You can’t ignore the back-end pieces that have to work together and flow smoothly in order to build a brand, grow a movement or disrupt an industry. If the operations side of your business is a mess, putting out fires will always take priority… leaving no room for creative innovation, fun visibility or networking with powerhouse peers (or wannabe peers).
If you’re soaking up what I’m spilling and are getting a little excited about operations, I invite you to listen to The Ops Authority podcast. Every week, I will share actionable strategies from the Director of Ops community to move your business forward and transformational stories of powerhouse business owners who now value operations.
How to Break Up with a Client
What do you do when a client relationship goes south? How do you go about ending a client relationship on good terms?
Today, we are talking about a part of business that can be scary and intimidating; how to break up with a client. All of us will eventually come across a situation we need to get out of, and I’m going to give you a 10-step process on how to escape a relationship that is no longer healthy.
For the full show notes, go to theopsauthority.com/podcast/114.
Why You Should Break Up Similar to dating, sparks fly at the beginning. But at some point (in some relationships), they stop. It doesn’t happen overnight, but something changes and you reach a point where you have to make a decision. Do I stay or do I go?
Now, let’s shift this scenario to business. At some point in every business relationship you’ll reach a point where it’s unhealthy, unfulfilling, clashes with your values, or holds you back from your greater potential. This is when you begin asking yourself if you should be in this relationship. When those feelings come over you, you begin looking for your exit plan. Today I'm going to guide you through how to professionally and respectfully exit the relationship.
How You Should Break Up 1. Get Clear on Why Sometimes this is obvious, and other times it takes some introspection. I'm a fact finder and get confidence from pros and cons lists. You should start this process by knowing why you’re leaving. 2. Review Your Terms Review the terms of your contract. What date is the contractual period ending? Do either of you have terms that you need to be aware of? Even if there are terms, you can still proceed.
3. Firm Up Your Exit Date You know the business, the terms, and the client, so you have the info you need to determine the date you’ll be leaving. Firm this up before disclosing your exit so you aren’t talked into or out of anything.
4. Define What You Will Deliver This is key and has been my differentiator in keeping former clients as referral partners and advocates of my work. Create a plan that outlines what you’ll accomplish in the stated time period (from step 3.)
“You rock project plans and your exit needs one.”
The clearer you are with what you’ll accomplish, the less emotional it will be. You’ll also be more productive.
5. Know Your Audience Surely you’ve seen your client on good, bad, challenging, and successful days. Think about how they deal with difficult or tough conversations. I don’t know of many that want to lose amazing talent like you. As we prepare for the next step, anticipate how this “break up” conversation will go down.
6. Prepare for Conversation You’ve gathered the facts and done some thinking. Now it’s time for the planning. Most often, I script these out:
Why I’m leaving What date I’m done Last payment info What they can expect from me in the timeframe Transition plan 7. How You Will Deliver Schedule a face to face meeting or phone conversation. Email or text may be an option, but keep in mind that it’s not the most professional.
8. Have the Conversation You’ve got this! Stick to the plan. It's a trusted plan with plenty of uses behind it. Of course you should be prepared for a response. With such a detailed plan, I've rarely run across a heated conversation.
“If you deliver with details and empathy, it increases your chances of being understood.”
If it does go south, cut it short and follow up with an email.
9. Deliver on Your Promise Here’s where you turn into an undeniable professional! Regardless of why you’re leaving the clients business, remember the plan that you communicate and deliverables you promised. Meet and exceed every single one.
“Be a woman of your word: do what you say, and deliver with excellence.”
10. Send a Note This is extra, but something I
Results Matter: Why Quality Programs Focus on the Results of their Students
When you decide to join an online course, what convinces you to invest? How do you determine if you're going to get that precious return on investment?
Today we are talking about how the best online programs are obsessed with results. There are a lot of different things we can look at as consumers of online products, courses, coaches, or masterminds… but the thing you need to do the most active research on is the results that they are getting for their customers.
For the full show notes, go to theopsauthority.com/podcast/113.
Evidence of Real Results Results are the key ingredient that you need to consider when you are looking for the right program to invest in. It is far too easy to fall into the marketing traps of a one-size-fits-all formula.
Does this solve a pain point that I’m currently having? Am I spending my resources because of the amazing marketing of the program or the attractiveness of the leader? If the leader/teacher is an icon, are we taking the time to actually get to know them? Does their teaching style resonate with you? Do you like/respect them? Does their presentation allow you to learn?
Make sure that you are purchasing for all the right reasons. You need to truly connect with the leader, but mostly you want to critically review the outcomes that they promise. What do you get by working with them/participating with them? What kind of results have they helped generate for their previous students?
When I look for training/coaches/programs, this is the biggest gap I see. This is why I have been hyper vigilant about defining and tracking the results for our Director of Operations (DOO) certification program.
In my path of learning and development, one of the things that was lacking was the gap in the promise of results. We have done this in a couple ways in the DOO program:
Every student has a coach Every single student is assigned a coach that they meet with one-on-one each week. That coach fills in the gaps and serves as a resource for any questions that come up in the recorded trainings. This is related to the ROI that our students are having.
Experts in Key Areas We provide expert coaches in key areas, specifically in the areas of operations, leadership, and communication. Experts address the specific situations, questions, concerns that students have and this has made a big difference in getting specific (rather than generic) responses.
Develop Milestones We took the time to develop milestones in each of the tracks of our program. There are two different tracks in our program:
Employee track: If you are an employee in someone else's business, they can sponsor you to come through the program. There are 6 different milestones to accomplish to make sure you stay on track, and they are focused on confidence and leadership.
Business Builder track: This is for the service provider who wants to build a business and have multiple streams of income or multiple clients at one time. This track includes an additional 6 milestones to hit. We define milestones so that the business builder can achieve exactly what they want when they join us.
Ask for Feedback We continuously ask for feedback as people are going through the process and at the end of the program, relating to the content, coaches, and curriculum design. We make feedback an important part of the experience so that the students want to give us feedback. Since we were getting feedback more regularly, we started to make real time additions and adjustments based on what students need.
Facebook Community This is a real authentic group where people come in and ask questions, and are vulnerable with their experiences. It is a guarded safe group, and I love the way I see our community leveraging this asset. We are able to coach them through overwhelming situa
How the DOO Certification Helped Her See Her Potential and Create A Dream Business with Sarah Khan
Do you want to hear more about the Director of Operations (DOO) certification program from someone who has gone through the program?
My guest today is certified DOO Sarah Khan, who has come through our Director of Operations certification program. Sarah has the ability to help people with leadership and business development, and I know you will enjoy her wisdom!
For the full show notes, visit theopsauthority.com/podcast/112
Meet Sarah Sarah Khan is an operations strategist and consultant committed to busting the BS in the online service space. Her expertise is in bringing clarity to chaos by helping ex-corporate, visionary women business owners identify and prioritize clear action steps to achieve their goals, while managing all the moving pieces of their business. But her passion lies in rewiring corporate & employee mindset: the myths and "shoulds" of what it means to run a successful online business and the mental and emotional transition of moving from corporate employee to business owner in your own right. Through her grounded, pragmatic approach to business and leadership development, she sees through the FOMO, cuts out the "buts" and holds you accountable to your vision.
Sarah was in corporate for 15 years in the project management and executive coaching space, and then transitioned to higher education. When she became a mother, she was laid off, then laid off again after she had her second child. This made her want to rethink her devotion to her corporate career, but she didn’t consider entrepreneurship. She started dabbling in the online space as a VA, pivoted into the OBM space, and eventually made her way into the DOO certification program.
Interested in the DOO certification program? Fill out an application.
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This episode was first published at theopsauthority.com/podcast/112.
The #1 Essential Ingredient to Healthy Client Relationships
Do you have trouble communicating honestly with your clients? Do you wonder what piece of the puzzle you are missing when it comes to building healthy, long-lasting client relationships?
Today we are talking about my #1 essential ingredient to having healthy mature client relationships. This is what so many people dream of, because their experiences are the exact opposite. They are used to unhealthy and immature client relationships.
Join us for a 5-day series coming up that’s all about scope creep. (You know, when your client(s) take over your entire life, or a project goes from simple to stressed?) Register here to join us on August 30th!
Building Healthy Relationships with Candor The word “candor” changed a lot of things for me. I have a long history of rising into formal and informal leadership roles, and behind all of that success is the concept of candor. I once had a tough boss who asked me to be less candid, and because of that I began to examine how I could grow in my career while still honoring and leveraging my gifts.
“Candor allowed me to build deep relationships, get authentic buy-in, helped me establish an open door policy, and be a respected leader.”
Candor is the quality of being open and honest in expression, and it was my special sauce. The problem is that it can get a bad rap because it is easily misunderstood and can imply that you are sassy or condescending. But it is the #1 ingredient in my success in having long healthy mature client relationships!
“If I’m not going to be honest, direct, frank, or open… how could I ever truly be an authentic partner?”
Candor has enabled me to build solid relationships and two-way communication with my leader and the teams I’m supporting. Two-way conversations are a huge piece of what we encourage in our Director of Operations (DOO) program because I believe it has the power to keep you happy, fulfilled, and to grow your business.
When it feels like you are going different directions in your relationships, candor will bring you back. When things need to be addressed, these conversations can happen with much greater ease. Scope creep will happen in both client relationships and projects, and when it does… candor is queen. I am convinced that we have high turnover in the online space because there is a lack of candor happening.
Are You Candid? Check in with yourself. Are you able to express your thoughts? Are you able to be open and honest with your expression? Continuously ask yourself this question.
Even in tough moments ask yourself what can you do to be honest and open? Sometimes it means delivering a hard message, but just because it's difficult doesn't mean it needs to be done in a negative way. You can still come with solutions, and kindness. I want to make sure that people don’t assume that candor has a negative connotation.
How Can You Add Candor? What can you do to add candor to your life?
Pick clients you align with. You ultimately get to choose who you will work with. You will naturally have greater ease when you are serving clients whom you align with. Be bold and address gaps you are seeing. Take the reins and address the gaps, opportunities, shortcomings, and feedback. Have more conversations. Continuously get in front of your leader, and have thought provoking conversations, offer course corrections, and bring solutions. Have these conversations so they can begin to hear you better. Coach them and partner with them. Reporting is fundamental for any service provider. Your leader wants to see what you have been up to, and it will facilitate conversations that should be rooted in candor. Ask for feedback. How are you doing, and where are your opportunities? By doing this, it shows them that you are open. Take that feedback and expand on it to make it a two-way
8 Benefits of Setting Boundaries with Clients
Do you find it hard to establish and communicate boundaries with your clients?
Today, we are going to talk about why you need to set boundaries with your client or employer. The most successful relationships that I’ve had are those in which I've been able to show up as my true self, and have established boundaries. Not only did I have to do the work to define the boundaries, but I had to effectively communicate those boundaries. When I was able to do both of those things, I experienced the most fulfilling business relationships I’ve ever had.
Why You Need Boundaries in Your Business What is a boundary? It is a limit which you consider acceptable. There is no box you have to fit in, and there is no list of boundaries that will be applicable for everyone. You get to be the author, and your boundaries should come from what you value.
If you are thinking about all the relationships that haven’t been successful, a common theme was probably that you were under-appreciated and overworked. Overworking never produces an overly satisfied party. The over-striving to impress someone sucks your time and energy.
“A healthy relationship lends itself to a productive, effective, and highly communicative partnership.”
I want you to move from a place where you feel like an employee to the next level of that feeling of partnership. Being productive, effective, and communicative are met by having boundaries and having mutual respect for those boundaries. The win/win for you and your client is that you are able to show up and share your gifts, rather than carry the stress, questions, and worries.
So, let’s dive a little deeper into why boundaries are so important in the work you do.
You Come First You likely got into business because you want to do life on our own terms. You want to use your gifts and expertise and be able to show up authentically as you. These boundaries are going to be derivatives of your goals, dreams, values and vision.
You Deserve Balance We all have talked for years about the concept of work-life balance. After all of that work, the work-life balance is still elusive… especially in a corporate environment. If you are stepping out and doing business on your own, I want you to be balanced. The closest you will get to that is going to be the place you are the happiest with yourself, your family, and your work.
Take as Much as You Give You can easily get out of balance when you are overachieving or when you are not clear. Those things lead to overworking and burnout, which is the opposite of what balance looks like.
Your Mental Health Matters If you feel stressed, can’t sleep, or have a lack of exercise, all of this will lead to a place of poor mental health. These lack of boundaries can lead you to a place of being in a poor mental health space.
“No boundaries equals stress all of the time.”
High Performing Connections and Relationships When you have boundaries you have high performing connections and relationships. If you have been in a position where you have felt that you were never doing the right thing or never doing enough… it likely lacked an ease of communication. In this situation you will never have the feeling of high performance. When you have all of that chaos around you, it never feels like ease.
“When you have high performing connections, it builds a solid relationship and creates the best client relationships.”
Stay Focused and Productive When Present When you have boundaries, you will stay focused and productive when present. Time is a boundary for most of us. If you put a boundary on your time and couple it with a healthy communicative relationship, then when you show up to work you will be focused and productive. You won’t have all of the emotions that will slow you down.
The 5 Ps to Deliver an Unexpected Message to Your Leader
Have you had to deliver hard news to your client before? Do you shy away from being the bearer of bad news?
On today's episode, we are going to be talking about the 5 Ps to deliver an unexpected message to the leader of a business you are supporting. It is inevitable that throughout the course of a client relationship you are going to run across a situation that needs to be addressed. As a Director of Operations (DOO), part of the responsibility is to share feedback. The key is to be a communicator, and I hope these tips will equip you.
Imagine this scenario: you are on a team and the leader has shared a strategy and you and the team are working to implement. No one on the team believes in this strategy, and the buy in is super low. The hard part is that the leader has no idea. They are completely unaware that the team doesn’t support it. Because the team is made up of “yes ma'am” people, they aren't empowered to speak up. However, you have the ability and the responsibility to have a conversation about these things.
This isn’t easy, but it is necessary to be a leader in the business, for yourself, and in the industry. This type of leadership will set you apart, and you are changing the way the team or business sees you.
The 5 Ps These are the 5 things I go through to make sure I deliver a message with ease, and deliver it in an approachable way where the leader will be open, and resist a negative response.
Perspective Gather perspective, gather your facts, and look at the trends in the industry or their business. Look at the root issues and always stay objective. Make sure it's not just you who feels that something is off, and that you aren’t framing questions in a way that gets you a response that will confirm your position.
Perspective will allow you to plan your message.
Plan Pull the facts that you have gathered from the perspective phase and create a plan. You need to have a plan around delivering this information. During this phase you will utilize documentation, and crystallize the facts.
“It's helpful to have something that allows you to remove the emotionality from it.”
Consider how the leader engages in conversation and feedback, and tailor the message around them. This is important to get the buy-in from the leader to be able to have a 2 way conversation.
Private The delivery of this information needs to be private. If it is a group setting, it will feel like a pile-on, which never ends well. You want the leader to become aware of something so you two can collaborate to create change. Set up a meeting in one-on-one format and leverage the plan.
Proactive This message is unexpected for the leader. How they receive it depends on the personality type of the leader and how coachable they are. Take faster action than you typically would. You want to take fast, planned, methodical, analytical action. In other words, don't spend too much time on fact finding. This is part of you stepping up as a leader on your team.
“Being proactive is key to open, honest, effective, communication.”
Positive You don’t know how the leader will respond, so it's important to stay positive throughout the entire experience. Keep yourself in a positive place, meaning you are open minded and separate yourself from the message that you are delivering.
“Continue to be a positive force for the team after the message has been delivered.”
Your job is to point out the gaps and the root problems, but at the end of the day, the leader gets to do what they want with that information.
Weekly Ops Activity Head over to the Facebook group and let us know what are some of the scenarios when you delivered an unexpected piece of feedback to your client?
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A must listen for anyone in operation services!
Natalie does such an amazing job of breaking down complex ideas and topics into simple and actionable steps for you to take! If you want to understand the back end of a business, this podcast is a must listen to because no one else shares these industry secrets the way Natalie does!
Highly recommend for operations & strategy consultants starting out
As someone who recently started my business providing operations oversight and strategy consulting to small online businesses and small nonprofits, I have found this podcast to be full of insights and actionable advice. Natalie walks you through both mindset and action plans to help you get your business going and growing. Before you feel financially or mentally ready to take on her Director of Operations certification, I highly recommend listening to this podcast to learn if this is your zone of expertise and how to do it your best! Thank you Natalie for sharing your wisdom in an attainable way for new business owners!
Best of the Best in Operations!!!
The Ops Authority Podcast is a staple... a MUST LISTEN for me! I consistently recommend it to other business owners that I know and work with regardless of whether or not they are Operations focused. Each week, you (Natalie) do an incredible job of providing valuable content in an understandable way AND the guests you invite also add very thoughtful insight that any business owner can use. In your 100th episode, you share your journey of how you went from 6 different offers to one main front offer, which I believe is important for people to hear because sometimes as Entrepreneurs, we want to do all the things, when it may not be what's best. You share your journey and your knowledge so selflessly. I love how you encourage listeners to take action each week and that the actions you nudge listeners to take are not intimidating. I hear your heart in every episode and I am just so thankful that I found you! Congratulations to you on recording your 100th episode. Cheers to 100 more and all the best that's yet to come your way!