Sarah Riegelhuth is co-founder of award-winning financial advisory firm, Wealth Enhancers and the highly successful League of Extraordinary Women – an organisation, which supports the development of young female entrepreneurs nationally.
Named in Melbourne’s Top 100 most influential, inspiring and creative citizens by The Age in 2011, Sarah is recognised as one of Australia’s leading female entrepreneurs.
Sarah is also a keynote speaker, popular blogger, writer, and columnist for several leading publications including Women’s Health magazine, Women’s Agenda, Money Circle and Money Management.
Sarah was a finalist for the Money Management Financial Planner of the Year Award in 2012, and for the AFA Rising Star Award in both 2008 and 2009. She has also received nominations for the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Award, and the AFA Adviser of the Year Award. In 2010, Sarah became the youngest Board Member in the history of the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) and championed the launch of the inaugural Female Excellence in Advice Award. Sarah is equally active in her private life; an avid snowboarder and long distance runner. She combines her passion for adventure and endurance sports with her desire to contribute to society and regularly raises funds in charity sporting events.Purchase the Book now >
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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.
In my personal life, I am certainly not the most organised person (my husband can attest to this), however being a successful entrepreneur requires me to at least be organised when it comes to the time I spend building my dreams.
We all know that time is our most precious resource, and over years of hard work and fine tuning, I have worked out how to get the most out of my time so that I work effectively, with impact, and also get to enjoy quality time doing things, and being with people, I love.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to get organised and set yourself a plan for achieving what you want to in the year ahead. I thought I would share with you the way I operate, and have done so for several years, in order to achieve my goals each year:
Start with the big picture
Start with the big picture, brainstorm and create all of your goals for the year (think BIG and no need to worry about the ‘how’ just yet). I find this process usually takes me a few sessions to get real clarity and ensure I have set goals that really tug at my heart strings and make me feel motivated, and just a little nervous. Write your goals down and stick them somewhere you’ll see them everyday. I use a MiGoals diary every year to do this, and to keep me on track through the year.
Breakdown your goals
Break your goals into 90 day cycles, this is the ‘how’ bit that we usually want to jump into right away. Start with the first 90 days of the year, and look at each of your goals selecting milestones that you want to have achieved come end of March, that will mean you are on your way. Write these milestones down too, and keep them somewhere you can refer back to them each month.
Plan monthly achievements
Next, work out what you want to tackle this month. Simply breaking down each of the 90 day milestones into items that need to be achieved this month in order to be moving forward. Write these down too (surprise, surprise!).
Have meetings with yourself
Set aside some time each week to have a meeting with yourself, use this time to plan out your week, look at your diary and set aside time to work on the items you need to achieve this month. My husband and I do this together, and we use this time to also review the cashflow position of our businesses and keep each other accountable to the monthly items we’re each working toward. Accountability helps you see if you can build it in to one of the weekly, monthly or quarterly cycles.
Plan ‘the big picture’ daily
As tedious as this may sound (and you’re probably starting to think ‘is this chick serious? she said she’s not that organised!!’) this is what actually enables you to get sh*t done. Each day write down the top three things you need and want to achieve that day, related to your goals. Do not add ‘check emails’ to the list, this list is for the big picture stuff that you need to keep moving on. Circle one of your list items as your top, top, top priority and start working on that first. It’s scientifically proven that we only have around 2hrs 45mins of productive brain power each day, so in the morning, when your brain is fresh and ready to go, is the time for you to focus on your number one priority for the day.
Revise your daily priorities
Every so often, do a little spot check with yourself, and compare your daily 3 priorities list with your annual goals. It’ll be pretty clear right away if you’ve gone off track and are working on things that are just ‘going through the motions’ stuff. Trust me, there’s plenty of time in the day when you’ll be doing the daily grind, but if you want to feel really good at the end of each day, then sticking with this process gives you a pretty good feeling as every single day you are inching closer and closer to the goals you set for yourself for the year.
How do you constantly learn and upskill?
I need to be constantly challenged and learning new things. This can be through both formal education, but also through new experiences and pushing boundaries with my companies. This is a really important part of how I operate within my businesses too, we have regular training, mentoring and coaching sessions in different formats in order to continue development from different angles. Personally, I’ve always had mentors and coaches, and have been enrolled in some form of study most years since I finished high school. I’m loving high-intensity, specialised short courses at the moment as it fits in better with my busy lifestyle.
Why is having a mentor important to you?
Over the years I have had a couple of other mentors, however I only ever enter into a mentoring relationship if I find someone who really has the skills I am after to develop within myself, and if we have a good personal connection (that goes for me mentoring someone else too). My mentor is experienced in running multiple businesses at once, is very strong in the operational side and has taken companies global. He is where I would like to be at his age, and we get along very well after meeting in Silicon Valley in early 2014.
Having a mentor is great because you have someone to bounce ideas off, who help you flesh out your thinking further and give you advice that you respect and want to take on.
Do you mentor yourself?
Yes, I do from time to time when I am really connected with someone, have skills I think they can learn from and have a genuine desire to want to see them succeed. I have learnt a lot through mentoring others in terms of leadership and personal development.