In episode six of the Second in Command Podcast Cameron sat down with Miranda Lievers, Co-founder and COO of Thinkific – an online education tool for small business owners.
Miranda and her husband had started a lifestyle business that was leaving Miranda feeling bored stiff and wanting more. She decided to have a child and simply for the fun of it, she started her MBA. Miranda was not exactly sure what she wanted to do, but she knew she wanted to start a business or meet people doing new and exciting things. At this point, she had already tried consulting for other small businesses but realized that they rarely knew what direction they wanted their company to go in and even more rarely could they afford the fees. She started putting out feelers and that is when she met Greg Smith, Founder, and CEO of Thinkific.
How Thinkific Co-Founders Met
Greg and Miranda met for coffee and he walked her through the software and vision for the company. Miranda was instantly excited about a platform that would allow entrepreneurs to create and deliver their courses online. She joined the team with the two other co-founders and within four years have grown to over 70 employees.
Scale of Companies Thinkific Works With
Most of Thinkific customers fall within the small to medium range, with few exceptions. HootSuite is one of their biggest clients, with close to 1000 employees, they use Thinkific to deliver their social media education. Thinkific is generally avoiding getting into business with higher scale clientele. With the only caveat being for departments at larger companies where Thinkific’s off-the-shelf options are actually a good fit. The difference with big enterprise is that they need to get into some really custom stuff. This requires all sorts of integration and functionality/proprietary systems changes.
Company Growth and Adapting
With the company growing, the reality is that the systems that worked for 35 people a year ago, simply do not work for 70 people today. So, trying to watch for the signs of cracks, or where the ball is dropping, is very important. The answer is generally not that the people are dropping them – the answer is that there is a missing process or system that was previously there but is not working anymore. Diving in and talking to people while she writes diagrams in her notebook, really helps Miranda see the overall problem and what fixes may be required to solve them.
Miranda’s Advice to Other COOs
Miranda strongly believes in hiring the right people for the right job. A leader’s job is to recognize their own weaknesses and hire people who are smarter to do the job correctly. Making sure to remove any roadblocks that might impede them from doing their best work. Uncover what is working and what is not working, then connect with the team and work together in resolving the issues. Team discussions are always going to be more productive.
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