529 Ana Raynes:
Ever struggle with mom guilt? Feeling like you should be with your kids when you’re running your business, and feeling like you should be working when you’re with your kids? Women entrepreneurs are in a constant battle with time – so what’s the best way to leverage your time for scale and success?
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring serial entrepreneur and digital marketing expert who says one of her biggest lessons on her path is time management.
Ana Maria Raynes is the owner and founder of the marketing agency, Simplified Impact. She studied at the London College of Fashion and credits her previous life in fashion as the co-founder of the startup Smart is Cool for her creativity and high energy. Today we talk smart systems for scaling, how to best leverage your time, plus she shares the inside skinny on the latest trends in social and digital media for growing your business.
We can all get easily overwhelmed by social media and all things marketing as we grow our businesses. There’s so much advice out there, some of it contradictory, and we can fall into a rabbit hole where we’re trying to do everything – posting here, there, everywhere – as we try to attract, engage and convert the right customers.
Today we talk to an expert in all things social and digital marketing. Ana Raynes founded and runs the agency Simplified Impact – and the secret is in the name of her agency. Ana shares how to focus your time on the aligned and authentic messaging for you to have maximum impact – and guess what? You don’t have to do it all.
I can’t wait for Ana to share her marketing tips and her inspiring journey and first …
And you’ll want to take out your phone and download the Podopolo app too as you listen to this episode, so you can join the conversation with me and Ana as we talk all things social and digital marketing, time management, how to avoid mom guilt, plus why we all need other strong women around us.
Let’s fly with the inspiring Ana Raynes.
Melinda Wittstock: Ana, welcome to Wings.
Ana Raynes: Hi. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: I always enjoy speaking to other serial entrepreneurs and you are now on your second business and I’m onto business five. The breadcrumbs and the learnings are always … in the previous businesses How did what you did previously, how is that informing what you’re doing now?
Ana Raynes: It was a fashion based business where now mine is a digital, but I have to tell you, if it wasn’t for that business, I wouldn’t have looked to the digital world. I started it in 2003, 2004. This was around the time, people weren’t even using social media for anything, really even digital marketing wasn’t as big as it is now. It was in some senses but not the way it has a mass market reach. Because we wanted to be tech savvy and we worked from a technology end, I had to teach myself very early on, Twitter and social and websites and analytics and Google. From there, because of those learnings, I was actually able to build a career where I went on to work at a very large agency in New York City. Build a department, a team, run campaigns for very large enterprise businesses, brand names that are very recognizable. So that gave me the jump off point and then I was able to transition to run a digital marketing agency for businesses.
Melinda Wittstock: It is interesting though, isn’t it, that all these different learnings and sometimes failures… they’re hypotheses inform the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. In being an entrepreneur in your 20s and then going into corporate and coming back into entrepreneurship, it strikes me that you have this nice mix of those two things that can inform the current business.
Ana Raynes: Absolutely. I think my first business … first of all, I was young and I didn’t have that structure, so that was really important and necessary. Sometimes there’s a lot of people that do it. They go straight from college and start a business, run it successfully. But I really think at some point you have to look within and build a structure in order to scale it properly. That gave me that sense and those tools. Of course I have searched and developed those tools much further as an entrepreneur the second time around. But I think the structure was really important in going from my 20s then corporate then back out on my own.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. It’s funny with women too that we all have seasons, who we are in our 20s and 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s. I mean it changes depending on our context. Pre-children, young kids, older kids, these sorts of things where we are in life. How has that changed? I know you have kids. How old are your kids?
Ana Raynes: Yeah, so I have a six year old daughter and she’s … yeah. I think it’s changed. Early on in my career when I was really trying to take off in both careers, my first business and then in corporate, I worked really hard. I mean, I still work really hard, but it was to a point where it was crazy. Insane amount of hours, 24/7. I think my daughter has changed that because I have more of a … I need to be home. I can’t miss her whole entire life. So I’ve had to really get organized and the things that I might’ve lost myself doing before, I prioritize is that important? Do I need to be doing this? How do I make that? How do I build a system for this? How do I have it either automated or delegated? So those are things that sometimes we just waste time.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh yeah. It’s so easy to waste time. If you actually look at how you’re spending time. I did this exercise a couple of years ago where I realized that all the different areas where I was stuck in busy work or just mindless social media or things that, that weren’t the best use of my time. There was no leverage in that time. So really picking the things that are going to drive your business forward the most where you have the most leverage, outsourcing or delegating everything else to everybody else is important. So having kids does kind of focus the mind where you only have so many hours in the day, right? So how are you going to spend them?
Ana Raynes: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: So what are some of the specific things you changed? What were the activities that you were getting the most leverage from in that context? How did you get better, I guess, at that delegation muscle and hiring and asking for help and all those things that a lot of women struggle with?
Ana Raynes: I would say really tactical things that I could build systems. So I use Loom, which is a video platform.
Melinda Wittstock: I love Loom. Yeah. We use that too.
Ana Raynes: I Loom pretty much everything. Anything that I know I have to do again I’m like, “Oh, that’s a Loom.” Now I have my team doing it too. Then we have VA’s that help assist us in other tasks that maybe are more repeated. So we’re always creating videos to help each other learn and then we upload it to a master database where we all share that one. Okay. How do you do this? How do you do that? So that’s one way that I didn’t do that before. I just would figure it out and then I would figure it out again and be like, “Oh didn’t I do this last time?”
Ana Raynes: Another thing is … here’s another example. I was working with someone on my team and they send me a report to edit, right? They were new to our team, so for the first two or three months that they sent it over, I was correcting it and sending it back to him. I was like, “What am I doing?” I called him and I’m like, “You’re going to sit with me and we’re going to edit this together and not only that, we’re going to record it while we do it.” I haven’t had to show him how to make edits again. It’s like, oh, that’s all I needed to do. It’s like, do it with him, record it, give it to him, and now he knows exactly what I need. Because I was just editing, sending it back.
Ana Raynes: That was such a, I guess, antiquated way of working. I remember doing that in different jobs. It’s like, you send it to your boss, they edit it, they send it back. That could go on for days. Just do it together, do it once, record it, done and done and they know. They can go back to it on their own time.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Sometimes the mistake we make as team leaders or CEOs is just assuming that our team members can read our minds. They cannot.
Ana Raynes: No.
Melinda Wittstock: So, getting those systems in place for kind of replicable work and systems and all of that is absolutely vital.
Melinda Wittstock: I want to go back to the motherhood thing a little bit though as well. Because I talk to so many female entrepreneurs who struggled with mom guilt, I guess we could call it right?
Ana Raynes: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: When you’re with your kids thinking you should be in your business. We all, as entrepreneurs, have the business in our minds at all time. At least I know I do. I just can’t. I can’t help it. I’m always thinking about it in some way or another. So feeling guilty when we’re with our kids, we should be on our business. When we’re on our business, we should be with our kids. How do you manage that?
Ana Raynes: So here’s a couple of things. I read a book called The Miracle Morning. I don’t know if you’ve read it.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh I know Hal Elrod.
Ana Raynes: So it’s great. So I start my mornings really early, which help a lot. So I got a lot done before anybody gets up at 6:00, 6:30.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. That’s a good one. I do that too.
Ana Raynes: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Because the house is quiet.
Ana Raynes: I love that silence. It’s so peaceful. I love it.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Ana Raynes: The other thing that I did was we hired a babysitter two days a week so that I could work till 7:30 at the office. So that babysitter picks up my daughter, feeds her, whatever. When I get home then we do bath, reading, connecting. So that’s really important. So things like that. I think I’m so intentional. Then my weekends are for my family. Once in a while on a Sunday I’ll have some work to do at night, after she’s gone to bed. But usually Saturday, Sunday, because I’ve made an intentional to make that extra time to add hours to my day in the morning and then two days a week to add them after everybody’s gone from the office. That way I’m not feeling that guilty. I’m not feeling like there’s more I could be doing because I’ve been so intentional about adding extra time and being really good.
Ana Raynes: The other thing is time blocking. I do a lot of time blocking. Every single hour of my day is accounted for. Whether it’s checking email and I pause my email so I only get email three times a day and then they come in batches. So at that time I get an alert when the batch comes in and then I go in to check it and go through those emails. So it’s not as many as if they’re coming in all the time, then I’m like, “Shiny object shiny …”
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, you can get so distracted doing that. That’s really smart how you’ve organized that.
Ana Raynes: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: It makes a big difference.
Ana Raynes: It has to be intentional. Then the other thing is my daughter is six, so she’s really good about saying, “Mommy, look in my eyes when I talk to you.” So I’m like, “Okay.”
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. She keeps you in line. I mean my kids are older now. so I get eye rolls. But it’s interesting because they see me go through … and I think this is important, especially for my daughter, they see you go through the ups and downs and then be resilient even in the downs. Not letting the downs throw you off. They see your behavior and what you do more than what you say. So then as a result you start to see these little … both my kids say they’re not entrepreneurs and yet they’re very entrepreneurial. They just won’t admit to it.
Ana Raynes: They do, yeah. I think a part of it is … and this has been a parenting podcast come in the parenting books and I go to parenting seminars because honestly it does really help because it normalizes things for you. So there are times when I’m really stressed, I’m super stressed and maybe I’m short with my daughter, maybe I’m not the kindest. Then we talk about it and I’m like, “Hey, that wasn’t cool that I was behaving like that and let’s talk about this. Let me explain to you that sometimes this and this happens.” Just having to respect and treating them like a human and being like, “Hey, this is what’s going on.” Because they’ll remember that and be like, “Oh yeah, that’s right.” Sometimes when she’s melting I’m like, “Oh, you must be having a hard day today. What’s going on? Let’s talk about it.” Reversing it too. Things like that, they help.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. Oh that’s so true.
Melinda Wittstock: So I want to pivot the conversation to what’s hot in digital media right now. In your business what are some of the trends that you’re seeing? Because social media, the landscape’s changing all the time. Sort of confusing. It’s a time sake. People are trying to figure out how to make it work for their businesses. What are the kind of top trends?
Ana Raynes: I think video is so big and everybody says that. So it’s like, oh, what do we do with it? Going live on video for Instagram, Facebook, it depends on your business. So let’s break it down like this. If you’re a service based business and you’re in a niche market, meaning you really sell to other businesses, it’s pretty nichey. Email is what’s hot. That’s what I would focus on. It’s really great and you have to have a fantastic CRM and CMS where you can track who’s coming on your site so you can nurture them.
Ana Raynes: If you are in e-commerce, what’s hot is really personalization and retargeting. So having the proper tags on your site so that you can continue to reach those people that are landing and raising their hand, having a great social output. If you are in e-commerce and you have a fun brand, I would not rule out Tik-Tok. It was for teenagers, it’s really starting to go mainstream. We have a client that started to do something on there and they’re doing really great.
Ana Raynes: Then if you are more like a fun upscale service, not so nichey, I would say video inside of Instagram and Facebook are really great. So it just depends on your line of business but all around video is really what resonates.
Melinda Wittstock: What are the mistakes that a lot of businesses make? I see this a lot. Trying to be relevant on all the social networks all at once and they all require an investment. They’re all different. You have to really be in alignment with the platform and whatnot to make it work. They all have different algorithms. The algorithms are changing all the time. Do you recommend someone starts with just one thing first and master that before they do all the others?
Ana Raynes: I would recommend that they do one thing by themselves and have someone help them with the others to at least have presence [inaudible 00:21:55]-
Melinda Wittstock: At least have something, yeah. Presence. But conquer one first before you seek to conquer all. I mean I see a lot of business owners just spending so much time on social media. They’re not building their business or they’re just not getting the results from the social media that they would like.
Ana Raynes: Yes, that’s true in some cases. It’s really on a strategy and how you’re doing it. It just depends on what vertical on social media works for you.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Right. What’s your ideal client? Who are the people, your sweet spot for your agency?
Ana Raynes: Service based business that has five plus employees and it’s probably in the 5 million plus revenue. So, it’s really someone who is servicing themselves. Is reaching a B2B client. That’s really who we really try to reach.
Melinda Wittstock: What are the biggest mistakes you think people make? When people come to you and they say, “Oh my God, help me.” What are some of the things that you have to correct or teach or whatever?
Ana Raynes: Yeah, so I think it’s the same. There is two sides to it. One wants to throw no money at it. They’re like, “Oh well.” You have to pay to play no matter what you do. There is no not paying to play. So that means ads, that means all kinds of different things. You just have to. Believe it or not, some people will pay the retainers and then they’ll be like, “Oh yeah, but I don’t have money for ads.” I’m like, “Well, then it’s not going to work.”
Ana Raynes: Then the second part is they want to throw too much money at it. They’re like, “Well, let’s just up it to a 100%, 200%.” It’s like, you’re not going to get a 200% return. You have to let the algorithms kind of figure things out. You have to scale slowly and not-
Melinda Wittstock: It’s interesting in the social space because there’s a lot of guesswork and a couple of companies ago, we sought to take the guesswork out of it by using natural language processing and pattern recognition algorithms on unsupervised machine learning to be able to really understand exactly the avatar and what they were saying and how to target messages specifically to those folks. It was fascinating to me though, and do you find this as well, that often just people want results super, super fast? Like you were saying, it takes time to scale and and whatnot.
Melinda Wittstock: People really want instant results but they don’t necessarily know what it takes to put the investment in or what the long game is to actually work on social media. How much of the time are you really educating your clients about that? Leveling expectations in terms of what they can achieve by when?
Ana Raynes: Yeah, it depends on the client. So our niche B2Bs, because they understand lead generation and nurturing, given that most of what they’ve done has been with sales reps, trade shows, et cetera, following up. So they’re not as impatient. But for e-commerce, oh yeah. More of that direct to consumer, even if the consumer is another business and it’s a lower price point. Yeah. They’re like, “This isn’t happening, why am I not selling? I need to cover this.”
Ana Raynes: It’s like, you need to nurture, you need to teach. There’s a craft and an art in selling, even if it’s happening online, even if you’re selling to the masses. I mean that’s why so many books have been written about sales and processes and it doesn’t happen overnight. It can in a sense, but you really need to understand your audience and nurture them.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely right. So where do you see your agency going next? What’s the big growth plan and what’s the vision? Where will you be in five years or 10 years from now? Do you have a sense of that?
Ana Raynes: I do, I do. We’re looking to continue to scale service based businesses and really help them to grow their own brands. We’re also working on a software that I can’t really talk too much about yet, we have to rebuild it. But a software that would help a lot of these businesses scale at a faster pace. So yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: That sounds great. So how can people find you and work with you?
Ana Raynes: So just simplifiedimpact.com. That’s the name of our business. That’s what we look to do is really simplify the impact for other businesses and help them to scale in all aspects of digital, not just social.
Melinda Wittstock: So any other pieces of advice for women at that scaling stage? I know it’s only 3% of women get to $1 million or more and struggle with the scale.
Ana Raynes: That is so crazy to me, because I have so many successful friends that are females. But you know how you get into a circle and you’re like, “Oh.” I saw that somewhere else. I was like, “What? That’s insane.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Same thing. I look at podcasting for instance, and the only 85% of podcasters don’t make any money from podcasting and yet 15% and I’m in that, do. I’m kind of stunned by that. What? So what is it that really, if you think of your network of women and also mine … I know a lot of seven, eight, and nine figure women. I have retreats that they come to and interviewed on this podcast and it’s actually quite a large community in a way or it feels large to me because those are the people that are in my kind of circle. I think of what are the things that we have in common, what drives that success? So much of its mindset and our internal belief systems. Not being afraid or getting past our fear of success or failure, but it’s also having other strong women around us, a really supportive community of women. Kind of like our business family. Do you find that too? Is that very important to growing your business as well, having a community of great women around you?
Ana Raynes: Absolutely. Absolutely, that’s what’s helped me in my first business. I would say the thread for every career path has been that there’s always been women around me to say, “Let me open that door, let me help you with that.” Sometimes I’m the one creating those relationships. Let’s say I spot a woman that I’m like, “Wow. She is a go getter.” I don’t really even know where’s this going? I’m like, “Can we have lunch?” I’m not like, “Can I pick your brain?” Because I hate that. It’s just like, “Hey, let’s just chat. “How can I help you? What can I do?” How do I just surround myself by these women and serve, serve, serve. There’s women that I’ve helped who are very successful that I’ve never had to ask for anything.
Ana Raynes: But I think just being in that mindset of. I must fill my pot with the most amazing people. It just happens organically. They’re like, “Oh, do you know this person or that person?” Or you’ll get on the phone, let’s say with a client and they’ll mention something and that’ll be the link of, “Oh, I know them and I’ve done this.” It just builds your credibility that you’re … Oh, wait, you’re friends with that circle, then you must be someone or something.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, right, right, right. No, it’s true. I think there’s actually some science, there’s some brain science around when women collaborate with one another, our brains actually release the feel-good chemical oxytocin. We feel better, we do better. Over millennia, it’s how we’ve worked together until relatively recently and the way business was just a lot more atomized and individualized. We tended more towards working in isolation. It doesn’t work for us.
Ana Raynes: No.
Melinda Wittstock: We need to be around other women. That’s awesome. So are you part of mastermind groups and all of that as well?
Ana Raynes: I am.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, me too. It makes the world of a difference. Well, Ana, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the podcast and putting on your wings and flying with us.
Ana Raynes: Thank you so much. This has been really great. Thank you.