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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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82 Episodes
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: 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: 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 – Anna Wolf – Tamara Kemper – Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
I’m working on some really cool updates for my course, Not Rocket Finance – releasing at the end of March! – so I’m going to take a very short break from releasing new episodes to give myself some breathing room to finish those updates.For the past couple of weeks, I've been re-releasing episodes that are the best cuts from three of my very favorite Break The Ceiling Episodes.This week—and our last Best of Break The Ceiling—I'm revisiting my interview with Michelle Warner.Michelle designs tiny companies that are built to last and is the creator of Networking That Pays, the 5 minute a day, never awkward networking system. She's a pro at helping business owners get out of their own way... and she's who I go to when I'm getting in MY own way.She's a pro at helping business owners get out of their own way and she's one of those people that I go to when I'm getting in my own way.Michelle and I talk about her 80 20 framework to harness creative energy and how to turn it into something useful instead of something that can quickly derail you.This is the perfect episode to get you ready for digging more into maintenance mode in your business because that creativity and subsequent derailment is one of those mindset things that can really trip folks up when they're thinking about getting into maintenance mode.If you liked these cuts and you want to hear more from my conversation with Michelle, you can go listen to the full episode here.Although I’ve been taking a break with the podcast, I am still meeting with smart business owners like you at my Dollars + Decisions Round Table. At the last round table, we talked about capacity issues and we had a really great discussion around getting into Maintenance Mode in your business.To register for the next Dollars + Decisions Round Table, go to more about Michelle: Instagram: @michelle.warner Twitter: @warnermichelle Facebook: @themichellewarner Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
I’m working on some really cool updates for my course, Not Rocket Finance – releasing at the end of March! – so I’m going to take a very short break from releasing new episodes to give myself some breathing room to finish those updates.For the next three weeks, I'm going to re-release episodes that are the best cuts from three of my very favorite Break The Ceiling Episodes.This week, I'm revisiting my interview with Charlie Gilkey.Charlie helps people start finishing the stuff that matters. He's the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of the book Start Finishing (2019) and The Small Business Lifecycle (2012), and host of the Productive Flourishing podcast.Charlie and I talk about how to get out of your own way and how to avoid roadblocks that you inevitably run up against.If you liked these cuts and you want to hear more from my conversation with Charlie, you can go listen to the full episode here.Even though I'm not releasing new episodes for the next few weeks, I am still meeting with smart business owners like you at my Dollars + Decisions Round Table. At the last round table, we talked about capacity issues and we had a really great discussion around getting into Maintenance Mode in your business.To register for the next Dollars + Decisions Round Table, go to more about Charlie: Facebook: Productive Flourishing Twitter: @CharlieGilkey Instagram: @productiveflourishing, @momentumplanner Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: (affiliate)
I’m working on some really cool updates for my course, Not Rocket Finance – releasing at the end of March! – so I’m going to take a very short break from releasing new episodes to give myself some breathing room to finish those updates.For the next three weeks, I'm going to re-release episodes that are the best cuts from three of my very favorite Break The Ceiling Episodes.This week, I'm revisiting my interview with Justin Jackson, co-founder of, the company that hosts this podcast.In this interview, Justin and I talked about how to look out for opportunities and we went pretty deep on how to build margins into your business.If you liked these cuts and you want to hear more from my conversation with Justin, you can go listen to the full episode here.And even though I'm not releasing new episodes for the next few weeks, I am still meeting with smart business owners like you at my Dollars + Decisions Round Table. At the last round table, we talked about capacity issues and we had a really great discussion around getting into Maintenance Mode in your business.To register for the next Dollars + Decisions Round Table, go to more about Justin: (affiliate) Build Your SaaS Podcast Justin Jackson’s Weekly Newsletter Baremetrics Open Startup Project Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Have you thought about leaving Facebook? Or what would happen if you pulled your advertising and ditched the Facebook pixel? How are YOU getting feedback about whether or not your marketing efforts are "worth it"? All this month, I've been talking about digital privacy and online security and sharing how I researched and implemented a privacy-first marketing strategy for my business. So far, I’ve talked to Paul Jarvis on privacy-focused alternatives to Google Analytics, Jessica Robinson on how to assess your business's online security, and Kim Herrington about how focusing on SEO became a big part of my marketing effort as I focused on respect for individual data privacy. If you missed those episodes, I recommend you go give them a listen because they include a lot of background on this whole experiment and how it came about. This week, I wanted to talk about social media because social media platforms are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to data privacy issues. They track every move we make, what we say near our phones, where we go while we have them... all of it. When it came to my privacy-focused experiment, there wasn't much for me to do, other than pulling the plug on social media platforms completely. I'm not very active on any platform besides Twitter, which I use to build relationships with mostly peers and other business friends, not so much as a lead-gathering system. I also committed to not buying ads on Facebook or Instagram... but since I hadn't been doing that before, there wasn't much of a change. I also committed to not using the Facebook tracking pixel, but again, since I hadn't been using it before, there wasn't anything to remove or change there either. BUT... these ARE major marketing channels for LOTS of small businesses, and it's an important part of the decision-making process if you're thinking about your own marketing from a perspective of privacy, so I wanted to bring on someone who did go through this evaluation process and implemented their OWN experiment. Meet Nathalie Lussier. Nathalie has been making websites since she was 12 years old, so she's been living in the online world for quite a while. She's the founder of AccessAlly, which is a digital course and membership solution. And about a year ago, she took the Facebook tracking pixel off her website, and then left Instagram as a platform, both for her business and personally. Listen to the full episode to hear: How Nathalie made the decision to drop the pixel and leave Instagram What she does instead now and we talk about how to get real, actionable data while still respecting people's privacy AND holding true to her own desire not to support Facebook as a company.  The projects and ideas that I'm still working on implementing for ScaleSpark when it comes to digital privacy Learn more about Nathalie Lussier: @nathlussier on Twitter AccessAlly on Facebook Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles (affiliate)
When I was first thinking about what privacy-focused marketing meant, I asked a few of my favorite marketing friends: if THEY were going to do privacy-focused marketing, what would they do?Universally, everyone came back with the answer of podcasting and SEO.Podcasting is one of the very few places in the world of media still without automatic digital ad insertions, for the most part. Also, podcast data tracking is not that detailed. Download or subscriber numbers are notoriously unreliable and the ability to tie downloads to an individual is relatively difficult. So, in terms of content delivery, podcasting is pretty private.This month, we've been talking about digital privacy and online security - and following along a bit with an experiment in privacy-focused marketing I decided to take on for my own business.Since podcasting was already a major part of my marketing strategy, I was already using a privacy-focused podcast hosting platform, so for my experiment, there really wasn't anything for me to change.Then we come to SEO—search engine optimization—which is the focus of THIS episode and was the next big piece that I added into my privacy-first marketing initiative. Up to this point in my business, I hadn't really paid much attention to SEO, assuming it was mostly for businesses larger than mine and that it would be something I added... someday.But, in light of trying to figure out how to still get traffic and leads, while not tracking folks or paying advertising dollars to companies that I REALLY didn't want to support like Facebook, investing in making my content more searchable and PULLING people to me just made sense. They were already searching for the content anyway... why not be the answer to their questions?To do this, I needed to find some support. I didn't have time (or honestly much of a desire) to learn the details of SEO. Enter Kim Herrington. Kim is an SEO consultant and the founder of Orsanna, a marketing agency for law firms, financial services, and other professional services.I found Kim by listening to a podcast episode where she described the work she did for Paul Jarvis (the co-founder of Fathom from 2 episodes ago). Because Paul is so committed to digital privacy, I knew that Kim would be well-acquainted with the privacy-first approach I was trying to take.Kim has been instrumental in helping me execute my privacy-focused marketing strategy and keeps me up to date on changes in the marketing and digital privacy world.Listen to the full episode to hear: What Kim’s done for me behind-the-scenes at ScaleSpark Behind the scenes of ScaleSpark's privacy-focused marketing experiment Why SEO is the perfect strategy if you're concerned with data privacy in your own marketing The big changes coming with Facebook and Instagram and data tracking that we should all know about Learn more about Kim Herrington: Follow Kim on Instagram Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: (affiliate)
This month on the podcast, I'm talking about privacy and security. Those are actually two different aspects of overall cybersecurity. I really love the definition of these two from the Fathom analytics blog about the difference between digital privacy and online security (I'll link to it in the show notes). It says: Digital privacy protects our personal information and data so that it's not unnecessarily exposed. This means that your information is protected before it’s known.Online security protects and secures our personal information and data when it needs to be exposed. If our personal information needs to be known, it's done as safely as possible. Last week, I talked to Paul Jarvis, the author of that blog post and co-founder of Fathom, a privacy-focused analytics company. We talked a LOT about digital privacy and how to ONLY collect information that does really needs to be known.This week, I want to talk about the other side of the coin: security. Jessica Robinson is an outsourced Chief Information Security Officer, founder, and CEO of PurePoint International and an expert in data security, cyber risk, and privacy. PurePoint International provides cybersecurity consulting and training for financial services, insurance, and other middle-market global companies with $100M-$500M in revenue. Listen to the full episode to hear: Where cybersecurity risks might live in your business How to assess the risk of a data breach in your own business What steps to take to shore up the security of your business and keep both your AND your clients' information safe The biggest concerns around digital privacy and online security for small business owners Learn more about Jessica Robinson: Follow PurePoint on Twitter Other resources from this episodeWhat’s the difference between digital privacy and online security?Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
Last summer, I started really thinking about values. What values do I have that I want to make sure I'm building into the DNA of my business? When it came right down to it, I realized that my core value—the one I wanted to make sure lived in every essence of my business—was safety.  The work I do with clients requires trust and vulnerability. It’s intimate. Money is a touchy, uncomfortable subject for most of us, especially when we're talking in specific numbers. There's SO much shame and guilt and inadequacy for most of us when it comes to handling our finances. Talking about what's not working behind the scenes in your business requires you to admit that everything isn't perfect. And that can’t happen if people don’t feel safe—both in the real, physical world and psychologically. So, I asked myself: if I want to build a company with the core value of safety, how do I actually go about doing that?In the last seven months or so, I embarked on this experiment in privacy-focused marketing and data security. It’s been a big part of every marketing and operational decision I’ve made. All this month, we’re talking about privacy and security on the podcast. It'll be part behind-the-scenes with me sharing some of the actual steps I've taken and how I thought through these decisions for myself. I’ll also be interviewing some of the experts that helped me educate myself along the way. One of the first things I did was remove Google Analytics from my website and replaced it with a tool called Fathom. It’s a really simple, lightweight privacy-first alternative to Google Analytics. My guest today is one of the founders of Fathom, Paul Jarvis. Paul and his cofounder, Jack Ellis, are two of my go-to experts on both digital privacy AND on the logistics of how to build that ethos into the DNA of your company. It's a core value for them as well, so they have to navigate the balance of promoting, marketing, and growing a company while still staying true to keeping data secure and while being respectful of individual's data AND transparent about what they're doing. Listen to the full episode to hear: Why we should care about data privacy—even when we have nothing to hide Balancing privacy with marketing and promoting needs of a growing company while still keeping everyone’s data private Why I decided to swap Google Analytics for Fathom My background in Security Forces for the Air Force and how that informs my approach to safety and security in my business Learn more about Paul Jarvis: Fathom Learn more about Susan: Think Like A CFO Scalespark Action Plan ScaleSpark
The choices we make about how to earn, save and spend our money all ultimately come down to how we think and feel about money - and work.And whether or not you're "successful" with your financial choices is all a matter of your perspective. That’s why understanding and thinking about how you define success has a lot to do with whether or not you're satisfied—or feel successful—with your finances.If you live in the US, you live in a capitalist society that equates accumulation of money with success. The default assumption is that more money is better and that success is accumulating as much money as you possibly can. But examining that definition of success and figuring out if that's YOUR definition of success can be really powerful when it comes to handling your own finances - and can help shape your priorities and values that help define your own financial choices. That's a lot of what my guest today does with his clients. Meet Brian Plain. Brian is an Investment Advisor Representative with Gradient Advisors, LLC an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Brian helps clients figure out what to do with their finances and helps them figure out a plan to meet their financial goals. A lot of that work means really examining what success means, what enough means and recognizing that, even with a good financial plan, as soon as you walk out the door with your plan, it'll change. But that doesn't mean you failed. Listen to the full episode to hear: How to examine your financial values and create your OWN definition of success and failure when it comes to your financial decisions What does "success" look like when it comes to managing your money? How to incorporate what we really care about into our financial choices Learn more about Brian Plain: Brian’s blog The Reframing Failure Blog Post Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
I think there are three different stages when it comes to your business and your personal finances: pre-enough, enough, and post-enough.And at each stage, you'll have different priorities, weigh different choices, and view your world in very different ways. These definitions are mine and I think everyone will probably interpret the idea of pre-enough, enough, or post-enough in their own terms—but here's how I tend to think about it. Pre-enough is that stage when you may have a decent business, but you haven't hit that level of revenue where you're covering your costs and comfortably paying yourself what you need to be able to support your personal financial needs. In this stage, you're usually taking whatever work comes your way. It can be a difficult place where you are lacking in both time AND money because you're just trying to do whatever you can to get to that enough benchmark. Enough is where you have... enough. Your costs are covered, both business and personal. You're paying yourself and your team enough. You have enough to start building up some cash reserves and the choices and decisions you're making become a lot more about is this WORTH it for me? Is this client someone I WANT to work with? Is this the kind of work I want to be doing? Is this choice worth my time or energy? It's about using your resources effectively -- and the kinds of choices you make. Eventually, you might find yourself in the land of post-enough. Where your questions might be: what do I DO with all of this money?!? Where am I supposed to put it? And how do I use it responsibly? I wanted to explore this idea of pre-enough and post-enough by trying to follow someone's journey through these stages and beyond… to look at the choices they made, what helped them breakthrough that "enough" ceiling, and how their perspective changed in each of the different stages.Meet Rita Barry. Rita is a certified measurement marketer. She founded her company, a boutique digital marketing optimization consultancy based in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, in 2009. Rita Barry & Co. is a relationship-driven company focused on metrics, and they help select 6 to 8 figure female-led businesses take control of their numbers so they can transform their marketing campaigns and drive more sales.Rita deals with numbers and measuring success all day long and this journey to and through enough has been one she's spent a LOT of time thinking about. Listen to the full episode to hear: Step-by-step through the journey to (and past) enough What enough means to Rita What it looked like pre-enough and what she did to break through and past enough How her goals and what she was concerned about changed throughout her journey What she does, now that revenue benchmarks don't mean quite as much. Learn more about Rita Barry: @ritabarryco on Instagram Connect with Rita on LinkedIn Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
What's YOUR earliest memory of money? Mine is going with my parents to open my own bank account at our local credit union. A lot of our experiences with and stories around money come from our childhood: how we saw money handled and what we got told about money, to name a few.And that stuff sticks with you. All of us have a completely unique and individual relationship to money that's influenced by not JUST those factors, but also the impact of every decision (good or bad) we've made with our own money and the impact of every decision (good and bad) we've seen OTHER people make with THEIR money.Your relationship with and access to money is impacted by your societal class, your demographics, and your generational wealth (or lack thereof). It's also influenced by the society you live in -- and if you're in the US, at least, that means a capitalist society. One where power and money are often interchangeable and where the depth of inequality is stunning -- and only getting more dramatic. Some of the workaround examining our relationship to our money also needs to examine how the system we live in impacts that relationship. Because it DOES. Once we understand that, we can start thinking about our relationship to money in a much broader view -- and we can start considering using our businesses as a means to start evening out some of that inequality. My guest today spends a lot of time thinking about, talking about, and teaching this work. Bear Hebert is a radical life coach, social justice educator, and anti-capitalist business consultant. In work and in life, Bear actively looks at the intersections of power and privilege and will ask you to do the same, pushing both you and your business in the direction of more liberated moments. Their current offerings include Anti-Capitalist Business Consulting and their online course, Freely: An Anti-Capitalist Guide To Pricing Your Work.Listen to the full episode to hear: The value of doing money mindset work How your relationship to money affects just about every area of your business, including a deep dive on pricing How Bear approaches making their services more accessible  And what accessible actually MEANS in the first place... Learn more about Bear Hebert: Anti-Capitalist Business Consulting Freely: An Anti-Capitalist Guide To Pricing Your Work  Follow Bear on Instagram Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
You're not a spreadsheet and you're not a calculator. You're a person with experiences, feelings, and history. But when most of us think about managing money, we think about it like it's math. We expect to make decisions about money like a calculator. But managing your money is actually more like figuring out psychology than math. Human beings don't make decisions like a calculator. We make decisions emotionally—and that includes financial ones. Learning how to manage your money well is part skill, sure. But a whole lot more is about examining your own relationship with money and dealing with all that baggage you're bringing to the table.How you think about money, the choices you make with your own money, and the relationship you have with it is ultimately impacted by a lot of stuff BESIDES just those decisions. It's influenced by what you learned about money as a kid. It's influenced by your reactions to previous decisions you've made with your money - both good and bad. We all have a completely unique and individual relationship to money that's influenced by all those factors. By examining that relationship, we can understand WHY we do the things we do and think the way we think, identify those influences -- and ultimately be able to make more conscious choices about what we do with our money.All this month we're going to examine the psychology behind money and why we think the way we do about it. To kick us off, I want to talk about buying things because that's where most of us start thinking about money. What should we buy? Or even SHOULD we buy something? We're bombarded with messages every day that encourage us to buy, buy, buy. Sometimes we even get told that it's patriotic. But WHY do we buy what we buy? That's what I want to know. And, as it happens, I know someone who LOVES geeking out on buying and marketing psychology. Meet Margo Aaron. She's a psychological researcher, turned marketer and the founder of That Seems Important, which is quite possibly my favorite blog in existence. She also co-hosts "Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites", an award-winning show about marketing and teaches writing and marketing to business owners. When I want to nerd out on the psychology behind marketing, Margo is my go-to. Listen to the full episode to hear: How shopping was INVENTED (yes, I said invented!) Why we buy things we WANT instead of only things we need How to ethically use the power of psychology for good in your marketing Learn more about Margo Aaron:  Marketing Masterclass: The Art and Science Of Getting People To Care on Skillshare Why We Buy Things We Don’t Need on Medium Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
What if you could change the way you price your services and double your revenue without bringing on any new clients or changing anything about HOW you work with your clients? Oh, yes, it’s possible!Sometimes, just switching up how you're pricing your services can have a dramatic effect on your overall profitability—and I don't just mean raising your prices—but reimagining how those prices are structured in the first place.We've been talking this month about creative strategies around pricing or packaging your services. And as part of that exploration, I wanted to re-air an interview that I did with Lacey Sites from a Lit Up Life in 2019. Lacey is a business mentor and success coach for high-performing women entrepreneurs and she created a unique revenue sharing pricing structure that allowed her to scale her one-on-one coaching business and dramatically grow her profits without bringing on a single new client. This unique model allowed Lacey to double down on her investment in each client, reap the rewards when their work with her pays off—and it also creates a pricing structure that builds trust and represents the true long-term partnership she wants to build with each client.This episode originally aired in December of 2019. It's been one of the most listened-to episodes ever and I think that's because it creates a model that allows you to genuinely grow and scale a service business without having to give up the close 1-1 client relationship. Listen to the full episode to hear: Increasing revenue without increasing work by using a revenue or profit-sharing model The logistics of actually creating a revenue-sharing model How a revenue-sharing model requires Lacey to filter her clients more carefully  The impact that shifting to this pricing model had on Lacey’s business Learn more about Lacey Sites: LITerally Podcast With Lacey Sites @alituplife in Instagram @A Lit Up Life on Facebook Facebook Group: The Lit Up and Loaded Entrepreneur Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles
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