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Break the Ceiling

Author: Susan Boles

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Growth is only hard when your business isn't built for it.

Break the Ceiling is the podcast for agencies & consultants who want to break through self-imposed growth ceilings by shirring up their operations and increasing capacity, so they can take their growth from stalled to skyrocket, without working more or hiring the wrong people.

Host Susan Boles sparks new ideas and solutions for all your biggest growth headaches to conquer bottlenecks, ease workflows, and get your business on track to double revenue. Without sacrificing quality of work, client satisfaction or letting any pieces fall through the cracks.

Whether you're interested in back-end business operations, finance & accounting, team management, technology, project management, client management or human resources, we dig into the underlying problems that might actually be the reason you and your business have maxed out on growth.

Learn more at https://scalespark.co/podcast
59 Episodes
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Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick and I talk about what happens when things go BOOM and you have to figure out how to manage that boom in your business at a time when your personal situation might actually mean that you have less time than ever to spend in or on your business? Key takeaways: - What 2020 has looked like for Alethea and how she’s figuring out how to balance business and homeschooling her kids—and how she’s being conscious about taking care of her own needs, too - What techniques and systems she’s put into place to try and cope with all the changes that this year has brought - How Alethea’s day-to-day looks as she manages having the capacity to work less but having MORE business than ever - How to balance business and life when they're both changing
Lauren's been through a MASSIVE change this year, so I wanted to bring her back on the show to talk about how she's been managing the impact on her business. Lauren used to run an event planning business for tech, and after her best year ever in 2019, was ready to give 2020 a run for its money. Sadly, the opposite happened, but out of breakdowns come breakthroughs. Key Takeaways: - How Lauren’s cash flow management skills gave her the time she needed to make strategic decisions instead of reacting out of panic - Making a HUGE pivot in your business and how to stay resilient - Processing grief as a business skill - An update on what Lauren decided to do about her business this year
YOU built your business and most likely, it depends on you in some form or fashion to keep going. Even if you have a staff or other people that do a lot of the day-to-day work, they still look to you for direction. If you suddenly aren't there anymore, what happens? That's what contingency planning is all about: making a plan for what happens to your business (and your personal business) if you need to step away for a while or you just flat out can’t run the business. And my guest on this episode, Mary Beth Simon, is an expert in planning for contingencies. - Who should be creating contingency plans and what it looks like in the real world when you have to execute your plan - How important your preparation is when it comes to ensuring your business can survive a big change - Tips for planning for a worst-case scenario - How being prepared for crisis helps you be resilient in your business and personal life
You know that the ability to be resilient and flexible in the face of change IS a skill and a mindset that you can work on. You can't control the change (because change is inevitable!)—but you can control how you react to it. Today, Melody and I talk about why investing in developing skills to strengthen how we personally deal with change creates a huge impact on how we approach leading our businesses through change. Key Takeaways: - How Melody uses systems and structures to help minimize stress, build resilience and manage change in her life and business - Why being kind to yourself and empathetic to your team is a HUGE part of effectively managing a rapidly changing environment - How to accept that during intense change, your bandwidth is a LOT smaller than it was - Techniques and systems to building personal and business resilience in your own life - How to find the right structures that minimize your mental load so you can take care of you and your team
How DO we go about building up those change management muscles? How do we make ourselves and our business stronger and better able to weather this ever-changing environment? Meet Elatia Abate. She is an entrepreneur, educator, and future-forward strategist. She partners with organizations that range in size from Fortune 500 to early-stage start-ups to help leaders make sense of the ever-growing disruption in our world and channel that disruption into tangible results. Key Takeaways: - How resilience and change management are intertwined - What does the future of work/future of business look like NOW? - Strategies to exist and thrive in a constantly changing environment - What Elatia learned from her personal experiment in resiliency
You can use no-code tools like ClickUp to streamline and automate your internal processes and enhance your communication with clients. You can also build digital products, help your students learn more effectively, and add to diversity your revenue streams. Layla is ALL IN with ClickUp. Key Takeaways: - How Layla’s using ClickUp EVERYWHERE in her business - The impact she's seen by systemizing everything using ClickUp - How to use no-code templates and tools as an opt-in and marketing tool - How to get the most out of the no-code tools you're using in your business
This week, we're talking about using no-code tools to actually build your own custom software products. My guest today is the queen of this. Brittany Berger is the founder of Work Brighter, a digital media company that helps productive unicorns go beyond working smarter to a version of productivity that makes room for “unproductive” things like rest, self-care, and fun. - How Brittany’s business is structured around no-code tools - How she comes up with ideas for new no-code products - What her development process looks like to build and refine these products - How to use no-code to build products and additional revenue streams - How to use no-code tools and resources to add value to a community or course
No-code or low-code tools–Jason and I are talking about the tools that have been built specifically to enable YOU, someone with no background or experience in building software, to build your own custom tools. Jason is especially interested in the intersection of the accounting industry and emergent technology—and, specifically, how we can turn the automation doom and gloom narrative on its head and show accountants how to proactively leverage new technology. Key takeaways: - How to use no-code tools to scale operations (because the more efficient the workflow, the more clients you can serve with the same staff, and the more profitable you can be) - Using no-code tools to automate workflow—both internal AND with clients - How to leverage automated technology so client communication feels really personal
I thought it’d be fun to take you behind the scenes and talk through how and why I decided to invest in starting this podcast, how it all works behind the scenes, and a look back a year into podcasting. To help me answer the question of if it's been worth it, I’m delighted to bring my friend Tara McMullin to discuss just that. Key Take-aways: - How do you evaluate the ROI of a podcast? - My decision-making process and how long I was willing to give it - The strategy behind my podcast and what business goals I was trying to achieve - How much time goes into producing a single podcast episode
Social media is one of those investments you can choose to make in your business where the ROI isn’t always super clear. That’s why I invited Andréa Jones—host of the Savvy Social podcast, creator of the Savvy Social School, and an expert at social media—to talk all about measuring the ROI on your investments even if there isn’t a straight line from investment to payoff. Key Takeaways: - How to measure and evaluate whether or not your social media strategy is "working" - How coaches, consultants, and service-based business owners can use social media as a tool for business connection - Why Andréa prefers tracking profile visits and link clicks over followers and engagement - How to evaluate your social media data—and why any strategy needs at least 3 months to see what works and what doesn’t
I want to talk about when an investment seems like a pretty straightforward payoff—but taking advantage of that opportunity might conflict with your values. How do you balance the financial health of your business against your values? Today, I’m talking with two guests, Nancy Jane Smith and Bonnie Gillespie, about their thought processes behind making some big business decisions. - What if the ROI could be great, but it conflicts with your values? - Why Nancy decided to fully pull her business activities out of Facebook and Instagram—and why they were at odds with her personal values - What Nancy’s noticed in her business since leaving social media and how she’s grown her email list without the help of Instagram - How Bonnie uses her Facebook account strictly for business (and how she’s set it up that way) - The strategy behind Bonnie’s Facebook ads and why she prefers Instagram and Facebook to other social media or professional platforms
We all have a process we go through when we're thinking through new investments in our business. Whether you're conscious of your process or not... it's there. Today we are talking with Beryl Young about how she goes about investing and how she arrived at her process. - How Beryl decides what to invest in—or not—for her business - The opportunity cost of the investments Beryl’s made over the years - The 3 main buckets where Beryl invested her resources and the outcome of each
Michelle Mazur helps business owners shake things up (but having trouble talking about it) through their messaging. In this episode, Michelle shares some of the significant investments she's made in her business that had a long payoff, her approach for evaluating investments in her business, and her view on the intangible, long-term benefits of those investments. - The framework for making investment decisions - What categories of things to consider and evaluate against - How to consider the intangible benefits that are often hard to measure - When big investments don't always pay off
No stranger to making hard decisions and priming herself for growth, Emily Thompson talks about how hiring the right people for the right positions with the right mix of skills has made her business more efficient, more effective, and more profitable. - How Emily uses key members of her team to run both Being Boss and Almanac Supply Co. - What her hiring (and firing) process looks like—and how she preps herself for those hard conversations - How she hired the right person in the perfect role for their skillset and it resulted in tripling their revenue
Today, Mel Richards shares with us how her choice of software has helped her scale her company, increase profits, and deliver better results for her clients. Key takeaways: - How the right choice of software has helped Mel scale her company, increase profits, and deliver better results for her clients - How the right software tools make your team more effective and how ClickUp helps Mel’s team know what to do next - All the tools that have been essential for Mel’s business - Lower costs, less complication, more opportunities for automation
Tamara Kemper and I talk about how a rock-solid process allows you to deliver better service to your clients, onboard team members with ease, deliver projects and services more profitably, free up time for you and your team, and use software to automate tasks. Key takeaways: - How having solid processes make your business more profitable and effective - Why your processes inform your software and team choices - Why it’s so important to document your process - And the giant return you get out of investing in your process
Your business is an ecosystem. Every part of your business is interconnected with other areas of your business. The decisions you make about the kind of business model you have affects how you market your business. I’m excited to have Ashley Gartland back on the show to talk about how these decisions impact the size and roles of the team you need to have (if you have a team at all!) and the software you need to use. That, in turn, results in how profitable your company ultimately is. Key takeaways: - How your default decisions impact your business model - How these decisions can determine your approach to marketing and what software to use - How to view your finances as a symptom and not a cause - And why your finances are a trailing indicator
Katie Hunt, founder of Proof to Product, helps product-based businesses create product lines, sell wholesale, and build stronger businesses. She has a podcast, courses, masterminds, coaching, conferences, and yes, a community. Katie’s helped thousands of brands get their products on the shelves of retail stores like Target, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, and independent boutiques around the world. Key takeaways: - An alternative look at what launching a community/membership model with a team looks like - How having a membership improved resilience in Katie's business—financially AND with the rest of her product suite - What evaluation process Katie went through before adding community as part of her business model - How Katie’s boundaries have been impacted through the launch of her program and the pandemic—and how she’s proactively reinstating those boundaries now
Margy looked at her business and realized that 1:1 services was no longer the best delivery option for her clients and it wasn’t the business she wanted to be running. Creating the ScholarShape community was the natural evolution. Key Takeaways: - What was going on in Margy’s business that drove her decision to create ScholarShape and shift her business model - How Margy executed the transition and what her business looks like now - Instead of a fast pivot, community can be a natural evolution of your existing work - What the decision process LOOKS like for someone thinking about making shifts in their business model
Harnessing your IP isn't the ONLY way you could add additional revenue or build resilience into your business. Sophie Bujold has another option: building a community product around your business. Key takeaways: - Using community/membership model as a means to diversify revenue streams - Who should build communities & where should it live in your business - Where your community should live inside your business model—and how to create a great one
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