Today’s episode is an interview with the very inspiring Christy Haussler who braved the business world after realizing she was not fit for her teaching degree. Christy details her experience when she was starting out in her podcast projects.
Systems, according to Christy, are important in allowing people to grow and develop their entrepreneurial skills. What’s important is that one is able to overcome fear of failing.
- A crazy but worth it career move is sometimes needed
- Learning from others’ mistakes will help develop entrepreneurial skills
- Creating a workplace where people feel valued to increase productivity
- Finding the right employees can make or break a business
- We discuss CryoPop, a startup local business of Christy’s
- Not being afraid to fail is key
- Being good at what you do sums up great entrepreneurial skills set
- The customer service side of business is equally important
Websites Mentioned / Where You Can Find Today’s Guest:
It’s almost like the iron-sharpening iron kind of thing, you know, where you have somebody that’s gonna turn things inside out a little bit and may be even challenge or question which is not even a bad thing. –Christy Haussler
Welcome to Smart Tradesmen. The show dedicated to bringing Entrepreneurship into small business. Whether you are a seasoned business owner or just starting out, it is our mission to help you design a business that works for you… and not the other way around. Now, here’s your host Daniel Eric Bowling.
[Daniel Bowling] Today, I’ll be speaking with a former teenage radio announcer who went on to earn her teaching degree only to find that the classroom was not a great fit for her. Which let her into the world of business managing teams of people and then on to become a leader in local business podcasting. She is here today to tell us about, yet, another transformation in her endeavors. And of course, I’m talking about the lovely, Christy Haussler.
[Christy Haussler] Thank you so much Daniel. That’s very kind. I tell you transformation, it seems like it’s something we’re always doing. Mine, my most recent one happened a year ago. I can’t tell you when the next one scheduled.
[Daniel Bowling] Oh, you suppose to schedule them?
[Christy Haussler] I don’t… I guess it will hit me at some point in time.
[Daniel Bowling] Yeah, they just tend to happen.
[Christy Haussler] Exactly. Sometimes they take you over so, definitely, definitely true.
[Daniel Bowling] Year ago, you were in my new home part of Columbia?
[Christy Haussler] Yes, I was in Columbia sweating just like you are right now.
[Daniel Bowling] Oh dear Lord, yes.
[Christy Haussler] I was. I had actually. I never lived in Columbia but I did work in Columbia. I had a job that had recruited me away from my job. I lived in Spartanburgh which is about, it was about 85 miles away. I got recruited to drive to Columbia, I would drive back and forth there everyday and had the hour and half trip in each direction. Down a very boring I-26 for construction and all these other stuffs. Yes of course, that’s how I got introduce to podcasting as well. Looking for some content because I couldn’t find the radio station to connect me all the way through. I’ve listened to all the audio books in the library multiple times and I thought there’s got to be something else. And, I found podcasting.
[Daniel Bowling] And you now have your own podcast. Is that correct?
[Christy Haussler] I have my own podcast. I did start it when I was still in Columbia. Since that point in time, I’ve transitioned and I did a crazy thing and quit my job and moved to Key West which I think there’s probably a book about that somewhere. But I did that, I don’t, I keep saying it wasn’t a midlife crisis or anything like that. But it was just time, it’s just time, it was time to get control of my life. I have spent 25 years managing customer relations for other companies after deciding to go from teaching into business. I got to the point where I’ve realized that I was in the cycle where I was always going to be working for someone else who could then determine my pay. I just got to the point where I thought I had to break free, I had to do it now or never. The opportunity presented itself. I quit my job and moved to Key West, and I continue to do my podcast which like yours is focused on local business cause at heart I’m a local business activist – really wanting to promote local business and local economies because I feel like economic recovery in any location of the country can happen if there’s a strong enough local business community. Those local businesses tend to be the ones that have jobs to provide for other people in the community, that are… they’re more like the people jobs like you get well content to the family, that you become a long term team member instead of the corporate cog that a lot of turn and burn type big, big corporations go through in areas. So, I quit my job and moved to Key West and continue doing my podcast to really try to promote local business and shine the spotlight on what great local, smart local business owners are doing in their local business area. And hopes that it could help another business person who might be struggling with something, or might need a fresh idea, or might just need a little bit of encouragement, or a way to connect. I continue to do that to the states. It’s kind of morphed into teaching local businesses how to do a local podcast that is not really worried about iTunes, and not really worried about rankings. I do that as well as I have my own podcast production company. We do all of the podcast support for probably right now about 25 other podcasts that we’re doing all the support for. And I have a team of about, I guess, there’s about seven of us that work on all of those. It’s kind of revolutionized my life and suddenly now podcasting is my life. Down here in Key West that’s not a bad thing.
[Daniel Bowling] Certainly not in a way podcasting is cowing it.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah.
[Daniel Bowling] It’s already big and how many people know about it?
[Christy Haussler] Exactly.
[Daniel Bowling] Let’s say 4 and 10 people.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah. There’s a lot of capability for growth there for sure.
[Daniel Bowling] Well, this is going to be big. Then you said learning from other’s mistakes, does that involve giving local businesses to be talking with one another?
[Christy Haussler] Yes. I love it whenever they do and I have been able to connect a few of my local businesses. One area that a lot of local businesses struggle with is they might not have a real good connection as some sort of national organization or something like that that would help them connect to other local business owners. And, so, I have been able to connect some. I would love for there to be a better way in a more formalize in national way to do that because it seems like each niche, each industry, has its own national organization. You get what you need for your industry from that, depending on how good or bad that is. The other thing that you have is just whatever you can connect within the local community, and many local communities don’t have that real thriving local business infrastructure. I would love for there to be a way for that to connect and I don’t know what my role without will be in some point, I would love to play a part in that. But I think there’s just a really… it’s almost like the tide of social changes turning in such a way that there’s a little bit of backlash against big corporations, and we are kinda in a primary where local business can really have an advantage competitively.
[Daniel Bowling] I totally agree. I don’t know what name to put on it but I do feel a change coming as far as the way things are economically.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah, I did.
[Daniel Bowling] And, where people stand with their corporate businesses versus a smaller business with skills sets.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah, its true. And I think that, but you see it in all levels. You see customers revolting against the big, big companies that have treated them horribly, and you get the whole stories of customer service making it to the nightly news occasionally. You also get it from an employee level. I read a statistic, there was kind of a little bit shocking a while ago, and the statistic was that by 2020, now 2020 is 5 years from now, that by 2020 they were saying that 40% of the work force is going to fall into the entrepreneur category. Now, that’s a huge shift in where we have come from and where society has been. But it also presents new opportunities for businesses how you get employees whenever everyone wants to do the wrong thing? Clearly that model is not completely sustainable. But you have to then create the type of work environment and the type of places where people want to work and people can feel valued and they feel like a productive member. Some of that is doing exactly what you’re doing is being good enough to put systems in the place, to capture those people and to train them and to get them on board. All those things that big corporations do really well but the local businesses are going to have to going to step up and create those workplaces to keep that other 60% of the population employed and working toward their own business.
[Daniel Bowling] Well, I think, rather than fight the fact that entrepreneurialship is growing even in your employees, set up systems and place that promote entrepreneurialship with your employees, so you’re not dead in the water if you loose an employee. Because their off to start their own business. Cause someday if they do it right you would hope that they want to go and do their own thing.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah. And you know the other parties even just tapping into that and harnessing that for your business, it might be that you need to have a second location and you have a trusted employee that wants to do their own thing, and you could set them up and turn them loose. It would be a win win for everyone. I think there’s just a lot of creative ways to really tap in to the mindset of, specially, the younger generation who is a little more entrepreneurial. Then, some of us that are my age, in the middle ages, it will be interesting to see how that place out in local business. Cause I definitely believe there’s something to what you’re talking about is tapping in to and trying to encourage and promote entrepreneurialism. Especially if you have that mind set in your business, then those employees will also be the one that will treated as if it’s their own business, because that’s their mind set. Not so win win.
[Daniel Bowling] And they’re coming to with an attitude where they want to learn because there’s an end goal.
[Christy Haussler] They know they’re going to need it later on. They know they want to figure it out while they are still working for you. So, I love that. Just it’s almost like the iron sharpening iron kind of thing where it’s like you have somebody that’s going to turn things inside out a little bit and maybe even challenge or question which isn’t a bad thing. But you can’t role in an author, I can’t even say, authoritarian type way and have that type of culture anymore. The stay in age is going to be using people’s creativity and their ideas.
[Daniel Bowling] I think you would agree with this that the right employees will make or break a small business?
[Christy Haussler] It is so true. And that is also what puts the barrier in front of many local businesses because they’re like, “I can’t find the right person or there’s nobody’s good enough, nobody’s going to do as good as I can do it.” Well, that maybe true but could you mold somebody into doing what you want to do if you spend enough time with them? And, let’s face it, local businesses many times don’t have a great training program, a great orientation program, their systems are not necessarily codified, and the chance of an employee treating after they get hired and torment to the fire is high. And if local businesses do that enough, they eventually will figure out there’s a better way to do it and put those systems in place to make sure you can set expectations, manage them and inspect them. And really see your business grow and you are going to be more high level part of your business. I definitely think you’re right, there’s just no room for local businesses not branching out and trying to find the best employees. And it might take a little more time on the front end, it might take a little more training on the back end. But if you can do that, you end up with a happy employee and you end up with a happy business and that’s a win win for sure.
[Daniel Bowling] And let’s go ahead and assume you’d find the one, that just picks it up rounds with it. The issue is all your exit in that basket now, that can’t be retirement plan is that that one person is going to work with you forever.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah.
[Daniel Bowling] You need systems that would allow them to either go out on their own or you already have somebody coming up behind them, or you guys now are working together rather than against each other and changes more from employee possibly to, not necessarily partnership, but maybe like strategic alliance. There’s no reason to burn the bridge.
[Christy Haussler] Sure. Yeah. And even giving empowering that one employee, that ideal employee, to then turn around and replicate and mentor those other employees to get them to the same level, it’s like creating a really deep bench on a basketball team. I mean that’s a good thing. And, sometimes people step up with the occasion if they are empowered to do that. Other times, we don’t, us business owners, we don’t empower those people to do that, we lose out on the potential there.
[Daniel Bowling] Very good. And, can you tell me what is CryoPop?
[Christy Haussler] CryoPop is a local business that I started in Key West, when I first came down here. We have a, it’s a nightly rituals, it’s the world famous sunset celebration. I have, it’s a business I still do. But every night you go down to the sunset, it’s at Mallory Square Pier, it turns on the light this carnival festival type atmosphere. There is vendors, performers, there’s musicians, there’s all kind of crazy stuff going on. It’s our nightly ritual to bid farewell to the sun for the day. We watch the sunset go down right there and it’s a beautiful time. I have a food cart down there that I do CryoPop, is something that I created. It’s essentially my food I used glyco nitrogen and it’s crazy. It’s just Key West crazy. I use caramel corn and freeze it with nitrogen to make this cool steaming, cold smoking bowl of caramel corn that we sell down there. I also use the liquid nitrogen in order to make ice cream. I make home made ice cream with liquid nitrogen down there. It’s just something I don’t get to go down as frequently as I used to but I go down for big events and there’s a lot of things around, the Key’s events and markets and that sort of thing that will do that for as well. Just a little fun side business to get out. Get out and socialize out from behind the computer.
[Daniel Bowling] That sounds really cool. You have so many things that you are working on us, sounds like.
[Christy Haussler] I did do. I’m not a D day at all.
[Daniel Bowling] For your entrepreneurship, I think by definition you are.
[Christy Haussler] You’re always looking, always looking, definitely.
[Daniel Bowling] Always looking, always trying.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah, not afraid to try I guess, and not afraid to fail.
[Daniel Bowling] Not afraid to fail is key.
[Christy Haussler] Down here we’re very tourist driven area of the coast, I guess. When you can’t rely on one thing, many times to carry you all the way through financially to achieve your dreams especially when you’re in kind of a high cost of living area, there’s many people in the Keys that have very specific two or three different things that they do, or different skills sets. And that kind of environment kind of promotes that where people aren’t afraid to try something, they’ aren’t afraid to do something, and “Hey, if I know something that you don’t know I’ll be glad to share it with you. And I will might turn it into a business.” It’s kind of a whole different world down here in the Keys, but I do have that as a local business and hopefully will be able to continue doing that for many years, too because it’s just fun.
[Daniel Bowling] I love the mindset that you’re referring to of having multiple stranger of income within your business especially in a small business that work flow might fluctuate throughout the year.
[Christy Haussler] Yes, seasonal. Yeah.
[Daniel Bowling] In this slow times you could either ramp up the other areas or just have a small stream supplementing.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah. And being able to think outside the box and get something that’s completely different than your normal, completely kind of separate from what you normally do, it’s a little bit countering to it if cause like when taking resources away from my big thing. But you know what? You can insulate yourself from some financial issues if you kind of have almost two completely separate things that co-exists – peacefully but separately. And so, one is not influenced by the other. I definitely like doing that and you know it gets to a point where at a certain level it’s worthwhile to just hire somebody to keep that business going, and provide maybe the less revenue but still a revenue strain for you but you don’t have to put in the time and the hours for it. So, you just never know where to lead.
[Daniel Bowling] In small business, do you think there’s room in many for an online aspect of their business?
[Christy Haussler] Yeah. I almost think it to the point where it’s critical and I say that even from a customer base. We, as customers, find out most of the time what local businesses were going to use because we got on Facebook and ask for recommendations. “Who knows a good mechanic? Who knows somebody that can fix my washer? Who knows somebody that can come, get direct hoon out of my attic?” Whatever it is, we start on the internet by asking those questions. And when you had a local business that does not have an online presence, then you definitely handicap yourself. But I’ve also seen such chorally done local business websites that it really makes you wonder if they’re still in business anymore. Because other than just on static front page with here’s my name, here’s my address, here’s my phone number, there’s nothing else. There’s no picture, there’s no testimonials, there’s no content that’s going up, there’s nothing in the about me page, or they’ve got a staff page that’s completely blank. I really think in building out your online presence and trying to get as much of a connection with your customers if should possibly can, in the online world rather than the real life world, you do the business a favor. Even with certain service industries, if I could look at three different plumbers to come out and fix my problem, but I could see their calendar, and I could see essentially their prices for service call and I could see their schedule online, and I could go ahead and schedule somebody because I knew they could be out by this afternoon, by just doing that online I would be much more likely to choose one plumber that offered that rather than calling around and trying to talk to 6 different receptionists and figure out, once they talk to their service people, “could I do this, could I do that?” It’s just there’s a way to automate so much of that and make it easier for local customers, and make it more likely that they would choose you and the more that you could do that with the online, that’s where the trend is.
[Daniel Bowling] Being good at what you do, that’s on you, nobody can teach you that. But it sounds like there’s so many things that you can do that makes you stand out before they even, the customer, can see your skill versus somebody else’s.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah. The interesting thing is I’ve always heard that you can make money in any business and it’s a very, very simple thing. Even if the market is saturated, and even if everyone else is doing it, all you have to do is be better than the next person. All you have to do is be a little bit better. In my mind, with local businesses, that’s the competitive advantage because you have the ability to treat your customers in a way that corporations won’t. Those people that work at big corporations, or big box retailers, or those other entities that we kind of revolt against a little bit as consumer advocate, we understand that they’re really, they are there for their 9 or 10$ an hour job and they really are not but into the mission of the business. They don’t feel part of it, they clock in, they clock out and whatever they can get away with. In the mean time, how would they treat their customers. It’s a very different thing than being able to separate yourself from those by being a customer friendly and a customer oriented, and just really making a connection in your local community. I mean, it doesn’t mean you go online so you don’t have to interact with your customers, but it’s like, if you can make it easy for them to interact with you in any way that they see fit, whether it’s by phone, whether it’s by internet, then you can win over the large businesses and make local be the first choice for people.
[Daniel Bowling] There’s plenty of small business owners that I know that would say it’s too time consuming to be on top of the customer service side of it. It’s systems, we’re talking about systems in place that make the customer feel like you’re immediately hearing their need. But you might only return calls everyday at noon or something.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting now to, I think one of the keys to doing that and getting your systems in place, and one of the keys to your systems should be, my philosophy and of course just my opinion, is that you hire for the traits that you want. I need to hire somebody that has the personality that I want to be conveyed to my customers. I can train them on the skills, I can train them how to run the software, I can train them how to learn the product, I can train them how to use the product. But if they don’t have that warm and effortless personality that I want my customers to feel whenever they interact with my business, I can’t train them to do that. For me, part of that systematizing things is looking for that in the interview and making sure that person is a great fit for that position and is outgoing as you need them. I don’t really care how great they that their interest skills are if I am wanting them to do customer service, cause they can always improve on that, they can always get better, and I can always train them on other things but I can’t affect their personality. I think in this day and age, the more computerized we get the more it’s a little bit of a determent for the face to face and eye contact, and how to address people and how to deal with people. But you’ve got to find that for your employees cause they’re your face to your customers.
[Daniel Bowling] That goes for business at any level.
[Christy Haussler] It does. It really does. It’s hard because the pool is not that deep. You know what I mean? The hiring pool is not that deep for those type of personalities and those type of traits that you’re looking for. But if you hire, and some people call it “hire for character, train for skill”, and it’s same type of thing where you definitely want a certain personality, so to speak, for your business.
[Daniel Bowling] That goes for anyone looking for a job, too, realizing that these are the personality and traits that need to be work on in order to be hireable.
[Christy Haussler] Yeah. And I think we have lost some of that over the generations. I see younger people today that don’t know how to carry on a conversation with an adult. Or they do nothing but mumble and look at the ground or look at their phone. Being able to have those, I mean, they’re hard skills being able to make an eye contact and sit there in a group and carry on a conversation like you would want with your customer. And you think about it, you are in interview with somebody and you’re having a difficult time drawing out of them why they should be working for you, think of how differently your customer, I mean you don’t want put your customer in that situation where they’ve got to feel like they’ve got to carry the pleasantries. You want that on your employees and you want people that are unafraid to do that and be that person. I think a lot of that energy and enthusiasm for the job or for the industry and that sort of thing gets lost many times with the younger generation who isn’t used to interacting. Sometimes they’re used to interacting in a very automated, very digital way where you can’t, you don’t even have emotions or energy to interpret through. I think it’s definitely something that in the years coming, school and colleges, and that sort of thing are really going to have to go back and focus on their soft skills that people need to cultivate within themselves or force themselves to adopt after all these years of not incorporating them.
[Daniel Bowling] I couldn’t say that any better.
Well, cause I know that you have another call coming up so we’re going to cut short now. I’d love to have you back on the future.
[Christy Haussler] Definitely, I’ll be glad to talk anytime. I can always talk about local business and try to help my fellow Colombian knight try to navigate around. I’ll be glad to help anytime but definitely keep in touch with me and maybe together we can kind of partner up and try to make some noise in the local business world.
[Daniel Bowling] I would love that. Is there any tips or resources or just something you use everyday in your business that you want to leave us with?
[Christy Haussler] It’s actually something that we talked about earlier before we even start the recording is the FreshBooks. I have found that to be a life saver. It’s kept me from having to take a box of receipts to my accountant at the end of the year and say, “good luck with that”. But it also keeps me organize, that keeps me able to see reports about how much income do we have coming in, how much outgo that we have. You can see all of that in there and just keeping up with it. They’ve got it a very automated system for doing that. It’s not like you have to sit entering numbers in a spreadsheet every single day. That’s FreshBooks for local and small businesses that don’t have systems in place, it’s a great way to start cause you can integrate it with a lot of your other things and even with your email campaigns. It’s just a very good tool to have for local business.
[Daniel Bowling] I love FreshBooks. I had it for about a year and never used it.
[Christy Haussler] Oh my gosh. Once you get started it becomes addicting, doesn’t it?
[Daniel Bowling] Yeah. A month ago I just jumped in and I paid for the I think the second tear up which is I think 20$ a month, and I love it. I want to get somebody from FreshBooks on the hear to talk about how it can best use it.
[Christy Haussler] Yes. Yeah cause there’s probably things we’re not doing correctly even. But to just sit down and knock out all of your organizational stuff cause if you’re like me, like you have that pile of paper works sitting somewhere and you’re like, “Ugh, I got to deal with these”, to be able to deal with it and file it and be done with it and know that you’re not going to have keep long back in touching it, is great.
[Daniel Bowling] Yeah. For you and for anybody else listening curious, I actually attended, there’s a weekly webinar for FreshBooks like every Thursday. Maybe you will just go and dive in and show you all that it can do.
[Christy Haussler] Oh nice, nice! I think I went to one initially and I didn’t realize that they were doing it weekly so that’s definitely something good to know for sure.
[Daniel Bowling] I think they might have just started doing it more regularly.
[Christy Haussler] Nice. Probably demands. Yeah, definitely.
[Daniel Bowling] Alright, before you go, Christy, can you tell our listeners where they can find you?
[Christy Haussler] The best place to find me online right now, well there’s a couple of places, but the easiest place is my company team podcast. It’s just www.teampodcast.com. That’s where I end up hanging out and spending most of my time.
[Daniel Bowling] Perfect. Will send anybody away that is looking for a local business podcast.
[Christy Haussler] Perfect. Thank you so much, Daniel. I appreciate the opportunity I talked to you today.
[Daniel Bowling] There was a lot of value dropped in the conversation with Christy. I hope that you enjoyed as much as I did. If you need to go to the links mentioned today, go to the show notes where you can see the full transcription of the episode as well as any links and resources mentioned. You can find that at smarttradesman.com/christy and if we got you thinking about Freshbooks, then go to the Resources page and click on the Freshbooks link to try out your free trial. I highly recommend it. If you enjoyed the conversation today, then go on over to iTunes or Stitcher, leave me a rating or review and tell me what you liked about the episode. Tell me what you liked about the show in general – I would love to hear from you. And for anything else, you know where to find me. I will see you in the next episode. See ya!