This week on the podcast, we’re talking with Kaci Ackerman, Certified Online Business Manager. She’s sharing her strategies for getting started with ClickUp, creating systems, building up a detailed SOP handbook, and why it’s important for you as a business owner to outsource tasks. If you are in the stage of business where you need an OBM to take your business to the next level, you are at the right place.
Topics discussed in this episode:
- How Kaci’s team began using ClickUp features
- Practical tips & tricks for getting started with ClickUp
- What exactly time freedom could mean to you
- Why it is important to build a precise SOP handbook that every team member can use
- The importance of outsourcing tasks to a VA
- How to start building systems for where you want to be in your business
More on Kaci:
Britney Gardner 0:03
All right, Kaci, I am super excited to talk to you today.
Kaci Ackerman 0:06
Yay, I'm so excited to be here.
Britney Gardner 0:09
Yeah, so obviously, you know, thanks for coming and everything. And, you know, I've been using clickup for maybe a year and a half, well, actually, let's backtrack for a second, I have had a click of a count for a year. But I've only been actively using it since, like the end of last spring or so I had wanted to use it wanted to use it. And then when I decided to hire a podcast, production manager, I was like, well, obviously, all this stuff can't live in my head alone anymore, we need to have it in like, legitimate place. So I, I had a podcast template that I was able to build the help of, like, someone was like, oh, like, download this, oh, look at that tutorial. And I was able to do that. And I now also use it for client projects. But I feel like there is, you know, maybe like 2% of what I actually know it can do, and there's all these other things, but I'm so overwhelmed by it. And I like systems, I like being organized. And I really like being efficient. It's one of the things I try and help my own clients do right become more efficient with their content creation time. But I also find myself not having the time to learn how to be more efficient in places like click up and and in the idea of creating, you know, SOPs for my business. So if we could just kind of start from there, I obviously I dive right into things. But yeah, we'd love to hear how you got, like, through that for yourself and how you kind of move through that with your your
Kaci Ackerman 1:41
people. Yeah, so I've been using clickup for I started my business two years ago, next month. So I've been using it for two years. Um, and really, the biggest thing I have to say is like, start small, and don't feel like you have to use all click UPS features, because that's really, really overwhelming to like, see all of these wonderful features that they have, but then also feel like you have to use them right away. And so what I did for myself was I gradually like, used, I like added features, I gradually added features as I went. And so I was like, Okay, I got this mastered. Now, I'm going to master this piece. And now I'm going to master this piece. And so I did that. I also have a VA on my team. And so it really helped that she was kind of there to give me feedback as well of like, hey, you know, like, this sounds really good on paper, but we're trying to do it and sucks, like, so we need to rework this area. So it wasn't just my head all the time, I had somebody kind of bouncing that idea back and forth for me to really understand, like, what works well. Because all of my systems are actually in clickup. Like everything is. So all of our SOPs are there, all of our tasks are in there for my clients, my business like everything. So it's really important to know, like, I want to use it for these reasons, I need to make sure that I understand these features for these reasons, but also, my team needs to understand it. So I started small, and then I moved from there.
Britney Gardner 3:23
So one of the things that I heard and what you said is, you know, obviously start small, and from there, but But you know, don't do it all at once. And I think when I first kind of dove in, I didn't feel like there was one thing I could pick out, I was like there's all these things, I don't know where to start. And I don't feel that way about a lot of things in life. Like when I decided to tackle a new thing. I'm like, Okay, here's where I'm gonna start. And then I can figure out this part. And I'm usually really good at just, you know, picking one area and then kind of moving on from there. And this is from everything to like, I just bought like an abstract acrylic painting course to go to go through with my son as part of his, you know, our home. And, like, I don't know anything about acrylic painting. My mom's an art teacher, I still don't know anything about acrylics. I was like, I'm like, what paint should I buy? And she's like, Oh, you could do anything like you do this or this? There's like, one, just give me one, right. And I feel like that's where I've lacked in something like this. And I don't think this is even clickup specific. I think this is a lot of the different tech options available to us as entrepreneurs online. So if you were talking to someone who just opened their account, and they want to get organized in their business, they want to actually say, oh, yeah, I have SOPs like I can do that thing. And specifically, they want to be able to tie it to some more lead generating activity. So all of this organization isn't just for the sake of organization. Where would you point them first?
Kaci Ackerman 4:50
I would say first, I'm mastering the space folder list task idea of clickup. So click up immediately overwhelming because of that right there. So people open it and they're like, I don't even know how to get to the task that I want to complete today, like, how am I going to actually get anywhere you know. But then the other piece of it, especially if you have SOPs already in place, is utilizing clickup docks, which is a View feature where you can also put it in the sidebar now. Um, so like, I have a handbook, we, that's what we call it as an SOP handbook, and it has everything in there. And we're able to attach the SOP to the task at hand. So anybody that needs to complete, that task has instructions on how to do it, which all of these small things that I'm talking about in return, allow you to take on more revenue generating things or take on more lead generation type things in your business. Because that backend was kind of set up now that back end is where like, you know, your VA can go and open this task for you and have maybe even no questions at all, because that SOP is directly right there for her. And it's you know, set on a recurring task. So she can just close it, and then it will remind her to do it when it's you know, do again. But really establishing like, the understanding of how clickup works and how to navigate it is going to be really, really helpful in understanding the further of the features. So like understanding how to get to the task area, how to, I highly recommend everybody separate their clients versus their business through a space. So you don't have your business mixed in with your clients. That's a great piece of just like organization, right there. And then each of your clients has a folder of their own, so that you are not mixing and matching, you know, like different tasks. And then maybe some clients have the same task and you're like, well, which client is this for you? You kind of you don't want to have to have even think about it. Because where it comes in. And so having those organization pieces put into place and then having the SOPs kind of marry into that allows you as a business owner to start kind of stepping away from having to manage all that because clickup starts to actually manage it for you.
Britney Gardner 7:20
I love what you said towards the beginning is that once you have that handbook, as he called it, or you know, your instructions for how to do the task, basically, right? Once you have that in place, it gives you more space for lead generating activities, because that is what I spend a lot of time telling my clients to, if you get off the content creation, hamster wheel, if you don't have to constantly be creating more and more and more, and you're able to reuse things that you've already done, you now have that space to work directly with clients, or like, you know, go sit back and read a book at home like yeah, doesn't have to be lead generating, it could just be right, right? Yeah. But it but it all comes in putting that system in place, in my case, content creation and your case, actual, you know, systems. So you have that space to make that decision. Am I going to go spend that time generating leads? Am I going to go spend it working with a current client? Am I going to go and, you know, actually eat the proverbial bonbons.
Kaci Ackerman 8:17
Right, right, go take a bath and read a book.
Britney Gardner 8:20
I mean, we like to joke about it. But like, the reality is, if I had a little bit of extra space in my day, today, I would totally take a bath book. Right?
Kaci Ackerman 8:29
Right, I actually talked about this a lot of like, really honing in on what time means to you and like that freedom around it, especially because, you know, we all started our business to not work ourselves to death, I would assume and be you know, at our computer all the time. And one of those things too, is I always try to remember like, it doesn't have to be business related. When you get that time back in your week. You know, like, if you have the backend of your system, or the backend of your business established and set up and the systems in place. If that saving you five to eight hours a week, you don't have to put that back into your business, you could put it in volunteering at your kids school, or you know, like you said, taking a bath binging an entire show on Netflix. Like there's so many more things that you could do and it's just whatever is important to you, you know, whatever is important to how you want to live your life and how you want to live that like sense of freedom in your life.
Britney Gardner 9:28
I love how you touched on the fact that you know it doesn't have to be work. Like if you free up work time, it doesn't mean that you have to fill it with more Right, right. Yeah. But this is like I think people missed this point. Right? I talked about authentic automated marketing. And the reason I talk about it is when you have automated the repeated mindless tasks. When you've done that, then you have the space for lack of better word or just the reason The creative creative room to be more authentic, because you're no longer doing the mindless stuff that kind of pulls you out of like who you really are. And, and yeah, maybe that is to go volunteer at your kids school. Like that's a totally legitimate choice. Those are the kinds of things that I couldn't even think about when I felt like I had so much on my plate and I had so many things to do. And and now I've gotten my business to a place where you know, I do I homeschool our 10 year old, I spent a lot of time doing therapy with my little one, like this appointment here, this appointment there. And it's a lot of time in my week. And I, if you'd asked me five years ago, whether I would have time to do all those things I would have been like, You're kidding, right? No. But the reality is, I had to learn how to create that time. And but part of that, for me has been having systems, I don't feel like my systems are as good as they could be. You know what I mean? Like, there's always room for improvement. There always
Kaci Ackerman 10:55
is, including myself in my own business and my clients like, so that's one thing, too, I think everyone feels that way. So you're definitely not alone there. I think. And I also feel like your business is always evolving, always changing, which means your systems are always going to be potentially evolving or changing or needing to be updated. And so one thing that's really important is I have a yearly task to go through and actually review my SOPs, review my systems and make sure they're still working for my business, and not just sitting there collecting best. And you're back to doing those mindless tasks, you know, because they've changed so much.
Britney Gardner 11:35
That actually brings up a whole nother. Sorry, you're good. But that actually brings up a whole nother Good point, right. So in my business, I hired a podcast Production Manager almost a year ago, and my husband was still editing the audio of my podcast. And he's a perfectionist for lack of better term. He's a trained audio engineer he worked for over a decade and TV news, you know, like I'm so sorry. Oh, good. Haley, let's have all that okay.
Britney Gardner 12:24
Totally $1 On paper, okay. Yep, my husband's like a perfectionist audio editor. And when I hired part of out he was like, but I'm still editing your actual podcast, like no one can make you sound as good as I do. And you know, he's right. No one will make me sound as good as he does. Because one he knows all my little weird, like speaking quirks, but to like, he does take a lot of time to do it. And I love him. And since he's no longer at it on, like editing the show, he won't even hear this, which is fantastic. Because I fired him. But I fired him, not because I don't love the quality level, he was fantastic. But because he has his own full time job. And he's a parent, and we live in the same house. And, you know, often he was still editing the show, you know, on Sunday afternoon, even though it was going live on Monday morning, and it was stressing me out. And we couldn't do it. So we decided to hire the editing out. And I'm so happy with that decision. And also, along with that, we realized how many little things My husband was doing like he was, you know, yes, editing, but he was also uploading the audio, he was doing the ID three tags, like all these different little podcast things. And then when you plugged it into the blog post, which is how I publish, he would go and like change the link here and fine tune this. So it wasn't just oh, we're outsourcing the editing. Now I had to update all of those steps to publishing my weekly podcast along the way, things I had never even thought about because they just got done. And like when you're talking about reviewing your, your regular thing, we added a couple training videos for how to do that so that someone else could take over those tasks. But I actually have to go back now and basically recreate the entire podcast, publishing SOP, because there were things that have to get inserted at like a different level ay ay, ay, you know, three steps prior to this level that it just kind of happened. I had nothing to do with it. But now we have other people doing it. And right, I didn't even realize I was we just I had this was one small change, oh, I'm hiring an editor. But it was not one small change. It changed the entire process.
Kaci Ackerman 14:34
It does. And it's very interesting too, because as the business owner or even your husband, when you do a task so well and you know it like the back of your hand. You don't actually know what you're doing anymore. And so if you go to write that process on your own, there's going to be so many pieces just like not there because in your mind you're like well of course they know to do that because I did it this way or whatever. Um, so one of the processes that I implement with when I'm building SOPs is giving it to somebody to actually execute the task that has never even seen it before. And it's really helpful because then they will like tear it to pieces. And they're like, none of this makes sense. You like can't do this without doing this over here. And so it really allows us to go through the fine tooth comb and like, really build out and make sure that SOP is built. Because, you know, heaven forbid, your team member leaves. And I'm not even talking to emergency basis, I'm just saying, like, maybe they're done, maybe they're like, I don't want to do this anymore. I'm out, I don't want to do my business or whatever it may be. The last thing you want is to hire somebody. And then those SOPs while they worked for that person aren't going to work for your next person. And now you're at square one all over again. So it's really important to build an SOP for literally anybody, you know, not just to suffice the person on your team that may know your business pretty well already. So when they see an SOP from you, they may be like, oh, yeah, I know what all that means. Because I know Brittany's business or Casey's business, because I already know what she actually means by this, and I don't need to write it down. So anyway, I like using somebody though, that I like has nothing to do with the task. And then they can really come see come and see, like, oh, wait, we need to add these pieces.
Britney Gardner 16:31
So that leads me to an interesting question. So, you know, I had an established business established services. I had been doing them for a while before I started using click up, you know, last year, and like I said, I've been slowly moving more and more my business to it over over the last year. Is it easier to go in and create the SOP handbook that you've been talking about for an established business? Or is it easier to start someone from the ground up, like straight up from scratch?
Kaci Ackerman 17:01
Um, honestly, I would say they're equal, I don't think that one or the other would be hard. So really, before I moved my sop handbook into clickup, everything was on Google Drive. And so everything was there. I find Google Drive. Kind of annoying, though, because you have to open it and you have to go to like a folder, and then another folder, and then you've defined it just there's a lot of like steps you want to get to. Yeah, a lot of clicks, and honestly, um, sometimes that can actually become very distracting. And so you see, like, a different folder. And you're like, Oh, I totally forgot. I wanted to do that three weeks ago. Let me go take care of that. Yes, exactly. So, um, I transferred everything and honestly, so click up docs, you can look at it exactly like a Google doc literally the same way you can treat it the same way. Um, and so I literally had my VA copy and paste all of the SOPs that were in google drive over to click up, and we made our own little folders, you know, set up exactly how I want them the differences. There's no clicks, because click up allows you to view everything in one place. So if you're starting from scratch, or if you're moving things over, neither are difficult, you know, neither are like this huge, overwhelming task, I would say. You just got to do it.
Britney Gardner 18:25
So I mean, it works for everyone. The prerequisite is that you just are willing to sit down and actually
Kaci Ackerman 18:31
do it. Yes. Yeah, exactly. Which is maybe
Britney Gardner 18:35
a higher hurdle than some of us.
Kaci Ackerman 18:39
It is yes, it is. And, and I think two systems and SOPs and just like utilizing a project management tool, in general, can sometimes be feat makes the business owner feel like it's more work then what it's worth. And so I also talk about, you know, potentially outsourcing those pieces. Because as a business owner, we all know that what you and I are talking about is super important. We know that we know that we need them, we know that it would make our lives easier if we had them. But the difference is as a business owner and a CEO, we have so many things to get done. The last thing we want to do is spend time writing out how we're doing the things. So, so I do I do talk about you know, like, if you're in that situation, it may you may consider you know, outsourcing some of that or hiring a VA to help you build out those SOPs, you know, and you just do loom videos and they can go from there and stuff. And so, I do recommend that when you are a business owner, oftentimes see what happens as a business owner so you start your business and obviously you're in survival mode, you know, you're trying to just do everything that you need. You don't have money to outsource all that kind of stuff. But then I'm not kidding within a blink of an eye your business is like booming and you're like Like, Oh my gosh, I had no idea I would even be here. And now how am I supposed to handle all this that's happening? And it's super overwhelming. But when you first started your business, you never thought you'd even be there. You know? And so it's hard. It's hard to be like, Oh, well, I'm going to build systems for that, because I'll be there one day. Haha.
Britney Gardner 20:22
Well, and I mean, to a certain degree, I think certain things just happened to you in business, right? My whole shop system came about, because I was, I used to be part of an accountability group that met every Friday afternoon. And one of the other people in the group was just talking about how she was really struggling to show up online, right? And I was like, what's easy? You just do this, this and this? Dumb silence, right? Just was like pregnant pause. And no, really just you, you do the one thing and then you take little bits of it, and you put it here or here or there. And, and they all were just there are five people on the call that day, right? They were all looking at me like, yeah, you make it sound so easy. And I was like, all just like, let me just make a template for you real quick. And like, you know, and it was something that ended up becoming a big part of my business. And I based largely on how I actually do my podcast. And you can, you know, extrapolate that to having a video channel instead of a podcast channel or a blog instead of either of those. Right? That all came about. I never expected that to become a big part of my business. I was talking about the actual content strategy. This was just like the little system that you implemented, you know, along the way. Right. Right. Right. And I could not have foreseen that. After that call, maybe like few short, like three short months later, I would be launching it as a, you know, low level entry offer and that, you know, hundreds of people were going to be buying it in the next six months. I did not have the systems in place for that. Yeah, at all. Because, like you said, there was no moment where I was like, oh, yeah, this isn't my future. And the next year, it just happened. And it's been fantastic. But I had to grow and sometimes painful ways along the way with that.
Kaci Ackerman 22:06
Yeah. Yeah. And you definitely go through those growing stages of your business, don't you like, and they come at the weirdest times, like you said, like, it's just like, bizarre. I try to remind people, though, like, I like the sane of build systems for where you want to be not for where you are right now. And I think that is so important. And obviously, you don't always know where you want to be, or where you're going to end up in like, two years ago, I thought that I was going to do like this agency style model of my business. And I would like, throw up thinking about that now. Yeah, so it's just not me, it's I thought it was gonna be me, and it's not. So obviously things do change. But if you get the core of your business down, and the core of like, how you want to grow it, you can build those core systems in your business and have it set up for when you do you know, have a team, or if you decide to hire out podcasting, or if you decide do passive income, or course, think about those things and really think like, Could I see my business going in that direction? And then start to think about, okay, well, what do I need to make that successful? And that's where you start to, like, build those ideas of what kind of systems you're gonna need?
Britney Gardner 23:20
Yeah, I think that's a great place to kind of start wrapping this up. I like the idea of building your systems for where you want to be and, and, and with the knowledge that there's a good chance, your business is gonna shift along the way, and your systems will have to do so too. But if you at least have something to base it on, it's easier than hitting it, you know, with nothing, right?
Kaci Ackerman 23:41
Yeah, yeah. And then you're crying on the couch, because you have like 10 leads in your email, and you don't know what to do with them.
Britney Gardner 23:48
Yeah, and everyone who doesn't have 10 leads in the email right now, you're probably listening to this and going well, that would be a nice problem to have. But trust me, when you have that problem, and you don't have a way to serve them is not a fun situation.
Kaci Ackerman 24:00
No, it was me last year, last January, I was literally crying on my couch telling my husband, I don't know how I'm going to help these people. Because I unless I work all night and all day. Yeah. And yeah, so anyway, build a system for that.
Britney Gardner 24:19
What do you see? Thank you so much. If people listening to this, are hearing this, they're nodding along and they're saying, Yes, I definitely need some systems. No, I don't have time. Is there any way that you have to support them or any resources that you can point them to?
Kaci Ackerman 24:36
Yeah, I have free resources. On my website. There's four different ones that they can use. They're all very click up focused, but they definitely kind of give you that jumpstart of understanding the organization level. And also, like, getting just kind of in the groove of using clickup You know, so you can catch those on my website, Casey ackerman.com. Under the Free Resources tab
Britney Gardner 25:02
Perfect thank you so much
Kaci Ackerman 25:04
thank you so much it was such a pleasure being here today
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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