The Secrets to Growing a Business with Chris Lema
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In this episode of the WP Elevation Podcast, Troy speaks with one of the greats – Chris Lema. Chris is the chief technology officer and chief strategist at Crowd Favorite as well as a well-known speaker at WordCamps across the globe.
Chris joins us to share his tips on prioritising duties, how he retains his staff, and what he thinks WordPress needs in order to continue its growth. Listen in for all of these insights and more on this episode of the WP Elevation Podcast!
Chris Lema spends his days helping businesses create operation plans for profit, growth and excellence in customer service. This involves dedicating the majority of his time to working on company analysis and communicating with clients or team members.
Chris is also a well-known member of the WordPress community who is often found speaking at WordCamps and other WordPress events all over the globe.
He says that his role is to “fix companies so they work better”. At Crowd Favorite he manages the service side of things. That includes managing the software engineers, project managers as well as doing strategic work to help the company grow.
A Bit of Background
Chris studied social welfare after high school where he learned how to build organisations, mobilise people and enact policies. After college, he changed gears and began working at a government research lab. At the lab, he learned how to build the first computer-based online learning management system.
This was back in the early days of the Internet when programming was so new that there was nowhere to learn it. Chris and his team learned by trial and error, spending many nights working on networks and coding.
Chris claims that he was a terrible student, but as soon as he immersed himself in the real world, he was completely engaged in technology and business-related problem solving and eventually became a WordPress consultant.
Staying on Task
Chris talks about the importance of goals and discipline to work as effectively as you can. Here’s how:
- First, define what roles you play in the company.
- In each role, you need to have one or two goals. You can look at the long-term goals for a bigger picture, but more importantly, make sure you have some on a monthly, quarterly and annual level.
- Every task you do should be working towards those goals. When you’re in the realm of doing that you are on task. When you’re pulled by others into other tasks, you are likely off task.
High performers can only focus on the top one or two things on that list. And if someone comes to you with a problem which isn’t at crises level, it is not worth your time to solve it. There will be problems all the time but if it’s not in your top three priorities then delegate it.
Helping Companies Grow
Chris talks about the importance of retaining staff. In order to do this, you need to keep growing the company and creating new roles for people to move into.
He talks about how outdated the factory model is. The aim of that is to get people to do the same task over and over and refine it until you have high performance. However, in the real world, if you are asking a high performer to do the same task over and over, you will lose them pretty quickly.
The moment they understand that you are interested in their career path then they will perform highly.
What WordPress Needs in Order to Grow
Chris says that it needs to meet the needs of two different audiences at the same time- low end and high end. The market at the low end need cheap websites and this demand is growing. However, WordPress is also very popular with clients in the enterprise space. The difficulty here is that both of their needs are not in alignment and there is no product manager for WordPress to create a strategy to manage this.
Chris' Secret Sauce
In order to be sustainable in what you’re doing and to develop a following and a brand, you need to focus on these three things:
- Generosity: Share everything you know
- Genuine affection: You have to learn to like everyone
- Focus on the grind: You just have to do it and keep doing it.
Chris’ Top Tips
- The number one thing that any freelancer needs to know is to raise your rates
- Write like a human and your proposal will stand out
- Constant, consistent, regular communication with your clients will keep a project and a client on track
- Ask for referrals right after they’ve seen the benefits. That might be three months after the project. Most people ask right after they finish a project, but you want them to see clearly the return on investment
There’s so much more in this podcast, so make sure you listen in. Chris has an awesome take on why the WordPress community works as well as it does. They also talk about getting starstruck at WordCamps and how to approach these people. And just what is the future for the premium plugin ecosystem?
Let us know what you think of this podcast in the comments below!