What is the "Queen Bee Role" and why does it matter?

There is a business concept that I learned recently which was a huge revelation for me.

It helped me optimize Lead Cookie, increase our profitability, and streamline our operations.

The concept is "The Queen Bee Role" and it actually comes from Mike Michalowicz's most recent book called Clockwork.

In this article, I am going to share what the Queen Bee Role is and how I applied this concept to both Lead Cookie and Content Allies (Yep, I relaunched it with a new value prop).

What is the Queen Bee Role?

When I started reading Clockwork, I will be honest that I was skeptical. I thought it would be another book just like The E-Myth or Work the System which are two other great books I have read about building your business to run without you. 

But I figured I would give it a shot since I have loved Mike's other books and find that he has a way of explaining things in such a unique and memorable way that it sticks.

When I got to the chapter on the "Queen Bee Role", I was quite surprised as this was a concept I hadn't really learned or heard before, and it was insanely applicable to virtually any business and could produce instant results.

So here is my shot at explaining the Queen Bee Role:

Within a beehive, the most important member of the entire colony is the Queen Bee who lays eggs and sustains the entire colony. 

If the Queen Bee dies, the colony will replace her or die off. 
If the Queen Bee were forced to do grunt work like all of the worker bees, then the colony would perform sub-optimally. 

The concept is that within your business you have a "Queen Bee Role". 

One of the great analogies that Mike used in the book is an Emergency Room.

If you think about the ER, the ideal situation is that there is a short wait time and a high patient turnover so that the ER can treat more patients in less time. 

And at the core of an ER is the doctor who actually interfaces with the patients. 

The ER doctor has the "Queen Bee Role" in that ER room. 
When they are treating patients, they are fulfilling the highest value duty they could possibly serve.

So... why does this matter?

It is your duty as an entrepreneur to protect the Queen Bee Role

If you think about an ER room that is inefficient, with long lines, and low patient turnover, this is what you will find:

The doctors are bogged down with paperwork for each patient.
The doctors are responsible for walking patients to the front desk and handing them to billing.
The doctors are consistently tasked with small admin work or minutia that is NOT treating patients.

A bad ER room rarely has to do with not having enough doctors. It more often has to do with tasking those doctors with too much work that is NOT the Queen Bee Role.

Now let's look at a highly functioning ER room... 

Doctors don't touch the paperwork. 
They don't waste time doing what work nurses could do. 
And everyone in the entire ER works to get anything off of their plate so that they can serve more patients.

A good ER room recognizes that your doctor is your highest value, most expensive, hardest to hire, and hardest to train asset on the team.

That means the doctor is serving the Queen Bee Role and it is the rest of the company's duty to enable them to focus all their time on doing just that.

How I applied this concept to Lead Cookie

When I read this concept, I looked at my business and quickly figured out that our Queen Bee Role is account strategy.

Our company runs done-for-you Linkedin outreach campaigns, and while there are many pieces to delivering our service, account strategy is key.

If the strategy is bad, no amount of operations can fix it.
If the strategist is overwhelmed, they start making bad strategic decisions.
And the strategist is the hardest to hire, hardest to train, and most expensive resource on the team. 

That means that if we are weighing down strategists with admin work, we are throttling their capacity to serve more clients, reducing the quality of their work, and ultimately eating away at our profit margins.

Protecting our Queen Bee Role

To drive the importance of this point home, I will share a story from when I was the Lead Account Strategist serving our Queen Bee Role.

There was a point in early 2018 where I tried to hire out account strategy and sales at the same time. 

And it turns out I did this a bit prematurely.
Our sales dropped, revenue plummeted, and I had to lay off my sales guy and account strategist.

This meant that I was handling sales, account strategy, and running the business...

At the time, I was handling a total of 19 accounts.
And I was overwhelmed and freaking the hell out. 

Yet as I sat there in this Queen Bee Role, I started to see how much crap that I was doing which was getting in the way.

I was doing things as small as setting up Google Drive folders and template documents before an onboarding call. This may only take about 3 minutes, but it's an admin task that was a distraction and pulled me away from strategic work.

Other tasks such as change requests for our clients' campaigns. Often times, I was implementing these as the strategist and eventually I learned that I could record a 60-second Loom video explaining the change I wanted to see and others could operationally implement that. 

That turned into 5-10 minutes saved for every change request.

Billing was another thing I was handling as the strategist. As soon as I handed over that responsibility, it was a massive load off of my plate.

Piece by piece, I kept offloading more work.

And over the course of 7 months, I went from serving 19 clients as a lone account strategist to serving 43... 

At 19, I was overwhelmed because I wasn't protecting the Queen Bee Role.
Yet at 43, I was probably less overwhelmed because my role was systematic and it was all that I needed to do.

Replacing myself in the Queen Bee Role

It took me quite a bit of time, but eventually, I replaced myself in the Queen Bee Role and hired on Rick Williams who became our first Lead Account Strategist.

By the time Rick stepped into this role, I had systematized the crap out of this. 
If it could be offloaded or outsourced, it had been done. 

This meant that Rick was able to step in and focus just on running account strategy with hardly any admin overhead at all. 

This has enabled Rick to scale up to serving 50-55 clients at a single time.

That sounds insane and you may be thinking But how do the clients get any attention with serving that many?

The truth is they actually get plenty. Because this is all that Rick does, he's able to focus on serving these clients with the utmost care.

We do weekly "health checks" on all of our clients and Rick takes any actions he sees necessary to contact an account or do whatever he believes is right to improve it.

The weekly health checks are just another system we put in place to reduce the mental overhead of handling this role so that we can batch all of our client optimizations together at the same time each week. 

Eventually though, we realized that 50+ accounts did start to get a bit difficult and so we have now brought on Jeff Doehler as our second Account Strategist who is already crushing it out-of-the-gate. 

But once again, as he steps into this role, there is very little weighing in on him from an administrative perspective. He spends some time in the weeds learning the ins and outs of how our system works. 

But as a whole, his role is designed (from day one) to focus on creating client strategies and doing just that.

What is your Queen Bee Role?

Take a moment to reflect on what the Queen Bee Role is for your company. Mike has several exercises throughout Clockwork on identifying this, although here is how I look at it:

  • What is the one role that is the single most important to the success of your company? 

  • What is the highest value, hardest to hire, and most difficult to train role on your team? 

Once you identify this role, the key is to protect it at all costs.

One tactic that I often use for doing this is an "activity inventory".

Regardless if you are serving the role or have someone else filling it, do an "activity inventory" and track every task you do for 2-3 weeks. 

After 2-3 weeks of tracking, you should have written down nearly every task that you do in your day-to-day work.

Then take a look at those tasks and start asking yourself which ones you can delegate or eliminate. 

Do this step-by-step until there is nothing left on your plate (or your team member who serves the Queen Bee Role's plate) that can be removed.


Learning to focus on the Queen Bee Role let me grow from 19 accounts to 43... 

That is a 2-3x increase in capacity without adding additional costs.

Identify your Queen Bee Role.
And then do everything you can to protect it. 

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