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Kimberly Beer 0:00
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Welcome to The Business Animal podcast. Saddle up for a gallop to the top of the animal industry, where you’ll learn how to tame your wild business beast with tips, techniques, and tools that will take overwhelm to obedience school, and have you wagging your tail with joy. And now your hosts, Kim Beer, and Cara Taylor Swift.
Kimberly Beer 0:41
Hey there business animals, it’s Kim with Be More Business
Cara Taylor Swift 0:44
and Cara with Fast Horse Photography.
Kimberly Beer 0:47
And welcome to The Business Animal. Today we’re going to be talking about up leveling your professional skills. And this topic came to us because Cara has recently had a wonderful experience with a videographer, but she’s up here and a colleague in visual storytelling, which is obviously something photographers are interested in. So tell us about that a little bit.
Cara Taylor Swift 1:09
Yeah, I have been wanting to do this for a while. So it’s been on my goals list. And this year, you know, when I sat down and I was planning, you know, what are the big things that I’m going to work on this year for my business. And one of those big goals was adding a video component to my equine and equestrian portrait sessions. So I had gone back and forth, I have bought an online course and I you know, it just it didn’t quite fit what I wanted. And I tried some different things. So I decided to just go to the source. And I went to Natalie McFarlane, who’s amazing. And I hired her to do some mentoring for me. And we spent a couple days together. And it really I have to say I loved every minute of learning something new. It’s been a while since I really spent some time just kind of up leveling and learning and immersing myself in a dedicated way to something that was still related to what I do, but a little bit different. And I have to say, since Natalie has left, I’ve been making myself use the skills and certainly felt re energized in some ways about how I think about photography and the art of telling stories with the use of our cameras. So I have to say that I’m excited that we’re talking about this, but it definitely was inspired by some of the work that both Kim and I have done recently to just grow our own businesses.
Kimberly Beer 2:29
Absolutely, absolutely. And so we thought you know a lot about sharing our experiences in entrepreneurship has to do with sharing with each other the things that are working for our businesses. And I think this is one of those moments to share something that really has worked for both of us. And very recently, both of us added to our skill set. And we completely didn’t bring into the whole conversation ahead of time, Cara. We’ve also added the podcasting skill set to our repertoire within the last year as well. That was a whole learning curve, I guess we consider ourselves podcasting veterans at this point. But bringing new skills into your business is an important piece of things. And so our big three for you today is one as to why you would want to do this is to diversify your skill set and or add an income stream to your already existing business. So we’re going to talk about that. The second reason you might want to consider up leveling your skills would be to offer yourself a competitive advantage or competitive differentiation. And then finally, it does keep you fresh and motivated. Like Cara said, it feels like she’s re energized around her photography business. Cara, you have some things here you wanted to talk about directly around why you would want to do this a further thoughts that you have. So why don’t you share those at this time, and then we’ll dig into number one.
Cara Taylor Swift 3:55
Yeah, I’m happy to So Kim just listed a big three today for three reasons that we’re going to specifically talk about that you want to consider up leveling your professional skills in your animal, equine, pet based business, but there are actually a lot of different reasons I’m just gonna briefly kind of run through them real quick. Hopefully we will inspire you to dig into our big three when I do but first of all up leveling you know, it’s hard to think okay, everything is working just fine. Right now my business is working. I’m you know, creating an income for myself. Why would I want to add something new to the mix? Right? So first of all, it can open up new opportunities for you. And I can’t sit here and tell you exactly how but I have seen in my own business, how when I learned something new and start to put it into use for my business, how it has created new connections. I’ve met new people, I’ve gotten new clients, and there’s just so many things around that. It’s also when you have a new skill set that something that differentiates you here we go with that word again Kim remember I had a horrible time on that episode when something that differentiates you from the crowd from your competition that’s going to be appealing to consumers out there looking for someone like you, it’s gonna be appealing to those new potential clients. And it’s also something new that you can provide to your existing clients. So people come back to you, maybe they need to work with you again, you know, how do you take what you’ve already provided to them, and then uplevel, that service to them with your new skill. Now they have new things, to brag on you about new things to talk about new things to share online. I mean, there’s all these different things that are happening as a result of them being able to talk about, you know, working with you, it also the biggest one, it really helps you remain relevant in your industry. Think about what has happened just in the last two years with COVID, the world is changing so fast, right? Technology is changing things around us how we do business, it’s changing. And we have to be able to adapt as business owners. So having some new skill sets and learning new things is a great way for you to remain relevant to what’s happening in your industry right now. And not only remain relevant, you don’t need to be running behind everyone. I think if you can be the person in your industry that’s setting those trends. That’s the one that’s coming up with the ideas first, that’s making those changes and adding things to your business that other businesses like yours haven’t, that’s really giving you a competitive advantage. Adding new skill sets can also help you diversify the services and the products that you offer. So thinking about that in terms of how can I pivot this into something that I can sell to a client, you know, or that I can offer as a service upgrade. So thinking about it that way, I’ve already mentioned that it you know, has really opened new doors, new relationships, new connections, new opportunities, it can make your business something that people just, they like more, they want to hear more about your business because you’re doing fresh things. And I think one of the fun ones we don’t think about is in that I’ve recently experienced is it’s it doesn’t always have to be about the business. It’s okay to just enjoy learning new things and picking something else up to help keep you fresh and inspired. It’s kind of fun sometimes to learn new things. I mean, right now I’m taking pictures, but really all you want to do is edit video.
Kimberly Beer 7:07
That’ll change after you edit video for a while I’m sure it will. While you are going through this list, one of the things that came up to me that kind of dovetails in with a little bit of what we’re going to talk about in the Big Three is that, you know, adding another skill set or up leveling the skills you have deepens your brand message. So you know if your branding is all about healthy animals, let’s say and really maintaining a healthy animal. And let’s say your way of doing that is providing massage services up leveling your skills to maybe also consider nutritional advice, or teaching massage skills or something like that to the clients. It deepens the brand message about who you are. And it deepens your mission in your business as well. So all of this is is a positive movement to keep your business moving forward and really keep your clients hooked on to you and where they really want to stay with you long term. So let’s dive into the diversifying your skill set and adding the bat income stream. So here’s my story with this. I’ve been an entrepreneurial consultant for the past 10 years, I’ve been working with entrepreneurs for over 30. So one of the things that I saw happen a lot with my clients is that I would provide them with an awesome website, I give them great marketing materials, and they wouldn’t use them. And then they kind of complain about oh, I have to you know, I have to do better my marketing or I have to get different marketing. And I’m like you already have marketing. Why are you not using the marketing? Well, the truth of that is a very complicated answer. And it’s very different for every single person. A lot of times it has to do with limiting beliefs or it has to do with somebody’s own personal trauma and that I had no control over as a graphic designer, as a website designer, as a marketing person. I couldn’t help my clients with that. And it felt like this huge roadblock that was in front of them that there was no way for me to help them solve and I hated watching them It broke my heart watching them kind of run into that wall and then sometimes not ever getting over it or it taking a really long time to get over it and by then they’re burned out so when I wanted to add a skill set to uplevel my business I attacked that barrier. I wanted to help my clients be able to get past it. So I added a whole nother portion to my business, which is now the Gestalt coaching a portion of which happens with the horses because I wanted to help my entrepreneurial clients get through that barrier as quickly and efficiently as possible and not watch them fail but instead watch them succeed at being able to get their business off the ground and really moving forward in a manner that was productive. So I went back and took a look at a certification program that I’d been doing marketing for for a really long time and ended up becoming a certified equine Gestaltist so that I was able to help my clients being able to get through those barriers. And I’ll tell you it is it’s a huge difference when I can sit with somebody and I can look at why aren’t you using your marketing? Or what’s stopping you in this business plan? Or what are you worried about? And they can tell me that, and then we can actually work through it together, experiment with it, see what is going to really shift things for them, and then watch the transformation happen, and they just soar. So I love the fact that I added that to my business, and that it’s such a benefit to my clients. It again, it goes back to it deepens my brand message, it adds a level of success that my clients wouldn’t reach otherwise, which then furthers it for me not only as an additional income stream, but let’s face it, the more successful my clients are, the more of the marketing and consulting services they need, and they’re gonna have the wherewithal to pay for them. So it’s a win win situation all the way around.
Cara Taylor Swift 11:27
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I think that’s huge. I mean, you’re looking at it from that perspective of what is another way I can help the folks that I work with do better with the stuff that I’m providing them, like I want them to have more successful businesses be more successful with the tools that I give them. And so you’ve thought about it from that perspective of how does up leveling my skill set? How does that help my clients be happier with the services that I provide or be more successful with the services that I provide them. And I also think about it from that perspective of there’s so much security around diversifying your income streams. I mean, we have seen industries locally around us close because of COVID restrictions or because just the environment that we’re in right now has changed with how we want to be served and have the types of services that we want to see out there. So having the security of having multiple income streams come in, I think is huge. You know, there’s different ways that different industries have done that, but thinking about it in terms of like having a side hustle, even, you know, and how can you look at your animal business and say, where is a way that I can learn something new that I can offer something new, that I could provide something new, sell something new, I mean, I think all of that is huge. So I love that you’ve done that from the perspective of how you know, helping your clients. But it just makes sense in terms of small business ownership in the safety and security around that.
Kimberly Beer 13:59
It does. And I you know another example of that in my life is my ranch. When I took over this ranch in management, we were a cow calf operation and that was it. That was the baseline it was all that the ranch did and when the cattle market went kaboom. If you’re not diversified, you don’t have the ability to recover from that it was a hard lesson for me. And then when I was offered the opportunity to keep going, I gotta tell you, I pulled it up by the bootstraps. I’m very proud of myself and that I survived a recession and a cattle market crash in this last couple of decades. But the income diversification here was really important to me. So we added the motorcycle races we added and you know and the Gestalt stuff that’s added to the ranch as well and hunting and all of those things. So I know my ranch is a business and those are skills that it earned so it’s not necessarily me up leveling it but my business The Ranch itself up leveled it skills and what it offers. And now it’s just it’s better because I don’t have to worry that much.
Cara Taylor Swift 15:07
And you’re learning how to serve different audiences that is up leveling, I mean, you’re not just working with one specific clientele, you’ve learned how to reap some value out of a property that was single minded, focused for so long, you really did up level skills there by learning how to create space for the races, you know, and and create space for the crops or whatever it is that you’ve done with the ranch so far. So that’s amazing.
Kimberly Beer 15:32
Yeah, and it’s awesome, because now I don’t if one sector of it fails, the other ones pick up the slack, or at least band-aid enough to get the other one back up. Everything is circular. In ranching and business in life, you know, I mean, it may be down now, but it’ll be back up later. And you just got to be able to ride the wave on the down as well as the up. And so it’s very rare that, you know, if you have more than one income stream, they’re all down at the same time. Are we ready to move on to number two?
Cara Taylor Swift 16:04
Yeah, let’s do it.
Kimberly Beer 16:05
So the competitive advantage part, it really goes hand in hand with the diversification of the skill set and income streams. Because competitive advantage and deepening that mission is such an important part of this. For me, my clients that come to me for business consulting, I feel like the deck is stacked in their favor in success rather than another business coach or consultant, because we’re getting at the heart of the matter of what is going to really shift their lives and shift their businesses. That to me really makes me very different from the other options they have in this area, or in the industries that I serve. So I feel like that is a huge, huge competitive advantage. And I feel like that bears out in the testimonials from my clients and the people that I work with. So I know for me, that was another big reason why I wanted to take the extra certifications for the equine Gestaltist program.
Cara Taylor Swift 17:16
When you learn those new skills that are related to your existing business, I think that you find all sorts of ways to bring new value to your existing clients. And that’s what we talk about all the time. How do you bring value? How do you bring value and a great example that always cracks me up, it’s super simple is I have a farrier that comes out and does work on my horses. And he’s a great guy. He’s a regular farrier, there’s nothing special about his skill set. In my opinion. It’s he’s a great guy. We don’t do a ton of work with our horses. They just need basic work done. And if I thought to myself, well, maybe I need someone that is a full time farrier, that this is their specialty. Of course, we all want to work with, you know the best in the industry, that sort of thing. But I’ll tell you what keeps me coming back to this farrier is that not only does he do a great job with my horses, but every time he comes out, he is helping me with a horse related issue. I could have a question around working through a problem, a training issue with one of my horses. And he has advice, I had a recent issue where I had the vet out. And they thought that my horse had a pulled tendon. And it ended up being an abscess that he was able to diagnose. And it changed the way that I was treating that horse. He’s helped us with so many things, and it cracks me up because he’s coming out for farrier work. But the value that he brings, every time he comes out, he helped me hang a gate the other day, while he was out there. It’s just it’s silly. It sounds silly. But the truth of the matter is he brings all of these different skill sets when he comes out, which makes him so much more valuable for just the work that he originally came out for. So for him being able to add on to what he does, yeah, I’m happy to spend 20 minutes helping you, you know, hang that gate, and I’ll pay him for his time. Like that’s the kind of thing that to me, you know, is a silly kind of simple example. But if you can make yourself invaluable to your clients, they will be less tempted to look down the road for the newest, greatest best, the biggest thing, whatever is happening in your your area. So I just think that that was a kind of a fun example. But that’s really true to my life right now.
Kimberly Beer 19:26
Yeah, it is true anywhere where you can get endeared to your clients. Again, Cara mentioned it, bring the value, bring the service level, bring the relationship. And when you get that together, it really does offer you a competitive advantage and it increases customer loyalty.
Cara Taylor Swift 19:43
You know, as an entrepreneur, we have the need to continuously be evolving our skills, we have to remain competitive. And we like we said before, we have to keep up with those changes in our industry. And so it’s really on us to make sure that we’re doing that I just spent 30 minutes on the phone with an older woman who was wanting to get some updated portraits done headshots done because her current portrait was 10 years old. And we ended up getting in this conversation around her struggling with interviews and being hired due to her age. And I found it really interesting. It’s it really is something you have to continuously be up leveling yourself personally in order to be relevant in all industries, not just in the animal industry.
Kimberly Beer 20:32
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So Cara, I think we’re ready to talk about big three number three, which is keeping you fresh and motivated. Now you said working with Natalie and getting that new set of skills around video really reenergized you. I had a similar experience with getting my certification tell us about your experience
Cara Taylor Swift 21:22
as a photographer that shoots kind of the same type of thing on a regular basis, people with their horses, you kind of get into a routine, you get kind of a set pose flow that you work through, the expectation is pretty similar from client to client. So I’m very kind of comfortable with that. And I’m not gonna say it gets boring, but it gets routine. So learning this new skill really made me think about what I do from the on the photography side of things in a totally new perspective. It reenergized me it got me excited it even while I added the skill, and I’m in the process of finessing that skill set. It also changed and re energized the photography side. So it got me excited and looking at some different poses I could do in some different flow tactics, learning this new skill, reworked kind of everything and gave everything a new glow.
Kimberly Beer 22:18
I love that too. And I’ll tell you watching my clients be more successful with the certification around the Gestalt has really helped me and seeing the difference that it makes in their lives and their attitudes and the shifts in their business it really makes makes me know I made the right decision. So I think it’s a really good thing. If you’re feeling burned out or you’re feeling less than excited. If you look at a new skill, a lot of times that kind of bumps you out of that feeling and get you into a more positive headspace and motivated and fresh outlooks and all of those things. So Cara, in her infinite wisdom has compiled you guys a list of places that you might look for these up leveled skill opportunities for continuing education or for being able to add something new to your business. So this time, Cara, I invite you to give them that list because it’s awesome. I’ve learned a couple of things on this list.
Cara Taylor Swift 23:17
Well, okay, so we’re talking about up leveling, but you might be, you know, thinking to yourself, well, I need to get some ideas around what I might want to do, or I’ve got some ideas, but what are my next steps. So I tell people start small, you don’t have to make a huge investment right off the bat, just start thinking of little ways to bring value or add to what you do for your existing clients or in your business. So a great place to start in a place that I started first was online learning. There are so many options out there. Right now, there’s online courses, which can be a small investment or huge investment, they can be short, or they can be you know more lengthy where you’re doing them repetitively, or you’re doing different meeting times, but you can do some bite sized stuff like with YouTube, you can learn sometimes you can learn a really quick little micro skill by doing a two or three minute YouTube video and boom, you’ve already changed something in your process. Looking to places like LinkedIn is another great way to learn something new or to see what’s being offered and using environments like Skillshare even where people are sharing education and topics around things that they do. So just think about it in terms of doing something bite sized of it doesn’t have to be huge, but it can be something small but totally relevant to your animal business. Also, mentoring is a great way to up your your skill level mentoring from someone who’s really great at something that you want to learn like what I did with working with Natalie on creating video, so I decided to go right to the source. And then another great one that Kim mentioned when we were talking through this is adding a certification. So going out learning something new, getting certified in something new is another great way you can also do in-person learning such as attending a class, even if you’re not enrolling in college, there’s a lot of just classroom opportunities that are still available at a community level or attend a workshop. You know, like we do with Cowgirls and Cameras, we have photography workshops that we offer. So thinking about what is a workshop that you could attend that you could learn something new. You can also do something different, like buying new equipment, or renting new equipment so that you can know how to use it that you can decide if you like using it if it’s something that you enjoy. And then when the time comes that someone is looking for that skill, you know how to use that gear, because you’ve tested it, you’ve spent time with it or you own it. Another great thing is thinking about as a business owner learning about something that adds to your business. So think about like adding an affiliate program that complements your business. If you’re someone that trains horses, maybe you offer nutritional supplements, and you learn about great nutritional supplements that you can then sell to your clientele. If you do saddle fitting, maybe you offer a special type of saddle pads that are perfect for you know, different types of horses. I recently did obedience training with my new puppy. And one of the first things they did when I got there is they recommended a collar and they told me the benefits of the collar and then sold me the collar. So I’m a sucker for that, I guess anyway, so thinking about the ways that you can look at your existing business and add to that learning something new and then having another product that you could potentially offer. And then one more example is you know, if you do equine massage or equine chiropractic work, you know maybe you add a new service like Magna wave or something else that’s related that is helpful that but it’s another product or service that you can offer to your clients. Any other ideas Kim?
Kimberly Beer 26:47
No, I think that is a really nice and comprehensive list and gives people a lot of places and avenues that they can go down and look for opportunities to uplevel their skill set and take advantage of our big three that we’ve covered in this episode this week. Thank you guys so much for hanging out with us and tuning into The Business Animal. We will be back next week with a another great episode.
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