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Do You Have CEO Level Support?

by | Last updated: Apr 14, 2022 | Podcast

In my conversations with women, I’ve discovered that we just don’t ask for or seek enough help. We feel like we have to do everything ourselves, and this leaves us feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and on the brink of burnout. In this episode, I talk about building your own support system. I take you behind the scenes and share how I’ve built teams to help me in various areas of my business and my life.

On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:

4:03 – When building your own support system, you can focus on several areas. I start with discussing the different ways I receive support in my business.

8:29 – Doing this used to take up a HUGE amount of my time. I talk about it and how my Director of Operations, customer support team, and program coordinator are life savers!

14:42 – I have more people behind the scenes I’m in contact with to occasionally help me on the business side of things.

17:09 – My personal success team at home helps me manage my health. This area is one where a lot of women entrepreneurs still hold on to some old-fashioned norms.

23:21 – I discuss the final area of support I receive. It’s something I wasn’t even sure I’d talk about on the show.

28:18 – You’ve got a permission slip to ask yourself: Where do I need support?

Show Links

You've probably heard that saying that teamwork makes the dream work, but what does that actually mean for women entrepreneurs who are trying to not only grow their business but live their life? They're trying to raise their kids, trying to take care of their own health, trying to just have a beautifully full life. Today, we are talking about building your own support system and all of the different people who I have behind the scenes, helping me to show up and share with you each and every week, “This is how we make it happen.”

Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Hey there, CEO. Welcome to another very real, very open, and honest behind-the-scenes conversation today on Promote Yourself to CEO. I want to talk about building your own support system because I find in my conversations with so many women out there, it is nearly a universal experience that we just don't ask for or seek out enough help and support. We tend to feel like we need to take it all on ourselves and this has led to so many women feeling overwhelmed, feeling exhausted, feeling like they're on the brink of burnout. There's another way that we can make ourselves have the support that we really know that we need in our lives.

I think this conversation is so important. I would love to hear more people talk about what it really looks like behind the scenes, who all is on their support system, their support team behind the scenes because when we're looking from the outside, looking in to a lot of the entrepreneurs that we might follow, people who are out there creating and doing all these amazing things, it's so easy to get sucked into comparisonitis and feel like, “They are doing so much, they are producing so much content, they are sharing so many things. How do they have the time, energy, and bandwidth to do that? I must be some failure because I can't seem to get it together. I can't seem to get all these things done.”

The truth is most of the people who are at the top of their field, who are the most successful entrepreneurs and small business owners, aren't doing this alone. They have a whole team of people behind the scenes, both on the business front and on the personal front. That's what I want to talk about today because this was a huge shift for me when I was getting serious about growing my business and I also had clarity in what I wanted this journey to look like. I knew that as an entrepreneur, it would be very easy for me to spend all my time doing work at the expense of my health, physical health, mental health, my family, nurturing friendships, giving myself time for rest in physical activity, nurturing my own creativity, just all of the things that create a beautifully full life. It's really easy to wake up and realize you haven't made time for any of that, so all of those areas of your life are just completely depleted. I knew that I needed to get support in place to make sure that I could live the life I wanted and grow the business I wanted. I knew I couldn't do it alone. Let's talk about the different areas you might want to consider when it comes to building your own support system.

Let's talk about the business side of things first because I think for a lot of us, this is the first area we start to think about. We're like, “I need to get an assistant. I need to get a bookkeeper. I need to get some people who are going to take some of this busy work or some of the admin or customer service work off of my plate so that I can stay focused on the higher level things that only I can do for my business.” That is where I started. I have had an assistant from basically day one in my business. I knew that I didn't have the bandwidth simply because my business started, then I had kids. I knew I needed support right out the gate. But over time, I've consistently reached out for more and more support in each area of my business.

Internally, in my team, as I started realizing I needed more help, I had my assistant first who was managing customer service and was managing admin types of tasks, then I needed a tech assistant because to be quite honest, I am just dangerous enough when it comes to the techy things but I knew that I didn't want to waste all my time trying to figure out how to make all the things work. Then I had one of my assistants moved up into more of an operations director role and we hired someone else to come in and be the customer service admin assistant. Over time, especially the last few years, I realized I needed more help in other areas of my business besides just the operations, admin day-to-day type of areas.

On the marketing and sales side, when I knew it was time to ramp up the growth for my business, I knew that the biggest thing that was holding me back was that I was the only person who was taking on the marketing activities. For a long time, I did all of this myself. I did all of the marketing work myself. I was creating my content every week. I was posting on social every week. I was writing newsletters every week. I was posting blogs. I was updating my website and tweaking my website. If you're anything like me, chances are you had to learn how to do a lot of these things, just because there's a lot that needs to be happening on the marketing front for your business. But ultimately, what I realized was a lot of the things that my time and energy was being spent on in the marketing side of my business were things that other people could handle for me. It would free up my bandwidth to not only do nurture marketing, which is my podcast, my newsletter, my social media, things that are going out to my existing community, but that would free us up bandwidth wise so that I could get more visibility for my business.

I could do more Attract marketing. This is where I have somebody on my team whose whole job is to go out and pitch me for podcasts. That's their whole job. Their whole job is to pitch me and book me for podcast interviews. This is hands down one of my favorite attract marketing strategies. For me, it works really well because it aligns very smoothly with my podcast. I find that if I'm interviewed on a podcast, those listeners tend to come check out my podcast, but I knew that if it was up to me, I could not stay consistent with pitching myself. In fact, this is one area where I was really limiting the growth of my business because when things got busy, I would stop pitching. I would stop following up. I would really only get these visibility opportunities when a peer, a colleague, somebody who was in my network was inviting me, not when I was being proactive about it.

That was a big shift for me, moving towards hiring somebody to help me with the visibility, hiring people to help me with the ongoing nurture marketing in the business, the podcast, the newsletters, the social, hiring somebody who was going to run and manage all of the ads, so this is another piece of our strategy. We don't always run ads but a few times a year, we do run ads to our Plan Your Best Year Ever Challenge or to the Fired Up & Focused Challenge. I have somebody on the team who manages and runs that. Then I knew that I needed some help with copywriting. Because of the way that my business operates, I spend a lot of time writing email copies for all of our promotions, all of our enrollment cycles for The CEO Collective. This used to be something that took up a huge amount of time. If you've ever put together a promotion to enroll for your signature offer, you know that there's just pages and pages, and pages of copy, like you have your whole sales page, you probably have anywhere from 7 to 12 emails going out and if you were to put it all together, it is so much copy that you need to create.

You probably want to freshen it up a little bit each time too so that you're not just sharing the same thing, so for me, hiring a copywriter to take on all of that work was such a game changer. It easily saved me so many hours. Honestly, she did a better job last year and the last two years than I could on my own because she wasn't so close to it the way that I was getting frustrated all the time that I was too close to everything and I was having a really hard time writing the copy. My copywriter was able to step in and totally help out with that.

On the marketing side of my business, I have six different people supporting me to help me get interviewed on a regular basis, to help me run Facebook ads and grow our audience in our email list, to produce my podcast, to create all the social media, newsletters, and all of those things. We have a graphic designer and a website designer who makes everything beautiful, and is working on our new rebrand. I have a photographer who I have a few times a year to create more social media imagery for us. That's a lot of people that I didn't have. Probably five or so years ago, I was trying to do all of those things myself. As I knew I wanted to grow the business, I knew I needed to pull myself out of the weeds of some of the marketing activities so that I could focus more of my effort on getting more visibility for The CEO Collective.

Now, on the tech and operations side, this is where having Amber Kinney on my team is just such a lifesaver because this is not my zone of genius. Like I said, I'm just techy enough. Because Amber is my director of operations, she reaches out and hires people to develop the website or to keep our membership site up and going. She has people who are doing the SEO type of things. If there's any techie things behind the scenes, making sure all the integrations work, all of that, she manages all of that so I don't even need to talk to the people who are working for her in order to make that happen but she has a handful of people who we outsource all of that tech and operations level stuff to.

Then finally, on the customer experience and delivery side, this was a huge shift for me over the last few years and this was me learning that I don't have to do it all by myself. I think if you're like me and you've been in your work for a long time, it's really easy to feel like you have to create everything for your clients. It's really easy to feel like you have to be the one to create all the resources, to create all the training, to create everything that you are providing for them. You need to be the one to be on all the calls. You need to be the one organizing everything. This last couple years has really, really changed the game for me here because I realized that my goal was to provide the container for the transformation we provide in The CEO Collective but I don't have to be doing all of the implementation of that on my own.

On the customer experience and delivery side, we have somebody who's on our customer support team, then they are there to answer all of our clients' admin issues, getting access to the member's site, getting them registered for events or things that are going on. She keeps all of the details running for everybody. She manages all the calendars, making sure everybody has all the links, things like that. We have a program coordinator who is responsible for checking in on all of our clients and making sure they have everything that they need. She facilitates our live mastermind calls, which again, is a huge game changer for me so I don't have to be the only one facilitating these things. We have a whole success team of mentors who provide accountability to each and every one of our clients. They check in on them, they help them get their 90 Day Plan fine-tuned, then are checking in with them every single week with our coaching platform to make sure that all of our clients feel like they're getting some momentum moving forward, implementing their plan.

Then we also have guest experts come in and teach to all of our clients. I no longer am the only one creating content for The CEO Collective. All of my core content is there. There's a lot of things I've created over the years and right now, I'm really not creating new content because a lot of my stuff is evergreen and is proven and tested. I'm working on doing some upgrades this year to the pieces that I have previously created, but what I have loved is bringing in these guest experts to deliver their own master classes on topics that I'm not an expert in, topics like understanding your financials, topics like understanding all the legal basics that you need in place, thinking about how you can manage stress as an entrepreneur, looking at the different way you can improve your messaging as an entrepreneur. I have all these amazing guest experts who come in, and because we've got such a smooth system in place, they can come in and teach their amazing content, provide value. We are so excited to have them as part of this community. It really pulled me out of the weeds from feeling like every month, I'm solely alone for creating new things for my community.

That's a lot of people behind the scenes. Those are just the people who I'm in contact with on a regular basis, who I would say are part of our core team. Then I also have my CPA, my lawyer, my diversity, equity, and inclusion coach. Also on my success team, I have people on my success team who are there for me personally to get the business support that I need. I consider this almost like my advisory board. I have coaches and other entrepreneurs who are really familiar with me, and my work, who see the vision that I have. These are the people who, if I'm trying to brainstorm a new idea, if I'm trying to work through a challenge I'm having, if I just need to download something and verbally go through it with somebody, I have my own team of coaches. I have people who I will pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I'm trying to work through this thing. Can I get your thoughts? Can I get your insight? Can you help me work through these challenges?”

On the business side, I have built out so much support for myself and this really allows me to stay in my zone of genius, it allows me to stay focused on the activities that are designed to grow the business, and it allows me to get my time back so that I can have a beautifully full life. This was so incredibly important for me. I leaned so hard into these people, especially last year when I had to take on my mom's care. My mom is disabled and wheelchair-bound, and I had to step in and manage full-time nursing care for her, which is five to six different nurses coming in and out of her house every single week, managing all of her doctor's appointments and really had to take all of this on myself. If my team wasn't running as smoothly as they have been, if they weren't operating at the level that we've been operating at, I wouldn't have had the bandwidth to take all of this on without it dramatically impacting my business, and it didn't. In fact, my business grew last year even though I was actually working less than I'd ever worked before.

The other reason I was able to do that is because I also have my own personal success team. I have my personal success team at home and I also have a personal care team to help me manage my health. Let me talk about the success team at home because I think this is an area where a lot of women entrepreneurs, I think we still buy into a lot of these old-fashioned beliefs of gender norms where we can have all the help at the office, we can have an assistant at the office, we can hire people in our business but when it comes to getting back our time on the home front, we tend to overwork.

The science, the research proves that this is common for a lot of us. Even if you have the most progressive partner in the world, women still predominantly are responsible for running the house, managing the house, taking care of kids, being the default parent. This is something that has required a lot of open and honest conversations with my husband. We've had to decide together where we really want to be spending our time as a family, as a couple, as parents, as individuals, what are the things that we want to be responsible for, and what are the things that we want to get support with.

This was a huge shift for both of us, to be honest, because there's a lot of, “Well, I can do that,” or “Well, this isn't that big of a deal.” From the very beginning, we had child care help up until the last few years. Our kids are older now, so we don't really need the level of child care help that we had when they were teeny tiny babies, but that was one of my other big decisions was I knew I needed to hire babysitter to come, be in the house with the twins when they were really, really small so that I could get a few hours to work. For me, it was totally worth it to do that instead of trying to work after the kids had gone to bed or trying to squeeze things in during nap time. That just didn't work for me very well. Personally, I am not a night person, I need my sleep, so we decided that having child care was a priority and we made that happen.

We also decided that neither one of us really liked to do some of the daily grind activities that all families have to deal with but for both of us, especially over the last couple of years, we knew that we needed some help. For the last couple years with the pandemic, our kids have been home. We decided to homeschool at the beginning of the pandemic. They have not been in school since that started. Thankfully, my husband used to be a seventh grade English teacher, so taking care of the education side of things is really easy for him but I didn't want him to feel like he also had to be solely responsible for all the housekeeping, all the laundry, all the cooking, all of that, so we reached out and found a housekeeper who could come about every other week to the house. That was a huge upgrade for us. Previously, we'd sporadically have people, but having somebody to come on a regular basis freed up so much bandwidth for us. During the warm months, we have a landscaper that comes and keeps the yard in good shape. Again, this was giving my husband back some time since he's homeschooling three kids.

We also invested in having some support with feeding everybody. This might sound so silly but maybe not. I know for our family, getting meals on the table every single day can be a challenge. It gets really busy and it's hard to think about planning, we aren't that great at meal planning ourselves, so we got a Hellofresh subscription and have loved that, about three meals a week from our Hellofresh subscription. It shows up every week. We pick out the meals we want, all the ingredients show up. It's really easy to put together. It saves us a lot of energy when it comes to meal planning.

More recently, I decided to go ahead and sign up for a meal prep service, which thankfully, it's my brother-in-law's company, but he's a trainer and nutritionist, and he started a meal prep company where you could buy six, eight, ten meals a week and he will deliver them to you. They're already made, they're fresh, they're really healthy, they're all balanced based on your nutrition plan. For me, that became another easy, like yes, to say absolutely, I will do that because now I don't even have to think about what am I going to eat. It has dramatically reduced how much I eat out during the week because I know I have a refrigerator here at the office full of freshly prepped meals.

Who else is on our personal success team at home? One of the other things that we do is we just connect with each other on a regular basis to see where else we need help or where else we are stuck. There have definitely been times where we have brought in an organizer to help us get organized with a bunch of paperwork. We've had a personal organizer come in and organize our office and our paperwork. We've had people come in to help us set up some systems, just to keep all of this daily activity going in our business or in our life. This is just where I would say, if you are finding there's an area of your personal life that you're wishing it could be a little easier, chances are there's a company, there's a service out there that would free up some bandwidth for you. Yes, it will cost a little bit of money but I have found that I would much rather pay our housekeeper to come and get the whole house in shape within three or four hours instead of me spending a weekend morning trying to get it all done myself. It gives us so much time and energy back. That time and energy back are things that we can then spend with our kids, we can have more quality time with our kids, we can be more present as a family, which I think is so important.

Now, the final area of my CEO support system has been my personal health care team. I wasn't sure if I was going to talk about this but I don't think I'm alone and that I've had some health challenges. Really the last, I would say, 15, 16 years, I have had pretty bad anxiety, which at times led to consistent panic attacks. I have some health challenges with things like my thyroid, things with my energy level. I have chronic pain that I'm dealing with on a regular basis, and a lot of me being able to have the energy and mental clarity I need to live my life and run my business, all comes down to my health. I've had to really invest in my health care team. A couple things that I've done here, I've definitely worked with, like I said, I have a meal prep service now and it makes it so much easier for me to eat healthy. Eating really impacts so much of my overall health and well-being.

I have had several different health coaches that I've worked with at different points, some who are focused on my overall mindset and habits, and some who are working with me more on things like, “Here's your workout plan,” that type of thing. I have a concierge doctor, which was a huge, huge investment for me. I never would have thought I would have said yes to that but I was finding myself so exhausted and so just feeling flat, like I had nothing left to give and a friend of mine said, “Oh, I have this great concierge, functional medicine doctor.” I didn't really understand what that meant but I knew something was wrong even though my regular doctor said all my labs were fine.

When I started going to see this concierge doctor, it was an annual fee of $3,000 to be a part of this practice but she only has a few hundred clients and I spend so much time with her. My physical every year is a two hour process. They check my labs every 90 days. Because she's a functional medicine doctor, she was able to find things that my regular doctor wasn't finding, like diagnosing a thyroid problem, helping me realize that I had some serious deficiencies in a lot of different vitamins and minerals that I needed to work on getting those up. She helped identify some other health challenges that were leading to chronic fatigue and chronic pain. Because she used this functional approach, we were able to really dial these things in. The return on my energy has been amazing. Those are a lot of big investments I feel because for a long time, I wouldn't invest in my health care in the way that I have over the last few years. I'm just so incredibly grateful that I did because it has made such a massive, massive impact for me.

The other person who, I would say, is on my personal care team is my therapist. I'm really lucky that I've had a relationship with this particular therapist for several years prior to the pandemic. But I remember the week that the pandemic started and I was starting to wrap my head around how intense this was going to be for me as somebody working with, and supporting and leading business owners. I reached out to her and I said, “Hey, I need to be on your calendar on a regular basis because I'm about to take on a lot of emotions and anxiety from other people. I need somewhere to process that.” She has been just such an anchor for me in this really, really intense couple of years. While I'm not as frequently seeing her, just knowing that I have somebody who I can go get on a call with and unpack some of these things that I might have been holding on to before, it makes such a massive difference. That's a huge part of my own personal care team that I think we don't talk about enough is getting the support you might need for your mental health.

One of the things I did this past year was I went to this program in Tennessee called Onsite. I did their week-long healing trauma program. It was an intensive therapeutic program that I heard about from some therapists I'd worked with. It was just incredible to give myself permission to really take care of healing some trauma that I had been still feeling stuck with. That's a lot. It takes a lot of people behind the scenes to support me. I do not do all of this alone. I think any time you see somebody out in the world who is showing up a lot, who's creating a lot, who it seems like they have it all figured out and they just, “How do they manage to get this stuff all done?” I promise you, they have a team of people behind them. They're either a team in the business, so people actually implementing things in the business, keeping the business running day-to-day and moving forward.

They might be advisors and experts that they reach out to and get support from. They might be people actually in their physical home who keep the home front moving, so when you are home, you can spend more time being focused and present. They might be people helping you with your health. They might be people actually actively helping you make sure that your body is working at the highest level it possibly can, that you are able to have the mental clarity you need, you're able to have the focus you need, you're able to have the energy you need. I think because I've had all of these different layers of support in my life and in my business, I was really tested last year when I had to take on my mom's care, not because I don't love her and wouldn't do it, of course, I would want to take care of my mom however I can, but it is very emotionally draining. Anyone who's had to care for an older parent, you probably understand that it is very emotionally draining to go through all of that.

If I didn't have this level of support system, I don't know how I would have gotten through that year, taking that on in addition to being an entrepreneur, a wife, and a mother and trying to squeeze some time for me in as well. I hope this gives you a little bit of a permission slip to ask yourself, “Where do I need support? Do I need support on the business side? Where do I need support in the business so that I can stay focused on my zone of genius? Do I need people in my corner who I can bounce ideas off of, who can challenge me, who can encourage me to step out of my comfort zone and into my growth zone? Do I need people on the home front to be my personal home success team? Do I need somebody to tackle some of these things so that I'm not spending the precious free time I have, doing the daily grind work at home? Do I need a personal care team? Is there an area of my health, physical and mental health, that needs to get some love and attention? Do I have people making sure that I am able to show up and that I have the deep reservoir of energy to draw from when times get tough? Do I have those people helping me make sure that I'm showing up the absolute best that I can?”

I hope this helps, I hope this gives you some insight, and I hope this really gets you asking yourself some questions about, “How can I get more support for my life and my business?” If you love this episode, please let me know. I want to hear from you, who's on your success team? Who's making it easier for you to show up 100% in alignment with your values, your vision, and just who you want to be in this world? I would love to hear from you. Sometimes, whenever y'all share with me who else is in your success team, it gives me more ideas of where else I could ask for some help in my life or my business, so I'd love to hear from you. Please tag me on Instagram @racheal.cook and let me know who's on your success team. All right, thanks so much for listening. I'll talk to you soon.