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The Encore Entrepreneur



Values in how we serve is the most important reason for identifying values for your business in the first place. Building a values-based business means being thoughtful and intentional. How we serve our clients is one of the key indicators of future business success. Making sales is simply the first step in the client relationship. 

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Episode Transcript:

[01:08] Deirdre Harter: Do you practice people-first principles in your business? 

Well, it's one thing to nail your marketing and make more sales, but making sales is when serving begins. When you deliver on the promises your marketing makes, you cultivate a roster of happy clients who share their delight with their friends, family, and colleagues, and that's what we're shooting for. 

As a business owner, you want to make a difference in the world with your offers and services. The best way to do that is to ensure your customers and clients achieve the results that you promise. Your interest in building a values-based business is a good indication that you care about how you show up and serve your clients. And today, we'll share how values can be used to create an unforgettable client experience that leads to raving fans for years to come.

[02:06] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: As with our past episodes, we're going to share how we use each of our five values in our business regarding our programs and serving our clients. So let's start with freedom. 

Freedom is a very popular value among most entrepreneurs. Most of us started our businesses because we want some element of freedom—or autonomy, which was my value that's closely aligned with freedom. Autonomy for me was like, I don't want someone else telling me what I have to do, right? I want the autonomy to be able to make decisions, do what I need to do, or what I want to do when I need to or want to do it. And that's what most people want. That's why a lot of people start a business in the first place. 

It's our mission to help our clients create a profitable business that will give them the freedom they desire in their lives. By creating the curriculum of our programs, we built a fantastic asset in our business that also gives us time-freedom in delivering value to our clients. So when you build things in your business, whether it is marketing assets, or lead magnets, or resources for your clients. Those are assets. And those do help with your freedom journey by giving you time freedom back. Because once you create stuff, you've got an asset bank to pull from.

And even when we're talking about social media marketing; if you use a content grid as we teach during the Marketing Methodology Workshop, and you are cataloging your posts somewhere, whether it's in an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Drive folder, wherever it works for you—in a Trello board—and you build upon that, pretty soon you've got one 90-day period, one quarter, the next quarter, the next quarter. Well, when you get four quarters or an entire year of content built out and saved. Guess what you get to do? You get to go back and start pulling in some of that old stuff. 

So freedom can be ignited in your business in many ways. If we take the time to think strategically about it and realize that what we're doing, we want to do it in a way that we're building things for ourselves, building assets, setting up future us for success. And that's how we use freedom in our business, with our clients, and for ourselves.

[04:39] Deirdre Harter: Our second value that we're going to talk about is community. Now, because community is one of our values, we have built our programs to include a collaborative community aspect. 

So not only do we encourage conversation during weekly office hours that we hold where everyone in any of our programs is invited to join us, but we also prompt our clients to share with each other in a private community. We have a directory—a client directory—and all of our past clients, they're there too. So we keep this whole membership directory of anyone who's worked with us because we want our clients to collaborate with each other. We want them to be in community and stay in community because we believe in building relationships. That's how businesses are built to be sustainable. 

Now, we include our people-first philosophy and our community-minded philosophy in the learning content that we provide. It's a theme that runs throughout and it's a thread that's woven throughout our entire business. We have watched our clients not only love this aspect for themselves and the experience that they have while they're working with us, but they also begin to model this in their businesses as well. 

And I think that this is a really important part that I'm not sure everyone really thinks about. And regardless of what kind of service provider you are, if you're a coach, if you're a consultant, the way in which we do things can often be modeled. Now we're business strategists and coaches, so there's a lot more to model here for our clients because they have a business. But even if you are working with other types of individuals, what you do and how you do it is going to be seen, observed, and often modeled. And that's another reason why we feel that values are so important in building them into every aspect of your business. 

[06:57] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: 100%.

Our third value is making a difference. Deirdre and I built our programs with our clients from day one. So, when Deirdre and I first met, I'm going to tell the story real quick because it's a great one. 

We met at an online event in April of 2020. Through communicating, we kept realizing how much we had in common, and our goals and our visions were the same for what we wanted to do. By October of 2020, we decided we were going to test this out and run a joint venture. We'll run a workshop and sell into a program we had only outlined. We had, like the first module, a little bit of it built out, but we only had it outlined. And, we did that purposefully because we wanted to get the input of the women who would be going into that program so that we could build it with them and it could be that much more meaningful. And that's what we did. 

So we hosted our first workshop in November of 2020 and we sold into the program that we had only scratched out on paper. We had a little bit of content in there. We had one module done so they could go in and get started. And it was really awesome because as they did that, they went in and got started. And if you're familiar with our VIP Portal, you know that when you go in there, and you're in one of our products, you can answer questions and get responses from us. It's very interactive. It's an awesome tool. We love it for our business and our clients businesses as well. 

So as they would fill things out and answer questions, we could see common challenges that could help inform what the next module was going to be. And so that's what we did. And our program has six modules altogether with all kinds of lessons in there, in each of the six. And those were all created based on what was happening in real-time with these women that were going through. And it wasn't just that first cohort. We had those first ladies go through, and then two months later we had another workshop and more ladies came through. And so we revised every time. And that meant that each group of women that went through the program, their input whether they knew it or not, was getting added to our program to make it better. 

That's how we help make a difference. It's not about us standing here and telling you what you have to do, what you should do, any of that. It's about what are the real-world problems that our ideal clients are facing and how do we help them overcome that. And that's what making a difference means to us. 

We want to make sure that we are helping them overcome the most common challenges. And we've built that into our programs. In our program, when you go through it, it still happens to this day. If someone goes through from the beginning to the end and they follow the modules along, they'll hit a certain part and they'll be like, oh, my gosh, this was the perfect timing for this. And it was because that's how we built it. That's about making a difference. 

So when we pay attention to who our ideal client is, we build things with them. It not only helps those people initially, but then you can always optimize, and that helps them get a better result. It helps blow them away. Like, we still get comments like, oh, my gosh, this is the best timing for this. We just had it today. We had an office hours this morning, and one of our clients is at the productivity module, and she's like, this is the perfect timing for that. And it's laid out that way. And that's how we make a difference. We make a difference because we listen and we build things with our clients.

[10:44] Deirdre Harter: The term that comes to mind Carmen is intelligently designed.

[10:48] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah.

[10:50] Deirdre Harter: Another one of our values is simplicity. This particular value reigns supreme when it comes to our programs and our client delivery. And so, for those of you who have programs and you're delivering things to your clients, you will resonate with this. 

We began with the end in mind, with how we wanted to do our delivery with our clients and how we wanted to interact with them. And we have kept things simple from the very beginning. We all start out with simple things in the beginning for the most part. But what happens is, over time, we can get complex, right? We can complicate things as we grow. 

We often will equate simplicity with the word basic. Does anybody think in those terms? When you hear simple, that can be basic, right? That can be, in our minds, what we're talking about. But when it comes to programs, this could not be further from the truth. As we grow in our businesses and we increase the number of clients that we service, it may feel like we need some complex systems. And yet, the simpler the system, the better it will both serve and allow us to scale at the same time. 

We've talked before in our past value series that keeping it simple is not always easy. It's actually easier to complicate things than it is to pare things down and really think through what is essential here. Now, one of the specific ways we've simplified is through utilizing automation as much as possible. However, we have to be careful with automation because we don't want anyone to ever feel like a number. We don't want to over-automate or automate to the point where they feel like there's a robot on the other side of this program. So this is both an art and a science. 

To give you an example, when a new client enrolls in one of our programs, they are immediately sent an email that is automatically generated, and they have a contract to sign. We've set up, specifically designed, an onboarding area inside of our learning platform. And inside that onboarding area, there are videos. Carmen and I have created those videos of what they should expect. 

  • What are the best practices? 

  • How does the program work? 

  • What are all the benefits that they receive? 

And it goes on and on. And this was, again, something we added on later. It wasn't there in the very beginning. We were just doing our onboarding call with our clients, and we were explaining all this stuff every time we had an onboarding call. And then we realized that we were saying the same thing again and again—the same information at every onboarding call. 

And then we were getting questions later on because that onboarding call is packed, right? There's a ton of new information coming at our clients. And so we realized that if we created videos that everyone could watch before the call, it did several things for us. Number one, it simplified the process for us and for our clients because it gave them a resource to go back to. So they didn't have to take all this information in, take a million notes. They could go back and refer to that as they began working through the program. It also allowed us more time during the call for strategy. 

We didn't cut the call because we were saving time. We used it to improve the call. And I think this is where simplification can be a huge benefit for us. If we're thinking strategically, we can use the simplification process to really boil down to what is the most important thing and how can we improve things by removing or automating or consolidating? 

We outlined our entire onboarding process, and as we were going through this, we asked ourselves the question, will this work in the way that we're thinking about doing it if we double our clients in a short period of time? So this is the kind of question that you should ask yourself, because it allows you to proactively build a system that will scale, and it allows you to see where you can simplify it in order to save time and to be efficient.

[15:31] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, and I think that's such a good point, Deirdre, to ask yourself these questions, because here's the other thing that can happen, just like what Deirdre said, it's a lot easier to make things more complex because we think, too, when you really want to serve, you start thinking, well, if I add this and this and this, oh, my gosh, I'm going to blow them away. They're going to love it. 

But you also have to make sure you're not overburdening yourself and your schedule, and you have to keep things agile and flexible so that you can respond and react. That's one of the superpowers we have as entrepreneurs. When you look at an entrepreneur versus a big corporation, I'm talking more here. Solopreneurs—people with smaller teams—versus a big corporation. The big corporation can't react quickly to changes, but the entrepreneur can, unless you've built something so big and wild that you can't be agile. So that's why simplicity is so important, too. All the ideas that we have that are great ideas, we have to ask ourselves, what would this be like if? 

  • What if there was something that happened in my family? 

  • What if I had to take a bunch of time off? 

  • What if...? 

Run these scenarios through to make sure that what you're thinking about doing can pass those what-if tests. 

Ethics is our fifth value. Encore Empire is driven by ethics—both Deirdre and I identified this right off the bat. It's very important for us to do business ethically and to have an ethical business. So, we don't work with anyone we don't believe we can help. That's being ethical. 

We're not just out to take as many people's money as we can. That's not it. We want to make a difference. That's another thing. It goes back to making a difference. If we take everybody's money and say “yes,” but we aren't sure we can help them, well, it's not going to make a difference. It'll make a bad difference maybe, but it's not going to make a good one. 

We only share business practices that have been proven to work. That's another way that we're ethical. We make sure that we focus on tried and true business strategies and not the flavor of the day, the fly-by-night, shiny object, and bro-marketing flash in the pan. “You should do this. You should do that.” 

Those things might work and be fine to try or use, but that's not what we built our business on. We built our business on the tried and true business practices. 

Another thing that we have heard from clients—several clients—are horror stories about things they've experienced from other, “professionals” out there in the online space. I'm going to share these three things that three different clients have been told by people. 

  1. One was, you're not going to make it in what you're trying to do. You should keep your day job. 

  2. Another one was, you're an adult. I'm not here to provide accountability. 

  3. And the third one was the worst ever. It was “After our last session, I felt like I wanted to end—the person, said they felt like they wanted to end their life so that they can't work with that person anymore. When we were told this, I wanted to fall off my chair. I can't believe anyone would say this. 

Each of those things, in my opinion, are unethical. If you're a coach and you're helping someone, you either know you can help them or you can't. All of these could be an example of someone taking people on, but they're not sure. Or they don't believe they can help them, but they're just taking their money. And then once they get into it, they're like, oh, my gosh (and I'm just assuming here), I can't do this. 

So what do they do? They turn it around and make it the client's fault. You should keep your day job. After our last session, I felt so bad that I wanted to end it. So I can't work with you anymore. I mean, that was the most egregious thing ever. It's not that person's fault that you have some kind of emotional, or you're emotionally bankrupt or ethically bankrupt. 

And then,” You're an adult. I'm not here to provide accountability.” Well, a lot of the times, as a coach, that's exactly what we're here to do. As business strategists, Deirdre and I are here to provide strategy. But we're also here to cheer you on, provide accountability, and ensure that you're getting your questions answered. 

We customize everything to fit your unique situation. So when we hear stories like this, it just hurts our hearts. And there's a lot out there. That's from three different clients, three different situations, and they're just terrible. That's unethical business practices, and you would never know. How would you know? 

That's the other problem with it, is you don't know when you go into a situation with someone if they're going to be on the up and up or not, if they are ethical or not, if they are emotionally bankrupt or not, if they're just a nice person or not. So all we can do is focus on what we do and help our clients focus on what they do. And so, for Encore Empire, by identifying ethics as one of our values, we've been able to stay true to our mission ethically. And that means so much to the both of us. We wouldn't be able to live with ourselves if we did anything differently.

[21:10] Deirdre Harter: One thing that comes to mind, Carmen, when we talk about how can we avoid this? We can avoid it for ourselves by holding ourselves to this particular value and standard that we've set for ourselves and our businesses. But how do you know when you're going to work with somebody else? 

Well, this is a reason why we're doing this entire series and why we feel so strongly that every business owner should be not only identifying their values but communicate that to your audience and to your potential clients. And that would be something that you could ask when you're in discussion. If you're considering hiring someone to help you in your business for whatever it is, get into this discussion, start talking about values, and say, hey, I'd like to share my values with you, and I'd appreciate if you could share with me. Let's see if our values align.

Because this is really the foundation of the relationship. Because if your values are out of alignment with another person, it's going to be a very difficult relationship, most likely. We think about this when we're hiring team members, but we don't necessarily think about it when we're hiring a service provider, right? 

I know that until we began going through these exercises, I hadn't really thought about it either. We've learned over time because we've been burned a few times. But this way, if you set yourself up not only for yourself but in those conversations you're going to have with service providers, ask the question, have the discussion. And that could save you from getting into a situation where it's going to be detrimental to you and to your business.

[22:51] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And that's such a good point, too, because if you bring up, I'd like to know what your values are, and someone is like deer in the headlights, meaning they've never thought about it. Now, that doesn't mean they're a bad person, because we're bringing this to the forefront not only for the reasons Deirdre said but because we think it's important and a lot of people don't know how to do it yet. 

The way they respond to that—either they have their values or they haven't. And they might be like, oh my gosh, I've never identified those. That's good. I need to figure out what those are. By the way they answer those questions, that's going to tell you a lot about that person. So when you go to hire someone, interview them because they're going to be working for you. Essentially, you're hiring them to help you. So make sure that it's a good fit.

[23:35] Deirdre Harter: We have a simple three-step process to help you do all of this for yourself; to create these values and to really identify what they are and to incorporate them for both yourself personally and for your business. You can head on over to vip.encoreempire.com/values, and you can grab that values exercise. 

We think that this should be right on up there with setting up an accounting system. This should be, like, very foundational to your very business. And so, we've provided this free download for you to get you started with a simple process. 

This is the fifth and final in our five-episode series on values and how you can incorporate them into your business. If you haven't had a chance to hear the other values in the series, then please head on over to encoreempire.com/52. Start at podcast episode 52. Inside of the Facebook group, you can go to the guides, and at the very top, there's the Value Series right there for you to watch and listen to the replay.

[24:54] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: All right, ladies, thank you so much for being here, and we will see you next week.

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