Fiona Triaca | CEO, Naked Ambition
From chaos to calm
How Empire Virtual Support shaped Naked Ambition
For the past nine years, Naked Ambition has helped shape innovative and design-led businesses, giving people and organisations the building blocks to think strategically, overcome complex challenges, and generate breakthrough ideas. With a team of eight experts, Fiona approached us to improve the flow in her business, providing more consistency in marketing and customer relations, and freeing her up to work on the areas of business she most enjoys.
Click through Fiona's Journey below:
As the Founder and CEO of a busy and growing agency, Fiona found herself pulled in multiple directions. Attempting to fulfil the needs of her clients, support her team, drive marketing, and facilitate all other core business functions was growing increasingly challenging. Furthermore, Fiona felt distracted from what she ‘should’ and wanted to be doing: being the leader, innovator and visionary of her growing business. Fiona was overwhelmed and overburdened.
Lack of capacity
In order for a business to be successful, the organisation must have sufficient resources to facilitate delivery. With the internal Naked Ambition team ‘on the tools’ it was not sustainable, or fair, for them to take responsibility for extra tasks such as creating social content, publishing eDMs or coordinating client onboarding.
Ambitious to see the business grow, the mental load of worrying about how she and her team would be able to facilitate both client and non-client work grew. Hiring full-time staff in the areas of marketing, customer service, and accounting was not a sustainable option for a business of its growth stage.
Lack of consistency
Like many service-based businesses, Fiona’s business has a fluctuating client workflow. Without internal team members dedicated to marketing functions, content creation, and customer relations, these areas became challenging and inconsistent. For example, in some months the team would put out great marketing content, while in others there simply wasn’t the capacity within the team to create any content.
Fiona had tried using overseas outsourcing previously, as well as utilising various local contractors simultaneously to fulfil different functions. However, both options failed to achieve the consistency or quality of experience that Fiona was committed to delivering to her clients.
‘Before Empire Virtual Support, I was quite overwhelmed and stressed as a business owner. As the leader, there are certain jobs to be done, but I’d often get pulled into the day to day administration, social media, the back end of the business etc., simply because I was the one who knew how to do it. Furthermore, there would be a bit of a mental load from my perspective about ‘how are we actually going to get that done with the team that we’ve got?’. And that created a lot of stress, not just for myself, but also for the team. That wasn’t really sustainable in the long run. In addition, the financial overheads of having somebody to run marketing, customer service, administration, accounts is just completely unsustainable for a business of our size.
Another frustrating area of our business was a lack of consistency across our support functions. In lighter client months we would focus on marketing and push out great content, then in heavier client months, marketing was left behind and sporadic. We also had inconsistencies in our systems with lots of different external parties working in different areas and nothing being effectively captured.’
In order to help the team focus on what they do best, all essential day-to-day tasks previously managed by Fiona and/or the internal team have been handed over to the Empire Virtual Support team, including:
- Marketing: EVS now manages all aspects of Naked Ambition’s marketing, including social media, eDMs, website design and maintenance, podcast editing and publishing, and graphic design
- Bookkeeping: a team of experts handle the business’s bank and credit card reconciliation, BAS, and payroll
- Customer Service: EVS handles client onboarding, meeting management, preparation of documents, and inbox management
- Executive Assistance: EVS manages Fiona’s diary so that she doesn’t have to
- HR Administration: our team oversees HR tasks such as onboarding, offboarding, culture, and recruitment
Flexible experienced support
Our unique virtual model allows Fiona complete flexibility in her billable hours. Currently utilising a Retainer for ongoing monthly requirements, additional Casual hours are available on an as-needed basis. With no commitment to minimum hours, Fiona is free to change either arrangement at any time to best suit the needs of the business. This means she can confidently grow her business, dialling up our support during busy periods without being locked into unneeded services. Priding ourselves on excellence and experience, a small, skilled team manages the needs of Fiona’s account. Each team member is highly experienced in their respective fields, using their knowledge and qualifications to deliver efficient, accurate and effective support. Most importantly, with the support of our team, the Naked Ambition staff are given the freedom to deliver excellent results for client projects.
Delivery of defined and documented processes
Improving consistency in the backend, Empire Virtual Support helped streamline processes across the organisation, with comprehensive documentation to future-proof internal operations. This was achieved through:
- Using a single supplier (EVS) for all operations, allowing consistent knowledge of internal processes and deliverables
- Having strategies and processes defined at a top-level by Fiona, but then executed by a consistent team member/s, ensuring that Fiona’s business is consistently showing up on socials and delivering outstanding customer service
- Developing an internal intranet (via Google Sites) that details all processes to ensure knowledge is captured and standards are maintained
‘The arrangement has worked so well for us. Being able to have the whole team from Empire Virtual Support, who are flexible across all our support functions and are able to take work on as it comes in is amazing. It has been a relief to take away the pain of these vital tasks and have them managed by experts. We feel really confident that we can reach out to the team from Empire virtual support, and with very little warning, they are on hand to cover all of our needs and create kind of consistency for us’
By freeing up both her physical and mental load, Fiona now has the opportunity to work on appropriate priorities for her business. This has seen a significant decrease in stress and overwhelm both for Fiona and her team. Fiona’s new priorities include:
- Business development
- Leveraging partnerships with external experts
- Recruiting exceptional internal talent
- Producing well-considered strategy and content
Financially sustainable growth
With flexibility in billed hours, combined with increased capacity to focus on growth, Naked Ambition has achieved notable growth the past year, with sustainable projections for the future.
By outsourcing administrative and marketing services to Empire Virtual Support, Naked Ambition customers have experienced consistent, ongoing communication, with sound client/business relationships produced. Consistent marketing has also improved visibility and established Naked Ambition as expert in design and innovation. Deliverables include:
- Newly defined and documented processes that ensure every client receives the same onboarding process, and that each internal department has what it needs to deliver effectively
- A new marketing strategy has been developed and executed with consistent frequency, branding, and messaging
‘Having the team from Empire Virtual Support behind us has meant that I can focus on the things that I should be doing in this role: working on our vision and positioning, ensuring that our clients are really happy with the level of service that we are providing, continuing to innovate as a business and making sure that the culture is really sound. I can be 100% focused on the future that is ahead of us in the next few years. And the growth ambitions that we’ve got here. It’s just a massive mental load off my shoulders.
A year into working with Empire Virtual Support we have so much more confidence around the growth goals that we have for our business. With the Empire Virtual Support team, I never really think twice about, okay, where are we going to go next? If it makes sense strategically, and it’s something that our customers really want, then, because we’ve got the Empire team behind us, it gives us that confidence to know that we’re going to be able to scale up to fulfill both those growth ambitions and those requirements of our clients. And that’s a really great place to be in, to not have to stress about that, to know we have access to people with the right skills who we can trust to work with our clients, and also to do it in a really financially sustainable way.
As our relationship has evolved, the team now understands the flow of our business so well that they’re often able to jump in and let us know where they might be able to help. And nine times out of ten that’s exactly what they do. So they can actually see where we might be running into challenges, which again is amazing to have and you know, these experts in our corner that can help us with foresight. We love that they are not just a team that can respond to the needs that we have, but they’re also able to anticipate them, which is just what we need at this stage of growth in our company.
Today, there’s actually very little in the business that Empire Virtual Support is not across, which is amazing as we get a really great consistency of experience. One of the biggest benefits of working with them is the network of the team. We know and trust that every time when Charlie and her team are bringing someone in, they’re bringing in the right expert.’