Nini is the founder of Neoterik HR Solutions and has a passion for putting efficiency and structure in business through HR. Having worked as an HR professional for close to 2 decades she saw the needs of small and medium sized businesses in building proper HR systems and foundations to help them scale sustainably and decided to focus her business and energies into helping SMBs. From HR strategy, recruitment, performance management, policy, and everything in between, she brings a fresh approach to HR in business making sure you have the tools you need for whatever stage of growth you are at.
She is a personable, to-the-point professional and enjoys working with entrepreneurs from all stripes. Tricky situations are exciting she says because she gets to be creative, challenge the status quo and do outside-of-the box-HR, AKA modern HR - virtually.
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Olivier: [00:00:00] Welcome to business, not 1 0 1 hosted by me, Olivier Bousette, founder, entrepreneur podcast creator. In this episode, we explore the founder's journey from their aha moment to the roadblocks and problems to what they would've done differently in hindsight, and the unique solutions they came up with. I hope you enjoy this episode.
Hi, Nini. Welcome to business, not 1 0 1. Thanks for joining us today.
Nini: Hi, Olivier, it's nice to be here. How are you?
Olivier: Very good. Thank you. Let's jump right into it. So please introduce yourself and give us your . 60 second business pitch.
Nini: Sure. Well, my name is Mimi Obiaga and I am the owner and founder of neoteric HR solutions. And what I am is a fractional HR director. What I do is modern HR for small and medium sized businesses. And really what that means is just setting up systems in a foundation that [00:01:00] helps businesses. At scale sustainably and predictably too.
So what I would do is at neoteric is to develop communication and documentation things like handbooks, creating recruitment systems that suits your brand. And I walk side by side with you to make sure that the tools that you. Are appropriate for your business. So really it's making sure that small and medium sized businesses have the same HR access and tools that larger organizations have, and they have it sort of in house and it costs them so much less.
So that's what I like to do.
Olivier: That sounds so interest. And something that a lot of small companies and medium sized companies need because a lot of them don't have an HR department.
Olivier: So it was the aha moment that brought you to, to launch this business.
Nini: well, I was working in a corporate job and I remember just thinking about a more efficient way to do HR. And I know not everybody puts [00:02:00] HR and efficient in the same sentence, but I was thinking about a more efficient way to do certain things. And I, I started to develop just a, a process and some systems to make things, you know, go smoother and, and, you know, have.
Issues along the way. And after testing this and actually. Implementing it. I found it cut my work in half and I pretty much worked myself out of a job at that point. And so it, it, that was my aha moment that HR can be done efficiently. You just need the right systems. You just need the right processes in place and you need to implement them properly.
And that's what efficient HR is to me. And so, yeah, that was my aha moment. And I thought, I see that small and medium. Businesses don't have this support. Don't usually they just, you know, fly by the seat of their pants. So it's being proactive. It's being able to, to give them you know, get their creative ideas and put them into something that's legislatively sound as well.[00:03:00]
Olivier: Yeah, that's a really great point. That's something that a lot of companies don't have necessarily an employee handbook and a process on how to deal with employees., so what's one of the biggest roadblocks you've encountered starting your business.
Nini: Well, one of the roadblocks is I think it's just education because a lot of times small businesses expect that once you, once you say the words. HR consultants, you're talking huge bucks. You're talking, you know, just a huge commitment. And that's why I call myself an HR fractional HR director.
Because you, you get to do things at your own pace. And so that was a roadblock for me because it, it was educating businesses and letting them know, no, there is another way to do this. You don't have to hire in house if you're, you know, if you're still growing, if you're still small and you just need to get certain things, right.
You could have someone on the outside, who's kind of also on the [00:04:00] insight helping you.
Olivier: Yeah, that's great. So looking at your business and I assume you work alone and do you have, do you have any other employees or it's just yourself?
Nini: well, I'm at the stage where I'm looking to get employees and it's one of the harder parts for an entrepreneur because you're looking for someone who actually. Thinks a lot, like you not completely like you, but thinks a lot like you in terms of values in terms of building up certain systems and structures within the company.
So I'm at that stage where it's getting to the point where I need someone who at least an employee at this point, who, who understands HR, who understands how to, to, to write things and, and communicate in a certain. And yeah. So yes, I typically work on my own because I like to make sure that it's what the client, exactly what the client wants, but yes, I'm at that stage of growth.
Olivier: Sort of it fits really well into my next question, which is now you're at the [00:05:00] crust of your business where you're about to hire. So what are kind of an employee, are you looking for? Are you looking for sales? Are you looking for marketing? Are you looking for growth? Are you looking for technical support?
Somebody's gonna go and help you and do the same thing as you to sort of amplify your business. So which one would it.
Nini: It's a unicorn anyway I'm actually looking for you know, someone who has some HR background or interest in HR, but also has an entrepreneurial mindset. And so yes, that gets into things like business development and, you know, knowing exactly how to, if you will market HR to a small or medium size businesses to a business in such a way that.
It, it appeals to them. Right. And they do have the knowhow of how to implement things for those businesses. So yeah, it's sort of like that the sale there's a sales aspect to it, but there's also the main thing about knowing what HR is about. And you don't have to know everything it's [00:06:00] knowing it's at least knowing the.
Olivier: That's true. And it, it is very difficult when you have your first employee. So a lot of people I know, including myself, we use virtual assistance. Segregate them to one task. It's very difficult to find somebody who can do multiple tasks. Like somebody who's gonna be really good market.
Then sales it's like, it's almost like good luck finding that person. , but it is something that's very difficult for small businesses and certainly freelancers and solo entrepreneurs moving to that small business realm. So I feel you it's really difficult.
There's and there's no clear answer,
Olivier: this leads me to my next question, which is what is one thing about working as a freelancer and a sole entrepreneur at this point that you really dislike?
Nini: it's doing everything yourself.
Olivier: Yeah, I feel that
Nini: because certain, certain aspects of the business aren't big enough to actually outsource you know, reasonably well. So it's, it's having to do a lot of things yourself, like, but then again, the advantage to that [00:07:00] is that you're able to, you know, kind of look into your accounting, even if you dislike. You look into your account, you see what's going on there and it, it gives you a snapshot of what you should be doing.
When it comes to marketing, I'm not, I don't love social media that much. I can tell you. And you know, those are things that I still have to do. And so those are aspects that I'm, I'm so ready to farm out. And I have started actually, but yeah, those are aspects that I would rather not do, but yeah, as a, so entrepreneur, as an entrepreneur, you start to learn all these little things here and there, and at least you have an idea of how they work and, you know, just as you run your business and the time will come when you don't, or you almost don't touch those things, but at least, you know what they're about.
Olivier: Yeah, that's a hundred percent true. And it's interesting. I actually have a friend who hires entrepreneurs and freelancers who are sort of like decided they no longer want to do that. They wanna work in the corporate world. And he looks for people like that because he says they can do [00:08:00] everything. Cuz they've seen everything
Olivier: you hire somebody who's only been in that field, they know exactly their field, but they, they, it's hard to get them to move a little bit around that.
Nini: That's so true, actually. That is so true.
Olivier: Yeah. Being entrepreneurs like it's own business school, like you can't learn that in school. This is why podcast came about, because there's so many things. People just cannot understand schools cannot get you ready for this. All right. So next question. How did you get your first customer?
Nini: My first capstone was a referral actually just through my. And it was just someone who'd known me in the corporate world and what I, you know, I I'd worked on and things like that and realized, oh, I'm actually. I actually have my business and I'm beginning to grow and I, I, I need these kinds of things or at the very least I need some support.
And so I started, you know, just working on some things and in some cases on a, on, on a, on a pro bono basis, because I want, I was just starting out my business and [00:09:00] understanding things. And so you know, it started building from there. That was also when I realized, oh, there's, there are a lot of needs for small, medium sized businesses when it comes to HR.
And you know, like I said earlier, it ends up being, yes, there's the education piece, letting them know, no, you don't have to, you know, Cook up stuff to yourself from the internet, there are certain things that you need to do properly. And so that was where it all started, but it really came from our, from referrals and through my, just through my own network, my own business network as well.
Olivier: That's great. And what is one of your primary tools? At new customers. Is it still referrals or are you actively seeking them out or are you looking for services that would help you find new customers?
Nini: well, it's a combination of those, those those things I get referrals and referrals are one of the strong. Tools that could be used, cuz it just, you know, you, you kind of skip a whole bunch of steps [00:10:00] when you have those referrals. But I also make sure that I do the marketing, whether it's on LinkedIn, you know, I'm reaching out to businesses as well.
To see, you know, see if there is some synergy where I could help them. And of course being a part of different kinds of networks in terms of those that are either just purely for business to business networks, or, you know, just like those that are, that actually do. What's it called? Well well networking groups.
Yes. That's what I meant. Networking groups. And you find all kinds of people like yourself who might be solo printers, but know someone who needs your kind of service. So that's how the market needs done. And it's been successful that way. Yes,
Olivier: Yeah. Yeah. BNI is one of those networking business groups. That's great for small and on medium sized businesses. I found across Canada they're local chapters. So it's really a great way to amplify your. Yeah. And you know what referrals is, word of mouth is one of the [00:11:00] best marketing tools. I don't, I think it's almost impossible for people.
If you don't have that, it's really difficult for you to grow your business. So I agree with you there.
Olivier: And it's sort of moving along in your fields in HR, what excites you in, in that you see this kind of moving forward and what makes you nervous? I was talking to somebody about the great resignation.
Everybody's sort of quitting their jobs and changing, which is great, I guess, for HR people, you know, to help 'em find new employees and certainly recruiters, but there's also a dark side for HR departments having to deal with.
Olivier: Employees leaving for let's say, or money or, or better, you know, like better opportunities.
So what, what excites you about your business? And you see coming up in the next few years?
Nini: Well, yes, the great resignation has actually had a profound effect in the business. World. And one of the things it's cause businesses to do is to actually step back and see, well, what are we doing wrong? And what, what should we be doing at this point in time? Because so much has [00:12:00] changed, whether it's, whether it's in terms of all the movements out there.
You know, and just, you know, from, from the last couple of years through with, with COVID and how things have changed to remote work or hybrid and all of that kind of stuff, and yes, people, or, or, or employees have realized, oh, I, I, I do have more choices. And if you can't give me what I'm looking for, I'm gonna go somewhere else.
And so it's been one of those times where. It makes, you know, it's exciting to me because again, you get to revamp all your policies here, for instance, and, and sometimes it's just even revamping what your values are, because if you want people aligned to what you believe in, you really have to communicate that properly to sta to, to potential employees or to candidates.
So, yes, like you said, it's a good thing that some people leave at some point in time, but. I, I, I find too that it's been a challenge for some companies just finding the right people for [00:13:00] their organizations. And, and I think it's, it's just a time where it's, it's a time of reflection, reviewing things and, and again, just looking for ways to move forward positively in the business world.
That's how I look at it at this.
Olivier: Yeah, that's really interesting. So what do you tell your customers like in terms of engagement with their employees on how to retain them is, do you have a program to say, Hey guys, you need to start looking at wellness. So you need to start looking at employee benefits or something. Are you able to guide your customers and to say, this is the best way to retain your top talent?
Is this something you're doing actively.
Nini: for sure, for sure. There, with every business it's unique, it's different. Right. And I think again, yes, there are ways to, if you will entice candidates or employees to your, to your company, but don't overdo it, you know, there's a whole aspect of benefits. There's a whole aspect of the wellness programs and those are important to [00:14:00] people or ability to work remotely.
But then. Being an entrepreneur myself. I think about the cost aspects. Not every business can afford everything and sometimes it's just, okay, well, let's do this piece now and start to think about, you know, this other piece in the next few months, think about this other piece, right? Just as you can manage it, cuz you don't wanna go all in and then it, it blows up in your.
And then you've lost all this, you know, all this money, you know, almost doing nothing. Right. And so I look at it on a case by case basis to make sure that each the business that I'm working with. You know and the people that they want to attract are actually, you know, are actually go hand in hand with their offerings.
And sometimes businesses don't just don't have it, but I I've, I've worked with a business where just our recruitment process and how each candidate was treated, [00:15:00] made such a difference, even though we didn't have a whole bunch of benefits when. You know, ended up rejecting one client or one, sorry, a candidate.
A lot of them came back applying for roles within that same company, cuz they actually gave us the feedback that they really did enjoy the process. You know? So it's those little things that and you know, I look at and I try to work with that are unique to that organiz.
Olivier: That's really interesting. And it does have a big benefit. I think, on an organization who doesn't have the financial means to play like say the Google size. But that they've created an infrastructure that really sort of resounds with employees or in potential employees. So I think that's, it's not that many though.
Unfortunately I wish there was more, but I, I see a lot of companies struggle with that. So,
Olivier: which is good for you because that means there's, there's gonna be a long term employment and opportunities in HR, in Canada. All right. Let's switch gears a little bit and get to know you as an [00:16:00] entrepreneur a little bit more.
So the next questions I'm gonna ask about how you are as an entrepreneur. So I'm gonna start off with what is one thing that makes you really productive that you do?
Nini: One of the things actually I have, I have a couple things it's waking up early. and early is relative. I know everybody has their early times. Right. But I, I, I wake up probably about five 30 in the morning and. Then I, you know, get up to meditate, to pray. And that's how my day just gets defined and gets started.
I make my bed every day. It doesn't matter every single day, you know, and that's just my habit now. And one of the other things that I do as well is actually just making sure that I plan my week at the beginning of the. That helps me so much. And it, it makes, you know, it makes me just more focused. Yes.
Every single day. I, I, you know, like I put down my to-do list. So Monday, [00:17:00] Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I put my to-do list each day and. There have been times where I didn't get to everything on my to-do list. So what I do the next time I'm doing my to-do list on the next day is I actually put times in there and that's just for me, that helps me to be able to say, okay, eight o'clock to eight 15, I'm doing this nine, 15 to 10 20.
I'm doing this. And stop once that time is up. So it does help me. So it just keeps me disciplined cuz as an entrepreneur, your time is yours, but you could get so in discipline that you don't accomplish much. So those are my guardrails, if you will. And it really does help me.
Olivier: Yeah, that's, that's really good. That's great points. Certainly the amount of meditation in early morning is something that, you know, I do journaling first thing in the morning just to, to know, get rid of anything that was in my mind and then sort of. Day and time blocking. I think that for me, time blocking, I always tell people is one of the best things, because you sort of create these little top tasks and block [00:18:00] time and just do it.
And I have a little timer and I set, you know, 15, 20 or 60 minutes and I just set that and it goes off once I'm done and I stop and I take a break because otherwise you could, you get caught up in little moments and then next thing you know, the whole day's gone. You're like, what did I do? I think I sent one email, but I talked to 20 people about the same thing.
So yeah, I hear.
Nini: you are speaking my language.
Olivier: I think every entrepreneur and every freelancer has that struggle. And this leads to my next question.
Where do you see your business into. Five years. Do you see it growing? Do you see you're still gonna remain in the same, you know, sort of small field or are you gonna go expand nationally on, on it?
Nini: Well, right now I work more nationally just because everything is virtual. So my expectation is to go international. And again, you know, there there's certain things. There's certain systems that are universal within. You know, building up those systems, like I mentioned earlier and, and giving them that foundation so that they can grow on [00:19:00] it.
That's what I want to do for businesses more internationally as well. You know, just there are certain aspects of HR that, yeah, there are legislative, you got to know the laws with the land and things like that. And again, Like that's part of research and that's a lot of what I do, you know, even locally or provincially and things like that.
I, you always have to do research to make sure that it's right. And so my, you know, my, my, my, my whole thing, my whole way of doing business is making sure that my clients have the right information. and that's always research. So whether it's nationally or internationally, it's the same, it's the same thing.
Again, it's getting partners outside of, you know, my, my, my local zone, just so that you have that you, you, you have that whether it's the comfort that you're doing it right. Or whether it's just having the right people in the right regions that you can work with and, and accomplish even more. So that's part of where I'm going [00:20:00] in the next few years.
Olivier: That's really interesting. Are you planning to sort of create, like how do you replicate yourself? Because you are now, even if you hire a few people, are you planning on. Sort of training each new hire to become you and sort of working territories. Are you planning to sort of stay in one location and just grow your team so that you become the center point, but they take care of the work behind you.
Nini: wow. That's a great question. and it could be done either way actually. It's easier. Yes. When you have you know, people locally and you can just, you know, just kind of reach out to them. But I think, I think with the way things have been, like I said, over the past few years and working. And things like that.
It's so easy to be able to find that person outside of your local area. So, yeah, I mean, that's a good question and it, it, it just kind of like, makes me think more about the best ways to do it, because there is a one cookie cutter way of doing, of growing your business, especially when you're a [00:21:00] virtual or remote business.
It's great to have people, like I said, it's great when people are around you, but it's also great when you have people in other regions who. Understand what you're doing. So that would be the challenge really is for lack of a better word, cloning yourself across regions, across, across provinces or states or things like that.
It's one of those questions that it, that kind of hangs there. but I think to start, it might, it would probably start local at this point with getting a local person, but great. One. Yeah. Thanks.
Olivier: Thanks. I always try to ask one question that I get. That's a great question. I mean, you don't have to really make you think. I love it.
Nini: You did.
Olivier: so this Lord leads me to the next question, which is one of my favorite questions. What is one business book or book that's influenced you in your business that you would recommend people to say?
You know, you need to read this book. It really helped.
Nini: I have one book, well, two books reading, but I'll just mention this one here. It's the, the seven habits of highly effective people by Steven coy. [00:22:00] And I think it's a wonderful book. It's something that I, I am committing to reading over again, because of course you miss some things, but it's, it's a book that, you know, just really does help you develop.
Good. As an entrepreneur. And it reinforced some of the habits that I already had. And so I was, it was great to read that book, the E myth by Michael gr is a good one as well. And you know, it just, it just taught me some, you know, it, they had, they covered pretty much. Everything in business from, from accounting to HR to, to understanding how to talk to people and the very, very simple stuff.
But it's a really good book to, to read and that, yeah, those, those are repeats for me. Yeah.
Olivier: Excellent. Two great books, two. Cause I really like them. Next question. If you can have coffee with any entrepreneur, who would it be and why
Nini: that's a nice one. You know what? [00:23:00] I would wanna have coffee with Sarah. Blakely. She's the founder of spans. And honestly, I just wanna understand how she thought her concept was going to be successful at all. that's what I wanna know. Cause I mean, she, she, she is, she is so successful at this and it's not like there were there weren't you know, Solutions to the, you know, to, to the spans problem, if you will, it wasn't like there was nothing in the market and I'm thinking, why would you just sit down and do this?
Yes. There's women always want that better image and body figure and all that stuff. But I just, I that's what I wanna ask, Greg, how, how did you do this and how, how did you believe in yourself enough to keep going at this? So she's somebody, I wanna sit with
Olivier: That's a great one. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I follow her and on social media, because she pops up a lot and certainly around women entrepreneurs and a lot of people sort of feel [00:24:00] the same way you feel like, how did this come become? And I think she really explained it well once by saying, you know, right time, right place, right.
Group of people. And the right actions created this. And I think that's really important. And, and overall as an entrepreneur, she's really fun to to sort of like her whole story. So great. Pick
Nini: Well, and, and again, those, those, you know, just what you said the right time, right place and you know, the right opportunity. I mean, you could just look at it as something that, yeah. That's, that's all well and good, but I want detail in fact for talk, because I mean, we can all say that I want that roadmap
Olivier: Exactly. Exactly. I feel you. I, I feel that for entrepreneurs, whenever I listen to the, some of the, the ones that are more famous it's they make it sound like they just got up one day and just jumped and it was there and you're like, wait, I wanna know exactly detail it. Like you send it to me.
I wanna know. All right, last question. How could people reach you? Like through LinkedIn, what's the best way to come and connect?
Nini: Well one of the best ways is well, my [00:25:00] company website is neoteric hr.com and it's spelled N E O T E R I K. hr.com. And you can always schedule a, a call with me schedule. You know, just a discovery meeting, anything there, but as well, I'm on Facebook and Instagram. So it's at neoteric HR as, as well.
And on LinkedIn, I'm on LinkedIn quite a bit. I'm very active on there. So you could search my name MIGA or my company neoteric HR solutions. So lots of ways to find me. And again, email email is great. Mimi neoteric hr.com.
Olivier: Perfect. And we'll be putting that on the show notes so people can reach out to you. I wanna thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today was a pleasure to have you on.
Nini: I enjoy talking to you. It's been great. And I hope I pronounce your name. Right. But anyway, but yeah, no, I, I had a great time talking with you. Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity.
[00:26:00] Thank you for joining us today and listening to this episode of business, not 1 0 1. I hope that this interview gave you some invaluable insights and that will help you along your business journey. If you have any questions, comments, feel free to reach out to me and as always, please like share and follow.
Thank you and untill next episode.