Christina Hooper’s Journey From A Single Person Shop to A Marketing Agency

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Christina Hooper is the owner of Superpowers Into Sales, a program that helps individuals with their personal branding. Christina used to own several agencies, and today she is going to share her experience, from a single-person shop to a marketing agency. 

She began by discussing a little bit about herself and her organization. Christina then explained how she grew her business from a one-person operation to a successful marketing agency.

Read the Full Transcript

Atiba de Souza: Hey, everybody. Today, we're joined by Christina Hooper, one of my really good friends and creator of the program Superpowers Into Sales. Now, Superpowers Into Sales is one of the best done for you personal branding offerings on the market today. Now, Christina owned several agencies and today she's going to share with us her beginnings and growth from a single-person shop to a marketing agency.

All right. And as always, we are brought to you by Client Attraction Pros, your done for you solution to becoming the thought leader in your industry.

Welcome to the Build Your Team podcast. You know, it's funny, Christina, one of the things as I'm introducing you here, one of the things that's interesting, cause we're in a Slack channel together guys, and sometimes we share stuff and it may have been two days ago when we shared a comment or something and I got to go back and remember what we said, and it will take like 30 minutes to scroll back up in Slack.

Okay. Maybe not the whole 30 minutes, but it takes forever to scroll back up in Slack to even find it because we talked so much to the point, I just got, the 10,000 messages thing in Slack that we've shed over 10,000 messages in our Slack channel, which is amazing. But anyway, everyone, welcome, let's welcome Christina Hooper. Christina, tell us about you and your organization. 

Christina Hooper: Yes, I've got multiple different brands, but they're all focused around, you know, helping people become recognized experts and spokespersons for their companies. Bringing the humans out and letting them get well-known to drive more business, drive more awareness, increase sales and scale their businesses.

Atiba de Souza: Okay. And tell me the name of your company so everybody has an idea. 

Christina Hooper: Sparkitive.

Atiba de Souza: Sparkitive. Okay. And I, actually let's stay right there because, you know, you said bringing the humans out and helping them get more well-known. So, yes, we talked all about building team and I know you've got to have a team to be able to do that type of stuff, but what does that mean and what sorts of, tell our audience, what does that mean to bringing the humans out and helping them get more well-known?

Christina Hooper: What we're doing right now is a perfect example. So like you're hosting a podcast, you're going out and you're actually stepping out of your company going and finding humans to go have conversations with getting the opportunity to connect with them. Tell them about yourself. I'm doing the same thing. I'm getting out. I'm using your platform to expose me and in return, people will get to know the both of us. And they're more likely to want to learn more about our businesses and do more with our businesses. So there's a lot of ways to do that. Right. I mean, there's podcasting. There's, you know, putting out books, putting out content, putting out video, going and speaking on stages. And we kind of set everybody up to be more visible, be more accessible. So when you Google them, they're not just a hidden expert. You can see what they do. See what they bring to the table. 

Atiba de Souza: Yes, absolutely. And we all know hidden expert syndrome, if we can call it such a thing, right? And so that's great. And, and guys, I've seen Christina do this for people, and it's absolutely fantastic. The program that she takes them through and all of the different things that she takes them through. It's absolutely wonderful. You know, if you have an expertise in a specific area, she can really help you create profits out of that. It's really where, where she specializes. So that's awesome. And one of the things that's interesting there obviously is you can't do that by yourself.

Christina Hooper: Right. 

Atiba de Souza: Right. And you've been in business well over 10 years now. Right? And you've built teams. And so I want to take you all the way back. All the way back and forgive me if that's going too far. Right. But what was it like when you hired your first person? 

Christina Hooper: Yeah, I think we hired our first person 10, 11 years ago, been in business for over 15. So it's been a minute. It was really exciting to start with, but then it quickly went downhill. And all of the reasons that, you know, I now know that we all stumble through hindsight 2020 and all of that, but I made all the typical mistakes. All of the typical mistakes. So...

Atiba de Souza: All right. So give me some of those typical mistakes that you made.

Christina Hooper: Oh, gosh. So not really having the job defined was probably the biggest one. So like a, basically we hit this point where it's like, there's more work than I can handle. So let me go find another me, let me clone myself. Right? So that's the goal. So you go find someone with the biggest range of skillsets, thinking that they can step in and just help, but then they don't know what to help with.

Atiba de Souza: Right. 

Christina Hooper: And so like, in my mind that means I hired someone who didn't have the skillset that they represented, or like it was their fault. Right. You know, it wasn't my fault. Of course not. I know what I'm doing. I do it right. It can't be my fault. So, you know, that was kind of how I approached it. And then, you know, went through a couple of different people and then thought, oh, well it's because they're contractors. Right. Cause I thought, you know, cause we all do contractors, right? The risk is less. We don't have to figure out all the taxes and all this stuff. So we play with contractors to start with. So I got so frustrated. I was like, well, the reason I can't get what I need when I needed it. Cause it's contractors. So I was like over the weekend, I was like, I knew a guy in BNI that helped people with all this HR stuff.

And I was like, I need help but he was in Alaska and I texted him. He was like, I'll have someone at your office on Monday. So when everybody comes in on Monday, it's like, Hey! Y'all are either employees or you're out, pick. And my first hire was an office manager and she had to work with the payroll person to hire herself. Cause I didn't know how, and then she onboarded the rest of the team and I was like, okay, this will solve all the problems. Yeah. Cause no, because they still didn't have a defined job. Right. So that was one of the biggest problems they did, I didn't know what specifically I wanted them to do. I hadn't ironed out any processes. We were still trying to do too many things for too many people. So there was no consistency and I'm trying to plug in someone else. And I'm wondering why they're not as passionate and as motivated and is dedicated. And it's like, they're here to work a job.. You know, so that was the thing I had to learn later. Like, they're here to work a job. They have bills to pay. If they get fulfillment and happy vibes out of it they'll work the job longer, but they're not here to scale and grow and have all the passion. So. Yeah.

Atiba de Souza: Yeah, they're not trying to be you, they're trying to be them and do their little thing. Right? So we'll definitely talk about the passion stuff cause I definitely want to touch on that, but you know, I think you hit the nail on the head right off too. And we see this with a lot of business owners and I, I've gone through this and we talk a lot about this here on the Build Your Team show, just that you really have to have really clear definition of what you want people to do. Right? You can't just hire them and say, Hey! Go do that and then that's all you'll tell 'em because you just there'll be lost and you'll be lost with what you get and upset with what you get. So how did you overcome that over the last 10 years or so? 

Christina Hooper: Yeah. I mean, it was a lot of ups and downs. Like a lot of ups and downs. We've went through a lot of staff members over the years, more than I want to like admit to. We've had a pretty solid team for about the past year and a half to two years now. So we've kept pretty much everybody that we wanted to keep and we've scaled it up and grown it since then. And a lot of it was I had to work on the business. Right. So it wasn't just as simple as, okay, well, here's the thousand things we do. And let's, let's narrow it down to one job and hire someone to do it. We had to think about, okay, well, what is it we really want to do? Like, and narrow our services down to who we're serving and like, we still do a lot of things.

But we, we niche down and I know everybody's like, Oh! Niching it's so terrifying. But I got to experience that on like a baby step level with one of my brands. Cause we launched Content Ninjas and it works just for marketing agencies and just produce content. So we were able to start building processes for that kind of test out, working for a niche without really touching Sparkitive. So I got to kind of dip my toes in the water. And it was enlightening because we were doing the same types of work for the same types of people. We knew their pain points. We knew how we could solve for it. We, you know, were able to start building these processes out. The team got clarity, managing the team was easier. Managing our profit margins was easier. It's like it wasn't just marketing a messaging. It was creating an environment where the team could succeed. And it was amazing. And then we transitioned that same you know, thought process over into Sparkitive with the Superpowers Into Sales program and doing the same thing there.

So it's like, I'm still not exactly touching Sparkitive. We launched another brand at Superpowers Into Sales that uses Sparkitive services and packages 'em up and that let us do the same kind of thing again. We're even though we're doing a lot of crazy work, we're able to say, okay, here's the process for delivering this type of thing for this type of client. So it wasn't as simple as documenting processes for the team. I had to look at the work that we're actually offering and how we position ourselves as a company so that we could systemize it and get more profitable and get it all, like all the processes and stuff put into place.

Atiba de Souza: You know, and, and that's so true. And, and we talk about that here too. It's just that you really have to, you start at work on the business, not in the business. Right. And getting those processes, understanding the services you offer, the SLA's and all that type of stuff, too. Like you said, the thing that I love that you also said there was the fact that once you built it once and you had that structure, you're able to take that structure and then duplicate it in another organization. Right. You didn't have to then turn around and just start from scratch, or it was just completely different. And, and that's the key. So, was there a pivotal thing that you learned? And I know it's probably a very loaded question, but was there a pivotal moment where you realized I needed to work in on the business? Excuse me, I needed to work on the business and this is how I work on the business. This is how, when you said you, you started to niche down and how that gave you so much clarity. Was there a pivotal moment when there was an Aha! That's the way I need to go?

Christina Hooper: I think it was after I started content and just cause like, I was getting so frustrated with the marketing agency side of it and trying to do all the work. And it was a lot of, it was just on me and everything had to run through me and it was like, okay, we just can't be doing this anymore. So I was like, what's one thing that we do really well? And we're, we're just going to go do that. We're going to do lots of that. I can scale that will be good. And then the first time something went to a client that I didn't look at, and we put content out that was going through an agency client that I had built a relationship with that, you know, and I didn't look at it and it went out and we got that positive feedback. And that was that like, okay, I want more of that because that was amazing. That's when it's like, if we can make this happen more, I can finally scale. You know, because we've been stuck for like eight years at the capacity of if I can touch everything and we have to get to the point where I don't have to touch everything we can't scale. So that was where it was like, that was a little pivotal moment where it was like, this might actually be possible. And then I went at it full force. 

Atiba de Souza: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And you know, there's, you didn't say this word, so I'm going to put a word in your mouth and I want you to, to kind of react to the word I'm going to put in your mouth, here with that, because I've gone through that too. And so I, and I understand that very, very clearly at that moment when it goes out and you didn't touch it and you get that feedback back that it was right, which is an amazing moment when it happens the first time. And the word I'm going to put in your mouth is trust. What it takes to trust because as small business owners, we so often want to hold on so tight to everything, because it's our reputation, it's our business, it's our livelihood. Right? So having that moment requires trust in order to even have that moment, we have to put ourselves in a place where we trust. So that's the word I'm putting in your mouth. I want you to react to, to that in terms of, do you agree and or what did it take for you to, to trust? 

Christina Hooper: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think trust is so crucial because we have to trust our team. We have to trust the processes. We have to trust ourselves that we've, you know, done what we needed to do to prep our team. Because like, if they fail, you know, if they did it without us for the first time and they fail, we have to be prepared to pick them up and own that. 

Atiba de Souza: Yeah. 

Christina Hooper: So it's like, I feel like, you know, the ownership level is it's a whole different world. It's like, I have to own that. I set my team up right. I have to own that. You know, when the customer comes back, if it's negative, then it's not my team's fault, it's my fault. 

Atiba de Souza: Right.

Christina Hooper: I didn't prepare them adequately, you know, but I think that was, I had to trust that I could step in and pick it up if it went wrong. So I had to have that trust in myself as well that I could step in and be like, I apologize. You know, this wasn't the result that we were going for. I will make this right. And having that trust in myself as a leader that I could do that if something went wrong. 

Atiba de Souza: Right. 

Christina Hooper: Yeah. So I think that's, you know, probably that's all the things that came to mind for me. That's a very big word. It's a very evoking word for one little word.

Atiba de Souza: It is. It's an extremely powerful word, right? 

Christina Hooper: Yep. 

Atiba de Souza: Okay. And so have you, this is something that I get from, from business owners a lot too, when we're talking about trust, it's, all right, I can trust somebody else at times to do the thing that I know how to do, what you kind of talked about a little bit just now, because I can oversee, and I know if something starts to go sideways, I can step in. But what about those skills that you need to have, or hire on your team that are client facing that you don't possess?

Christina Hooper: Yeah. So that was one. I got an opportunity to ask that question to somebody that I admired and a mentor about six years ago and he reframed my thinking for that one and a lot of it has to do in the initial hiring. So it's like, you're either hiring someone to step in and do a job that's clearly defined, follow the checklist, do what they're told or you're hiring someone with the capacity to help you build the checklist. And it really starts in the hiring process because those are two entirely different people. And in a lot of times we want to go after someone that it's like, oh, well, if they're already have processes, if they have experience, if they've done this job somewhere else and they can just bring that in and plug it in, that'll be amazing. To me, that's not what I want because I know what I want. So like the way he advised me to do it, and I've done this so far, I hired my first client manager, it has been working really well, was to let them know the expectation that I wanted to achieve. So that didn't necessarily have to come with all the different experience and I'm not micromanaging how that happens. 

Atiba de Souza: Right. 

Christina Hooper: But like, here's, you know, here's how they come into our company as a client. Here's the result that I want them to achieve at these milestones. Here's how I want them to feel. Here's what I want to have done. And then let them help me build the process so that I give input on it on where I think like, oh, I've tried that in the past and that didn't work. Or, you know, like I have valuable feedback from 15 years in business. But I'm trusting them to build it. So it happened in the hiring process.

Atiba de Souza: Okay. That, that's so true. And you know, it all starts in the hiring process and it all starts in the description that you write and that you put out and those conversations that you set up. So that that's very, very true. Let's switch gears for a moment. Completely switch gears and look at something from the other side, I've had this experience and I'm curious if you have too, where you hire someone and it doesn't work out. Okay. And it flames out and sometimes even flames out quickly. Okay. 

Christina Hooper: Yep.

Atiba de Souza: I've had fantastic experiences with them. Here's, I know that sounds kind of strange and as for anybody listening, you're probably thinking, what are you talking about? That's the worst thing you went through the whole hiring process and a month later, the person quit. So you got to let them go and it doesn't work out. I've found and tell me if you agree with us, I have found that every single person, no matter how long they're in my organization, they add value. If I am open enough to see the value that they bring. And again, it goes back to the hiring but this would make me think of this because I hired you because there was value that I saw that you can bring, even if it turns out that you're not right. So very often that value that they bring even in a short space of time can be really impactful. Have you experienced that? 

Christina Hooper: Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes it's just in what we learn, you know, as a company. Like, you know, having them in here and maybe looking at what went, right, what went wrong? What could we have improved to make things better? Even if like, maybe with the person, that didn't work out so well. And we didn't get as much value from them. We learned from the experience, you know, and that's worth it by itself, but pretty much everybody that's come in whether, you know, most of them have left on a positive note, they've left because they wanted to, very rarely had to just flat out fire. There's only been a couple of people over the years that would just flat out fire.

Atiba de Souza: Which is great. Congratulations.

Christina Hooper: Yeah, it's very good. Most of them were just moving on to other opportunities. I mean, as a small company, you get someone with some skillsets and then they can go work for a bigger company that has bigger benefits and things like that. So we've had to learn how to maybe restructure benefits. We're doing things like offering health insurance for the first time and things like that finally. 

Atiba de Souza: Good.

Christina Hooper: So it makes you think about it. Like where you're, you know, why did you lose them? What happened? How could you fix it? How could you improve it? What was maybe their experience working here? Most of them we've been able to ask cause I've left on a positive note. So it's been good. 

Atiba de Souza: That's great. That's fantastic. Now this question is specifically for you. I asked this to a lot of people. It's funny. I asked this to a lot of people because I know you, and this is a question that's was generated because I know the culture that you create at your company. And so here's my question. And this, this is our final question today too, but how do you have fun with your team, especially at, let me put this caveat in, because I know this about your team, the majority of your team is remote now as of the last couple of years, how do you have fun with your team?

Christina Hooper: This is actually something we struggled with. We went remote before everybody else, September 2019 and we'd had the in-person office and we're, I mean, we literally had an in-person office. We had a full kitchen, we cooked meals, you know, my employees would bring their pets. They would bring their kids. We would eat dinner there before everybody went home. We had an, an awesome culture. We would literally go grocery shopping for the office together and cook meals in the office. I mean, it was great. And then we go fully remote and all of that stopped. And it was like, so I've been trying for a couple of years to get it back and just about three or four months ago, we signed up for something called Gather.Town. I've been looking at the different virtual offices as they evolved once COVID happened and Gather.Town has been absolutely amazing and has been so pivotal and transformative, like we will literally have go-cart races around the office. We would like, natural conversations happen again, like Ashley just walked over to my office right before this call because she had a quick question. She could see that I was sitting in my office and my door was open. So she ran over and she's like, Hey, what's up? It's like, it makes it where you have these natural moments. Again, like I experienced, we did like a internal staff meeting, like an AMA kind of thing around this big program, the Superpowers Into Sales thing.

And the whole team was in the room. And it was so weird. Cause we've got the room designed where there's like little tables and stuff, and there's a podium at the front for a classroom. I came in and I was walking around and talking to everybody and they were already there and I walked into the room like you would in just a normal office setting and we're having just random conversations. And then it's like, okay, I think I should get this meeting started now. And I walk up to the podium and everybody goes to their tables and sits. And it's like, it's so natural and I had that moment of like, okay, time to present, time to be on. And I'm like, nothing changed. I was on camera the entire time and my little avatar walked up to the podium and everybody, everybody's little avatars walked to their tables and I'm like, here we go.

You know? And it shifted gears. Those little interruptions that it's like, you didn't realize you missed and it brought those back. And like, I could tell like when Ashley's feeling a little like frustrated or something, cause I'll see her go-cart like zoom past my office. Is she'll just hop on a go-kart when she's just bored for a minute and she'll just go race around the office and I'll go grab mine and chase her for a minute. And then we'll just go back to work. And we're just cackling laughing the whole time cause it has like spatial awareness. So as you get closer to each other, your cameras get brighter and your sound gets louder. So it will be in the go-kart just going. Little stupid stuff like that. It's just, everybody has a blast. The reactions are so great. I can see my team meeting because I can see when they're getting together to talk about things and they're in conversations and I can see that happening throughout the day and it's just, it's awesome. 

Atiba de Souza: Well, that's, that's amazing. You know, it brings me to a point, Christina, where I gotta say this, I definitely want you to come back. I want us to do another show together, and I want us to talk more about culture, right? And creating culture and creating community, especially in this remote distributed environment that so many of us are working in these days. Right. But first I got to thank you for all of what you shared today. I know, I know that it absolutely blessed some people today because there's so many of us who are exactly where you've been over the last 10, 12 years in your business. Right. And it's just great to be able to hear someone else who's gone through, come through and now with on the other side. Right. And really growing and making great progress. But before we go, I got to ask this, how do people get in contact with Christina Hooper? Right away, by the way guys, when, when you contact her and she's going to turn bright red, when I say this, right, we've got a saying in the circles that we hang, which is bow down to the blue. You got to bow down to the blue because Christina's absolutely genius and after you meet with her, you'll understand why we all bow down to the blue. So how do they get in contact with you? Sparkitive, Superpowers Into Sales, how do they get in contact with you guys? 

Christina Hooper: Oh, man. I can't believe you brought that up with the bow down to the blue thing. He's got everybody doing that to me now and all of the communities we hang out in. So yeah, fun. And I am turning red. I can feel it. The easiest way to get in touch with me is just christinahooper.com. Everything that I do is linked to from there, you can find all of my socials. You can reach out. Everything's there. So. 

Atiba de Souza: Awesome. Christina, thank you so much for being here. You know, it's great to be able to have my friends on and it's great that I have such great friends too, who are doing fantastic things that we can share with the community, because that's what it's about. You know, I know we've talked about this. It, it was hard for us so many times because we didn't have someone who told us stuff and we figured it out on our own. Right. And so, so great that we get to share and give back to some of the other people. So thank you for being here on the, build your team show with me. And I will see you next time when we're going to talk about culture.

Christina Hooper: Yeah, it was great being here. Thank you for having me today. And I know you wanted me to leave one actionable. If I had to leave one really good actionable thing, go check out getguru.com. Significantly worth the investment. It's not very expensive, but it is where you get everything out of your brain and into one spot where your team can find it. And that my team has been great feedback on that. And it's been awesome for me to get it out. Someone else, one of our other mentors, Amara shared that one with me and it has been so pivotal, so pivotal. So there's one really good actionable, easy takeaway. 

Atiba de Souza: Yes. Thank you for reminding me of that. Yes. Getguru is awesome. Go, go to getguru.com. She's absolutely right about that. All right, everybody. We'll see you later. Thanks for being here. Bye.

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