Colleen Taylor: The Value of Soft Skills and Teams in Business

This time next week, we’ll be at Resonate 2019! We’re busy prepping, but we made time to bring you another presenter Q&A. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Colleen Taylor. Colleen is COO of Smart Marketer, which provides premium trainings and a high-level mastermind for business owners looking to run and scale profitable ecommerce brands. An expert Project Manager, Colleen implemented the systems necessary to TRIPLE Smart Marketer’s productivity in just 12 months, while steadfastly supporting work-life balance for the entire team.

Needless to say, we can’t wait for Colleen’s Resonate presentation and we’re thrilled that she will also be joining us on May 6 for the Resonate Women’s Mastermind sessions.

Catch Colleen and a host of other experts at Resonate on May 7-8. Grab your tickets today and use promo code COLLEEN to save $200!

Q&A with Colleen Taylor, COO, Smart Marketer

Seller Labs: Hi, Colleen, we can’t wait to hear what you have for us at Resonate next week! In the meantime, what is one thing you wish business owners knew or were clearer on when trying to grow and scale?

Colleen Taylor: Bringing people up from within the organization. Of course, this will vary depending on the size of your business and the specific role but it’s a rule of thumb for us.

I think that many times, business owners are looking for that outside hire with the “rock-star resume,” when really there is a solid chance that someone who has already been working in the business, maybe with a little extra training, can be groomed for the position. Not only does this demonstrate to your team that there is a path for growth in your business, but you can (more than likely) pay them less than it would cost to hire a bona-fide external rock star.

Again, this decision will depend heavily on the position itself and how much tactical expertise is needed on day one, but we believe in FIRST considering someone on the team and providing them with the tools and training they need to rise to the occasion. For us, it has typically made more sense to elevate someone we’ve already invested time and energy into. Culture fit is the trickiest metric to measure, so someone who has already proven to be a good fit for the team is usually a better choice in the long term.

SL: You’re an in-demand presenter. Why choose Resonate?

CT: This is my first time speaking at Resonate and I’m honored to have been asked! Most of the content I share is about those “soft skills” that are so important in running a business. The management of PEOPLE with regard to scaling and efficiency. Sure, hard skills play a big role, as does the software you choose, but ultimately my expertise centers around company culture and team-building.

SL: What is the one resource (software, tool, assistant, etc.) you cannot do without in your role as COO at Smart Marketer?

CT: Hands down, I’d have to say Slack (although Trello is amazing too!) Of course, when used in tandem, these two pieces of software definitely provide more than the sum of their parts.

Slack kind of replaces texts, emails, and phone for most of us at Smart Marketer. And file-sharing to some extent . . . at least in a pinch. I’m definitely not recommending using it as file-storage software, but for quick back-and-forth communication—during an approval process, for example—it can’t be beat. Plus, their mobile app game is STRONG.

SL: You came in to Smart Marketer and brought order and structure to the organization. Where did you start with that order? How does one begin?

CT: Over the course of my career as a Project Manager, I consistently return to 5 key practices that I use as a template for creating order. In a nutshell, they are:

  1. Taking Inventory
  • What projects do you have going on already?
  • What is the priority?
  • What are the resources?
  • Who is doing what?
  1. Meetings and Communication
  • Establish regular meeting times.
  • Set expectations for what folks need to bring to those meetings.
  • Establish some level of protocol for communication channels:
    • e.g. keeping conversations in the correct channels
    • being aware of what is more private in nature
  1. Task Management and Creating Systems
  • This one’s really important for a Project Manager: choosing a task-management platform and getting buy-in from the team on not only using it, but following a protocol so tasks don’t fall through the cracks.
  1. Reporting and Documentation
  • It seems obvious, but oftentimes businesses are so busy trying to spin multiple plates that they neglect to properly document their initiatives as they go along. Documenting how things are done (in the form of SOPs) saves TONS of time when bringing up new people in the business or covering for key employees when they are out.
  1. Post Mortem and Team Acknowledgement
  • Reviewing performance after an initiative has come to a close (or at key intervals if something is ongoing) is the best way to learn from mistakes, make things more efficient and/or ramp up or scale things that are working well.
  • It’s also a great time to acknowledge your team and highlight specific team members who perhaps were key to the success of a given cycle.
  • This builds rapport and loyalty like nothing else we do. People appreciate being recognized and it’s like insurance that they will continue to do their best because they understand the importance of their contribution to a bigger picture.

Well, if that’s what Colleen is bringing to a Q&A, imagine what her presentation game is like! Better yet, come see for yourself at Resonate 2019 in Atlanta on May 7-8. Register today and save $200 on tickets with code COLLEEN.

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