Never Been Promoted

STOP Thinking You Can’t Compete with Larger Firms with MerriLyn Gibbs

May 23, 2024 Thomas Helfrich Season 1 Episode 51
STOP Thinking You Can’t Compete with Larger Firms with MerriLyn Gibbs
Never Been Promoted
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Never Been Promoted
STOP Thinking You Can’t Compete with Larger Firms with MerriLyn Gibbs
May 23, 2024 Season 1 Episode 51
Thomas Helfrich

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Never Been Promoted Podcast with Thomas Helfrich

MerriLyn Gibbs’ professional journey took an unexpected turn from the fairways to the forefront of entrepreneurship. As the founder of Assistants 4 Hire, MerriLyn has adeptly transformed her expertise in sports into a thriving business that offers flexible, virtual assistance services. This episode delves into how personal life changes can catalyze a profound transformation in career direction, underscoring the adaptability and resilience inherent in successful entrepreneurs.


About MerriLyn Gibbs:

MerriLyn's career began with dreams of the LPGA, but life had other plans. After years as a Division 2 women's golf coach, the birth of her daughter prompted a career pivot that led her to founding Assistants 4 Hire. This transition was fueled by the realization that her skills as a coach—organization, team management, and strategic planning—were directly transferable to managing a virtual assistance firm. Now based in New York, MerriLyn's company provides comprehensive support services, allowing her to balance entrepreneurship with motherhood.


In this episode, Thomas and MerriLyn discuss:

  • Pivoting Your Career: How personal circumstances led MerriLyn from the greens of golf courses to the realm of virtual entrepreneurship.
  • Entrepreneurial Challenges: Insights into the struggles and successes of starting and scaling a business from scratch.
  • Balancing Professional and Personal Life: Strategies for managing a business while maintaining strong family ties.


Key Takeaways:

  • Adaptability in Career Paths

MerriLyn shares how adaptability has been crucial in her transition from sports to business, emphasizing the importance of being open to new opportunities and leveraging existing skills in new arenas.

  • Building a Business from Passion

Learn how MerriLyn's passion for coaching and strategic planning translated into a successful virtual assistance business, highlighting the potential to turn personal strengths into professional success.

  • Entrepreneurial Resilience

Discover the resilience needed to overcome setbacks and navigate the complexities of starting and growing a business, especially as a single parent in a competitive market like New York City.


"Turning challenges into opportunities is the essence of entrepreneurship. It's about making adjustments and moving forward, no matter the obstacles." — MerriLyn Gibbs


CONNECT WITH  MERRILYN GIBBS:


LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/merrilyn-gibbs-50283642/

Website: https://www.assistants4hire.net/


CONNECT WITH THOMAS:

X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/thelfrich | https://twitter.com/nevbeenpromoted 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hovienko | https://www.facebook.com/neverbeenpromoted 

Website: https://www.neverbeenpromoted.com/

Instagram:

Support the Show.

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Never Been Promoted Podcast with Thomas Helfrich

MerriLyn Gibbs’ professional journey took an unexpected turn from the fairways to the forefront of entrepreneurship. As the founder of Assistants 4 Hire, MerriLyn has adeptly transformed her expertise in sports into a thriving business that offers flexible, virtual assistance services. This episode delves into how personal life changes can catalyze a profound transformation in career direction, underscoring the adaptability and resilience inherent in successful entrepreneurs.


About MerriLyn Gibbs:

MerriLyn's career began with dreams of the LPGA, but life had other plans. After years as a Division 2 women's golf coach, the birth of her daughter prompted a career pivot that led her to founding Assistants 4 Hire. This transition was fueled by the realization that her skills as a coach—organization, team management, and strategic planning—were directly transferable to managing a virtual assistance firm. Now based in New York, MerriLyn's company provides comprehensive support services, allowing her to balance entrepreneurship with motherhood.


In this episode, Thomas and MerriLyn discuss:

  • Pivoting Your Career: How personal circumstances led MerriLyn from the greens of golf courses to the realm of virtual entrepreneurship.
  • Entrepreneurial Challenges: Insights into the struggles and successes of starting and scaling a business from scratch.
  • Balancing Professional and Personal Life: Strategies for managing a business while maintaining strong family ties.


Key Takeaways:

  • Adaptability in Career Paths

MerriLyn shares how adaptability has been crucial in her transition from sports to business, emphasizing the importance of being open to new opportunities and leveraging existing skills in new arenas.

  • Building a Business from Passion

Learn how MerriLyn's passion for coaching and strategic planning translated into a successful virtual assistance business, highlighting the potential to turn personal strengths into professional success.

  • Entrepreneurial Resilience

Discover the resilience needed to overcome setbacks and navigate the complexities of starting and growing a business, especially as a single parent in a competitive market like New York City.


"Turning challenges into opportunities is the essence of entrepreneurship. It's about making adjustments and moving forward, no matter the obstacles." — MerriLyn Gibbs


CONNECT WITH  MERRILYN GIBBS:


LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/merrilyn-gibbs-50283642/

Website: https://www.assistants4hire.net/


CONNECT WITH THOMAS:

X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/thelfrich | https://twitter.com/nevbeenpromoted 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hovienko | https://www.facebook.com/neverbeenpromoted 

Website: https://www.neverbeenpromoted.com/

Instagram:

Support the Show.

Serious about LinkedIn Lead Generation? Stop Guessing what to do on LinkedIn and ignite revenue from relevance with Instantly Relevant Lead System

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Welcome back to another episode of Never Been Promoted. Why? Because I've never been promoted. Hi. I'm your host, Thomas Helfrich. I am, an entrepreneur, and I have this mission to create all these entrepreneurs in the world, and I'm doing it through interviewing other entrepreneurs so they can learn and, from the mistakes and failures and success and all the good things in between, from other entrepreneurs. If this is your first time coming here, thanks for showing up. I hope you come back. If you've been here before, you rock. You're becoming some of my secretly favorite people without ever meeting you. Today, I'm gonna continue the journey with another founder, MerriLyn Gibbs. She is the, founder, head coach of Assistants 4 Hire. So, I I if I if I screwed that up at any way, you get to fully correct me now, MerriLyn. Nice to meet you.
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I I nailed it.
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Perfect. And that's our show for today, folks. Thanks for listening. Yeah. We're gonna play some ads next for the next hour. Just listen to it. Blood. No. I'm kidding. Do do do you wanna Merri, do you wanna just maybe set up a you know, give the backstory to yourself a little bit?
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Yeah. I mean, I I am an entrepreneur that never expected to be an entrepreneur. I think that's the best way to say it. I started my career in golf. I wanted to be a professional golfer. I wanted to play on the LPGA. I spent a couple years pursuing that, and it didn't work out for me. And so I my backup plan was to be a golf coach. I spent 13 years as a division 2 women's golf coach right outside of Pittsburgh at a little state college called California University of Pennsylvania, not to be confused with the state of California. And, fun fact about that, George Washington actually named the town of California, Pennsylvania during the revolutionary war way before the state. So just, we I had to say that all the time. People are like, where is California, Pennsylvania? There you go. So really enjoyed my journey as a coach. I spent a lot of years honing my practice, enjoyed that a lot. And then a little turn of my life happened. I became pregnant with my daughter and realized I did not plan on spending 6 months of the year away from her, as I raised her. So went to a career coach, tried to figure out what transferable skills a golf coach might have in the real world, and I thought there were none. And he convinced me that there were actually many. Long story short, really realized the only way I could stay home with my daughter was becoming my own boss and owning a company that I could work anywhere that there was Wi Fi allowed, meaning from home or wherever we might be traveling. So I started a virtual assistance company. I moved to New York from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a 16 month old baby. I moved here so that she could be with her father and we could have joint although I still was a single mother and starting a brand new business in a very new city for me. A lot.
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Let's let's focus on the important things that would benefit me and other listener. Okay? Let's do that. 1st and foremost, what's your number one golf tip? Just for anyone.
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Number one golf tip is that no matter who you are, what your athletic ability is, how long you've ever played any kind of sport, you're going to suck when you start golfing. This is good to keep in mind so that you understand that it is a hard sport and you're very patient with the sport. Handicap.
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I don't get a play. I play 6 times a year. I can still keep it in the seventies. So I've got the fundamentals down. I eliminate I eliminate half the course. It's easy. That's amazing, Thomas. You know, either pick left or right and make it come back the other way. It's that simple.
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Okay.
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I mean, he is exception to all that that tip I just gave everybody. I took a year of my life in my twenties after the kind of dotcom boom, and just I lived to the PGA Tour. I picked golf balls at the Congressional Country Club and got to learn from the head pro there and then a couple tour pros that it, to tour pro catch, teachers that would come through with their tour pro. So I I just took a year in my twenties and went from, like, not being able to break 80 to be able to break 70. And, for 6 month was putting only. That's all I was allowed to do. It's So for 6 month.
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And that's why you're good. Yes. So we're gonna go play.
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Maybe No. You'll draw me. You'll, like, you, I'll boogie 1, your birdie, and and I'll lose by 3 or 4 because then I'll I so so I'm the best scramble player you can have because I can hit still pretty good, but but it won't matter the 9 I'll get on the hole on one hole. So, like, okay. That will be executed by the person who hits it. Perfect. I'll that that Yes. Anyway, alright. Golf has so many metaphors for life. You know? And for for entrepreneurship too because it was probably it was a passion of yours, I'm sure, as a kid or in in young adult. And people ruined some of their passions by making a job out of it. The the fact that you don't sound angry about golf is like you're the 1st golf teacher or profession teaching professional who who clearly exited before you got to the anger stage of your golf career. So congratulations. You still can play.
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Thank you. I still play. I actually got my amateur status back a year and a half ago and started playing, in the Metropolitan Golf Association last year and won my first tournament back after a 12 year hiatus. I had it a, like, was it a blowout? It was really fun. It wasn't a blowout. I won by 2 strokes. Publinks, I I am the current
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Metropolitan Golf Association. Now are you doing the, the national stuff too?
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And then I did, I did the USGA MidAm qualifier last year. Didn't qualify, and I'll do it again. But my real goal was just to compete locally again. You know? I still have an 8 year old daughter. I gotta be around,
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you know, to introduce yourself. There's her d two school minimum paid for. D one, if you really can coach her well. So if there's anyone you're gonna coach, it's gonna be her because that is, like, an investment of investment of not paying college later right there. Well, it's I can't teach her. I don't know who can. I was a coach for 12
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I don't know who can. I was a coach for 12 years. It will be a dozen Well, it's only because she's your own daughter, and I will be allowed to. So, alright. So let's so
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It it is. So I have I have kids who, you know, are a very good racquetball player growing up. Right? And and, like, no one's interested in that. I get it. But I'm an okay golf amateur golf instructor. Like, you know, I I can I know the fundamentals and the physic and, like, I know them really well? And so but my kids won't listen to a word I say about anything. So it's like, you know, I will not I'm not paying the golf. I'm not paying the commercial rate. You're just not gonna play golf. Not have it. Alright. So let's go back. Let's come back here. So Yep. You have this career, and I think a lot of people go through this. They have a career. They love it. There's you know, I'm sure there's always, like, what else can I do in life? And everyone has those days, but you're you're thrown into it for for really good reasons. Career coach, you get to the the virtual assistants for hire. Right? Tell me about kind of, like, how you landed. I know you how you landed on it from, like, just the the the dynamics of it, but you still have to land on that and then go execute. So tell me, like, the first kinda getting going.
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Yeah. I mean, first of all, I had to be convinced that there were compatible skills here. And and how that really worked was he's like, okay. You were you recruited people, so you did sales. I'm like, oh, yeah. I did. You had to do fundraising for your own events and write newsletters and stuff to get people to pay for your fundraisers. I'm like, oh, yeah. I did. You ran events all the time like NCAA division 2 championships. I'm like, oh, yeah. I did. You had to coordinate people's schedules all the time. Like, yeah, 16 of them. Oh, yep. I've got some pretty good organization skills and some yeah. And and I had to create practices. So it was kind of like, oh, all of these things really could transfer into me managing people's schedules, managing their lives, writing newsletters and blogs for them. I'm actually a pretty good writer. So that's where it started, just recognizing I have the skill sets to do this job. And then I got the best advice I've ever gotten from anyone. It was from a good friend of mine. Her name is Angela Levitt. She actually owns her own company called Magenta What color is her logo? Over in NBA. Go. I know. Right? She might be. She might be as future guest. Who knows? Thomas? So, she said to me and she's a digital marketing company. She said, MerriLyn, you can do all you want on your website and digital marketing and everything, and your lead time is probably somewhere between 10 12 months before you're gonna really get any traction. But if you go to a networking event tonight, you could have a new client by tomorrow. And then she said, and when you go, put away your business cards. Meaning, really start talking to people. And so I did it. I made a goal of meeting 1,000 people in the 1st year in New York City, either through networking or one to ones or vice versa, and I absolutely did it. I went to, I made the goal of going to 2 live events a week and at least having 5 to 6 one on ones a week on top of that. And by the end of the year, I think I had 1200 people on LinkedIn that I actually knew. I could say I knew them, I met them, and where I met them. And it it really was kind of the key to success for me. And it it's still really my number one practice in building my business is networking. And now I hold events, and it's it's really
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I really love the building the relationship aspect. Yeah. And you're you're, you know, it's somebody who does tons of online interactions. I mean, I do 6 to 6 to 12 a day. Right? Depends depends if I do podcast or not. But, the, the in person piece, even even I know my own journey is, every time I've traveled for my own company, meaning I've made the investment to go to some conference or present or it's always led to business. It's always been ROI positive. And, but it's it's an effort. Right? Like, to get out, to get, you know, to to hate you know, if, you know, watch your kids something, Get out and go do a live event. It is work, especially after COVID where it's become so easy to just be online. Yeah. It's, I I think I was saying before, you know, I'm presenting a 1,000,000 cups. I got to go drive 2 hours to get there south, you know, and it's like, oh my god. And 2 hours back. But I'm like, alright. You know what? I'm gonna go meet 30 new people who are in the space. Something good will come out of it. As long as I don't die in a fiery crash on the way you're there or back, should be fine. Well, I'm gonna definitely do an audio book. That's the problem. It's all like yeah. Yeah. I'll make sure I'll be in Florida because I'll I'll I'll miss my exit, and I'll be like, oh, that was a good book. Honey, I'm in Florida. I'm just gonna stay down here for a couple days. I'm in Georgia, if you guys don't know that south. Okay. So, anyway, you're you're right. So in person events, but but more importantly, I think just higher level, you had a plan. And and you if you say, listen, I'm not if someone's out there like, I don't want to do local. I'm a small town. Whatever. Then then just make sure you meet 10 people new a day on LinkedIn. You a lot of people say, I don't want to meet, which is always interesting to me when you you offer to, you know, meet your connections, and they just don't want to. They don't find I just reconnect with them. I'm like, oh, then I don't see the point of being a first connection. So the point it's like, if you won't take 15 minutes to meet a first connection you know?
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And I'm gonna I'm gonna do a testimonial here on you on this for you, Thomas, because I actually reached out to you. We had a mutual connection, and you liked a comment on this mutual connection. I did a post about her. And you sent me a direct message, and you said, hey.
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Yeah. You seem cool. Let's talk. And that's how this led to me being on your podcast. Exactly. It was 15 minute conversation and just, like, it's enough to say, hey. That sounds cool. Would you like to talk about it more? And that's the point. Like, you actually it's but it's work, and I and I don't mean it a negative thing, but, like, you have to have a plan, and you have to actually go execute it. And and I think if you can mix a mix of scaling digital connections or I think in your case, actually, I think it's more ideal is developing the 1200, let's say, that you knew even further digitally, which gives you some scale. And then you're making sure that you're you're, you know, you know, you said you're doing your own events. I'm gonna ask you about that here in a second. But you're getting the additional, hey, Bob. I don't know. I'm just gonna throw in a name. And you go meet them at an event, and they're there with somebody else. Like, you gotta meet, you know, MerriLyn. Like, that is awesome. I think that's the way to go. And I think that's the takeaway for entrepreneurs is is find a plan and actually execute it with sincerity, and and you'll move some direction. A mix between live and digital is certainly encouraged. No doubt. Tell about the ones you're hosting, though. So that's a pivot because that's definitely a different model.
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Yeah. So I kind of have this moment where I was looking at my clientele last fall, and I realized that 30% of my clientele are now attorneys. And there aren't a lot of attorney events here in New York City, believe it or not. And there are something like 6 over 6,000 attorneys in New York City. So I was talking to a friend of mine, and I'm like, you know, they we agreed. We both wanted to kind of reach out to this demographic more, and we realized that they could mutually benefit by knowing other attorneys. If you don't know this about attorneys, at least here in New York, they get most of their business from other attorneys. So it's like a win win for everybody. And so we launched Its Legal. Michael Oberthur is my partner in crime in this little venture, and we just had our second event last week. It's gonna be a quarterly event. We have about 40 attorneys in the room. We host it at a local bar. If you're in town, you wanna meet some New York attorneys,
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check it out. It's all over my social media. That's a good point. So I think when you can bring groups together that have nothing to you're not selling like, listen. I just host an attorney event. I have these and you're you're the host. You could say, hey. Listen. Obviously, we're we're assistants. They do this. Like, you have your own plug at the beginning. People know what you're doing. They appreciate you putting it on the event. And, you know, you're not selling anybody there. They just they know what you do. And if they have I I had to guess when people need your services and they know you, they just they ask, hey. Can you can you can you help with this problem? So it comes up. Right?
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Right. Yep. Yeah. And that's exactly how it goes. Does your company Even if you don't, you say yes. Yes. Yep.
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That's right. We will, I will actually hire someone, which we have done. I run a marketing company as well. Absolutely. We do need to ask for you.
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Absolutely. Yep. I I didn't have no. We were doing that. I said yes, and then I hired somebody who could do it.
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Absolutely. Do you need 2 of those? Sure. I've gotten good at it where I'm like now. Yeah. Really limited availability. So tell me about what, you know, you kinda do, your budgets. Because now am I gonna make the effort here and you tell me you have $200 a month? No. I don't think we do that. So tell me about your business. So there's a lot of ways to do virtual assistance. There's there's, you know, India. There's Philippines. There's US based. There's AI. There's so tell me about kinda what you what how how you've modeled it and why it works.
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Okay. So I have hired, assistance with specific skill sets. So we do a team model. You actually, when you contract with my company, you contract with me, me as the company, and then we create a scope. It's a monthly retainer scope, and we create the deliverables. And how do we do that? Because I have a team of virtual assistants with specific skill sets. So for instance, we work in 5 buckets, digital marketing, content creation, business assistance, lead generation, and daily assistance, which is kind of your traditional, we handle your schedule, we respond to your emails, we handle your CRM, all of those daily things. I have hired a copywriter, a graphic designer, a business VA who has who was the 13 she she worked in Dubai as a business maker for 13 years, a editor. You get the picture. So I have created these models that there is an expert in all of these areas that we create deliverables for. Then we assign a lead on your account. We make sure that a regular call is part of your contract, whether that's once a month minimum or once a week maximum. And they become the project manager to make sure that the whole team is working to create the deliverables you want. They're all boutique kind of catered to your needs. You're the business owner. You tell us what you want. We create our own procedures, manuals, and our processes. And then we our point our hope is that we talk to you at our on our regular call, and then you send us an email with approval. And if everything in between, we take care of that. Point something out. So so so MerriLyn and I would be, I think, on paper competitors.
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And and and and I I love her for the family. In fact, that she'll come on another person's show and talk and I and I'll I'll do the same. I think all you know, anybody who will do networking, and I wanna take this is a point for entrepreneurs. Work with other people in your industry. There are plenty of there's plenty of business out there. There's plenty of people you should work with. She lists 10 things that we don't do. I have 10 things that she doesn't do. And there's overlap for sure. But but it doesn't matter because if you're out there kind of all trying to help each other get better, you know, you're going to all succeed better because you're getting a lot of New York clients and things like that. What would somebody else in Atlanta might be like? I want to work someone local. The point is only if you kind of help each other and help people, even you're saying you're going to learn stuff from them. You're going to have better connections. You never know what things are going to happen in life where that person might need something from you. You might be able to help some from them. And I love the fact you still came on and did that. I have people that I've invited to come on the show that will have leaving today specifically said, I won't come on and train other competitors. And I was like, How outdated are you? Like, I was like, You've been running a company for 32 years. I go, You think one conversation on a on a podcast can can create a competitor, and you're worried about that? I was like, like, I think you have different problems if actually, so so I I love that you did this because how you're doing it is different than how we do it. And I think the point being is you can have a lot of business models out there that are similar to others. But if you find your way to do it that drives value, you've got what you need to be successful, really. If you're if you're not putting thought into it or you're not really trying to do your own thing, and I love that you have your own way. You've said, listen. I'm experts in buckets. We're gonna go do this, and we're gonna have deliverables. And, and I'm sure and how you describe it, I'm sure the client experience is excellent. But it's just a small thank you for just sharing, like, what you're doing. It's great.
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Absolutely. And, Thomas, I when I walked into this business world and I heard about all these exclusivities, exclusivities, it did not make sense to me, and I'll tell you why. I come from a competitive athletic background. And the only way you become better as an athlete is if you have competitors that are better than you. So I don't understand the let's be exclusive. My idea
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is the better you are, the better I'm gonna strive to be. The better I'm gonna strive to be, the better you are. That's right. Well and and usually, like, I mean, golf as analogy. Right? You might play with somebody who does hits the ball a little longer than you. You can can curve the ball more than you can. You're like, yeah. I might be on the green quarter, but one less shot per round than that person, but I make 2 more putts in a round than they do. And so so it's like their game on paper looks so much better, but I know I can out putt that person all day long. And and you're like, and we're gonna have really close matches because of it because they may do really well. And that metaphor being they may suck at closing. They may suck at delivery. They may be really good delivery, cannot close a deal to save their life. But if you can do your own game, you'll be competitive right there along long long way.
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And if you wanna use the same analogy,
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the person who can compete with you is a lot more fun to play with than the one that you Unless you're getting a lot of cash and that person's run their mouth and they they that's Then then then that person's gonna beat you. I mean, there are people like that in their mouth and empty, but they have money in your life. I will take your money from you. Run it for me. Hours. What do you think the biggest challenge was in starting them? Like, what what was the one thing you had to overcome and you really struggled to do so?
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I mean, this is it's actually very easy, but not easy. I I was a single mom with a 16 old 16 month old baby. I used every penny I had in selling a house and bringing my life to New York City and starting fresh on 1 year of rent. And I didn't know anyone in the city besides the father of my child. So it was excruciatingly challenging to start a business from scratch, have no income, no support systems, and and really having to navigate what it meant to even own a business and start a business and run a business, I didn't know what I was doing. I went to lots of there's a there's a free entity service here called SCORE in New York City, and they run all of these kind of free business seminars. Every day I didn't have my daughter and there was a seminar, I went to it. Whether that was what you should do for your website, to how do you network, to how do you run QuickBooks. Like, I had to learn everything, and a lot of YouTubing in the middle of the night to self teach myself,
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mostly different CRM platforms. Didn't know you didn't even know what to do. Idea what to do. You find that out and you're free. You're like, I don't even need a CRM, really. I still don't have one.
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We do a lot of CRMs for our clients, so it is very helpful. Which recommendation? I used the question to ask. What What's your Yeah. Recommend? My favorite for small businesses is actually HubSpot. And the reason being is because it has a lot of functionality in the free version. And then as you move and grow with your business and scale, then your functionality moves up. And, obviously, that's when you start paying. But I think you can get a lot and bang for your bunk buck with the free service, and then it lets you grow with your business to give you more and more. And then you don't have to switch platforms, and you kind of have this this really nice foundation
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even if you're not ready for We did not go that route because I saw the end game of cost. I'm like, yeah. I'm gonna need to hire somebody also to run that when I'm done. So we're going high. We we're doing go high level. Only thing go high level is missing, I think, is a community platform, which I think they should add. If they do, then they'll be in good shape. But from in entrepreneurs, I don't think dive into CRM right away, honestly. Grab people's emails, put it in a Mailchimp, figure out what's going to do with it later.
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I actually do a little different of a pro I actually do a seminar called, the CRM you never knew you had, And I teach people how to use their Google or their Outlook. Google Sheets or, like, the the Google,
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like like, labeling in their emails and everything? Mhmm. Yep. Like, making sure that you just hover over the person's name and add That delay though, by the way, bugs me. It should be faster. Like, it it drives me nuts. It's like, and it is like a second before it pops up. And I'm like, can you just but I also say, why can't every time I reply, you need to know to add them in? Like, do I have to do this every time? Like, this seems ridiculous. And, you know, honestly, if I use Google to figure that out, it's probably there. Yeah. I know. But but then, you know, Anyway but that's a great advice. I but, when I coach some people, as well, I I say, you know, you know, I'll save you half of what you're probably gonna spend in a year in technology by me telling you not to buy it and what else to use. So it's like I I will because you're definitely gonna buy a CRM if you don't meet with me. You're definitely gonna go chase 4 or 5 shiny objects. Like, I'm gonna save you on all that. Don't do that. Mhmm. So, the the email one is a really good first start. And Zapier's incredibly cheap or free, and you can load up a, you know, Google Sheet based on a label as well. There's a lot of cool things you can do for very little that you don't need to do full on stuff with. So that's great. Yes.
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Yeah. We're But there's no reason to spend money right here. This is Otherwise, I agree. For Mike.
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And and and I think a good takeaway for any entrepreneur, I and I I would assume you'd agree with this. You have to look at when you add a technology, if someone's not there to run it, even if it's an automation, you're you're adding just more work for yourself, believe it or not. And so it'll help you, but things that are bigger like Salesforce or CRMs or, what's another good one example? Yeah. Like, keep or but but or even, like, a different technology completely. Like, even like a Mailchimp, let's say, like that. You need someone lined up to it to run things through it. And and you can do it, but it just sucks away time from you. So know if you're gonna have something, you have to you have to put time to it. Otherwise, it doesn't there's no reason to spend the money on it. Looking forward Yeah. Where where's your business gonna go, and and what how are you thinking about it?
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Yeah. That is a great I already know. So our goal is to have a 175 clients. Like, per month or just total? Where I'd like to be. Per month. Total per we're on a monthly retainer contract, so I'd like a 175 consistent clientele. I'd like to probably max it out around 200, because I've only got about 15 years left before I wanna retire. So I'm not really going for, like, you know, the 30 year plan here. But wanna build it up to 175, 200, have 5 managers in place for each one of those buckets that we're looking at, and have anywhere between 3 5 team members, running those areas to be able to service our clientele. So looking at about, 25 team members and about a 175 clients is really So we're how are close are you to the goal? Next 5 years. I am probably at 30 percent of that goal right now. What's the, kind of average customer
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lifetime value for you guys?
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We've been in business for almost 7 years, and I have 2 clients have been with me for over 5. So,
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most of our clients right now are between the year and a half to 2 months. Your lifetime value is very good for them. That's good. Once you close them, they stay. And the reason I ask just from a, like, a a lot of quite people come on how you keep clients long term. So are you guys doing it on service? Do you do it somewhat on price? What's kind of the formula to keep them a year and a half?
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So number 1, I really believe in strategy. So we start with a consult call to create a strategy, and then we do I actually offer that as a value add at the year mark. I offer them another strategy call if we haven't changed their strategy within that year. But because we're having these consistent calls with our clients, strategy changes all the time. Like, we'll say, you know what? We tried this way of marketing. Let's just say, we tried the demographic of attorneys for the last two quarters. We did all of our blogs about attorneys. We use that as our target on audience. We did all of our hashtags and our SEOs and our meta descriptions all on this. Didn't work. Okay. So what's the number 1 to number 2 clientele that we wanna go after? Let's go try that. Right? And what do we need to do that? And what are the questions we need to answer? So that's just a digital marketing aspect, but we do the same thing with processes and procedures. I mean, I'm revamping an attorney's, letter of agreement proposal process right now because it's just not streamlined. So we're revamping it. He's been with me for, you know, about a year. So constantly creating strategy, creating more value of what we do, making their lives simpler. And then I am a huge advocate for nurturing relationships. So my personal goal is that I meet with at least one client in person each month no matter where they are. I try to get through all my clients in a year if I possibly can. That's not gonna happen when I have a 175. I understand. But that's also why I have events like it's legal. I like I told you, 30% of my clients are attorneys. So when I have that event Yeah. I have 10 clients in the room. You're up. So I get to spend it once. So I do things like that. If I have a big demographic in an area like New Jersey and they're kind of all buys them altogether, I'll say, hey. Let's have a lunch, and I'll invite 4 or 5 at a time. But I really make sure that I am doing that. I wanna have I want eye to eye conversations.
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Just Yeah. Build keeping that relationship with clients. Find that it depends on kind of services. We we we personally do, and I don't know kinda how ours are very strategy, but high touch as well. And I find that I get around 25, and and it's a really good you know, we we charge, you know, a few $1,000 a month, right, because of the plan. But it's sometimes hard to get past 25. And I see this in other business, 25, 30 customers. And and what we've been doing is is diversifying our offering a bit downstream to to somebody you can afford, like, a digital product and and stuff. Have you faced the same type of thing where you got stuck at a certain because I see this in all kinds of industries just beyond marketing. I see it on even our own. People get around 20 or so, and they have a tough time growing a client base because they're probably too far involved in it is what happens. But have you gotten that number ever stuck? You're like, man, I cannot grow past this. And and how did you break through?
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I I'm right there. I feel like you already know my business. I'm at 25 right now, and I've been there for about a year. And so what I've been doing, what my my goal and plan was to get myself kind of out of doing the business work and getting myself on the outside so I could spend a lot more time with business development and sales. So I spent the majority of last year hiring a manager, an assistant manager, creating new procedures, getting them on track so that they're really doing the day to day. And I'm hoping that, 1, now we have bandwidth to take on more clientele. For sure, they can they can now train people underneath them. They can manage them. I don't have to be part of that process anymore because they're ready to go. And number 2, I have a lot more time for business development. I can and that's honestly my favorite part of the job is, I love people. I love talking to people. I love going to these events. I love getting to know my clients more. I love visiting them, you know, and and jumping in on a call and, like, you know, I just did a LinkedIn reboot for a client because he's been with us for about 2 years, and, like, it's time for us to revamp your LinkedIn. And that's just really fun for me to just come back in and say, hey. What's going on? And let's see what we've done and how we can do it better. And it's really And that 25 number, by the way, is is real. I mean, like, I see this across several of our customers no matter what the industry is, and it just it's an indicator that your,
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your your gravitas is the main reason for sale of the services as they trust you, and it's in. And and the trick becomes keeping up with the you know, if you're building a mountain of pebbles, a pebble's always dropping out the bottom while you're trying to add one. And so, I I know personally I've been through where you are where we've broken through somewhat of it, and and there's a few ways we did. And one was all operations day to day from day 1 were not me. This business would not happen if I had to deliver anything. It was it's a 100% I had to be out of it. So we've got those same thing you're doing. Standardize your processes. We have a, you know, I have a consultant that's working through our sales processes because we don't we don't do any email marketing. We don't do any CRM. We're just in the moment people needs, and we have a good great list of people we've talked to and met with. But I don't market to them because I'm just like, I just don't have time, honestly. And so we and we don't wanna use do it wrong. So that scaling that you're describing with the operations and sales, and you're gonna be in the next part where, you know, now I do a 160 sales meetings a month. Now I'm like, how can I just become a closer? So so you can you start training these roles. Like, hey. Can I get someone else to do all these meetings that can do but then I'm like, I really like the 15 minute meetings that I meet with people because I'm building a network? So there's a there's a trade off. And if you really like the networking part, it's gonna be a hard cycle. Anyone listening to it, it's gonna be a hard cycle to break. It just depends on what you want. If you just if you'd like to have if you're okay having 25, 30 clients and you can have a great life and save, then be happy with that. But if you wanna get to the 175, you'll have to change the nature which you get to do every day. I know. I I mean, it's isn't that that's the evolution of the 7 years I've already been here is
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what I did on day 1 is very different than what I do. Rewind a year, it's probably different.
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I know, like, go back 2 months. And a month, our channel's almost at 600,000 subscribers, right, on YouTube in in a month. And now I'm like, thank you. Yeah. So when you and I talked, it was, like, a 150 people, originally. And now it's almost 600,000 here in in March 12th. Right? And I look now like, well, I have a marketing company, but if I have, let's say, a 1,000,000 plus subscribers and I have something I can give to them that they'd love for a dollar a month. That fundamentally changes what I might be doing a year for. And and and it really like, now I'm like but I really like my marketing company. But it changes it really does. It changes where it's like, oh, wow. There's there's a real opportunity there. If you sold 10% of what your audience was a dollar a month something, maybe it's a lot. Who knows what it is? My head right now is going, well, that recurring revenue is a lot easier to deliver, a lot less people needed, and I have a lot more fun with it. And and so as you're an entrepreneur, you go through these. You're like, wow. That's I don't even have the book out yet. So it's kinda like, where does this go? And, and and as an entrepreneur, you're gonna be faced with that, and and you'll you'll spot your moments when, like, I need to pivot. And and and for me personally, in this moment right now, March 12, 20 24, I'm like, I think a lot of my attention's gonna pivot to the Never Been Promoted brand because I love helping other entrepreneurs. I really do. And, my attention's I can see it pulling drawn there already. So so it's funny.
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I think I I'm gonna just also comment on that because I think this is really important. I think key one of the keys to being a great entrepreneur, and what I've seen in in my mentors is the ability to pivot. And we're constantly having to evolve and change and understand what our clients' needs are and how can we create more services and what can we do in a different way, to make it better and scale and grow? And if we don't have that capacity, we'll become stagnant, and we won't, we won't be able to do this. Entrepreneurial ADD
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is it's such a hard thing to manage because I always I ask this question often to people. Did you ever play a game called SimCity growing up? K. My my favorite games ever. Yes, sir. I still play it now as old as it is. Just since I'll get bored, and I'll fire it up because it's a game you can walk away from. Right? Now there's 2 types of players, though. There's those who love building the city and love seeing it grow, and they try all kinds of stuff, and they, you know and then once it gets to, like, a functional running state, they do 1 or 2 things. They they ruin it just to experiment, or they go to another city and start building another one and forget about the other one. The other type are they really operationalize the hell out of it, and they really just keep it running super efficient. What kind of player were you in SimCity? You wrecked it. I think you already know the answer. 100% wrecked it. What's what's your guess? I'm kidding. You are an operational person. So yes. No. So I so I'm kidding because I mine is awesome. Let's go build another one. Yours is no. Let's operationalize it. And this is why this is your strength. If we were playing golf, I hit it long. You putt well there. Right? Like, we have different strengths. Like, that would be your strength. As you execute, you can do it. And I truly believe you'll get to a 175. I know myself, that's harder because I'm always like, what's the next thing? So and so
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Oh, I'm like, I just keep on building. How can I make this better? I'm not gonna destroy something I already spent all of this stuff. Go through the first day in the apartment in New York. I mean, now what? No. I tell people all the time. They're like, are you gonna are you what will happen if your business fails? I'm like, I'm gonna be a golf coach again. I'm not gonna live in New York City. I'll tell you that. Another business.
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Do you feel like, do you feel like New York City provide I mean, I know the personal reasons, but and and sometimes your location matters. Obviously, the the, you know, you can go live you you wouldn't go live in, let's say, you know, Philippines or Nicaragua or some, like, lower cost beautiful place to go live. Maybe you would, but I don't but with the kid, it's harder. But do you find that the city do you take advantage of the city in the, you know, the premium you pay for location as part of it?
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Yeah. It it's really and this is such an interesting question because anybody who's looked into virtual assistants has seen price points all around the map. I mean, you can you can. I've heard of VA companies that say they will give you a VA for $10 an hour, as many hours as you want up to 40 hours. I've heard of VA companies that won't even start talking to you until you have a 2, 2,000 a week commitment. So you go all the way around the spectrum, and we are we are a US based company. Our prices are we're we're never gonna be able to give you $10 an hour. I mean, I pay everyone on my team a living wage based off of New York City rates no matter where they live. So if they're in North Carolina, they're still getting paid a New York living wage. So I can't start at that, and our prices do tend to be higher. But what I have found with just saying that, one, we're headquartered in New York, we already get a little bit more validity from that. Like, oh, it's almost like disrespect, which I agree with. I made it in New York City. That means I can make it anywhere. Right? Like like, I I am I am a little bit of a cut above the rest. Right? That's kind of the the mindset that comes into that play. And 2, it's it's a little bit easier to sell a bit of a higher price. Right? Because they recognize just to be able to operate here in the city. For me to pay my rent, and pay my bills, I'm gonna have to charge a little bit higher. Yeah.
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It's Eric. So our so our model, by the way, we don't we don't do VA work, but we do, we certify all our engagement specialists, how they actually work on the social media. So we actually have training and testing, but we do everyone out of the Philippines. And I looked at a lot of different cost centers, being being, you know, having a slight outsourcing background from outsourcing and or technology. And and I and I tell you, like, I wouldn't go though into the same clients you would and and say, hey. We're gonna go charge, you know, 50 an hour for a VA. And they, you know, and and say they're out of Philippines, you just you couldn't sell even though they might be the best damn VAs in the world, you can't sell that because people are like, hey. I I can just in their mind, I can go to Fiverr Upwork. Well, you can't. But you you can't go to Fiverr Upwork and find a really good VA. It's it'd be it'd be you can, but it would be so hard. And and and the fact that you said, hey. I'm gonna go find really good people and drive value is what I like about that. That's that's what's amazing because you you can charge a premium for value always, and there's people who will pay it, who who don't care about if it's $10 an hour, 50 or whatever it'll be, they don't that doesn't what matters is the outcome because the outcome's, you know, 500 an hour if you do it right. Yep. So whatever it is. So that that's what they're worried about. And and that that may be in the lesson for the entrepreneur. Like, you focus on value unless so you compete on price because if you're racing to the bottom on price, you're gonna be out. I I I I've even said to people when they bring this up, I'm like, those aren't even, like I don't even consider that my competition. They're very different categories. They do very different things. Exactly.
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They're not creating, a project manager for the team. They're not implementing strategy. They're not writing their own procedures manuals. They're not giving you experts in 5 to 7 different areas that's working together to create a deliverable for you. Right? Like, if you just have one person assigned, they may have some great skill sets. And if you can figure out how to manage those skill sets and really use them to your ability, then you are a great manager. But what I've realized is most of our clients are not in a they're not in the business of project managing someone, and they're not necessarily great managers. So I just take that off their plate for them and do it for them. Number one way, LinkedIn. If you can spell my name correctly, you will find me, MerriLyn Gibbs. You can also find us at Assistants 4 Hire. That's the letter, the number 4, not f o r. It's actually the number 4, Assistants 4 Hire. We're on LinkedIn. We are on the web. We are all over social media. So just Google us, and you'll find us.
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Right. And, your your name is MerriLyn.
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Good job. Yep.
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22 beats skips. That's right. So, you you'll fire. So assistance for hire, thank you so much for coming out. A lot of fun, Thomas. I'm so glad you asked. In our
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I was nervous. A few minute call, the one time we met, and here we are.
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Right? And and I I was I was nervous. I mean, I'm talking to a big New York City firm here.
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It's intimidating. You. I appreciate that. Right? Georgia. That's right.
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Just work out of our basements. You guys don't have basements or you can work out of them. You just don't. They're the they're the the letter number. In the basement, you certainly don't tell anybody. You have a letter on your apartment. It's it's 101 a or b. Anybody who made it this far in the show, thank you so much. I always award dad points, and you might think it's hokey and stupid, but that's who I am. And if you could figure out where to spend them, you've solved the world mystery because you can't spend them anywhere. That's what dad points are. I do mean it very sincerely, anyone who's made it this far in the show. I I I I the support and how the show has already grown so quickly, it humbles me. And I appreciate your time, MerriLyn, for coming on. Yep. It was fun. Thanks, everybody, for listening. Yep. Anybody's, you know, like like to tell their story, just go to neverbeenpromoted.com, and and there's there should be a link there at some point when you hear this. Right now, it's just a podcast link as of March 2024. But as soon as you go there and listen to it, it could be up. The site could actually be out. We'll see. Until next time, go out there. You know, unleash your entrepreneur. Thank you so much for listening to the Never Been Promoted podcast.



Entrepreneurial Journey Through Golf
Networking and Building Business Relationships
Overcoming Challenges in Business Startup
Entrepreneurial Strategies and Growth Goals
Evolution of Entrepreneurship and Value
Never Been Promoted Podcast Launch