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Taking a Break

Taking a Break

2021-08-0301:41

I wanted to give you an update on what's going on with Break the Ceiling. Over the last two years, I've released almost a hundred episodes of Break the Ceiling. I've put out so many episodes that I'm really proud of, and I've talked to a ton of really amazing business owners. Thank you so much for listening and hanging out here with me, geeking out on the backend of running a business.I wanted to let you know that we're going on hiatus, so we won't be releasing any new episodes for a while. I want to take some time to think about how I want the show to evolve, and I'd like to reimagine it a bit. So I'm taking a break from recording and releasing episodes here so that I can take this space.And to be honest, it's been a heck of a year and a half for me and I need a little bit of a break.Stay tuned to this feed and hit subscribe if you're not already a subscriber so you don't miss it when we come back with a new updated and improved show. We have some really exciting things planned, both for the podcast and for the business.In the meantime, there's almost a hundred episodes in the feed so definitely catch up on the ones you’ve missed. I'd love to connect with you and hear what you'd like to see for the show going forward and I'm looking forward to being back in your podcast feed and your ears soon.Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @theSusanBoles LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Boundaries are all about setting guidelines for how you work.From your very first interaction with a client or a prospect, you're giving them hints about how you work or even explicitly setting expectations for how you'll work together.So if you take four days to respond to their request for information, they might have the impression that you're a little slow. React immediately, and they'll think you're always available.What choices we make about where our boundaries are–or aren't–can have a huge effect on our overall capacity and how much time it takes to actually serve each client.Boundaries can be a really powerful tool when we're talking about streamlining or increasing your operational capacity.Today we're going to dig into them with my guest, Brittany Berger. She's the founder of Work Brighter, which is 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.She started Work Brighter after five years running content marketing in really high-stress startups that prioritized hustle, growth, and scaling over self-care and mental health. Now that she's changed her own mindset, she spends her time helping other high achievers find balance for themselves and advocating for mental health awareness.Let's just say her boundary game is strong.Listen to the full episode to hear: How Brittany uses boundaries as guardrails for habits and routines that protect her mental and physical health How adding a little extra friction around things like email and social media can help reinforce your boundaries and keep you from breaking them yourself Why building boundaries to manage your energy rather than pushing through leads to sustainable productivity How Brittany has redefined success in a way that respects her health and wellbeing and not just the bottom line Learn more about Brittany: BrittanyBerger.com Work Brighter @workbrighter on Instagram @thatbberg on Twitter The Slackification of the Family Home–The Atlantic Magazine Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
You are not your business.Your business is something you are creating, which means you have a relationship with it.Like any relationship that we are in, the relationship that we have with our business can be complex and takes understanding, consideration, and work. And as with our personal relationships, the ones that we have with our businesses are shaped by our past experiences, for better or worse.We might have been told that we’re supposed to leave our baggage at the door when we come into work–we might even think we succeed–but that’s not how humans work. And when we ignore how our pasts affect our present, we set ourselves up to repeat unhealthy relationship patterns everywhere in our lives.In today’s episode, we’ll talk about how your foundational experiences might show up in your business and create limitations to your growth, especially when it comes to perfectionism and control.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, most important work is in combining therapeutic processes with business coaching to help entrepreneurs build emotionally sustainable and financially stable businesses.Listen to the full episode to hear: How your business is not you, but a thing you’re in relationship with How control relates to trust and its impacts on your ability to lead and grow How perfectionism is a safety mechanism and tools to help you begin to lower that shield Why when you’ve tried all the systems and none of them worked, it’s probably not the systems Learn more about Nicole: Trauma and Its Impact on Business - Free Course Nicole Lewis-Keeber Coaching Instagram: @nicole.lewiskeeber Facebook: Nicole Lewis-Keeber Coaching Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
When was the last time you crossed off everything on your to-do list? Have you ever? Does even glancing at it make you feel overwhelmed and maybe a little bad about yourself?Hustle culture tells us that working 24/7, 365 will bring us success, that we have to grind it out to gain ground.But not only is that not realistic for real people with families and friends and lives we want to live, it’s not even true.There’s a ton of research out there that says resting actually increases your productivity, your effectiveness, your problem-solving skills and your creativity.We need rest to do our best work and to be able to bring our best selves to our businesses.But those to-do list items still need to get crossed off. How do you create the space for rest? For your family and friends and for your best work?There's no shortage of “helpful information” out there about personal and business productivity.We all know those blog posts about some millionaire’s morning routine or the latest hack or a new software tool that will magically solve all of your problems with getting things done. But those so rarely work for the average person, let alone if you’re adding neurodivergence, chronic illness or disability to the mix.So what do you do? How do you tackle the overwhelm and miles-long to-do list?Tanya Dalton says the key is to get crystal clear on your priorities and then use that as a filter for everything else.Tanya is a productivity expert, speaker, and best-selling author of the Joy of Missing Out. She serves as a growth strategist for female leaders and hosts the Intentional Advantage Podcast. Tonya is also the founder and CEO of inkWELL Press Productivity Co., which provides tools that work as a catalyst to help women do less while achieving maximum success.Listen to the full episode to hear: How getting clear on your mission, vision and core values and leading from them creates a priorities filter Five questions to ask yourself when you’re prioritizing a task How to create a priority list, or a “to-do list with intention” Why implementing priority systems at home too creates space for rest and empowers everyone in your household Why a perfectly even work-life balance is not only unachievable, but undesirable, and a new way to think about balance Learn more about Tanya: TanyaDalton.com inkWELL Press Productivity Co. the Intentional Advantage Podcast The Joy of Missing Out Book Facebook: @Tanya.i.Dalton Instagram: @Tanya.i.Dalton Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Maintenance mode as a topic for the podcast actually came out of a personal capacity crisis.Like a lot of people, since March of 2020, I've been without child care. With my son in hybrid school all year long, I gradually started having less and less time to devote to ScaleSpark.I lowered the bar on my expectations for myself and what I could accomplish again and again and again, but there was still stuff that just wasn't getting done.Don't get me wrong, I wasn't sitting around doing nothing. I executed a big business model shift that included piloting my first group program and creating my Not Rocket Finance course.I got a TON done. But it was a lot less than I normally would have.Then at the beginning of 2021, I reached a bit of a crisis point.I couldn't keep trying to shove a full-time business and being a full-time stay-at-home mom/homeschooler into the same hours. Something had to change.I really started to take a look at what I could stop doing, what needed to change, and what systems I needed to build to take my business from one-to-one client services to a scalable business that could operate in maintenance mode.And I've spent the last 16 episodes interviewing founders about maintenance mode and consistency, exploring capacity, business model, and techniques to prepare and execute maintenance mode in your business.So to wrap up the theme, I wanted to take you behind the scenes and talk about what I learned from all my interviews over the last few months and what I experimented with and tried out in my own business.So I brought my executive producer, Sean McMullin, on the show to interview ME about maintenance mode.Listen to the full episode to hear: How shifting from big picture problem solving to treating the process of being consistent as a series of small experiments satisfied the need to break things in the business Why you need to figure out how you’re self-sabotaging, then why you’re doing it in order to create effective systems and supports that keep you from it Why maintenance mode isn’t about finding the perfect system but stacking systems that are good enough Steps to start looking for what you can automate, delegate, or make more efficient in what you do every day Learn more about Sean:Yellow House MediaLearn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Sometimes the challenges to consistency come from self-sabotage, things like distraction, boredom, imposter syndrome.But especially for folks who are neurodivergent or dealing with chronic issues or disabilities, consistency comes with additional challenges that require you to figure out how to manage unpredictable energy levels, or how to cope with executive function issues.Most common productivity advice centers on the idea of trying to do more work, to shove more into the day, to force yourself to change your behavior so you can do more.But what if you don't want to do more? What if you just want to make it easier on yourself to do the work you love?Or what if your brain or energy levels just don't work the same way that the productivity bros hawking the advice do? Then a lot of that advice is just downright useless.The real key is figuring out how your brain works and creating an environment that supports you in doing your best work. And that may take some experimentation, but it probably won’t happen following someone else’s hacks.Marie Poulin, of Notion Mastery, helps ambitious business owners level up their digital systems, workflow, and productivity, so they can spend more time on what matters. She's been an influential voice in the Notion community, has a big following on her Notion Youtube channel, and has created a lot of the Notion resources available today.Marie also recently discovered that she has ADHD, so her brain works a little differently and things like consistency, scripting or executive functioning–like deciding what to prioritize working on–can be extra challenging.Marie and I talk about consistency and how critical it was to her success with Notion and her course and community Notion Mastery. We also talk about how discovering she was neurodivergent explained so much about how her brain worked and has helped her figure out how to set up systems that work the way she does.Listen to the full episode to hear: How Marie uses making public commitments as an external motivator to keep herself consistent Why she learned to build in opportunities for later iteration and improvement to projects so she can be finished enough for now How Marie stumbled into her ADHD diagnosis and how she gave herself permission to accept that her brain works differently Tools for noting when and how you work best so you can minimize resistance in your schedule Learn more about Marie Poulin: Mariepoulin.com Notion Mastery youtube.com/c/mariepoulin How to Run Your Life Inside of Notion Instagram: @mariepoulin Twitter: @mariepoulin Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
It's ok to quit.Consistency can be critical to success, but knowing when to quit is an equally valuable skill.So, how do you know when to quit and when to just push through the hard parts?You've heard me talking to business owners who credit being consistent as the key to their success.But failure is also a part of being an entrepreneur and one we talk about a lot less because it's not as pretty. Most successful business owners have at least a few failures in their rearview mirror.I had 2 businesses that were marketing and branding successes and abject financial failures before I started ScaleSpark.Failing sucks, there's no doubt about that. But those failures are a big part of what motivates me to teach financial skills and why I believe that your numbers tell you a story about what to do next in your business.Deciding to quit something is so hard and emotionally wrenching. I also wish I'd listened to the story my numbers were telling me on both those businesses and quit earlier.But you don't always know if you're failing. Maybe you're just stuck in what Seth Godin calls "The Dip:" that point in every project where you have to figure out if something is genuinely not working or if you have to push through.Today my guest and I are talking about how to know when you should quit.Margo Aaron is the cohost of the YouTube show Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites and the author behind That Seems Important. She's a psychologist turned accidental marketer and she's fantastic at getting to the heart of the entrepreneurial mindset. Her email newsletter consistently gets right to whatever mindset fog I'm in at that point in time and always manages to encourage me to keep going.Margo and I have both quit businesses. And in this interview that we originally recorded in September of 2019, we explore what it meant to quit and how we each realized it was time to let go.Listen to the full episode to hear: The client call that made Margo realize she had a major disconnect between what she was getting paid to do and what she wanted to be doing What questions to ask yourself to assess if you’re in “the Dip” or if it’s time to let go Why product-founder fit is as important as product-market fit How to build a business that aligns with your values and defines success on your terms Why you need creativity, intuition, and experimentation in your business, not dogmatic models and rules Learn more about Margo Aaron: That Seems Important Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Consistency is the underlying premise behind maintenance mode, behind working the system, behind the mantra of "don't break it". It's the opposite of shiny object syndrome.When you're consistent with your offers and your messaging, people know who you are, what you stand for, and what you sell.When you're consistent in your operations, your team and your clients know exactly what to do next.When you're consistent, you're efficient and you don't waste time, effort, or money.Consistency means that you don't get exhausted by decision fatigue - because a lot of your daily decisions have already been made and you're just following the process you decided on a while ago.Consistency builds resilience. Even when you're operating at 10%, having built habits and processes means that you can keep the ball rolling.In order to become more consistent in your business, there are two things you have to figure out.First, you have to get your mindset wrapped around being consistent and prioritizing it. That sounds simple, but in my experience, it's just not. It's so easy to self-sabotage by getting distracted or bored or prioritizing other things.Second, once you know that consistency is an important value to you, you have to build habits and design your environment so that being consistent is actually the easiest path for you to take.If consistency is the goal, building habits is how you accomplish it.Meet Sarah. Sarah Von Bargen is a writer, coach, and educator who helps people spend their time, money, and energy on purpose. And she uses habits to make sure they're sticking to that purpose. Habits have been a critical component in her own business success and in the success of her students, too.Listen to the full episode to hear: How the stress of flying by the seat of her pants turned Sarah into a data-driven planner How changing your exterior circumstances–like charging your phone in another room–supports the interior work that builds lasting habits How Sarah uses a “think about it later” list to help keep herself from productive procrastination and shiny object syndrome Why you should test shiny new ideas on social media or your blog to gauge interest before you spend time or money developing them Learn more about Sarah Von Bargen: Yes and Yes Instagram: @yesandyesblog Money & Happy Facebook Group Free Workbook: How To Rescue The Time & Energy To Go After What You Want Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
The point of maintenance mode is to give you time and space to take a REAL break. Not a vacation where you're checking your email or you're stuck on your laptop kind of break. But a real, genuine break.That step back can feel kinda scary. It might feel like you're standing at a precipice, trying to figure out if you'll trip and fall over the edge, or if it's just a tiny step down to a solid surface. That step means that you have to trust that the systems you've built and the team you've trained can handle whatever comes up. That's the goal, to allow you to be able to take a break from your business without breaking your business. And what does that look like in a real business? To go through the process to prepare for maintenance mode, build the systems, and then trust them to work and step away? That's what we're talking about today.Claire Pelletreau is a Facebook and Instagram ad expert and conversion optimization expert. Claire also LOVES talking about money–profit, loss, the whole shebang. She asks her guests how much they charge–and how much they earn–on her show, the Get Paid Podcast.Claire recently took a break from her business while on maternity leave for several months. She knew it was coming, so she prepared, she planned and she got her business ready to operate in maintenance mode. And then she walked away. For months. During a pandemic. Listen to the full episode to hear: How Claire changed her content strategy and schedule for her podcast to cover her maternity leave How she budgeted for her leave and unforeseen expenses in her absence The process of mentally and emotionally checking out from her business and what it was like to come back to work in a vastly different world after summer 2020 Letting go of selling herself as part of the package and giving her team ownership Learn more about Claire Pelletreau: ClairePells.com Instagram: @clairepells Facebook: @absoluteclaire The Get Paid Podcast Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: You Need a Budget Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself, Mike Michalowicz Rachel Rodgers
In order to be completely away from your business for any length of time, you probably need to hire someone. Or maybe a few someones.In the last episode, I talked to Jason Staats about how he uses technology to help him keep his 4 different ongoing projects in maintenance mode, but hiring is also part of his maintenance strategy. He comes up with the ideas, figures out the tools, then hires someone to monitor and maintain. Technology and Team are the two most powerful resources you have when it comes to operating your business in maintenance mode.Technology allows you to make sure your team is doing only the most high-value tasks and having that team in place means that someone is there to monitor the autopilot, make decisions on the fly, and keep the trains rolling. Having a team you can turn to, and someone you can trust to monitor the autopilot can be the last, very critical, piece of maintenance mode. And it's the piece that allows you to truly step away, and know that things are taken care of, even if you aren't there to be the one to take care of them.Meet India Jackson. She's the CEO of Flaunt Your Fire, a brand visibility agency, and co-founder of Pause on the Play, a podcast and community dedicated to visibility and vulnerability for inclusive leaders. India started off her career as a model and bodybuilder and evolved that into an agency where she now leads a team. We talk about her evolution as a leader and how hiring and finding the right fit was critical to the growth of her agency and for her to be able to step back from doing all the things. Listen to the full episode to hear: How India began building a team to fill in gaps in her skill sets, and how her mindset on delegation has changed in her 10+ years in business  Why she hires client support staff for their empathy and not just their resume  How India approaches partnerships and hiring with a values mindset, from full transparency in job listings to explicitly asking about values in interviews Why your brand or company values have to be broken down into actions you take every day, with clarity on what impact you want to have  Learn more about India Jackson: Flaunt Your Fire Pause on the Play Flaunt Your Fire Podcast Pause on the Play Podcast Instagram: @flauntyourfire @pauseontheplay Connect with India on LinkedIn Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Erica Courdae Break the Ceiling Episode 83: Leveraging People, Processes and Technology with Jason Staats
You can't step away and do something else if everything's going to come to a screeching halt when you do. To be prepared for maintenance mode, you have to figure out how to get the behind-the-scenes systems to operate, consistently, without you.In order to get your business into maintenance mode–and build a stronger business while you're at it–you have to answer the question, "What if I'm not here?"Ideally, the answer is that nothing changes. Invoices still get sent on time, your products and services still get delivered, and the wheels on the bus keep going round and round. That's the goal of maintenance mode, to me. There are some tasks that really don't lend themselves to having a computer do it. But MOST back-end administration of a business can be automated. And for me, automating that back-end tasks means my business won't break if I'm not here for a bit.The other payoff is that even if I AM working in my business, I have time to do other, more interesting things. I could even start another project like my friend Jason did.Jason Staats is a CPA in Salem Oregon. He's principal at Brenner LLP by day, and an accounting tech enthusiast by night. In addition to his CPA firm, he has also started Launch for Accountants, which is a newsletter and website with all the latest software launches. He's built Realize, a community for accountants and he is launching a software product. All those projects he's started and continues to run? He used technology to make that work and keep them all running, even if he's not IN that business all the time. Listen to the full episode to hear: Why creating a single space to gather opportunities and priorities across projects fights overwhelm How knowing what his “anti-goals” help Jason choose which projects to pursue How considering new projects in terms of skills development keeps distraction and shiny object syndrome in check How getting to maintenance mode lets you choose to pursue side projects and shiny objects  Learn more about Jason Staats: Launch for Accountants Realize Follow Jason on Twitter Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Sales are the lifeblood of any business.So when you're thinking about maintenance mode in your business, you need to think about how to make sure sales still come in, even if you're not around.Last week we talked about the first step in preparing for maintenance mode by being consistent with your messaging and your offers. If you haven't listened to Episode 81 with Michelle Mazur, go check that one out.This week, I want to talk about step two in preparing for maintenance mode and that's your sales process.In order to put your business into maintenance mode, you have to understand how sales come in, how you make sales, and how you're going to continue to make sales, even if you aren't actively working in your business for the momentWhile sales are one of the first things business owners seem to want to outsource, sales are probably one of the very last pieces of your business operations that you should be handing off to people.And that means that figuring out how to put sales on maintenance can be a challenge.And my friend, Allison Davis, is my go-to when it comes to sales and creating sustainable sales processes.Allison is a sales trainer and coach who ignites growth in small business owners and mission-driven organizations. I've done a TON of sales training–it's one of my weaknesses so it's something I've tried hard to develop.Allison was the person who finally made it "click" for me that I don't have to do ALL the things when it comes to sales, I just have to build a sustainable system and stick with it.Listen to the full episode to hear: How to pull yourself out of overwhelm by actively choosing what you can do consistently Why using buyer types to modify your sales approach doesn’t have to be inauthentic Why Allison started the Sales Roundtable and why it’s an effective and efficient way to connect with potential clients Learn more about Allison Davis: Allison-Davis.com Sales Roundtable Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Break the Ceiling Episode 81: Work on a Consistent Message and Marketing System to Prepare For Maintenance Mode with Michelle Mazur Dani Johnson’s GEMS® Mastery
No one is bored with your business but you.The last month or two, we've been talking about maintenance mode–the idea that you can create a business that can kind of run itself. There are systems and processes set up, so everyone knows exactly what they need to do.The same kinds of systems and tools that you would use to prepare your business for maintenance are the SAME ones that you would use to free up capacity and prepare your business to scale.And that means that spending time setting up repeatable processes and checklists and automation has a HUGE return on your investment of time and effort.But, what, PRECISELY, do you need to DO to get your business prepared for maintenance mode?The first step is to zoom out and look at the end goal–what your business will look like, feel like and run like IN maintenance mode.The second step of preparing for maintenance mode requires you to think about your business as an ecosystem. In order for you to step away, every part has to operate smoothly.SO how do you prep each PART of your business for maintenance? What do you need to consider and what are some tactics that you could use to help you get there?Michelle Mazur is the founder of Communication Rebel, a Messaging Coach and Author and she's the voice in my head when it comes to my own marketing and messaging, telling me that consistency is the key to success.Consistency in your messaging means that you don't have to reinvent the wheel every quarter. It means you know what you need to say and you know to whom and how you need to say it. And it’s the first part of being able to prepare your business for maintenance mode.Listen to the full episode to hear: How to build your company’s communication bible: the Brand Message Guide Why consistency and repetition aren’t boring to your audience How to experiment in order to optimize and minimize, so you’re marketing where it counts What to do when you hit a dip in sales or engagement Learn more about Michelle Mazur: Communication Rebel Instagram: @drmichellemazur Three Word Rebellion Three Word Rebellion (book) Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Sometimes we end up building a business that just doesn't fit our lives. Not intentionally. Sometimes it just happens that way.Maybe you don’t have the freedom you thought you’d have. Maybe you’re doing group courses but you really want to be 1 on 1 with clients, or vice versa. Sometimes when you step back and examine what it'll take to get to maintenance mode or what it will take to scale or grow, you realize that you don't actually have the capacity to grow this thing you built. The business you built isn't designed for that.In order to get to maintenance mode, you need to shift. Ryan Lazanis and I talked about this in Episode 75 - we'd each built businesses that didn't fit how we wanted to live our lives and so we ended up starting new businesses and specifically building them for maintenance mode.But you don't have to burn the whole thing down. Meet Mark Butler. He's the founder of the accounting startup Let’s Do the Books, as well as a freelance CFO for life coaches. And instead of shutting his business down and starting over when he realized that something needed to change for him, he created a complementary business with a different business model–one that was designed for maintenance. Listen to the full episode to hear: How Mark makes two very different business models work under one roof Why his team is always empowered to tell him no How side projects sustain his creativity and generate new opportunities for the business Why every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves what they really want to be when they grow up Learn more about Mark Butler: Let’s Do the Books Money School Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Break the Ceiling Episode 75: Starting with the End in Mind: Reverse-Engineering the Plan with Ryan Lazanis Break the Ceiling Episode 79: The Maintenance Mode Mindset: Stop Breaking Your Business with Racheal Cook
Don't break it, stay the course, work the system. Don't break it, stay the course, work the system. That's the refrain that's in the back of my head all the time now. One of the biggest challenges of getting your business into maintenance mode is your mindset. It's not that it's so difficult to build systems or design your business model to be sustainable and resilient. It's that we, as entrepreneurs like breaking stuff and we LIKE shiny new things–shiny things are FUN! Breaking your business over and over with new offers, new messaging, new technology tools, new business models is not the path to creating a lasting, sustainable business. In fact, it’s how too many business owners burn out. The real answer might seem boring, but it's actually kind of freeing.It’s consistency, working the system, staying the course. Once you figure out what works for your business, the key is not to break it and not to get in your own wayBut... HOW? HOW do I get out of my own way? HOW do I stop getting distracted by every new idea that pops into my head? How do I keep myself from breaking it? What am I supposed to DO all day if my business doesn’t need me to shop up and deliver?That's exactly what I'm talking about today with Rachael Cook. She's a business strategist, author, and the host of the Promote Yourself to CEO podcast. And she helps business owners figure out how NOT to break their businesses.Listen to the full episode to hear: Why redefining your role and asking yourself what are the jobs only YOU can do is an essential mindset shift How treating your systems and your team as assets and not just your content can prevent launch burnout Leaving hustle culture behind so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor How getting to maintenance mode before a crisis or major life event hits safeguards your business against the unpredictable Learn more about Racheal Cook: RachealCook.com Promote Yourself to CEO Podcast Instagram: @racheal.cook Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Break the Ceiling Episode 07: Why Streamlining Your Effort Pays Off with Business Strategist Michelle Warner  Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't by Jim Collins
As I have been talking with business owners about maintenance mode, they have consistently brought up burnout. That moment when they realized that they couldn't keep working the way they were working.Caring for a family member or realizing they were burnt out or trying to handle a load of virtual school with no child care for a year – they all encountered a recognition that their own personal capacity had been reduced. For me, that moment of recognition forced me to realize that my realistic maximum capacity was WAY lower than I thought it was. We all have a maximum capacity - a ceiling of how much work we want to do or how much our business can handle. But also true for us as individuals. And so when you're preparing your business for maintenance mode, you need to examine your own capacity as a founder. You need to think about your own energy, priorities, and boundaries. And that's virtually impossible if you're stressed and exhausted. Re-examination forced by burnout and exhaustion is exactly what happened to today’s guest, Finka Jerkovic. Managing her own energy as a business owner has been crucial in making sure that she is building a business that is supporting her, building a business based on work that she truly LOVES to do.Finka is a coach, speaker, and author of the book Sell From Love.She brings over two decades of experience in corporate Canada in the financial services industry, with expertise in sales, leadership, communication, and coaching.Finka helps her clients discover their “Brilliant Difference” so that they get 100% clear on their unique talents, skills, and expertise so that they can use their personal strengths to grow their business.Listen to the full episode to hear: What led to Finka recognizing that she had hit burnout and how she approached the need for immediate change  How she approached her capacity, energetically and operationally, differently when she came back from burnout  How what Finka calls “environmental wrenches” are actually just systems  How the same systems that help prepare our business for maintenance mode are the SAME systems that can help increase our capacity  That you can say yes to as much as you want, but your systems of support need to be built in order for you to be able to say yes.  Learn more about Finka Jerkovic: Sell From Love Instagram @finka_jerkovic LinkedIn @finka-jerkovic Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
How's your capacity feeling these days? Getting a lot done? Or, like me, have you been hitting that pandemic wall hard? Over the last few weeks, I've been exploring the idea of maintenance mode in business, and today I want to shift from exploring the IDEA of maintenance mode into more tactical applications. If YOU wanted to move your business into maintenance mode, or you wanted to focus on scaling, how would you DO that? How would you prepare for maintenance mode? In all of my conversations with other business owners who have made this shift, there has consistently been a first step that they had to address.Capacity.Either the business's capacity or their own capacity as the owner. Each business owner ran up against a wall (sometimes repeatedly) and came to the realization that the way they HAD been working wasn't the way they wanted to CONTINUE working.They had to make changes to increase their capacity. Sometimes, that meant changing a business model to a more sustainable one. Sometimes it meant creating a capacity limit to protect their energy or just stepping back from the work for months at a time. Sometimes it just meant examining the work they did and figuring out how to make it more efficient. That's the path that today’s guest, Anna Wolf, took. Anna is the CEO and owner of SuperScript Marketing, a content marketing agency for financial brands. She runs a team of marketers, scattered throughout the world, who create content for financial companies and who provide customized services for each client.When Anna ran up against her capacity ceiling, she decided that she loved the work she was doing and didn't really want to change the way that she was working. But that something still had to change.So Anna turned to systems. Listen to the full episode to hear: How Anna thinks about capacity and figuring out what the real capacity is in her businesses About some of the projects that Anna built to expand her business’s capacity without fundamentally changing what she was already doing to deliver quality services What impact these systems and processes have had on her business or on her own capacity as the owner And how Anna has learned that there needs to be a balance between seeking answers externally and follow your gut, even if that means risking making mistakes Learn more about Anna Wolf: SuperScript Financial Marketing Agency  LinkedIn @annawolf Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Visionary or Integrator? Startup or Maintenance CEO?In the world of business, there is no shortage of ways to categorize your leadership style and the way you operate. But maybe in the real world, it's not quite so distinct.I LOVE quizzes and personality tests and different ways of categorizing my personality, my skills, and how I think about things.Sometimes these assessments are genuinely useful and can help us understand how and why we do the things we do and think the way we think - which can help us improve our weaknesses and lean into our strengths.But, they can also sometimes create artificial boxes around us and create limitations that can keep us from growing as leaders and as individuals.One of these dichotomies that I've repeatedly gotten stuck on, personally, is the idea that you are either a startup or a maintenance CEO.You're either the energetic kid here to whip everyone into a frenzy of work, who changes things at the drop of a hat. Or you're the "adult" they bring in once things are rolling, so you can bring order to the chaos.As we've been talking about maintenance mode, it seemed like a logical choice to examine whether or not all business owners can even BE in maintenance mode. What if you ARE either a startup CEO or a maintenance one? Does that mean that your business will never be able to operate like clockwork?My guest today is Sarah Avenir, author and the CEO of &yet, a marketing and messaging agency. And she's been on both sides of this debate.She's BEEN a startup CEO, a freelancer, an employee, and then she got tapped to become the CEO of &yet and she had to figure out how to make a team of designers, developers, and strategists come together under what she calls systems of practice.Listen to the full episode to hear: What Sarah thinks of the dichotomy of Start-Up CEO vs Maintenance CEO and what the term Maintenance Mode means to her What the journey from being a startup CEO to a maintenance style CEO has been like for somebody who thinks in systems and who is comfortable with consistency. How Sarah has found freedom through the structure and routine of systems And how systems in practice incorporates being a human being and what we need to stay healthy Learn more about Sarah Avenir: Twitter @sarahavenir Roam Research People-First Growth Find Your Weirdos Meet Our Weirdos Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Sometimes it takes more than one try to really nail the execution of an idea. Creating scalable systems isn't necessarily intuitive and it runs counter to most of our narratives about how hustling hard and creating more is the path to success. I propose that the path to success is actually radical consistency.As I was looking around for guests for this series on maintenance mode, I started thinking about all the business owners I know who REALLY seem to have nailed it. Who think in systems, in processes, who really understand the power of consistency. And I noticed something about most of the folks that came to mind - they were all second or third-time founders. They'd built a company and then built another. They'd been through the process at least once before, realized that consistency and systems are the key to building and scaling a successful company and then when they built their second company, they designed it FROM THE BEGINNING, with maintenance mode or scaling in mind. Most of us are creating businesses that tie us to a physical place and set hours. But oftentimes, the life we want to live doesn’t always align with the businesses we create. When I started ScaleSpark, I designed it from the ground up to be the kind of business that would give me the freedom and flexibility I wanted. I knew what my end game was so I built a business that reflected that.My guest today did the same thing. Ryan Lazanis is the founder of Future Firm, which helps accounting firm owners grow an online scalable firm. I thought Ryan would be the perfect person to talk about this because Future Firm is his second company. Back in 2013, he founded Zen Accounting, which he started, scaled, and then sold.Listen to the full episode to hear: What Ryan learned from his first company about creating a scalable company that can operate on maintenance mode The lessons he took with him from that first company and how it influenced how he built the second one How Ryan reverse-engineered his business to revolve around his ideal life Learn more about Ryan Lazanis: futurefirm.co futurefirmaccelerate.com Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
I've been spending a lot of time this year thinking about capacity. A lot of the work I do focuses on helping clients streamline their operations to increase their capacity without increasing their costs or business complexity. ScaleSpark actually started as an outgrowth of me running businesses and holding a full-time job. We owned a guest ranch and a brick-and-mortar store while I worked full time and ran all the back ends of those operations.I had to figure out a way to make that backend run seamlessly and efficiently because I only had maybe an hour or two a day before I went to my day job and I needed to be really effective with my time… which led me to software. I used software tools to make the operations mostly run without me. Understanding how to use technology to boost capacity was something I had to learn for my businesses to survive. And eventually I started ScaleSpark to help other businesses harness those tools and boost their own capacity.Even though increasing capacity is one of my core competencies, capacity has been a real issue for me over the last year. So the first question I asked was: what can I stop doing? It actually turned out that there was a lot of stuff that, when I really examined it, wasn't bringing value into my business, but it was sucking up my time. I needed to get my business back to a place where if I needed to, I could set it and forget it. Maintenance mode. For this episode, I wanted to figure out what maintenance mode means to different people and what it looks like in different kinds of businesses. I started asking podcast guests and people around me what maintenance mode meant to them and I never got the same answer twice. Listen to the full episode to hear: Growth mode versus maintenance mode and how you can be in both at the same time How the skills, systems, and tools that you would build and develop for maintenance mode are pretty much the same as the ones you would build for scaling Why process can be so powerful for increasing your capacity, whether that's for  maintenance mode scaling or just to make your job take less time How maintenance mode affects product-based businesses and how to define which products require you to be more involved and which ones can run on their own Learn more about Ryan, Anna, and Tamara: Ryan Lazanis – futurefirmaccelerate.com Anna Wolf – superscriptmarketing.com Tamara Kemper – trainual.com Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
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