Was it possible to help businesses create full marketing teams at a cheaper price and create a true win-win for the business and the client? Yoel Orue, CEO of Urban Ninja Marketing, thought so. After working at sales jobs for 10 years, Yoel Orue transitioned into starting his own marketing business. Let’s take a look at how Yoel Orue was able to grow his own business by helping other businesses grow too! Don’t forget to check out the end with a summary of Orue’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference!
Table of Contents
- Challenge 3: How to manage your business while focusing on your young family
- Challenge 4: Setting up a more efficient work system
- Challenge 5: Losing clients versus losing good workers – what is more important?
- Challenge 6: Stay a solopreneur or scale up?
- Challenge 7: How having a team you trust is crucial to success
- Scaling & Success
- Hindsight: What Orue would have done differently
- Orue’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
- More About Yoel Orue
Challenge 1: How to start a sustainable business without burning out
In Orue’s first year in his business, getting clients was not a problem due to his sales experience. Having no proper system and process in his business was his main concern, and this problem grew when Orue became a father and did not have the time and energy to sustain his current work routine. “As I started having a family and whatnot, I realized that I can’t [continue this way] because it’s not sustainable, right? Number one, I’m going to burn myself out really quickly. Number two, I’m going to hate my business and want to get out of it as soon as I can. And number three, that’s going to translate into providing poor results for my clients.” He needed to make sure that his time was spent efficiently and productively.
Solution: Orue started organizing his company by hiring specialists for various roles. He hired virtual assistants and other experts to lighten his workload. He learned how to filter through people that were potentially good for his company. “The first year was just figuring out my time management, figuring out who I needed to hire, and then exactly what type of people I needed to bring on.” Afterward, Orue continued to optimize his company. He implemented multiple programs and systems that helped him breathe easier and grow his business.
People: The founder, Yoel Orue, his partner, multiple virtual assistants, and 1 creative director
Systems: Software management tools helped organize his clients and create an online workspace that is easy to access. Orue implemented standard operating procedures that made the workflow easier. He also used a two-week sprint system for his clients where he limited the time for specific work to two weeks for easier management and efficiency.
Challenge 2: Finding the perfect VA for your company
Early on in his business, one of Orue’s first concerns was burning out due to the workload, so he wanted to hire virtual assistants that he was sure he could rely on. However, finding the perfect VA with the certain characteristics he wants proved to be a challenge. “I’ve hired probably close to hundred-plus salespeople in my lifetime. That was easy because I knew what I was looking for. But, when it came to my business and it was for other things that I’ve never hired for, it was a little bit more difficult.”
Especially in the marketing world, people applying for the job will often lie about their skills. “I gave people the benefit of the doubt and believed what they were saying. But in the marketing world, a lot of the time people say ‘X, Y, Z,’ but then, they can’t even do X.”
Solution: Orue had to learn more about the job of VAs and what kinds of people he should hire for those roles. “It [hiring VAs] was a learning curve. Being able to filter through people that were potentially not a good fit for the company.”
To make his hiring process more systematic, Orue thought up three ideas. He posted advertisements on social media and inserted questions that will help him determine if the applicant pays attention to detail. “What I like to do is I like to throw a wild card in the post. I usually ask something like, ‘What’s the trend that you think is going to be powerful in 2023 for graphic design?’ And if they don’t respond to me with that answer, then I know that they don’t have attention to detail.” Orue uses this method to filter people who potentially have the characteristics that he needs for his VAs.
His second idea focused on the onboarding process where he builds a 90-day plan with the VAs. Using this plan, he empowers the VAs and helps them develop the skills needed for the job by the end of the 90 days.
Orue’s third idea was guiding the VAs through ‘bridging’. “This [step] is bridging the gap between where they are right now to that 90-day goal that you have.” In this method, he trains the VAs to have the skill set they will need for the job. “If they don’t know how to [effectively do their job], then you have to either do it yourself and train them or hire an expert or buy a course or a bundle that shows them that.”
People: The founder, Yoel Orue
Systems: Thorough research about how to find the right characteristics for hiring VAs and Orue’s three-step system made the hiring process more organized and efficient.
Challenge 3: How to manage your business while focusing on your young family
Orue and his fiance, who was a professor, had their first child during the second year of Urban Ninja Marketing. Orue then halted his business for a year because he wanted to focus on his child’s first year and be with his family. “I told myself I’m going to be there for the first year of my kid. I want to be at home with him. I’m only going to get to do this once so I’m going to do it right.” This resulted in pausing his company’s growth.
Solution: In that one-year halt, he stopped finding new clients and focused on building up his relationships with his current clients. “… [I] just made sure that our clients that we had [were secured] [and that] we were overdelivering through the moon.”
The halt made him realize that it was ok to let loose. He wanted to have a healthier approach to running his business. “I want to build a business that supports my life, not the other way around.” He let go of his hustle mindset and hired more people on his team, including a creative director, which resulted in his company’s growth and the creation of a signature program inside the agency.
People: The founder, Yoel Orue, multiple virtual assistants, and 1 creative director
Systems: Checking up on his clients
Challenge 4: Setting up a more efficient work system
As his business grew, Orue needed to optimize his company’s system. “We still use the same systems, but we just scaled them and made them more efficient.” He wanted to have a system that would help his clients and workers be more accountable. He also wanted to improve his meeting system with his team and clients. He was being invited to many unnecessary calls that didn’t actually require his presence.
Solution: Orue improved his current system and planned strategies with his VAs and clients by making the two-week sprint into one-week sprints. “We brought them down to weekly [sprints] so, that way, there would be accountability.” He also mentioned that this system was implemented to exert more ethical pressure on his workers and clients.
This system also helped him reduce the amounts of calls he would receive from his clients. “We noticed that they [the clients] reduced the Zoom calls that we had with them tremendously.” In the new system, the clients can just check the progress online in ClickUp without having to waste time on calls. “They have access to their ClickUp board and see on their end how we’re moving the needle.”
Orue also trained his team to know when they should involve him or not. “I [wanted] to make sure that my team has conversations in between them without having me involved. And then, somebody [can just give] me the big picture.” This empowered his team to do their tasks while expanding their skills and knowledge.
The last thing he added is the implementation of weekly Skype calls with his team and daily check-ups with the team members that need extra support in their work. “I [conduct] daily checkups with team members that [are] maybe going through some stuff personally, financially, or whatever it may be, just to get them engaged with the company.”
People: The founder, Yoel Orue, and his team
Systems: Weekly Skype calls with his team and ClickUp weekly sprints
Challenge 5: Losing clients versus losing good workers – what is more important?
Orue said that losing clients was not a big deal because he can simply move on. On the other hand, if he finds a hard-working VA, he wants to do what he can to empower them and keep them in the company.
“If a client is going to bite your head off, okay, sorry we could not fulfill your needs. You can move on. But if there is a good worker, I am going to keep them on.”
He also said that his VAs would always worry about losing their job due to their mistakes, so he wanted to establish good relationships.
Solution: Orue set a transparent communication between himself and his VAs. He told them that it was okay to make mistakes, especially early on. He did not punish his VAs for their mistakes and even supported them whenever they ran into problems. This led to his workers opening up to him and growing into more effective VAs. “I think that [the] empowerment that you give your VA really helps them open up to you and actually do more work than they are supposed to for you.”
People: The founder, Yoel Orue
Systems: Orue established transparent communication and consistent support for his team
Challenge 6: Stay a solopreneur or scale up?
Early on in his business, Orue was living the life of a solopreneur and was afraid of increasing his team due to fear of his investments not seeing the returns. The fear was drawn from observing his friends and family’s businesses and how they made investments that did not work in the end.
Orue was afraid of making decisions that might lead to mistakes. He wanted to grow his company, but due to his past experiences, he was anxious. “I was still very careful [about] where to invest. Who do I bring on, [and] how much do I invest?”
Solution: He took the risk and invested in increasing his company’s team. He hired people for specific roles so that he wouldn’t have to burden himself with those tasks and could focus on other things that would help his company grow. Through his careful method of hiring workers, he was able to find people that gave him other perspectives and creative ideas.
People: The founder, Orue, and his team
Systems: Research and careful hiring process
Challenge 7: How having a team you trust is crucial to success
Orue realized that he can’t be focused on his company 24/7. “You have to have that person who replaces you, right? Because stuff happens. You get sick, something happens with your personal life, or you have to travel for an emergency. Life is always happening, you know?” That’s why he wanted to have a team that he knows he can trust with the company. “So if you have that rockstar, they can support you and help you when you are in need.”
Solution: He built up his relationships with his team which led to having people he can rely on whenever there were circumstances that would lead to his absence. He supports his workers and VAs whenever they need help and provides them with proper training. “If you are effective in empowering your people, they are going to do wonders for you.”
Orue emphasized the importance of having a worker that is always willing to continue learning. “If you nurture that mentality from day one, they will always be finding ways to do it better.”
Trusting his team also leads to his people taking the initiative to share new ideas. He accepts these ideas and does not limit his people to just doing what he wants. “That is not what you want to do. You want to expand their knowledge as much as possible. So if they know something more than you, that would be great. You should feel proud of your team for knowing more about something than you do.”
People: The founder, Orue, and his team
Systems: Transparent and open communication with the team.
Scaling & Success
Challenge 8: From CEO to HR CEO – How to lead a comfortable business
Orue’s career path slightly changed as time passed in his company. His role in his company became more of an HR CEO managing the business from the background. After setting up his systems and hiring about 5 to 10 people on his team, he wanted a boutique-sized company that let him live comfortably, contrary to what he wanted back when he had just started his business. “A year ago, I wanted to have an agency that has a hundred people with three locations.” But ever since having his child, he decided to focus on a small company that lets him live comfortably.
Solution: He decided to let his company stay boutique-sized and established himself as a CEO of the company that still works on the marketing side. “I made a [promise] to myself that I’m not going to grow as big as I want because I want to stay boutique.” His role in his company is to manage the relationships with the company’s partners and clients from time to time. Without burning himself out from all the work, he still stays involved with the company’s affairs. Doing this has allowed him to spend more time with his child and family and have a balance between work and his everyday life.
People: The founder, Orue, his team, and his family
Systems: Setting up his company as a boutique-sized agency.
Hindsight: What Orue would have done differently
As Orue looked back to when he was still starting his business, one thing he would’ve done differently had to do with choosing his partner. He would have researched more carefully on how to choose a partner for his business. “It’s exciting to work with somebody, but then, you will learn to see the worst side of that person, especially when money is involved.”
His advice to other people looking to go into a business and join a partnership is to make sure to test them on little things. “Because I am a big believer [that] if you are this way in little things, you are going to be that way in the big things.”
Another regret that Orue had was not hiring his creative director earlier. He had the financial capability to do so, but, for him, he took too long to do this due to his mindset that he should be the one controlling the business. He was also afraid of losing money and investments by hiring other people.
However, contrary to his belief, hiring a creative director enhanced his business rather than hurting it. “It has made my life a whole lot easier. I don’t have to do as much work on that side of things anymore. And she brings amazing ideas to the table.” That is why he advises solopreneurs to hire if they have the financial capabilities.
The birth of Orue’s child, Rafa, strongly impacted his decisions throughout his business journey. Many of the changes and systems in his agency were due to his desire to spend time with his child and family. He went from someone who wanted to have a huge business empire to a father that just wanted to have a comfortable life with his family. He was able to achieve a work-life balance where he has a sustainable company that he loves while still having the time and energy to enjoy everyday life with his family.
In summary, Orue’s success was supported by his sales experience, which helped him land clients and the birth of his child, which led to him systemizing his business and making his presence in his company more optional than required. These allowed him to focus on relationships both personally and with his clients and teams, which has led to long-term clients and healthy relationships.
Today, Urban Ninja Marketing continues to grow and Orue even does marketing and business tips on social media platforms like Tiktok, Instagram, and Facebook to help other entrepreneurs succeed too!
Orue’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
Scaling & Success Stack
More About Yoel Orue
Yoel Orue is the CEO & Founder of Urban Ninja Marketing which provides CEOs wearing too many hats a world-class marketing team for the cost of 1 or 2 employees.
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