EPISODE 156: LEADERSHIP & PROBLEM SOLVING AS AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH PIA BECK OF CURATE WELL CO.
Pia Beck is the CEO of Curate Well Co., coaching and community for female entrepreneurs starting and scaling service-based businesses.
She’s been helping her clients and community build savvy, streamlined, strategic businesses — so they can make massive aligned and authentic impact, launch a life they love, and leave a legacy.
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"I would say leadership encompasses being a go-to authority, being seen as an authority in your space, but it's also just so much bigger than that... How I define leadership is the ability to elicit contribution from other people."
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Topics Discussed In This Episode:
- Her journey creating Curate Well Co. and reaching their first 6-figure revenue and cash month
- Team behind-the-scenes of running Curate Well Co. and her role as the CEO
- Why being a leader in the online space is not about being an authority
- Curate Well Co.'s biggest business problem in 2020 and how they resolved it
- Ways for online entrepreneurs to practice problem solving and get better at it
Resources Discussed In This Episode:
Pia's entrepreneurial journey and founding Curate Well Co.
When I think back about my life when I was a kid, I wasn't like, I'm going to be an entrepreneur, I'm going to start my own business. That never crossed my mind.
And when I think back on my childhood, I was totally an entrepreneur from the beginning. I was like selling stuff on the side of the road in my neighborhood to nobody... not successful. So I've always just been someone who kind of knew what I wanted and set out to make that happen.
For most of my life, I went through just checking the boxes. I went to school and I got sensible degrees and I got a job, and then I got promoted and I got another job and I got promoted, and like on and on and on and on and on.
And I then kind of reached the pinnacle of my career. I was the head of HR for a national startup company managing 150 to 175 employees in four times zones. I had a team of direct reports. There were like about 10 to 12 managers who reported up to me and then reported down to their teams and all these different cities. And I was like, okay, this is it. I was like, I did it.
And I was miserable. I was just so unhappy. This doesn't make any sense. Why am I so unhappy? Like, this is what I wanted. This is what I've been working towards.
And so I quit my job, no financial runway, no plan, not even a name for my business. Very unlike me, I'm super type A and I just woke up one morning and was like, yeah, I'm done.
So I started Curate Well Co. and at the beginning, we made some pretty big pivots right away. And in May of 2019, I really realized like this is what I want to do. This is who I want to help, this is how I do it, and this is really what I'm exceptional at. I finally feel comfortable leaning into that.
And so since May of 2019, it's been pretty much nonstop growth, and especially in 2020 up until this point. We're at the point now where I get to just do what I've always been really good at, and I get to work with really cool people and have really amazing conversations.
Who is Curate Well Co. for? Who do you work with?
We help impact driven and people-first female entrepreneurs, mostly, although not exclusively. We have some male people in our community, which is really cool and we love it when they stop by.
I'm passionate about helping people who identify as female to build their businesses. So I think the world needs more female identifying leaders. We help them start and scale service-based businesses.
So they are impact-driven businesses, people-first businesses. While they may have digital products in their offer suite, that is not the be all end all for them. They want to work with people in community and they want to figure out how they can scale that to be as successful, if not more successful as the online businesses that have a digital product suite and are running kind of on autopilot in the background - not that there's anything wrong with that.
We support them with strategy, and then from there going into creating systems and structure, and I'm a big spreadsheet person. So really taking purpose, which is something that they have and they're exceptional at and it's really important to me, and combining it with process, which is my zone of genius and where I really thrive to create a scalable business that allows them to do what they love and help people.
When did Curate Well Co. hit its first 6-figure mark?
We hit $10,000 months, so at a six-figure run rate, in December of 2019. And then, we hit six figures in cash sometime in Q1 2020, I don't remember the exact date.
What was your biggest launch in 2020? Did you do anything differently this year for your business and in your marketing?
I don't know that we've had one single biggest launch. We have had one launch that was the biggest, I think, like contained unit. However, I don't do a ton of live launching.
So the vast majority of our business comes through backend selling or inbound leads via referrals.
How are you driving in traffic right now for Curate Well Co.?
So social media is huge obviously. And another thing that I think that people are just not talking about is, I have a really robust community offline, like IRL.
Community is the thing that I think has set my business up to grow so quickly. I made a point when I was first starting my business to connect with as many people as possible.
I've never had as many friends as I have right now in my entire life. My entire life, I've always had a small group of very good friends. Because of my business, it really forced me to become better at building connections with people and building a network and being social and kind of building this like spider web of connections.
And so I focused a ton on building up my community both online, but then also locally here in Denver when I was first starting my business. And that is still to this day, a huge part of what's made us successful.
How big is your team right now? Who do you have employed? What's your primary role right now in your business?
So on my internal team, it's me, and then I have two employees who are W2 employees employed by Curate Well Co. One of them is full-time the other is part-time.
And then we outsource for specific projects and or specific functions. So for example, I have a CFO. She is not on my team, but she's an ongoing participant in the business. Then we outsource to experts for specific things like, for example, building an inclusive community or leading our team retreats, website, stuff like that. So photography, I have people that I work with kind of on an as-needed basis as well.
My role within the company is a couple of things. So I am coaching, I meet with all of my clients. I don't foresee us having kind of that sub-coach model, at least anytime soon. It lights me up to work with our clients, it's what I love to do, and so that's not something that I'll be outsourcing in the near future.
Part of my job is serving our clients and masterminds in one-on-one programs in shorter term intensives, and then being in our community in terms of the people who do come and do participate in our online programs. There's almost always a community aspect to that too.
And then the other part of my business that I'm responsible for is kind of like that CEO function, right? So big picture, strategic planning, mapping out where the business is going, what new initiatives we're taking on.
Because I do have an internal team, I also have this manager role of delegating, reviewing, approving, and building the culture too, of what the business is becoming internally.
As the CEO of your business, what are you doing regularly to continue to grow personally?
I definitely learned from as many people as I possibly can. I've worked with coaches in the past and I'm not working with anyone right this second, but I have invested in myself very heavily.
I've also invested kind of outside of the business, like you said, just like on me personally. So I've done personal development and leadership programs in that respect as well.
I love, love, love to read. Actually, one of the ways that I'm taking care of myself and setting myself up for that CEO role now is not reading business books. Although I love a good business book and I've got a list, I have actually been focused on just reading novels, like reading for fun, because it triggers something different in your brain.
I've been starting and ending my day by reading 30 minutes for the past couple of weeks, and that's been working really well for me.
Why leadership in the online space is not about being an authority.
Leadership encompasses being a go-to, already being seen as an authority in your space, but it's also just so much bigger than that.
Everyone is talking about being the go-to authority - being the person with the credibility that is spearheading whatever it is that you do in your space.
Leadership definitely encompasses that. How I define leadership outside of that is the ability to elicit contribution from other people.
So there's kind of a couple of things about leadership. I think that I think the biggest difference to me, the difference between authority and leadership is that authenticity to me feels kind of like a one-way relationship.
You see me as an authority, whereas leadership is a team dynamic. There is the leader on the team, however, you're operating in a group and you are setting different people up for success to contribute in different ways.
I also think that authenticity is past focused. So authenticity is generated when there is proof of something that has already happened. And so now you have authority because you can say, look here.
Whereas I think leaders are future focused. They envision where they're going and that other people are going, and they bring everyone along with them in that shared mission towards that future goal. So those are a couple of the differences in terms of how I define it.
On mistakes we might be making in terms of leadership in the online space.
I don't see a lot of people actually doing it. Leadership is something that you really embody, and I think that there is a huge opportunity for online business owners to really embody leadership and step into their role as leaders and come from that place rather than the place of authority.
Share your top tips on becoming a better leader in the online space.
There are a couple of things that I always fall back on. Number one is to speak into each and every person.
In an online world, which we are very much living in right now, it is so easy to forget that there are other people involved in all of these interactions. There are humans on the other side of the screen who are the ones leaving the comments and sending the DM and engaging with your content and having conversations with you.
So I like to speak into each and every person, and what that means is that you look to one individual. We can't serve the masses until we can really effectively serve one person.
What is the one question in your DMs that you can answer? What is the one problem of the one person that you are solving with your programs? And really speaking into each and every single individual.
However, remembering that in this space that you've created, everyone can hear what you're saying and everyone can benefit from what you're saying.
And so we speak to one individual person, we look at one person, we solve one problem in a way that everyone who's in the space is going to benefit from that cue, from that learning, from that post, from that content.
What this looks like very tangibly in practice is using people's names. So when I host webinars, I welcome every single person who is coming on the webinar. I say like, hi, so-and-so, I'm so glad you're here, even though it's broadcast style and I can't actually see them.
Just speaking out into the ether. I am saying, hey you, I see you, you're here. I'm glad you're here and I noticed that you're here and you are like adding to this space. So that's one thing that I think makes a huge difference.
Good leaders solve problems. What has been the biggest problem in your business this year and what was your process as you went about solving it?
I hired a team this year, and so a big focus for me, especially in the latter half of 2020, has been taking everything that's in my brain and setting my team up for success to execute.
I don't think I ever realized how much is happening inside my brain - how many things I take for granted, how many things I don't think twice about. And now that there are other people who are responsible for executing in those same areas, how can I really thoroughly set them up for success?
So what that's looked like is tons of documentation. It looked like a ton of training and closing knowledge gaps for them. It also looked like creating the systems to track not only their activities, but the outcomes of those activities, so that we can go back and analyze the data and really objectively say, what's working and what's not, and build a culture and a team that is also on board for problem solving without taking things personally.
I think that's where so much of the resistance comes up for people who are shifting truly into that CEO role is, yeah, it's hard. It does take longer and it's way more stressful at the beginning.
And if you can put in that work up front and push through that, it does help in the longterm. And I totally understand why people get hung up on that because it is exhausting, it's more work in the moment then just doing it yourself. But for the purposes of scaling quickly, it's necessary.
What are some ways for entrepreneurs to practice problem solving and get better at it?
There are really two things. Number one thing is ask questions, just ask people things.
Ask your ideal client, ask your community, ask your current clients, ask your team, ask your peers, ask your mentors, just ask people questions.
Because a lot of the times, the lack of problem solving is actually a byproduct of a lack of knowing that problems exist. And so we need to ask the questions and stay really curious and stay really open-minded, that's kind of the first step.
So a lot of the times when someone is feeling something or experiencing something, or they come to you for help with something, there is a problem there. It's your job to first uncover what that problem is by asking questions.
The second thing I would say is analyze data, collect data. Knowing your numbers is so powerful. So much of our problem solving takes the form of looking at data.
And again, just seeing like what's actually happening here and what can we do differently. That would make a huge difference.
One thing that I practice from a client standpoint, a client relationship standpoint and community relationship, is to look, listen, and give tools, being able to just drop what I think I know is true and actually listen.
So looking for what's going on, listening for the thing, that's going to make the biggest difference and giving specific tools that solve a specific problem.
Thanks For Listening, My Friend!
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