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Need marketing help, but can’t afford a VA? Mentor a marketing student with GenM and scale up your small biz for $147 flat.

 

This blog post contains referral links.  I only recommend tools/apps/resources that my clients and I have loved on our creative biz adventure.  I will receive a modest credit to my account should you love these tools and apps as much as I do!

backstory

In most iterations of Creative Enabler, I have been a powerhouse of one.  A wearer of all the hats.  The solo member of the saddest sweat shop, confined to my laptop with a lukewarm cup of coffee, trying to get all the little ends to meet.  

When I relaunched in 2017, I fast-tracked a series of “growth-minded” decisions that ended up costing me time, money, and headaches.  I started 2018 with very little to show for the efforts I made to scale my business in a meaningful way, and I knew that if I was going to keep Creative Enabler going for another 10 years, I had much to learn about growing a team effectively and affordably.

Enter GenM.

 

“If your business is in need of some extra help we have students waiting to help! By providing marketing apprenticeships not only will your business mentor students but be providing real world experience. These students have knowledge waiting to be applied.” – Genm.co

 

Quandary: You know you need help, but can’t afford to outsource regularly

Historically, I have used Facebook Groups, Upwork, and recommendations to hire contractors for Creative Enabler.  I knew this time around, I was going to have to get creative about scaling my biz on a bootstrap budget.

My first instinct was to collaborate with an area college to source an intern, or put out a call to members of my creative community that I had an apprenticeship opportunity.

I learned of GenM in a Facebook Group from another creativepreneur that had responded to a post of an equally bootstrapped business owner seeking marketing support with very little scratch.  I went to the GenM website, and quite honestly, it seemed a little too good to be true.

 

Benefits of Using GenM For Small Biz Owners

The cost for me to sign-up for GenM was $147 in April of 2019, minus the $25 coupon I received.  So basically I paid $122 total dollars for THREE MONTHS OF APPRENTICE WORK, TEN HOURS A WEEK.

That’s $1.23 an hour, ya’ll.

But besides the obvious, almost unbelievable financial value of working with an apprentice on GenM, I found these to be the other wonderful benefits of using this platform:

  • GenM sets the expectations so you’re not flying blind:  Because GenM has very specific expectations of both the Business Owner AND the apprentice, they have created a framework in which to delegate work and onboard a new team member into an existing project.  Additionally, both the Business Owner and Apprentice sign a GenM contract with an outline of expectations, and Business Owners are interviewed by phone by GenM to ensure that they are an appropriate fit to join their community.  If you have previous teaching experience or have been in business for over 5 years like me, you should be able to pass the GenM interview process and jump right in.
  • GenM provides infrastructure to manage one person, or an entire team:  GenM has a robust suite of features that has only grown and gotten better since I joined in April of 2019.  Features include direct messaging, video chatting, meeting scheduling, and more.  Because GenM Apprentices are all over the world, this can help you avoid international calls or resorting to Facetime for meetings.
  • GenM holds all parties accountable:  Once you have selected an Apprentice and signed the contract, the clock starts on the three month apprenticeship, and both Business Owners and Apprentices are expected to complete a weekly check-in for each other and offer feedback.  If you end up with a Ghost Apprentice, you have recourse to terminate the contract, get your money back, and move on to another applicant.

 

Benefits of Using GenM For Apprentices

Now while GenM apprentices are not paid for their three-month adventures for their small business, there are a number of ways that they benefit from participating on this platform.

  • GenM connects apprentices with small business experts:  GenM allows those seeking hands-on work with businesses that genuinely want their help.  This allows apprentices to see the inner-workings of start-ups and solopreneurs, and gain valuable experience working on projects that they specifically are seeking experience with.  Apprentices can reach out to Business Owners directly with their resume using the GenM platform, or pick-and-choose from Business Owners who reach out to them through the direct messaging system.  In other words, both parties have lots of freedom and autonomy to find the right fit, and both parties have the right to say yes, or no.
  • GenM provides the opportunity for brilliant case studies:  Many apprentices on GenM want a case study that they can be proud of at the end of their three-month adventure with your business.  Keep this in mind when delegating work so that everyone can shine!
  • GenM offers training and:  Once you have selected an apprentice and signed the contract, the clock starts on the three month apprenticeship, and both Business Owners and Apprentices are expected to complete a weekly check-in for each other and offer feedback.  If you end up with a Ghost Apprentice, you have recourse to terminate the contract, get your money back, and move on to another applicant.

 

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Is GenM a Fit For Your Small Business?

Before you get psyched up about scoring a marketing professional on the cheap, it’s important to evaluate whether you are a good fit for this program and the level of time commitment required to train manage a new team member.

 

GenM is a good fit if…

  • You already have processes and workflows in place for your marketing strategy -or- are open and receptive to having your Apprentice give you an overhaul and have creative freedom to run with your vision.
  • You have the time to dedicate to ongoing correspondence via e-mail, phone, and virtual meetings.  Apprentices need your direction and expertise to guide their GenM experience; It’s important to prioritize the value of what you are offering them in addition to the value that you are receiving from their work!
  • You have a specific project in mind with a set start time, milestones, and end time that corresponds with their three-month apprenticeship.

GenM May Not Be A Fit If…

  • You do not have the tools and apps needed to streamline a workflow.  For instance, if the goal is to have an Apprentice work on your social media content, you should ideally have a social media scheduling tool in place for your business that allows for team member access.  Might I recommend Buffer?
  • Your relationship with your e-mail box is spotty at best and you often forget to respond to correspondence.
  • You’re not sure what you need help with yet but you think that you’ll figure it out after you make your hire (terrible idea).

 

First Thing iS FirsT: Set Up Your GenM Profile

Once approved, the first step to attracting prospective Apprentices is to set-up your profile.  Much like a dating app, you need to work your game to highlight your best qualities.  In this instance, your level of expertise and professional achievements should stand out, loud and clear.

 

Be sure to include on your Business Owner Profile…

  • Press and accolades that you have received
  • Milestones in your business that demonstrate growth and health of organization
  • Your interests, as this will allow your prospective Apprentices to get a feel for who you are as a person and shared interests make for a great icebreaker when you start interviewing applicants

How to Find Suitable Apprentices in the dashboard

While having literally thousands of candidates at your fingertips can be an exciting challenge, it can also be a time-waster if you don’t have the right strategy and infrastructure in place to connect with potential Apprentices.

Here’s how I cut to the chase and connected with Apprentices: 

I didn’t try to find a proverbial “unicorn”:   Keep in mind that most Apprentices on GenM are focused on gaining experience on specific tasks.  While you could potentially find one blessed human who can read data,  wrangle your SEO, handle your e-mail marketing, update your website, create content, and write blog posts, it may be best to bring in several apprentices to tackle different tasks versus having a laundry-list of items for one single Apprentice to take on.

I wrote a targeted introduction message:  Your first point of contact with your prospective Apprentice will be through GenM‘s messaging platform.  Tailoring your message to pin-point the specific items you need help with while highlighting the value that you bring to the party will garner a good return response rate.   GenM has a cap on how many characters you can use in your intro message, so you will need to be quick and clever.

Here is an example of what I wrote with GenM‘s shortcode in place to personalize the message:

Hey there,  {{recipient}}!
I am looking for content support for my biz, Creative Enabler: creativeenabler.com

Because I am busy helping folks with their marketing and branding, the business of my business has become less consistent, and that’s hopefully where you can come in. =)

I have a strategy that I can train on, but I also want to hand-off an upcoming promotional push for your creative direction and successful case study!

If this sounds cool, schedule a time to chat: http://creativeenabler.com/lets-chat/

You can also learn more about me over here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/creativeenabler/

-L

I used the GenM filter wisely:  You can sort prospective Apprentices by country, industry, type of work that you need performed, tools, and languages spoken.  You can filter Apprentices by things you are passionate about, such as LGBTQ rights, cosmetics, human rights, religious organizations, alternative medicine, music production, beauty products, games, art, fashion, and more.  This greatly assisted me in finding Apprenticeships that had comparable values and interests.

I “pre-vetted” Apprentices by seeing if they could follow directions from the get-go:  By including a link to my calendar to schedule their interview, I avoided the back-and-forth rigmarole that will inevitably occur if you don’t have the brilliance of Acuity Scheduling integrated into their business </shameless plug>.   For those that responded to my GenM direct message asking about my availability to schedule an interview, I knew that they had not explored the links included in my first outreach.  The folks that scheduled a time to chat went to the top of my list.  The folks that also joined my Facebook Group got brownie points.

 

How to Interview Prospective GenM Apprentices

Everyone has their own intake process and style, but here are the questions that I found to be important to ask my prospective Apprentices:

 

  1. What do you hope to achieve during your time working with me?
  2. What kind of case study/performance review would be your goal with this apprenticeship?
  3. What are a few of my skills or areas of expertise you’d like the most training/mentorship on?
  4. Do you use the following tools/apps? [ Canva, WordPress, Buffer, etc. ]
  5. Have you ever done the Meyer’s Briggs before?
  6. What is your workload like right now?
  7. What is your preferred method of communication? [ Phone, E-mail, Slack, FB DM, Text, etc. ]
  8. How long have you been on GenM?
  9. How has your experience with GenM been so far?
  10. When is the earliest you would be available to start if we agree to work together?

 

If you like it, then you need to put a contract on it

 

The next step is notifying your new Apprentice that you’d like to move forward with a GenM-issued contract.  In your message box, you will have the ability to award an apprenticeship by clicking a big ol’ APPRENTICESHIP button.  Always ask your Apprentice if they are available to start immediately before awarding the Apprenticeship.  Remember, your time with your Apprentice starts as soon as that contract is signed and you want to make the most of your time together

 

 

 

 

AND Then What?

Stay tuned for the next blog post on this journey where I will share what happens when GenM Apprentices ghost, top tools to manage a team, and other tips on how to scale your business on a beer-money budget.

Want more insights?  Come and join the conversation in Creativepreneur Happy Hour.

 

 

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