With our 30th birthday celebration coming up, we have been looking back at some of the events and happenings that helped us get to where we are today. One thing that helped our business during the economic recession several years ago was our year-long participation in EMyth Business Coaching.
If you’re not familiar with EMyth, let us fill you in. EMyth was founded on the simple concept that most businesses aren’t started by business-minded people, but rather passionate individuals that have a product or service to offer and know how to do things better than or more uniquely than others can. However, these individuals don’t always know what it’s going to take to get to their vision. They are in the moment and truly think starting a business is a great idea. EMyth refers to this as the “entrepreneurial seizure” – essentially, you think that being able to do the work is all there is to starting and building a business, never giving thought to all other aspects of running a business like handling cash flow and managing employees, and eventually, you wind up overwhelmed and exhausted. That’s where EMyth can save the day for business owners because business coaches can help you work through those tough aspects of business ownership so you can enjoy your life and your job just like your original vision.
Now that you’re caught up, let’s sit down with Amanda Sutt, CEO and Creative Director of Rock Paper Scissors, to discuss how EMyth’s coaching services helped our business thrive, as well as what motivated her to become a certified EMyth Business Coach.
What first attracted you to utilizing EMyth Business Coaching for RPS?
A: A few years after I graduated college, a friend recommended I read the book “The EMyth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” because he thought it would be helpful for me as I dove into the family business. As a small business leader, the book feels like it is written for you and your particular struggles as a business owner. It stands out for people who’ve made mistakes and are trying to figure out how to make a business successful because EMyth was founded on one simple idea: “That small businesses are not started by business people. They’re started by people like you. People who have a craft — something you know how to do better or different than anyone else. And who woke up one day and realized that their businesses had turned into a job. A really hard one. With lousy pay.”
There was a big gap between me reading the book and starting the coaching service! When I read the book around 2006, it referred you to downloads on the website. I dabbled with those worksheets from 2007 to the beginning of 2012. I knew the principles and concepts to build your business like a franchise with systems so it’s replicable, but didn’t get very far. Going into the recession, we had experienced economic dips before, but not like this. We thought we could put our heads down and work hard until it was over, but things kept getting harder. We never knew anything but manic chaos.
Around 2011, EMyth had a leadership change and the company went through its own process (they “Emythed” Emyth) and during this time, they started going back through the files of people who had downloaded resources from the site. In early 2012, I got a call from a coach who asked how the business was going, and I answered honestly and what I thought was going to be a quick 10 minute call, ended up being an hour and half. The coach then asked, “Do you think coaching would help?” Not even two weeks earlier I had said to my mom I could go at this pace for two more years and then I’d be done. It was really rough, but when EMyth called I was ready to learn how to really work smarter and not harder – we were all maxed out.
The recession was tough on all businesses, but you credit the coaching RPS received through EMyth as part of the reason the company survived. What are some specific examples you can share on how the coaching helped RPS survive (and thrive) through that time?
A: Part of it was having someone hold us accountable. We were really good at starting things, but not finishing them. Our coach helped us fix that. It also helped us realize that not having a single vision and leader was hurting the business. Between my mom Cindy, our CEO, my dad Randy, our CFO, and myself, an art director, we had some very different ideas for the future of the business and there was no consistency between us. We realized we all needed to get on the same page with our vision as well as all other areas of the business. At that point, we were also taking any work that came our way and were generalists. EMyth coaching made us realize we needed to establish a clear vision. It made us learn everything that was changing in the marketing world – the rise of social media and how it changed consumer perception, the tools we were using, etc.
The coaching also helped us realize that if we love what we’re doing, the quality of our work will improve. So we started looking at what we wanted to do and learned we wanted to build partnerships with our clients, to talk with them earlier in the process, and to interlace that with the sales process. We didn’t want to have our hands tied behind our backs, so we set up new processes. We established set times for regular staff meetings, as well as meetings for sales, operations, technology, and more. We also got to know our staff on a different level. We moved away from the superficial relationships and built camaraderie. We realized how we can collaborate and develop talent, which helped us built longevity with our employees. We started looking at how we could create a company culture that not only reflected who we are, but also one that makes us look forward to coming to work each day. We work hard and play hard, and we love to have fun. Our culture is part of what makes it a joy to work here, and also part of what attracts prospective clients and employees to our business.
How have the things you learned through EMyth coaching influenced how you do business here at RPS?
A: First, EMyth hasn’t stopped influencing us and that’s why I enjoy working with them. One of the aspects of running this business and working for EMyth that’s important for me as a leader is that I’m able to watch another company from the inside to give me perspective of what that is like while I am also in a leadership role. I’m still working for someone even though I have people working for me so I know what it is like to be in the trenches. This is something I have always done; when I was just art directing, I still did theatre work and graphic design on the side. I feel it was important as a leader to know what it’s like to work under someone and receive criticism.
EMyth also helped me realize that every business is dysfunctional and to just embrace it, and to drop the idea of perfectionism. I started looking at problems differently – what’s the biggest problem and what can we do to fix it.
What would you consider the greatest benefits RPS received from its year of EMyth Business Coaching?
A: Clarity and purpose as a company, for everything. We took time to understand why we’re doing this and, because of that we are able to make better choices and are a much more solid company. Now, our world doesn’t fall apart when something goes wrong. We have new tools in our toolbox that we can use for any problem thrown at us. We know how to think strategically and everything seems fixable. It’s a great new perspective for a company’s leadership and is the difference between a small, mom-and-pop type of business and a sustainable one.
It seems that RPS and EMyth are very similar in terms of wanting to make an impact and leave things better than we found them. How do you feel RPS experienced that first hand with EMyth?
A: One of my reasons for becoming a coach was because I saw the services as a good compliment to our current client base. I was tired of creating beautiful campaigns and clients not using them or not being prepared for an influx of sales. I wanted to have greater conversations with clients that go deeper about the business. It’s an extension of what we do. We have the same values and end results of growing our businesses.
There’s more to our EMyth story. Stay tuned for the continuation of the story next month!
If you don’t want to wait, connect with Amanda to learn more!