It All Stops With The Business Owner

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Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (00:01.494)
Hey guys, welcome back to another episode. Today we are in the studio solo. We're gonna talk through an issue that affects many businesses. Over the years, I've seen this really derail success, if we can call it that, and ultimately cause significant stress for the business owner. That's why we're talking about it today. Over the summer, I...

had the opportunity to help sort out this issue for two different business owners and I wanted to highlight it on the podcast because I want you to be looking out for this particular issue as you are growing and scaling your business. Now the longer your business operates the more exposure you have to this particular issue that doesn't mean that you can't have this issue early on.

It really comes down to the way that your business is set up. So we're going to talk about it, we're going to dive in, we're going to, we're going to explore a little bit about how it has affected businesses in the past and really how to prevent, how to prevent this from happening to your business. What happens as our business grows is oftentimes

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (01:31.914)
Now whether that is an advisor, a coach, an employee, a subcontractor, or a vendor, we'll call them stakeholders. Ultimately that's what they are. You have a stakeholder in your business and they are key to how your business operates. Now in both instances that I helped resolve this summer, it was a person working in the business.

one as a subcontractor and one as an employee. So it's not restricted to any one role. But what it comes down to, what is the piece that brings it together? It's when you have a stakeholder in your business and that person is key to how the business runs. How you are growing success.

and you don't have enough information or transparency about what that person or stakeholder does or how they do it.

So we talk a lot about outsourcing. We talk a lot about finding trusted professionals and really leaning into them. And in certain roles, whether that be an accountant or a lawyer or something super specialty that you hire externally for, obviously, you're not going to understand as a business owner all of the pieces that go into providing that service.

But those are typically one-offs. You know, you deal with your accountant once a year, they provide a specific service, you know, you deal with a lawyer on specific things. That's not what I'm talking about today. What I'm talking about today is those stakeholders who are a part of your day-to-day. So maybe it is a weekly bookkeeping service, maybe it is a...

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (03:39.81)
virtual assistant, maybe it is your general manager, maybe it's your operations manager, maybe it's your marketing team.

My question for you is if every, you know, people in those roles, and I want you to go through each stakeholder in your business, if they disappeared tomorrow,

What would happen to your business?

And if there is a role or person, any stakeholder, that if you think, oh boy, that would be really bad.

And not from the perspective of, well, this person provides so much value. Every single role in your business, including yours, you should be able to hire and replace.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (04:39.302)
Now many people that you know there's lots of different arguments for that. Well I'm a massage therapist and so I can't hire someone. Sure you can. You could hire a massage therapist. If you are a person who you know maybe you're a massage therapist. Well what happens if you broke your arm? You would need to fill that spot. Now lots of people grow and scale service-based businesses where at first the owner is the service.

Where that gets a little more challenging is when it is artistic, when it is a specific educational piece. But you know, if we're talking to the masses here...

there are very few things in which you could not continue to grow and scale your business. And when we look at these pieces of our business, which stakeholder would cause the most disruption to your business?

And how do we solve that? So a little bit of back history on why we're talking about this today. Two different businesses, if we call business A, the one who had a subcontractor, this subcontractor worked in their business for over 10 years. And along the way, the relationship began to decline.

But over 10 years, there was also a friendship built, and ultimately, the business owner was no longer getting what they wanted or needed to continue to scale their business. But they weren't really sure how to transition. And so they started the process of interviewing new vendors and ultimately making a transition. Now, that transition.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (06:34.198)
was completed over a three-month time period where specific things were said to be finished by the old provider, and specific things were to be started with the new provider, but there was definitely an overlap. Ultimately, this is best case scenario when you're trying to transition, but sometimes it doesn't go this way. And so when we're making plans for these long-term providers, where sometimes...

you don't even know all of the all of the pieces that a stakeholder does in your business and frankly oftentimes if someone's been doing something for more than you know 10 years they don't even know all the pieces that they're doing because it becomes so automatic and so when we do a nice transitional period we have this time where we can ask questions and finish things off and

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (07:32.042)
Not because operationally it's not ideal, but because people have feelings and people don't like it when they're being phased out. And no matter the stakeholder, once someone has been notified that they're on their way out, they often stop coming, the work quality starts to slip, the relationship becomes very toxic.

you know, let's be real. That's most things in life. You know, if you go back to, you know, breaking up with a boyfriend or a girlfriend, once you've, you know, once you've given the word that it's over, well, it's usually pretty bitter. It's the same thing with stakeholders in our business. And as business owners, we almost have to be working in the background, as this business owner did, to start setting things up to interview new people.

And don't feel like that's not okay. A lot of business owners will say, well, I need to let her know I need to be upfront or him or her. I need to communicate this. No. It comes back to one key piece. And I remember this in my own agency often. I've remembered it along the way. One of my mentors told me this very early on when I was starting to go through the process of hiring and firing.

And this bit of advice actually came with the firing. Because at first, I remember that firing was something difficult to do. And whether it is an employee or a subcontractor or whatnot, a breakup, inevitably letting someone go in any capacity has the element of firing. And well, we've all seen the TV show, you're fired.

It doesn't go that way. That's not the conversation that transpires, or it shouldn't be the conversation that transpires. So, you know, when we're going to fire someone, the advice I received is no one person in your organization is more important than the collective success of everyone. And so, whether it is...

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (09:53.314)
a poorly performing employee or a poorly performing subcontractor.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (10:00.994)
No one person is more important than the collective success of everyone. I often think about this as I'm making decisions as to who stays and who goes within my own organization when I'm making recommendations for other people's organizations. Because while we want amazing, incredible opportunities for everyone who enters our

what someone can put out and the opportunity available don't align. So, you know, keeping this in mind, we must protect the success of our business, of our earning potential, of our team. Those who work hard, those who show up, those who do their jobs, those who are staying, and the customers that you're working with. And so sometimes some people need to go.

and it is irresponsible as a business owner not to go through all of the steps that you can in order to ensure for a smooth transition. So, you know this business owner, um, you know, as I mentioned we're going to talk about two different business owners, two very different situations, you know, business owner A here went through the steps of starting to interview new providers, having those questions, going through the process, doing an audit,

on what was currently being done so that the new vendor could ask questions and ultimately all of those steps were completed to ensure a smooth transition. And if I have to evaluate how that transition went, I would say based on the quality of the work, based on the information provided in the transition, ultimately that transition went quite well. Did a few things slip through the cracks that no one knew?

Were even a part of the original job? Yes. Were they quickly resolved and did everybody carry on? Yes. Fast forward, that transition occurred about four months ago now, and all is well. Team is happy, clients are happy, business owner is happy. Information and work being completed are being done on time.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (12:28.254)
Ultimately, we'll call that a success. Now, if we dive a little bit into business B in our sample here, very different situation in that there was no transitional period. This particular business did not plan to make a change. Unfortunately, someone in a very key role had a medical issue. And so,

with about 24 hours notice and one transition meeting.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (13:07.646)
an entire role full-time, you know, eight plus years within the business, that person is unavailable.

No questions, no review, no feedback, nothing. One quick meeting to say, here's the stuff, good luck. And so.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (13:35.606)
The end results of that is a much messier transition because there's really no communication as to how the job was previously being done, what was included in that role. Access is a huge one. If you have key people in your business that have access to things that you do not as a business owner have access to, logins.

authentication codes to their cell phones, personal cell phones, etc. That can be really challenging. This really affected this business B because many of their own systems they didn't have access to. And to make matters worse, a lot of the authentication codes were going to this person's personal cell phone that was no longer reachable. So you know

If you've spent any time trying to sort out authentication codes in your business, you know it can be a very frustrating process. And trying to get a hold of some of these bigger organizations to sort this out is a time-consuming process. So ultimately what happens is, well, in that same three-month time span, things are not smooth. Things have not been resolved. Because there was weeks and weeks at the start that were just sorting things out.

And what often things like this do is they highlight challenges or inefficiencies. If someone's been in a role for eight to 10 years, if they have not evolved and they've done things the same way for eight to 10 years, well, sometimes that's really hard to jump into. And so, what could business be have done differently?

because they didn't choose for this person to leave. It's not like they decided, hey, I'm going to fire this person next week and deal with the aftermath later. Unfortunately, this is a medical issue. But that can happen to anyone in any business. Key stakeholders in your business can have medical issues. They can have family issues. They can all of a sudden have to be away from the business. And sometimes that is, you know.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (15:58.254)
planned, but oftentimes it's not. If we go back several years now, a couple of years, to COVID times, I mean there were people that all of a sudden just disappeared. And what, you know, you'd find out weeks later, oh they were in the hospital with COVID. Couldn't be on their phones, didn't have access to their families, all of that. And...

All of that to say we as business owners must protect the success of the organization. So what are the five things that as business owners we can do to prevent some of these things from happening? You know, what can we as a business owner do? Now, anytime if you have a key stakeholder in your business, it is almost completely unlikely that person can go just disappear.

you not feel it in some way. Because I'll be honest, if you don't feel it in some way that person probably wasn't providing as much value to the organization as you initially thought. But what we do need to do is we need to have the information so that we can pick up and keep going. So whether that is we need to hire someone, whether that is we need to get temporary coverage, whether that is we need to evaluate whether or not something must be

you know, happening. If you have someone who is in charge of a specific revenue stream in your business, well, you know, do we perhaps need to just put that on pause for a short term? Each situation has to be evaluated in its own circumstances. Is this short term? Is this long term? Is the person coming back? Is the person coming back under a reduced capacity? Do we even know? So often we see

uh, when people are planning for the maternity leave of their team, this is a big one, where people, you know, they're, they're working for you up to the time that they have the baby. And they have, they say, I'll be back, I'll be back, of course I'll be back. My child's going to daycare and I will be back. And I have learned after many, you know, we, we learn from making some mistakes along the way that, that

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (18:16.23)
is not something that you can really predict. We can assume they will be back when they say that, but at the end of the day, life is uncertain. And I have seen more than a handful of women decide not to return to work, whether that is because there was a medical issue on their own part, whether there was a medical issue from the child part, whether they decided they just weren't comfortable putting the baby in childcare. All of these types of things, where...

business owners there is uncertainty and so we must protect our business and provide as much certainty in uncertain situations. So let's come back to those. What are the five things as business owners that we can do? Number one, I would recommend instituting a password management tool in your business immediately. We use one password. We have

in the past use LastPass is another option. I much prefer one password to LastPass for the efficiency of use. I just find it easier to use for myself and the team. It's a great price. Use it for my family as well. So what does a password management tool, like you know, why is that so important? It's bringing all of the credentials to all of your

your business into one place where you have access and can review. So when we're setting up logins, we can do things like add in the answers to the secret questions. We've all set up a password along the way that said, here are your three secret questions, we need to add in the secret answers. Now you're trying to remember what those were or maybe somebody else set it up in your business.

and you don't know what their favorite ice cream flavor was in grade five, we need to maintain and manage those passwords. So using a encrypted password tool allows us to do that. So one password is how do we use it in our own business? We create faults within the password tool for sections of passwords. So we have one for content creation.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (20:33.27)
We have one for SEO tools. We have one for each client specifically. We have one for more corporate things. And so you can decide as you add people to the password management tool who gets access to what. So that also means that you can provoke access. And the other piece is, of course, you have an up-to-date list of what are the passwords.

Because so often people have passwords saved in their own browser. And so that doesn't help you if you don't have access to that person's browser. And using the correct phone numbers for authentication codes, it should be a number that you as a business owner own and pay for. So if, for instance, it's going to a company cell phone, that's fine.

because you'll be able to get access to that company's cell phone later. Sending authentication codes to a personal mobile device offers some challenges if you have a, you know, parting of the ways with that person under not ideal circumstances. Okay? This also comes down to Apple devices or, you know, using Apple IDs. Same thing. If you have... If you're providing...

you know, business provided Apple devices, and people are adding all of their own Apple IDs, under many circumstances, it can be very difficult to have those Apple IDs removed from those Apple devices after you part ways. So when someone gives you back an Apple device as they're exiting your business, you wanna make sure that you actually can clear that off. Now, if you have bought the device from...

believe it's from Apple and have that like there is a step and sequence to go through if you can prove that you own that device but if they're older devices that you've had a while or you bought them through a third party or you know there's some situations where along the way I've seen several nice fairly modern Apple devices hit the garbage can because they literally could not be unlocked after someone left you know the employee returns the device but

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (22:57.654)
we don't actually have the correct access to it. So number one, recommendation number one is making sure you're managing your credentials and verification codes through your business.

Number two, creating documentation for people's roles as they evolve. So we really go back to job descriptions and a lot of times when business owners write out job descriptions, they're writing it from the perspective of hiring. So we are giving that high level overview of the position. Sometimes we're going to put that actually in the employment posting listing or you know on a on a subcontractor job board and it's going to say, hey you know you're going to

do these kind of 10 major things and that's the position. When we're looking at the actual job details from a perspective of organizational management, we need to know what that person is doing and how their role is evolving. Lots of times people start with 10 specific things and really within the first three months, they've evolved a little, six months later, we've evolved again and a year later.

the person's role may be only 40% of what they first started with. And so you're wanting to make sure that you're keeping updated records of who does what in your business so that if it comes down to, well, who goes and does that piece, we need to, we need to have an understanding of what role that belongs with. When you're writing out job details, job descriptions, anything, you want to not include a name. It is a role with a title and the duties and details belong to that

That means that that, you know, documentation is a little more timeless. And, you know, as we're building out documentation, we don't want to say, well, Sam calls Beth, and Beth does this, and then Sam does that. Because, you know, six months, a year, two years down the road, someone new is looking at that document, and they say, who is Sam? And who is Beth? I don't understand. Because...

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (25:06.09)
you know, maybe we've got new people in those roles, maybe Sam and Beth have moved on, or, you know, maybe Sam has had a promotion, is now in a management role, and someone new is coming to her, and Sam is saying, why are you bringing me this? I don't deal with this. And so, you know, it's very important to create timeless business documentation and leave the names out. We do this with org charts as well. We wanna make sure it's position-based, not name.

based. So that's item number two. Item number three, we want to make sure we have good standard operating procedures for different parts of the business. Now, we don't need to go hog wild and do, you know, a standard operating procedure for how to maintain an inbox, email inbox. Well, potentially useful as a training document if you do something very particular in your business.

But we're talking about those specific pieces, you know, specific tax filing documents, maybe some HR paperwork that, you know, when we hire someone, this document needs to be submitted to the benefits company by X date. You know, this is the document, this is where it lives, this is where it comes from, this is who fills it out, this is where it goes. These are the kinds of things that ultimately, while someone later can figure it out, it just takes time.

And if you're going through a transition, if you've lost a key person in your business for any reason, whether you had to fire them for a specific situation, whether they had a family emergency, medical emergency, no matter the reason, good, bad, or indifferent, you want to be able to get back to growing and creating success in your business. And that means you need to have the documents and information on how to do that.

Chances are if someone has been a key person in your business, you can't just remove them. You will have to hire someone. But you need to, whether even on a short term basis, but you still need to have the information to do it. Okay, so that's recommendation number three. Recommendation number four, really identifying where these issues, potential issues are in your business.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (27:27.422)
And so thinking if that person does, you know, go through each stakeholder in your business and think if they disappeared tomorrow, this could even be an important vendor. If you buy, you know, your main product from a supplier, what if that supplier went out of business? What if they had an issue? Do you know where to actually go and get that same product? Or would it cripple your business? So that's...

Number four, really identifying.

what those liability spots are in your business. Make a list of every stakeholder in your business and starting at the top of the list go through and decide what would happen if that person was gone tomorrow. How would that affect my business? And then sort that list in order of how much it would affect your business and start at the you know the biggest effect and make a plan.

Go through and make sure you have access to the information you need to solve that for your business. And number five, recommendation number five on how to prevent these issues in your business.

really have a 30,000 foot view. As business owners, we often get down into the nuts and bolts or the weeds of the situation. And solving problems or potential problems like this really takes that 30,000 foot view to step up and say, how can I ensure the success of my business?

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (29:13.63)
and what plans and forethoughts should I be putting into? Because if we start to look only at the nuts and bolts of the situation, then any piece to your business all of a sudden not working would be a problem. You know, if you have a receptionist who answers the phone every day and starting tomorrow, she disappeared. Well, that would affect your business. Every person.

If there is zero negative effect of a stakeholder of your business disappearing, then they're not providing enough value. The 30,000 foot view will really allow you to see which pieces need the most investment of your time now. Because ultimately as business owners, time is money, and we can't solve everything all in one go. So recommendation number five.

take that 30,000 foot view and then make a plan. It doesn't need to be a plan measured in days. It may be a plan measured in quarters. You know, we're gonna lay out a plan, ensure we have the documents and operating procedures in place for those first five stakeholders. And maybe next quarter we're gonna do five more. So it doesn't have to be overnight.

But what you do need to do is be working towards the goal, working towards the objective. And guys, it comes back to really keeping in mind, no matter whether it's hiring, firing, vendors, employees, subcontractors, the success of one, one person's contribution cannot outweigh the entire organization. You must.

Keep in mind the success of the business, your ability to earn, your team, their ability to earn, and your customers. And there is no one person that can come above that. And sometimes along the way that means that there will be people that no longer fit your organization and it will be time for them to go. And sometimes it won't feel good.

Tiffany-Ann Bottcher (31:39.03)
But you'll know that the success of the organization overall is more important than any one person. Because the organization provides success for many. Well guys, we're going to leave it there today. It's an important topic. And as a business owner, some of these decisions that you make come with some significant weight with them.

I'm not naive to that and I know that whether you've lost a key stakeholder to a medical issue, whether it is something you plan for or something you didn't, at the end of the day, these types of things can cause significant stress to the business owner because ultimately it all stops with the business owner. That's the person who's going to have to sort it out. That's the person who's going to have to hire. That's the person who's going to have to figure out what's done and what's not.

And ultimately, the planning and preparation you do now will really aid in that potential time.

That's it for this week, guys. We'll see you soon.

 It All Stops With The Business Owner
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