. And, and your knowledge has been very generous. Thank you.
I want you to have your most profitable year ever. Yes, no matter what’s going on in the economy, no matter what’s going on in the world, you can have your best year ever. I want to show you how. Join me in our private Facebook group, where I will be hosting our Free, Yes, I said FREE Profit First Masterclass on Facebook. Please join the Profit First Master Class with Susanne Mariga. I look forward to seeing you there and watching you have your best year ever.

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