Are you done doing and want to start leading your company? Then you have to know the not-so-fun part of a business, that is, operations and strategic business planning. In today’s episode, Biz Besties Amber Hawley and Maelisa Hall chat with The Ops Authority Natalie Gingrich. Natalie reveals the reality of an entrepreneur’s burnout and the eventuality of needing an operator to scale your business. She shares seven objectives that you need to consider and emphasizes how you should set your priorities. She goes on to talk about her Strategic Mapping ModelTM, the Biz Planning Bootcamp course, and her group program, A-Team, which allows her to support women entrepreneurs to learn the skills needed to get their operations running smoothly.

Strategic Planning For Your Business With Natalie Gingrich

We have an amazing guest. We are super excited because she’s going to be dropping knowledge bombs left and right. Natalie Gingrich, welcome to our show.

We are very excited about this one.

You are a lot of fun to hang out with and to talk to. If you ever get a chance to spend five minutes with Natalie, you will enjoy it. You will not want to spend just five minutes, let’s say that. Since she attends every event on the planet, you might get that chance. I feel like you’re everywhere.

I love all the people.

Natalie, we’re going to be talking about strategy. Maybe you could give our audience a little bit of background about who you are and what you do.

I’m excited to be here. This is a show I’ve tuned into for a long time even before I met you guys a few years ago. Thank you for asking me to come on. I’m jazzed to be here and share my love and my passions with your audience. I am an operations consultant and operations expert. I’ve been in the operations space for many years. Almost my entire professional life I have been serving in an operational capacity. Through those years, I’ve had some diverse work experiences. As I turn around and connect to the breadcrumbs, I start to see that there’s an over-indication of the experience and the attraction to operations. Operations sound dry to a lot of people.

If you’re unfamiliar with what operations are, it’s paying attention and being an expert in leading other people in understanding how humans and human resources come into businesses. It’s how to set up processes and systems. Understanding the basics of your business like strategic planning and pulling all that together because those things are the foundation that allows us to scale in our businesses. That’s what I do. I help female online entrepreneurs to make this happen for themselves. I work with lots of service-based people, a few product-based businesses. At the end of the day, I always say operations does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you are a brick and mortar, if you are in Africa or South Texas. It is all the same because you’ve got to have these pillars of finances, human resources and systems to be able to grow your business probably to the dream level that you’re thinking about.

A lot of us get along without certain systems in the beginning when we’re starting out. That way, some people who do product-based businesses might be an advantage because they have to start those things from day one. Whereas a lot of us who do service-based business can fly by the seat of our pants for a little while. As soon as you start to get to a successful place, you realize you have to set up systems and structures and it starts to hold you back if you don’t.

Systems can come in at different times because all of our competencies as leaders of our own businesses are different. I work with lots of people who are systems experts, but they still need that accountability, that direction from someone outside of their zone of genius even if they’re complementary. I work with people all the time in the hiring space to help them bring talent in or supplement what they are doing right now. They may be great leaders or may have great systems, but that one piece is missing or they don’t feel confident sometimes. I like to say that people buy confidence more than courses. The reality is we’re wanting someone to support us, to help us and give us that decision matrix to say yes.

Operations and systems can come in at all different levels. There is no certain magic or there’s no magic dollar amount. There’s no magic number of employees. There’s no magic length of time in business. I get that question all the time. The reality is whenever you start to feel you’re right as far as that little bit of success, but also when things start to get heavy. When we get into the business, we’re all fired up and excited. We’re like, “We’re going to do this.” We start earning money and earning money is fun, especially when we’re earning money for things that we are good at, it comes easy to us. That goes back to that service-based business. They can make money quite quickly with very little overhead. Product-based businesses are a little bit different. Even between those two different competencies, service or product we, we all hit a wall where things get a little less fun. A lot of times that’s either burnout or it’s a good time to start looking at truly considering scaling your business versus bootstrapping as we all do when we first start.

First of all, where were you years ago to tell me that quote about instead of buying courses, buy confidence? I think I would’ve been much better off, especially in the last few months when I bought three courses, maybe four. I think it’s sexy. It’s not a dry topic to me because it is the cornerstone of what can free people up to enjoy their business. It’s interesting that you say that. As you were talking, I think back to my career and in the dot-com world and I was in internet operations. I got up to senior management in internet operations. I loved my job and it was great, but the difference was that was my sole focus. When I start this business, I literally wrote the book. I wrote all the operations manuals for every company I went to. I documented everything. I get to my own business and I’m doing all the things and I’m overwhelmed. It’s like that would be great, but I’m trying to keep up. That idea of even if it’s something you’re good at, like I consider myself in many ways an organized person, but then there’s all this other chaos that’s happening and it’s hard to keep up. The systems make it manageable.

As you say this, I’m going to share a little bit about my strategic mapping model because it plays into what you’re talking about right now. I spent many years in a Fortune 150 company. I had an amazing experience. I’m not one of those people that speaks poorly of being in the corporate space. It gave me a lot of confidence and certainly a lot of real practical use cases for how I would use that stuff down the road. At that time, I had no idea that was going to happen. Corporate was great for me, but the interesting thing that I’ve been able to see if we’re going to compare corporate versus entrepreneurship or self-employment is in corporate, as you said Amber, we’re focused on internet operations.

That’s the one thing that you’re worried about. The financials may come into that, but you’re not worried about all of the other things. You’re not worried about how the company is marketing, how the company’s leadership is set up, how employees are being managed, how bonuses are being distributed and all of the other foundational pieces of business. When we come and we start doing this on our own, my framework looks at seven different strategic objectives. We’re trying to be what I would consider a vice president of seven different areas all at one time. There are a lot of times where the overwhelm comes in, the dissatisfaction, the burnout and the frustration. As you know in your scientific minds, it is impossible for us to be seven people at one time.

That’s not to say that we don’t try but at some point, something has to give. In the strategic mapping, I want people to start to prioritize what is most important. Generally, I’m one person. Most of the people that I work with have less than five contractors or five employees that are working with them. As a group, if you have 2 to 5 of you working on something, we can probably tackle three projects at a time. Without that strategic mapping, lots of businesses that I come into, I’m not even going to act like I’m above this. I get into the exact same things. We want to satisfy. I’m a helper. I’m a two on the enneagram. I love people. I love pleasing people. That’s who I am.

It is very easy for me and a lot of other service-based providers to try to tackle 25 projects at one time. Without blowing anyone’s mind here, we all know that we’re incapable of getting 25 projects done at the level that we want them to be done. The strategic mapping model helps people to take those seven objectives, rank them from most important to least important, then you have a framework of what needs to get taken care of this quarter or the following quarter. The biggest win is if you have people on your team, regardless of the capacity or the title, everybody’s on the same page. The biggest challenge in business is a lack of direction. We take it for granted because it’s all in our heads, but as leaders of companies, whether you’re a leader of people or a leader of a company or both, it’s so important to have these plans. I spend a lot of my time doing strategic mapping for people.

Strategic Business Planning: You've got to have pillars of finances, human resources, and systems to be able to grow your business to the level you desire.
Strategic Business Planning: You’ve got to have pillars of finances, human resources, and systems to be able to grow your business to the level you desire.

I do want to note that Natalie was looking at Maelisa when she talked about having 25 projects.

I remember when we heard you talk about this the first time we met you, it was like, “You go through and you rank these things,” and it’s true. There’s a part of it that you know is true even when you don’t want it to be where you’re like, “There’s no way I can focus on all of these over the next six months or over the next year. Yet you’re like, “Which one is more important and how do I choose?” When you can feel good about that choice and makes you feel good about saying no to a lot of things and about what you’re prioritizing, but it can be difficult to get there. Maybe you can talk to us a little bit about what are those seven areas are and then how do you determine what is your top priority.

I’m going to make a list here. If you’re taking notes as you’re reading, know that there are seven. It doesn’t all come out in one breath, but these are going to be the seven different areas. If you compare it to a corporation, you’re going to start seeing some similarities here. The first thing that I talk about is financial steadiness because I believe that this is probably number one on 95% of the people that I’m working with. I don’t care if we are talking about a $25 million company or a $2,200 company. Most of us get into business for financial security. Once we get past the revenue part, that’s the easy part. The deeper part of this is are we saving for retirement? Are our businesses protected legally? Are we paying taxes as we should be?

I know we all shake our head and say, “We’re doing all of those things.” You would be surprised the amass of successful companies that I will come into and they’re not the things that have bubbled to the top yet. Who wants to pay someone to write a privacy policy? Not many people. When you’re in the middle or at the beginning of starting a business and you’re bringing in enough money to pay your bills, to have a little discretionary income, I promise you, saving for retirement is not going to be on the top of that list. That’s the way it is.

We talk about financial steadiness and that doesn’t just mean dollars. It means protecting your assets and growing your assets. We talk about visibility, if you want money, we’ve got to get eyes and ears on us. The visibility and the planning that goes into that. It’s not just what you want, but how you want to be visible. I hear people go, “I want to be on this stage, I want to write a book, I want to start a podcast or I want to do all these things.” In actuality, they’re probably already doing about ten things. We have to understand where is that return on investment going to be, whether it’s time or money. Visibility is another one.

Product creation and refinement, this is getting your offer together. What is it that you’re selling? What is it that you want? This is a very exciting objective because it’s all about innovation. It’s dreaming of what is it that we want to do? Maybe you’ve been a service-based provider, maybe you’ve been a therapist. How are we going to get into the online space? Maybe I want to create a course, maybe I want to do mastermind. The sky is truly the limit and there is no blueprint worth giving up your dreams for. This is an exciting area I like to talk about, then once you’ve been in business and you’re bringing in money, the refinement part comes in. When we look at how can we optimize that mastermind or how can we optimize that course? Maybe we change up a new funnel. This gets into some of that marketing space as well. Making sure that it’s priced well, it’s positioned well and all that good stuff.

From there, operational efficiencies and this is my jam. Truthfully when we go through this as a group or one-to-one with people and I say operational efficiencies, they look at me with a blank stare like, “What does that mean?” Operational efficiencies are when you think about the frustrating kinks, the bottlenecks or the things that make business hard for you, make a list of those things. What are the things that are challenging for you? What are you doing that you don’t enjoy doing? What are you putting off doing that would make a difference in your mental health? I’ve worked with lots of people who don’t like the invoicing process, but we have to invoice because that’s how we make money. They have no real process for how to collect that payment. It’s a burden for them. That’s one tiny example, but this is where we’re looking at: systems, processes, automations, those types of things.

When you make that list, I want to comfort everybody. It’s fun to make the list, then people look at it and they think, “I’ll never get this done. I won’t do it. I’m not going to create an operating procedure for this. I don’t want to do it. It’s not in my wheelhouse. It’s not exciting to me.” I want to comfort everybody to dream big in that area because once you get that done, there are many people who you can hire to come in. You’re not hiring them on a retainer. A lot of these people will come in on a project basis and set this up and exit from your business. I want you to identify them. You don’t have to get them all done at one time, but there are nerds like me who cannot wait to come into your business and clean that up. That whole objective, 90% of that can almost be completely outsourced. Don’t forget that.

I liked that you highlight that it can be someone who comes in on a project basis too because then I think we feel like, “I have to now hire somebody. What are they going to do long term?” and all this stuff. It’s taking the overwhelm out of that task.

The fifth thing is team growth. This is defining what it is and how it is that we want our organization to look like, not what it looks like now, what it looks like in the future. A lot of times people were like, “I want a lean team,” which I’m all about a lean team. The more profit I can bring home, the happier everyone is inside of these four walls of my house. A lean team is very important to me in a lot of the people that I work with. As we’re going through that visibility, through the product creation and all of that, maybe this person wants to start a podcast. In that team growth, you’re probably going to want a podcast editor or I’m going to need to know that they are going to need additional time to edit, to market because there’s no visibility tactic out there that doesn’t require a lot of work or at least some work.

Think about the people that can come in. I don’t want you to be overwhelmed with thinking, “I’ve got to have a ten-person team.” There are two things about me. I don’t have to be a millionaire and I definitely do not want a big team of people that I’m responsible for. That’s not what I want. It’s not my personality. I’m content with X amount and that’s what I strive for. I don’t feel like anyone has to make this overly complex if that’s not what they want. We can figure out people to come in on a very short-term basis to make significant strides in your business without bringing in a lot of overhead.

Number six is customer and client experience. This is one of my favorite things to talk about. This is how you delight your client, how you communicate with your client, how you set expectations and boundaries with your clients. This is that journey. If you have multiple offers and maybe your business is set up where you’re going to offer somebody one thing, once they complete that, there’s another and there’s another. Everyone’s business is set up differently, but that continuation of service, how do we stay involved with our clients? How do we keep them paying us longer and how do we keep them happy? A lot of people will get into the, “I want to give a gift to my person.”

One of my biggest rants in business in the last few years of doing this is gifts are so overrated. They’re a waste of money. Most people don’t make enough profit for us to even be giving physical gifts. Humans like recognition. If I am working with you, in my opinion, the best thing I can do that costs nothing is to write a glowing testimonial on your show. It is to go onto your Facebook pages and leave a testimonial. It’s to put a testimonial of you on my page. There are many things that we can do with all of these mediums out there that don’t require us to spend any dollars. It’s one of my pet peeves. I see many people who are not bringing home what they want, but they’re sending out these amazing lavish winter gifts and sign on gifts. That’s not what’s going to keep these people happy for a long time.

I’m somebody who does not enjoy gifts because I’m definitely a minimalist. I’m like, “What am I going to do with this candle or this other thing?” I do appreciate the gesture. It’s not that I’m not appreciative, but then you almost like, “Do I have to keep it? How long do I have to keep it?”

I want to know who’s giving out these lavish winter gifts that I’m hearing about, but I agree because I have received a candle and I do love a candle, so I’m fine with that. I agree where it’s hard to know people. It’s interesting that you’re saying that people are spending this money but not thinking about optimizing their profitability. It’s one of those things where it’s like, “What’s their value? What’s important to them?”

Strategic Business Planning: Create a list of your operational inefficiencies or the things that make business hard for you. 90% of that can almost be completely outsourced.
Strategic Business Planning: Create a list of your operational inefficiencies or the things that make business hard for you. 90% of that can almost be completely outsourced.

They are not thinking about what your customers want. It doesn’t have to be a gift. What is it that customer would like?

I work with a lot of females and we are natural caregivers. It does not surprise me that the people I work with want to send me flowers, candles or something. I’ve got many amazing baked goods from different parts of the country over the holidays and stuff. I’m telling you, it’s wonderful. If you’re reading and you have sent me a gift, I appreciate the gift. It’s just that the bigger thing to me is I’m called to be active in people’s businesses and in people’s lives so that they can bring more profit home to their family. I don’t want any dollar wasted on something that doesn’t return to you.

I can promise you, I like the cherry pie that you sent me that’s from your neck of the woods. Unfortunately, when Amber or Maelisa come to me and say, “I’m looking for this,” you don’t come to any higher rate than another person because you sent me a cherry pie. I am always going to be looking for matching talent, matching values and all of those things. That’s where the gift thing feels a little bit off to me. The reason I’m dwelling on it is that customer and client experience are very important, but I have developed a framework within that objective that’s looking at collecting testimonials. Instead of worrying about a gift, spend some extra time, create a Google Form and get feedback from the client so that you can become better at doing what you do.

Collect a testimonial so that Amber can tell all of her friends how wonderful Maelisa is. Sending a gift to Amber, she’s not going to share that. If she does, it’s timestamped. It’s going to go away. She’s going to forget about it and it’s not going to mean as much later. I do not ever forget the people who leave me a podcast review. I never forget the people who refer me, who tag me in groups. There is something very special when someone else does my marketing for me. I want to go there for a second, but I love defining the customer journey. That is some significant work that needs to be done in businesses regardless of the type of business that you have. The seventh and final strategic objective is personal and professional development. Within this, this is a great place to list all of those courses that Amber has ever purchased.

It’s on my list to write that list. I swear to God.

I do believe that but I love to capture what you already have purchased for the simple reason that when it’s time for me to start doing Facebook ads, I don’t have to go looking for the newest best version of Facebook ads. Maybe that’s a poor example because that algorithm does change so much, but maybe it’s how to do video in your business. When I’m starting to scratch that itch, now it’s time for me to go back to that one Trello cart and say, “I’ve already got this, this and this.” My list is extremely long too. Amber, you should not feel lonely. I have a very long list. I hoard information and I think that’s what we’re all doing right now. If I can keep all that information centralized, it does help me and protect me from making silly investments or duplicate investments. How many times can I buy a productivity course? Come on, enough of this. If I would implement one of them, maybe I would have enough return to where I wouldn’t be looking for another one.

I would like to capture all of the courses and then if there is a mastermind, if there is a coach, if there is a certification, whatever it is that you’re looking for that you want to add to your bag of tricks, I like to put it on a list there and then I use an accountability partner before I make that purchase. This is how I’ve gotten better at spending that discretionary money on information. I use that person or a buddy system to go and say, “I want to do this.” It’s almost like filing for a loan at the bank and saying, “Can I withdraw this money for this?” It’s not my husband. That would never happen. My husband has no idea what entrepreneurship is like. He doesn’t see the value of investing in professional development because he’s worked in a corporation for many years. They professionally develop all the time, but it’s a have-to there. For us, it’s a desire. It’s a want and it’s also a real hard expense.

The other part that I want to touch on quick with personal and professional development is the boundaries piece. When I’m going through this one-to-one with somebody, I tell them, “Tell me what your boundaries are. Let me understand. Verbalize what your boundaries are for being in business.” To no surprise. I say this all the time, if you’re already familiar with me, you’ve probably already heard this, but one of my biggest boundaries in transitioning from corporate to personal was to be able to be off from 3:00 to 9:00 every single day of the week so that I can be present with my kids. That was the exchange for the comfortable salary that I was getting in corporate. That is one of my boundaries.

I also have boundaries about summer work, about working on Saturdays. I don’t mind opening my computer on a Sunday, but on Saturdays, I’m not going to think about you. I’m not going to answer your Voxer. I love you but that’s not going to happen for me. I don’t feel healthy when I cross these boundaries. I like to have people be able to express them and take the time to write them down. We’ve gone through business a lot of times or personal and not realized that things were irritating us because they were violating us in some way. If you never make the list, you never think about it, then you allow yourself to be annoyed, pathetic, frustrated, overwhelmed and start to feel taken advantage of and nobody likes that.

That’s the other piece of professional and personal development. Those are the seven different objectives like we were talking about at the beginning. Go back to that, understand and conceptualize what each of those feels and look like to you and your business, then rank them 1 through 7. You’re going to have projects under each of those. As I was describing them, you were probably thinking about, “I would love to do this. I’d like this and I’m doing this. I want this to get better and easier. I want to bring on this person.” Make a list underneath every single one of those objectives. Make a list of all those projects that popped in your head. One of the biggest powerful reasons that we have with this framework is to give you white space. If you know what is most important 1 through 7, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to work on a number of 5, 6 and 7.

It means those things that are in 5, 6 and 7 should not take as much time. One and two definitely need to be getting your attention and they’re going to change. They usually change every single quarter. Business and technology change so fast. The economy changes so fast. Your team can change fast. Revenue can come in and you can have a loss. You know how all of this works. Look at it frequently and I think that it gives you a good starting block for understanding what is truly important right now.

I like that and you already answered my question. I imagine that as you accomplish some of these things quarterly or something that they are going to shift. It’s like saying, “I need to do the team growth,” or I would say operational effectiveness and efficiency is probably the number one because then you figure out all those stop gaps and problems. If you can outsource a lot of that and that stops happening, then it’s like, “Now, I have a lot of space to focus on something else that’s less calling to me.”

I see that in the winter months, November to December, which is typically a time where people aren’t spending a lot of money in the B2B or business to business world, that the operators of the business have a little bit more time. I see people being interested in processes this time and also during the summertime. I think I know why, but it’s a pattern that happens every single year.

We get into planning mode and wanting to improve things. It’s like reflecting back on maybe what you did or didn’t want to happen over the last year and how you want to make the next year different. It’s a great time to use that energy to then be like, “Let me do something strategic with this.” It’s not just a matter of creating the top five goals I want to accomplish over the next year. It’s like looking at, “What are all the things that my business needs and out of all of those, what needs to be the top priority?”

The other way is sometimes we’re only focusing on the piece that’s like, “What’s our offering? What’s our product? What’s going to be our revenue generator?” and not all the other elements. Why do you keep looking at me? That’s on my list. We’ve talked about this. It is funny though. I was talking to my husband because I’ve been doing things like meeting with people and saying, “I do need to start thinking about long-term like the retirement stuff. I’ll have to start doing that.” I’ve been doing little discovery calls. We were talking about something and I said, “For next year.” He’s like, “Next year is almost here.” I was like, “Are you kidding me? I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve been living in January since a month ago. My calendar is always in January. I’m constantly thinking we’re way past November and December. It is going to happen. We’re already past this.” It is one of those things when you’re an entrepreneur, you have a very different mindset. It is important and I love that you broke it down to these seven areas because it gives something concrete for people to look at. Otherwise it’s like, “That’s right. I forgot about that.”

Strategic Business Planning: When you're burnout and you see your revenue decreasing because your attention and commitment are going down, that's a great indicator that you need to bring in an operator in your business.
Strategic Business Planning: When you’re burnout and you see your revenue decreasing because your attention and commitment are going down, that’s a great indicator that you need to bring in an operator in your business.

Getting it out of your head is so powerful and then identifying when you’re going to start it. This is where project management comes into play. I always tell people that in the absence of a project manager, you are the project manager in your business. That’s difficult to hear sometimes because you may not feel like you are skilled at that. I give so much confidence to people because you’re living, you’re breathing, you got dressed this morning and you go to the potty where the potty is. You manage yourself. You can manage your business. You wouldn’t have made it this far without being a decent project manager. Is that what you want to do for the rest of your life? Probably not, but right now, it may be what you have to do.

I encourage you, the simplest project management out there is, what needs to be done? Who’s going to get it done? What day do I need this completed by? If you can answer those three questions, you’re a project manager. You know what day your prescription needs to be picked up at the grocery store or at the pharmacy. If this is something that you’re interested in, I would highly encourage you to come to my podcast, which is The Ops Authority. The first five episodes are setting this up for you.

Schedule that time to listen to all those episodes and work through it. Have your paper with you or your computer and write it all out while you’re listening because then you can get so much done. In a way, it’s freeing because as you’re saying, you can do all this stuff. You can’t all do it all at the same time. When you have it all written down, you’re able to see. Part of it is if it’s you and one VA, it’s not going to get done. What is the important stuff? That helps you determine like, “Do you need to hire or you can’t do that yet?” Where do you scale back a little bit? It’s managing your expectations.

You’ve got people that work for you. If you have that one VA, there’s almost 100% chance that VA is not being optimized because he or she doesn’t have direction from you, because you don’t have direction. It is impossible for them to exceed your expectations without giving them a good direction. I know this is remedial, but it’s so true. I come in to repair many relationships inside of businesses, but not like toxic or anything like that. I do that too but so often, because we are dispersed workforce and we’re working virtually, we don’t have the energy of sitting next to one another and having those verbal cues. A lot of times we’re sitting in isolation or maybe we have a Zoom call once a week or once every two weeks and we expect this entity that we’re paying our profit to be able to know what to do.

Most of the time people come to me and say, “I don’t want to write a job description. I just want a unicorn.” I’m like, “We all do. I want one too.” I would actually like two. Until you take the time to understand where your priorities are, you’re not going to hire the right person. You’re not going to be satisfied. You’re going to be frustrated. You’re going to be taxed and overwhelmed with trying to manage somebody who doesn’t know you. There’s so much structure that comes from this, but this is what makes operations never-ending, super fun and maybe not as dry as when we started.

People can listen to your podcast. They go through the steps and identify for themselves those things, then make them a priority and get them done. That would be great. We know probably 90% of people are not going to do that because that’s why people sell courses.

They’ll create the plan and then it’ll sit there.

I would say a good 20% do actually create that plan. We know most people don’t. It’s not because they’re bad business people or anything like that, but they’re overwhelmed. Working with many people like I’m working with a lot of entrepreneurs on burnout. I have gone through it myself. I always joke that I used to try to buy my way out of burnout, but I was buying it the wrong way. I was investing in a course that needs to do more work as opposed to hiring somebody. I feel like this is my number one business lesson. Hiring that person will increase my profitability even though it looks like it’s money going out the door. It will increase my productivity, my income and everything. It is actually a good thing. When people are thinking, “I can do that. I can write my list. I can be a little more focused and I’m going to go along with that.” If they’re thinking about maybe it’s time I hire an operations person, what are the distinguishing factors for you or for the people who are ready to hire somebody like you? Do you call yourself an operations manager or business manager?

I never want a title that will hold people back.

What are the things for people like things you’d notice or things that they can ask themselves if they’re ready for that?

You’re welcome to share your info if people would like to work with you.

I do have a program called the A-team Accelerator. It is a guided program. It’s a group program, but we take those seven strategic objectives and we focus on one every single month. You make significant progress in your business, plus it’s a mastermind. There is a small group of female entrepreneurs, all different types and I love the variants in there because it provides good feedback for you, but we’re looking at every single strategic objective and layering on top of them. It’s a very helpful program and it’s the program I wish I had whenever I was starting. That’s the A-team Accelerator and you can get information on that at

If you are not interested in a program like that and you need to do this on your own or you’re starting to feel like maybe I need to bring somebody in, these are the questions that I would have you ask yourself. “Are you ready to transition from doing to leading?” This is one of the common themes that come up, “I’ve been doing so much and the doing gets exhausting.” It absolutely does. Even if you say yes to that, are you ready to transition into a leader versus that doer? This doesn’t have to be leading an empire. This can be thought leadership. This can be much bigger or your default, which is leading humans. This is thought leadership and making your own stamp. It could be even taking back some of the responsibilities that you’ve given away over time. I’ve done that personally. It can be cathartic and it can be helpful and motivating too. I would ask yourself that question, am I done with doing or do I want to do less and lead more?

The other thing is, have you reached a plateau in your revenue? Things are coming through and the revenue is probably consistent. I find that burnout. Amber, you may have more facts on this. This is definitely from my relationship with people, but they have been generally at the same revenue level for a while and it gets exhausting. All of a sudden, we’re burnout, we’re deflated, we have imposter syndrome and we don’t feel good enough. We don’t feel like we’re supposed to be doing this. Our self-worth goes down the tank. Bringing in an operator is like bringing in a Biz Bestie. It is bringing in that person who can help you get some of the stuff out of your head and start making traction because when you get into that burnout phase of business or even demotivated, things slow down.

You will see your revenue goes down because your attention and your commitment goes down. Psychologically, you’re exhausted and it is impossible to continue to pour into something with all the zest that you once had when you’re feeling depleted like that. That is another great indicator for bringing somebody in. Also know that when you’re bringing in an operator, you don’t have to think that they’re going to be in your business for the next twenty years with you. I’ve come into many businesses for 6 and 12 months. I set everything up. I hired lower-level people, set up the systems, turn them over and left the company. There’s no harm in doing that. It’s advancing and it’s a big advancement for both parties. I hope that helps with determining, when is the right time? It’s ultimately going to be up to you, but it’s looking at that leadership and when you need time and space to protect your own self.

Strategic Business Planning: In case of a sudden demise, prepare a document that outlines your business' operations which can include finances, client management, and how to transition the business to the next leadership.
Strategic Business Planning: In case of a sudden demise, prepare a document that outlines your business’ operations which can include finances, client management, and how to transition the business to the next leadership.

Will you remind us one last time if people want to learn more about you and maybe haven’t had the chance yet, what is your podcast and where should they go if they want to check out your program or your other services?

My podcast is The Ops Authority. You can find me at The Ops Authority pretty much everywhere. Facebook and Instagram are the places that I’m at most often. LinkedIn gets a lot of my attention as well. I’d love to see you in any of those. If you are interested and this content made you feel excited a little bit, you should go check out this resource that I’ve created. It’s called Business Hub and it’s a clever tool. You can get it at It’s a Trello board that’s like your one hub. It’s your encyclopedia for all things business. It covers everything from your bio, to your brand, to your testimonials, to your program structure. It is 26 categories of things that happen in your business. It’s your privacy policies. It’s all things.

I like to have this as a backup. If anything were to ever happen to me, my husband could have one document to at least be able to find the people who work for me to be able to know how to get it. He’s not even on Facebook, so he wouldn’t even know what to do. It’s a solid document and it helps you to get that organized feeling, get everything in one place instead of having nineteen different boards or many sticky notes and folders. It’s all in one place. Pro tip here, it’s going to be in Trello. If you like to use Asana, you can go to It’s free to transfer that board over.

You’re hitting on something and this could be a whole separate episode, but maybe I’ve been thinking about long-term stuff. My husband and I had the same conversation. One time he said, “If something happens to you, I don’t know anything. I don’t even know how to pay people.” I was like, “Don’t worry about it.” It’s not my top priority because I’m overwhelmed with stuff, but it is something that I think about. God forbid, if something happens to you, how do you transition your business to your partner or for them to be able to sell it or close it or do whatever they need to do?

I’ve unfortunately been on the other end of that and it’s not been easy. It was the stimulus that is putting us together. There’s an entrepreneur who passed away and her husband had no idea what to do.

I’ve seen that too. I know people who have been on the receiving end of that on a therapy practice. All of a sudden, they have no idea how to get information. The employee had no idea how to get the information they needed about clients and there was no plan about how they talk to the clients about it.

It’s like life insurance. Nobody wants to talk about that crap.

Even though it’s easy, I’m willing to pay for that. I paid for all that stuff. My thing is because I have an operations person, I always think she’ll do everything because she is my unicorn. It’s still a good thing to create those redundancies. I’m excited about downloading your Trello thing.

Even for your ops person, Amber, it’s good for her to have all of this in one place because if anything were to happen, she’s not going to be in a state of mind where she’s going to be thinking super clearly, as you know. I always think my ops person is Esther. If hell has its fury and takes me away, at least Jess, my husband, knows to contact Esther. Esther knows how to go to this board and figure it out. I don’t share that board with anyone else but that one person. It’s not like a team board because there is some personal information in there.

We might need to have you back for when shit hits the fan episode. That would be good.

Thank you so much for being here. It was amazing. You gave us a ton of info and just like I said, “Knowledge bombs people.”

I’m so glad to be here. This is so fun and you guys are a delight. I love anytime that we can all be together and I hope that we’re face to face sometime soon.

Thank you.



MBB 79 | Amber Hawley and Maelisa Hall

After spending 15 years in corporate at a Fortune 150 company, Natalie Gingrich dove into entrepreneurship, leveraging her project management and HR experience to assist high-level influencers in the online and small business worlds. What she discovered along the way was that there was a ton of super capable women whose skill sets were not leveraged and whose natural tendency toward leadership wasn’t acknowledged. Natalie found herself streamlining and executing projects for 6 and 7-figure business owners, just as she did as the Chief of Staff for senior executives.

But as much as she loved supporting these entrepreneurs, she also had a soft spot for the women who were not quite ready to hire someone like her. That’s why she developed the Strategic Mapping ModelTM, the Biz Planning Bootcamp course, and a group program, A-Team: so that even if you aren’t earning 6 or 7 figures, you can learn the skills needed to get your operations running smoothly.

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