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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.

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42 Episodes
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
We're talking about how to build some more resilience into your business model by using work you've already done—your intellectual property—and turning it into another source of revenue for your business. Key Takeaways: - Using your intellectual property to pivot & build resilience - Taking advantage of your IP to diversify your revenue streams - Identifying different types of IP and how to protect what you’ve created with your business
I’m excited to discuss the importance of accounting, bookkeeping, and understanding your taxes with Luke Frye, cofounder and CPA at Timber Tax Accounting. Luke was the first accountant at and has been helping entrepreneurs with their accounting and taxes for nearly a decade. He knows what it's like on both sides of the table as he had his own business as a teenager where he learned how to manage his quarterly taxes. Key Takeaways: - Tax issues that service business owners should be thinking about - What type of account Luke recommends that self-employed people use to save for retirement - LLC vs S-Corp from a tax perspective - Why not saving for taxes is a huge risk
I'm talking with “The Rebel of Wall Street”, Priya Malani, whose goal is to change the way young professionals think about money by empowering them to get their financial sh*t together. Key Takeaways: - Money management mistakes that business owners are making - How to balance your personal and business cash needs - Strategies for making sure there's always enough cash on hand in your business - How much of a cash reserve you REALLY need to have to be safe
Jacquette and I talk about financial risks, resilience, and the relationship between the two. Key takeaways: - How assessing your risk is actually a move towards building resilience - What the relationship between risk, uncertainty, safety, and resilience is - Why your personal risk versus taking risks in business are different—and how they can influence each other
Charlie and I tackle not just getting out of your own way but ALSO how to get out of your team's way and how the stage your business is in affects the roadblocks you'll run up against. Key Takeaways: - Founder mojo and how to use it to your business’ advantage - How we use procrastination to avoid doing work that matters - How the business stage you’re in impacts the roadblocks you have to overcome - How your issues as a founder affect your TEAM
Today, we're talking about patience and purposeful experimentation with Jason Van Orden. He's a consultant, trainer, and strategist who helps thought leaders reach larger audiences. He's created multiple successful brands, launched over 60 online courses, taught more than 10,000 entrepreneurs, and has over 8 million podcast downloads. Key Takeaways: - Strategies and tools to use to give your projects every chance to succeed - How to test and iterate an idea (and what data to look for) - Why speed of implementation is everything when trying something new - Setting your experiment up for success - How LONG to test something before you decide if it’s “working” or not
Nicole Lewis-Keeber is a business therapist and mindset coach who works with entrepreneurs to create and nurture healthy relationships with their businesses. She's a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Masters in Social Work and she writes and speaks about the impact of small-t trauma on businesses. Her biggest, more important work is in combining therapeutic processes with business coaching to help entrepreneurs build emotionally sustainable, and financially stable businesses. Key Take-aways: - How your past experiences might be showing up in your business and creating limitations to growth - How perfectionism and the need for control in your business are rooted in the need to feel safe - How if you're one of those people who just can't seem to find the right system for your business... it might not be the systems. - How all your weaknesses and issues become ingrained in your business -- because YOU are the one who created it
Agnes has a lot to say about our relationship with money and the way that our money mindsets can hold us back. She went from having a poverty mindset that was limiting her to $40,000 per year, to consistently bringing in a 6 figure income as a money mindset coach. She shows entrepreneurs and service providers how to improve their relationship to money so they can increase their income and personal power. Key Takeaways: - How our money beliefs, stories, and limitations affect our businesses - What are some of the most common money mindset issues that trip up business owners - What impacts these stories are having on their businesses - How can people start identifying their money stories and money mindset issues - And what tools entrepreneurs can use to help deal with their money mindset
Today, we're talking with Tonya Dalton about the key to tackling this overwhelming and never-ending to-do list so you can get crystal clear on your priorities. Tonya's North Star method lets you figure out what DOES matter to you -- both for your life and for your business – allowing you to align your day and your tasks with your goals so that you can make conscious choices about what you DON'T want to do. Key Takeaways: - How to prioritize when EVERYTHING is important - How both your team and your business suffer when you get in your own way by not communicating a clear direction - How getting clear on your priorities will create momentum in your business and space in your life - And how to avoid the latest “hack” or software tool that promises to solve all your problems
Most of the problems I fix in business, with systems or technology or new team members usually directly stem from the owner. Their weaknesses have become the businesses weaknesses. And by identifying those weaknesses, we can put systems in place to specifically counteract their unique issues. Key Takeaways: - Using your process to be more competitive and make our services more efficient to deliver - Solid processes to make sure we're doing what's important. - Building your process from day one – creating a repeatable process - Overcome your own shortcomings and start getting in your own way
Having project managers as a specific position on your team is a choice that can drive what your business looks like. It's a choice that can ultimately determine what your position as a founder looks like. Are you a manager of managers? Do you directly work with clients? It can mean a difference between running your business as a solopreneur or running your operation agency-style. Key Take-Aways: - How a project manager has been a critical role in the growth of Yellow House Media - How knowing whether or not you need a project manager depends on the kind of business you want to run - When a project manager IS a critical team member and when it might it not be - How to make plans to scale your team as you grow
Today we're going full-on geek and talking about project management software with two of my fellow project management software nerds. We're talking about why you would pick one particular software tool over another, the importance of making sure the software you pick works with your brain, and how to avoid sabotaging yourself with getting distracted by the latest shiny new tool. Key take-aways: - Different approaches to setting up our software and why we chose the particular software tool we did - Philosophies of picking out or recommending software - How constantly looking at new tools can result in self-sabotage - Things Marie and Layla are doing in Notion and ClickUp that have really changed how productive or focused they’re able to be - Strong systems create stability – something that we all can use right now
Hailey Thomas is the master at delighting her customers. You might remember Hailey from Episode 12, when she came on the show to talk about her Worktreat Intensives. Hailey is a business coach for online entrepreneurs and one of my very favorite friends to nerd out about project management with. Hailey comes to each of her clients with a deep appreciation for who they are as individuals. With Hailey, client experience is built into every touchpoint. So, when I was thinking about doing an episode about project management versus client management, she was absolutely the first person I thought of. Key Takeaways: - Building a personalized, white-glove client experience - Looking at the end-to-end experience - The different phases of a project are and how to approach managing sperate projects in different phases of the process - How Hailey’s Worktreat Intensives have been going – how the process has changed and evolved
My guest today is showing us how it's done. Lauren Caselli owns a strategic event planning and marketing firm. She coaches business and agency owners looking for more financial breathing room on how to institute rate raises and price their services appropriately – setting them up to earn more per client and feel in control of their business. Lauren and I chat about how all the craziness around coronavirus has affected her events business. We talk about how that's impacting her cash flow and her approach to her finances and how Lauren built some great financial processes into her business that are serving her well during this time. Key Takeaways: - How to handle cash flow during a worst-case scenario - How COVID-19 effects events businesses and how those effects trickle down to other agencies - How opportunities can reveal themselves in unconventional places - What kind of financial processes you can have in place to build resiliency
Justin and I talk about some of the key data that they measure at Transistor. We talk about how to track monthly recurring revenue and churn – two fabulous metrics you can look at when measuring the health of your business. And we talk about how their strategy of being profitable and maintaining margins gives them the latitude they need to carefully consider their growth instead of just jumping on the next wave that comes along. Key take-aways: - How to identify business opportunities and what to do about them when they come your way - How to build margins into your business - How to approach the analytics of podcasting - How paying attention to what part of your revenue comes from recurring versus one-time projects can be a great indicator of the health of your cash flow - Why Justin and his partner decided to share their numbers and why they decided to stop
Maggie Patterson and I talk about all the different things she's tracking, how she tracks them, and how she's integrated what she learns into her growth strategy. We also talk about how she gets over the mental hurdle of “but, I don't wanna” and gets herself to actually track data. Key takeaways: - What was happening in Maggie’s business that made them focus their energy on tracking lead generation and what the exponential impact of having solid information was over time - How Maggie proudly chooses to keep her process of data collection super low-tech and uses Airtable as one of her main tools - How collecting the data gave them a taste for the numbers, taking them to next level nerd territory - How granular time tracking allows Maggie to make better decisions and to delegate things in a more informed way - And how having the data helps remove worry and anxiety related to the business because she’s able to see what’s really happening to make a reasonable decision based on facts and not on emotion
I talk with Kathleen Shannon about how to approach data when you identify as more of a creative person and less as someone with a data-first mindset. We talk about how making space for growth is such an important aspect of actually growing. And we talk about how sometimes making space for growth can just mean letting the universe know you're prepared. Key takeaways: - What work you can do as a founder to personally prepare to manage a larger business - How to know if your business is actually ready to grow and how to make space for that growth - How Kathleen's chalkboard method is a great tool for making sure you are intentionally creating the space to grow - How you can use metrics to get a big impact even if you're not a "data" person - And how to grow while still serving the (smaller) clients you love working with
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