Grow Your Service-Based Business with Hannah McCormick | #94
If you are a service-based business owner or wanting to become one you’re in the right place! On this Episode #94 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast, we will hear from social media and email marketing expert Hannah McCormick. Hannah is also half of the podcasting duo from the Showing Up Solo Podcast. In this episode, we will share tips for showing up on social media to market your brand or business, even when you are just starting out and don’t know how. Hannah will walk you through why marketing right away is key to growing your business. She also offers advice on how to launch a business on a low budget and how to overcome the fear of failure.
Hannah hosts the Showing Up Solo Podcast with Nichole Hiller where their moto is just because you’re a solopreneur, doesn’t mean you’re on your own!
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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - Grow Your Service-Based Business
Episode - #94
Host: Shannon Russell
Guest: Hannah McCormick
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:00:00] Hannah: There's so many women out there who are in jobs that they're overqualified for and underappreciated, they're too scared to make that leap, or they don't know where to start and.
The biggest part is marketing yourself because you have the skills. Any woman who thinks that she might be able to do something, probably can do it and then some.
[00:00:21] Shannon: Exactly. Yep.
[00:01:36] Shannon: Welcome to Second Act Success. I am so glad you're here. Now for those of you who are new to the show. I am career transition, coach Shannon Russell.
On this episode of the podcast, we will be talking about service based businesses. So if you are a service-based business owner or wanting to become one you're in the right place. I am super excited for you to meet social media and [00:02:00] email marketing expert. Hannah McCormick.
She is also half of the podcasting duo from Showing Up Solo.
Hannah is here to share how she went from retail sales to creating a virtual assistant business to now helping service based business owners show up and get seen online.
So many great tips to share with you. So let's get started.
[00:02:23] Shannon: all right. Welcome Hannah McCormick to Second Act Success.
How are you doing?
[00:02:28] Hannah: I am good. Thank you so much for having me. I am really excited to be here.
[00:02:32] Shannon: Let's start with. Where your first act started.
[00:02:36] Hannah: Oh yeah. Well, I know this is the Second Act Success podcast, but I feel like I'm on my fourth or fifth at this.
[00:02:45] Shannon: A lot of people say that that's okay. I love that.
[00:02:48] Hannah: I originally wanted to be a design technology teacher. I grew up in the uk and so design and technology is a subject here, I think over in North America. I don't know if you have it specifically cuz it's [00:03:00] everything from woodworking to electronics to metal, working to textiles.
They even threw food in there for a while,
[00:03:07] Shannon: No, I don't think we have anything specific like that. In middle school you could choose metal woodworking or like cooking I think
[00:03:15] Hannah: It's all of those mixed in and it's basically the design part. Like how to draw and how to come up with designs, but then also execution. Using the tools So that's what I went to school for. I went to university to do that very, very specific thing. And then there was a health complication, which meant I couldn't finish my teaching practice.
So I trained as a design technology teacher, but I ended up graduating without the teaching qualification. So I just have a product design degree. And there was a lot of things going on at the time, but I basically decided to just. Moved to Canada it's where I'm from originally. Like I was born here but I spent 17 years living in the uk and so then I moved to Canada [00:04:00] and basically had to start from scratch.
I got a job in retail and first I was selling clothes, then I was selling shoes, then I leveled up to jewelry. I was really good, really, really good at sales. In 2010, I was like top salesperson of the year for, for one of the businesses I worked with. But I don't know if you've ever worked retail.
The hours are insane. They're just, oh my gosh. And I was in a relationship and I wanted to start thinking about having kids. I thought, I have no idea how this'll happen working in retail.
[00:04:40] Shannon: Right. You're working weekends, you're working. My husband worked at Nordstrom for many, many years and always talks about the, the hours were just so hard to plan a life around.
[00:04:50] Hannah: Yeah. Like one day I'd be working one till nine, and then the next it would be eight till till two. I can't really complain because nurses and firefighters [00:05:00] have all sorts of crazy shifts, but it wasn't very conducive to like a regular, predictable lifestyle. Not to mention like when you work on commission, you never know what your paycheck's gonna be every month whether you're gonna have a really good sale or not.
So I found a job as a receptionist at a law firm. That was nice and predictable. It was the same, same job every day. I really liked working there, some really great people. But then I kids and It was funny cuz I was someone who was like, I'm never gonna be home full-time.
I don't wanna be home full-time. I wanna, I know I need to work. And I used to be that person who got really irritated if I was later than five minutes early. You know what I mean? Like one of those people who's
[00:05:45] Shannon: Yeah.
[00:05:45] Hannah: like, and then you have kids and then you're like, well get over it.
[00:05:49] Shannon: It goes out the window. You're on their schedule.
[00:05:53] Hannah: I know. I remember my doctor taking me aside and saying, Hannah, You need to practice being late because you're never gonna be on time again.[00:06:00]
[00:06:00] Shannon: Yeah, that's very, very true.
[00:06:03] Hannah: She was very right. So anyways, I went down to four days a week when I went back after my first child. So I could have a little bit more flexibility. And by the time I was having my second child, I was like, I need to do something different.
I need to make more money, but I need to not be stuck on a desk like cuz when you're on reception, you have to still be a person with a button in a chair for certain hours every day. So after my second mat leave, I was referred to a cranberry farm of all places.
[00:06:40] Shannon: Wow.
[00:06:41] Hannah: And I became the executive assistant for the c e o of like, there were like six cranberry farms.
And he was a very, very busy guy. He was on all these boards and flew across the world, like multiple stops per week kind of deal. And so I was in charge of organizing these super [00:07:00] complicated itineraries.
and of those travel jobs slowed to a grinding halt so they let me go and, then I decided to go into business for myself was scary, but I had a little bit of severance pay to cover the rent for a couple months and someone told me about becoming a virtual assistant and I was like, sure, I can do that.
I've done admin for years. I took This course and before the course was even finished, I had my first client and then I just kept going it told you all the things like, here's how to set up contracts and billing and CRMs. Here's a few services you can offer right off the bat. Here's how to figure out what services you can offer.
Week one is to email potential clients, like people you would like to work for, and ask them what kind of services they're looking for and what are those people that I emailed became my first client.
[00:07:56] Shannon: Then you instantly have the confidence, you instantly know, okay, I [00:08:00] can do this. I already have my first client.
[00:08:02] Hannah: The exciting part was there was a combination for me the snowball effect of having one client and the pressure of making rent every month.
I basically gave myself 40 hours a week. I said, if I don't have client work, I'm working on my business.
I'm networking. 2020 was of course, a wonderful time to network online. so I Was showing up to any and every event I could do, I was taking any free training I could do, but I was also working on my marketing as much as possible. And I put in a 40 hour week whether I had client work or not. I. And I think that's really what I credit the business happening too, because I started building relationships and then people started hiring me, and then people I didn't know started filling out my lead capture form and My second client, who is still a client today, she came to me through my Instagram content. So that was, that was wonderful. to know That the work I was putting out there was coming through.
And then a [00:09:00] year into my business, I actually got to the point where I needed some help. And so I actually hired Nicole as my virtual assistant
[00:09:06] Shannon: for your virtual assistant
[00:09:08] Hannah: Exactly. So I hired her to be my virtual assistant. Nicole being Nicole was just indispensable. Like I just, I loved having her. we Use an app called Voxer where you can leave voice messages for each other.
[00:09:22] Shannon: I love it. I love
[00:09:23] Hannah: So we would just be messaging each other back and forth and then brainstorming.
And she became like that person I really trusted and relied on For business advice we both mutually relied on each other and so we decided like, instead of you working for me, let's work together. We launched Showing Up Solo at the beginning of 2022 with the podcast, but also offering packages as a team so we could do bigger ticket packages, bigger projects, but we split the work between us so that gave us a bigger capacity.
We had someone there to step [00:10:00] in. If one of our kids was sick, there was someone there to carry the weight. And so although it's an informal relationship, we're not officially business partners. We're business besties.
[00:10:11] Shannon: Yes, and that's even better sometimes.
[00:10:13] Hannah: yes, definitely. Definitely.
[00:10:15] Shannon: How incredible is that she got to see kind of how you ran your business. And then it's like, okay, let's come together. And what was your purpose in coming together? who was your ideal client and who are you trying to serve? I guess when you came together and decided to start Showing Up Solo?
[00:10:31] Hannah: I'm still in touch with quite a few people who took the course at the same time as me some of them still haven't gotten started with their business.
I took another course copywriting course. And again, I saw people who just, weren't, getting through that gate. that's what really inspired me and Nicole,
We saw the people who, who finished the course at the same time of us weren't getting past that first hurdle of. Getting a website up and getting their Instagram posts coming out [00:11:00] regularly and attracting clients. And we knew that they could do it because they had the same tools in their toolbox that we did.
That's what really inspired us to create Showing Up Solo, was we wanted to give everyone what we really needed at the beginning of our business push ourselves forward and start getting clients. It was to help women like us. One of the reasons that we just got on so well is we're both mothers of two kids at a very similar age. And so we were going through a lot of the same challenges of having children with. Daycare, I have 15 hours a week available for the longest time.
Now my eldest is in grade one and it's a lot easier, but,
[00:11:41] Shannon: Yes. The day is still short though, Hannah. Three o'clock comes so quick and you just,
[00:11:46] Hannah: It does by the time I've taken them to the bus, walked the dog, got home, suddenly I'm like, oh my gosh, it's already 9, 9 30. And then before I know it, it's three and the kids are home and there's no work happening after the kids are home.
[00:11:57] Shannon: it's so
[00:11:58] Hannah: You So that's one of the reasons we [00:12:00] teamed up was because we both knew what we were going through so we could advocate for each other too. We made an agreement. No work over the school holidays. So we would tell each other, Hey, hey, are we sure we wanna take on this client? We promised ourselves we weren't gonna work over the summer, we loved what we found together, and like I said, we saw all these people who took the same courses as us and just weren't.
Getting going, and we wanted to help them. We wanted them to get the success that we were getting because more mothers deserve to have their business. There's so many women out there who are in jobs that they're overqualified for and underappreciated, they're too scared to make that leap, or they don't know where to start in making that leap and.
The biggest part is marketing yourself because you have the skills. Any woman who thinks that she might be able to do something, probably can do it and then some.
[00:12:58] Shannon: Exactly. [00:13:00] Yep.
[00:13:00] Hannah: it's just a case of getting the confidence, put yourself out there and and attract those clients in. And that's what we really wanted to help people do. We help fellow service-based solopreneurs, moms especially. Get their marketing set up so that they can start bringing in clients.
[00:13:15] Shannon: That's incredible. And I wish I knew you guys when I was starting both of my businesses because it's, it's true. Even, when you do have the confidence, there are so many little things that you might not know about. Setting up all of your social channels and how often do you post and do I need an email blast? Do I need a, lead magnet? Just all these little things to help grow your business that. You might not know. So having someone like you guys to really walk a client through is so immensely helpful.
[00:13:44] Hannah: Something that's really interesting actually is, so Nicole's old childcare provider wanted to become a social media manager, and so she was taking. Courses and she actually became our intern for a while. And so she had paid quite a bit of money to go to [00:14:00] actual, college and take a course.
But she said like they just didn't teach her how to find clients. They told her how to do work for clients but not actually how to market yourself. And she said what she learned from just working with me and Nicole for that short space of time was. Way more useful than anything she learned in her course.
And I think that is the problem. We don't tell people how to actually market themselves, go out and find the clients, cuz the services are kind of almost a second thought at this point. You need to find someone to serve before you can start offering services.
[00:14:34] Shannon: You can even have the most gorgeous website, but if you don't know how to get it out there in front of people, you're stuck.
[00:14:40] Hannah: And I think there's this. Idea that you have to be really perfect and it has to be super sharp and chic. I know so many people who've rebuilt their website several times, but never hit publish. I rebuild my website every few months, but it's always live. Like I always keep it live. And if it's imperfect, it's [00:15:00] imperfect.
Honestly, what I've found from experience is if people wanna work with you, they wanna work with you. They don't care
[00:15:08] Shannon: It's the person behind the
[00:15:10] Hannah: Exactly. And the same thing with my social media. Like I look at my early Instagram posts that are the same six Canva templates that everyone uses. They start out, you know I could cringe at them, but I know that it was just a step and I'm glad that I got out there because I wouldn't.
Exactly, and I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't started doing something then. And that's the thing, if you wait till you're perfect, you're never gonna get started. You're never gonna get going. So it's okay.
[00:15:40] Shannon: always room to improve. That's why there's update buttons, right? And delete buttons. And edit buttons. You can update your website, you can update your Instagram, you can change things anytime. But having it live is definitely the first step.
[00:16:24] Shannon: Are you taking clients or are you creating resources and programs for, for people?
[00:16:30] Hannah: we spent
most of last year working on larger projects, helping businesses and they just had never got all of the backend set up properly. But that was a higher ticket offering and we weren't able to access the USS
as much because it was a higher ticket a higher ticket package.
So we've, we launched in October, a new offering, which is a coaching. Program, we call it set up for success, and you'll get one of us one-on-one, and we [00:17:00] will work you through figuring out your ideal client and your target market, writing your website copy and getting your website set up, writing your email marketing and getting that set up, and then creating a content bank.
So you basically have all of the foundations in place. And they're live. That's the important thing. We want you to get it live because once you've got that ball rolling, it's just gonna snowball.
[00:17:24] Shannon: what has the reception been from clients?
[00:17:26] Hannah: They've really, really loved it. We've had a couple people work through their program now and feedback I've gotten is love that it's so step-by-step. I think it's my dyslexic brain. I created these workbooks that really guide you through the why, because for me, if you tell me to do something, I will not, I'll forget how to do it, but if you tell me why I need to do something, it's why it works, like, why it's important, the psychology behind picking an ideal client or how you craft that elevator statement that [00:18:00] tagline and that's one of the things we've got a lot of feedback on is people have really liked how easy it is to follow that and come out with a result I think that's the biggest thing is execution is one of the hardest things to do.
You can read and read and read, but you still need to actually do it.
[00:18:18] Shannon: think because you've been there, you're gonna make sure that your clients actually get their first client or get their things set up so that's gonna be something I'm sure that you really take to heart with your
[00:18:28] Hannah: Yes. And, and that's the other thing that people really have been enjoying is the calls the one-on-one time. Cuz I don't let people get away with, with an excuse. One of the ones I hear all the time is, oh, I could offer this and I could do that. And I'll always be in there with like, yes, but what do you want to do? And I, will dig and dig and dig until you come up with the answer you really want.
[00:18:50] Shannon: absolutely light bulb moment for her and for her business.
[00:18:54] Hannah: exactly.
[00:18:55] Shannon: When you're starting a business you're just all over the place. Do you think it's that when you're [00:19:00] creating a business, especially a service-based business, you wanna serve everyone, you wanna please everyone?
What are some tips that you would give to my listeners ready to start a business. They're ready to go out in their own. How do they narrow down who they want to work with and who they want to serve?
[00:19:14] Hannah: This is, I'm so glad you've asked this. Cause this is one of the biggest roadblocks and there's, I often find there's one problem or the other one is they're being too nice. They don't wanna exclude anyone and they're worried about. Excluding people in their language and everything.
I work with people who've been socialized as women typically, but I just signed a contract with a male client. It's not like I turn them away, but my marketing is still geared towards women.
it's okay to be very specific. In who you're working with because that's how your ideal client knows it's for them.
If you're too vague, if you are trying to include everybody, the message gets muddled and people don't know if it's [00:20:00] for them. You want them to know, oh, I'm a service-based solo printer and I'm a mom, right? Showing up solo is right for me. And to come at it from that mindset, you're helping them by being clear.
[00:20:15] Shannon: Mm.
[00:20:15] Hannah: other side is that people are worried that they're gonna be rejected, that no one is gonna want their services, that no one's gonna hire them. So they wanna offer a little bit of this and a little bit of that, kind of like a please like me, there's something I can do for you, kind of vibe again, that message is getting muddled.
The question I always ask people who I know are coming from that perspective is, I don't care about what you can do, cuz I'm sure there's a million things you can do. What do you want to offer? And I'll try to get them to pick one service let's focus on marketing this one.
And then you can start adding more in later as you get all of those packages sold up. But for now, [00:21:00] pick one thing that you want to do. Let's market that because then you'll see that you've got successes there. you don't End up with those awkward scope creeping clients because you've been clear about what you're offering.
I will give you X, Y, and Z for this amount. You feel good going into it. Your client feels good going into it because everyone's on the same page. Your marketing is so much easier because it's the same message consistently, and so you can get those successes early on and then start to expand your portfolio of services.
[00:21:38] Shannon: I like that you're saying it's one thing at a time. And then let's experiment. Let's try this. If no one signs up for this, then great. In two months we're gonna switch over to this. A lot of solopreneurs want that Instant money and it's going to be a slower process.
So how do you advise maybe moms that are leaving their jobs starting over [00:22:00] and they might not have that flexibility for that interim period.
[00:22:04] Hannah: And that is a challenge. Like I said, I was lucky because I had some severance to give me a cushion, but there were some times when I was like, I don't know if I'm gonna make rent at the end of the month if I don't sell something. those still come along every now and then because when you're doing project based work, you still need to have another project lined up.
So my advice would be marketing takes time. Three To six months, like I would find if I did a big marketing push and may not be successful at the time, but three months later is when I was getting all those discovery calls. In 2020, I did a big push in the October because I was scared about making rent and I signed one client at the end of October, but by January I signed three more.
it was because of that push in October. It takes time for that to get momentum. So don't wait. Market right now. Even if you haven't left your job. Start building an online presence [00:23:00] now and getting a wait list. If you have a wait list of clients ready to work with you, you're gonna feel so much better leaving that job with the safety net.
never too early to start marketing your services and start bringing up a presence. Even if you're not selling services right away. You're just establishing yourself as an authority or an expert. Start right away. And then if you are already in the business, and you're scared.
The best thing again that you can do is start to show up online, go into Facebook groups and have conversations. Go onto Instagram, do some videos, do some lives, and find people to collaborate with too because those collaborations will lead to referrals and will lead to business. So show up. Show up is the, the advice I have.
[00:23:50] Shannon: If you know you want to be a service-based provider and you have a job, I always talk about learning and leaping to my clients if you know you want to leave this job, start [00:24:00] doing the research now, start putting those tools into place. And like you said, you can set up your social, your website and get that ready to go. There's a lot of things you can do, even if it's on the DL from your boss. The more you start networking and start telling people, Hey, I'm gonna be launching this. It's only gonna help you the day that you truly, truly leave your nine to five and start this on your own.
[00:24:21] Hannah: Definitely, especially if you're an online service provider. thing about social media is it's wonderful because it's free. It is this. Marketing platform that is available to anyone and everyone. And a huge reason why you should just be taking full advantage of social media.
It doesn't have to cost you any money. It can just cost you time creating content and it's a great way to build a relationship with people.
[00:24:47] Shannon: So let's talk about your podcast really quick. , Showing Up Solo tell me all about it and really what we can get from those episodes.
[00:24:54] Hannah: Showing Up Solo is everything. Nicole, and I wish we knew when we started. It's everything that we had to [00:25:00] go to various trainings and meetings and learn through trial and error. It's bi-weekly. Once a month there's a Nicole and Hannah episode, and then there's a guest expert.
We wanted to walk you through marketing. So we started with marketing goals right at the beginning and then talking about ideal clients and then branding, cuz you can't skip those steps. And then we've gone into how to write your web copy and then choosing a social media platform and then email marketing.
but Really it is. Everything that you need to know to start marketing, so even if you can't work with us one-on-one or hire us to do it for you, you could sit down and just binge Showing Up Solo and you would know enough to get going and get yourself out there and start selling your services.
[00:25:44] Shannon: What a great idea to just start watching. From the beginning, catch up and feel like you can really build your business along with listening to the podcast or watching the podcast.
[00:25:55] Hannah: Yeah, that's one of the reasons we did both is because, I mean, sometimes your only [00:26:00] chance to listen to content is whilst you're walking the dog, you know, so we wanted to have audio content or maybe you have to have. The TV on while you're doing the dishes, you know, or watching your phone while you're cooking.
So we wanted to have it available to as many people. but yeah, you should be able to find the answer to most of your marking questions. And make it really easy to follow.
[00:26:21] Shannon: Well, I just wanna thank you so much for what you're doing to help people show up solo, because it's easier to be with a partner
but when you are completely alone, it, it really is like an extra barrier, I think, to get you to launch and to get you to start. So I love that you have all of these resources and you, yourself and Nicole are there to, to help solopreneurs really take that leap, make something for themselves and get started.
[00:26:46] Hannah: Well, thank you. Thank you. And thank you so much for having me on the show.
[00:26:50] Shannon: Absolutely, and I'm going to link to every way that our listeners can get in touch with you guys. Watch the podcast, watch the video cast. I'll link to it all in the show notes. And yeah, thank you so much for [00:27:00] all this great advice today. I think it's gonna really help a lot of our female listeners, our moms out there that just want that change and don't know how to find it.
So thank you so much,
[00:27:09] Hannah: Thank you so much for having me. This has been wonderful.
[00:27:12] Shannon: Thank you to Hannah McCormick for sharing so many wonderful tips for those of us who are running or thinking of launching an online business. To get in touch with Hannah and check out her podcast, go to showingupsolo.com. And all of the links will be in the show notes below this episode as well.
If you found some value in today's show,
please share this podcast with a friend. You can take a screenshot, share it on Instagram and tag me I'm at @secondactsuccess. And I would appreciate it so much. Now I will be back again soon for a new episode and. More inspiration on how you can start your second act very soon. Make it a great day. My friend.