Ep. 317: Get Booked by the Day with Sarah Masci of Brackenhouse Branding

You know if you’re a web designer that if you don’t have a good system in place, then projects can drag out for a really long time. From the back-and-forth with the clients, getting all the content, etc., it can become a huge job if you don’t have a solid, systematic, and streamlined process to make it all happen.

Sarah Masci is a web & graphic designer who I am so incredibly excited for you to meet today. I resonate so much with Sarah because our stories are so similar. I believe I met Sarah through my accelerator program with Mariah Coz — no matter how, I’m so happy to know her.

Sarah over the years has honed her web designing processes down to offering daily intensives. So instead of spending months with web design projects for clients, she spends one day each with VIP clients. Sarah currently teaches her process on how to market, sell, and execute these one-day intensives — and they work for any sort of service provider.

This process is absolutely fascinating and I knew upon meeting Sarah that I had to introduce her to my audience. Many of my web designer academy students have signed up for Sarah’s classes to learn how to execute one-day intensives for their clients and it’s been a huge collaboration that I see a ton of opportunities in.

We have similar audiences, similar values, yet we still do totally different things, which I love. Sarah will also be speaking at the Side Hustle to Self-Employed Summit, which is Feb 4-7 2021 so mark your calendars! I’m going to give you a roadmap to go from side hustle to self-employed in 12 months or less, and Sarah will be there to talk about her method!

But I’m so excited that you get to meet her beforehand because she’s absolutely amazing and she’s someone you’re going to want to know if you’re a service provider and if you want to provide high-impact services in way less time. Let’s get into it!

Sarah and I talk about:

  • Sarah’s journey from corporate to becoming an online branding and web designer.
  • Some of the biggest mindset struggles Sarah faces.
  • When Sarah hired a business coach, the first thing she did.
  • Why you should evaluate your full process and make sure you are charging for all the things you are doing.
  • How Sarah took her experience and created a coaching program.
  • Her best advice if you are struggling to get traction in your audience building.
  • The belief Sarah had to change about herself to get where she is today.

My favorite quotes from Sarah:

  • “Let's take all of this stuff and really get it simplified and make it streamlined and easy for people to know what to do.”
  • “Everybody was so excited about it and blown away that they could just book me for a day and get my undivided attention for seven or eight hours.”
  • “There's enough websites that need to be built for everybody to have more than their fair share”

Shannon Mattern: Amy. Thank you so much for being here on pep talks for side hustlers. Can you share a little bit more with our listeners about you and what you do? Of course, thank you so much for having me. Um, my name is Amy Lochran and I am the CEO founder, all the different names you have for the operations house. And we are an implementation integration agency that focuses on business growth for, um, any of our clients. And that can look like project management for things that are happening

Amy Lockrin: Within your business, ongoing services, business growth, consulting, a slew of things where it's kind of what's happening in the backend of my business. And then how's that impacting everything for me to move forward because people tend to hit a limit where they're like, I just, I wish I could scale faster. And usually it's something behind you where you're like, Oh, I didn't know. That would be what it is. I kind of come in there and find it. It's all there for people find all the little things that they don't even know that are holding them back from what they want. That's awesome. So I want to dive more into that a little bit later, but first I want to hear, how did you get where you are? Like, what's your origin story? Oh my gosh. I feel like it's like the beginning of like a superhero movie.

Amy Lockrin: That's phenomenal. Okay. So my origin story, I have a heavy corporate background. I did everything from like restaurant events, sales and openings to, um, for a couple of years, I traveled around as an executive trainer for a large corporatization corporation and did sales and leadership skills. And then I switched my, um, path and was the development director for our state zoo. So really like the nonprofit cultivating relationships and things like that. And all of that was kind of, I liked working with people. I liked how things, how intricate things could be and how we can shift and change people. But ultimately I realized either the pace was too slow or like a lot of times you end up in a situation corporate where you're just like, you're not in alignment with the vision of how people are managing you. Um, it happened long enough where I, along with having two young kids decided, you know what?

Amy Lockrin: I think it's not, I don't think I need to keep switching jobs. I think I need to create something that's going to work for me and what my vision and ideals were. And so that's where I kind of started something on the side. Um, and it grew and grew to what it is today and way more than I ever could have imagined I can totally relate to the pace is too slow. Right? It's like when you're you have a great idea and you can kind of see the vision of where you can take this thing, but then there has to be like a committee and a board and all of these things and you know, and it takes two years to roll out something that could have taken like two months. Had you just been able to like cut through all the red tape, get to it.

Amy Lockrin: That's exactly it. Especially in the nonprofit field, it's you feel so great cause you're doing good, but then there's like a moment where you're like, I just, but like we have to change things and that feel to me, it was, it was, there was always like so much extra red tape that I was like, okay, it's probably me. It's probably not them at this point. Like it's, it's probably me to be able to pick up speed and it's not like I'm a person. Who's go, go, go all the time. Definitely type a. But I realized, you know, let's see what I can do. And I mean, I can, I spent one night trying to figure out like, okay, I used to love traveling for work, but now we have kids. Um, I like to do all of these things systems in the back end and really help people. I have zero desire to be the person shining brightly. What does that look like? And I fell into what does it mean be a virtual assistant. And I was like, I can start that business on my own and do that. And I started it and I was able to offer a skillset and a background in like consulting and management, where I sold out my services and replace my corporate income within three months. And then just kind of like, stair-step like the services I was offering to people to be what it is today.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. So here is, you know, like it took you three months to figure out how to like price and offer these services to get to the point where you're replacing your day job income. It took me three years and I, and I want to like understand that I know my whole problem was my mindset, but I want to understand for you, like, what was it that you were like, what was it that allowed you to do that so quickly? Because in my, from my perspective, it's quick because I know all the things that were holding me back, like not charging enough, like not getting help when I needed help, like all of these things. Um, but I just want to like kind of peek under the hood, into your brain for a minute and figure out like, what is it that you were thinking that like, had you make that happen

Amy Lockrin: Quickly? Oh, that's such a good question. And a lot of it, it was external forces that created an internal drive for, um, I, my husband works a job where he has varied hours for like events that he has to do for his brewery and things like that. And so we were at this point where we were shifting, who was parenting our kids and sometimes it was grandparents and I was like, I need, I'm pretty sure that's not why we had them. I'm pretty sure we had them cause we're supposed to spend time with them. And so I, I like being behind a computer. I'm an introvert naturally. And I was like, you know, there's a lot that I can do. And then once I set my mind to it, I'm a very motivated person. My husband, he said, he's always like, as soon as you say "so" he's like, I know whatever's coming right after whether it happens in a week or a year, you're going to make it happen.

Amy Lockrin: And in those three months I realized there's an opportunity for people. I think it's a little bit different now. Cause it was three years ago, um, for people to speak articulately about the skillset that they have and then always overdeliver. Cause that's just from a customer service experience. How I felt, if I say I'm going to do one thing, I'm really going to do three things. And so many people talk about scope creep, but if you're trying to build and be the person that everyone refers to, um, that's how I went into it. And I also really didn't sleep. Like I, I don't recommend anyone do the method that I did that quickly unless you're comfortable being like, okay, I'm going to go to bed one and wake up at four. But I had like a goal in mind of like when I would put in my resignation,

Shannon Mattern: Oh, I love it. I love it. And I, you know, I was the same way. It's like, if I decide I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it and I'm going to put the time into it. But I had a lot of fear holding me back. I had a lot of, um, I was, I was doing one-on-one web design and I was like, not charging nearly enough. Cause I'm like, well, I'm self taught. I learned this for free at my job. Like this skill, you know, I can't charge that much for this. Like I had all of this stuff, you know, keeping me stuck, um, in my business that really prevent that, that I had to, it took me just three years to learn the lessons I needed to learn, to charge enough to, um, to, and I was like, definitely I'm replacing my salary before I leave this job just cause you know, bills to pay and all the things. But I'm wondering like what advice you would have for someone who is like the me when I was starting out in 2015 to, um, to really make it happen.

Amy Lockrin: So I think, I mean, I still deal with money blocks right now because yeah. But the thing that probably helped me the most is being able to talk to a ton of people and what seems really simple to me where I'm like, there's no way I could pay, like ask someone to pay me that much is actually a huge relief for other people. And so shifting the mindset for it, not being like, because I can do something that's quick, but like I have years of experience and success on these key areas. That's the value that somebody gets, um, from working with me. And also probably just having that moment where I realized, you know what, it's probably not going to be a fit for everybody. Like I'm not going to be everyone's cup of tea or we shouldn't work together. But that doesn't mean that like there isn't someone right past that person is probably what really shifted things for me.

Shannon Mattern: Ah that's, that's so good. And I think another thing is just like, you know, just not being, being the one to not be afraid and dive in and figure it out for someone, you know, is, is hugely valuable. And I think that I totally discounted that about myself. I'm just like, Oh, I can figure out how to do anything. Like even if you're asking me to do something that I've never done before, like I know I can figure it out.

Amy Lockrin: See, and I think you and I, we probably fall into the minority on a couple of things for that because I do hiring for people right now I'm in different organizations or like they want to bring on somebody and like the operations back in it's a service I offer. And one of the key questions I ask for anyone that I'd hire for somebody else, or for myself is like the scenario based like, what would you do if this, and if the question comes back, you know, Oh, well I'd probably like ask you instead of like I'd research and figure it out right there. You can see like there's such a dichotomy between the different types of people. And I think that separates out who's gonna be successful quicker, like in the entrepreneurial journey and like move things along once they're ready to go.

Shannon Mattern: Ooh, that's such a good question because you know, it's like the, Oh, well I'd ask you because I'm afraid to do it wrong. And I just want to make sure that like, you know, versus, Oh, I'll, I'll figure it out. And then, you know, once I figure out an answer, then we can, then we can talk about it or I'll just make it happen. And then let you know what I did. Like I think that is, that is two very different personalities.

Amy Lockrin: It is. And it's not like I would never expect someone to be hired in and to like show their skill set and pretend like they know everything. I think that's a red flag for me, but if you're willing to say like, I didn't know the answer here. So what I did was, and like, I researched this, my suggestion is this. I'm not sure, like it shows that you put in the extra effort that you cared about figuring it out. And then even if I have to come in and say, well, actually that's completely wrong. Like that's not at all what we want to do. Like I respect where you're coming from from a business standpoint so much more in it, honestly it was kind of the requirement of a like working with people in corporate. You couldn't just go to a meeting and just be like, yeah, kind of figure it out, but I'm here. Good luck. It's just not how it was. And so I think carrying that over to where some people are coming from corporate, it's like a side hustle. Other people are starting from brand new and just those little nuances and how to work with people.

Shannon Mattern: So you quit your day job after building this up for three months, not sleeping, really just like kind of going after, like I have this goal in mind and this is not a longterm situation for me where I'm not going to be like sleeping and all of this stuff. I see the end. This is a decision I'm making to get the goal. What were you at solo partner at that time? Or were you building an agency at that time? What did that look like when you quit

Amy Lockrin: A hundred percent solopreneur? And it was one of those things where I spent time building relationships with people and getting to know what things people needed. And then also being comfortable enough to say like, this is what you need. However, can I make a suggestion? Cause I've seen it work here a little bit different. And we hit like a point where I had taken on clients to provide services at that point. Like it was, I realized it was like, okay, virtual assistant is probably not the best time to like online business manager is really what I'm doing. Um, and if I took one more person on it would be okay now sleep's gone. Like there's, you know, cause I still go to a day job. Um, and so with that in mind, we just kinda set like a point where I told my husband, I was like, if I can take two more people and have a start date of 30 days out, then we're there and that's it. And if you tell me that you're comfortable with that, I feel confident in that. And I'll be able to like triple that because there'd be so much more openings then. Um, and that was like, that was the big change for me.

Shannon Mattern: I love that. You mentioned having that conversation with your husband because my husband's totally like, he knows that I can do like handle whatever, but me leaving corporate freaked him out so much. Yeah. So I wanted to ask you that it's like we're breaking out of this traditional way of doing things that like we were brought up to be like, you get, someone gives you the job and the benefits and the health insurance and that's safe and secure.

Amy Lockrin: Oh a hundred percent. And I am that person. That's like, this is my life and in a checklist. And I'm just like checking it down, checking it down. Like here's what we do. Move here from this position. And when I realized it was, we had to replace my income for it to make sense because my husband he's a master brewer. He makes beer for a, so he's like, my husband would love him. That's like the most, everyone's like, he's, everyone's best guest at a party, but it's not the most lucrative career for someone to be in. So it was also, we had to replace the benefit of the insurance that I provided too. And so that was, I mean, it's almost like double of what you're actually making. Um, and he was scared, but, and he's always been, whenever something happens from like, Hey, just so you know, like X client, like our contract's over, I'm going to be looking for someone new. You can see that he kind of like, Oh really? And I'm like this we've been doing this for three years. He's in, he'll say he's like, you always like managed to figure it out and keep growing. So I don't even know why I get stressed out about it, but that's real. I mean, money is real. And it impacts how you work

Shannon Mattern: Able to live your life. Oh, absolutely. We have my husband and I have similar conversations because I transitioned in, so I was doing a blend of one-on-one web design services plus teaching, um, DIY web design marketing strategy and, and teaching web designers like how to market themselves and get clients. So that was kind of like the core of my business half and half after I quit my day job. That was, those were the things I was doing. And I got to the point where I was like, I don't want to take one on one clients anymore. Like it's 80% of my time. It's 20, 80% of my time, but it's bringing in only 20% of my revenue. So imagine what I could do if I had 80% of my time back, how much I could grow my revenue. So I, I had made the decision to stop taking one on one clients and it almost felt like quitting my day job again. And my husband was like, but what, but like, are you sure? Like, are you sure you can replace that income? And I'm just like, if I can't, I'll just take clients again. Like, bye

Amy Lockrin: It's like how you and I have the same. It's like, well, we have to figure this out and test it one way or the other. I mean, we've clearly determined that like my backup plan still works. It's just the shift or I'll go get a job if all of this, like implode

Shannon Mattern: This isn't just so, so just, you know, helping him gain the calm around it also kind of helps me gain the comradery. Cause it, cause you know, I am very much, it sounds like we're very similar. Like I like to know what's happening. I like to have a plan. I, you know, and as we all discovered from March to the end of June, when we're having this conversation, our plans don't really mean a whole lot things can change very quickly. Things can change very quickly. Um, so I think just, you know, him questioning me on that made me think like, okay, like what is my backup plan? I know I'll never need it, but just in case, what, what is it? So I love, I love hearing how that dynamic plays out for, for other entrepreneurs. Cause sometimes it's challenging. You feel like you're just kind of pushing ahead when the people close to you, maybe don't understand, but there's this whole online community of people that totally it.

Amy Lockrin: Yeah. I think that because people are my friends and family are kind and care and they want to know about things that are happening, but there's a level I was trying to explain to some of the other day. I could never imagine not having this life now that I'm afraid of this company, the people I get to work with the way I get to interact and meet somebody new. I mean, it's phenomenal, but the weight of creating a business and then like the, like the lingering worries that are in the back of your mind at all times, I don't think I could have mentally prepared for that or would have gone for it. If I realized it in the very beginning, like in my mind I was like, once I hit this income, I'm going to be like, yay, everything's great. But that's just not how true growth happens in a business. And coming to that realization was very eyeopening for me on like how I needed to manage the one-on-one work that I did similar to what you were just saying here, husband, I'm shifting like where my time's going to be in the company now. And it's scary because it's different. I'm used to being like all up in for stuff and now spending more time on the consulting side. Um, but it's the exciting things that allow you to grow even when you're not sure what's going to happen.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. I think I spent my whole first year, um, after I quit my job just like in fear every single month, like, am I gonna, am I gonna make what I made last month? Like, even though like I have the budget, I have the plan. I have all the things, all signs point to yes. Like still I was just operating in, in fear. And then at some point like year two, I look back and I'm like, that's not sustainable. Like there's enough work to be done here. And enough energy to put into that work that draining my energy with just the fear level of fear on top of it is just ridiculous.

Amy Lockrin: You've got to stop. You're amazing because it took me longer to get to that point. Like I, and I'm the person who very logically is like, I have contracts, but like something could still happen every single time. And the mental games you play with yourself, it wasn't still until I started working with a coach that I realized like I'm the one holding myself back on the mentality. Cause like the, um, questions that I like, or if this happens what's next. And then what happens? Like what does, like, until you get to the end of the what's like, where will you be? And it never is something as bad as like what my mind would play on me as I go through the day and worry when I could be working more effectively, you know?

Shannon Mattern: And, and it, you know, I'm, I S it's kinda like a whack-a-mole situation too. It's like, you solve it here. And then it pops up here and I was, I had this conversation because my husband and I, um, are building a house. So we bought this property like two years ago. And because of self-employment and getting a mortgage, when you don't have like two full years under your belt, we had to wait, which, um, I was just like, dang it. Like, how did I, how do we plan for this? Like, whatever. But it didn't, I didn't, we didn't plan on like buying property and building the house. Right. For that conversation with your bank. I'm like, I'm sorry, what?

Amy Lockrin: I can show you. It just, it just doesn't know.

Shannon Mattern: I'm sorry, what? Like, I had a job, like a w two job last year. Like we have money. They're like, we don't care about that W2 job or that like, you're capable of being employed. We literally just care about this. And I'm like, Oh, okay, well I'll, I'll show you next year then. Yeah, it'll be fine. Um, so it gets to like March the end of March, and we're supposed to close on the construction loan and everything. And like the state had just been shut down like two weeks before. And I'm like, I'm in my catastrophizing mode. Like what if my whole business goes away tomorrow? Like, should we even be doing this right now? Should we just pull the plug on this? Should we wait? And I call my best friend and she's like, okay, are you kidding me right now? A here's how long it would actually take for all of this to fall apart. It would be months. It would be months for this to all fall apart. And she's like, worst comes to worst. You can just like, bring your camper and live in my driveway. And I'm like, all right, that's actually not a bad deal. So let's just go for it. You know, sometimes you need to be like, just kind of taken out of that spiral by somebody else,

Amy Lockrin: A hundred percent everybody needs that, like one person that's going to cheer them on and show like the things that are so clear in front of you that like, you'll have the blinders on. I mean, it's your own self, your own business, your own life. And you just need that kind of like check into reality. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: Because it's also just like to, you know, why am I getting like what we have built for ourselves or what I've built for myself? Like, why am I just going to not enjoy it? Why am I going to like, sit here and look on like all the things that could happen and be afraid and overworked because of it and all that when I could just be like, Oh, I can actually like, enjoy what I created. So I vacillate back and forth between those two. Um, I'm glad I'm not, I'm glad I'm not alone and not at all

Amy Lockrin: Group of us, but not everyone talks about it.

Shannon Mattern: That's what this podcast is all about. Um, so tell me about how you transitioned from what you, you touched on it a little bit, but transition from solar printer to like really building that team and what that looked like for you.

Amy Lockrin: Oh, um, it's been a, it's a slow journey. I am somebody who holds things close to the chest and I admit that freely about myself. Um, but I slowly hired in someone I knew local to assist with like one client that was co that I was working with longterm and then hired in my now business manager as a virtual assistant. And that grew with that relationship. Like, are you comfortable doing more here? What do you think about this? Um, and she is a phenomenal woman that I like came to because she hired me for a strategy session for her business. And so we did an entire session for her business together and I just loved her. I was like, I mean, you're going to do amazing things, but like, let me get my spot first. You like really like blow up what you're doing. Um, and then as we took on more clients where it's, uh, the implementation side of things, so I provide strategy and support to the CEOs. And then, um, a certain amount of deliverable hours is kind of the way that that model set up. I needed someone who could do copywriting and do Facebook ads and somebody who could do the tech side of things. And that's, it's all kind of come together to where we are now. And, um, I mean, it's, it's fun. It's a different level of management than when you're just like the one person like sitting down and checking in with like your task list, for sure.

Shannon Mattern: I love it. So can you explain for our listeners though, what is the difference between a virtual assistant and an online business manager? Just for anybody listening? That's like, I don't even know what these are.

Amy Lockrin: These are, this is one of my favorite questions because, um, I think it's something that people, so I think in the online industry, you can throw around like any title you want and like make that up. Like right now I do business growth consulting. Like I didn't have to like, get something special for that. You make it up. Um, but the way that I view it and people have different philosophies on it as a virtual assistant, you're going to hire somebody in at that level. You're hiring them to assist you. And you're providing the support task list duties and they are waiting to hear from you. You might have a overachieving one that comes to you with solutions and things like that. But by the time the person that somebody is thinking strategically in your business, without you prompting to me, that moves them up to an online business manager.

Amy Lockrin: So you have more conversations of if this, then that, how do you think it would impact what's your recommendation on how we send out this automation? And then typically they're comfortable managing like one to two contractors. And then the third level is an integrator or director of operations. And I have my certifications through a doo program. And that is at a high level where I work with people. And I think of it as I'm partnering with you as a business, the women that I work with are CEOs who are total visionaries and they have created something that they love and then realize, Oh no, I'm managing and I'm not doing like what my passion was. And you need to bring somebody in. That's like for every great idea, you have, there's 900 steps to make it happen and a team to do. And if you don't love that work, you shouldn't be doing it on your own.

Shannon Mattern: I, I am so glad that you like brought in the, the duo integrator level into that conversation because I've had conversations with other people talking about like the difference between the virtual assistant and the online business manager, but I've never really heard of like this next level of the integrator or the director, director of operations, um, which really it's sounds like a mix of like a business coach, but also someone who's going to like then make, make that vision happen for you.

Amy Lockrin: Yeah. I think it's basically like the perfect person a box if I'm not being like not myself, but that role, it takes somebody who realizes what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are. And you're ready to open it up. I will say I've gotten on multiple discovery calls with people and been very honest that like your business isn't ready for that. It's a catchphrase right now where, um, a lot of people are like, Oh, so I need an integrator. Um, but it's honestly the majority of businesses just aren't there and you're going to end up paying for something that you don't need. What you need is like a little bit of guidance to get your system set up and going. And then someone who is able to manage that. And that's a different position to be in, in my opinion.

Shannon Mattern: Interesting. So, so can we just dive a little bit deeper into the difference between the OB, the online business manager and integrator? Again, just, I'm not sure that I'm getting the nuance that the online business manager really is like executing the strategic plan and like making that happen. Whereas the integrator is helping to form the strategic plan. Would that be an accurate assessment of that?

Amy Lockrin: 100%? So for ongoing, um, clients that I have four times a year, we strategically map out what's going to happen in the business. I have no problem telling someone like, I love that idea, but here's why I don't think we should do it. And you have to have someone who's very comfortable doing that. Um, and does it with love, in my opinion, you have to be a person who wants the success of that business more than anything else like that. It's like your baby too. And then from the level of like, what, like the difference between an OBM to a doo there's backend conversations, like you're in the company's finances, you might be the person paying for the contractors, you're bringing more things to the CEO, then they're bringing to you. Um, and most cases, it's a multi six to seven figure business that really needs a person at that high level. Some people want it earlier. And I mean, I respect that, but you, you kind of have to look at like, what am I getting out of this relationship? And that's when you have like multiple income streams that are happening, um, and a lot of other nuances.

Shannon Mattern: So you get to just grow businesses all day every day and not just your own. That is so awesome.

Amy Lockrin: So fun. And now I'm stepping into the consulting coaching side of it, because the part that I really love after doing three years of implementation is when I get on the phone and have like a strategic planning call and say like, okay, here's what we can do if we go down this path, because I realized early the way that my mind sees ideas is different than how somebody else's. And that's probably my sweet spot of saying like, these are, this is everything that needs to come into your plan for you to have like that six figure launch or everything. Um, and here's all the pitfalls we could hit beforehand. And so let's solve those before they ever happen. Um, and so that's, it's, it's so fun. I mean, it's a, it sounds so like, okay. But it is, it's so fun to be able to do this.

Shannon Mattern: Well, I, I totally could geek out on that too. I'm like if I ever needed to change careers, that would definitely be something that I, that I would love to do, but I know that there are a lot of people out there who it's like, no, I just want to operate in my zone of genius, but I have big goals. And, you know, in order to get here where I have the most impact and I'm reaching the most people and, and I'm really like affecting people and changing lives, but I don't want to be in the weeds with all of that stuff. Like that's where you're like the right hand woman coming in. And, um, and, and, and helping them like get there and be able to do that thing that they do without having to like, do manage all of the backend stuff, which is kind of like, uh, I'm sure a lot of people's dream life. Yes. Yes. Oh, I love it. So, um, tell me, I want to know, like some of the most common things, like you get to go into the backend of a lot of businesses and see the operations. What are some common patterns that you see, like preventing people from getting to that, to that next level in their business?

Amy Lockrin: I think one of the most common ones I see is the cause female entrepreneurs, a lot of digital products, things that's typically the niche that I'm in with a few exclusions. Um, people start their business because they have a passion for it and they love it. And then they realized through connecting with people that it's actually marketable. And so you start making money from it and you're like, Oh, I should spend some time on this and legitimize it and turn it into a course or a program or something like that. And then all of the sudden you have a business. What started as just a, Oh, this is so great. I'm getting to share what I love becomes an actual business. And by the time you're at that point, there's so many steps in creating a business that functions well and puts you in a CEO role that are missed. And so I see frustration a lot. I see annoyance at tasks that you're having to do that you don't think you should do because you've hit a certain level of success. And it all boils down to what does the setup have been in the back, but I'm not stupid. I know that systems aren't sexy and things like that. And so it's not talked about a ton as people are growing, because you're talking about marketing mindset, money shifts, and things like that, and pushed to the side until a little bit too late.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And I was, um, I was looking at your blog before we started recording this interview and you had a really interesting blog post on there. Um, about, let me see if I still have it pulled up, like why the virtual assistant you hired didn't work out. And I was like, Ooh, that's good. So can you tell me like what you see? Cause I hear this. It's like, Oh, I hired a virtual assistant and it wasn't worth the money or all, all of these things. And I'm, and I just want to hear your perspective on that

Amy Lockrin: I'll Oh my gosh, you just hit like a conversation that I just had. Um, I think that it really boils down to two different things. When ready to hire a virtual assistant, we typically go into two different camps. We're either hiring because we want someone to take over things that we don't know how to do, and we don't want to do them, or we hire because we don't think we should be doing them. But we think that we are the smartest person in doing it and how you train those people are very different and that's not something that people pay attention to. They're just like, I need to bring in a VA. So if you're hiring someone to be an expert in something where you lack the knowledge and skillset, because it's just not your jam, um, you have to trust that they have it, and they might be new enough where they're trusting you to be able to tell them what to do.

Amy Lockrin: So you have a gap right there. And then when you hire someone who is taking over things that have been part of like your baby, your business, and they're just going to do them, they're going to do them slightly tweaked, unless you have a strong onboarding for them and missing that onboarding to say, this is why I'm so particular about, you know, steps, a, B, and C, you immediately move to frustration. And so both things, if you're not prepared and like what you actually want out of the hire can cause conflict where people end in say like, Oh no, it's not for me. I'm just going to keep going on my own. Or, uh, everyone that referred me to her said, she's phenomenal, but I just don't see it. There's some inward looking we need to like spend some time on there.

Shannon Mattern: I think a situation that I've also heard from like, you know, being the web designer, working with clients and, and different things like that is that they were extremely just like, no, system's completely disorganized. And thinking that this person was just going to come in and save the day for them. And, um, I think that that's also kind of a little recipe for disaster. It's like, if you, if you don't really even know what's going on in your business and you can't really, how can you expect like someone in a VA capacity to just kind of step in and clean it all up for you? That kind of sounds more like you need a consultation with an online business manager to like, come in, create these systems for you if you don't have them. So, so is that kind of on the right track or is that a different scenario?

Amy Lockrin: The things that's happened as that industry has grown as people, you know, there's so many articles that are like, this is why you need a virtual assistant, all the things they can do. And it creates this level of like, it's a unicorn coming into my business. Um, and truthfully people are being hired as contractors, which means you might be paying them for five hours a week to get started. And then assume like, if I'm going on pain, my new VA, it should be done right after I send it. Well, we're not in corporate. That's not how things work. And so you're fired five hours. They get to choose where it's going to be and just like hit deadlines. I think that's a rude awakening. And then what, you know, in the back of your mind about your systems, um, they're not going to know cause it's not their company and they're brand new.

Amy Lockrin: One of the things that we do when we go in and like just create systems, automations for people is go through the entire process of what your company is, what the client experience is, all that as someone completely outside and say, this is where I was confused. This is where I wasn't. Sure. And business owners are very quick to be like, Oh, well that's cause it's over here, but yeah, that's cause it's over there, but those gaps are the ones that you want to make sure clear. I love a good onboarding, like packet, like a team hire manual, even, even in this world, because there's a reason it works in corporate. You get to keep yourself at a higher level, as long as you can, while still providing the personal touch to people right at the beginning, which makes a contractor relationship works so much better. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern: So, so good. I love all of it. You're as excited about manual as I am. So web it's the web designer and me plus, you know, my background was in it and marketing, you know, and all of that step process, step by step process, like responsible for training, everybody documenting all the systems, even though nobody ever looks at the systems that you document, when you document speaking to my heart and like Google docs, loom videos, it's not a task task lists, all the things, but three have to hold back from the, like per my last email, just click this link and not be that person. I know I asked, we spoke last week. I'm glad I don't have to send emails like that. Yeah. That's like three years ago, Shannon was sending all of that stuff. Uh, good stuff. So, um, so what makes someone, you know, what makes a successful VA hire at that? And we talked about all the things that can go wrong if someone is like, but I need help. I know I need help to grow. Like how do they do that successfully?

Amy Lockrin: Um, so I think it is not a hundred percent, but heavily based on personality and your characteristics. There are people who are very content with just give me a checklist and this is what I want to do. But for someone to be successful, when you step into a person's business where it's not like you're going to work for target or Starbucks, that's a corporation where the person who created it is very far removed. Um, I liken to any time that I've worked with a person, I always tell them just so you know, the first two months are going to feel like if the person's a parent, um, when you left the baby for the first time and you were so nervous and you wanted to call in and check to see and make sure it was okay when you were going to the grocery store for 45 minutes.

Amy Lockrin: But by month three, you're going to feel like you have like two kids over 10. And you're just like, see, because that's the type of trust you should create. And that, that type of hire is someone who's willing to go above and beyond and do the extra. Um, I think far too often, we negate the fact of complementing and giving praise to our own clients for the things they're doing that are hard for them. You know that as the back end of the business. So like saying like, Hey, I saw you put yourself out there in a way that you are not comfortable. And I'm just really excited for where the company is going. That shows someone that you're on board and you're invested in their success. You're just not there for like the next time your invoices, do you know?

Shannon Mattern: Yes. I love all of that. So, and then like kind of stepping up into the level of the online business manager role, what are some common things that you see, um, that you see that, that people are kind of like shooting themselves in the foot, so to speak when they're, when they're at that level where they're, they're growing, they have revenue coming in and they're really wanting to scale to that next level. But what are some things that they're doing that are preventing them from doing that?

Amy Lockrin: Um, I think owning the space that you're in. So when you're selling yourself as an online business manager, it's literally to manage the business. And so that means the hard conversations, um, the ability to say, Hey, I know you want to like put this opt out, opt in, out in 48 hours, but that's not the way the contracts work for the rest of the team. And you haven't had enough time to promote it. And if you don't promote it, you're not going to be successful. Cause we saw that last month when we tried to do something on a whim. And so how about instead giving a solution? We do it two weeks from now, and then here's what I'm going to have the team delivered to you so that you can be promoting it and then be successful. That that level has to be there, um, for you to be able to have success. And for someone to feel like this, if I stepped away for a week for vacation, I know that like Amy could manage it or Shannon could manage it. And I would come back and my company would be thriving just the way it is right now.

Shannon Mattern: I think that that's kind of like a really important nuance or distinction to point out is that you're not as the online business manager just saying, okay. Yep. We'll make it happen because you said you wanted it to happen this way. You're able to have that really candid conversation because you have the business owner's best interest in mind to say, this is not going to work the way you think that it's going to work. Here's why, but also here's what I propose instead, because I am the expert in this, I've done it for, you know, so many other businesses I've seen where this hasn't worked. I've seen where it has and really having, you know, just that trust, going both ways where, you know, as entrepreneurs, we want to do all of the things as soon as we have the brilliant idea. And I think one of the things that like I'm, I'm picking up there is like, Oh, if only someone had stopped me, like if only someone had just said no, like literally do not do that. Just because you can, does not mean it is a good idea. Like just stop

Amy Lockrin: 100%. It is like those conversations are the tough ones. And I think also it's not just being like, okay, I can have this conversation, but also knowing you're probably going to like the response, you get someone doesn't just a creative person. Doesn't just give up and say like, Oh, okay, they'll fight. Because that's where their passion is right then. And you have to know, you have to know your numbers. You have to be able to explain like, this is what your opt in rate actually is. And so like, this is why it's not going to work. The last time you talked about this. People only clicked through 1% of the time and, you know, and to be able to speak to those things. So they're like, Oh, it's coming from knowledge. This is why I can trust it. Especially in the beginning, it was really important.

Shannon Mattern: Mm. So how do you manage when someone, and I don't know, maybe you haven't had this situation, but I'm kind of thinking about like, when someone is like, has a business coach or it is in a mastermind and is over here making decisions about their business and then bringing those things to you as the online business manager to say, here's our plan. And that's really like kind of the same situation. Like not in alignment with the success that, that you know is possible based on like the data that you have that has that ever happened to you. It has happened.

Amy Lockrin: Um, I th I don't think there's an easy answer for it if I'm going to be completely honest, because, um, if somebody is creative and motivated by conversations with other people, they'll always come up with new ideas. And so I think the best thing you can do, if you know that your client is, goes to a mastermind meeting or talks to their business coach, once a week, you talking to them earlier in the day or the day before, and being like a reminder, here's, here's the snapshot of the company and what our plans are going forward and why, so that they're going into those meetings saying like, this is what we have set up. And it still gives them the space to like, talk about their fears, what they're hoping for the future. And then you can immediately follow up and say like, cool, that's exactly how it fits into our plan, or you're shifting the plan.

Amy Lockrin: I just want you to know what that means. I, I, there's a reason. I love working with women who sit on that land because I think that that type of creativity is phenomenal. But I also realize if we're going to pivot from like going with plan a to plan B, I need to let you know, from my perspective what results we're going to be missing, because we let plan a go. And as long as you can, co-sign on it and be like, I'm feel good taking this chance. Well, I mean, it's still your company, like, okay, like that, then I'm all in. I trust you, you know, that's why I work with you. So,

Shannon Mattern: So it's your job to make sure that they have all of the data that they need in every scenario to make the best decisions for themselves, regardless of what other stakeholders that they have at the table or, or advice or mentors or whatever, you know, you, as, as that person is just, you know, proactively providing them with, you know, here are the things that, you know, are important to consider as you make these decisions about the future future of your business. So,

Amy Lockrin: And you would hope that anyone's business coach or mastermind has the same investment and what they want. And so I don't think it's an issue as often as probably could be perceived, but everybody has a slightly different style and being able to pinpoint, well, it's kind of the exact same thing we were going to do, but just like with a little different flair on it, and like letting those things go help.

Shannon Mattern: So moving from this, from the online business manager to the integrator, like, what are some of your, like the funnest projects that you've worked on at that at the highest level?

Amy Lockrin: Um, pending, like the timeframe we're in right now, um, I used to do events for a living. And so being able to plan events for anywhere from hundreds of people to, um, overseas, um, UK based events and traveling, I love to travel and I love the nuances of everything that goes into getting people to the event, getting people excited, prepared what happens day to day. That would be one. And then also probably seen someone up-level themselves in business. And it's why I think I like I'm shifting to really focusing on like the consulting side of it right now, because so many times people have an idea and it's still as big as it might seem to like one person it's still a glimmer of what could happen if they really focus on it. And that has always been my most favorite moment. I mean, I celebrate with my clients probably more than they, because I'm so excited about it. And I know the struggles that it takes to get to where people aren't consider themselves a success.

Shannon Mattern: That that piece is just, that's just gotta be so exciting to be able to just see the potential in somebody. And like you said earlier, you kind of, this is like your specialty is to be able to like really see the path forward for them, that they can't even really see themselves.

Amy Lockrin: Yes. And a TA in a completely, like, I don't have any like Woohoo like ability to see the future, but just, I do. I mean, I see the plan, I see the plan rolling out certain ways and the gaps that might happen because of what everyone's little like mindset shifts are somebody doesn't like going live. Somebody doesn't like to send out emails because they feel like they're impacting them. And all of those things like how we can shift it around to get the most success possible with every project like that is. I mean, it's great. It's just great. So deep. So do you have,

Shannon Mattern: Obviously, well, I don't know, you don't have the same mindset stuff holding you back from planning. Like they're taking over the world as we might for our own taking over of the world, right?

Amy Lockrin: Yes. I don't. Are you familiar with the Colby exam? So it's kind of like how everybody is. Myers-Brigg all the, my Colby scores are nine seven two two. And so that means for me, like the first number is what I consider the most important. It's, I'm a very high fact finder. So like, I will, I'll go deep into some, some Google to figure some things out or read all the Facebook comments on something that's happening, but it means for other people, like I'm going to come

Amy Lockrin: Together and like, it's going to be comprehensive. My, one of my own personal numbers is a two. And that's like, what level of quick start I am? Um, it takes me forever to really implement in my business, but because I have the goal of helping other people, I can push through that because it's removing like the personal things that I have going on. Um, and so it w I mean, they're my numbers. So I'm like, they work out really well to get results, but everybody's a little bit different. Majority of my clients are nine or 10 quick start. Cause they're like, have idea implement, have idea implement, but then halfway through, I need someone to finish it. I love it. I love it. So, yeah, that's, that's really fascinating. I haven't done the Colby, but I've done the Enneagram. Um, and I'm a three on the Enneagram, so I'm just like, Oh yeah.

Shannon Mattern: Like I am like a high achiever, highly motivated, all of those things. Um, which can be my downfall from, from times I a hundred percent agree. I mean, like, you need to stop working at some point, Shannon. Sometimes you just got to stop working. And when I don't, I don't have kids, so there's no builtin stop working for me. Oh. We had, um, my kids went and stayed with my parents last week for a couple of days. And everyone was like, my kids are six and 10 and I'm like, Oh my gosh, what did you guys do? And I'm like, huh? He stayed at work until seven. And I work till nine because I don't, I mean, I don't stop like that. And that's very enjoyable right now. It's a hard stop because they're here and then love them obviously. But like, it's like, I was like, no, I'm good.

Amy Lockrin: I got a lot of extra stuff done. He can see people who don't own their own business. Like their eyes kind of be like, huh, okay.

Shannon Mattern: You like working that much? Yeah. Yeah. It just doesn't feel like work to me. It's just, it is like my joy to do, to do what I do. So there's, there's very few things that I do that feel like, like a grind. So, um, that's, that's a, that's a good thing. Um, so I just have a couple more questions for you before we wrap this interview up. It has been really, really interesting to learn kind of like these, these differences between the different ways that we can really get that support as an entrepreneur, you know, um, in our businesses, um, beyond just like hire the overseas VA for $2 an hour and then get upset when things don't work out and like all the bad advice that I have taken.

Shannon Mattern: And, uh, at the very beginning of, of my business and quickly was like, yeah, no, that's not for me. Um, so this has been really enlightening for me. Um, but one of the questions that I ask everybody that comes on the show is for that new business owner, that's still side hustling and wanting to do what we've done, which is make the move from corporate to owning their own business. But they're to get traction. What is your best advice for them? Um, Oh gosh. I, I think it would have to be, get help. And I think of that in two different ways, whether you're going to hire someone to be like a coach with you, that's phenomenal. I think that's the way people have the fastest growth, but if it is, you need to hire someone to take on the admin stuff, because you just don't think about it, do that.

Amy Lockrin: Or you need to find somebody who's going to be your business bestie, and you guys make an agreement on what you're going to hold each other accountable for any one of those all come together as help for you, where you need that support system. You need someone in your camps telling you, you can keep going when it seems hard. And I don't think that anything else can replace that honestly, to get over the hurdle of, am I just trying to make some money or wow. This could actually be where I'm able to change my life and leave corporate and do the thing that I want to do.

Shannon Mattern: I think one of the things that just kind of like popped into my head when you were saying that, and I was thinking back to when I was in corporate and I had hired an awesome virtual assistant like company to help me.

Shannon Mattern: They were, they were great. They're not in business anymore. But one of the things that, that the key things that I think was missing from that relationship is the person saying like, why are you hiring us for this? You don't even really need to be doing this. Yeah. You know, and I think that that's kind of where, you know, business co or, or making sure that you're working with the right team or the right person where you are, you know, investing more to work with someone who has done this before for the kind of business that you're running. Because if you're paying people to do things that you don't even really need to be doing in the first place, that's not going to like get you closer to where you want to be. So if you can work with someone who has that vision that you don't have, that can like have a consultation with you and help you figure out, okay, now that we know what's going to move you forward, here's what we can do to support that.

Shannon Mattern: I think that that like would have helped me massively, massively back in, back in the day.

Amy Lockrin: I think that's such a good point because like, when you probably, I would assume when you realize that you kind of felt gross about like, ah, like I didn't need all that. It would have been nice for them to tell me. And then they didn't know either. They're just thinking I'm the expert and I'm telling them what to do and that I have it I'll figure it out. So I, you know, they, they, they did a great job on everything I told them to do. And that's why I'm like, I probably needed an online business manager and not a virtual assistant. So,

Amy Lockrin: and knowing where they're coming from to the point that you made about like, do they have knowledge past, especially when you're starting to say like, yeah, like I know you maybe like watch this one webinar, but your business might not be there yet, and it's not, you don't have a, so

Amy Lockrin: These things aren't going to translate into money for you and kind of like the steps of really building something with a solid foundation.

Shannon Mattern: Oh, I love it. So this is the last question, and I asked this of everyone that comes on the show, and that is what belief about yourself. Did you have to change to get where you are today?

Amy Lockrin: Um, I think for me, the belief that I had to change was my time does not equal money. And so starting my business, it was hourly offers. And then it slowly transitioned to this doesn't make sense because I have a skillset and I provide a service that a lot of it is mental energy and guidance. And that's not hourly work that's years. I mean, 16 sets of saying how old I am, like years of pulling so many things together and multiple industries and everything. And what I sell is the value in fast tracking your business past the point that you could imagine, and also creating solutions before you even know there's a problem. And that was big for me because as soon as I understood it and believed it, I, I mean, it's not even, like, I'm not selling myself in discovery calls. I get on the phone with someone and lay it all out. And it's like, if you're the right fit, then you're the right fit. And I feel confident about that and what I do for you. So that's,

Shannon Mattern: Uh, so I have recently had to do that work, um, for myself, you know, I got past the trading the time for money thing, but then it kind of got to this like, well, if I don't work, I don't make money. And then I finally figured out like, Oh no, there's like value to my intellectual property. That's like, well, beyond what, you know, what, what I think, you know, the impact that it can have just beyond transcending me being a part of it, even, you know, when you're packaging up courses and things. So what, um, what was the work that you did to kind of get to that point of, of realizing that

Amy Lockrin: It probably started with a lot of nights crying, feeling like I was working way too hard for what I was bringing in and also the feeling of like an unrest in what I was doing. And as soon as I shifted into a here's what I provide and why this part of my time is important and I'm not going to feel good until like, I get this amount of money for it. That always happens. That's always like another upleveling of like the money mindset and everything. And so I've worked really hard to say, okay, what's bringing me this negative thought, do I have control over it? And what would make me feel good if I shifted it? And then just like, like ripping off a bandaid, like, okay, just do it. And if it still feels bad, like maybe we go back, maybe we move up, like all of those things. And I think once I realized, you know, there's probably, there's very few things I could do that just would like completely destroy my business within like one conversation or right. And so like taking some testing, that's what every company does. Every company has successes and failures, but the difference is I'm the person that has to make those decisions. Nobody else.

Shannon Mattern: I just want to point out that you like took the time to do that for yourself. It's like, you know, sometimes we can just go, go, go and like not take that time to reflect. And that time is so important. And I'm just like you, like, it had to get to the point where I'm like, I don't want to feel this way anymore. I have got to figure out, like, I I've done enough work to know that it's something, it's always something I'm thinking that's causing this. So now it's time to like dig in and figure that out. And if I need to press pause for a couple of days to really like, kind of dive into that, like that work and that time is always worth it. So,

Amy Lockrin: Oh, a hundred percent, a hundred percent.

Shannon Mattern: Uh, Amy, I could talk to you for hours about thank you so much for being here and sharing, um, all of this with our listeners. Can you let everybody know where we can get in touch with you learn more about the services that the operations house provides and all the things?

Amy Lockrin: Sure. You can find me@theoperationshouse.com. I'm on Facebook, it's backslash ops house with Amy, and then you can find me at Amy Lockrin, L O C K R I N um, on Instagram, but there you're really just going to find pictures of my family, but they're, I think they're funny. So I always share it too.

Shannon Mattern: Awesome. I'll link everything up in the show notes and thank you so much for being here.

Amy Lockrin: Thank you.

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With 15 years of branding and design experience, Sarah Masci is a leader in the online industry for clients looking for high-quality, aesthetic digital design. As the founder of Book Me For A Day™, her signature one-day intensive program, she thrives on compressing professional branding, web and digital design into one day, versus weeks or months.  Some would say she's a rare mix of right and left-brained; she gets her kicks from strategies, systems, and automations, but has a discerning eye for design and details.

Sarah's down-to-earth personality and distinctive way of simplifying even the most complex problems have earned her the trust and respect of hundreds of clients and thousands of students over the years.  Done-for-you service providers who are ready to ditch the feast or famine cycle and create more income and freedom with a one-day intensive business model, love Sarah’s course and group coaching program where she teaches her exact blueprint to other designers.

To inspire and support just-getting-started solopreneurs, she offers a variety of simple branding and design courses for those who want to DIY their own logo, brand, graphics and websites.  Sarah is an outdoorsy boy-mom through and through. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying time with her husband, their four sons and their sweet pup, Mabel. She loves summer, crisp mornings in the mountains, live bluegrass music, and sipping craft cider with friends.

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