Sarah Riegelhuth is an entrepreneur, author and finance expert. Here she shares exactly how she scaled the businesses Grow My Team and WE LOVE NUMBERS with the help of teams based in multiple countries.
Right now I am literally driving (well Finn is driving, I’m in the passenger seat) from Denver to Las Vegas for the weekend. I’ve just finished the WE rebrand brief document, cleared my inbox and punched out a couple of articles, with the sprawling Utah canyons as my ever-changing backdrop.
Now that’s what I call living.
My journey into working globally began about 3 years ago when we were referred a graphic designer in Bolivia (who we still work with today), however has really snowballed over the past 18 months, partly thanks to Grow My Team who I’ve used to recruit and build our Philippines teams, oDesk, Freelancer and eLance for all the small jobs that need doing from time to time and I think (mostly) driven by my inner-nomad.
Personally, I hate being in the same place for more than a couple of weeks and am obsessed with travel, meeting new people and exploring the planet’s diverse cultures. ‘Settling down’ is just not for me, and thankfully I have a husband who shares my view of the way life should be lived. To it’s fullest and in line with what you want, not what society tells you you should be doing.
Working in a large remote team is not without it’s challenges of course (quality internet access being the main one), however the pros certainly outweigh the cons. By way of example, we launched our startup WE LOVE NUMBERS on the 15th of January this year. Finn and I were in Colorado when the website went live. The rest of the team were spread across Australia, Philippines, Bolivia, Romania and Bangladesh! We’d been working on WE LOVE NUMBERS for almost 18 months testing the model first within WE and then building our go to market strategy on the beach in Coogee. It really was no big deal for us to be out of country when we hit the go button.
It hasn’t always been like this and getting started was a slow and steady process of getting used to working from different locations, and building good systems and training programs that didn’t rely on us being face to face with our team mates.
We started with a single role that was repetitive and could be trained fairly easily. We created a brief for Grow My Team to recruit from and built a basic training program for our new team member. We already had a staff induction process, but I found this became even more valuable than ever when working across borders. Over the first week, I scheduled 30 min time slots with Michelle (she’s still with us!) to check through the work that I had allocated her in training, and give her feedback. It’s simply a case of being organised and setting time aside to get the training right.
Once I’d trained my first couple of Philippines team members, my eyes opened up to all of the possibilities within my company that weren’t location specific. In order to grow the team to where we are now, all our processes had to be reviewed and I trained the entire existing team on ‘how to train’ so that we could share the load and build the team faster. This, along with building out more robust systems, have been one of the really positive outcomes of working with a dislocated team. Our systems and processes are remarkably better than they were before and maintaining them is a constant focus for the team now. These days recruiting is recruiting, it’s the same process no matter where the person is located and we have freed our thinking up to look for the best talent all over the world.
Again, we needed to improve the way we managed the team now that we were all in different locations, ensuring that everyone still understood what was expected of them and could perform effectively at a high level. We use Google Hangouts to host our weekly team meetings, monthly meetings, quarterly planning days and team member reviews. We’ve always followed the Gazelle’s One Page Plan and other planning tools, and created clear scorecards and critical numbers for our team, we started doing this both locally and for our international talent and have more recently moved to Align enabling us to use all of the Gazelle’s planning tools online. Everyone has a login and we can all work together using the technology as the basis for our planning, meetings and tracking.
Get tech savvy
Technology is probably the biggest thing that we needed to continue to embrace as we grew, we use Jing, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, Viber, Basecamp, Sweet Process, Xero, Better Book Club, Google Docs, Gmail and many other completely cloud based solutions that connect us and ensure we all have access to the same information.
One of the coolest things about being global from a business perspective is the increased level of service we can provide to our customer. WE LOVE NUMBERS is soon to launch our ‘Know your Numbers’ 24 hour support service. We can do this because we have talented and qualified people located in timezones across the globe. Even though our members are currently (not for long!) Australia-based only, the reality is that entrepreneurs are often working at all hours of the day and night. If it’s 2am and one of our members wants say, a financial report or urgent cash flow analysis, we can give it to them right away. They won’t need to wait until 9am AEST to get the answer they need, that’s pretty awesome.
Rare Birds is hiring – Your opportunity to join a place that celebrates women, entrepreneurs, diversity and inclusion, teamwork, great communication, equality, bloody hard work, brilliant thinking, even more brilliant doing and a lot of unexpected fun. Complete the form and you are off and running. Sydney HQ based. 6 month contract to perm.
Our values are table stakes;
The Rare Birds Values
Are courageous and have worth.
Celebrate the entrepreneur’s journey.
Have each others backs and set everyone up to succeed.
Believe in the foundation of education and choice.
Have a profitable smart heart.
Create beautiful, intelligent and captivating things.
Encourage abundance and connectedness.
Are here to serve our tribe of women entrepreneurs.
Don’t think outside the box, there is no box.
Are authentic and speak from experience.
Dare to be uncomfortable, we grow in adversity.
Celebrate every win.
Are not afraid to fail and we are not afraid to learn.
Give to receive.
Have the highest level of integrity.
Walk the talk.
No one person is bigger than our community.
Operate with cold passion – heart and mind equally.
Create your success in tandem with our own.
We only collect people who share our vision and values passionately.
Have you got a business idea in the back of your mind that just won’t go away? Transitioning from daydreaming to action can be daunting but by taking things one-step at a time you can beat the fear that’s holding you back.
These 11 positive steps to launch your business can help you take your entrepreneurial dream and turn it into a reality.
1. Become an expert in your industry
Researching the industry you want to enter is key to understanding what works and what doesn’t. Some university libraries provide access to reports from companies such as Mintel. If you’re not a student, then this list of market research businesses will get you started. Trove also has historical industry information. Try and become an expert in your field – knowledge is power.
2. Research the market
Get inside the minds of your customers. Learn their challenges – what they like, what they don’t like and why. This information can help you develop your product and service offering, and find your niche. Read how Innocent Drinks did this in the UK.
3. Join networking groups
Hearing about successes and challenges that other entrepreneurs have faced can help you recognise your own success and pick yourself back up in hard times. It can also help you spread the message about what your business does and the products and services you want to sell. Inspiring Rare Birds is a global hub that’s dedicated to supporting established entrepreneurs and women who want to start a business. They hold regular networking events, provide entrepreneurs with mentors, and produce resources and information to help start and grow businesses.
4. Write a business plan
Business plans are great for getting your thoughts on to paper and will help you set goals, expectations and timelines. Not only does a business plan map out growth or prepare for bumps in the road, it can help you secure investment. Once you have your plan nailed down, the next step is to write a strategy for how you’re going to reach these goals.
5. Work out your UVP
What is your unique value proposition? How do your products and services solve your customers’ problems or help their situation? Defining why your offerings have a competitive edge is an important step in ensuring they provide better value than the competition.
6. Improve your financial literacy
Financial literacy is an area where many entrepreneurs go wrong. Making sure you are financially savvy early on will start your business on the right foot. Accounting software such as Xero can empower you to manage the finances yourself.
7. Decide what skills you need inside the business
Most entrepreneurs are the sole owner of their companies, but many aspiring entrepreneurs also seek out co-founders to help get their ideas off the ground, especially if they need tech founders inside their businesses. This is where incubators, networking events and platforms such as LinkedIn can really help you form the necessary connections.
8. Create a marketing plan
A clear marketing strategy is all about getting your brand out into the world and helping your audiences understand your products and services. If successful, the plan will help you increase revenue. If marketing isn’t your forte, seek the help of an agency or consultant.
9. Join an incubator
Incubators bring entrepreneurs together in one physical location so they can network and access resources, such as mentoring, lawyers and accountants to help their companies grow. Often those running incubators have money to invest and can also help founders access venture capitalists and angel investors.
10. Nail the branding
The name and visual identity of your business is a hugely important part of differentiating yourself in the market. Getting the branding right can help you portray what your business is about in an instant and attract the right customers.
11. Get your brand online
Once you are happy with your brand name it’s time to register for your domain name and build your website. Budgets may be tight so consider a platform such as Squarespace. There are customisable templates that are simple to set up, and you can secure your domain name easily. As your business grows you can look at doing a full website build with the help of a developer.
These steps are the foundations of your business journey. So what are you waiting for? Take the leap and get started.