Interview with Carolina Gutierrez of Go2Girl Administrative Solutions.
Episode 4, host Laurent Truc had the privilege of interviewing Carolina Gutierrez who runs go2girl admin, an administrative services company for brick and mortar businesses. After being forced to make a career change after her previous business folded due to legislation changes, she turned her side hustle into a flourishing business.
Working with so many entrepreneurs and businesses of different sizes, she well suited to provide recommendations around what to outsource to help make your business more successful and ensure you live life on your terms.
Prefer just the audio:
Transcription of Podcast
|Laurent: Hello everybody and welcome to the Mad Profit Podcast. I’m very excited about the guest we have on today. I interviewed Carolina Gutierrez from Go2Girl Admin. And this was a very fun interview. Carolina has a very different background. She started after she graduated in a very unique field. I don’t want to give it away. I want you to hear it directly from her. |
And then the economy changed and her industry and she had to pivot and find a new role for herself. And that’s where she started Go2Girl admin which is a virtual assistant / administrative assistant company that helps small entrepreneurs get things done.
And it was just a really wonderful conversation to have. She has a lot of insight about what she thinks entrepreneurs should get off their plates and what they should do. And a couple recommendations and tips as well for all of us. So hope you like the interview, let’s dive right in and get this going.
Intro: Welcome to the Mad Profit Podcast where we interview active Investors, entrepreneurs, and experts who left corporate jobs to buy or start successful ventures and live life on their own terms.
Listen to their stories, learn from their experiences and heed their advice so you too can create mad profits and the life you’ve always wanted. And now here’s your host, Laurent Truc.
Laurent: Hi everyone and thank you for joining us again. Today I have a special guest, Carolina Gutierrez from Go2girl Admin Carolina, welcome to the show.
Carolina: Thanks for having me.
Laurent: I’m very excited to have a conversation with you today. You’ve done so much and worked with so many varied types of people. I can’t wait to get into it and hear some of your experience and what you’ve done.
Carolina: You know, it surprises me when people tell me they are excited to talk about admin but ok.
Laurent: Well admin is a part of all of our lives so the more we can solve it the more we can solve it the better it is, right. Very good. So Instead of me going off and try to explain who you are, I’d love to hear it directly from you. Can you give us a little bit of background about yourself and what you do?
Carolina: Sure. So my current venture is called Go2Girl Administrative solutions. It has been around since 2012. This not my first business. My background, education wise, is in insurance and social work but I have started my first business when I was 12 years old.
I didn’t realize that I had until recently and that I really had the entrepreneurial spirit running through me pretty much my whole life. And here I am today. What else. I have lots of hobbies.
Laurent: I was going to say, let’s start from the beginning. I love hearing entrepreneurs, see I talk to a lot of professionals that are looking to jump into the entrepreneurial realm, and some of them I think this is where you’re going, don’t even realize that previously they had a toe dipped into entrepreneurship and then are like “oh yeah, when I was 8 I did this”.
So it sounded like you had a story like that. I’d love to hear it.
Carolina: I have a couple actually. My first business was when I was 12. I would notice that there were lots of moms standing around after school waiting to pick up their kids. And they lived in the same area that I did. And they were complaining about the cold and stuff. There was one that I would see regularly on the elevators. I went up to her, once, and said, “If you ever need, I’d be more than happy to take her back and forth.” And she’s like “Ok great”. And it grew form there. At one point I had 6 kids. It was like a gaggle of children that I was lugging around. So that was kinda neat. That developed into more formal babysitting.
And then in high school we had friend that worked at a chocolate maker’s place. And they got rid of a lot of chocolate that had a little dent or something like that. Anyways it was bags and bags of these that they would give to employees to get rid of. Or to take home. and I said “Can I have it?” I wasn’t a big chocolate eater but I knew my friends were. And so, I became the chocolate pusher of Jarvis Collegiate. And I paid for my prom, semi-formal and all those little kind of expenditures that you have through funding of feeding a sugar addiction.
Laurent: That’s brilliant. Free inventory.
Carolina: Exactly. The well dried though so now I had to invest in it so it wasn’t as luxurious anymore.
Laurent: That’s smart entrepreneurship, you saw an opportunity, took care of it, then the dynamics changed and you moved on. So how do you get from a high-schooler doing these kinds of side businesses to your corporate life? Your mature life. What happened after that? You graduated?
Carolina: Absolutely. I never thought I would be a business woman. I never thought I had the chutzpah for it to be honest with you. The uncertainty made my stomach turn. But I was in insurance for almost 7 years and almost had completed my designation in insurance with the Insurance Institute of Canada and I was miserable. I hated every moment of it. I felt like I was working for the devil himself.
Soul was being drained out of my body on a daily basis. Circumstances happened and the heavens aligned and the start were in place and I found myself without a job. I had started studying hypnosis for a few months. And I had enough of a package that I didn’t have to rush back to work. And I continued that summer studying and continued for a bit and took s few different classes and I’m like, “I really love this.”
My passion totally came out. I said, you know what, I’m going to try this. I was in private practice for 8 years. I worked with a local psychologist who treated car accident victims and it was beautiful. I am a fan to this day I still have a few clients that I see. Because it really comes from a place of love. And not business.
But what that taught me was that I didn’t prepare my business for the changes that were coming in regards to the legislation for car insurance and the coverages that were covering the majority of my business. The legislation changed in 2011. I found myself going from 8-12 new clients per month to 4 per year. And my business shriveled up like a raisin and I was just like oh my gosh.
Laurent: That change in legislation went from full coverage to nothing? Is that what took place?
Carolina: What happened was that you had an initial amount of coverage i believe it was up to $200K. That they would cover for any expenses that would arise from a car accident. So that could be physiotherapy, that could be someone cleaning your home that could be chiropractor. Usually by the time that they felt there was something more mental health kicking in and going to see the psychologist, you were in around the three to 6-month mark. So there was still money in that $200K pool that everyone pays into.
Well, the new legislation kicked in and that $200K went to $30K. And I can tell you that $30K in massage and chiropractors go like this. By the time that they qualify to see me, they had to deem it catastrophic. There was a lot of layers and it completely changed. Supposedly it was supposed to drop our car insurance but I have yet see that happen in our area. But the coverages were definitely affected.
Laurent: Wow. That’s a very interesting career path that you took. I don’t think I know anybody else that in that field.
Carolina: And honestly, I would say it is a life skill to this day. It is a tool I use… I have yet to find a situation where it doesn’t come in handy. As you can tell there’s still a lot of passion and a lot of love there for that. But what it taught me was that I never wanted to be in a situation again where I was ill-prepared being a business owner. So I decided to go back and get my masters in social work so that I could combine psychotherapy and counseling and my hypnosis practice.
And while I was in school, I needed a part-time job. And I didn’t want to work at Starbucks and I didn’t want to work at Old Navy being almost 30. So, I said, “What am I going to do, right?” I had always been really technical. Computers, technology, software, it was effortless for me. So, I said OK, and a lot of people I had networking with during hypnosis practice were not so technical. And they would always come to me for questions like how are you doing this? Help me with this, my printer’s not working.
And I said, Ok, well you know what, maybe I”ll make this a little bit of a side hustle while I’m in school. And it grew from there. So, it started in 2012 and my first client, I still talk to my first client, I found her on Craig’s list. She was looking for someone to help kinda organize her and get things in order at her home office. Ok, fine, whatever. At this point.
I continued but fell out of love with my program. Which was challenging because I had a lot of years of clinical experience under my belt. But my classmates didn’t. So, it was kind of difficult because my professor would ask, “What do you think, Carolina”. And you could feel the eyes on you.
And I always going to be looking back at the successes instead of looking forward to new stuff. So, I said maybe this isn’t where I want to go. But the admin business continued to grow. That’s where I am today.
Laurent: So, your first client, which was setting up an office and doing a little bit of IT work versus the suite that you offer today. How has that changed over time.
Carolina: Night to day. I don’t recognize it at all. When I get new business owners, that are either referred to me or that approach me about getting some help or suggestions because I offer free 1/2 hour consultations. Whatever you can pick my brain during that time I will give it to you. I firmly believe that information is to be shared and not hoarded.
There are many people that were going to hire me and in that consultation I solved their problems. I might not get their business right away but I get it eventually down the line. So, business owners that come in and say this is what I’m thinking of doing and I’m like “what you think you’re doing, I guarantee you your business isn’t going to look like that in a year”. Think of it as a living, breathing life-form that you are nursing and really nurturing as it grows. And it doesn’t stay the same. Sometimes it takes on a life of its own and you look back a year later and you’re like oh my god, I never would have thought that I’d be here today.
It’s really about not being too married to it. I think it’s that the rigidness in our lives, whether entrepreneurship or not really is what can cause a lot of heart-ache and pain.
Laurent: It’s funny, when we first met, that’s probably the first thing you said when as I was mapping out to you my ideas on where to take this thing. And I think I’ve repeated that exact comment to my wife She’s like “you’re starting this now?” No it’s not starting, it’s an evolution. Listen, whatever I think it looks like today, it will look different in a couple of months.
Carolina: Are you sharing it with her or convincing her?
Laurent: As I convince myself as well. Yes, absolutely. Very interesting. Very Interesting. You must see a huge array of different entrepreneurs coming to you. Is it mostly small startups, is it mostly medium size businesses and what kind of a niche are you focusing on?
Carolina: The largest business I’ve dealt with had 280 employees. And there’s this entrepreneur that is 2 weeks in. And everything in between. I’m a firm believer that life brings up the lessons that we need when we need them. And if there’s one blessing I see in this business and what I’ve learned in the businesses I’ve been exposed to is really giving me the depth and breadth of understanding business from a different perspective.
Not so much from a school perspective, because when I originally went to school, the first time around, I took Business IT. So, I had a bit of commerce background but it’s a completely different world once you’re in the trenches. And it’s given me the experience, when I look back and if I were to start my hypnosis business again, radically different. Because from a business foundation as much as I have a passion and caring for those people.
It’s been really interesting just getting a peek. When you do the admin, you really get a peek to I would say almost the heart of the business because an entrepreneur, at least the ones I’ve come into contact with, aren’t people that want to separate themselves from the business. Not these kinda of serial entrepreneurs that have many businesses and hire people.
No the ones I’ve worked with have been very owner driven so it’s really given me a peek at mindset, priorities and maybe not even business fundamentals but attitude. I think attitude plays such a bit role in your success, right.
Laurent: Do you feel that a lot of these entrepreneurs had a hard time letting go especially to an admin they don’t necessarily know if they’ve been that in control.
Carolina: I laugh and I say people only people that I’ve worked with will say “they need you, they need you” and they need someone on your team. I say listen people only come to me under 2 conditions 1) they lost money and 2) they lost a relationship. And really the relationship equates to money in the end. Or it could be a family or a marriage type of scenario.
Those are the only times I would say when people will reach out to me they don’t come willing.
Laurent: I like to ask entrepreneurs I mean you’re a bit of a different group than some of the ones I’ve talked to before because you’ve eased into this are you doing this part-time while you were kind of finishing up your schooling. I’m jumped into doing this and everyone thought it was nuts so how did you go from I got a concept I did a little bit of research but maybe not even – I gotta get money in the door. What do the first six months look like and what did you focus on? Was it marketing?
Carolina: Sorry this one specifically?
Carolina: It was a unique set of circumstances for me… I had started the business, we were still living in Toronto and some life circumstance has changed and we became what we what I call economic refugees. We couldn’t afford to live in or buy a house in Toronto and my partner wanted to buy a home and I wanted one too and so we went further out, a little bit further than the GTA and it was an economically depressed area. There were no jobs.
I didn’t have a job, I had this and so I really had to hustle. I had to find really creative ways. I was driving into Toronto to find clients because it was a very different mentality where we were living (not to speak badly about it at all) it’s just there’s something that I call forced entrepreneurship and that to me is a very sad state because right now entrepreneurship is the “it” thing. People are like, it’s cool, everyone should do it but most people are not made for the stress that entrepreneurship brings and those that are forced into it approach it from a standpoint not of excitement and of getting up and using that queasiness and melody that “I haven’t brought any money in” to drive you. Instead they will run the business from a very fear central place so there’s no investing in the business there’s not a proper marketing it’s just getting by. It’s paying my mortgage making sure that I can eat type of thing.
I quickly identified that those are not the entrepreneurs that I wanted to work with not because there’s anything wrong with that but it didn’t fit, they didn’t resonate with my own energy. I really wanted it to be a good fit and luckily my partner has been is a rock in my life and has been very supportive and he’s like “I don’t want you to settle”. I would come home and I’d be like oh my god this I have this opportunity but I think they’re gonna be a nightmare. He said if things go wrong I’d rather you work at Tim Hortons and have to deal with something like that so that’s been very good. That was not the situation the first time around of entrepreneurship for me so you know there’s a lot of pieces of the entrepreneur pie that I think you gotta work on or not work on.
Laurent: Is there anything you would do differently from the way you started this business especially in those first few months. I’m coming from the space that there are people out there who are thinking of starting their own business and so as I do these interviews there’s always pieces of information that come out around how to be, how to have a well laid plan so you’re on the right foot when you lead your corporate gig. What did the first few months look like and usually a lot of times we learn more from our mistakes than we do from things that go well. Anything looking back that you’re like that was a missed opportunity?
Carolina: I think, for sure I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but I would say a business plan for sure. It’s like a one page point form nothing that you’re going to submit to a bank for funding but just to kind of keep your eye on it because it really will steer your decisions. That fundamental of your mission / vision / values I never realized how important that was. Until I would say was two years in before I did that for this business and it is really where I feel the turning point was.
I took a business, that at the time I did not know it but, at the time in 2012 was only for online businesses. It was something that if you had an online store, if you did online trading or anything and lived online you knew and it was easy to find someone and I and when I saw that I said okay this is saturated there’s a lot of players there. A lot of people in this space how am I gonna differentiate myself. And I saw that there was a gap in the brick and mortar space so I took that model and I brought it into the brick and mortar space. The problem is that I was really pioneering. It’s hard and I know you know what I’m talking about here.
I would say for the first two years eighty percent of my time was educating. Just telling people it is possible, this is how it’s possible, these are tools that we could use, and my close time back then was probably six to eight months. Imagine sixty-one client and it was because it was coffee after coffee after coffee explaining and talking about possibilities and reassuring them and calming their doubts and all that my clothes time now is under thirty days. But it’s a huge difference right and really it’s that sales training.
Laurent: Was the pushback “why don’t I just hire a temp or why don’t I just do it myself”… is that the kind number one issue it is? What if there’s a problem?
Carolina: My business evolution coincided with a technology evolution that’s been happening, I’d say for the last eight years. It is the boom of the custom or the niche “out the box ERP / CRM solutions” and I throw CRM there because sometimes people use CRM when really it’s a business management tool. All of a sudden landscapers have a specific technology cloud-based technology to help them run their business, all those cleaners have it, photographers have it, all these people that were running their business via spreadsheets all those sudden have this tool that can alleviate 50% of their administrative headache.
And a good component of my business now is recommending those tools, going in doing discoveries of this particular business and saying this is the tool on the market for you or what I would bring what other tools I would kind of make a hybrid or what I call frankensteining the tools so that you’re able to get the benefit of it without going into an enterprise level system that will break a small business budget.
Laurent: That’s great so you’ve taken a risk to your business, a push back and you’ve become the go-to person to consult saying, “let me help you implement that”.
Carolina: You know, again it’s that adaptability I think just like in life but more so in business and an especially business since the Internet of Things. If you aren’t flowing with the way technology is flowing then you’re sinking. But not a true because those clients are gonna turn around be scratching their head and their eighteen-year-olds gonna come around and say let me do a quick Google search and it’s right there, and you become obsolete.
Laurent: For sure so tell me you you’ve spoken to and seen a lot of different types of businesses, different entrepreneurs, do you have recommendations in general? I know we talked about a lot of different things so there’s a lot of good advice along the way but can you give any kind of big advice that you recommend for budding entrepreneurs.
Carolina: I would say those things that you think that don’t take you time take you a ton of time. One of the first things that I give new clients to do for me before they even have get a proposal from me or we do a discovery session is I ask them to do a time log and just in point form I don’t mean anything specific. This is actually more for their benefit than it is for mine and it realizing how you spend your day. So you say, email, well okay how many times are you checking that email for five minutes right. There are tools on that you can run in on your computer that will actually tell you how much time you spent this amount working, this amount on social media, etc.
I think that’s really important because I remember when I first started I was like “oh I’ve had a really long day I’ve worked really hard” but because I work from home when I did my log I don’t work long hours. That laundry was done and dishes were cleaned and you know that other stuff the “traps of working at home”.
Definitely take a look at your time. You don’t have to do it forever, just when I fall off my time horse I call it, I’ll do that to this day. When I feel that I’m not being productive I’ll do a little time on even if it’s just for two or three days to see where I’m actually spending the time.
Laurent: Yep that’s fantastic advice. Yesterday at the end of the day I said to myself I had long day and I actually tried to figure out what I got done and I was embarrassed. I didn’t get anything done and yet I felt like I was constantly working or doing something. That’s a great point
Carolina: And when you get really good at it you actually are able to hyper focus on what you want because there’s a whole bunch of time management techniques that are out there, like the Pomodoro Technique. Things like that where you know working for like 45 minutes since making sure you take five ten-minute breaks. Things of that I have two dogs my dogs are great because otherwise I could say I could be like a gamer I could stay it in my pajamas all day long.
I’m obsessing over something and cannot eat, not sleep not go to the washroom but you really aren’t productive in those moments. You’re just physically sitting there but without those breaks to kind of give yourself the opportunity to get an energy shift and really take a breath in, you’re just spinning your wheels.
There’s one other one… this is work and if there’s if there’s one recommendation that I can make that every single person can use is a password manager. I use LastPass but there are ones out there I believe are still free. LastPass I use the paid one because I like the mobile experience of it but I think I paid like 25 bucks a year. You’d be surprised the amount of time that people spend typing passwords or opening their document (Excel document) name passwords and then cutting and pasting which they usually have on Google sheets which is probably not the most secure place.
I believe you only get one opportunity to do an emergency request otherwise it clears it off so from a security standpoint I love it. From a VA standpoint you can delegate tasks without handing out you passwords, You can share the access they can’t physically see what the password is. If the relationship ends and you decide to go separate ways, you’re not worried that your information is out there being accessed.
Laurent: Let’s go into the resources side. Are the resources like this password one is a great example of it, are the resources that you use on a regular basis that has made you more efficient that you recommend?
Carolina: That’s a whole other show there’s so many. I do recommend that whatever it is that you do you want to look for some type of ERP mini ERP business management tool. It really makes a difference like and I’m gonna be honest with you I didn’t use one until about the two-year mark so again two years for me was it was a big turning point in the business. And when I actually set it up and set it up properly. Either you pay someone to set it up or you take the investment of time you literally take three or four days up to a week to make sure that you got it going but as soon as I press complete in the setup what I felt like fifty pounds were lifted off of my shoulders. If there was a software that someone could marry, I would have been married it because it was all these thoughts all that clutter that we carry in our mind all of a sudden I had a place to put it in a nice fashion that I could delegate if needed so yeah I would say definitely.
That would be the resources that I would wholeheartedly, do that right off the bat. It’s not a bad idea to get started right away on them because you get into the habit of using them everything’s right and trust me the habit is a lot easier to create when you have one or two issues than when you have needed and you have you know all of these other commitments that with the juggling for the business.
Laurent: Great point
Carolina: One other thing that I would recommend that I find is the biggest mistake that entrepreneurs make is not getting their bookkeeping professionally done. That is it is the number one place where you can lose money. You’re saving money by doing it yourself but you’re not because you’re accountant has to go in and fix it and he’s fixing it at accounting rates not bookkeeping rates which are significantly different. It’s money you don’t want to mess with how much you’re gonna tell the taxman that you owe them.
Skimp and save there and then two years down the line you find out that it was done wrong and then you owe all this money. It’s not worth it. That is an area that I’m absolutely risk-averse in respect to that’s. I see many people do it. I mean I guess some people really love numbers.
Laurent: I have an engineering degree but I cannot stand bookkepping. It just drives me up the wall. It is such tedious work
Carolina: I think bookkeepers are worth their weight in gold.
Laurent: I totally agree okay. very good. Any other books or other types of programs that you’ve leveraged that created the mindset that you have today that you would recommend.
Carolina: I’d say for me spirituality has played a huge role in regards to there’s a lot of trust that goes in when you run your own business and if you read any of these kind of entrepreneurial books or of these self-made men (and I say men because unfortunately those are the majority of the books that we have) but you know they all speak of really using your intuition and using your internal guidance. That to me has played a huge role and it might not make fiscal sense but if my gut says no, I’ve learned the hard way to follow my gut. It might make sense years down the line, it might never make sense but it’s usually right more than it is wrong. I like those odds.
That’s definitely sprinkled throughout how I do business from a broad perspective and I know I recommended this one to you but I love the Profits First System. That was a game-changer for my business. I implemented it almost four years ago and at the time I was just starting to really grow and I had a serious concussion. I fell on the ice and I was out for six months and I had started implementing the Profits First System about maybe four months beforehand and it saved my business.
I was able to have enough money properly allocated that I was able to get through the six months where I wasn’t really working that much and it just gives you a sense of peace that you’re taking care of things. I don’t know if you through it, I’m not an expert at it but it just it gives you kind of a filter with which to look at the money that comes into your business.
How to allocate at the percentage level where money goes and whether your spending too much in a certain area or not. I don’t have that financial background, that is not something that comes easy for me, I always joke with people that you know I can barely add. I don’t owe you money and I know when money is missing from my account but that flow of statistics and number that really somebody in business manipulates often, that’s not my strong suit. This took that pressure off because it gave me a simple to follow formula that I just input and yeah and it’s been peace since. I was really impressed.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs just want to make sure their business is paying for everything he needs to pay for and they tend to pay themselves last.
Laurent: I loved the way it broke out to pay yourself first and make sure there’s an allocation for you. You don’t necessarily pull it out all the time but yeah it forces you to say oh I need money well I didn’t make enough to pull out so I got to actually do something different.
Carolina: I was very impressed with the program and from what I’ve been privy to in the businesses that I’ve seen is that is a consistent issue and I recommend that all the time all the time. It’s just been a real game-changer and also when you struggle with late payment terms with clients which is the reality, you know if you’re working for big corporations. I’ve had people in the accounts payable Department say we might have 30 days and not pick up that invoice till at least 30 days later. So it really kind of gives you a bit of that that leverage to not be drawing in those situations.
Laurent: Very good. This was fantastic. Any other kind of last-minute advice I’m trying to pull as much out of you as I possibly can.
Carolina: I wrote a blog about this, I think to be an entrepreneur, that entrepreneurs suffer from these two diseases but you have to get help for them. In order to be an entrepreneur you need to get help from. The one is the disease of “I think that I can do it better” because otherwise we wouldn’t have the chutzpah get out and mingle on our own and “I can do everything” and you cannot. You absolutely cannot. And the only thing that it leads to is 1) suffers in quality of what you’re not great at (in my department that would be bookkeeping) and 2) to burn out. What’s the point of taking this chance if you can’t enjoy some of the time that you have.
Laurent: yea. this was huge! Thank you so much for taking the time. How does somebody get in contact with you if they’re interested in your services or that 30-minute consultation.
Carolina: If you buy me coffee, you’ll get an hour
Laurent: I got the full hour, just to be clear!
Carolina: You can reach me at go2girladmin.com and you can also find me at LinkedIn at Carolina Gutierrez in Toronto. I am always up for meeting entrepreneurs. They’re my favorite people so when you offered me this opportunity my heart jumped, so thank you very much.
Laurent: Thank you for taking me up on it. I’ll put your contact in the show notes as well in case something else reach out to you. Carolina, thank you so much for taking the time, appreciate it and I look forward to having you back on the show for a period of time to get more information out of your brain.
Outro: Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Mad Profit Podcast. We hope you enjoyed the show don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or the listening platform of your choice. Also check us out at MadXCapital.com for more useful information and resources to help you achieve your investing, entrepreneurial and business goals see you next week on the mad prophet podcast^