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AP 0967: What Tools Do You Use to Organize Your Team?

AP 0967: What Tools Do You Use to Organize Your Team?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 967 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 967 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions five days a week.

We have question coming in today from Emmanuel, but before we get to that I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is DesignCrowd. If you’re stuck on ideas on how to develop your logo, your business cards, whatever you’re looking at-design, check out DesignCrowd. It’s a website that could help you crowdsource custom graphics from over half a million designers, worldwide. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, you can get a perfect, custom design every time or you get your money back. Check out DesignCrowd.com/askpat to learn more and download your free guide to crowdsourcing great logos, graphics and websites for your business, and you get $100 off your next design when you enter the promo code “AskPat”.

All right. Now here’s today’s question from Emmanuel.

Emmanuel: Hi, Pat. It’s Emmanuel from Australia. First of all, thank you so much for all the content you produce. It’s really, really helpful. Here’s my question; it’s relating to business growth. I run a platform called Italy Made Easy, where I help English speakers learn Italian, and after a lot of hard work I’m in the very fortunate position of having a growing team of collaborators. What I’m struggling with is the speed of the growth and having to manage it all. Like, I have YouTube channel, courses, the blog, the podcasts that I want to start, the lead magnets, social media, and all the things that I’m neglecting for lack of time and organization.

In this specific—my question is about the tools that I use in the business, to coordinate the flow of my team. On the one hand, it’s great to have access to all these amazing technology, but on the other hand, how many tools is too many? We currently use Flock for team communication, Google Drive to create and share documents when I work, for payroll, Manifestly, for checklists, the autoresponder, the CRM, media outreach—there’s so many platforms that we need to use.

I have a project manager, but the work and the opportunity’s just so much that it’s really hard to coordinate everything and stay sane. The project manager is very adamant that each team member is only in charge of one or two clear tasks, which will soon make my team a team of fifty people—and that’s scary. I just feel that despite the great help that I get from the team, Italy Made Easy is still a one-man show, and it’s kind of killing me. So, what’s your secret for organizing the workflow of a growing team, and how many tools do you personally use in your business? That would be very, very helpful. Thank you so much Pat. Please save me. Grazie mille. Ciao, ciao.

Pat Flynn: Hey, Emmanuel. Thank you so much for the question. These are what is known as growing pains. Growing pains are one of those things that, yeah, it’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem, and so we have to deal with them. I think you are looking in the right direction in terms of, “Okay, well, how do I manage all of these different things?” But before we even get to that, I want to talk about a lot of the different things that are happening. So, all the little tasks that you have to do, I want you to internalize and actually make a chart, if you will, of all the different tasks that need to be done. Consider whether or not they should continue to be done.

A great exercise that we do in our team is called the Stop, Start, Continue exercise. I don’t know if it’s that same order, but we look at things that we need to start doing. We then determine, okay, well, what are we doing now that we need to stop doing, and what do we need to do that we need to continue to do? In this exercise, just breaking the things down that we do, everything, into these categories, helps us understand, okay, what can we remove from our workflow? What should we add to potentially grow the business, to make things easier, et cetera, and what should we continue to do—the things that are working, that we should continue to work on and also optimize? Those three categories are going to really help you, and that exercise alone can be great in terms of, “Wow, we’re actually doing a lot of work here, when it’s actually not even really helping.” So that will help you and your team determine, “Okay, well, these are the things we need to focus on.” It’s a kind of a filtering essentialism inside your business sort of exercise. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is getting the right tools to help you manage all of these different parts. We use a couple tools that are specifically meant for project management. On the content editorial side of things we use CoSchedule, and that’s been fantastic for organizing things and having communication happen within the team, specifically related to pieces of content that are coming out. For me, that’s a big part of my business. It’s the content creation, the blog posts, the podcasts—within each individual post or podcast episode, with CoSchedule’s help we can have checklists, we can have different team members and deadlines and all those kinds of things. So that’s really handy.

With other bigger projects, such as coursework or software development, those kinds of things we use, and the team uses Trello. Trello is a great tool. It may be similar to another tool that you already have, and there’s other tools like it, like Asana, Nozbe—these are project management tools that can help people collaborate and have checklists, and have deadlines for specific things. You could use that for your content as well, but we just happen to find that CoSchedule is helping us greatly with removing a lot of the steps involved with actually getting things published and online. So, we also use Google Drive—so Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets for a lot of organization and more birdseye perspective view and planning, as well.

Then finally, for team communication and also for files we are using Slack. So, Slack is the team communication tool, and we’ve worked really hard to create specific channels for each of the different segments of the brand, such as SPI Labs, which is for the Smart Podcast Player, the courses, there’s one for email marketing, there’s another for content, there’s another for just general conversation. I mean, it’s broken down into twelve or fifteen different categories so that those conversations and those files could all be found very easily. Plus, the search within Slack—which I feel like could be improved—is still benefiting us, as opposed to just using emails and things like that. Also, with some of the projects, they also involve files and attachments that are in Trello too. So, those are the tools that we mainly use.

The project manager’s right, though. It’s going to be a lot easier when people have specific projects that they’re working on only, but I don’t think one or two makes sense for everything. It makes sense for a lot of things but not necessarily for everything. So, I think breaking down the tasks that you do, and the things that need to be done, into different categories in terms of start, stop and continue—that’s going to help you decide. You’ll be able to—as you begin to write these things down, and maybe even a post-it note exercise could help—you’ll be able to chunk them into, “Okay, well, who might be great to work on this? Who might be great to work on this?” It’s also going to depend—the hierarchy of how things work—with how you choose to make your life easier. It could be, “Okay, let’s have a person specifically for each course that is going to make sure and work with the marketing team just to kind of manage all that.” Or, is it going to be specifically a person who’s in charge of all courses, and then another person who’s in charge of all of the marketing for each of those courses and that includes social media and other outreach, and CRM management? Those kinds of things.

So, yes. You’re at a point now where you’re going to have to build your team, which is great, but also using tools like this, and also—I’ve had to do this, too—we’ve had a lot of large projects that we’ve had on our backlog that we wanted to do, and we even started some of these things, but I’ve had to pull back on and put a pause on them because I wanted to make sure that I give myself and my team enough focus on the things that are working right now. So, I think that’s the keyword there Emmanuel, is going to be optimization. How can you optimize what you already have before you begin to add anything new? How can you increase the workflow? What might you use to manage these projects a little bit better? Yeah, discover what those pain points are. I mean, I know you said you’re kind of feeling overwhelmed, but why? What of it is overwhelming you? Within the organizational structure what seems to be, on your end, missing? Then, are there any ways to combine people, or tools, to be able to fill in those gaps for you? So Emmanuel, I know that’s not a specific, “All right, here’s the number one thing you should do.” It’s a little bit more organic, it’s going to take some trial and error as you know. It probably took trial and error to get Italy Made Easy up and running. It’s going to be the same thing to get your business flowing the way you want it to flow, too.

So Emmanuel, thank you so much for the question. Best of luck to you, keep me posted, and I wish you and your business and your team all the best. I also want to send you an AskPat teeshirt for having your question featured here on the show. For those of you listening, if you have a question that you’d like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com and you can ask right there on that page.

Thank you so much, everybody. I appreciate you, and here’s a question to finish off the day. Not a question—sorry—a quote by Henry Ford. He said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

Keep your mind young, everybody. Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you, and I’ll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Bye.

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