Setting money goals. I’ve never been that person who’s sat down to do that, it’s felt strange for me. But a couple years ago, one of my business coaches said that they didn’t focus on income, they focused on people. By focusing on how many people I wanted to help, I was much more motivated than just turning a profit. Your focus should be more on solving a problem with your services — focusing on the individuals behind the dollars made a greater impact than just hitting a revenue goal.
As part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company” I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Rike, a Pinterest Strategist who helps high-performing business owners implement content growth plans, outsource their visibility and steadily grow their monthly revenue through her signature growth to greatness framework with done for you services and course packages.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I actually went to school for graphic design, but two years in, I decided to switch to marketing. I have a marketing/social media major with a graphic design minor degree. After doing some graphic design for a brick and mortar for a few years, I moved into an internship to grow my marketing experience. This helped me realize I could run a VA business from home while raising my kids. From there, I did an all in one virtual assisting business. I learned I could merge Pinterest marketing with graphic design, which was much more enjoyable for me. That was back when Pinterest was invite-only, a long time ago!
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
My aha moment was realizing I was doing too many things. I was too focused on bringing in an income that it was wearing me too thin. Every time I took on a client that was not Pinterest focused, I felt like I was giving away a piece of myself. My oldest son said to me one day that I was “always working”. That made me realize that wasn’t the goal for me when I decided to work from home. I wasn’t prioritizing the love of what I wanted to do and my family time. That moment pushed me to niching down to Pinterest.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
One of the times I felt like giving up was when I decided to only focus on Pinterest and started using that two letter word “no” to other people that wanted things outside of my zone of genius. It was really difficult for me. We were about to purchase a house and have a second child, so the pressure was on. It was hard to get out of my own way with my mindset, thinking that if I niched down to Pinterest, I would still be able to bring in enough money. It was a mindset issue I had to work on.
It was a healthy struggle that taught me a lot. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to covering “everything” for my clients. One of the things that gave me the motivation to keep going was focusing on my family and their needs. Also, to see ease of word of mouth online. When I niched down, it seemed like people had an easier time being able to recommend me for what I wanted to do. People started seeing me more easily as a Pinterest expert. Niching down was the most brilliant move for my business.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are going amazing today. We hit our first year in 2020 at six figures at 250,000 dollars in revenue! We have goals to grow that this year by double. The grit and resilience taught me how to be able to prepare and educate my team, to professionally develop them to push past some of those struggles so they didn’t have to go through them too.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our personality and fun vibe that we have as a company and team. I’m a quirky, spunky butterfly. So it helps make sure that we attract the right people, keep it light and have a blast. Since I am fully transparent, I don’t try to create a feeling of scarcity or ego. I like to help everyone, build honest relationships and give back as much as I can. I think that helps us really shine through publicly.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I don’t know if I have a “funny” mistake, but one of the first mistakes I made in the beginning was trying to expand too quickly without even knowing what my full value stack was. I was grasping at straws to bring in income to expand my team. I learned to really get clear on what I wanted and how I wanted to deliver it to my clients. Instead of focusing on more, I focused on quality. Instead of focusing on hiring all the time, I focused on what absolutely needed to be done and what could be handed off. Also, what could be put on the backburner for further down the road.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
To try all the things and see which one works the best for my company. People would say “go ahead and be on all the social media platforms and see what works best for your audience”. It wasn’t helpful. We don’t have all the time in the world. What I wish I would have done was to find individuals I could have outsourced to early on. Or to find collaborators where we could have done a mutual exchange to see if it works instead of trying to utilize my time and space where I don’t have the knowledge to thrive on that platform.
There’s no point trying to do all the things on your own. It’s not needed, it will burn you out. If you can’t outsource, pick what the priority is to you and go after it. Do it step by step.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Integrity. Keeping the integrity of myself, my agency, my clients. Holding it in the highest regard. Making sure we’re always doing the right thing. One of the things that drives us is having enough self-control to make decisions on behalf of others on a sales call. I know sales calls are meant to help people see why they should be investing in me, so inserting my integrity into those calls if they aren’t a good fit, I will honestly tell them. There’s no need for a spin just to get the additional income. It isn’t best for either myself or the person I’m talking to. Doing the right thing is always the best for everyone.
Optimism. I see the world and events in a positive way. I like to look to the future and see the big picture. I lead my team from this perspective and to always think of how we can serve our clients better. For example, in 2020, we brought in a video designer at no extra charge for our clients. It needed to be added to better serve our clients so we could provide the best value and return on investment. We like to stay thoughtful in our business plans and marketing.
Loyalty. I am loyal to the bone. I’ll always be loyal to my team. They are the backbone of the agency and amazing at what they do. I’ll always support them. I remember one time a client becoming a bad fit as they were demeaning my team. That’s not acceptable to me, so they were quickly dealt with and I backed my team. I want my team to always feel safe and supported.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Set your boundaries. I only take meetings with clients Wednesdays and Fridays. I only do meetings with my team Mondays or Thursdays. This helps me block off more time for self care and family. What helped me achieve this was different colored blocks in my Google Calendar. This really helped me block off my time and have a stronger structure for business.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Trying to please everyone. You won’t be able to, so be specific in what you can offer and be strong to that offer so you can respectfully tell someone if they aren’t a good fit. Create a resource for them that you can recommend. As long as you take the time to write out who’s a good fit and exactly what you offer, then you can avoid working with someone who will cause struggle and frustration.
In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
I think the most underestimated aspect is the amount of time you want to set aside to pour into team development. Your team will need support not only with backend setup, but training, hand holding, compliments and daily guidance. If giving out compliments isn’t a strong suit for you, you need to build that skill daily. If providing training for your team is not something you’re used to, make a point to find new things that you can give them access to every week. When you provide that level of support and trust into your team development, you’ll see more growth and I think that’s really underestimated.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Cash flow. I wish someone would have told me the amount of education and support I would need with cash flow management. We have always been a cash-positive business, which I’m very grateful for. But there’s a lot of things you don’t know or understand in terms of cash flow when you get started. Understanding how to manage it and to create budgets is so important when you’re getting started. For example, last year I set up a business checking called “tax fund”. We make sure that, every week, a percentage of the income we’re bringing in is being put aside for taxes at the end of the year.
- Activity in the business. Whether it’s marketing, sales calls, product development — the activity you do doesn’t equal growth all the time. You need to prioritize what days or hours or times you can spend on product development. What time will you spend on what will equal sales growth or lead growth? This made a huge difference in my weekly schedule so I could actually hit my growth goals. That way, you can cut out or outsource what isn’t revenue-generating to focus on what you need to focus on.
- Setting money goals. I’ve never been that person who’s sat down to do that, it’s felt strange for me. But a couple years ago, one of my business coaches said that they didn’t focus on income, they focused on people. By focusing on how many people I wanted to help, I was much more motivated than just turning a profit. Your focus should be more on solving a problem with your services — focusing on the individuals behind the dollars made a greater impact than just hitting a revenue goal.
- If you don’t hire a coach, it will take longer to get where you want. Someone once asked me, “why should I invest in you if you don’t invest in yourself?”. That hit me hard. You can have a group that helps you through your current business struggles and can be your sounding board. It’s almost like a safety net because you have someone to bounce ideas off of who knows what you’re going through. You can get the support you need. I wish someone would have told me this should be a priority. When I did finally make this step, I grew from 7,500 dollars yearly to 280,000 dollars yearly in three years. A lot of that growth was due to the investments I made in my coaches. I have a coach for my team and two for myself. It’s been instrumental for the growth of my company.
- You need to make sure that you are giving enough time for yourself to be able to do some personal development just as much as product development. Set aside enough time for leading your team and team development. Strategize time for all aspects of development for yourself and your business. It’s not all about sales. It’s about mindset and personal development as well.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
One of the movements I’d really like to start is affirmations. I know it’s a “thing” online, but I don’t think it’s focused enough. We need affirmations at all ages. Kids can start as soon as they start talking. Teaching people the inner beauty and intelligence they possess is crucial. Kids, teens, adults, grandparents…I have a grandparent who wrote out all of his affirmations on small strips of paper. When he’s feeling lonely or frustrated, he pulls them out and goes through them. I think things like that need to be more of a focus. It helps people be more kind, feel more centered and bring back their humanity. We all need support and we need to recognize our uniqueness and beauty. If we could create an affirmation movement for each age bracket, it would make a huge difference in the world and possibly unite the world’s current huge divide.
How can our readers further follow you online?
You can find me at http://www.LauraRike.com and on all of my social media channels @laurarike.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!