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Nicki Krawczyk of Nicki K Media On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business

An Interview With Ken Babcock

You need a plan — and a system for executing on that plan. You can’t scale haphazardly — or, at least, you shouldn’t. You need to have a very clear vision for where you’re going and a dialed-in system for getting there.

Startups usually start with a small cohort of close colleagues. But what happens when you add a bunch of new people into this close cohort? How do you maintain the company culture? In addition, what is needed to successfully scale a business to increase market share or to increase offerings? How can a small startup grow successfully to a midsize and then large company? To address these questions, we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Nicki Krawczyk.

Nicki Krawczyk is the President of Nicki K Media, Inc., a multi-brand company offering career-building courses, training, and resources that help people make empowered, intentional choices in both their careers and lives. She has also been a copywriter for more than 20 years and is the author of the best-selling book, “Copywriting Strategies: A No-Nonsense Guide to Writing Persuasive Copy for your Business.” She and her team have recently celebrated 10 years in business and are in the process of actively adding to their portfolio of brands.

Thank you for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I’ve been a copywriter — a marketing and advertising writer — for 20 years. I’ve worked with companies including Keurig, TripAdvisor, Hasbro, Barnes and Noble, as well as solopreneurs and just about every size business in between. Ten years ago, I decided I wanted to create a program to teach people to write effective copy and build successful copywriting careers of their own. It took me several years to hone my marketing techniques, but, to date, we’ve worked with more than 8,500 students. We’ve also added a brand that teaches people to become successful freelancers in any industry and, most recently, also added a brand that teaches business owners the specific tactics and system I used to 40x my business in a little over two years. It’s been quite an experience; there are few things in life that will demand of you the kind of personal growth that entrepreneurship will.

You’ve had a remarkable career journey. Can you highlight a key decision in your career that helped you get to where you are today?

Absolutely. For the first seven or so years of running my business, I didn’t treat it as a business. I mean, I absolutely provided exceptional training to our students within the course, but I was hesitant to dig in and understand my metrics, to develop systems, and to invest for growth. For some business owners this may sound obvious but I see so many newer entrepreneurs making the same mistake. Once I committed to being the CEO of my business and doing whatever it takes to grow it, no matter how uncomfortable or outside of my comfort zone those things might be, that was when my business started to take off.

What’s the most impactful initiative you’ve led that you’re particularly proud of?

That’s an easy one: The marketing and messaging system that I used to grow our copywriting training business 4,000% percent in about 26 months. It’s the same system that we still use to sell the course, the system that we’re using to scale our freelancing course, and now the system that we’re teaching other entrepreneurs to use. At the moment, we’re teaching a Beta round before our full launch in the fall, and I’m thrilled by the breakthroughs our students are experiencing.

Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a mistake you’ve made and the lesson you took away from it?

I’m sure there are plenty of people who would object fervently to me calling paid media a form of gambling, but in some ways it really is — and I say that as a marketer! But, fundamentally, you do your best, learn the game as well as you can, then put a little money in to see how it all shakes out. The difference, of course, is that if you keep an eye on it and know what you’re doing, there’s a much, much better chance you’ll win. What all of this is leading to is…well, a month where, based on the previous year’s metrics, I instructed our agency to keep scaling up the spend without keeping a close eye on sales. In a nutshell, I overspent about $40k because I took my eye off the ball. It certainly wasn’t going to break us by any means, but it was a humbling reminder that having a lot of balls in the air doesn’t mean you have an excuse for taking your eyes off of any of them. I know now that the key is to build in systems for doing everything you need to do.

How has mentorship played a role in your career, whether receiving mentorship or offering it to others?

Thinking you can figure it out on your own is always the mark of a novice in any field or endeavor. And, even if you can figure it out eventually, why go through all of the frustration and waste time and money when you could just reach out and get a little help? I’ve been a member of various masterminds for the past five years and I can’t imagine that will ever change; I will always have something to learn and I’ll always have something to teach.

Developing your leadership style takes time and practice. Who do you model your leadership style after? What are some key character traits you try to emulate?

I approach leadership by trying to imagine what I’d want from my own boss. So much of leadership really comes down to finding the right people and putting them in the right roles and then supporting them to do the best work that they can. (If someone’s not in the right role, you can’t “lead” them out of that — and it’s on you that they’re in the wrong role in the first place.) I think it comes down to a mixture of vision and passion with expertise and foresight — with plenty of humility and introspection mixed in. We’ve all worked for jerks at some point in our lives; if you’re not stopping to continually evaluate yourself, you’re likely running the risk of becoming one.

Thank you for sharing that with us. Let’s talk about scaling a business from a small startup to a midsize and then large company. Based on your experience, can you share with our readers the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”? Please give a story or example for each.

You need a plan — and a system for executing on that plan. You can’t scale haphazardly — or, at least, you shouldn’t. You need to have a very clear vision for where you’re going and a dialed-in system for getting there.

You need to staff up to hit the next level. I’ve made this mistake myself, thinking “I’ll wait to hire that next person until we’re earning more or get to that next level” but, invariably, I’d had to hire that person in *order* to get to that next level.

Forecasts are fantasies. Forecasts are important but, fundamentally, they’re just educated guesses. Businesses that charge forward, just assuming they’re going to hit their forecasts, aren’t operating in reality.

You can’t split your focus. When you’re in the process of actively scaling, it can be very hard to keep from getting derailed by new opportunities. But if your *true* goal is scaling, you have to put those new opportunities on the backburner until it’s done.

Your team must be “all in” on the vision or it won’t work. If your team members have any misgivings or confusion about the direction you’re intending to take them, it will slow down everything you’re doing. Get them onboard upfront.

Can you share a few of the mistakes that companies make when they try to scale a business? What would you suggest to address those errors?

Expecting smooth sailing. I’ve seen so many companies whose “projections” for a project are just straight, upward arrows to the right. It’s exceedingly rare that projects succeed so easily and most companies would be better served by planning and budgeting for more ups and downs.

Pivoting too soon. Agility is great, but it can take some time for a new idea, product, service, etc. to gain traction and take off. Every company should be carefully tracking its metrics, but slow initial adoption doesn’t necessarily mean something won’t be a hit later on.

Forsaking what works for what’s shiny. Years ago, I worked for a company that acquired the competitor of one of its brands. The competitor was better-known than their brand but deeply in debt, while their brand was consistently and increasingly profitable. They shuttered the profitable brand thinking they could funnel all of the traffic and users into the indebted, but well-known brand…and it tanked. Don’t take what works for granted.

Scaling includes bringing new people into the organization. How can a company preserve its company culture and ethos when new people are brought in?

Hiring very carefully. This can be challenging when you have a role that you desperately need filled, but the wrong person in a role drags down productivity, morale, and faith in the company overall. It’s also a pain to have to go through the appropriate channels to fire an employee. Taking the time to hire the right person is worth the wait.

Having a comprehensive onboarding system. So many companies just throw new employees into the chaos on day one. A smart company will use an easy-to-follow, comprehensive system to educate the employee about the company, how it works, who works in it, what their customers want and need, and all of the other elements that keep a company going. It can be a beast of a project to build it, but having an onboarding system will save innumerable headaches later on.

Having opportunities for the team to get to know each other — especially remotely. People work better when they like their coworkers. Companies need to make sure that they create events opportunities for people to interact and get to know each other better, even if its as small as sponsored lunches out or time for virtual teams to play games together. They’ll take a few hours out of a few workdays, but they’ll increase output in the end.

In my work, I focus on helping companies to simplify the process of creating documentation of their workflow, so I am particularly passionate about this question. Many times, a key aspect of scaling your business is scaling your team’s knowledge and internal procedures. What tools or techniques have helped your teams be successful at scaling internally?

Thank goodness for my Operations Manager, Kaitlyn. While I knew it was dangerous to have so much information solely in my mind, it was daunting to try to get it out and organize it. If that’s not your forte (as it isn’t mind) get helpf from someone who’s skilled in systems and organization. We rely heavily on Asana, Google Docs, and Loom to convey information — and preserve it.

What software or tools do you recommend to help onboard new hires?

We use a combination of Asana, Loom, and Google Docs to house all of our systems and operations information. It took a while to create our onboarding system, but once we did, it’s an automated process for each new person who joins us. We know that they’re getting all of the information they need and we know that the information is consistent for all team members.

Because of your role, you are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your ideas can trigger.

I wish more people would examine their comfort zones and explore being willing to get out of them. So many people think that if something feels scary or uncomfortable, it’s a sign that they shouldn’t do it or that they’d be happier not doing it. The truth is that all of the best things in life are outside of our comfort zones and we grow into better versions of ourselves by moving outside of our self-imposed boundaries.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

People can learn about our companies and our brands at

This was truly meaningful! Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise!

About the interviewer. Ken Babcock is the CEO and Co-Founder of Tango. Prior to his mission of celebrating how work is executed, Ken spent over 4 years at Uber riding the rollercoaster of a generational company. After gaining hands-on experience with entrepreneurship at Atomic VC, Ken went on to HBS. It was at HBS that Ken met his Co-Founders, Dan Giovacchini and Brian Shultz and they founded Tango.

Nicki Krawczyk of Nicki K Media On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.