You are only as good as your team. If you don’t have a bad team, they will always find a great idea to mess up. But if you have a great team, they’ll fix all the things that need to be refined. Dream Team Architect Veronica Romney has a lot of experience in dealing with and cultivating great teams. Veronica helps online entrepreneurs dial in their human resources and develop phenomenal company cultures and profitable bottom lines. Veronica joins Victoria Wieck to share her insights on what makes a dream team. Tune in as Veronica drops her most effective team-building strategies so you can start growing your own dream team today.
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Building A Dream Team: Getting Your Business Dreams Dialed In With Veronica Romney
I am so excited to have an amazing guest who can help all of you. Her name is Veronica Romney. She’s too humble to say this, but people have called her the Dream Team Architect. As many of you know, I always believe that you are as good as your team. If you have a bad team, they can always find even a great idea to be messed up. If you’ve got a great team, they will fix whatever was wrong with the little things that need to be refined.
She comes to us with a lot of experience. She has been in the digital space since 2008. She has worked behind the scenes. A lot of times, people who work behind the scenes don’t get the glory but make everything work. She worked behind the scenes as a speaker, trainer, director, and chief of staff for brands such as Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi, Pete Vargas and BossBabe. A lot of these big names, you might think, “They’re so far ahead of me,” but she is going to teach you how to translate that into a small to medium-sized business. Without further ado, I’d like to welcome, Veronica, to the show.
Thank you. I’m super excited to be here.
Tell us a little bit about your journey. What is it like to work in a corporate environment and then make that transition? How did you become the expert that you are now?
Maybe I’m going to be controversial but I don’t hate the corporate world. Some people are like, “I hate the corporate world.” There are pros and cons of both the corporate environment structure that you have and this psychological safety to know what is expected of you, who you report to, who to call if your computer is broken, the benefits and things like that. There’s then this promised land of freedom that comes with entrepreneurship.
My parents are Cuban immigrants who started a company many years ago and also came to this country with literally nothing. I’m the oldest child so I was front row to their hardship, and that has always been inside of me. Even though I was having enormous success in my corporate run, I was like Moana. I could feel the calling inside of me, that still small voice that was calling me forward. When I had my first son, that life transition was the transition in my career too.
I don’t hate the corporate world either. If you’re a Millennial mom and I know I’ve got a lot of you, some of you may have heard the pros and cons of living in the corporate world. The best thing to do is spend a few years there because they do know how to put things right. They have a structure and system that works.
Most of the time, in the corporate world, you don’t get to shine as an individual; you get to shine as a team.
The problem with a lot of corporate structure that works is that because they are so structured and ingrained in what they do, they’re not most nimble and flexible. As an individual, you are plugged into a system. If you’re lucky, you can impact that system and grow with the corporation. Most of the time, you don’t get to shine as an individual. You get to shine as a team, as one little cog in a wheel. That’s okay. For a lot of people, it works. Taking what you’ve learned from that corporate world and now transitioning into helping small businesses that have to do everything.
In the small business world, we don’t know how many have an IT department. My IT department is my husband and son-in-law. I do have outside help. I had an IT team that came out here because my internet wasn’t working, and I’ve had to reschedule many show interviews because I live in an area where the internet doesn’t work at the time. It was like several thousand dollars and eight hours later, four guys came here and hardwired my whole house. The point is when you’re a small business, you don’t have a marketing department to go to. You don’t have the legal department that can look at your language. You don’t have a backup team that can help you.
When you’re hiring a small team for a small business that has four people, for example. You got somebody who excelled in sales, somebody who does your accounting and HR. In a small business, is it true that you would hire somebody who is much more flexible and diverse in their area of expertise? How would you go about doing that?
This is the controversy with small companies or teams, especially in the online space. We look for Swiss Army knives. That’s what I call them. In the corporate world, a Swiss Army knife is like an executive assistant. There are certain people that wear 5,000 hats and are chameleons. If you need a nail file, you get a nail file. If you need a screw, you get a screw. They will do whatever is required because the position demands it.
In online entrepreneurship and these businesses where the majority of the time, founders have had either little or no corporate experience, they don’t understand structure and titles or anything like that, they personally have had to do everything. They’re the janitor, IT, bookkeeping, all the things. When you’re trying to replace yourself, you replace yourself with people who look and talk like you in the sense that they are also Swiss Army knives like you are. If you’re doing everything, you want somebody who can also help you do everything. The problem becomes when you start to scale, and there needs to be more definition and delineation between responsibilities.
That’s when all of a sudden, a Swiss Army knife becomes a Frankenstein. It’s no longer advantageous that somebody can do marketing, operations, HR, IT, and does all the things because then they’re never being put in a position to succeed if they have to do too many things and they serve too many masters. I try to help my scaling business owners recognize that a Swiss Army knife within a department is okay. A Frankenstein role that is part marketing, part operations, part platypus, part duck is not okay. There are differences between the two.
I work with a lot of female-owned businesses that’s been around for many years. They’re doing pretty close to seven figures, and they’ve done it by networking everywhere, outworking everybody, buying and lifting everybody else. They’ve done it by working and grinding it out. Now, their kids are gone and they want to scale their business. It’s also true that if you’re not careful when you’re scaling, you can grow broke. Where is the balance?
If I’m the founder, I’m a control freak. I’m used to doing everything myself. I was the marketing head, legal head or whatever, and all the relationships with my customers and vendors are with me. That’s the truth with a lot of entrepreneurs who are successful. What happens is when you want to scale, do you find out then what is the position that you most need help with and go for the expertise there? You can’t afford to hire five people.
You have to scale in a way that’s financially sound and feasible. I made this mistake when I jumped from corporate to start my own digital marketing agency. I was operating under the mindset of I’m going to hire a whole bunch of W-2s, everybody is going to get health benefits, and it’s going to be great. I’m like, “What was I thinking?”
I barely paid myself, let alone giving everybody all these perks and benefits that I was accustomed to receiving as a corporate employee, and then thinking that I could turn around and do that in a small business right out the gate. I made that mistake. When I’m consulting with my clients, “You don’t need to rush to W-2 status. That doesn’t make you legit or official, nor does that give you the title of a scaling business owner.”
For a long time, especially because of the blessing of technology and the online resources that we have that we’ve never had before, a lot of the people that you will surround yourself with will be your team, but they will be in the form of vendors, contractors, part-timers, and that’s okay too from a business expense standpoint.
Who do you surround yourself with first, and who makes the most sense? This is where I don’t agree with the general wisdom that’s out there. There’s a lot of counsel to get an assistant right away like, “Get an assistant right away because they can do a lot of the inbox and calendar management. They can do a lot of the stuff that won’t ever generate money for you but then at the same time, it’s part of the job.” I’m like, “There’s that option.” Maybe this is my marketing background, but I don’t like to separate myself from voices very early on in a business venture or in releasing new products to the marketplace. It’s also my speaker training.
The most valuable feedback that you can receive is hearing what’s working and what’s resonating with what you’re saying with the marketplace. I am still in my inbox. I like being in my inbox. I’m the one direct messaging people on my Instagram account. I want to be close to the people like I would if I was on stage reading the room. Where I do start to let go is all of the techs.
The first thing that I counsel people is all of that tech, wiring, emails service providing and funneling that is so desperately required for your virtual office and to automate your business, so you don’t have to hire a whole bunch of people that are unnecessary that technology can take for you, that’s the first person that I would probably invest in more than I would in somebody doing my inbox.
You don’t want somebody to work for you because they think you’re perfect. You want somebody to work for you because they can help you improve.
The idea is that you have to figure out as a CEO, if you’re a tech-oriented company, you don’t want to remove yourself from tech. If you are a marketing-oriented company, I agree with you because I’m in the jewelry business, and I see jewelry, fashion and apparel. Many times, designers like myself work in a separate space, and then we send it to the buying team. The buying team buys the stuff without any feedback from the marketing people.
They send it to the marketing people and say, “Market this,” and then the merchandising people can only merchandise what was bought. They are constantly pointing fingers at each other when, in fact, they are all in the same room creating the product at the same time. It’s true that in a TV, retailer or department store, they can look back at what sold last month. They were saying that feedback but it isn’t because it’s reflective of what you’ve offered last month. It’s a garbage in, garbage out thing. I agree with you on that.
In terms of, aligning your vision, purpose and company’s mission with the people that you’re hiring. How do you know that? Sometimes savvy applicants can do all this research online, and most companies have their mission statement on their website, so they will tell you everything you want to hear. How do you find that person or a team that’s going to reflect your mission and purpose, and provide that to your clients and customers?
This is an interesting topic because I do a lot of screening and phone interviewing. I’m not a recruiter for my clients as their Fractional Chief of Staff but I help them make sure that we’re getting the right people in the door and then onboarding them correctly for success. Because I work with such bigger personalities, we get a lot of fans that apply as you would.
They’re either your students or they’ve purchased your products or courses from the past. Not only they could read your mission statement and values on your website, on top of that, they are also fans who want to emulate you and aspire to have the life that you’ve created for yourself with your products and services. Is it best to hire your fans or is it best not to hire your fans?
That’s a controversial thing because sometimes the easiest and quickest way to fill a seat is to go to your community and go, “I have a spot.” What takes time is going to Indeed and going through a recruiter. Sometimes what I have found, this is my personal Veronica’s book of observations and experience, is that for marketing-centric roles, I don’t like hiring fans and students because they’re not coming to work for us to improve us.
They’re coming to work for us to leverage the name and take in internal learnings for their own gain and benefit. Their truest aspiration is they bought our products so that they can do their own thing one day. The only exception to that is operations, customer service or customer-centric. I love pulling from the community to help provide customer support or community management. There are certain departments that I like to fish in the community, and then there are certain positions that I don’t.
If you don’t have a name like Tony Robbins or Dean Graziosi, if you were Veronica Romney or Victoria Wieck, is there a systematic way of figuring out how to align your vision with the people? A lot of times, when you hire somebody, you have a 30 to 90-day probation period, and you can hire somebody new but it’s time-consuming. You want to be able to hire the right person and grow with them and evolve. If you evolve, they need to evolve as well. How do you go about doing that?
Where my spidey sense goes off in an interview is when somebody is leading too much with flattery. Everybody has a level of ego and it feels right. It’s like, “Thank you. You researched me. You took the time and that’s great.” However, I don’t want somebody to work for me because they think I’m perfect. I want somebody to work for me because they can help me improve. The truth is as business owners, you and I know that we’re not perfect nor close to perfect. One of the questions I tend to ask people in interview processes, especially if I can tell that they’ve done their research, I’m like, “Because you’ve done your research, where do you think I can improve best?”
That’s good. I love that a lot because I’m a very optimistic and complimentary person. I do homework on everybody I talk to. That’s a minimum you can give to somebody who’s going to give you their time. The gift of time is the most precious thing anybody has, and they’re giving that time to you, so I feel like I have an obligation to find out who they are and find some common ground and all that ahead of time.
To me, when somebody comes to an interview and knows a little bit about me and my business, I feel like, “They’ve done their homework.” That’s the absolute basic minimum. I won’t hire anybody who hasn’t done any homework on my part. In fact, the interview will be very short if I find out that. Hiring someone because you know that you need to improve, evolve, short-handed, that is not your forte, or it’s not your expertise, then that may turn into fiction a little bit or having to depend on that new hiree. We don’t want to hire people who are exactly like us because then you’re going to duplicate yourself.
Good advice will be like, “Hire people that are smarter than you. Hire people that have complementary strengths that hone the same strengths as you.” It’s one thing to say, it’s another thing to do it. You’re basically asking for somebody to disagree with you. You’re asking for somebody to think for themselves and challenge conventional wisdom and how things have been run. You have to be humble enough to receive that feedback if you genuinely want to improve and scale your business beyond where you are.
A lot of you have 1, 2 or 3 people working for you, and you’re already seeing some minor office politics or disagreement on your employees. When I first started my company, I had some issues where I had six people in the office, and two people didn’t get along with each other. It was getting to the point where we were starting to lose this whole real family atmosphere. How do you either prevent, manage or navigate that?
It’s hard to prevent because personalities are personalities. People rub each other the wrong way with or without you hosting a company picnic. Most of these things happen at sometimes even company-sponsored events where like, “Everybody should be happy,” and then somebody said something. It’s not to say that there’s nothing you can do to prevent it but at the same time, we are not Thanos. We’re not in control of the universe. We can’t just snap our fingers and everything stops. Things will happen with or without our intervention.
If they happen, it is certainly the responsibility of the leader to be very swift about saying this is okay and not okay, especially with small teams. If you have a smaller work family and you can tell that two people aren’t getting along, you have to decipher as a leader, “Is their conflict affecting the rest of the team?” If the answer is no, not yet, then you hope they’re going to handle it. If you can tell that the ripple effect is starting to be a distraction or negatively impact work productivity from the others because it is a small environment, then I very much intervene very quickly.
You don’t want somebody to work for you because they think you’re perfect. You want somebody to work for you because they can help you improve.
I will bring two people into my office or my virtual office on the Zoom call. I’m like, “Guys, I respect and admire you and your roles. I’m so appreciative that you’re here. You, I’m also extremely appreciative that you’re here. I feel saddened that there’s this tension and conflict between the two of you. I counsel with you. I’m going to ask the two of you to work it out because it’s negatively impacting the rest, and if this isn’t resolved, we have to have a different conversation.”
I do move very swiftly and call out the elephant in the room and have a crucial conversation because 9 times out of 10, keeping your job is more important than stupid drama. If they can’t see past stupid drama to keep the job and to be in a place where they’re appreciated, then I don’t know if they’re a good fit, generally speaking anyway.
That’s important. This goes directly to the small business owner who worked and pretty much did everything herself. She didn’t sleep at night and all this stuff, then she hires the first one. She’s relieved and if she’s lucky, then she hires the second one, and the two don’t get along. A lot of times, the people that are barely scratching the seven figures that are hiring people, are not used to managing people or managing teams. They’re used to doing their thing and living with their consequences. The instinct is like, “Why can’t that person be like me? Why can’t they just suck it up?”
I thought I would ask that question because this is the one question I get a lot from entrepreneurs. I do a lot of speaking and helping female small business owners, and that’s one of the first things I get. “I need all of them. Some of them just don’t get along.” You and I are on the same page on that as well. In terms of the different methods people scale. Is it necessarily only coming down to the teams or were there other factors involved in scaling a business correctly? Having the correct team is a key factor. Nothing else happens without them, but what else is there?
There’s a difference between a growing company and a scaling company. A growing company is growing because you’re adding either more resources like team members or more products that you can sell to the same customer or increasing that average customer lifetime value. There are multiple ways that you can grow a business, and that’s the definition of growing a business. It’s the addition of resources or offers in the marketplace.
A scaling company is a company that can still make more money without adding more resources to the pot, no more products, and getting more from the team that you have. There comes a place where the goal is to scale, not necessarily to keep growing and adding because you have more headaches. There’s more logistical operational drag the more that you add in your pursuit to make $1 million or $10 million. You don’t want $1 million on the top line and $1 million in expense on the bottom line. It’s not even worth it.
You don’t want to get into the situation where you’re getting a point of diminishing return on your investments in terms of human resources as well as all the other resources. I know that you still do a lot of speaking and help other small to medium-sized businesses scale in a way that’s not disruptive. A lot of times, if you don’t know how to scale and use the right resources, you can go broke. I’ve seen that many times.
I’ve been on HSN for many years, and I can count maybe 200 different companies that did all the right things up to that point, and then when they want to grow from $10 million to $50 million, that’s when they go broke because the stakes are so high at that point. Every order, instead of a $10,000 order, it’s a $1 million order. You make one little mistake and that money has gone. Maybe you have a customer who owes you $2 million that goes bankrupt, then you’re tight. There are a lot of things that could go wrong. Growing for the sake of growing is not all that glorious at times. Any other words of wisdom that you want to leave our audience with?
Always ask yourself, “Why do I want to scale or why do I want to hit certain revenue projections?” You’re right. Sometimes quite frankly, the sweet spot is $1 million, $2 million, $3 million. When you hit $3 million, everything breaks. When you hit $10 million, everything breaks. There are certain milestones that are almost like that seven-year marital itch where in seven years, you’re like, “I don’t like you anymore. What’s happening?”
You go through those seasons with your business where sometimes you’re like, “I liked it when it was a baby and it had fat chubby little thighs and I could sit it down. Now, it’s like an unruly teenager that I want to kick out of the house.” There are different seasons. As business owners, you’re the captain and commander of the ship. You can decide if you want to stay where you are because that is where you’ve hit this perfect balance of work and life. Not letting something that seems appealing and the glory of saying that you’re X figures or you’ve hit this, but do you want the lifestyle that comes with that because you’re more exposed and there are sacrifices? You feel like you’re selling your soul.
Even in my own ambition, I’m a highly ambitious human being, there’s no doubt. I can’t help it. Maybe it’s the Cuban genes in me. I’m a very ambitious person but there is a conversation I have with myself all the time of, “How far do I want to go before it’s too much?” It’s not a diminishing return in net profitability, but a diminishing return in my lifestyle and my family relations.
If I were to part ways with your audience, I’d be like, “Don’t go for something because somebody else does that.” I say that as the representative of the big names. People are like, “I want a Tony Robbins business or BossBabe business.” I’ve been behind the curtain and it comes with an enormous cost. Don’t try to emulate something you don’t understand.
That is something that I talk about week after week. As children of immigrants here, I am an immigrant because my parents brought me here involuntarily, we see it the sacrifice and the need for balance. Our parents probably worked too much. My father passed away in 1999. If all the additional revenue or profits come at an enormous personal cost, whether that comes in the way of your health, mental or physical, personal relationships or not having time for yourself.
I love to paint and play the piano and all this stuff. If I need to give up so much of my life at some point, it’s not worth it. If you make $150,000 a year or something. I read somewhere that you could afford almost everything you want in life. You could be quite happy. Understanding scaling and all of that is great but this whole episode wasn’t about you going from 7 to 9 figures. It is about growing to 7 or 8 figures so that you could work fewer hours and high-quality time with your family.
That was very well said, Veronica, and thank you so much for coming on this show to share your expertise and heart. You can reach Veronica and find out all about her life, her journey, and everything that she’s committed to doing. Simply go to her website, Go.VeronicaRomney.com or VeronicaRomney.com, and you will be amazed. Until next time, everyone, please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice and I hope you make great choices.
- Veronica Romney
- Instagram – Veronica Iglesias Romney
About Veronica Romney
“You Can Build A Business Alone, But You Can’t Scale It On Your Own”
I’m Veronica Romney and I work with online entrepreneurs struggling to get their teams dialed in.
I am an Integrator personality to a T, and I love managing people. I’ve also been in the online marketing world since 2008, most recently working behind-the-scenes as a speaker, trainer, Director, and Chief of Staff for brands such as Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi, Pete Vargas, and BossBabe.
Simply put, my unique superpowers and professional background will help you actually take a vacation – not another workcation. Need I say more?
Learn more how we can work together here >> veronicaromney.com