“I love showing people how to do things better. And so the fact that that is the premise of my course, in a very broad way, is orgasmic.” -Dara Sklar, CEO, donewithdara.com
I am excited to be joined today by Dara Sklar from learn.withdara.com . She uses her in-depth knowledge of Google Tools to help business owners work more efficiently.
Dara is like a tech-savvy Monica Geller but is a lot less demanding (and shrill 😂). She’s the friend you call for tech help that is also happy to jump in and show you time-saving tips and hacks that you’ll wish you knew sooner. Dara is full of ideas on working more efficiently and is always thinking about doing things better.
Not only does Dara share some amazing productivity hacks and tool recommendations, but she also shares with us her insights into building a business that truly reflects your unique personality. I loved my conversation with Dara and hope you will too!
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- [02:51] What makes Dara’s business feel orgasmic
- [05:28] Why you should stop trying to be generic in your marketing
- [08:56] How to build efficiency into your business from the start
- [11:57] The tools that enabled Dara to triple her business revenue
- [16:30] Always look at things through the lens of, “How can I do this better?”
- [22:11] Veronica shares how she broke bonds with the past and started up a new business love interest
- [25:25] A sneak peek into Dara’s mind and the value of incremental change
- [28:54] Hyper-filing vs. the power of search
- [30:06] Tips for filing and standardized naming conventions
Connect with Us:
- On Instagram | @businesslaidbare
Connect with Dara Sklar:
- On Instagram | DaraSklar
- On Facebook | Dara Sklar
- On LinkedIn | Dara Sklar
- Website | learn.withdara.com, and done.withdara.com
- Organizing Apps | Airtable, Help Scout
- Google Organizing Apps | Calendar, Gmail and, Drive
“We’re so used to the instant gratification of a big change that we sometimes feel like small changes aren’t good enough. But then, if you can let that go a little bit and acknowledge that actually, incremental improvement is better than big sweeping changes because it allows you to lean into the first change and improve on it. It’s like compound interest, the incremental change.” -Dara Sklar, CEO, donewithdara.com
Hey, I’m Veronica Yanhs and I’m obsessed with backends. Specifically, your business backend your operations, and I’m the CEO and founder of Business Laid Bare. We’re a digital operations agency that builds well lubricated and Orgasmic Operations ™ so that your business is pleasurable, productive, and ultimately profitable because when you feel good, everything else feels good too.
Like your team, your customers, and your bank account. I mean, who doesn’t want to consent to that? This podcast gives you the tips, interviews, and mindset shifts on how to run your business and its operations so that it’s immensely pleasurable, productive, and profitable.
So ready to whip your business into shape with me?
Let’s get it on.
veronica: [00:00:47] Thank you so much, Dara, for joining me on this episode of The Business Whip and I actually would prefer it if my guests introduce themselves because you know, you all know yourself so much better than I know you. So if you could, tell the listeners who you are, what you do and how you show up as a business owner in, in this entrepreneurial space.
dara: [00:01:09] This question has always tripped me up because I’m one of those entrepreneurs who is very capable of lots of things and has tended to make money in a variety of ways, serving people in a variety of ways. And so I always struggle with this question, but my name is Dara. I’m your token Canadian. I’m all friendly and polite.
And I have two businesses. One that has paid the bills for over 15 years. So I’ve been a long time entrepreneur. And another more recent one, which is partly why I’m here to talk to you, which is a course all about using Google tools for better productivity within your business or your life. And those Google tools, you know, like Gmail and Google Drive and the tools that we all tend to dabble into some small or grand extent and that, you know, I’ve heard over and over again, Google runs my life.
Well, now Google will run your life even more efficiently. If you would take the course that I’ve created. And so having run a business for 15 years before creating this course, I’m taking all of my entrepreneurial inclinations and applying them to specific tools that we all use in business.
And that’s who I am. Oh, and my name is Dara Sklar. I forgot that part.
veronica: [00:02:16] I forget that too. No, but seriously, like when people ask me like, “Hey, introduce yourself”. I’m just like, the same as you, like, “Hey, I’m Veronica, I’m kinky”. And then somehow the conversation naturally leads into somewhere. And then eventually throughout this entire episode, I get my bio out. Like it’s probably like sprinkled throughout the entire episode.
So, it’s just like a conversation, right. Cause like I’ve never ever had a friend introduce like who they were to me, like a bio. And then we have a conversation because that’s not how this podcast goes. So that’s why I’m just like, introduce yourself. Like, who are you? How do you, how do you show up in this world?
So I actually love that you have two businesses and that the one that you’re running right now, correct me if I’m wrong, feels absolutely orgasmic.
dara: [00:02:59] It does. Absolutely. Well, I didn’t realize that that was, that it was going to turn out this way, but basically, there’s a handful of reasons why, why it’s orgasmic. I mean, I’m going to start at the top, which is because it’s made money.
veronica: [00:03:12] Yeah. Like we don’t want an expensive hobby.
dara: [00:03:14] No, a 100% not. And you know what better way to reward an entrepreneur, than to line their pockets.
And so for me, you know, if you had asked me, what do you want to be when you grow up? When I was a little kid, I just wanted a job that would make me lots of money, because that was like, as a child, I just really liked money. And it’s no wonder I turned out to be an entrepreneur. So I’ll, I’ll start there and say that the reward for my efforts, which were great in the creation of the course and the development of the sales funnel and the, you know, writing the sales copy and putting out Facebook ads and, you know, essentially putting like practically a hundred thousand dollars in Facebook ad spend out on the line, not all at once, but having that return a profit is a huge reward. And the reflection on that for sure feels orgasmic.
On top of all of that, the topic that I’m teaching fills me with joy because I have always loved, like, if you could say, what do you love most? I would say, I love showing people how to do things better. And so the fact that that is the premise of my course in a very grand way, or great, very broad way is orgasmic to me because, oh my gosh, you know, my whole life I’ve been telling people what to do. And most of them shy away because they’re like, stop being so bossy, Dara. And here people are paying me to tell them what to do. So that also to me feels orgasmic.
veronica: [00:04:31] So you’re saying that you have created a business in a way that feels extremely pleasurable to you, because it satisfies the part of your personality that you didn’t know needed to be satisfied or pleasured.
dara: [00:04:43] I think I never found anybody who was willing to, to accept me as I am, I guess. I mean, not nobody, but I think there are parts of my personality that my husband, who, you know, spends a lot of his life with me. He puts up with because he’s like, okay, well I know this is a character trait of yours. So I take what you say with a grain of salt.
And I expect when I come along really excited to show you something that you’re going to tell me how you would have done it differently. And it’s not out of any kind of lack of appreciation. It’s just like the way that my filter works is I see things through the lens of, how would I do that differently or better?
And it’s, it can be really embarrassing. And in this one scenario in my life, I am telling people how they could do things better and I am getting paid for it. So that’s a really kind of cool way of looking at, at this business.
veronica: [00:05:28] And it’s so validating too. Like, there is always somebody out there for you, no matter what you teach or how niche your focus is, niche, niche. It’s it doesn’t matter because so long as you show up exactly as how you’re meant to show up or how you want to show up, the people will come. The money will flow. And that’s such a great example.
So in your first business, so we’re talking about your second business is the one with Google products and in the first business, is that not something that you can do, like show up the way that you want to be showing up?
dara: [00:06:00] Yes, to some extent, but the market that I’m serving in that other business is realtors and I mean to be polite about it, I’m just a little bit tired of working for realtors.
So when I go when I consult with people and realtors are you know where my, are and were my bread and butter in the in the primary business, one of the things that I would say to realtors, just in general like to any realtor, I would say that they should stop trying to be generic, that they should show up as they are and who they are because there are enough buyers and sellers out there for everybody. And what you put out is what you’re going to attract.
And I used to say this to realtors all the time. If you want to be the bicycle riding realtor or the fat flamboyantly gay realtor, or the you know, buttoned-up suit realtor. And I literally have worked for all of these people, be that, so that you’ll draw in the people who want to work with you.
And it’s like, I’ve taken that same advice because I am leaning into my inner Monica Geller and vacuuming my big vacuum with a little vacuum and showing people how to organize their digital files and taking joy in that instead of feeling embarrassed by that character trait.
veronica: [00:07:08] I love that so much. And side note, so every year, well, until COVID hit, I would attend Kink Fest. Like, Portland Oregon’s like largest kink convention, like, I don’t know, 15,000 square feet of dungeon space, plus classes and all that good stuff. So it’s basically a kinky conference. Love it. Can’t wait to go back.
And there is a real estate agent who always like advertises, because you can advertise in like the, booklet that, that everybody gets. And he, the tagline, he always has, like, there’s a difference between a master bedroom and a “master” bedroom and like, you could see like the bedroom that’s like tricked out with like all these like bondage points or like there’s possibly a cage at the bottom of the bed.
And like, he purposely serves people who are kinky so that when they look at a space they know how to trick it out, or he can make suggestions. I was like, if you want a whole bunch of toys, sex swings, or not, whatever, it is hardpoints from the bedroom, whatever tickles your fancy, like we can look at that with that lens. And so he does really well. Don’t get me wrong. He does amazingly well. And so I always have to give him credit for like just niching down and just focusing on who he wants to serve.
dara: [00:08:16] Well and hopefully leaning into his own personality and that he’s not putting it on to attract, it’s you know, it’s not a marketing ploy. And I think that that’s something to keep in mind when you’re in business. And you’re, you know, you are embodying that as well is, it’s not a marketing ploy. You’re just leaning into your personalities so that you do end up working with, and selling to people who are drawn to what you put out, because you don’t want to be, you know, you do want to be bending over backward, but you don’t want to be bending over backward for the wrong reasons, or in the wrong direction, or for the wrong people.
veronica: [00:08:47] Oh, rimshot. I wish I could just push a button, rimshot. I love this. So let’s, I’m going to talk to you about your business a little bit.
So you help people run more efficiently. What are the systems that you’ve put into your business that have made your business run really well? Right, so this is talking about The Business Whip, but in order to have your business in the shape, I’m always trying to share like, what is the, what’s going on behind closed doors?
And so if you could like talk about that and how you’ve built your business in a way that really honors your time or efficiency or whatever it is like, I want to hear it.
dara: [00:09:22] I am going to rewind this clock 11 years to when I hired my very first virtual assistant. Actually, it was 11 and a half years ago and the first few didn’t work out. But the best thing that I ever did, and there’s a reason I’m mentioning those first few people who, who didn’t work out because the very best thing I ever did was the moment that I created a procedure and a documentation process, the moment that I did that every time I’ve documented a task, I didn’t have to do it again.
And it was never more apparent to me than when the first person didn’t work out and then the second person didn’t work out and I didn’t have to retrain, by the time the third person came along, there was a pamphlet for her to read, it wasn’t paper. It was virtual.
But I had already fielded questions from two brand new people, to me. So I had filled out this robust training manual. That’s like an introduction to me and you know, she’s in the Philippines, I’m in Canada. So it’s an introduction to me, to my business, to real estate in Canada, to even just like geography and how properties work.
Like it’s this whole big thing that gave her the backstory, that gave her the tools to then follow different procedures for things within my business. And that was just me scratching the surface when I was a baby entrepreneur, getting my very first assistant. Now that person is still with me to this day.
We’ve now been together for over 11 years, but the same principles apply because every time I write an email that I think, oh yeah, I’ve worded this well, it goes into a saved template. So now she can use it on my behalf, in the future. Every single time we create something it’s again in the same way that I love to tell people how to do things better.
I’m always looking at my own processes. How can I do this faster and more efficiently next time? What tools or, or teachings can I empower her with so that she can do this even faster for herself in the future?
So all of this infrastructure and I even changed the offerings of my business so that it would fit. And I’m forcing people. I’m like, they call me, I tell them to order online because you asked me like what tools I’m not even getting there yet. I mean the very fundamental tool is these procedures, and a person to put those procedures into place so that I don’t have to. And every opportunity that I have to force the business into something that’s repeatable means that I get my time back. Means that I don’t have to babysit the inbox, or be answering the phone. Like, I have taken my phone number off of my website. People can chat in, and you know what, when I’m on the mountain bike trail, I can answer them. When I’m drinking beer on a patio at three in the afternoon, I can answer them.
They feel supported. My assistant is there doing the work and everything that we’re doing is repeatable. Now tools, want to know what the tools are?
veronica: [00:11:58] Yes, please. Don’t make me beg.
dara: [00:12:02] So naturally, I’m going to have to say Google tools. So we obviously use Google calendar, and we’re using Gmail, and we’re using Google drive, and we’re using those you know fundamental business tools, which is where I came up with the idea to teach about using them, because these are tools that everybody has.
And I think the, the minimum standard, or not the minimum standard, but so much as like the base layer of tools that people have tend to be email, calendar, storage, right. And because Google gives that stuff away for free up to a certain point it seems like a no-brainer thing that every business has. At a certain point, some businesses get to a stage where they need more robust systems. More, I don’t know, tools that will help churn through customers.
So there were two main things that I changed in my business about four years ago, actually three main tools, four years ago, specific to what I do. And I tripled my revenue in two years with, with this. The first one was Airtable. I know you love Airtable. So I got Airtable because I’m managing a database of about, I want to say like 120,00 contacts and 50,000 different email addresses within those contacts. So I needed something much more robust that I didn’t have to pay to store inside some CRM. That was not going to happen. So I needed something where I could really easily manipulate the data.
The second thing is I got a system where I could take payments online and make upsells. So the very first thing that I did was take those orders online and take payments, which meant to me, I didn’t have to send out the invoice, make sure the payment came in, you know because it was a prepaid service.
That took the weight off me. And I didn’t even realize how much of a pain that whole process was, but it meant that I had to be coordinating with my assistant. Yes, they’ve paid. Cause I, you know, financials all come through me. They don’t go through her. So being able to let people pay online, but then the added layer of, oh, you want to add this $19 thing? Oh, you want to add this $50 thing? Oh, you want us to play some Facebook and Instagram ads for $249. All of these things increase what we know as the average cart value, which means without me doing any more work, they get to self-serve. I don’t have to sell them. That also is orgasmic to me. They come to my website, they fill in a form, they pay me money lands in my bank account. And I don’t have to say, would you like fries with that? Thrills me.
veronica: [00:14:24] I love that. Like, I have so many follow-ups, this is why I always have an iPad. Like, I’m just unapologetic about that now.
dara: [00:14:31] I’m going to tell you the third tool though before I forget.
veronica: [00:14:33] Oh, oh, dang. I wrote down three already.
dara: [00:14:35] Yeah. So Airtable and then Clickfunnels happens to be the software that I use, but any kind of shopping cart software that allows upsells would have done and the third one is Helpscout. So I upgraded from using just regular email to using a Helpdesk software, which has a bunch of automations and tags and saved replies. And it just helps us manage the volume of orders that we get on a weekly basis, a little bit better.
veronica: [00:14:59] What are you looking at in terms of like, volume? Just so that if someone is listening and they’re like, should I get HelpScout? Should I not? Like, what are you looking at numbers-wise? Cause I don’t use HelpScout.
dara: [00:15:08] Yeah. I mean, for the email blast business for the realtors, I don’t even think I’ve said that the word email blast. I was just saying that I do this really niche thing for Canadian realtors. So we send out mass emails to Canadian realtors and we get, I would say let’s call it, on a busy week, 30 orders in a week.
But there’s a lot of back and forth. Realtors are not always the most tech-savvy. So sometimes they’re sending us seven different emails that are all belonging together. We’re waiting for them to respond to us. So there’s a lot of like follow-up. It’s once they place the online order, everything from that point on is manual. So, we needed to make sure that we had a system where nothing would fall through the cracks.
And using an inbox was a little too risky. We did it for a while and we did it for years. And then I just saw a way for us to be more efficient and decided that it was going to be worth the investment and the setup. And it has been, I mean, as soon as you, you get a new tool that you start to use, like an expert, like you lean into and you see its capabilities and that’s when things jump even further than the initial, you know, it’s like a tiny step and you’re like, oh yeah, this feels good. And then the moment that you start using it fully, it’s like, you go and you can accelerate. And this is where I’m talking about that business tripling was literally database management, online orders and proceduralizing internally.
And we were able to take on the capacity and everything just grew from there.
veronica: [00:16:30] I love that. Was there something that tested your capacity availability, or was it always just you set it up in that capacity was never an issue? Like you were never going to hit some sort of a capacity ceiling where things would break or things would fall through the cracks. Did you feel like you set that up from the get-go?
dara: [00:16:46] No, I think I, I built it up as ideas came to me. So I think, kind of like once you get comfortable in a situation and you relax into it, your mind can wander into other creative places. And I think I remember like the moment when I had the epiphany about starting to use Airtable and growing the database in a different way than I have previously.
And that I’m sure is probably the biggest difference because, all of this, in this particular business, all of the sales are organic. Meaning, it’s either somebody has received our email and therefore they know we exist. And by someone, I mean, a realtor. So a realtor receives an email from another realtor. They’re like, Ooh, I’d like to do this for my listings or my clients. Or they Google us and they find us online.
So yeah, I think that it’s just ideas that have come to me again, always looking at things through the lens of, where is my frustration and how can I do it better? And when you asked about capacity, I would say that yes, at a certain point we did reach capacity and I don’t remember if it was a specific tipping point of something slipping through the cracks. But it was, you know what, this is going to sound really selfish and terrible. But if my assistant goes on vacation or she’s sick, or I have to cover for her for a day, that’s usually when I make decisions because she tolerates and she’ll stay static with something.
And I’m the one who steps in and is like, oh, I could be doing this better. Or I’m going to tell her this, I’m going to make this suggestion for her. And so that’s usually what ends up happening and even, you know, she’s in the Philippines. So that means that she works from Sunday to Thursday in North American time. And that means that actually my whole business is set up so that we don’t even take orders on Fridays. Like everything has to be done by Thursday night and I set the business up like that so that I wouldn’t have to step in. And I only will step in on a Friday if someone is paying a rush.
veronica: [00:18:30] I love that. I love how you fought so far ahead, even in terms of what your boundaries were. I’m not going to take orders on Friday because if I have to step in things are not going to go so well, I absolutely love this. And like the fact that you just keep repeating process improvement stuff, like how can it be better? How can I be more efficient? Like that is such a core philosophy that I don’t think enough entrepreneurs utilize.
Like, I think, I mean, it comes naturally to me. Like, I’m always like, if it’s not orgasmic, don’t settle. How can this be more orgasmic? How can this be better? How can this be more pleasurable?
And I think, and I don’t know why I do this. Like, do you know why you walk around thinking how you can be more efficient? Like, I I’ve always been this way and I don’t know how to explain it. And so when I learned that this was not somebody’s, most people’s natural way of analyzing, I was a little shook. So then I was like, okay, I have to bake this in because process improvement, asking how things can be better, it means that you’re always proactive and that your business won’t be stagnant. Or like if there is a process and you’re doing it and it sucks, at least you’re challenging yourself to do it better rather than just be okay with the status quo.
dara: [00:19:35] Totally. And, you know, I started off my, my story by saying, let’s dial back the clock 11 years. It’s easy to think that I just suddenly landed here with a super-efficient business and not to say that it was ever bad or inefficient, but the incremental improvements that I have made over the years, if I look back even one year ago, the difference in how I’m dealing with things today versus a year ago is still better.
And I’m not even using any different tools. I’m just looking at it through a slightly smarter and smarter and more efficient and more efficient lens. And I think it’s really important in all aspects of business and learning, that we remember that incremental improvement is still progress. It’s just, we’re so used to the instant gratification of a big change that we sometimes feel like small changes aren’t good enough.
But then if you can like let that go a little bit and acknowledge that actually, incremental improvement is better than big sweeping changes, because it allows you to lean into the first change and improve on it and improve. It’s like, it’s like compound interest. You’re the incremental change.
And to your point about personalities, I had a very similar experience. It was actually around the time when I got into online business, like in terms of sales funnels and course creation, which was a little over five years ago. And I maybe it was even six years ago, but I suddenly realized that my personality traits that I had fought my whole life, or had felt like guilty about, or had been criticized in some way, that they were actually normal personality traits for someone with my personality type. And I’m sure that’s why you and I bonded so quickly because we have all of these same inclinations and we’re both like nodding and talking about all these processes and being efficient and organized.
veronica: [00:21:23] Oh, this makes me so hot.
dara: [00:21:25] Well, but honestly, to find people like me, you know, my friends were like, Dara, stop telling me what to do and my online buddies were like, oh, you did it this way. I did it this way. And then we’re like bonding. And then you realize actually in this wonderful way that you’re not alone and that these personality traits are like, I literally could read a description of my personality type on the Enneagram Scale or the Myers-Briggs Scale and be nodding my head the whole way through.
And, you know, still feeling a little bad that when those personality traits conflict with someone else’s needs or wants, of course. And I, you know, I want to, I still want to be well-received, I still want to be liked, but I, I stopped dialing back my personality to the same and you know what, I bet you dialed yours up, which is why your business took off.
veronica: [00:22:11] Thank you. I, that is exactly what happened. Like in 2019, when I just like burned my business to the ground, like it was Q4. I, you know, as ignorant as I was, I was like, oh, new decade, new me kind of thing. Cause you know, 2020 was coming up and little, did we know what, what happened during COVID. But I was just like, I’m just going to start over.
Like, what’s the worst that can happen. Everything that I didn’t want to do, I burned to the ground and I didn’t do it. I only wanted to do things that brought me joy. And so, like I tried the e-course route. I was like, I just don’t have the capacity or capability to generate a following, a large following of people willing to buy it.
I realized that I excelled so much better at services. And yes, a lot of people were like, you can’t scale a service-based business. And I’m just like, actually I think with my mindset and my operation skills, just watch me. But like I try, like, and that’s, what’s so beautiful about this is that I bring guests on like you to talk about how your business is orgasmic, how you’re able to like lean into what just works for you. And what may not work for me, works brilliant for you.
And I love that we get to hold that space for everybody. So it’s like, don’t feel like you have to do one thing or another, just because some like online influencer says you have to. Like really honor yourself. So like, I’m more high ticket, like quality clients, like I’d rather have five really, really awesome clients and charge a premium service for it because that’s what works.
And I took my Gallup Strengths Finder Clifton thing assessment, and my number one strength is this thing called relator. Meaning, I have this uncanny ability to develop deep and meaningful relationships rather quickly. And I just thought I was just being a nice human being.
So it’s like lean into your strengths and I’m glad that you did because, oh, I did remember seeing your sales page. It was just like littered with friends’ references and your ads are just brilliant. Your Facebook ads are amazing. So I hope that our listeners get hit with one of your ads, because I always stop to like google at them. It’s so good.
dara: [00:24:12] Well, and you know, you asked what are some of the orgasmic aspects of my business. And with the course business, I really got to lean into, not just the personality quirks of telling people what to do, but my sense of humor. Making fun of myself using memes and gifs and pop-culture reference.
Like I can’t tell you the number of people who have either commented on the ads or on the intake form. Like when they first purchased the course, which by the way, is a low ticket. It’s only $37 and they buy the course and they say, well, the price was great, but also your personality came through so strongly I thought I would really enjoy learning from you
And leaning into that. And I didn’t, I, you know, I think. Organization and how to use technology can be very dry. And I, I didn’t even realize that I was doing it until I got some positive reinforcement and then I really dialed up the like, let’s laugh our way through how this could go.
veronica: [00:25:06] I feel that. Like, let’s sexify operations because operations I’ve been told can be pretty darn dry. So I’m glad that we were able to like inject it. And like you said, like humor is so important. Like if I couldn’t slip puns left and right. Whether they were intentional or not, I wouldn’t be able to like, enjoy what I do every day.
But okay. Enough about me. Like, I want to talk about what you know, like the back of your hand. Google, and like how we could maybe spend some time for you to like, just give us a teaser, even as to what your course is like. What we would learn. Like, do you have any best practices or some tips that our listeners can walk away from going, okay, I know how to make my business orgasmic just a little bit more with this like easy, quick win.
dara: [00:25:49] For sure, yeah. I’ve got a few up my sleeve, although I’m wearing short sleeves today. But I’ll tell you that one of the biggest stumbling blocks, like when some, let’s say you’re in your business and you’re like, okay, my bookmarks are all, like, I just keep hitting the star, but I’m not really organizing anything. And my Google drive is literally just a long scrolling list of every document I’ve ever opened and started. And I’ve never really, you know, it’s all untitled document entitled document. There’s that extreme. And then there’s, you know, someone who’s like making some efforts to organize. But the biggest stumbling block for most people to set up a system in their business, and this is across the board, It doesn’t have to be related specifically to Google. But those are a couple of examples that come to mind. The biggest stumbling block is thinking that you have to clean up the mess from before, before you can start something new.
And the very first thing that I teach in the course is actually that you can forgive yourself from whatever, you know, whatever mess you’ve created up to this point. You actually can just sweep it under the rug. Create a system that you would like to use from now on because of the reality is that, if we’re in business, we, you know, the business that you have this year, isn’t the same as the business that you had last year or the year before, for all, all kinds of reasons you’ve evolved, your needs have evolved, your offerings have evolved.
And if I knew then, or if I know knew now what I knew then, or vice versa. Here’s how I would have set it up. That’s the hat you put on. So what I recommend people do is they literally create a folder called sweep it under the rug or under the rug. They toss everything into that, and they set up the folder structure that they want to use from now on knowing everything they know about their business, knowing everything that they know about their own personal habits and tendencies. Because if you set up this thing, that’s so perfect, if it’s too perfect and doesn’t have any catch-alls or any laziness built into it, then you’re going to very quickly stop using it.
veronica: [00:27:36] Oh, I love that.
dara: [00:27:37] Because, well, there’s a reason that you weren’t this way in the first place, right? So what we’re doing is incremental change.
First, the sweeping under the rug is not incremental. It’s like freeing. And the second part is building up this incremental change because you start using a new system and it’s like, you’re practicing. You’re testing it to see if it fits your personality, if it fits your business, and you can adjust it.
And so basically I recommend that somebody set up something new. And system could be anything, but in my mind, let’s say it would be folders inside of your Google drive. And you set it all up and then you practice using it for 2, 4, 6, 8 weeks. And you just, first of all, tweak and adjust it to make sure that it suits. And also, you may come to the realization that you don’t need everything you swept under the rug to be organized. You might bring stuff forward. So let’s say certain active clients might come into an active clients folder or you know, you’ve got some accounting records or like whatever you still need to go reaching into that old archive folder. You can bring that forward into your new system.
But actually, like I, I, and I heard this stat at some point, I wish I could remember the source or what the actual number was, but it was something like more than 80% of your files never need to be accessed again. So you don’t actually need to go A, clean up the past before you can move into the future or B, even necessarily clean up the past ever, because it’s digital.
And this is going to lead me to the next point, which is we’re here in the age of search. It’s not like a filing cabinet anymore, where you have to remember exactly where you put something in order to find it. We are using the most robust search engines in the world to look through our emails or our, our files.
Why aren’t we leaning into that? So, knowing how to use the advanced search in both Gmail and Google drive means that you can actually become a little lazier. Because if you name your files in a way that you’ll be able to find them in the future, so you just give it a little bit of intention upfront, and then it pays you back later because you’re able to find things because you understand the intricacies of how to search for something, or what would I have named it, or what acronyms do I use internally in my business.
And so it’s that combination of forgive the past, move on, and lean into like just naming based on search and nothing hyper filing. You know, like feeling like every single thing needs to go into a folder. And I’m not saying that it shouldn’t, and I’m not saying it doesn’t have to, but it doesn’t have to, and you should allow your personality to dictate how serious you get about that because the purpose is finding it, not filing it.
veronica: [00:30:06] oh, I love that. So is there a naming structure that you recommend because you know, this is a big problem for all of us. Even myself included, like. Finding that standardization is sometimes hard or we get lazy, like you said. So do you ever have any like, just like a quick, like a quick suggestion that somebody could implement today?
dara: [00:30:25] Yes. I have a couple, one of which is that there is no one right way and that every single person should just lean into their own inclinations. I so often say to myself, where would I have put that? Or what would I have named that. I trust that I know myself well enough to help me remember what I would have done in a typical situation.
So just, I just want to say that, because I think that it’s so easy to fall off a wagon when you haven’t like, you’re not on it. You know what I mean? Like if it’s, if it’s a stretch to do it, you won’t do it. And so I just want to give that permission to start off with.
The other thing that I want to say is consistency. Is, and I, you know, this isn’t a naming convention. That’s not like this, then this, then this consistency is the most important, next thing that you can do. And that would be, and you can keep your little cheat sheet beside you. I use acronyms in my business, so, or, or a client name. So, you know, if I’ve got anything that’s relating to a client, I name it with the client’s name. I’ll usually add a date. And just in terms of consistency veer dash month, dash day with a two-digit month and a two-digit day is the best way because chronological and alphabetical of year, month, day are the same. And then if you always use the same date format, then you’ll always be able to find things if you’re searching with a date.
And that would be, so for example, if I chose Jan 2021, well, sometimes I would write Jan. Sometimes I would write January. Sometimes I would do, oh one dash 21. Sometimes I would do 20, 21 dash oh one. All of that inconsistency is what becomes problematic. So you pick what makes sense to you and then you use that over and over again.
And I’m sure there’s lots more.
veronica: [00:32:06] I’m trying to take notes. I’m like, wait a minute you’re talking me so fast. So wait, this is recorded. So I love this. This is like, these things are so small, right? People are focused so much on the big grandiose things, but like when it comes down to running your business the day-to-day, like little things like naming conventions, mean the world.
Like you want to be able to make it easy, like I, the other day, so I have a knowledge base system. We break up how we do work for our clients into like 15 different systems. Like that’s all the systems that we look at for each, every client. And then like, we prioritize it, but like, in my own knowledge base, like we have a gigantic running but organized database.
So we use Notion and I have like databases with like linked together so that you see one giant like page, because each separate database actually is filed under the category of department it’s in. But like the other day, I’m like, I swear, I created like how to send a client gift, SOP, Standard Operating Procedure, but I couldn’t find it because I got a lot, right.
And so then I’m like, what would I have typed? I would have typed a word gift or client and it was there. So I love that it doesn’t have to be perfect, but whatever. So it sounds like whatever, whatever platform you have documentation in, make sure that the search feature is robust.
dara: [00:33:18] Yeah. And I think that it is typically. Like there’s a, you know what system out there doesn’t have search these days.
veronica: [00:33:24] The only thing I have with like Google Drive is like, everything I have is in Drive. Whether it’s my things, my business things, or my clients share me their Google drives cause we need access to them. And like searching for things in Google Drive sometimes is a bit overwhelming because you’re more naturally inclined to just type in what you want to search for and click enter. Rrather than go through the filtering, like only search in this folder or this folder. So I would say that that’s the biggest issue that I have with Drive, but other than that, it’s like, Google is so crucial to my business, to my life.
Google calendar. Like I live and die by my Google calendar. Everything goes in my calendar. Otherwise, it would be in my head and I would just be a ball of anxiety. Anything that we start, even though we work in Notion, like I have to sometimes create my documents in Google drive first, like Google docs or Google sheets, because the typing feature or like the content feature in Notion is not like, it’s a database, but it’s not spreadsheet material. So to just create in Google drive and embedded into Notion. Like everything goes into Notion, but the document origin location doesn’t have to be there. And like, I love that Google is in my business so much. So yeah, like your course is absolutely so needed. Like, so I’m just assuming you’re going to talk about like email stuff, we’re gonna talk about like email, you’re going to talk about calendar.
dara: [00:34:42] There’s a module for each one of these things. Even though the price tag is $37, it is literally a signature-level course. And, you know, you brought up a comment earlier about, about needing an audience. Well, I didn’t have an audience, so I needed to prove myself to the world. And therefore here I am offering a signature level course for $37 and, you know, two more things.
One, I just wanted to say, just came to mind about, you know, what makes things orgasmic. Waking up to money, waking up to testimonials, waking up to comments on my Facebook ads. I had someone just yesterday, never heard of him, didn’t even know that he was a student because he just bought the course of the day before. Pops up and he comments on my Facebook ad. “I just bought this yesterday. I’m only one module in and I can already tell you it’s been worth the money.” Like what a compliment, like how, how much does that make my heart sing?
But I wanted to come back to a Google Drive for one more, one more suggestion. And this is not specific to Google Drive, but this is always, take into consideration the length of time that you’re going to have a file or what its intended use is.
So for example, if you have long-term storage and you may or may not need to refer to these files or documents in the future, being that much more careful and intentional with the file name is going to pay off in the long run.
If it’s a short-term thing, you’re storing the screenshot, you’re going to send it along. Of course, you can like, these are the two opposite extremes. One of them is laziness to the, you know, just doesn’t matter what the file name is cause you’re just using it in the moment. And the other one is long-term storage in case I get audited or, you know, there’s going to be where the client’s going to come back in five years and want their design files or, you know, who knows what that is.
But you think about the longevity of that file. And the need to find it in the future. The more you’re going to need to find it know much, much later, you get that much more clear and intentional with your file naming. But the other consideration is, is the file leaving your computer. And I’ll use the example of a resume.
Although, as you know, entrepreneurs, probably we’re not sending our resumes out, but it’s a very easy one to understand. Which is you go and you apply for a job and on your computer, you have a folder that’s called resume, and then you have your resume 2020, resume 2021, maybe resume 2021 dash project manager, or whatever your title is.
When you go and send that file to the person who’s recruiting you better not send them a file that’s called, resume. The number of people who I’ve used this example for and they’re like, oh my God, the number of files that I received that are just called resume.pdf or resume.doc, and they roll their eyes. Add your name to the file when it’s leaving your computer. And the same thing for like lead magnets. How many lead magnets have I found inside my Google drive and I have no idea who they’re from? Because it’s like the random name, you know, Three steps to 10 K in 30 days or whatever, like great title, but where’s, what’s the source. And I’ve even opened up some, some old documents, some old lead magnets that I’ve downloaded in the past that like don’t even tell me in the document itself where it came from.
But my point is that when something’s leaving your computer, give it the source name. I’ve received shared folders in Google Drive with my name on it. Well, that doesn’t make a difference to me. Why do I need a folder in my computer called Dara Sklar that doesn’t tell me anything? Give me both names.
Or even calendar appointments. This happened to me recently where I received an appointment and it was like, it had my name and it didn’t have the name of the person I was meeting. And I, I, you know, I put it in my calendar at the, at the time that I was booking. And then I go and I look at the calendar a week or two later when I’m about to meet this person. And like, I don’t even remember whose appointment this is because the calendar name doesn’t come with. You know what I mean? So consider, consider the recipient, the recipient and that context.
veronica: [00:38:15] I love it. Okay, so I could talk to you forever. Like this is just so amazing, like all the important details to running a business. Like I could just ask you over and over again, but I’m not because we would be here for years. So tell our listeners where they can find you, what the name of your course is, and of course, we’ll put all of your links in the show notes as well when your episode comes out. But like, yeah. Tell us where we can find you and follow you for the tips.
dara: [00:38:40] So you can, I mean, there’s two Dara Sklar in the world, but if you look up Dara Sklar, you will probably find more me than her. And you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram, or that’s pretty much the two places that I hang out. But if you want to take a look at the course, the course is called, Get Productive with G Suite. And I would’ve gone with Get Productive with Google Workspace, but it’s not actually only about Google Workspace. It’s about all the Google tools. It’s not just for paid Google Workspace users. So it works for just about anybody. And I have that done.withdara.com and you can actually, there’s a bunch of tutorials and other, there’s some freebies and there’s some other mini-courses that are located at learn.withdara.com/
So those two spots, done.withdara is the very entertaining, done.withdara is the very entertaining sales page that Veronica referenced. I highly, highly recommend that if nothing else you go and give it a read. And I think I even put that line what I just said in, in my Facebook ads. And I think it actually gets a lot of, a lot of clicks from anybody who has read it when they’re like, well, she told me to go read it, so I’m going to go read it.
And then they, then they start screaming. Yes, that’s me. Yes, that’s me. Yes. That’s me take my $37.
veronica: [00:39:47] I love this. I absolutely love this. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Dara. I am so appreciative of you and what you know, and of our friendship. And so. Yeah, it just only goes up from here and to my dear listeners, if you are interested in knowing like what systems you need for your business and how they can be better, sign up for an assessment with us at Business Laid Bare, because we’ll take a look at your knowledge base, your CRM, your customer payments, and your customer service systems. Like we do a thorough 15 system check for you and put them in prioritized order so you know what to implement first based on the goals that you were trying to hit, or the chafe that you’re trying to relieve. So go to businesslaidbare.com for more information.
veronica: [00:40:30] Thanks for listening to The Business Whip. Hosted by yours truly, Veronica Yanhs, CEO and founder of Business Laid Bare. If you enjoyed this episode, spank that subscribe button in whichever podcast app you’re listening in and share this with your friends.
Your support means everything. So thank you from the bottom of my butt, because let’s be real. It’s so much bigger than my heart. I’ll see you in the next episode.