Jan Koch 00:03
Welcome, everybody. Thanks for joining me again on the WP Agency Summit. I’m here with Jennifer Bourn from Bourn Creative, and I’m super excited to dive into the session. But first, Jennifer, thanks for coming on to the summit.
Jennifer Bourn 00:16
Thanks for inviting me. I’m excited to be here.
Jan Koch 00:19
Absolutely. Can you give us a little background about who you are and what you’re doing?
Jennifer Bourn 00:24
Ahhh, sure, my background. I’m a 22-year graphic designer who got her start in print. I moved into web design when I started my own agency in 2005. I was pregnant with my second child, and my husband said I don’t want to do daddy daycare for two. Don’t people that do what you do, do it for themselves. He got me a business license, and I quit my job. And haven’t looked back since. So 22 years as a designer, 15 years as an agency owner, 12 as a blogger. And for the past five years, I have been doing a business mentorship and training through online courses, live workshops, and I long programs.
Jan Koch 01:06
What a story, that is so cool! So you’ve got a presentation for us today. So I just hand the control over to you, sit back, and get to ask some stupid questions when I don’t understand stuff.
Jennifer Bourn 01:22
Sure, we can definitely do that. So should I, I will share my screen, and we’ll get started?
Jan Koch 01:29
Yeah, let’s do it.
Jennifer Bourn 01:30
Fantastic. All right. So my presentation for you today is how to find and stop money leaks in your website projects. This is a topic that is super close to my heart because, for a long time, I was leaking money all over the place. My projects were like a bucket that you held up at the beach that has all the holes in the bottom, and all the water was pouring out. And I was wondering how come I’m working so hard, but my profits aren’t necessarily aligning with the effort I’m putting forth in my business. So I always joke that everything I teach, I teach because I first had to learn it the hard way. So we’re going to run through some of the lessons I’ve learned in my business over the last 15 years working with clients and building several hundred WordPress sites and see if we can boost the profitability of your own projects and your own business. So like I said, 22-year designer, 15-year agency owner, 12-year blogger, and five years doing courses and workshops, you might recognize me from some of these different places around the web. Several are the courses and the programs that I run. But my number one passion is helping other people just like me, make more money and not have to work as hard. So we’re talking about money leaks, and the very first one is inaccurate estimating. But I don’t think that you can, I don’t think that you can possibly talk about money leaks without talking about the problems with estimating because so many people never learned how to estimate. You just kind of guess, right? You start a business because you’re good at what you do. And you’re like, Well, my friend charges this. So I should charge this. Let’s create an estimate.
Jan Koch 03:11
That’s the gut feeling coming in, right there yup?
Jennifer Bourn 03:13
Well, I know it. The problems with this, though, are that you’re not doing enough discovery to fully understand the real true scope of work. And you’re accounting for the work that you were hired for. Only I was guilty of this for years, people say hey, could you do this thing for me, and I’m like, Sure, I’d take a couple of hours, here’s the price. But during discovery, you have to find out what the client needs right now. But you have to also look at what their vision is for the future. So you create a site that doesn’t just work for them right now. But it will grow with them as they continue to evolve, and their business continues to grow. An estimate is about more than just the scope of work. It’s about project management, task management, documentation, internal communication, all of the communication with clients from that in your pm system to email and phone calls, and zoom meetings. It’s about educating your client and answering questions, and providing extraordinary care and about internal revenue that you might have with your own team. The fix is that you have to include everything in your estimates. You have to account for all of the things that are taking up your time because your time is money in the services business. You have to account for the work and the deliverables. You have to account for your pm time for client service and care. And you have to account for administrative tasks, every bit of time that you’re thinking about a client project, that you’re brainstorming ideas that you’re talking through things with team members that you’re researching and working out all of those things need to be accounted for in your estimate. Otherwise, your profits are going to start slowly eroding. Your time is time that needs to be accounted for in that estimate. Otherwise, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. And you’re starting off with a handicap right from the beginning.
Jan Koch 05:06
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And one thing that just comes to my mind is more often than not; I find myself explaining the client’s business to the client. Because they don’t understand how the website ties into what they’re doing, so that’s also something that in the beginning, I definitely didn’t estimate, and I didn’t include it into the scope of work.
Jennifer Bourn 05:29
Yeah, all of the business consulting that you end up doing to help them get clarity about their own business model, just so you can do the work you were hired for is time you have to account for, right? And that’s something that you only don’t quite realize when you’re first getting started, or you’re new, I think it’s something you kind of figure out, as you gain more experience, and you realize some of those mistakes that you’re making. Now, we can’t talk about estimating and money leaks and mistakes made without talking about also using the wrong rate. And like I said, totally guilty here. When I first started my business, I was like, I don’t know what to charge. I don’t know anybody who’s freelancing. I found a few other designers and like, what do you charge? Okay, yeah, that sounds good. I’ll charge that too. But the problem with that is I wasn’t accounting for all of my expenses accurately my costs of doing business, right? I wasn’t looking at all of the things I needed to look at. So my minimum hourly rate that I needed to charge wasn’t right. And because I wasn’t charging the right minimum amount, I was sabotaging my own ability to be profitable. Right, I was sabotaging my own success by not doing the work I needed to do to make sure I was charging the right amount. When you’re calculating the price of a website project, you first have to know your minimum acceptable hourly rate, it’s the lowest amount that you can make per hour, and still cover all your expenses, cover your salary, because your salary is not an expense, it’s a salary, and to put profits back in the business. So you can reinvest and you can grow an inaccurate minimum rate, again, sabotages your success. That’s why I found myself in that spot where I was like, how come I’m working so hard, and I’m not making the money that I should be? Right? My effort and my income didn’t align. The fix is you have to get the math, right. When calculating your hourly rate, you have to use effective but fair pricing, right? First, you have to look at all of the expenses, the salaries, and the profits and take that into account, you have to know how much it costs for you to be in business, then you have to decide how much do you actually want to work. And there’s math that goes along with this, I have the math formula and the problem on my blog at jenniferbourn.com if you want to take a look, but you have to calculate what that rate is. So you’re guaranteed to make the minimum to pay your bills, pay your salary and put profit back in your business. Then once you have that minimum rate, you create a rate card for all of the most common things that you do. What’s the minimum that you can charge for adding a custom post type to a site? What’s the minimum that you can charge for doing all of these little tasks that are common in your business? Once you’ve created that internal rate card using your minimum viable hourly rate, right, then all of a sudden, estimating projects becomes faster and more accurate. And other people besides you can estimate projects and help bring in new business that is profitable for your business, right? That boosts your bottom line. Instead of having you jump through tons of hoops, only to wonder what happened? Like, where did all of our profits go?
Jan Koch 08:53
That sounds so familiar. It’s almost painful. Yeah.
Jennifer Bourn 08:58
It is, like anybody who’s been in business for any amount of time exactly knows what I’m talking about, right? It’s just one of those things that we all go through, right. If you’re in that spot right now, and you’re thinking, I’m working so hard, and I’m not making the money that I want to make, it’s okay because anybody who has grown their business over time has been exactly where you are—and participating in the summit. And coming to sessions is one of the best things that you can do. Because you can learn from people who’ve walked the path that you’re on right now but are just a little bit further ahead.
Jan Koch 09:29
That’s the reason why I’m hosting this. And also why I’ve built the networking area too. So you can talk to people, not just watch the content, but talk to people; please take advantage of that.
Jennifer Bourn 09:41
Definitely. So our third money leak is hidden messes. And I’ve been in some hidden messes that were pretty terrible. It’s not knowing what you’re getting into when you take on work with existing websites. Sometimes this is a redesign. Sometimes it’s a development retainer where you’re brought in to add new features and work on or improve an existing site. Sometimes it’s to provide website support for an existing website. The problem is, a lot of times, the existing code is a total mess held together with band-aids, and maybe some duct tape. And you don’t know if you don’t do the work to figure it out. Just as he would look under the hood of a used car, before you take ownership of it, you need to look under the hood of a website before assuming responsibility for it. So existing sites often have some serious underlying problems that you don’t see with just a quick look. Right, you have to dig in and look at the code and look at the structure and look at what’s going on. Taking the time to do that upfront, right makes it easier for you to understand how long things are going to take on that site and to estimate what your work together is going to be because you might have to account for cleaning up some of that mess to do the job that you were hired for. Right, if you don’t take that into account, you’re going to erode your profit margin working on things that you didn’t even know you were going to be working on. The fix that I found is doing a technical assessment with new sites that we consider bringing on that way, I know what I’m getting into, I look at the back end of the site, we get access, we dig in, we dig around, we’re identifying and prioritizing problem areas, we’re providing the client, a report or a roadmap of here’s what we think needs to happen to bring your site up to par with the quality level that we need to be able to get in there and work on it. And you’re also establishing a baseline foundation of what the problems are before you touch it. You need to protect yourself from surprises. and protect yourself from taking the blame when something goes wrong with the site you took ownership of. But it wasn’t your fault. It was like that before you got in there. But maybe something you were doing triggered a reaction, right, a conflict with something that was already there. Right. So the idea is to protect yourself from costly surprises down the road, from uncomfortable situations with clients, and again to protect your time, so you protect your profit margin. Now, money leak number four is a silo design process. As a designer, this is a super huge pet peeve of mine. The problem here is that designers get stuck in design mode because they get into being creative. And they’re mocking stuff up, and they’re changing it. And this doesn’t look right, let me do this, let me do this. And then they get really excited about a direction because it’s all coming together. And they go too far without getting the client involved and without getting client input. The other thing that designers are notorious for is not necessarily explaining the design thinking that goes into why you created something the way you did, why you designed it the way you did, why it looks, the way it looks, or things are positioned the way that they’re positioned. Designers oftentimes feel like the design has to be totally complete before the client sees it. But when too much work is done upfront without feedback, sometimes you end up going all the way down this rabbit hole that doesn’t pan out, and you’ve wasted hours upon hours on a design that either didn’t work or the client wanted to change. Clients aren’t equipped to necessarily be left on their own to figure out what design means or to evaluate and provide smart feedback on the design. Clients aren’t designers, and you can’t expect them to be designers and evaluate a design like a designer would. So the fix is to include the client in the entire design process. Don’t silo yourself off, right? include the client during design, get them involved as early as possible. Look at wireframes, look at sketches, look at mock-ups, get maybe just the homepage, I do just the homepage, and then get that over to the client say take a look at this. What about this direction, let’s talk through these things. Because if I can get that approved, the rest of the site is cake. And I want to get feedback from the client as early in the process as possible. Because some of those design decisions how the header is coming together, how the footers are coming together, how the type stack is going if they make those changes, and I’ve mocked up a whole bunch of different modules or rows or blocks or templates. I have to go back and then change everything that I created. But getting that feedback earlier would save me a ton of time. It’s also important that you present and explain your work when you’re doing design work for clients, including the client in the design process by providing those early opportunities, showing them sketches showing them wireframes explaining your thinking, explaining why things are the way that they are, helps clients trust you. It helps you go, “Wow, I never thought about it that way.” This is really interesting. It helps them take some ownership over that design and to not second guess you or micromanage things quite as much, right? When you present your design concepts, and you present your design thinking, the strategy behind the work that you did, the client understands, oh, this is the way it is for a reason. Maybe I won’t say I think it should be bigger. Maybe I won’t say that logo should be bigger; maybe I won’t say let’s just make this thing blue because I like blue. Because they understand that what you did has a purpose. And there’s a reason for it. So they’re less likely to make changes. Now, money leak number five is tied to revisions. This is where I see things fall apart all the time. Right. The problem here is that there’s poor communication around revisions, there’s a reactive approach, instead of a proactive approach, you send the draft off to the client, you’re like, let me know what you think. And you just wait for them to react. And we do this because we’re busy. But we’re so busy that Mike, I’m just going to send it over and I’ll wait for them to get back to me, I don’t have time to be proactive about it. That’s not how we should be doing things. And the other problem is not using change orders, right? Not enough people use change orders. When the scope changes, you need to be using a change order. Scope creep. A term that I’m sure if you were here at the summit, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Right? It’s a frustration that’s shared by service providers worldwide. And it’s often blamed on the client. But scope creep isn’t the client’s fault. Scope creep is a result of revision management, right? scope creep is when the scope gets out of control. It’s creeping up and up and up, and it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and you’re doing work that you’re not getting paid for. But if you manage the project effectively, and you manage the client effectively, and you communicate effectively, scope creep isn’t a thing. If a client requests something that’s outside scope, you say, Great, that’s outside scope, let’s talk about what that means. Let’s put a change order together. So scope creep happens when the review in the revision process isn’t clear. It happens when you have uncomfortable conversations, and you avoid them, right? Because you know that I don’t want, I don’t like conflict, right? I don’t want to tell the client they have to spend more money. I don’t want to tell the client that it isn’t included. I don’t want to do that. So I’ll just do this one thing. But then you’re setting a precedent for the client to keep asking you for things, then all of a sudden, you feel like you’re being taken advantage of. But it’s your fault because you let it happen. It also happens when the review of the terms of review isn’t clear like the client doesn’t know when they’re not clear like we’re at the end of the revision process, right? Or you don’t enforce those things. The fix is just showing up as a proactive leader in your project. You have to lead the client through the project and be their guide, right, you need to explain everything to them multiple times, guide the project forward, provide clear instructions and use change orders throughout the project. You have to be talking with the client about here’s where we’re at now. Here’s what’s coming next. Here’s what you need to do. Here’s what we need from you. Here’s what we expect. And this happens in the revision process as well. Here’s the first draft. You have three rounds of revisions left. Here’s the second draft. You have two rounds of revisions left. That’s two opportunities to give us feedback. Here’s the next round. You have one more opportunity after this; we’re done. Now, I always say I don’t want to limit you. So if you need more revisions, I’ll give you more revisions, you just have to pay for them. Right? I’ll do it 25 rounds of revisions. I’ll do 100 rounds of revisions, as long as you’re paying me. Right, the idea is that you communicate with the client, so they know where they’re at. They know what’s expected. They know what’s coming next. They know to gather their feedback. So they make the most out of that revision round, because they know that there’s a limit. Now about those change orders. I told you, you have to use one, I use a change order. Even if there’s no change to the budget or the timeline. I use a change order when the scope of work changes to get the client use to change orders. So when there is a change in budget, it isn’t a bad thing. They just get used to it. The scope changes. Here’s the change order, budget change, zero timelines change none, right. I want the client to get used to the idea that contracts aren’t only brought out when it’s something bad. It’s not only brought out when I feel like you need to give me some more money but that it’s a quality control thing. And it’s a tool to help us both stay on the same page with exactly what the scope of work is and what the deliverables are. No money leaks six is for getting the client, and you’re probably like what? we’re talking about client services. How do you forget the client? But here’s the problem. During development, the clients left on their own to meet any deadlines that they have, most of the time, that’s to get you the content. Content is delayed. And project timelines are negatively affected when the client is left to their own devices. Why? Because they’re busy running their own business. They’ve got families, they’ve got life, they’ve got business, they’ve got fires to put out, they’ve got a billion things that they’re worried about. During the design phase, the client super involved in the project, right? They’ve got revisions. They’re looking at drafts, they’re interacting with you. During development, it’s like this black box, right? There’s like radio silence here, oh, peace out, I got to build this thing. And you go into the, you know, development mode, and you’re building the site, and the client doesn’t hear from you. And that can be really tough, like the client, because they’re not actively engaged, it means your project isn’t necessarily staying top of mind. This makes them think like, well, maybe I’ll get to that content prop to that content later. Maybe I’ll do that thing later. I’ll get to it at the weekend. They’re busy, right. And the other thing is, when you’re ignoring the client, they start wondering what’s going on with my project. Are you even doing anything? This feels like it’s taking a long time. The fix is to support the client along the way, no matter what is happening on your end of things. I don’t care how busy you are; you always need to take the time to support the client along the way in the project, right, providing them helpful tools and tips and resources and education, right. Put together communication that is going to handhold your client throughout the entire project. They always know. Here’s where it’s at. Here’s what’s going on right now, here’s what’s coming next, here’s what’s needed of me and communicate with the client really often to keep them on track. So they don’t cause delays in the project. But during the development phase, while the site’s being built, check-in with the client regularly. Help them out answer questions keep the project on track. So those major milestones are met. And money leaks seven is not testing your work. This is probably the number one biggest pet peeve of mine because it’s an easy thing to do that too many people don’t do. Right, we’re not checking, and testing work enough. And that leads to pushing code with bugs and errors. It leads to unplanned and often unpaid time fixing mistakes that could have been avoided. If you just check your work. Right, most people overestimate how much you can get done. And they underestimate how long it takes. So they think they can get a lot done. And they think they can get a lot done in a little bit of time. This isn’t real, right? What this leads to are estimates that are too low. So you don’t have enough margin in your projects, you don’t have enough time to necessarily do everything you committed to. And it leads to you rushing to get that work done. And maybe being a little more careless about that work, just so you can meet that deadline. And what gets skipped? QA. Testing our work.
Jan Koch 23:11
I’m so guilty of this. And what especially comes down as a multiplier of things is, when you have changed requests, you need to test the change request as well. And that is something that I forgot all the time when I started.
Jennifer Bourn 23:26
Yes, 100%. The thing is, we don’t necessarily do it on purpose, right? You’re trying to meet the deadline and make the client happy. And again, we overestimate how much we can do. Right, so we’re trying to meet those deadlines. We’re trying to salvage an hourly rate if we’re behind a little bit. So we rush, and we push code that hasn’t been tested, right? We launch websites that have obvious errors or bugs. And unfortunately, to the client, it makes it obvious that you didn’t check your work, right, this negative client experience can damage an otherwise great project, right, it can damage their perception of the value that you’re delivering. And if you don’t handle this situation, well, it can eliminate profits, because you’re spending lots of time fixing errors and bugs that are your fault that you should have caught before the site is launched. But it isn’t the client’s responsibility to pay you to fix all of those things. They paid you to do it right the first time. Right, so the client can get really frustrated in the situation. And it can risk future work with them. It can risk referrals and it can risk you getting a really great testimonial from that client as well. All of which can erode your opportunity to bring in more profits and more money in your business. The fix is to just check your work, folks, right build more margin into your projects. So you have time right include time for proper QA when you’re estimating projects. If you know that you tend to overestimate what you can do and underestimate how long it takes, write down your estimates and then double them. Right, then, you know, you have an extra margin in there. So you can do the level of work that you want to be known for. You can do the level of work that you want to be associated with your name. When someone says, Well, you worked with them, what did you think about their work? What kind of quality do they deliver? Right? What kind of reputation Do you want to build? To deliver the work at that level, you need to have the margin in your projects to give you the space to do that, right, and test your work along the way. Don’t wait until you’re at the very end and is right before launch. And you’re like, Ooh, I’m going to test something now. Right? Test it all along the way over and over repeatedly. And consider getting the client involved in testing, right, bring the client involves in user acceptance testing, so they have shared ownership in identifying bugs and fixing little errors. So they have shared responsibility when decisions are made to push up that code and launch that site. Right, that will eliminate some of that blame game and frustration. If there are bugs found down the road. It’s important to understand that no code is perfect, right? It’s the software, and it has bugs. It’s just a fact of life. And the goal isn’t necessarily perfection, while we would love it to be, but the goal is to launch a clean site. And that if the client does find a bug, that it’s something that’s inconsequential, that is something that’s not that big of a deal that you can just quickly fix. Right? We don’t want to be launching things with you know, major bugs, and money leak eight is no recurring revenue. This is a mistake I made in my business for years. And I could not kick myself in the butt any more for ignoring it, right? The problem when you ignore recurring revenue, and you’re only focused on that one and done business model, build a website, launch it, build a website, launch it, build a website launch it, is that it’s exhausting. Right, it is exhausting and absolutely, often soul-crushing to constantly be on the hook to make all those sales. A hundred percent. And you’re not giving clients who loved working with you, and would love to keep working with you the opportunity to keep paying you right when you ignore opportunities, to create stable, dependable, reliable, predictable, recurring revenue in your business. that burden of making sales every month is absolutely soul-crushing and the pressure to constantly be hustling and selling leads to so many sleepless nights, right. And the problem with this one and done model of building a site, launch it, build a site launch it, you know, one year, we launched a custom site every single week for the entire year, 52 weeks a year 52 completely custom WordPress sites. And the problem was one, we are supporting our entire household and all of our bills and two people’s salaries and that plus our team. But with the one and done business model, if you’re not making the sales, you have no money coming in, there’s nothing in place to pick up the slack. If you need to take a break. There’s nothing to get you through if that dries up. The fix is to offer those support services. Monthly website support is the easiest thing to get started with. Right, diversify your income stream with reliable recurring revenue through offering website support. It reduces the pressure on you to generate one-off website project sales as much as you used to be able to, right? And then, with recurring revenue established, you can actually plan for the future and start to really enjoy your business more. And the idea there is to kind of sweeten the deal by incentivizing a yes with support, right, so you can prove your value to your clients, and then later raise your rates. Right, so many people talk about Ooh, let’s get recurring revenue. And they want to put together these support plans, and they price them at, you know, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month. What if you got somebody on the hook for 100 bucks a month, you proved how valuable it was you made yourself an indispensable part of their team. And then in a year, you raised your rates 25%, and in a year you raised them 25% or in a year you double them, right? The idea is to get the person in the door and get them used to paying you every month. And then it’s just your job to keep them to prove that it’s worth it, right then prove the value that you can bring into their business.
Jan Koch 29:45
I couldn’t agree more with that. And to add to that, when you are maintaining a client’s website and taking care of it. There’s so often leads to following up projects like you will get all the redesign projects you’ll get all the customization stuff they might want in the future. So don’t forget that and pricing your plans.
Jennifer Bourn 30:02
Yeah, cause the website support keeps you top of mind, right. So when the client does have that new work, you’re top of mind. So you’re the first person that they think of. So it’s kind of a no brainer. And again, I just kicked myself in the butt forever being like, I don’t want to do that work, like I just want to build new sites, like what was I thinking? but the last money leak that I have for you today is money leak number nine. And it’s manual client care. And this is something I had to really, it absolutely transformed my business when I solved this problem. Right? The problem with manual client care is that you’re busy, right? You’re busy running your business doing the work, you’re juggling your clients, you’re wearing all of the hats in your business, right, you probably do not have enough time in the day for everything you need to get done every day, which is why so many people work nights and weekends and don’t take vacations. And it’s a horrible spot to be, right. And when you’re busy, right. When you’re so busy that you’re reacting to everything, clients don’t get the level of service that they should get. And clients don’t get a consistent level of service, right. One client may get an amazing service. But another may get kind of mediocre service because you’re busier that week, and you have more demands on your time that week. And it erodes the experience your clients have, which can affect referrals, which can affect them hiring you again for future work. When you’re busy, right, it’s really easy to kind of let projects lag and say, Oh, the client hasn’t gotten back to me, I’m nothing. That’s alright. I’ll just wait for them to get back to me. I’m too busy working on this other stuff anyway. It’s better that they wait. I’d rather them take a week to get back to me. And then the projects drag out, and it actually erodes your profit margin, right. That’s not good for profits. And when we let this happen, because our plates are too full, it also drags things out with the client, and they don’t feel as special and valued. When the client doesn’t know what’s happening with their project. When they don’t feel educated and comfortable and cared for, they get really nervous. They start second-guessing your decisions. They start micromanaging details, things start slipping through the cracks. If you are in a situation where clients are kind of overreaching and telling you what to do, it’s a signal that they’re losing trust in you. Right, the extra work that comes from having to overcome this, again erodes your profit margins, right. And the fix is to put the client first, to deliver extraordinary service to make the client feel like they’re the most important client that you have regardless of how much they’re paying you. Right, you want to help the client feel super confident and comfortable every step of the way, then you might be thinking, great, I’m glad I would like that too. But I don’t have time for that. And I thought the same thing. I don’t have time for that. But here’s the thing, there’s no such thing as too much communication and client services, and you have to over-communicate, I don’t care how busy you are. You have to set expectations and boundaries and spell everything out in simple, easy to understand plain language. You have to keep the client updated every step of the way. Here’s where we’re at, here’s what’s coming next, here’s what we’re doing, here’s what we expect from you. And you have to ensure that the client knows what they have to do. They know how to do it. They know when it needs to be done by. Now my business grew so fast, my client experience totally suffered. I was so busy doing the work and trying to talk do sales and doing the work and trying to do sales. I actually went to an event once and sat down at a table with my biggest client, she brought me to an event invited me to dinner. And I was sitting at a table with all of her top tier clients that were paying her six figures to be in her business mentoring and coaching program. And she brought me there to say these people need you. It was a golden opportunity. And I sat down at the table and I introduced myself to the person across for me. And she said Oh yeah, I reached out to you a couple of months ago and nobody bothered to ever call me back. And I was so embarrassed. And I had to say you know what? I actually remember that and you are totally right. My business has been growing so fast. It’s actually got it got away from me. And I am totally one to admit that. But I recognize the air I recognize things are slipping through the cracks. And here’s what I’ve done to correct that and fix that. And that person actually ended up becoming a client after that dinner. So very embarrassing, and I had to eat crow but it’s a fact of life. Right? Sometimes our businesses grow so fast our systems and processes don’t keep up with it. I needed a way.
Jan Koch 34:56
That’s what I’m into right now.
Jennifer Bourn 34:57
Oh my gosh, it’s so hard. But you know what? You need to do, but you don’t necessarily have the time for it. But I needed a way to say I want every single client that works with Bourn creative to have the exact same consistent experience at the level that I want it to be at, regardless of how much work is on my plate how busy I am, or whether I’m on vacation, or at a conference, or whatever it might be. But I needed a way to get custom projects done faster, take up less of my time, and I needed to make more money, right? Who doesn’t want to make more money? We’re not in business to work for free. We’re not in business to be broke. We’re in business to make money. So when I stepped back and did is I evaluated? Where were the problems in my website process? Where were the problems in my business? Where were things getting stuck? Where were is I running into delays or obstacles? Where was the client asking questions? Where were they confused, and I created an automated email sequences and templates and educational materials and guides that pair with every step of the process that I went through with clients. And that content, educates them, and empowers them to be a great client and understand what we’re doing and helps them communicate, it teaches them about the revision process and design approval and what these things mean, and what the impacts are of their decisions. It helps them really be a great client and have an extraordinary experience. This content holds their hand along the way. And because it’s automated, I’m not having to do any of it. What it did is it freed up a whole bunch of my time. So I could do better work. It freed up all the time from like little questions and admin stuff and the inconsequential work that comes along with the project. So I could spend more time with the client on really strategic, meaningful, impactful work, instead of answering questions about like, what’s the gravatar? I don’t put like, how do I set that up? right. I got to get rid of that stuff off my plate. And the result was a documented set of systems and processes that again, could be automated or if you have a team delegated right? and implementing just the first step for me, when I implemented that it cut my admin time on projects by 50%. It cut it in half. And I was like, holy crap, it changed everything. And I thought I’m doing this for every single thing in my business. Right? The first thing I implemented was an onboarding process and system and automated it. And it just, it had such a profound impact on my sanity and my time and my profitability that I created the same thing for the design phase and the development phase and the launch phase and the follow-up phase, and then went on to do it for lead generation recurring revenue, branding and other services in my business. That same system is what I share in my program, a profitable project plan, right? It’s profitable project plans, basically my entire business I created in a box with training and mentoring. So you can learn like, why all the things are done the way that they are. And the core behind a profitable project plan. And everything that I’m doing today is everything that we talked about in this session today. Right, it’s about eliminating the money leaks in your business, so you can make more money without doing more work. If you think back at everything that we’ve talked about so far today, it’s not requiring you to do more work, it’s not putting more work on your plate. Mostly, I mean, I’m not gonna lie, it probably is like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours, it took me an entire year to put everything in profitable project plan together for myself, and then iterate on it for six or seven years straight. But everything else right everything else you can do without putting more money on your plate, or putting more time on your plate.
Jan Koch 38:47
I think the beautiful aspect of this type of work is you do the work once and then you don’t have to do it anymore.
Jennifer Bourn 38:55
100%. And that’s the thing, all of the money leaks that we’ve talked about and the tips that we went through today. It’s just making little tweaks in how you’re doing things. Right, I find most people that go through the programs that I run that come to the workshops that I do, you know, most people that come to content camp or enroll in a profitable project plan. They’re not enrolling because they don’t know what they need to do. Right? You’re not here because you don’t know what you need to do. You’re here because you know what you need to do. You need the motivation to get it done. You need a path, right? You maybe you know what you need to do, but you don’t know what that first step is. or you don’t know what the path is to get to where you want to go and you’re saying, Well, you’ve done it. How did you do it? Let me follow that same path. Show me the way, right. That’s why things like this summit, I think are so powerful or programs like profitable project plans are so powerful. It’s because you know what you need to do you know where you want to go, right and listening to these sessions, investing in education, investing in learning from people who’ve walked that path before you, right, looking at the little tweaks that you can make, right, you’re already making money, you’re already in business. It’s just about tweaking what you’re doing to improve profitability, to put more margin in your projects to give you a little bit more space, and breathing room. So you can have that big vision for the future, and work toward it while you’re doing your client work, right while you’re doing your billable hours. So you can pay your bills and do all of those kinds of things. So the idea here is that you reduce stress for yourself. And for your clients, right. And that creates happier more satisfied clients who are excited to hire you again and again, for more work, or say yes to continuing to be a partner as you provide ongoing support services, or to refer their friends or family to you so that you don’t have to work quite as hard to get new business, right. And you can really look back and start to think I’m enjoying what I’ve created, right? I’m enjoying the business that I’m building, right? Because before I created all the systems in my business, I was like, what did I build? I actually sat down at one point and told my husband after he had joined me quit his full-time job and join my business full time, I looked at him and said, I think I quit. I kind of hate what I built. Like can you find another designer, I could go do something else. Like I kind of want to quit, I don’t really like my business. And that’s when I realized, like, things need to change, right? And I started looking at, you know, holding up that bucket of all the water coming out, like all the money leaking out of my business and started fixing the problems that I had so that I could take nine weeks of vacation a year and I can close for two weeks at Christmas. And I can work less than 40 hours a week and still make the kind of income that I want to make, right. And that’s totally possible for you too. And participating in this summit is one of those first steps of figuring out how can I make those changes in my business? right? to make those things a reality. So that is the end of my session for you today. Hopefully, you’ve taken away a lot of good gold nuggets and little tweaks that you can make in your business to ease some of that stress, build that margin and improve your profits.
Jan Koch 42:18
That was mind-blowing Jennifer. I mean, it is like each point in itself it’s not rocket science. But when you combine all of them together, you have a powerhouse of information. Thank you so much for coming on. And you had it on the last slide, but please share it again. Where do people get in touch with you to find out more?
Jennifer Bourn 42:39
The easiest thing is just jenniferbourn.com
Jan Koch 42:42
Brilliant. Thank you so much.
Jennifer Bourn 42:45
All right. Thank you