Entrepreneurs will be the first to admit that their journey was motivated by the promise of the freedom to work on their passion full time. While entrepreneurship comes with a great deal of excitement and self-fulfilment, it also brings along a great deal of stress and responsibilities. This week’s guest on the “In Systems We Trust” podcast has made it her life vision to alleviate this stress and allow entrepreneurs to thrive at what they do best.
Meet Nicole Mickevicius, the owner of Nicole & Co. Nicole is an entrepreneur focused on guiding & supporting other entrepreneurs to thrive and scale in their businesses. She spent years in the corporate world, learning how to build a culture from the ground up and getting people passionate about their work. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies to develop systems and supports that lead teams to success and she is now bringing that same knowledge and energy to others.
Protecting entrepreneurs’ time with online business management.
No one knows the challenges entrepreneurs go through better than Nicole. She has been, after all, an entrepreneur at heart since the age of 17 when she bought and ran a gas station right after high school. The busy schedules, the overflowing inboxes and the constant worry about financials are all trials Nicole has faced herself and tackled for many years. Therefore, it only made sense for Nicole to start an online business management company to help entrepreneurs thrive in what they’re good at.
“In simple terms, I will run their [entrepreneurs] entire operations of their business. I will be responsible for metrics, and how we spend the money coming in, and I will do full team management,” Nicole explains, and when she says she runs the entire operation, she actually means it. The goal of her service is to take all operational work off the hands of her clients, which means she becomes the contact person for all their team members, contractors and freelancers. Moreover, she manages all project launches, events and conferences both online and very recently, in-person.
A common issue that entrepreneurs run into as their businesses begin to grow is setting systems and processes in place to expand their operations. Onboarding and training new team members become a hassle. Instead of delegating and taking tasks off of their own plate, entrepreneurs find themselves spending more time managing and communicating back and forth with their teams. Identifying this problem, Nicole ensures that the number one goal of her online business management service is protecting her clients’ time.
“So what I like to say is that I provide or give back to a client space, time and freedom, however, they want to use it. So, whether they want to use it to have more of a personal life… or they're putting it back into creative or where their passion is for their business. Other people are really focused on sales and want to get back to just doing that, but I take care of the rest of their business for them.”
Building trust and systems.
Running and managing an entire business is a huge undertaking for Nicole, but she also recognizes that relinquishing control is even harder for her clients. There will be resistance, at the beginning, which is why she emphasizes the importance of honouring and respecting the business with every decision to build trust with the client.
The first step to creating this trust is understanding the client’s goals and where they see their time being spent. An integral part of Nicole’s approach lies in identifying what her clients really want to do so she can craft processes to ensure they only focus on the tasks they only want to be doing. This approach requires not only time to audit systems, teams and tasks, but also needs clients to be open to sharing this information. Nicole calls the first three-month period of working with a client “the dating period” because it takes time to determine whether her services are a good fit for their business and vice versa. Ultimately, after three months, clients become more relaxed and trusting once they start seeing the results they were seeking.
Another important aspect of Nicole’s service is assessing teams and determining how to better utilize and develop the talents that exist within a business. She doesn’t believe in replacing employees with people who acquire a certain skill set. Instead, she takes Jim Collin’s “bus analogy” where you ensure the right people are sitting in their seats to keep the bus moving. Everyone has something to offer, it’s only a matter of giving them the tasks they can thrive at and add value to the business.
“For the most part, it's really working with the team that they [clients] already have, and understanding what they're doing, and how they're spending their time. I always start off by asking people to track their time by project.”
And it’s not only time that requires tracking. Building systems also need the commitment to documenting and tracking processes. The easiest way to get started, according to Nicole, is to have the client write down the tasks that they no longer enjoy doing and store them for team members to refer to when the task is delegated. Slowly but surely, all handed-over processes are fully documented and taken off the entrepreneur’s plate so they can focus on the activities they want to perform.
Allowing entrepreneurs to thrive in their zone of genius.
Entrepreneurs usually seek Nicole’s help for one of two main reasons. The first reason is that their business is quickly growing and systems are required to be set in place. In most cases, these businesses have the cash flow to invest in such service, and they look into investing more to expand, train and manage their operations.
The second reason, and one that Nicole experiences a lot with many ambitious entrepreneurs, is burnout. Clients often reach out to Nicole because they no longer enjoy what they’re doing. They’re caught up with their day-to-day and are pushed to wear too many hats that they lose the spark that motivated them to start their journey into entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur herself, Nicole empathizes with these clients and is driven to help them get into their “zone of genius.” The term was coined by psychologist Gay Hendrix in his book The Big Leap, and he describes it as the physical and mental state that allows individuals to capitalize on their innate abilities and excel in them.
“For me, the way I look at it [zone of genius], it’s where your passion is, where you’re gonna make your impact and where your strengths are.”
By protecting their time, Nicole can give passionate entrepreneurs the capacity and the mental state to reach that zone and thrive at what they do best.
“When I look at it from just a client, I want to just put you in a place where every day you enjoy walking into your business, you are passionate about what you’re doing, you feel that drive again that was there the day you started. And that’s really my hope that I can give that back to every client I work with.”
Our discussion with Nicole is every bit as inspirational and moving as her excellent soundbites. If you’re looking for more motivation, listen to episode 38 of “In Systems We Trust” in full, now live wherever you get your podcasts.