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  • Writer's pictureJacob Curtis

Copy the Bees to Scale Your Business

Over the past few weeks, we have been exploring and giving you the steps to growing and scaling your quilt shop. As you may recall, there are three main phases: Align, Integrate, and Accelerate. Each phase has three steps. The first step in the Align phase is to clarify who you serve, which we discussed a few weeks ago. The second step in the Align phase is declaring your Big Promise, which we discussed last week. Today, we are tackling the third and final step in the Align phase of growing and scaling your business–the Queen Bee Role.

How many of you have seen a poster in the airport that says, “If you see something, say something”? If you have been to a major US airport, I bet you have seen this. Maybe even heard it announced over the intercom. The US Dept. of Homeland Security has a pretty important Big Promise: to prevent terrorist attacks. And they have determined the best way to do this is to identify and disclose suspicious activity. We don’t see most of their work, but we do see the posters. These posters are recruiting you and me to help them to deliver their Big Promise.

And that call to action has paid off. A study conducted out of San Jose State University found that since the popularization of the phrase back in 1970, detection rates have improved by 14 percent in economically advanced countries. And as the phrase was promoted more often and more publicly, the rates of prevented terrorist attacks increased.

Just as Homeland Security depends on us to “say something,” you depend on your team to help you deliver on your Big Promise. The final step in aligning everyone is identifying the core function that delivers on your most significant commitment or your Big Promise. When everyone on your team is aware of it and has a clear path to be of service to it, even if it is as small as calling a phone number to report a suspicious piece of luggage, your ability to deliver on your Big Promise improves.

Queen Bee

This core function is what Mike Michalowizc calls the Queen Bee Role or QBR. And here is why. Bees can scale extremely fast, nearly effortlessly. You probably noticed a bee buzzing around one day, and seemingly a few days later, you find a giant hive. How do they do it?

Well, here’s how. Did you know that the production of eggs is the most crucial function of a beehive? It's true! Bees only live for four to eight weeks, so new bees are always needed. That's where the queen bee comes in - she has the critical role of laying eggs. We call it the Queen Bee Role, or QBR for short. If the QBR runs smoothly, the colony will thrive with enough eggs. However, the whole hive is in danger if the QBR isn't fulfilled.

Second, it's amazing how every bee knows that egg production is crucial, and they work together to protect and serve this activity. The queen bee is the only one who can produce eggs, so she's treated like royalty - groomed, fed, and sheltered. And you know what's even cooler? She's totally focused on her job, nothing distracts her from being the best queen bee she can be!

Here's something to remember: being the queen bee doesn't necessarily make you the most essential part of the colony. It's actually the role she serves that is super vital. You see, the colony needs healthy eggs to be made at a rapid pace and on a continuous basis. The specific queen isn't even that crucial - it's the role that matters. So, if the queen bee dies or isn't producing eggs as she should, the colony will quickly get to work creating another queen bee so the QBR can keep thriving.

Once the bees feel like the QBR is cared for, they excitedly buzz off to focus on their Primary Job. They could be busy gathering delicious pollen and nectar, nurturing the eggs and larvae, regulating the hive's temperature, or fiercely protecting their hive. It's fantastic to see them in action!

Identifying and serving the QBR in your quilt shop will radically improve your business and quality of life. What activity in your company is equivalent to egg production? What is your QBR?

Here’s an example to help you identify it.

If your package absolutely, positively must arrive tomorrow, which delivery company will you use? USPS? UPS? DHL? You would choose FedEx, of course. Why? Because they stake their entire reputation on delivering on time, every time - that's their Big Promise. But how do they ensure that promise is met? It's all about their QBR.

You might think their customer service is the key to their success, but it's all about logistics - the management of package movement. When their logistics are running smoothly, their Big Promise is consistently delivered day in and day out.

Imagine if they shifted their focus to customer service and let logistics take a backseat - the headlines would read, "FEDEX CAN'T FIND A SINGLE PACKAGE, BUT THEY ARE BEING REALLY NICE ABOUT IT." It'd be a sad tale about a once-successful company going out of business.

But if they cranked up their logistics even more and let customer service take a hit, the headlines would read, "NO ONE ANSWERS PHONES AT FEDEX, BUT EVERY PACKAGE IS DELIVERED ON TIME." Sure, they might get some negative press, but ultimately their QBR would remain strong, and they'd keep delivering on their Big Promise.

The Queen Bee Role is crucial to the success of your company! It's the heart and soul of everything you do and the driving force behind your entire team. Without it, your customers might lose faith in your quilt shop. But don't worry - with the QBR at the forefront, your vision will become a reality, and your reputation will soar!

It's not all on you

It's important to remember that not all tasks and activities are created equal. Some things you do might contribute very little to your Big Promise, so focus on the things that work even more successfully. Doing so will streamline your operations and increase efficiency, allowing you to deliver on your Big Promise with even greater success.

And here's the best part - the Queen Bee Role doesn't have to be handled by just one person. In fact, having multiple people and systems in place to support it will provide added protection and ensure that your company stays on track no matter what.

Last week, I shared that our Big Promise, the one thing our clients most value us for, is that we help them piece together financial freedom. Today, I share our Queen Bee Role–the activity that ensures we deliver on our Big Promise is teaching the Profit First cash management system.

What our customers value most about us is that we help them piece together financial freedom. This means that we must understand the quilt shop world, the intricacies of inventory, and how it flows through their business. We also understand what a block-of-the-month program is. We know what fat quarters and jelly rolls are. We know the seasonality of the business. We know who the major vendors are and what guilds are. We know all of this, and it helps us to do the bookkeeping and compliance work accurately. It also helps us provide practical advice on how to grow their quilt shops and piece together financial freedom. And that is our Big Promise.

Our Queen Bee Role is teaching the Profit First cash management system. To do this effectively, we don’t speak accountant-ese or talk to our customers like they are little kids. We teach them how to use and adapt the Profit First system for their shop. We answer their questions clearly and talk with them like the grown mature adults that they are. We take the time to explain the complicated accounting and tax rules so they can make informed decisions. We communicate in many different methods, including emails, chats, and phone calls. Still, regardless of the method, we make sure that our customers know how to use and adapt the Profit First system for their quilt shop, fulfilling our Big Promise.

Now, I am not the only one fulfilling the QBR. Whenever a team member writes an email or talks with a customer, they directly serve or support the QBR. As the leader, it takes work to ensure I have trained my team correctly and that we have the processes and systems to fulfill our QBR.

The Queen Bee Role is truly the lifeblood of any thriving business! Remembering that the QBR isn't just a person or a machine is essential. It's an activity. While you may be fulfilling the QBR right now, it doesn't mean it always has to be you. In fact, it's better to have a team of skilled individuals and systems that can serve the QBR cohesively.

For small business owners with five or fewer employees, you're likely the one primarily serving the QBR (like in my case). If you're a solopreneur, then it's 100 percent you serving the QBR. Often, the most skilled team members, not the owners, serve the QBR for larger organizations.

Remember, the Big Promise for a beehive is that the colony will thrive, and the QBR is key to that success. The queen bee handles this critical task, producing healthy eggs that ensure the colony will grow and thrive. But let's be clear: the queen bee isn't the most important bee in the hive. She's replaceable and can be replaced if she fails to produce healthy eggs.

The same is true for your business. The people serving the QBR are critical to its success, but there are more significant factors than the individuals themselves because they're replaceable, duplicatable, and interchangeable. The QBR itself is the most important function, and the people serving it are simply doing the most important job. They're not the organization's brains, but they are vital to its success.

In our next video, I’ll share how to ensure you empower your team and those who serve the QBR so you can continue to win and scale your quilt shop.

But for today, do this exercise to help you find your QBR:

Once you know your Big Promise, brainstorm how to make it happen, and think about all the tasks contributing to your company's success. Which one is most crucial to fulfilling your Big Promise? It might be a challenging choice, as they all seem equally important. Nevertheless, we need to pick just one. Remember, only one activity can truly be the QBR!

Use the sticky note method and our deductive logic to find your QBR. All you have to do is jot down each activity on a sticky note. For instance, if your Big Promise is delivering exceptional support, you might list answering phone calls, replying to chat messages, responding to emails, and chatting with customers as essential activities. Stick each one on a note. In this example, we have four sticky notes. But you could have more.

Now, look at your sticky notes, identify the two that are least connected to your Big Promise, and remove them. Don't worry, this is just part of the process. Keep repeating until you're down to your final two or three. Now, with the remaining sticky notes, let's pick the most important one that delivers the most on your Big Promise. That is your Queen Bee Role.

Supporting my Big Promise of “helping quilt shops piece together financial freedom” means engaging in activities like speaking, podcast interviews, training, answering questions, teaching Profit First, doing the bookkeeping, and general coaching. But, out of all of them, teaching Profit First is the activity that best supports my Big Promise. So, teaching Profit First is my company’s QBR!

Simply put, my business's health depends on teaching Profit First to my clients. Yes, the other tasks matter, but teaching Profit First matters the most. I'm dedicated to delivering on my Big Promise and ensuring my business thrives like a bustling bee hive.

Are you still trying to perfect your QBR and feeling like it's just out of reach? Don't worry, I've got a simple tip for you! Reach out to your top customers and ask them, "Which of our products or services has made the biggest impact on you?" This will help you determine what's important to your customers and what you should focus on.

So, let's start making your QBR the best it can be!

What is your Queen Bee Role? Email me at I look forward to hearing from you!


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