Work life balance. We’ve all heard it. On your left is your business, and when you can fit it in, on your right is family, friends, health fitness, and a whole bunch of other things. Super hero syndrome for small to medium business owners is when you try to do everything in your business on your own. But you can also have superhero syndrome that can bleed into your home life. And that’s a recipe for burnout.
What if I told you that you could take control of your business and instead of a work life balance, you just create a better home life as a business owner? To find out how you can do that and more, you should listen to this episode of Forward Thinking.
Mark is a business growth mentor using his dual background as a chartered accountant and sales and marketing.. He enjoys bringing his two decades of experience honed in Sydney, London, and New York to small to medium enterprises across a wide range of industries. Mark’s biggest ambition is having formed his consultancy, Own Your Mark, to allow business owners to create better home lives for themselves and spend more valuable time with their families.
What you will learn in this episode:
- How to ultimately defeat “superhero syndrome”
- Tangible ways to spend more time on your life, outside of the business
- Incorporating a two-week time audit into your working-life
- 5 steps to implement to defeat work
- Polishing your decision-making in the hiring process
- Mark’s perspective on CRM benefits
- How to outsource different tasks
- Working as a synergy with your partner at work
- “What it ends up being for most people is they spend 80% of their time doing things which are not the core reason why they started their business, and consequently, they’re things that they’re not great at doing, and they’re the things that stress them”
- “We come from a world where everyone is so scared of technology and robots and they’re gonna take our jobs, but the reality is we can work hand in hand with the robots and they can do amazing things for us, so after we’ve eliminated and automated, then we outsource”
- “It’s actually necessary to take some tasks back in rather than leaving them as automated… Let’s turn them back into real human touch processes because we found that when we automate things, it doesn’t work for our staff or our customers”
What business would you build on Mars?
I would start an environmentally friendly waste disposal business. It would center around the full gamut of waste disposal, recycling, and repurposing of things. What that would be really doing is appealing to the fears of those people who are the new settlers of Mars. I’d illustrate in my marketing, Mars as it is now and Mars as it is in a couple of hundred years’ time and how it’s totally degrading, and how we had this really great opportunity to create an amazing planet and not to stuff it up again as the same way as we have done with Earth.
And really appealing to their sense of legacy because you, as a settler, are gonna be seen as one of the first 100 people on the planet of Mars. Do you want to be remembered for someone who really made it into a remarkable place or do you want to be remembered as one of those selfish people that got it wrong and stuffed it up?
So I always say to people, it’s not, when looking for a business to start or a business to promote, it’s not about always the sexiest ones. It’s about getting the fundamentals right and finding a niche that has a lot of demand.
It might not be sexy to other people and it’s not being done well by others…I think waste disposal, one of those things, is gonna be highly necessary and every household needs it. Every business needs it, so it’s got a really strong, fundamental, commercial proposition.
Reach Mark here:
- on Linkedin
Transcript (or download the pdf here)
Daren: Work life balance – we’ve all heard it. On your left is your business. And when you can fit it in, on your right is family, friends, health fitness, and a whole bunch of other things. Super hero syndrome for small to medium business owners is when you try to do everything in your business… on your own.
But you can also have super hero syndrome that can bleed into your home life .
And that’s a recipe for burnout. What if I told you that you could take control for your business and instead of a work life balance, you just create a better home life as a business owner? To find out how you can do that and more, you should listen to this episode of Forward Thinking.
Mark is a business growth mentor using his dual background as a chartered accountant in sales and marketing. He enjoys bringing his two decades of experience honed in Sydney, London, and New York to small to medium enterprises across a wide range of industries. Mark has built his consultancy, Own Your Mark, to allow business owners to create better home lives for themselves and spend more valuable time with their families.
What you’ll learn in this episode: How to ultimately defeat “superhero syndrome”, tangible ways to spend more time on your life, outside of the business, incorporating a two-week time audit into your working-life, 5 steps to implement to defeat work, how to outsource different tasks and much more. Here’s the conversation with Mark and Metigy employee number 4, head of content, Brendan Hill.
Brendan: And this week, my very special guest is Mark Schiralli. Mark is a business growth mentor using his jewel background as both a chartered accountant and in sales and marketing. He enjoys bringing his two decades of experience honed in Sydney, London, and New York to small, to medium enterprises across a wide range of industries.
Mark’s biggest ambition is having formed his consultancy Own Your Mark, to allow business owners to create better home lives for themselves and spend more valuable time with their families. So, Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark: Thank you, Brandon. Great to be here.
Brendan: So I know you’ve worked with hundreds of small and medium businesses before.
I mean, what are the main trends that you’re seeing and the main issues that business owners are having?
Mark: The biggest thing that happens for business owners is it comes back to stress of not being able to spend the right amount of time outside of the business. So that for most people means spending time with their families and all those other leisure activities that we enjoy.
And what that amounts to is we have people who are so stressed in their business and taking on so many tasks that they. Really struggle with things that they’re either not good at don’t enjoy or simply were not destined to do because they’ve got other skillsets that they could be accentuating in their business.
And so, as a result of that, I think being able to take time to get out of the business. That the flow onto people’s family lives is a really big passion of mine to build that because I see the impacts that occur for people in their lives, outside of the business, and it all melds into one big melting pot.
Brendan: What are the sort of tangible ways that you advise small to medium business owners how to do this?
Mark: For me, the first step I take with people is I say, okay, let’s do a two week time audit. Let’s step back and go through everything in the business that you do for two weeks, write it down. It might seem like a tedious task, but it is so worth it in the long run.
By going through a time audit of everything you do, putting it into different buckets of different areas of the business. You can identify what you’re doing because for most people, they’re very surprised as to what they spend most of the time on what it ends up being. For most people is they spend 80% of their time doing things, which are not the core reason why they started their business.
And consequently they’re things that they’re not great at doing. They’re the things that stress them. If people who don’t get into business to do bookkeeping and end up spending all their time, doing the bookkeeping. Trying to work out how to do social media, right. They don’t know how to do it, and they need someone to guide them.
So what I say is, okay, let’s do that two week time audit. As a result of that, let’s identify firstly, the things that we can eliminate from the business, the tasks that we really don’t need to be doing from there let’s work on what aspects we can automate within the. So things that we can strip out that we can try to do using the amazing technology that we’ve got these days, because we come from a world where everyone is so scared of technology and robots, and they’re going to take our jobs.
But the reality is we can work hand in hand with the robots. They can do amazing things for us. So after we’ve eliminated and automated, then we outsource. So bringing in the right people to do the things that we don’t want to do or are not good at doing so that we can focus on what we’re great at people who can do it more efficiently than us.
And there’s four steps. So your time audit your elimination of tasks that you shouldn’t be doing, automating them, outsourcing them. Then for the fifth step, I actually say to automated. Because what happens is you get someone who comes in, who’s much more knowledgeable about the area of the business than you.
And they identify ways that it can be automated further, that you had not have realized. Then the last one, which I say for step six, which is a bit of a borrowing of a word, is to actually intimate. So rather than automating we’re intimating. Sometimes it’s actually necessary to take some of those tasks back in, rather than leaving them as automated.
And let’s get intimate with them again, let’s turn them back into real human touch processes because we’ve found that quite often, when we automate things, it doesn’t work for our staff or it doesn’t work for our customers. That we see examples of. Someone doesn’t like chatting with a bot because you haven’t set up your bot correctly and okay.
Maybe let’s bring that back in work with a human for a while until we get that right. Let’s make sure that we’re not just automating for the sake of automating and at the end result of all this hopefully is that we step away with much more time in the business to focus on strategy, high level stuff.
The area of the business that you’re really good at. If you brew drinks and you want to focus on new flavors and getting the drinks right. Maybe building relationships with people to sell them too, then you should be able to focus on that rather than how do I get my book keeping, right. How do I get my social media, right?
Brendan: Yeah, definitely a big problem. With all the small businesses and from personal experience of myself running my own business. I sort of diagnosed it as superhero syndrome. I mean, I thought I could do everything. The bookkeeping, the web design, it just doesn’t work. Have you got any good stories or examples of a business that you’ve worked with that have implemented these time audit and this four steps and how to transform their business?
Mark: I won’t go into specifics because I’m very big on privacy of my clients. However, absolutely. There are quite a number of clients, particularly. They tend to be the types where they’re husband and wife businesses. They’ve started out that way and they’ve grown and they’ve gotten to a point where they’re five years in or so, and they’ve had this really steep growth curve, and finally things are getting to where they supposedly want them to get.
But equally they’ve reached that point, this horror point where they realized that I can’t get out of where they’re up to because they’ve invested so much money in things like machinery, planting equipment, they’re very deep into their business and they’re getting to the place they thought they wanted to be.
However, suddenly they find that they’re more burdened and more stressed than ever because they brought in debt to get business growing. With these people that I’ve worked with, they’ve suddenly realized, wow, we’re so stressed. Why is it? It doesn’t make sense. We’ve employed five people. Life should be great.
And so in one particular example, we went through and did this time audit and we realized the founder of the business was still doing all these little couldn’t let go of things. It’s that superhero syndrome, like you say, is it’s that inability to, to really delegate. So he was still trying to do the bookkeeping.
He was still trying to be the one to put the posts on social media every day. He wanted to write the blog posts, even though he wasn’t a good writer. All these little things, when he could have been focused on the core reason that he started the business and stepping back. After we went through this process and strips all those things out, he was amazed that he didn’t have to work six or seven days a week anymore.
He could suddenly work four and a half days a week, spend time with his toddler and really enjoy life again. It just changes lives of families because it takes that stress away. It takes that feeling of, no, I can’t talk to the kids and shouting at them because you’re too stressed. You’re too busy with work and yeah, it just changes lives and relationship.
Brendan: I guess outsourcing – another topic on its own, but have you got any quick sort of tips for our audience around how to outsource these different tasks?
Mark: A big one which has become very popular is using virtual assistance. That in itself is a process in terms of getting the right help.
One thing I would say on that, which I’ve observed is really go through an interview process. Don’t treat it like a lot of people see it. It’s kind of a commodity. I, okay. I get someone online. I don’t know. I probably didn’t even get recommended by someone I just searched and found someone and, oh, it didn’t work out well. Instead, realize that they are a member of your team.
They are someone that you need to interview in the same way. As you would interview a staff member, who’s going to be sitting with you every day because you’re going to be quite intimate with this person and making sure you go through. Three interviews with different people to get the right people go through, checking up CVS, all that sort of stuff.
And once you’ve identified the right person, treat it like a probation period, like you would with a normal staff member, because I think that outsourcing and the same applies for bookkeepers because that’s another big area to do it. The virtual assistants can do so many different things, appointment setting some, some of your marketing work, data entry, things like that, and travel plans, and then try to the two big areas that people really hate, or your admin financial.
And then when the marketing side of things, if it’s not them, they want to outsource those things.
Brendan: Oh for sure, awesome. I guess if you were to give any of your clients any small to medium businesses, the Aladdin’s genie bottle. I mean, what three wishes would most of these guys wish for?
Mark: Yeah. I think most business owners would love the gift of time.
For that to arise is really goes back to what I was discussing there. A second one would be plentiful leads, right? This is the thing that people really complain about it. If I think about the top few things, people just want to know, how do I get more customers in the door? How do I get more prospects or potential customers?
And so people want warm leads. For that I say to them, okay, well, you need to treat them as if you think about yourself, you’re only going to be a warm lead to someone. If you’ve been heavily recommended. Decide that recommendation can come from someone, you know, and trust. Quite often, what people don’t think about is that the strongest recommendation is actually from yourself.
And people don’t think about it that way, but a really strong method of sales and marketing these days, which people are realizing is education. So educating your customer in such a way that you’ve given them so much information, that they get to a point where they think I can’t help, but work with this guy.
I really want to know how do I work with this lady? Because she knows. Everything about what I want to know. I trust her. She can help me in my business. Consequently, I’m recommending to myself that I should work with this person. Cause I’ve already seen the result in the free takeaways that are pat from looking at your stuff online.
So those, if you want to create the lady that would be the wise to do that, I would suggest. I think the third area that people really ask for helping is the whole hiring process, finding good people because we get to a point where. We no longer want to be solopreneurs or maybe in a partnership. We want to scale the business and people struggle quite a bit with the whole idea of how do we find the right people, firstly, source them.
And then how do we actually interview and get the right people that fit our business? And I think a really big thing that some business owners miss out on is then being very clear on the job description and setting out the tasks that they want that person to do and sitting with them and going through it because.
They’re the areas where if we don’t get that right, people can go a very long way down a certain path and not be working in the same way, the vision of the future. Not everyone is great at imparting knowledge or sharing or teaching. If that’s the case, you need to put extra effort into how do I teach someone else to do it?
I might be great at doing something and we know the best players in sports in the world. Don’t always end up being the best coaches and vice versa.
Brendan: Yeah, for sure. That’s interesting. Have you got any examples of businesses that you’ve helped make these hiring decisions.
Mark: One of those I think about is a business that was looking to bring in a finance person to cut out that aspect of the business that was really finance related.
And the mistake they made initially was they saw someone with an incredibly impressive CV, but it was all very geared towards. Banking and high level corporate finance, and it wasn’t suited to their particular industry and the size of their business. So what we identified when he said to me, well, where did this go wrong?
I said, okay, well, let’s have a look. What do you want this person to be able to do for you in the business? You want them to be able to confer with you and make decisions together with you. You want them to understand and be able to deal with your customers? Because at the end of the day, when you’re running a small to medium business, pretty much everyone has to be capable of interacting with customers.
And then we quickly identified that the person that had hired wasn’t that person at all, they weren’t capable of interacting with customers and they didn’t have the small business mindset. They didn’t understand the cashflow pressures that come with running a small business that every day is vital.
And you can’t just say, oh, well near about so thereabouts for the month, we’ll be fine on. It’s like, no, are we going to be fine tomorrow? Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. When you don’t have massive a hundred million dollar bank loans that you can call upon. So what we did then was we went through that process and really identified who is the ideal person.
We went through it in the same way as we might do in marketing with a customer avatar. The real person that we would want a hire, what do they look like? Everything about them. Then came up with a few of those advertise to identify not just the very first person. How does this lady look like? How does this man look like?
And then from that, it was much easier to identify and interview the right people and got the right person in, in the end.
Brendan: No amazing. With these small to medium businesses that you’re working with often budgets are tough. In your experience in the last 12 monthss, what’s a purchase of $100 or less that’s really made a big impact on your business?
Mark: For me, I was thinking about there’s a CRM called Dubsado that I’m using which I’ve really enjoyed using. It’s one of these things with a freemium model where upfront it’s been free. Then after you plug in a bit of data and you get a few declines in it, you have to start paying.
But I think it’s about 30 bucks a month or something like that. It’s a fairly small, I think a husband and wife team that builds it out of America. It’s very flexible and it’s very good for people in industries, such as my own where there’s a creative element because we build websites and branding as part of what we do.
Being able to provide that through the CRM and being able to build projects out and allocate within the team and identify things that, where did that lead come from originally? It’s very flexible in setting up all of your different canned emails, setting up your workflows, setting up the contracts to go out and do your invoicing. So I’ve been impressed with that.
Brendan: So I guess that comes back to your point on automation and saving time as well.
Mark: Yeah, definitely and that’s been huge. It’s actually something I’ve identified in my business with the business but it was reaching a point where the biggest thing holding me back was not leads had so much work coming in and all through referrals essentially, but I just, the onboarding process and actually then dealing with the admin side of things was what we needed to tweak to really unlock more growth in the business.
Brendan: And I guess, how do you sell the benefits of a CRM to business?
So many small, medium and even large businesses don’t even have CRMs at all and are missing out on so many opportunities as you mentioned, automation, saving time, how do you highlight the value that a CRM can provide?
Mark: For me, this comes back to the time audit and this is where I came up with this idea.
My background is in chartered accounting and I started out my first years of my career for six years, working in a chartered accounting firm. Time sheets was a real dirty word for me after a while, because I was just so like, everyone else just fed up of having to account for every 15 minutes. Eventually I came back to rely on those fundamentals, as I realized with so many businesses that they’d lacked that structure.
And so promoting to people, the idea of digging in and doing some time sheets for a couple of weeks is where we’re able to identify those, putting it all on a graph and putting into some pretty colors and saying, okay, look at this big blue area here where you’re doing a lot of onboarding admin, whatever it might be.
Is where people realize, okay. Then I sell – the opportunity cost of that. Think about what you could be spending your time on instead. That’s where it starts to work for people. They need to see, you have to work in the same way you work with marketing. Typically work with people’s desires and their fears.
And if they can’t see a fear of what they’re missing out on or a desire for a better future for their business, they need that picture painted. It is really yet actually telling a story and really talking about specific examples. Last week when you did that for a whole morning, what do you think you could have been doing instead?
Maybe bringing it to new clients by spending some time with your daughter? Yeah.
Brendan: Perfect. So showing by telling. Taking a step back now for your business Mark, what’s in your current business black box. I mean, what problems are you trying to solve for your own business at the moment?
Mark: So the biggest thing recently, as I say, was that onboarding and admin process, and that’s an ongoing thing. That’s a living. My plans are a living document that continues to flow. I think we can continue to improve on that because at the moment, as I say, we’ve got more work coming in than what we can actually handle right now.
And so dealing with getting that right, and really making the process flow work is the biggest thing that we can improve on. Probably another aspect is I’m. As you mentioned at the intro, I’ve got a dual background in chartered accounting and then marketing and sales. So I mentor business owners for growth, and that goes down a couple of different paths.
Some people are absolutely creatives and they’re scared of numbers. Then I’ve got a lot of clients who are much more on the other end and they want the growth strategies. How can we do it from a marketing and sales perspective? Getting the split right of how I actually work on the products I’m working on in the background.
So like course contents of courses and things of that nature that where I can promote one to many learning for clients getting that actually focus on the right groups is important. The other thing we do a lot of is things like websites and branding copywriting. So helping people with those core marketing aspects, Relying on a strong, fundamental background of that accounting and marketing strategy side of things, rather than just pretty pictures.
So getting the mix of those things right. So my wife actually works in the business as well, and she also. Another job outside of that. It’s all about if we can get all of these things right, there’s enough impetus to convince her to lose the other job and focus on just this one.
Brendan: Wow. Working with your wife in your business sounds challenging. I don’t know if I could do that. How does that affect your relationship working with your wife in the business?
Mark: We’re very fortunate. We get on incredibly well in all aspects of our lives., and so there’s never been any point scoring with us. So there’s no boss relationship we’re very much like, for example, I’m better at photoshop.
Where she’s better at Illustrator. We’re very clear on all to help me with that. We’re quite happy for the other ones to tell us, then I know you gotta do it this way. I’m much better at copywriting where she’s got a really good eye for branding. We both have the same skill sets. I’m a chartered accountant, she’s a CPA.
We both have a bit of a marketing background. She’s got a design qualification, but yeah, I’m more of a writer. I’ve got a writing background. I’ve done various different writing assignments. Between us, we recognize those skills and we’re very open to criticism with each other. So that works well. We’re very good at shifting gears and having fun.
So we haven’t had to, and I have had this conversation with a lot of other friends who are in a similar situation where with married couples working together, we haven’t had to delineate work, only happens here or at this time or anything like that. We’re very good at being able to go in and out of it.
I think because we’re both very passionate about what we do, we’ve always been business builders in the background. We’ve always had a lot of side hustles. So it’s been a natural thing for us to, at 10:00 PM having a discussion about how we do this? How do we build this? After we’ve got our daughter to bed, it’s getting right into things.
Because it’s not a chore, it’s not something that we’re forced to do.
Brendan: Did you put her through the stringent interview process as well?
Mark: Absolutely haha. Different type of interview, though.
Brendan: A question that we like to ask everyone that comes on the podcast? I mean, what marketing books have inspired you for your business?
Mark: One that I really like that I probably read about six months ago is building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. It’s very much focused on something that I think most people forget in their marketing strategy, which is actually telling a story, telling a story around your business, but not even your business about your customer. So it’s focused on how do you get in the mindset of your customer and not make it all about you? You’re not the hero. This is a big aspect of the book is that you’re not the hero in making them the hero and that you are the sort of the, trying to think of the word, the enabler to the hero.
You’re that person in the background who just gives the little nudges and assist them along the way, but they are the hero in their own story. So what I might mean by that is if you’re running a business where you are doing rubbish removal from people’s houses, and rather than saying, we can do this, we’ve been there for 20 years.
We are certified. We’re amazing. It’s actually, why don’t we be a wonderful feeling for you when you’ve got that rubbish out of your house, when your husband stops complaining to you about it and your life is going to feel so free. I think of that the space you’ll have to play with your children and the health benefits you’re going to have.
So it’s really about them and their story rather than yours. So building a Story Brand, which also comes with a lot of tools and things that you can do offline from the book is a really strong one.
Brendan: Oh, that’s awesome. I just finished reading his other book a million miles in a thousand years. I wasn’t aware of this one. Sounds really good.
He talks about editing his life and they turned one of his memoirs into them. Yeah. But again, a lot of strong story elements and definitely a lot of key takeaways. So I’ll definitely link both of those books in the show notes. Our final question, mark, it’s a bit of a different one.
It definitely gets you thinking in a creative way. So you’re on the first flight to Mars with Elon Musk and the first settlers of both the space X star ship rocket. What business do you start when you land on Mars and how would you market it to the new machines?
Mark: I would start an environmentally friendly waste disposal business. It would center around the full gamut of waste disposal, recycling and repurposing of things. What that would be really doing is appealing to the fears of, and desires, but essentially the fears of those people who are the new settlers of Mars. Saying to them. Okay. I’d illustrate in my marketing Mars as it is now and Mars as it is in a couple of hundred years time and how it’s totally degrading and how we had this really great opportunity to create an amazing planet and not to stuff it up again as the same way as we have done with earth and really appealing to that sense of legacy.
Because you, as a settler are going to be seen as one of the first 100 people on the planet of Mars. Do you want to be remembered for someone who really made it into a remarkable place? Or do you want to be remembered as one of those selfish people that got it wrong and stuffed it up? And so I always say to people…
When looking for a business to start or business to promote, it’s not about always the sexiest ones, but it’s about getting the fundamentals right. Finding a niche that has a lot of demand. It might not be sexy to other people and it’s not being done well by. So, if you can bring sophistication to an industry, like for example, waste disposal, where others are just doing it, man, in a van and not really focused on how do I make this thing amazing and how I make the customer experience.
Wonderful. How do I say to people? Okay. We’re going to totally recycle everything you have and we’re going to make your experience working with us. Easy and simple. So I think waste disposal, one of those things it’s going to be highly necessary and every household needs it, every business needs it. So it’s got a really strong, fundamental commercial proposition.
Brendan: Amazing answer incorporating a lot of things that we’ve talked about today. It brings it all together nicely. So I mean, Mark really appreciate your time today and the value that you’ve given to our audience. Is there anything you’d like to say before we wrap up or anything that you’d like to ask people to do?
Mark: I think, as I say, I’m really passionate about people finding an opportunity to grow their business in such a way that, that gives them more time and allows them to step back. So if you’d like to head to ownyourmark.com.au, there is five point growth plan there that’s got some awesome, some slightly different tips, some of them.
So I think there’s some opportunities there to help in growing the business and hopefully gives people some time to get away from all those things that they don’t enjoy and spend more time on things they do love.
Brendan: No amazing. What was that website?
Mark: It’s ownyourmark.com.au.
Brendan: Perfect. Thanks Mark and thanks for taking the time out and it’s been great.
Mark: Brendan. Thank you so much for having me. I’ve really enjoyed this chat.
Brendan: Yeah, it’s been great. You can find all the resources and everything we mentioned today in the show Metigy.com/podcast . I’ll catch you next week on the Metigy marketing podcast.
Daren: From Metigy, you’ve just listened to Forward Thinking. Again, I’m Daren and Metigy hopes we helped you find more insights and tips into your business. To find out more about Metigy and get a listener exclusive three month free trial, visit us at Metigy.com/podcast. And while you’re there, go and check out some more episodes.
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