It’s been almost eight years since the birth of Simple Pin Media and so much has happened in that time. I’ve learned a ton about Pinterest, growing an agency, working with a team, and what leadership looks like.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes and there are things I would change. I feel like I have a lot of wisdom to pass on as a result.
Since Pinterest is all about telling your story these days, I decided to focus on that story metaphor and share what I’ve learned by telling another chapter in my business story — a Simple Pin Story 2021 update, if you will.
All month long in the Simple Pin Collective and on the podcast we will be talking about stories. Your pins, your keywords, and your business all tell a story.
Not sure how to tell your story? We have a plan for you!
This week we are hosting our FREE 5-Day Pinterest Challenge. It is a fresh take on Pinterest that will walk you through how to spring clean your Pinterest strategy for 2021.
We definitely want you to join this challenge. The last one we hosted was SO fun-filled with high energy and creativity. We really want to make sure you get in on this free training so you can begin to tell your story too!
Back to the Simple Pin Story 2021 update!
Walk with me down memory lane a bit. I’m not sharing my whole story today, I’ve done that in three previous episodes:
- Building a Small Business from the Ground Up
- How to Build a Successful Team
- Creating Business Core Values
Instead, I want to share some of the key things I have learned on my journey and some of the growing moments that helped us to fail forward here at SPM.
Hopefully, you’ll extract some nuggets of wisdom that you can then use to benefit your business.
The Simple Pin Story 2021 Update
I love listening to the How I Built This podcast series. You get to hear someone else’s perspective and hindsight. There’s so much to learn from that.
I think learning from the journeys of other people is really important. You can take away certain elements to apply to your business that you may not have thought of before. Their journey can give you a new vantage point for your own business.
I hope as I share my story, I will be able to pass some wisdom to you and spare you a little bit of the struggle. And believe me, there are lots of struggles!
Let’s talk a little bit about each one of these milestones.
Price Setting for Services and Products
People ask me a lot about how I set my prices. Here are the two big things I’ve learned:
- never lock in a rate for life
- be confident in your pricing and don’t waver.
One of the things I have learned is to never lock in a rate for life. You will regret that decision.
When I started Simple Pin I never envisioned a full-fledged company. I was in this place of just needing a side hustle and I never thought of having a team. I thought I could always afford to set a low price because it was just me.
I wish I wouldn’t have held so close to that.
Inflation, a product change, or a change in the service you are able to deliver to people can all have an effect on your pricing structure.
Think ahead! There’s so much that can change in the future of your company and you don’t want to be pigeonholed into that initial pricing structure.
My #1 thing I would change for price setting is this — I would have never offered lifetime locked rates for services.
I’ve also learned that once you land on your service rate or your product price, don’t waver on it.
Set your price based on where you’re at in your growth. Four years ago I could not have charged what I charge now. I just didn’t have the experience or a team to justify it.
If you struggle with whether or not your pricing is set correctly, ask other people in your industry. Use the resources and wisdom they can offer.
If you have a rate you feel good about, be confident in your pricing and don’t waver.
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Hiring & Firing Team Members
Did you know I have a fairly big team? I have 38 team members.
I love team-building and coaching. I’m wired to build a team and coach. I love leading people down a path that helps them feel successful.
For me, it’s not so much about my success or the success of Simple Pin Media. It’s about my team feeling successful as they use their natural talents and strengths during their work day. Simple Pin benefits from the teams’ success and experiences great growth as a result.
I have heard this phrase before and I just don’t think I’ve been very good at following it:
Slow to hire, quick to fire.
I love people so this is really hard for me.
Relationships are important to me. I lean into wanting things to be good between people and I want relationships to look whole.
When I stand back, I can see this is not always productive. I realize I need to change my focus and think about what is best for both parties. Reflecting over the year 2020, I realized that I was chasing relationships that weren’t beneficial for me or for the other person.
I have really tried to dig into my feelings and understand that firing people isn’t just about firing them. It’s really about releasing them to do the things they were meant to do. I wish I would have known this sooner and also focused on finding the right people who will really benefit your team.
My best piece of advice is this:
Before you start to build your team, determine your core values and then find people who fit with them.
We changed our core values over this last year (narrowing it down from seven to five) and that feel really good.
The people on our team are aligned with these core values because we want them to be successful here and to be with Simple Pin for a long time.
I highly recommend reading the book if you are at all interested in having a team of more than two people. Lencioni talks about three main components of a great team player — hungry, humble, and smart. If you have team members who have those elements, you have a winning team.
He really hammers home the point that a person can be super qualified and seem like a really good fit for a position, but they lack one of the main components. Having all those components is the key to selecting an ideal team member.
I view each person that works for me as having an amazing gift that our team needs. We look for these puzzle pieces of people who fit and we know will work hard here at Simple Pin.
Lean into hiring people to fit within the ecosystem of your team, both in your core values and being hungry, humble, and smart.
Personal Life & Business Boundaries
I have learned so much about this in the last eight years. Boundaries are a tough one! It’s important to set boundaries for yourself and there are a few that I find important and life-giving.
Number one is letting go of imposter syndrome – that feeling that you’re not good enough.
It’s important to capture the thoughts of imposter syndrome, let them go, and say to yourself:
I have this business that I focus on. These are my strengths and this is where we are going.
Imposter syndrome first took hold in my business when I started creating courses. I think it was because I was looking at everybody else’s business model. I saw all this money they were making and I thought, “that’s where I need to go”.
It became all-consuming for me. It was so difficult to get back to where I am today, realizing the business that I have is where my joy is and where I need to be focused.
I can now recognize what triggers imposter syndrome for me. I’ve learned to avoid things like Instagram that send me down this rabbit trail path that is really unproductive for me.
Putting more gates around my triggers brings amazing freedom. I’m able to have a laser focus on Simple Pin and not spend time thinking about someone else’s business. Simple Pin is where the joy is for me.
Avoiding imposter syndrome is about learning to focus and stay that course.
Daily Hard Stops
If I could change another thing, it would have been making sure I implemented hard stops in my day sooner to avoid burnout. I stop working each day at 2:30 p.m.
I’ve talked about this in a previous podcast where I summarized my best tips for entrepreneurs. This is very important to me and I think lately it’s become harder and harder to create these hard stops.
I do not work in the evening at all. I do not check my phone after a set time. I have an executive assistant who checks my email. She doesn’t tell me about any emails unless they’re really urgent. Even if I have an email that’s pretty hard, she doesn’t tell me about it. That’s actually good. She knows it will derail my day.
I only check my email at 2:30 in the afternoon, right before I’m ready to be done. I also put limits on my time on Facebook. I only check it one time per day from 2-2:30. It’s difficult because I get tagged so often on that platform.
My brain needs to go deep with my students during the day, so I need to bring everything into that time without distraction. If I had Facebook open throughout the day or got derailed by email, I would never get any productive work done.
Taking time off throughout the year to unplug, step away from the business, and recharge is essential. This time for me is both a business hard stop and a phone and social media hard stop.
I really try to step away from my business two full weeks each year and spend time with family and friends. I don’t check email or Voxer unless something’s really important.
One of these weeks takes place during our annual summer camping trip. It’s a full week of talking with people and experiencing community. I have no internet or cell service and I can’t even check those things unless I leave the campground where we stay.
My business is now structured so the team is more than equipped to run without me during these beaks.
It’s just incredible!
And you know what I find? I get the absolute best ideas for business growth because I’m really stepping back, relaxing, reading, and talking with other people.
They are a must! You HAVE to dream into your business to INSPIRE your team.
I am not a vision board girl. It’s just not my jam. But I did read – well listened to – the Vivid Vision book. I loved it!
So, last year I did a full weekend away by myself.
Let me tell you, I was terrified!
I am an extrovert and do not like being alone. This retreat was the hardest and the best thing I have ever done.
I was wrestling with something pretty intensely, and I needed to get clarity. Getting away brought the clarity that I needed and completely revolutionized the way we do business here at Simple Pin.
My retreat brought about a complete overhaul for the company and now we function on the EOS system from the book Traction by Gino Wickman.
I also read Wickman’s book Rocket Fuel and moved somebody up into an integrator position.
It’s like somebody has poured gasoline on the Simple Pin fire. It is amazing and all because I took a weekend away and took the risk to be alone.
It was so worth it!
There’s one more thing I do to unplug and recharge – I have a mastermind group that I go away with twice a year.
I think having people who are willing to give you real constructive criticism about your business is probably one of the best things you can do for your business (and in my case, it’s free).
Just ask a group of people that you trust:
What issues do you see in my business?
This is important because you have blind spots. You are head down and focused. You’re thinking I’m going to build, build, build and you don’t look up a lot. Right?
Asking those questions from the business people who surround you offers tremendous value.
Staying up to date on the latest Pinterest trends and information not only as a company but personally has been critical to our success.
I have an educator on our team to keep us up-to-date with Pinterest. This is accomplished through an education document that drops company-wide every Monday.
We subscribe to Google Alerts, email newsletters from Pinterest, and a few other tech newsletters. We also consume webinars, look at creators’ conferences, and stay up on some stock newsletters.
I want to be up-to-date on all aspects of Pinterest so I can inform our listeners, members, and clients well. Our goal is to be the second-best place that you get Pinterest education. The first would be Pinterest itself of course!
When you think of Pinterest marketing and wonder how you’re going to get information about it, we want you to think of Simple Pin and know that we are your Go-To resource for actionable information. We take what we learn about Pinterest and distill it down into actionable steps that help you know what to do with your marketing strategy.
If you are in our Collective membership you will also get our education document in your Sunday email. It is usually much more detailed than what I release in our weekly newsletter. We go pretty deep on Pinterest education.
The last eight years have taught me that Pinterest does not stay the same. We need to be ahead of the curve and forward-thinking – consuming as much education as we can so we can make the pathway clear for all of you and remain your #1 resource for all things Pinterest.
I have been asked more times than I can count if I will do other forms of marketing like Facebook, Instagram, or email marketing. My answer is always the same.
Nope. I will simply always stay focused on Pinterest.
It can be hard to remain focused when you see others in your industry who step away. Maybe they get burned out or bored and they start going down different paths.
Decide where you need to focus and put all of your time and energy into that.
I’ve committed to staying solely focused on Pinterest. That is how we help people elevate their business. We make sure we are educated and stay ahead of the curve.
So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned over the last eight years of running Simple Pin Media and the things I would change (do sooner or STOP doing) in hindsight. My hope is to be lucky enough to experience another eight years of learning.
It has been both a joy and a struggle.
To those of you who are growing your business, I would love for you to take some time today to think back and write down some of your most important lessons. We can easily forget those lessons because we are super busy.
You have these markers where you know you learned something and then became a better business owner as a result of what you just went through. Write those markers down!
I make sure to write it all down — some key markers are written on my wall. Some are good and some are bad, but they all shape who Kate is as a business owner today.
One last thing…
For years I have been looking for a place to teach people how to do what I do in the best way.
We finally decided that the teaching I do to help people become better Pinterest agency owners or help them scale their Pinterest marketing business has to be done outside the Simple Pin Media umbrella.
So I’ve started a separate business at KateAhl.com
I’m going to be talking about leadership, business growth, and how to scale your business so you can be the best business owner you know how to be. I’ll be writing a blog post probably once or twice a month and I’ll also have a biweekly newsletter.
This new venture is not going to be Pinterest-focused, that’s the purpose of Simple Pin Media. KateAhl.com is going to be solely focused on growing your agency business and learning what you can do to be a better business owner or service provider.
I can’t speak to being a course creator. I’ve done it – I closed it.
I can speak to what it’s like growing an agency, being a business owner, working with a team, and providing leadership. Join me over there for that conversation.
For Further Listening/Speaking: