Break the Ceiling

By Susan Boles

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Growth is only hard when your business isn't built for it. Break the Ceiling is the podcast for agencies & consultants who want to break through self-imposed growth ceilings by shirring up their operations and increasing capacity, so they can take their growth from stalled to skyrocket, without working more or hiring the wrong people. Host Susan Boles sparks new ideas and solutions for all your biggest growth headaches to conquer bottlenecks, ease workflows, and get your business on track to double revenue. Without sacrificing quality of work, client satisfaction or letting any pieces fall through the cracks. Whether you're interested in back-end business operations, finance & accounting, team management, technology, project management, client management or human resources, we dig into the underlying problems that might actually be the reason you and your business have maxed out on growth. Learn more at

Episode Date
Taking a Break

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:

Aug 03, 2021
Bake In Boundaries in Your Default Settings with Brittany Berger

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:

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Jul 27, 2021
Examining Your Relationship With Your Business With Nicole Lewis-Keeber

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jul 20, 2021
Busting Productivity Myths and Redefining Work Life Balance with Tanya Dalton

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jul 13, 2021
The End Goal of Maintenance Mode, What it Is, and What it Isn't

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jul 06, 2021
Self Awareness as the Key That Unlocks Consistency with Marie Poulin

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jun 29, 2021
When to Quit and When to Persevere in Your Business with Margo Aaron

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jun 22, 2021
Building Healthy Habits That Facilitate Consistency with Sarah Von Bargen

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jun 15, 2021
Preparing Your Business So You Can Take a Real Break with Claire Pelletreau

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:

Learn more about Susan:


Jun 08, 2021
Hiring, Selecting Business Partners, and Growing a Team That Enables Maintenance Mode with India Jackson

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:

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Jun 01, 2021
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:

Learn more about Susan:

May 25, 2021
Develop a Sales Process With An Eye Toward Consistency with Allison Davis

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 moment

While 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:

Learn more about Susan:


May 18, 2021
Work on a Consistent Message and Marketing System to Prepare For Maintenance Mode with Michelle Mazur

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:

Learn more about Susan:

May 11, 2021
Shift Your Model To Get Your Business to Maintenance Mode with Mark Butler

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:

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May 04, 2021
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 way

But... 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:

Learn more about Susan:


Apr 27, 2021
Finka Jerkovic - Assessing + Addressing Your Capacity as Founder

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Apr 20, 2021
Assessing Your Business' Capacity with Anna Wolf

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.


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:

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Apr 13, 2021
Startup vs Maintenance CEO: Is it One or the Other? with Sarah Avenir

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Apr 06, 2021
Starting With the End in Mind and Reverse Engineering the Plan with Ryan Lazanis

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:

Mar 30, 2021
What Does Maintenance Mode Look Like? featuring Ryan Lazanis, Anna Wolf, and Tamara Kemper

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Mar 23, 2021
The Best of Break the Ceiling – Michelle Warner

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

Learn more about Michelle:

Learn more about Susan:

Mar 16, 2021
The Best of Break the Ceiling – Charlie Gilkey

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

Learn more about Charlie:

Learn more about Susan:


Mar 09, 2021
The Best of Break the Ceiling – Justin Jackson

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

Learn more about Justin:

Learn more about Susan:

Mar 02, 2021
Leaving Social Media and Re-Investing in Organic Growth with Nathalie Lussier

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Resources: (affiliate)

Feb 23, 2021
Why SEO is Well-Suited For Privacy-Focused Marketing with Kim Herrington

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:

Learn more about Susan:


Feb 16, 2021
Security and Digital Privacy Concerns for Small Businesses with Jessica Robinson

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:

Other resources from this episode

Learn more about Susan:

Feb 09, 2021
Growing a Business With Digital Privacy as a Priority with Paul Jarvis

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Feb 02, 2021
Make Financial Choices and Business Decisions Based on Your Definition of Success with Brian Plain

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jan 26, 2021
Making "Enough" in Our Business with Rita Barry

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jan 19, 2021
Understanding Our Money Mindset Lineage with Bear Hebert

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jan 12, 2021
Why We Buy The Things We Buy with Margo Aaron

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Jan 05, 2021
Increasing Profits Through a Revenue Sharing Structure with Lacey Sites

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:

Learn more about Susan:

Dec 22, 2020
Combining Intensive Service Offerings with Recurring Revenue with Hunter Niland Welling

Imagine your ideal way of working with a client.

For me, it's working ALL in on a single project. I'm someone who likes going 100% or 0%. I'm either all in or I want to shut my brain completely off.

What does it look like for you?

This month, we've been talking about creative offerings and pricing strategies this month and thinking generally about how we offer and price our services. I talked to Kate Strathmann in Episode 59 about using pricing strategies to create more equitable businesses.

I also talked with Rob Howard in Episode 60 about how to create offerings that build recurring revenue and strengthen relationships, even in an industry that's traditionally very project-oriented.

Today, I'm talking to Hunter Niland Welling, my business’ Chief Marketing Officer.

She is a marketing consultant and coach for women growing high-end service-based businesses. I wanted to bring Hunter on the podcast because she has a way of working with her clients that, when I experienced it as a client, was so effective that I actually shifted my OWN work with my 1:1 clients to the same model.

Hunter has created what I like to call Recurring Intensives. It is a PERFECT model for folks like Hunter and me who REALLY like to go all in and work in an intensive style while building long-term relationships with their clients and creating recurring revenue.

If you're unfamiliar with intensives or intensive-style offerings—which you might also hear referred to as VIP days or a Buy-My-Day kind of offering—they are short, very dedicated time blocks that are normally used to implement a specific project.

What Hunter and I do is create one of these VIP days every month for our clients. Each month, we spend an entire day dedicated to a single client. This format works well for us because we get to work in a way that feels right for us but it also benefits the client because they get to see results immediately without wasting a ton of time in meetings. For the client, it's short and sweet and then the results show up that same day.

If you want to get a better idea of some different intensive formats, take a listen to Episode 12 where I talked to Ashley Gartland and Hailey Thomas about the different ways they've implemented intensive-style offerings in their businesses.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to combine intensive-style offerings with recurring revenue
  • How Hunter developed intensives as the right model for her and her clients
  • The kind of impact she's seen on both her business AND her clients as a result of implementing recurring intensives

Learn more about Hunter Welling:

Learn more about Susan:

Dec 15, 2020
Building Long-Term Relationships as a Core Strategy with Rob Howard

When you think about the relationships you build with your clients, what does that look like?

Are you setting it up from the very first touchpoint to be a long-term relationship? Or do you approach it as a one-and-done kind of thing?

Neither is better than the other—but your business values influence your business model, rippling out into how you build relationships, do your work, and create your legacy.

Last week, I talked with Kate Strathmann about using pricing strategies to move towards creating more equitable businesses. We talked about making sure that you’re using strategies that make sense for YOUR business and how the pricing strategies you choose are one way to build your values into the DNA of your business.

Your values SHOULD be a part of your pricing and business model choices from day one and my guest today has really taken that idea to heart.

Meet Rob Howard, the founder and CEO of Howard Development & Consulting, the web development firm that creative agencies trust when every pixel matters.

One of Rob’s core values is building relationships—and not just ANY relationships.

To him, long term relationships with both his clients and with his team are essential to business. He treats clients as friends—folks he’s going to be working with for 5 or 10 years, at least. And several of his team members have been with him for a decade.

Rob’s created some pretty unique offerings that reflect that value and we’re going to talk all about it today on the podcast.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Why Rob has something that he calls an Assurance Plan which is a hybrid retainer that allows him to continue to work with his web design clients long term
  • Why Rob offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on his work
  • The logistics behind Rob’s offerings and how these are just a few of the ways that he infuses relationship-building into every aspect of his agency 
  • How to create offerings that embody your company values
  • Details on crafting ALL your services around a long-term recurring relationship model

Learn more about Rob Howard:

Learn more about Susan:

Dec 08, 2020
Pricing Strategies Through a Lens of Justice With Kate Strathmann

What kinds of changes are you thinking about for next year?

Are you making a pivot? Focusing on taking a break? Diving deep into improving at your craft? Maybe you're thinking about raising your prices?

One of the changes that you might be considering is a shift in your business model, or how you package your services—or even how you price them.

The decision about how to price, package, or accept payment for your services can be a bit of a challenge, especially in a service business where the choices are limitless. Those decisions say a lot about your business: who you want to work with, how you want to engage with them, and what your values as a company are.

The strategies and psychology behind pricing your services can affect the behavior of your potential clients. It can serve as a filter to make sure you're bringing in the RIGHT clients or customers. Low prices aren't going to attract enterprise clients. Likewise, super high prices are going to be a barrier to entry for small businesses or individuals looking to work with you.

You can use your pricing to create exclusivity—BUT, you can also use your pricing to create access and to start moving towards using your business to create more social and economic justice.

My guest today is Kate Strathmann.

Kate is the owner and director of Wanderwell, a consulting and bookkeeping practice that grows thriving small businesses while investigating new models for being in business. Wanderwell integrates financial expertise with an empathic, vision-forward approach, and leads with the belief that businesses can help create a new paradigm that centers people, community, and the environment.

Kate spends a lot of time exploring new techniques and strategies to create more equitable businesses and works with business owners to start thinking about how to implement them in their own business.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • The different pricing strategies you might consider using, like sliding scale or pay what you wish pricing models
  • When these strategies make sense, and when a different strategy might be a better option
  • Some of the pitfalls that Kate's seen come up as folks start to implement some of these strategies (and how to avoid them)

Learn more about Kate:

Learn more about Susan:

Dec 01, 2020
Managing Increased Demand When You Have Less Capacity with Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick

On the podcast lately, we've been talking about how to manage change, how to become more resilient, and how to develop our skills in these areas—both personally and as leaders—so that our businesses can weather storms and so our team can stay calm, relaxed and supported.

I talked to Elatia Abate in Episode 54 about what it MEANS to be resilient and how much of a role mindset plays in our ability to be resilient. In the last episode with Lauren Caselli, you can see how that played out for her in real-life this year in how she both weathered a HUGE business change and how she dealt with the loss of the business she had spent almost a decade building.

Today I’m going to talk about the OTHER end of that change spectrum.

What happens when things go BOOM and you have to figure out how to manage that boom in your business at a time when your personal situation might actually mean that you have less time than ever to spend in or on your business?

Today’s guest is Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick.

Alethea is the Principal and Founder of Co-Creating Inclusion, a diversity, equity, and inclusion firm with a focus on shifting culture and driving equity through strategic consulting, leadership and team development, workshop facilitation, and business integration. Alethea’s mission is to help people, teams, and organizations create culture transformation through inclusion and belonging in order to co-create the conditions where all can thrive and do their best and most fulfilling work.

Alethea is also the mom of 2 kids, 8 and 11-year-old boys, in Brooklyn. And, like a lot of us, she’s now running a business and being the main parent, at home, dealing with virtual school for both kids—all while her business has seen unprecedented growth this year.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What 2020 has looked like for Alethea and how she’s figuring out how to balance business and homeschooling her kids—and how she’s being conscious about taking care of her own needs, too
  • What techniques and systems she’s put into place to try and cope with all the changes that this year has brought
  • How Alethea’s day-to-day looks as she manages having the capacity to work less but having MORE business than ever
  • How to balance business and life when they're both changing

Learn more about Alethea:

Learn more about Susan:

Resources mentioned in this episode

Nov 24, 2020
Managing Through The Worst Case Scenario with Lauren Caselli

What happens when the worst-case scenario becomes reality? Every business owner I know has that nightmare that runs through the back of their head...

What if it all just stops?

What if no one needs my services and suddenly no one needs what I'm selling?

What do I do then?

For a lot of business owners, this has been the year where they had to figure out what the answer to those questions was.

How do you manage that change? Do you shut down? Do you pivot?

When everything stops, how do you decide what to do next? How do you actually get through that and lead your business through change? Or make the decision to actually close?

Today, I'm talking to Lauren Caselli. Lauren was on the show back in March in Episode 25. I talked to her about cash flow planning in a crisis right as the shutdown was really starting to take effect and Lauren's event planning business was heavily affected.

Lauren's been through a MASSIVE change this year, so I wanted to bring her back on the show to talk about how she's been managing the impact on her business.

Lauren Caselli helps womxn and gender non-binary folx get paid like the expert that they are. Lauren used to run an event planning business for tech, and after her best year ever in 2019, was ready to give 2020 a run for its money. Sadly, the opposite happened, but out of breakdowns come breakthroughs.

She is the founder of the Boss Lady Bash, a now laid-to-rest community of female entrepreneurs in Montana, and is working on launching The Money Club that helps womxn make strategic choices with the well-earned money that they're making.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Lauren’s cash flow management skills gave her the time she needed to make strategic decisions instead of reacting out of panic
  • Making a HUGE pivot in your business and how to stay resilient
  • Processing grief as a business skill
  • An update on what Lauren decided to do about her business this year 

Learn more about Lauren:

Learn more about Susan:

Nov 17, 2020
Managing Risks and Contingency Planning with Mary Beth Simon

What would happen if you had to step away from your business for a few weeks? A few months? Would everything come crashing to a halt? Or would there be a clear path forward for someone else to pick up the baton and keep your business going?

Being resilient means being able to bounce back from adversity, to pivot and reset after a change. But you only become truly resilient if you examine where your risks are. Where could hiccups happen? What could go wrong? And then you figure out a plan for how to handle that scenario if it really does happen.

We do this all the time with cash flow projections and with strategic planning in our businesses.

But we very rarely plan for what happens in the absolute worst-case scenario of you not being able to run your business.

As a business owner, YOU are a risk.

YOU built your business and most likely, it depends on you in some form or fashion to keep going. Even if you have a staff or other people that do a lot of the day-to-day work, they still look to you for direction. If you suddenly aren't there anymore, what happens?

That's what contingency planning is all about: making a plan for what happens to your business (and your personal business) if you need to step away for a while or you just flat out can’t run the business.

My guest on this episode, Mary Beth Simon, is an expert in planning for contingencies. Mary Beth is the founder of Niche Partnership Consulting where she helps business owners create plans for transitions and crisis. Mary Beth helps business owners teach those who depend on them so that they're prepared to step in if something happens and to minimize the suffering and prevent someone from experiencing added pain and struggle during already difficult times.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Who should be creating contingency plans and what it looks like in the real world when you have to execute your plan
  • How important your preparation is when it comes to ensuring your business can survive a big change 
  • Tips for planning for a worst-case scenario 
  • How being prepared for crisis helps you be resilient in your business and personal life 

Learn more about Mary Beth Simon:

Learn more about Susan:

Nov 10, 2020
How Personal Resilience Builds Business Resilience with Melody Wilding

As founders and business owners, we tend to build businesses that reflect us.

Our strengths become the strengths of our business. And, yep, our weaknesses become the weaknesses of the business… because we’re the ones who are building it.

That’s why investing in developing skills to strengthen how we personally deal with change creates a huge impact on how we approach leading our businesses through change.

If you listened to the episode with Elatia Abate, you know that the ability to be resilient and flexible in the face of change IS a skill and a mindset that you can work on. You can't control the change (because change is inevitable!)—but you can control how you react to it.

On today’s episode, I’m talking with Melody Wilding. Melody is a former therapist turned leadership and executive coach for smart, sensitive high-achievers who are tired of getting in their own way.

Melody is a licensed social worker and a former researcher at Rutgers University. She is also a professor of Human Behavior at Hunter College and she has a group coaching program all about building resilience.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Melody uses systems and structures to help minimize stress, build resilience and manage change in her life and business
  • Why being kind to yourself and empathetic to your team is a HUGE part of effectively managing a rapidly changing environment
  • How to accept that during intense change, your bandwidth is a LOT smaller than it was
  • Techniques and systems to building personal and business resilience in your own life
  • How to find the right structures that minimize your mental load so you can take care of you and your team

Learn more about Melody:

Learn more about Susan:

Nov 03, 2020
Managing Change and Building Our Resilience Muscles with Elatia Abate

Change is hard.

There's no real way around that.

It's disruptive, it breaks your flow and it takes time and resources to react to and manage changes as they happen. And yet, you and your business won't flourish without some change.

Being able to manage and adapt to change in a rapidly changing environment is one of the hallmarks of being resilient. But for most people, change means unknown and scary.

Our brains evolved to analyze and to predict—or try to!—what’s going to happen next. As humans, we’re hardwired to hate uncertainty. So, theoretically, the more "known" you can make the change before it happens, the more comfortable people will be with it.

But, right now... we're living in a world where there's no real way to make the change known. This is change that no one is really sure how to manage or when the pace of change will slow.

As overused as the phrase has become this year, it's unprecedented. NO one has a model for how to deal with everything 2020 has thrown at us. 

So... how DO we go about building up those change management muscles? How do we make ourselves and our business stronger and better able to weather this ever-changing environment?

Meet Elatia Abate. She is an entrepreneur, educator, and future-forward strategist. She partners with organizations that range in size from Fortune 500 to early-stage start-ups to help leaders make sense of the ever-growing disruption in our world and channel that disruption into tangible results.

And she has a line on her website that I just love. It says, "change is unpredictable. But we can still be ready."

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How resilience and change management are intertwined
  • What does the future of work/future of business look like NOW?
  • Strategies to exist and thrive in a constantly changing environment 
  • What Elatia learned from her personal experiment in resiliency

Learn more about Elatia:

Learn more about Susan:

Oct 27, 2020
Driving New Business and Managing Operations Using ClickUp with Layla Pomper

What happens when you FULLY commit to something in your business?

What happens when you are completely, totally, 100% all-in?

This month we’re talking all about no-code tools and today’s guest, Layla Pomper, has taken her commitment to ClickUp—an extremely flexible no-code project management platform—to the next level.

You can use no-code tools like ClickUp to streamline and automate your internal processes and enhance your communication with clients. You can also build digital products, help your students learn more effectively, and add to diversity your revenue streams.

Some of the no-code tools out there are so flexible and so capable that you can actually run your entire business, pretty much end-to-end on them. 

Well, Layla is ALL IN with ClickUp. She uses it to bring in new clients by using it as her opt-in and as the topic of her YouTube channel. She uses it to communicate and manage her one-on-one clients. She uses it to manage her own team and all of ProcessDriven's operations. She even now has a small group learning program all about how to use ClickUp more effectively.

She went all in… and it's paid BIG dividends for her business and her clients.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Layla’s using ClickUp EVERYWHERE in her business
  • The impact she's seen by systemizing everything using ClickUp
  • How to use no-code templates and tools as an opt-in and marketing tool
  • How to get the most out of the no-code tools you're using in your business

Learn more about Layla:

Learn more about Susan:

Oct 20, 2020
Building Products and Adding Value Using No-Code Tools with Brittany Berger

The landscape of software is changing: no longer do you need to know how to code to build what you need. Now, building software has been democratized. No-code tools allow you to build your own software which means you can build custom products, services and tools on your own without having to spend piles of money developing custom software.

There are lots of ways you can use this technology to benefit your business: you can streamline and automate internal processes, you can build tools and resources to diversify your revenue streams, and you can even use these tools to market your business and bring in new clients.

Oftentimes when we think about a product-based business, we think about physical products or about maybe a software-as-a-service business, but there are SO many more ways that you can harness no-code tools to build your own apps, resources, and tools.

This month, we're talking about how you can harness these no-code tools to increase your operational capacity, attract new clients, add new evergreen revenue streams—and ultimately grow your business. Last week, I talked to Jason Staats about using no-code tools internally to automate and scale processes and to improve client communication.

This week, we're talking about using no-code tools to actually build your own custom software products. My guest today is the queen of this. Brittany Berger is the founder of Work Brighter, a digital media company that helps productive unicorns go beyond working smarter to a version of productivity that makes room for “unproductive” things like rest, self-care, and fun.

She builds all kinds of no-code tools and resources and sells them and she uses them in a LOT of different ways. We'll talk about this more in detail during the episode, but Brittany sells the tools individually as stand-alone products. They make up a good chunk of the value proposition behind her community, the Work Brighter Clubhouse, and she uses them to help folks who take her courses implement faster and easier.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Brittany’s business is structured around no-code tools
  • How she comes up with ideas for new no-code products
  • What her development process looks like to build and refine these products
  • How to use no-code to build products and additional revenue streams 
  • How to use no-code tools and resources to add value to a community or course

Learn more about Brittany:

Learn more about Susan:

Oct 13, 2020
Scaling a Service-Based Business Using No-Code Tools and Solutions with Jason Staats

Software has come a LONG way in the last decade or so. 

When I started my first business as a professional organizer in 2006, it was still pretty manual.  My business systems consisted of a website, Quicken, a label maker, some file folders, and printed out checklists. I needed physical signatures on my contracts and took checks as payments—and I had a fax number.

It might seem like it was a simpler time before—there was less to keep up with—but our systems were also cumbersome, inefficient, expensive and the idea of building a customized software tool was only available to big companies with big budgets.

Fast forward to today and we have apps and tools that can solve just about any problem in your small business with the click of a button pretty inexpensively. We can automate and streamline our workflows and take advantage of technology to operate a very lean, very profitable service business using tools that you don't need a degree in coding to figure out.

I'm talking about no-code or low-code tools, which means that the tools have been built specifically to enable YOU, someone with no background or experience in building software, to build your own custom tools.

And those tools are very, very powerful when it comes to operating a service business. They can be the key to you taking some time off and knowing that your systems are still flowing, clients are still being taken care of, your team knows exactly what to do. When harnessed, no-code tools can be THE thing that lets you scale to $2M+ with 2 team members. I've seen it happen.

And this month, we're talking about the different ways you can harness these no-code tools to increase your operational capacity, attract new clients, add new evergreen revenue streams—and ultimately grow your business.

To kick us off, I’m talking with one of my accounting friends, Jason Staats, who also happens to be a huge fan of no-code tools. Jason is a CPA in Salem, Oregon. He's a principal at Brenner LLP by day and accounting tech enthusiast by night. Jason spent his first 10 years in the tax profession and has now spent the last five years running a remote CAS team, working with staff and clients across the country.

Jason is especially interested in the intersection of the accounting industry and emergent technology—and, specifically, how we can turn the automation doom and gloom narrative on its head and show accountants how to proactively leverage new technology.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to use no-code tools to scale operations (because the more efficient the workflow, the more clients you can serve with the same staff, and the more profitable you can be)
  • Using no-code tools to automate workflow—both internal AND with clients
  • How to leverage automated technology so client communication feels really personal 

Learn more about Jason:

Learn more about Susan:

Oct 06, 2020
How To Measure the Value and Success of Your Podcast with Tara McMullin

Is it worth it?

That’s the number one question I get about this podcast.

And it’s a good one because we should be evaluating any and every business decision based on the business results we’re expecting it to create. According to today’s guest, evaluating your podcast’s value and success can be evaluated based on if it drives results for your business, puts money in your bank account, gets emails into your inbox, or gets you sales calls."

In the series, Is It Worth It, I’ve been talking about investing in our businesses and trying to answer the question of whether or not an investment was a worthwhile one.

In this episode, I thought it’d be fun to take you behind the scenes and talk through how and why I decided to invest in starting this podcast, how it all works behind the scenes, and a look back a year into podcasting.

To help me answer the question of if it's been worth it, I’m delighted to bring my friend Tara McMullin to discuss just that. Tara is a small business strategist, host of the What Works Podcast,  and the founder of What Works, an online community for small business owners. Tara is also the co-founder of Yellow House Media, the company that helps produce this podcast.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How do you evaluate the ROI of a podcast?
  • My decision-making process and how long I was willing to give it 
  • The strategy behind my podcast and what business goals I was trying to achieve
  • How much time goes into producing a single podcast episode 

Learn more about Tara McMullin:

Learn more about Susan:

Sep 29, 2020
How Do You Measure the ROI On Your Social Media Investment with Andréa Jones

You've decided to make an investment in your business. You evaluated the alternatives, you accepted the costs and you decided this particular investment was the right one for your business.

You're about to commit a significant chunk of time, money, and resources to this. And, at least for now, you've decided this investment is worth investing in.

But later down the road, you'll need to decide whether this was a good, helpful investment that moved your business forward—or if it ultimately didn't accomplish what you thought it would.

To evaluate your investment later on, you need to answer: what does success LOOK like? What will tell you that this investment WAS a success? What are the measurements for success?

Is it new clients? New leads? More efficiency? More profit?

What are your GOALS for this investment and how will you know you've reached them?

Sometimes that metrics piece can be a little fuzzy. There's usually a lot of intangible benefits that come from investments as Michelle Mazur talked about in episode 46 with her rebrand. Investing in that professional rebrand and website paid off in credibility, speaking engagements, clients, and more. But sometimes that can be hard to get cold hard data on.

Social media is one of those investments you can choose to make in your business where the ROI isn’t always super clear. That’s why I invited Andréa Jones—host of the Savvy Social podcast, creator of the Savvy Social School, and an expert at social media—to talk all about measuring the ROI on your investments even if there isn’t a straight line from investment to payoff. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to measure and evaluate whether or not your social media strategy is "working"
  • How coaches, consultants, and service-based business owners can use social media as a tool for business connection
  • Why Andréa prefers tracking profile visits and link clicks over followers and engagement
  • How to evaluate your social media data—and why any strategy needs at least 3 months to see what works and what doesn’t

Learn more about Andréa Jones:

Learn more about Susan:

Sep 22, 2020
When Your Values & Opportunities Collide with Nancy Jane Smith & Bonnie Gillespie

How do you decide what to invest in?

How do you examine the opportunity costs of that investment?

How do you make sure you're giving your investments every chance to succeed?

That's what we've been talking about in the Is It "Worth It"? Series. In the last part of this series, I spoke with Michelle Mazur about how to approach investments in your business and with Beryl Young about deciding WHAT to invest in.

In this episode, I want to talk about when an investment seems like a pretty straightforward payoff—but taking advantage of that opportunity might conflict with your values.

The question I’m asking, in addition to the others above, is: how do you balance the financial health of your business against your values?

Of course, those values SHOULD be an important consideration of any investment you’re making. But we all still need to make money in order for our businesses to survive.

In this episode, I’m talking with two guests, Nancy Jane Smith and Bonnie Gillespie, about their thought processes behind making some big business decisions.

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor with thirteen years in private practice and has spent 20+ years working as a counselor and coach for people with high-functioning anxiety. She's written three books on living happier and is the host of the Live Happier podcast.

Bonnie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. As a weekly columnist, she began demystifying the casting process for actors in 1999. Her most popular book is Self-Management for Actors, the curriculum upon which her teaching is based. As a producer and Emmy-honored casting director, Bonnie specializes in indie darlings. Whether casting, coaching, or exploring the woo as The Astrologer's Daughter, she is passionate about leaving this world better than she found it.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What if the ROI could be great, but it conflicts with your values?
  • Why Nancy decided to fully pull her business activities out of Facebook and Instagram—and why they were at odds with her personal values
  • What Nancy’s noticed in her business since leaving social media and how she’s grown her email list without the help of Instagram 
  • How Bonnie uses her Facebook account strictly for business (and how she’s set it up that way)
  • The strategy behind Bonnie’s Facebook ads and why she prefers Instagram and Facebook to other social media or professional platforms

Learn more about Nancy Jane Smith:

Learn more about Bonnie Gillespie:

Learn more about Susan:

Other resources mentioned in this episode

Sep 15, 2020
How Do You Decide WHAT to Invest In? with Beryl Young

When you're deciding what to invest in, examining the opportunity cost of your potential investments is a crucial part of the decision making process.

Every option includes a cost associated with it because any opportunity requires an investment of time, money, or resources—or all of the above!

And if we invest them in one initiative?

Then they're not available for other opportunities.

We all have a process we go through when we're thinking through new investments in our business. Whether you're conscious of your process or not... it's there.

In the last episode, you heard from Michelle Mazur about how she thinks about investments—that 3-6 month minimum investment. Today, we’re continuing the conversation about making investments in your business with Beryl Young.

Beryl is the founder & CEO of Momtography and Teentography, about how she decides what to invest in for her business. As a former elementary school teacher, Beryl's true calling is in education. Through a range of curriculum and programs for ANY type of skill level or camera, Momtography and Teentography is on a mission to show families how to unlock their creative potential and find a bit of joy in each and every day.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Beryl decides what to invest in—or not—for her business
  • The opportunity cost of the investments Beryl’s made over the years
  • The 3 main buckets where Beryl invested her resources and the outcome of each

Learn more about Beryl Young:

Learn more about Susan:

Sep 03, 2020
How to Approach Investments in Your Business with Michelle Mazur

Deciding whether or not to make an investment in your business — whether it's hiring a consultant, enrolling in a course, getting a new piece of software — is always a bit of a gamble.

You're trying to manage your risk, manage your cash flow, predict the future, evaluate the opportunity cost, and a million other parts and pieces.

All to answer the question, "Will it be worth it"? Because when it comes to return on investment, that's the question we're really trying to answer.

Many entrepreneurs ask whether the investment will make enough money to cover the expenses. But that's just scratching the surface. The return on investment question goes much deeper than that and involves many factors.

For the next month, we'll be talking about return on investment, how to think about it, how to evaluate it when it's murky, and, ultimately, how to use that to make better decisions about investment in your business.

To kick us off, today I'm talking to Michelle Mazur, the founder of Communication Rebel. Michelle helps business owners shake things up (but having trouble talking about it) through their messaging. In this episode, Michelle shares some of the significant investments she's made in her business that had a long payoff, her approach for evaluating investments in her business, and her view on the intangible, long-term benefits of those investments.

Listen to the full episode to hear: 

  • The framework for making investment decisions
  • What categories of things to consider and evaluate against
  • How to consider the intangible benefits that are often hard to measure
  • When big investments don't always pay off

Learn more about Michelle Mazur:

Learn more about Susan:

Sep 01, 2020
How Your Team Impacts Your Business' Ecosystem with Emily Thompson

Hiring the RIGHT people in the RIGHT positions with the RIGHT mix of skills makes your business more efficient, more effective, and more profitable. And having just one wrong team member can tank the whole thing.

Getting this right is all about your strategic—and every day—decisions.

Your decisions on who you hire touches everything in your business. Decisions about what your process looks like affect your software choices. Decisions about your business model affect your marketing strategy. Decisions about your software affect your cash flow.

And this all ties back into how your business is an ecosystem. Each and every decision you make matters and can affect all the other areas of your business.

Your decisions around who you choose to fill those roles and how you onboard those new team members all impact how effectively and profitably your business can operate.

No stranger to making hard decisions and priming herself for growth is Emily Thompson. Emily is the co-founder and host of Being Boss, a podcast for creative entrepreneurs and coauthor of Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms. Emily is also the founder of Almanac Supply Co, a retail concept that makes and curates products that help people connect with the seasons and live closely with nature.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Emily uses key members of her team to run both Being Boss and Almanac Supply Co.
  • What her hiring (and firing) process looks like—and how she preps herself for those hard conversations
  • How she hired the right person in the perfect role for their skillset and it resulted in tripling their revenue

Learn more about Emily Thompson:

Learn more about Susan:

Aug 25, 2020
How Your Software Impacts Your Business' Ecosystem with Melanie Richards

Software is the lifeblood of any modern business.

Software keeps projects on track and helps clients pay you.

Software is how we communicate with each other.

Software allows you to operate leaner and smaller than ever before.

And every piece of software involved in your business has a role to play—an integral part of your business’ ecosystem. It has a job description and it's a core member of your team, just like any human. That’s why it’s even more important that you have the right tool, doing the right job, at the right price.

Choosing the right software tool, particularly when it comes to your choice of project or task management, can impact how well your team communicates, how well-informed your clients are, and how they feel about your service as a whole. Your financial software choices can also affect how quickly you can send an invoice, how quickly clients pay you, and ultimately, how healthy your cash flow is.

And that's what we're talking about today with Melanie Richards, owner of Modern Traction, a boutique web design agency. Mel is an award-winning web designer and brand strategist with over two decades of experience. Her turnkey approach is designed to save you time, ensures your brand and messaging is on point, and that your website is built to drive growth. Mel’s on a mission to create efficient marketing solutions that support busy entrepreneurs to gain faster traction and multiply their impact.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How the right choice of software has helped Mel scale her company, increase profits, and deliver better results for her clients
  • How the right software tools make your team more effective and how ClickUp helps Mel’s team know what to do next
  • All the tools that have been essential for Mel’s business
  • Lower costs, less complication, more opportunities for automation 

Learn more about Melanie Richards:

Learn more about Susan:

Aug 18, 2020
How Your Process Impacts Your Business' Ecosystem with Tamara Kemper

Do you know the secret to scaling profitably and effectively?

In reality, it’s not much of a secret. It’s just something that not a lot of companies prioritize: building a solid process and making sure it's documented.

It’s unfortunate, really, because creating well-documented processes is the one thing that I consistently see that makes a huge difference in growing lean, resilient companies.

It's not necessarily sexy but documented processes affect every area of your business ecosystem and make a big impact.

A rock-solid process allows you to deliver better service to your clients, onboard team members with ease, deliver projects and services more profitably, free up time for you and your team, and use software to automate tasks.

My guest today is one of my favorite fellow process geeks. Meet Tamara Kemper, the founder of The Process Mavens where she helps CEOs get back time and peace of mind through systematizing and documenting their business. As a former classroom teacher, she puts humans first when it comes to improving business processes and patiently guides her clients through a clear plan to make things work better.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How having solid processes make your business more profitable and effective
  • Why your processes inform your software and team choices
  • Why it’s so important to document your process
  • And the giant return you get out of investing in your process

Learn more about Tamara Kemper:

Learn more about Susan:

Aug 11, 2020
How Your Default Decisions Impact your Business' Ecosystem with Ashley Gartland

Every decision you make in your business impacts every other area of your business.

Yet, we often tend to think of the different areas of our businesses—marketing, finance, operations, team—as if they’re disconnected from each other.

In actuality, business doesn’t work that way.

Your business is an ecosystem.

Every part of your business is interconnected with other areas of your business. The decisions you make about the kind of business model you have affects how you market your business.

Today, I’m excited to have Ashley Gartland back on the show to talk about how these decisions impact the size and roles of the team you need to have (if you have a team at all!) and the software you need to use. That, in turn, results in how profitable your company ultimately is.

So, in other words... the kind of decisions you make matter. 

Ashley’s a business coach who helps busy small business owners and online entrepreneurs simplify and streamline their business so they can grow to the next level and experience more freedom and flexibility in their life. In case you missed it, tune into Episode 12 where Ashley discussed how she’s using Voxer with her coaching clients.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How your default decisions impact your business model
  • How these decisions can determine your approach to marketing and what software to use
  • How to view your finances as a symptom and not a cause
  • And why your finances are a trailing indicator

Learn more about Ashley Gartland:

Learn more about Susan:

Aug 04, 2020
How to Build a Community Around Your Business with Katie Hunt

Right now, building a community around your business is more popular than ever.

You might even be considering adding one to your business—perhaps to save you time, to add another income stream, or to make you more accessible to your clients—or all of the above.

No matter why you might consider adding community to your business model, you might wonder—a business owner who does the same thing is already doing this. So how can I do it, too? Should I do it at all?

Seeing someone beat you to the punch might feel deflating but I’m here to tell you that there are infinite ways to shift your business model and make it all your own.

No two businesses are ever the same. Even if two business owners offer the same thing, they’re doing it in their own, unique way. That’s why if you hear an idea for a new revenue stream or a new way of operating—or if you implement the same thing—it’ll always look different in your business compared to another business. It’s your special sauce.

In the last few episodes, we’ve been talking about using new revenue streams to create strength and resiliency and minimize risk in your business. Specifically, we've been doing a deep dive on membership and community models.

I talked to Sophie Bujold in Episode 39 about where a community should live in your business (and whether or not you should have one in the first place). And in Episode 40, I talked to Margy Thomas about how her community was an evolution of the work she'd already been doing with clients.

My guest today is Katie Hunt, founder of Proof to Product, where she helps product-based businesses create product lines, sell wholesale, and build stronger businesses. She has a podcast, courses, masterminds, coaching, conferences, and yes, a community. Katie’s helped thousands of brands get their products on the shelves of retail stores like Target, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, and independent boutiques around the world.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • An alternative look at what launching a community/membership model with a team looks like
  • How having a membership improved resilience in Katie's business—financially AND with the rest of her product suite
  • What evaluation process Katie went through before adding community as part of her business model
  • How Katie’s boundaries have been impacted through the launch of her program and the pandemic—and how she’s proactively reinstating those boundaries now

Learn more about Katie Hunt:

Learn more about Susan:

Jul 28, 2020
Evolving Toward a Community Business Model with Margy Thomas

Thinking about shifting your business model is one thing…

Actually doing it?

Well, that’s a whole other thing.

You might wonder: do I burn the old one to the ground? Do I make a gradual shift? Or do I just tack on one more service to my offerings?

Maybe you do start from scratch… or maybe you take a more nuanced approach to shifting your business model from one to another… or maybe you add more value to your existing model.

Whatever your path, it’s crucial to examine the risks in your business, re-examine your business model, and then make changes to how you do business.

This month, we’re shifting from the abstract and into reality with stories from entrepreneurs like you of what it really looks like to evolve your business from one model to another.

My guest today is Margy Thomas, Ph.D., who recently made the move from 1:1 services to a membership model. Margy’s community, ScholarShape, is a place for creative, visionary scholars to gather and support each other in creating Story-Arguments, a framework that she developed.

For Margy, creating the ScholarShape community was the natural evolution of that framework.  She looked at her business and realized that 1:1 services was no longer the best delivery option for her clients and it wasn’t the business she wanted to be running.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What was going on in Margy’s business that drove her decision to create ScholarShape and shift her business model
  • How Margy executed the transition and what her business looks like now
  • Instead of a fast pivot, community can be a natural evolution of your existing work
  • What the decision process LOOKS like for someone thinking about making shifts in their business model

Learn more about Margy Thomas:

Learn more about Susan:

Jul 21, 2020
Where Community Belongs In Your Business Model with Sophie Bujold

It seems like everyone is adding a community or membership to their product lineup these days. It’s a great idea for three reasons: it diversifies your revenue stream, allows you to be in direct conversation with your customers, and scales pretty easily.

But is adding a community right for YOUR business?

And what makes a good community anyway?

And how might a community reduce your risk as an entrepreneur?

We've been talking about how you can manage risk and build resilience into your business all this month. And one of the ways to make your business less risky is to build in more than one way you make money by adding some additional revenue streams. If something happens to one of those sources, the other ones can float you for a while so you can figure out what to do next.

In the last episode, I talked to JoAnn Holmes about how to leverage your intellectual property to create additional revenue streams like courses, licensing, or books.

But harnessing your IP isn't the ONLY way you could add additional revenue or build resilience into your business.

Today, we're talking with Sophie Bujold about another option: building a community product around your business. Sophie is an entrepreneur and consultant with more than 18 years of experience in online community building, customer experience, and digital strategy. As the founder of Cliqueworthy, Sophie helps creative entrepreneurs gather with impact through outstanding online community experiences.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Using community/membership model as a means to diversify revenue streams
  • Who should build communities & where should it live in your business
  • Where your community should live inside your business model—and how to create a great one

Learn more about Sophie:

Learn more about Susan:

Jul 14, 2020
Using Your Intellectual Property To Pivot & Build Resilience with JoAnn Holmes

Your business model might already have some inherent risks built into it because of the choices you've made about how you want to run your business.

For example, maybe you only want to work with high-value retainer clients. Totally valid choice! But it’s inherently riskier than other models where you might have several sources of income.

If you only work with 2 or 3 of those clients at a time, what happens when you lose one of them? That's a pretty big blow to your income all at once.

As long as you recognize that risk, there are many ways to bolster your business to mitigate those scenarios. You could accept that it's a risk and make sure that you're cultivating a waiting list of folks who want to work with you so it's easy to fill that open spot. That's one way.

Or you could start looking at other ways to strengthen the foundations of your income so it's less susceptible to big drops from losing one client.

You could also diversify where your income comes from. Maybe you decide to offer a course or a product or build a tool or write a book so that there is income streaming into your business from more than one source. That way, if something happens to ONE source, it's just a hiccup—not a catastrophe.

We've been talking all about risk and resilience this month. Jacquette Timmons and I talked about the intimate relationship between the two. And I talked to Priya Malani and Luke Frye about the two biggest risks for business owners: cash flow and taxes.

Today, we're shifting a little bit to talk about how to build some more resilience into your business model by using work you've already done—your intellectual property—and turning it into another source of revenue for your business.

JoAnn Holmes is an attorney who helps 7 and 8 figure companies grow recurring revenue through licensing brands, software, and business content. Basically, she helps you take your intellectual property—stuff you've already created—and turn it into an additional source of income for your business. She's the founder of Holmes at Law and the host of the Your Business Ally podcast.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Using your intellectual property to pivot & build resilience
  • Taking advantage of your IP to diversify your revenue streams
  • Identifying different types of IP and how to protect what you’ve created with your business

Learn more about JoAnn:

Learn more about Susan:

Jul 07, 2020
How to Better Understand Your Numbers & Your Tax Risk with Luke Frye

Nothing is certain but death and taxes.

Except that taxes are very rarely certain—and in the U.S., taxes are a labyrinth of confusion.

Our tax system is founded on the idea that the government knows how much we owe them... but they're not going to tell us—we have to guess.

And if we guess wrong? We either pay more or go to jail. It’s not really the friendliest system.

That might be why taxes are a bit of an afterthought for small business owners. For most, having a “tax strategy” means making sure you’re dumping money into a tax reserve savings account so that you have enough to pay whatever it is that you’re supposed to pay at the end of the year. But that’s pretty much where it ends.

Let me be clear: that is a great—and essential!—first step because there is real risk of losing your business if you don’t have enough cash to pay your tax bill. And, even worse, if you ignore paying your taxes for too long? Sometimes you just can’t come back from that.

But there’s another side: having a strong tax strategy allows you to avoid risk, yes, but also to use that strategy to ensure that every single dollar in your business is being used in the MOST effective way possible.

The reality is that every dollar that you spend paying taxes that you didn't have to spend is a dollar that could have used on something else.

This month, I’m covering risks, resilience, and the relationship between the two. So far, I’ve talked with financial behaviorist Jacquette Timmons about identifying financial risks and building resilience. Last week, Priya Malani laid out just how important it is to know how much money is coming in—and out—of your business.

Today, I’m excited to discuss the importance of accounting, bookkeeping, and understanding your taxes with Luke Frye, cofounder and CPA at Timber Tax Accounting.

Luke was the first accountant at and has been helping entrepreneurs with their accounting and taxes for nearly a decade. He knows what it's like on both sides of the table as he had his own business as a teenager where he learned how to manage his quarterly taxes.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Tax issues that service business owners should be thinking about (and what you might be missing out on)
  • What type of account Luke recommends that self-employed people use to save for retirement
  • LLC vs S-Corp from a tax perspective
  • Why not saving for taxes is a huge risk 

Learn more about Luke:

Learn more about Susan:

Jun 30, 2020
The Risk of Inconsistent Cash Flow with Priya Malani

Consider this: the number one reason why businesses go under is because of cash flow issues (with number two being a lack of access to capital.)

While there are a ton of different kinds of risks that can impact your business, financial health is still the most pressing because of the threat they pose to the health of your business if you don’t get it right.

More often than not—no matter your business model—sales don’t show up consistently on the same day, month after month, even though your personal and business bills do.

That’s why understanding how cash flows in and out of your business—and how to manage that money in both your personal life and business—is a crucial skillset to strengthen as an entrepreneur.

This month, I’m talking about risks, resilience, and the relationship between the two. Last week, I chatted with Jacquette Timmons about identifying financial risks and how to build resilience.

Today, I’m continuing the conversation about money and business with Priya Malani, CEO and Founder of Stash Wealth, a financial planning and investment management firm for HENRYs™ [High Earners, Not Rich Yet].

Dubbed “the Rebel of Wall Street”, Priya’s goal is to change the way young professionals think about money by empowering them to get their financial sh*t together. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Money management mistakes that business owners are making
  • How to balance your personal and business cash needs
  • Strategies for making sure there's always enough cash on hand in your business
  • How much of a cash reserve you REALLY need to have to be safe

Learn more about Priya:

Learn more about Susan:

Jun 23, 2020
Identifying Financial Risks & Building Resilience with Jacquette Timmons

You can never completely eliminate risk. It's something you just have to live with.

But risk doesn't have to consume you.

In fact, identifying and addressing risks in your business is one of the main ways to build resilience into it. You can't fix what you can't see and if you don't understand what's most likely to break, it's pretty hard to build that trampoline of resilience right where you need it most.

That's what building resilience in your business REALLY means: you're building systems and structures that can respond to and rebound from whatever you throw at it. Even if it's a risk or a crisis that you never saw coming.

No one, no matter what they tell you, knows what's going to happen next.

We don't know how our society, our government, the economy, or our businesses will change. All we can do is examine the risks and do our damnedest to build something better and stronger—and something built for change.

This month, I’m talking about risks, resilience, and the relationship between the two. To kick it off, I’m chatting with Jacquette Timmons. Jacquette is a financial behaviorist, speaker and author of Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate, and the host of the More Than Money podcast. Jacquette focuses mostly on the personal side of finance although many of her clients are entrepreneurs.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How assessing your risk is actually a move towards building resilience
  • What the relationship between risk, uncertainty, safety, and resilience is
  • Why your personal risk versus taking risks in business are different—and how they can influence each other 

Learn more about Jacquette:

Learn more about Susan:

Jun 16, 2020
Procrastination and Why The Bootstrapper Mindset Keeps You Stuck & Frustrated with Charlie Gilkey

Busy, busy, busy.

We are all so busy.

And that makes it really easy—too easy, in fact—to come up with excuses not to do the work that’s most important to us.

Because that’s also usually the work that’s the scariest.

For the last month, we’ve been talking about all the ways that founders get in their own way and the practical tools you can use to get OUT of your own way.

In the first episode of the series, Michelle Warner talks about the critical importance of setting up systems and how process can be a competitive advantage.

Second in the series, Tonya Dalton highlights our love affair with to-do lists and how that overcommitment can lead to burnout.

Next, Agnes Kowalski lays down practical money and mindset tips (because we all can use a little healthier approach to money!)

I also talked with business therapist Nicole Lewis-Keeber about getting out of your own way and not allowing your past create barriers for your future.

And last week, Jason Van Orden shared about the power of patience in business.

Today, to wrap up the series, we’re tackling procrastination.

It’s probably the most common way that founders, business owners, and—really—just about anyone trying to do anything get in their own damn way.

Charlie Gilkey 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 tackle not just getting out of your own way but ALSO how to get out of your team's way and how the stage your business is in affects the roadblocks you'll run up against.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What founder mojo is and how to use it to your business’ advantage
  • How we use procrastination to avoid doing work that matters
  • How the business stage you’re in impacts the roadblocks you have to overcome (and where you’ll get tripped up) 
  • How your issues as a founder affect your TEAM

Charlie’s Links:

Susan’s Links:

Jun 09, 2020
Patience & Purposeful Experimentation with Jason Van Orden

Often, we come up with new ideas, launch them, and then get disappointed that they don't work. So we shift to something else, create something new, and run through the whole cycle again.

But what if it was a great idea and you just didn't give it a chance to succeed?

Maybe you didn't give it enough time? Or devote enough resources to it? Or tell enough people about it? Maybe you didn't market it to the right people or in the right way.

Maybe this thing you created is actually a great thing and you just didn't have enough patience with it.

This month, we've been talking about all the various ways that founders can muck up their own success—ways that we get in our own way and the practical tools you can use to stop sabotaging your progress.

If you’ve been struggling to set up systems in your business, listen to the first episode in the series with Michelle Warner about how process can be a competitive advantage (always a good thing!)

Love overcommitting yourself with a to-do list that’s a mile long until you’re on the precipice of burnout? You’ll learn so much from the episode with Tonya Dalton.

For some of us, a healthy money mindset can be elusive. For practical tips to impact how you think and relate to money, check out the episode with Agnes Kowalski.

Last week, I talked to Nicole Lewis-Keeber about how to stop getting in your own way by letting your past create a wall you keep running into over and over again as you try to grow.

Today, we're talking about patience and purposeful experimentation with Jason Van Orden. He's a consultant, trainer, and strategist who helps thought leaders reach larger audiences. He's created multiple successful brands, launched over 60 online courses, taught more than 10,000 entrepreneurs, and has over 8 million podcast downloads. 

So… he knows a little something about seeing things through.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What strategies and tools to use to give your projects every chance to succeed
  • How to test and iterate an idea (and what data to look for)
  • Why speed of implementation is everything when trying something new  
  • How to set up your experiment for success
  • How LONG to test something before you decide if it’s “working” or not 

Jason’s Links:

Susan’s Links:

Jun 02, 2020
How Trauma & Perfectionism Affect Your Business with Nicole Lewis-Keeber

What kind of relationship do you have with your business?

Are you ride-or-die BFFs? Or is your business a mean, demanding boss that makes you dread going to work?

Like any relationship that we are in, the relationship that we have with our business can be complex and they take understanding, consideration, and work.

This month, we've been talking about the various ways that business owners get in their own way, the different ways this shows up, and some practical strategies to avoid making these mistakes over and over.

If you're someone who gets in your own way by resisting systems, check out the first episode in the series with Michelle Warner about how process can be a competitive advantage.

If you're someone who gets in your own way by putting ALL the things on your to-do list until you're ready to crash, the episode with Tonya Dalton is a great one for you.

If you are, well, pretty much anyone who deals with money (hint: that's all of you) go listen to last weeks episode with Agnes Kowalski about money mindset.

And if you're someone who struggles with the need to control everything or if you get stuck in perfectionism or the need to do things the "right" way, today's episode is for you.

Nicole Lewis-Keeber is a business therapist and mindset coach who works with entrepreneurs to create and nurture healthy relationships with their businesses. She's a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Masters in Social Work and she writes and speaks about the impact of small-t trauma on businesses.

Her biggest, more important work is in combining therapeutic processes with business coaching to help entrepreneurs build emotionally sustainable, and financially stable businesses.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How your past experiences might be showing up in your business and creating limitations to growth
  • How perfectionism and the need for control in your business are rooted in the need to feel safe
  • How if you're one of those people who just can't seem to find the right system for your business... it might not be the systems. 
  • How all your weaknesses and issues become ingrained in your business -- because YOU are the one who created it

Nicole’s Links:

Susan’s Links:

May 26, 2020
How Your Money Story Impacts Your Business with Agnes Kowalski

Money. You earn it. You spend it. Maybe you even save or invest it.

But do you know how your personal feelings and beliefs around money affect your business growth?

Our feelings about money color every part of our businesses and it’s the #1 way I see my clients getting in their own way.

How we approach our finances, both personally and professionally, is heavily impacted by our feelings about money and the stories we tell ourselves about it. Those stories are often rooted in our childhood experiences with money.

Often, those money stories and beliefs are SO ingrained in us that we can't even see what's happening. It's like being in a glass box -- you can't see it, but it's keeping you in one place.

It seems like no matter how much work we do on our money mindset and working through our limiting beliefs, every time we try to hit that next level, they come roaring right back.

Today my guest is Agnes Kowalski. Agnes has a lot to say about our relationship with money and the way that our money mindsets can hold us back. She went from having a poverty mindset that was limiting her to $40,000 per year, to consistently bringing in a 6 figure income as a money mindset coach. She shows entrepreneurs and service providers how to improve their relationship to money so they can increase their income and personal power.

And we're talking money. Money blocks, money mindset, and how to avoid letting your own money stories determine the course of your business.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How our money beliefs, stories, and limitations affect our businesses
  • What are some of the most common money mindset issues that trip up business owners
  • What  impacts these stories are having on their businesses 
  • How can people start identifying their money stories and money mindset issues
  • And what tools entrepreneurs can use to help deal with their money mindset

Agnes’ Links:

Susan’s Links:

May 19, 2020
How To Prioritize When EVERYTHING Is Important with Tonya Dalton

Hustle culture tells us that in order to gain ground, we have to grind it out. That putting in the long hours day after day will bring us success.

But that just doesn't work for real people. Real people need rest. 

Rest 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 when there's SO much going on and the to-do list is SO long, how do you create the space for rest – for your family and friends – and for your best work at the same time?

You prioritize the things that matter and get rid of the crap that doesn't.

All this month we're talking about how founders get in their own way and the practical, systematic tools they can use to stop doing that. 

Last week, I talked to Michelle Warner about how having a solid process can be a competitive advantage both in sales and in your operational efficiency.

Today, we're talking with Tonya Dalton about the key to tackling this overwhelming and never-ending to-do list so you can get crystal clear on your priorities.

Tonya is a nationally recognized productivity expert, speaker, and best-selling author of the Joy of Missing Out. She serves as a growth strategist for female leaders in the corporate and entrepreneurial sectors and hosts the Productivity Paradox Podcast. Tonya is also the founder and CEO of inkWELL Press Productivity Co., a multi-million dollar company providing tools that work as a catalyst in helping women do less while achieving maximum success.

Tonya's North Star method lets you figure out what DOES matter to you -- both for your life and for your business – allowing you to align your day and your tasks with your goals so that you can make conscious choices about what you DON'T want to do.

Eliminating all that stuff on the to-do list that doesn't really matter frees up space to breathe, to think and act strategically, and to get the hell out of your own way.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to prioritize when EVERYTHING is important
  • How both your team and your business suffer when you get in your own way by not communicating a clear direction
  • How getting clear on your priorities will create momentum in your business and space in your life
  • And how to avoid the latest “hack” or software tool that promises to solve all your problems

Tonya’s Links:

Susan’s Links:

May 12, 2020
The Competitive Edge of Process With Networking That Pays Creator Michelle Warner

This week, someone asked me about the main thing my clients struggle with – the one thing I would fix for them if I could. I think my answer surprised them.

All my clients are working towards the same goal -- profitable, efficient, resilient businesses. But how you go about creating that is specific to each business because each business is a reflection of the owner or the founder. 

Our businesses take on our characteristics. Our weaknesses become weaknesses in our business. Our strengths are its strengths. Our personal priorities and values become ingrained in our businesses, for better or for worse. 

So sometimes shoring up the weaknesses in our business means getting real with ourselves as founders and business owners. We need to identify our own limitations and recognize where we get in our own way. 

What is the one main issue that I see my clients confronting? The problem is them. 

Founders get in their own way. 

Most of the problems I fix in business, with systems or technology or new team members usually directly stem from the owner. Their weaknesses have become the businesses weaknesses. And by identifying those weaknesses, we can put systems in place to specifically counteract their unique issues. 

That's what we're going to tackle in the next series of episodes. I'm going to talk to both coaches and business owners about some of the most common ways founders sabotage themselves. And practical strategies and systems that can help counteract those weaknesses. And get us out of our own damn way. 

To start things off, I’m having Michelle Warner back on the show to talk about how having a process can be a competitive advantage AND how having a clear process and systems in your business can help make you more efficient and keep you from sabotaging the whole damn thing.

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. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to use your process to be more competitive and make our services more efficient to deliver
  • How we can use solid processes to make sure we're doing what's important.
  • How to build your process from day one – creating a repeatable process
  • How to overcome your own shortcomings and start getting in your own way 

Michelle’s Links:

Susan’s Links:

May 05, 2020
When Your Business Needs A Project Manager With Yellow House Media Founder Sean McMullin

These days, we're all looking for a way to cut costs, shore up our foundations, and make our businesses just that little bit simpler.

I was in a small group call the other day and one of the women on the call compared this moment in our businesses to when a jigsaw puzzle gets knocked to the floor, scattering pieces everywhere. The great thing is that we don’t have to pick all the pieces – we get to pick and choose.

This might mean re-examining your business model or changing up your service offerings. This might even mean reevaluating the structure of your team.

Today we're going to talk about one member of that team, the project manager.

Having project managers as a specific position on your team is a choice that can drive what your business looks like. It's a choice that can ultimately determine what your position as a founder looks like. Are you a manager of managers? Do you directly work with clients? It can mean a difference between running your business as a solopreneur or running your operation agency-style.

Bringing on a project manager is the right choice for some businesses, but not for every business. And it's certainly not a required position.

Today, I'm talking to Sean McMullin, lead consultant for production and management at the podcast production company Yellow House Media. You might recognize his name from the credits of this show because he's also the producer of Break the Ceiling.

Sean works directly with clients to create custom editorial calendars, production workflows, and distribution systems as well as managing full-service podcast production. Together, we're going to attempt to tackle the question of when do you need a project manager? And when is it a choice that might needlessly increase your costs and your complexity?

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How a project manager has been a critical role in the growth of Yellow House Media
  • How knowing whether or not you need a project manager depends on the kind of business you want to run
  • When a project manager IS a critical team member and when it might it not be
  • How to make plans to scale your team as you grow

Sean’s Links:

Susan’s Links:

Apr 28, 2020
Project Management Duel: Notion vs ClickUp with Marie Poulin & Layla Pomper

Most businesses grow on the fly. We add software and processes and systems here and there – patching in tools “for now” because “it’ll do”.

But “for now” almost always turns into “forever”. Because who wants to spend time picking out (and setting up) project management software when you could be out closing clients or delivering white-glove service?

You probably picked your project management software based on a recommendation or because it’s something you’re “supposed” to have. Maybe you got started on Asana or Trello because that’s what "everybody" was using at the time.

But now, 3 or 5 or 10 years down the road, it's become a major limitation to you and your team being able to actually DO your work.

When you're focusing on getting lean and efficient in your business, evaluating your software is an easy place to start.  For remote companies, not only is software usually one of the biggest expenses, but it's also usually a primary communication tool.

It's what you use to let your team know what to work on and it keeps everyone in the loop on what's happening. Or, at least it SHOULD.

So it's worth your time to take a few minutes and evaluate the tools you're using.

And that's why today we're going full-on geek and talking about project management software with two of my fellow project management software nerds.

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 and has created a lot of the Notion resources available today.

Layla Pomper is a fellow member of Team ClickUp. She owns where she equips “old school” teams with the right software to increase their consistency and profitability in day-to-day operations.

We're talking about why you would pick one particular software tool over another, the importance of making sure the software you pick works with your brain, and how to avoid sabotaging yourself with getting distracted by the latest shiny new tool.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How we have different approaches to setting up our software and why we chose the particular software tool we did
  • What our philosophies are when you're picking out or recommending software
  • How constantly looking at new tools can result in self-sabotage
  • What cool things Marie and Layla are doing in Notion and ClickUp that have really changed how productive or focused they’re able to be
  • How strong systems create stability – something that we all can use right now

Marie’s Links:

Layla’s Links:

Susan’s Links:

Apr 21, 2020
Client-Based Project Management With Execution Expert Hailey Thomas

For a service business, every single task and touchpoint – from the initial contact to the final payment – should be considered as part of the project that needs to be managed.

And you've got a lot of projects on your plate. Projects for clients, projects for your own business – there's always more stuff to do. That's the nature of running a business.

When we talk about 'project management', we're usually talking about managing an individual project. But in a service business, project management isn't just project management – it's really client management.

Outside of the scope of an individual project or service, there are a bunch of interactions and tasks that need to be handled. Like sending a contract before you start working together, on-boarding new clients and introducing them to the way you do business, or following up for a testimonial after your project is complete.

All this month on the podcast, we'll be nerding out on project management – the tools, the team members, and, today, the scope.

When it comes to managing projects in a client-focused business, you really need to think about the whole client process – beginning-to-end. If you ONLY think about the specifics of how you deliver the service, you're missing opportunities to improve upon your system and really delight your customers.

My guest today, Hailey Thomas, is the master at delighting her customers. You might remember Hailey from Episode 12, when she came on the show to talk about her Worktreat Intensives. Hailey is a business coach for online entrepreneurs and one of my very favorite friends to nerd out about project management with. 

Hailey comes to each of her clients with a deep appreciation for who they are as individuals. With Hailey, client experience is built into every touchpoint. So, when I was thinking about doing an episode about project management versus client management, she was absolutely the first person I thought of. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Hailey is building a personalized, white-glove client experience
  • How in client-based businesses, you have to look at the end-to-end experience
  • What the different phases of a project are and how to approach managing sperate projects in different phases of the process
  • And how Hailey’s Worktreat Intensives have been going – how the process has changed and evolved

Hailey’s Links:

Susan’s Links:

Apr 14, 2020
Cash Flow In A Crisis With Lauren Caselli

"Everything sucks at first, very few things suck forever.” – John Gorman

Being an entrepreneur is a roller coaster.

Some days you’re excited, some days you’re terrified, and every day there is something new – something you’re testing, improving or changing.

For me, this is a reminder: When you're on that roller coaster it might a day when you're heading up and it might be a day when you’re heading down.

Things are always changing and we don’t know what tomorrow might look like.

We still don't really know how long or how impactful this whole situation will be. We have to take it day by day but it won't always be like this – things will change.

Part of being resilient is just learning to roll with the punches. Because even if it sucks at first, it won't suck forever.

My guest today is showing us how it's done. Lauren Caselli owns a strategic event planning and marketing firm. She coaches business and agency owners looking for more financial breathing room on how to institute rate raises and price their services appropriately – setting them up to earn more per client and feel in control of their business.

Lauren and I chat about how all the craziness around coronavirus has affected her events business. We talk about how that's impacting her cash flow and her approach to her finances and how Lauren built some great financial processes into her business that are serving her well during this time.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to handle cash flow during a worst-case scenario
  • How COVID-19 effects events businesses and how those effects trickle down to other agencies 
  • How opportunities can reveal themselves in unconventional places
  • What kind of financial processes you can have in place to build resiliency


Apr 07, 2020
Software As Service Metrics Applied To Small Business Growth With Justin Jackson

You don’t have to look like the other businesses in your industry to learn from them.

In my work as a CFO, I've have had the privilege of looking behind the scenes of a lot of different companies in a lot of different industries. And what I've found is that most tend to look toward businesses that are similar to their own for ideas on how to operate.

This is something that has always been my goal on this show – talking to service business owners about how they run their business in the hopes that it sparks something inspiring for you.

But often, the best ideas come from businesses that look nothing like your own. While standard practice in one industry can be disruptive and unconventional when applied to another, often the best, most creative, ideas come from unexpected places.

Today, I am talking to Justin Jackson, co-founder of, a 2-person bootstrapped software company that does podcast hosting and analytics for folks like Basecamp, Taylor Otwell, VH1, and, incidentally, this show.

Justin and his partner, Jon Buda, have decided to do things differently than other businesses in their industry. And because they have decided to fund themselves as opposed to taking investor money, measuring growth is incredibly important to them.

Justin and I talk about some of the key data that they measure at Transistor.  We talk about how to track monthly recurring revenue and churn – two fabulous metrics you can look at when measuring the health of your business.

And we talk about how their strategy of being profitable and maintaining margins gives them the latitude they need to carefully consider their growth instead of just jumping on the next wave that comes along.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How to identify business opportunities and what to do about them when they come your way
  • How to build margins into your business
  • How to approach the analytics of podcasting and what kind of impact this has on our understanding of who the listeners really are
  • How paying attention to what part of your revenue comes from recurring versus one-time projects can be a great indicator of the health of your cash flow
  • And why Justin and his partner decided to share their numbers and why they decided to stop


Mar 31, 2020
Using Data To Make Better Decisions About Your Business With Maggie Patterson

"If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."

My guess is that you've probably heard some version of this Peter Drucker quote. It’s a widespread idea for good reason: it's true.

Luckily, there are tons of ways to gather good data on your business and track the metrics that really matter. But having access to good data isn't the only hurdle to measuring growth.

It’s the day-to-day realities of running a business that are most likely to get in our way.

All this month we've been talking about how to measure growth–what numbers to collect, what feedback to gather, how to make space for growth–and if you've missed these episodes, scroll back through your feed and check them out.

Today, we're going to bring it all together and look at the effect that collecting and using data can have on your business’s growth. We're looking at how all the parts get pulled together in an actual agency and implemented in the midst of day-to-day operations.

I'm chatting with Maggie Patterson from Scoop Studios and Small Business Boss. We talk about all the different things she's tracking, how she tracks them, and how she's integrated what she learns into her growth strategy.

We also talk about how she gets over the mental hurdle of “but, I don't wanna” and gets herself to actually track data.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What was happening in Maggie’s business that made them focus their energy on tracking lead generation and what the exponential impact of having solid information was over time
  • How Maggie proudly chooses to keep her process of data collection super low-tech and uses Airtable as one of her main tools
  • How collecting the data gave them a taste for the numbers, taking them to next level nerd territory 
  • How granular time tracking allows Maggie to make better decisions and to delegate things in a more informed way
  • And how having the data helps remove worry and anxiety related to the business because she’s able to see what’s really happening to make a reasonable decision based on facts and not on emotion


To schedule your free consultation with Susan Click Here. 

Mar 24, 2020
Making Space To Grow Your Service Business With Kathleen Shannon

Are you creating space for growth in your business?

You might be measuring every metric–collecting every piece of data and then turning it into a strategy for growth–but do you have the operational foundations to be able to handle growth? Does your team have the capacity to take on more work?

In the last 2 episodes–episode 20, episode 21–I talked about two different approaches to collecting data about your business. I talked about the numbers and the nuances, and what to do with that information once you've got it.

Today, we're going to take a different approach, get a little bit woo, and talk about creating the space in your business for growth.

I'm talking to Kathleen Shannon, the co-founder and creative director at Braid Creative, co-host of the Being Boss Podcast, and co-author of the Being Boss book. 

I talk with Kathleen about how to approach data when you identify as more of a creative person and less as someone with a data-first mindset. We talk about how making space for growth is such an important aspect of actually growing. 

And we talk about how sometimes making space for growth can just mean letting the universe know you're prepared.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What work you can do as a founder to personally prepare to manage a larger business
  • How to know if your business is actually ready to grow and how to make space for that growth
  • How Kathleen's chalkboard method is a great tool for making sure you are intentionally creating the space to grow
  • How you can use metrics to get a big impact even if you're not a "data" person
  • And how to grow while still serving the (smaller) clients you love working with


To schedule your free consultation with Susan Click Here. 

Mar 17, 2020
There's More To Measure Than Numbers With Karyn Kelbaugh

It’s easy to get caught up in all the numbers you can track to measure growth.

You might be measuring your time, your profit & loss, the number of new clients closed, or even profit per hour per client like we talked about in the last episode.

But not all of the useful information in your business presents itself as a number.

When it comes to measuring the more murky, squishy, qualitative information in your business, where do you even begin?

There's a lot of information rolling around in there that's helpful to measure, but you can’t track it in the same way you track your numbers.

For instance, conversations with customers can give you an incredible amount of information about how your business is performing, what your opportunities are, and where you need to address weak spots.

So, how do you measure how your customer feels about your service? What's happening when they reach out to you? What do they think you do versus what you think you do?

All of that information comes in handy when you're trying to update your messaging, write your copy, or just simply figure out how to improve your customer service. It's crucial data floating around out there that you can use to measure and optimize for growth.

But how?

My guest today does just that. Karyn Kelbaugh is a squishy data specialist. She helps small business owners learn what their clients think by capturing their stories. Owners get feedback, insights into their clients' dreams and frustrations, and their exact words describing it all. In other words: research you can use. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Karyn collects all that squishy data goodness and gets it into a useable form that's easy to keep up to date
  • How frequently you should be looking at the data, what should they be looking for, and how should you use that data to drive decisions
  • How actively collecting your clients’ perspectives helps paint a more accurate picture of what's really going on with your business and how to integrate that perspective in a meaningful way
  • How one of the biggest mistakes you can make is collecting data you don't have a purpose for 


Mar 10, 2020
Use This One Weird Metric To Measure Your Service Business With Rob Howard

Is there one metric you could track that would ensure the success of your business?

A lot of startups would like to think so. Some call it the “One Metric That Matters,” or the “North Star Metric.”

It’s basically the idea that you focus on measuring and improving one thing at a time.

By focusing on a single thing, you can filter for decision making and ensure that the actions you're taking in your business are actions that will truly make an impact.

The problem is that what you track has a huge impact on the action you take. Choose the wrong metric and you can sink the sustainability or profitability of your business.

So whatever your one metric to rule them all is, it better represent what you truly want to get out of your business.

This month we're kicking off a series all about measuring growth. What do you measure? How do you track it? What do you do with the data once you have it?

My guest today is a master at this.

You might remember Rob Howard from Episode 9, where we talked about streamlining the proposal process. Rob owns a web development agency, Howard Development & Consulting, and runs a course for freelancers called Automatic Freelancer

He has one simple metric for measuring the financial health of his business: profit per hour per client. 

Tracking that metric has changed how I evaluated and measured my own business and has become something I incorporate into my clients’ businesses as well. 

It's not something you have to look at every day, but keeping track of this one metric will help you grow in a sustainable and financially healthy way. 

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What Rob considers to be the key metrics to measure for service business owners and how he determined which metric to measure the financial health of a business 
  • What's happening behind the scenes for Rob to actually get to this profit per hour per client
  • How the number of dollars you made and the number of minutes you spent are data points where there is enough quantity to make real decisions based on them
  • What tools Rob is using to collect data or measure his metrics
  • What metrics he has consciously chosen not to track or pay attention to and some of the mistakes he has made with tracking metrics


Mar 03, 2020
How Your Pricing Choices Can Make You Happier With Marketing Analyst Rita Barry

How you choose to price your services and accept payments is one of those business design choices that we don’t always make conscious choices about.

But it is a choice that can have a profound impact on your business and how it feels to run it. It just simplifies everything: from your team composition to how you work to even what project management software you use.

We’ve been talking this month about the operational benefits of value-based pricing and upfront payments, taking a close look at how those choices can make your service business way easier to run.

Examining your default decisions about pricing and payments and considering making different choices can really pay off, both in administrative streamlining, but also in your wallet.

Today, we’re going to pull all those ideas together and look at the downstream impacts of making that switch from hourly pricing to value-based pricing.

We’ll look at how it affects your sales process, your proposal process, your profit, your cash flow and, yep, even the other software you might choose to use in your business.

To illustrate my point, we’re going to look at how these decisions have played out in a real business.

My guest today is Rita Barry, the founder of Rita Barry & Co, a relationship-driven company, focused on metrics.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Why tying your work to an hourly rate can really start to hurt as you gain efficiency and experience
  • Why she uses results as the basis for her pricing structure and why pattern recognition has become one of her most valuable skills
  • How value-based pricing allowed her to scale her agency without having to step away from doing what she loved
  • Why making the switch to value-based pricing helped her find more joy in what she does! 


Feb 25, 2020
Getting Paid Faster Using Practice Ignition With Tier One Services Co-Founder Jaime Campbell

Getting paid more for your work, up-front, and without the hassle of tracking your billable hours or issuing invoice after invoice sounds like a dream scenario.

But how exactly do you make that happen?

Luckily, like so many other aspects of making a service business more efficient: there’s an app for that!

In our last few episodes, we’ve talked about some business design choices with pricing and payments. How switching to a value-based pricing model allows you to charge upfront. And being able to charge your clients upfront or automatically, can eliminate a big chunk of your internal workflow.

Today, we’ll talk about software that can help you pull all those pieces together. Once you’ve switched to value-based pricing, this is a tool that can help automate the process of onboarding your clients and taking payments, Practice Ignition.

Practice Ignition is a software tool that does contracts and accepts payments, including recurring payments. The way it works is that you can load a library of services -- basically a library full of templates for each item or service you’d charge a client for, and a library of terms or your standard contract language.

Once you have those two set up, you can create a proposal for a new client by just adding the services you want to sell them by picking them out of your library and adding them to your proposal, choosing how you want them to pay you, and then send the proposal along to your client, with a personalized message. It all takes about 5 minutes.

Practice Ignition is a tool I use in my own business, and with most of my clients because it makes onboarding a client and accepting payments so easy.

My guest today has been using Practice Ignition for the last few years.

Jaime Campbell is the co-founder and CFO of Tier One Services,  a firm of outsourced, year-round CFOs and complete accounting departments.

Listen to the episode to hear: 

  • How she transitioned her firm from and Microsoft Word contracts to Practice Ignition
  • Why that move impacted her workflow and ability to scale her firm so dramatically
  • Behind-the-scenes of how I’ve built Practice Ignition into my own workflow at ScaleSpark
  • Some live consulting with Jaime about how she could improve her own workflow


Feb 18, 2020
Taking Payments In A Positive & Transparent Client Relationship With Kate Strathmann

Getting paid by clients is the #1 most important part of the workflow in a service business. If you don’t get paid, eventually, you won’t have a business. But how you go about getting paid – now that’s where some magic can really happen.

In our last episode, we talked with Dana Kaye about transitioning from hourly to value-based pricing. The choice to make that switch to value-based pricing then allows you to the next logical step – making your client payments easier.

Today, we’re going to talk with Kate Strathmann about the process of getting paid by your clients and how to make it easier.

Should you accept credit cards? How about checks? Do you charge your clients the credit card processing fee? What about payment plans – should you offer them?

How you decide to answer these questions can affect not just your workflow, but also your cash flow, and, ultimately, your relationship with your client.

Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell Consulting, a business consulting and bookkeeping practice. And for Kate, taking payments is an opportunity to reinforce a positive, transparent relationship with her clients. It’s a client touchpoint that she’s particularly thoughtful about.

We’ll talk about the basics – what kind of payments to accept, and when to ask for payments – but also how to think about offering payment plans in a whole new way.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Wanderwell Consulting’s pricing and the payment mechanisms are designed to ultimately support the relationship they are cultivating with their clients
  • How offering multiple payment options and moving to a prepaid system has lead to the ability to automate payments
  • Kate's position on different payment methods–credit cards vs. bank transfers vs. checks
  • How being able to charge upfront and automatically has impacted the operational capacity, and administration of the business
  • And some of the common practices of online service business that Kate wishes would just become a thing of the past


Feb 11, 2020
Using Value-Based Pricing To Boost Profit With Dana Kaye

Switching from charging by the hour to a value-based or flat rate model can dramatically improve your workflow.

Value-based pricing is a great way to boost profits and to keep your value separate from the hours you work. It allows you to charge your clients upfront, creating a business that is more efficient to run.

Take the payment and go do the work. That's it.

Most of the time, I'm not a big advocate of the whole “make one decision and it'll change your life and your business” idea, but this is different. Making the decision to use value-based pricing can literally change the way you do business.

This is one simple financial decision that might revolutionize the way you run your business.

All this month we'll be talking about what this transition looks like. We're going to talk about how value-based pricing can improve your workflow, how taking payment upfront means better cash flow, and how making the change means you might never again need to chase down another client for payment. We will also be covering some software tools you can use to make onboarding clients and taking payments as seamless as possible.

Today, we're kicking things off by talking with publicist, brand manager, and Kaye Publicity Inc founder, Dana Kaye, who made the transition from an hourly pricing model to a value-based model about nine years ago. 

In this interview, Dana talks about how she went about making that transition. She talks about how the change affected every area of her business operations and gives us a great overview of the impact that thinking about the administrative costs of pricing your services can have on your business.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • What inspired Dana to make the transition to a flat-rate, value-based pricing model
  • How she loves the story that the data tells and how it helps her make changes in her business
  • What kind of impact the change had on her sales, promotional, and client onboarding process 
  • How switching pricing models allowed her to productize her process in a way that every piece could then become its own defined and repeatable process
  • And how the change has had a huge impact on Dana’s confidence as a business owner


Feb 04, 2020
Streamlining Done With You Services With Greg Hickman

Sometimes, when you get really specific about the one thing you do, client meetings become unnecessary

Even one-to-one services become unneeded when you've streamlined and productized your service.

But how can you keep that high-touch, high-value feeling and still be ruthlessly streamlined behind the scenes?

Today, we're talking about an evolution that moves almost completely away from client meetings altogether.

My guest is Greg Hickman, the founder and CEO of Greg and his team have over the last 4 years, transformed from a marketing automation consultancy into one of the top coaching and training companies for service providers.

He realized that the systems he developed behind-the-scenes to streamline and productize his own service were actually much more valuable if he transformed them into a system that he could actually train his clients on.

Instead of doing the work for his clients, he moved into a model where he teaches them how to do the service for themselves–a done WITH you kind of service. Basically, he realized that it's better for his clients if he teaches them to fish instead of doing them the fishing for them.

Greg really demonstrates the power of turning your client delivery process into a product in itself.

This is similar to what Parker Stevenson talked about in our last episode. Both of these approaches evolved based on providing the same service over and over to the same kinds of clients -- and taking the data from that to develop a service that is designed specifically for their clients, without those pesky meetings.

After having examined so many different approaches to client communication, it seems like meetings aren’t inevitable, they aren’t required and, in fact, skipping meetings altogether might just make your service even better.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Greg’s unique approach to managing or minimizing client meetings with what he calls the “hybrid agency”
  • How to package and simplify your process so that the system is working in your favor, building a client journey with less energy, costs, and headaches
  • How he sets clear expectations and guidelines and believes that you need to train your clients to be good clients–equipping them to be successful
  • And what the challenges were transitioning from being a typical agency with the typical client meeting structure and project structure to this new, more guided experience


Jan 28, 2020
How To Spend Less Time On Client Calls While Managing Retainers With Parker Stevenson

Monthly client meetings––they’re a requirement of service retainers.

Or, are they?

There's an expectation that if you're working with clients on retainer, in an ongoing, recurring way, that you have to have meetings––ya know, just to touch base.

Conventional wisdom says that meetings should be included in the service because they seem to deliver inherent value.

But meetings are a huge limitation when it comes to scaling a service business.

There's only so much of you to go around. Is spending time in meetings really the best way to delivering great value and grow a business?

Today, I got Parker Stevenson to weigh in. Parker is co-owner of Evolved Finance, a bookkeeping company that specializes in online businesses.

By its very nature, the business of bookkeeping is doing pretty much the same thing month after month–making it a business that is ripe for scaling, if you approach scaling the way Evolved Finance has. 

One of the ways that Parker and his partner, Corey Whitaker, take advantage of this opportunity to scale is by bucking convention and delivering their monthly bookkeeping service without having regularly scheduled calls.

In this episode:

  • How Parker’s project to change the client-meeting paradigm has evolved over that last year
  • Why niching down made it easier to build out operational practices 
  • How he shifted from using recorded Loom videos with his clients to experimenting with a training resource library and group office hours
  • How getting to know his clients and their needs has been a better way to deliver value than getting mired in weeks of calls
  • The challenges Parker and his partner have run into transitioning from typical client meetings to group calls
  • What kind of impact this move away from regular client calls has had on the business’s operational capacity
  • How quitting client meetings have impacted Parker personally



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Jan 21, 2020
How Voxer Can Save You And Your Client Time With Ashley Gartland & Nancy Jane Smith

Client meetings can easily fill up your entire calendar–sucking away all of your available time.

This time is a valuable asset and it is often the single most limiting factor to the growth of service-based businesses.

So what if there was something you could do to reduce this time-suck?

All this month on the show we are looking at alternatives–unique ways to communicate with clients and opt-out of meetings, email, and conventional communication methods.

Today, we’re talking about using Voxer with clients. Primarily a voice messaging app that harkens back to the flip-phone days, Voxer allows you to send short voice recordings, replacing both email and in-person meetings.

I’m going to talk to two different founders who use Voxer to communicate with their coaching clients.

You’ll hear from Nancy Jane Smith, a professional counselor and therapeutic coach who uses Voxer as a better way to work with women with High Functioning Anxiety.

And you will hear the second half of an interview that I started last week with Ashley Gartland, a business coach who uses Voxer to save time, boost profit, and nurture exceptional ongoing client experience.

Throughout this episode, pay close attention to how Voxer not only helps save time by opting out of meetings but also streamlines the way your clients receive value.

In this episode:

  • How Ashley & Nancy are using Voxer in managing and minimizing client meetings
  • How they are using Voxer so the technology doesn’t become a distraction
  • What the boundaries and processes they’ve put in place so clients know what to expect
  • What challenges they have run into transitioning from a typical client meeting structure
  • What impact the new approach have on their operational capacity


Ashley Gartland:

Nancy Jane Smith:

Susan Boles:

Jan 14, 2020
Faster Results In Fewer Meetings With Ashley Gartland & Hailey Thomas

I make no attempt at hiding my personal dislike of meetings. 

I’ve spent more time in meetings about meetings and meetings to prepare for other meetings than I can count. I’ve even suffered through long staff meetings where my boss literally just read printed out emails. 

I’ve truly felt the pain of being in meetings that could have just been an email. 

But are meetings really inevitable? 

All this month, I'm asking the question: does it really have to be a meeting?

I am starting off by applying this question to client meetings. Is there a different way to approach meeting with your clients that could reduce time spend in 'update' meetings and drastically speed up results?

One way of potentially doing this is through intensives – taking all the work we used to do with clients over several weeks or months and condensed it down to just a few hours or days.

In today’s episode, I talked with two founders about their different approaches to this intensive-style of delivering offerings: business coach Ashley Gartland and marketing & operations project manager Hailey Thomas.

You will hear that for both of these founders, taking this different approach when working with clients might actually be a more effective way of delivering value than sitting through yet another meeting.

In this episode:

  • How both women have taken their own unique approach to managing and minimizing client meetings.
  • How Ashley Gartland adapted her six-month partnership program to a two-week coaching intensive so she could automate her process and serve more people.  
  • How Hailey Thomas offers 3-day work retreats where she and her clients bang out most of the project in one weekend
  • What kind of challenges they’ve run into transitioning from a typical client meeting structure
  • How this change to intensives has impacted their clients 
  • What impact the new approaches have had on operational capacity
  • What kind of impact the changes have had on them personally as business owners


Jan 07, 2020
Productize Hands-On Services To Earn More & Stress Less With Lead Cookie Founder Jake Jorgovan

Even a small, one-person business becomes more profitable and efficient with a solid, repeatable process. 

So what happens when we double down on process?

In our last episode, I talked to Lacey Stites about how she does this in her agency using a revenue share model.

Today, we hear how Jake Jorgovan takes a bit of a different approach and focuses on productizing his service delivery so he can operate efficiently at scale. 

A productized service is a simple, streamlined way of delivering hands-on client experiences without guesswork or customization. Instead of reinventing the wheel with each client you serve, you build a repeatable process that is executed in the same way for every client.

Jake’s companies, Lead Cookie and Content Allies, aren’t the kind of businesses that easily lend themselves to automation or scaling. 

He got around these challenges by productizing his services. 

These productized services are built on solid processes, procedures, and standardized systems behind the scenes. They ensure that his clients get a consistent, high-quality experience–a core tenant of both of his businesses.

In this episode:

  • What the motivational and driving forces behind deciding to start a service business like Lead Cookie were
  • What the biggest operational hurdles were starting out
  • How Jake tackled those hurdles
  • How starting Content Allies was different from starting Lead Cookie
  • Some the operational strategies Jake focused on to deliver high-touch services profitably
  • How these same strategy decisions made a big difference in how easy the business was to run

For Jake’s blogging, podcasting, and writing:

And to work with Jake:

Susan Boles:

Dec 31, 2019
Creating Consistent Scalable Income Through Revenue Sharing With Lacey Sites

The messages we get about scaling a service business are pretty one-note.


We’re told that we can’t scale a service business profitably and sustainably while sticking to a one-to-one service delivery model. 

We're told to do a bit of client work, spin that into a few digital courses or membership groups, and then sit back and let the money roll on it. 

But this isn’t a great fit for everyone. And it’s just not how many of us want to run our businesses. 

So, what else is out there? 

My guest today, Lacey Sites, uses a revenue-sharing pricing structure that allows her to scale her one-on-one coaching business without adding more clients all while still dramatically growing her profits. 

This unique model allows her to double down on her investment in each client, create pricing structures that build trust and longterm partnerships, and then, when their work with her pays off, reap the rewards.  

On today’s episode:

  • How Lacey’s unique pricing/compensation structure actually works in her business
  • What prompted her to make the change to the revenue sharing structure in the first place
  • What kinds of challenges she has run into transitioning from a typical pricing model 
  • How this change to revenue sharing has impacted her existing clients
  • How it has allowed her to keep working 1-1 with clients while still growing her revenue
  • What kind of impact the new approach had on her operational capacity 
  • How this has changed her approach to scaling


Social Media:

Instagram: @alituplife

Facebook: @ALitUpLife

Facebook Group: The Lit Up and Loaded Entrepreneur

Dec 24, 2019
Save Time and Boost Profit Using A Proposal Calculator With Rob Howard

What if instead of spending tons of time creating complicated proposals for prospective clients, you just didn't? 

Maybe you believe your complicated, customized proposals help win you more business. But there’s a good chance you’re sacrificing profit and efficiency--without truly seeing gains in real revenue.

All this month we are talking about opting out–choosing not to do certain things in your business as a tool for freeing up your time, money, and brain space for more important things. 

I started off by talking with Michelle Warner about how she focuses in on just a few services and opts out of selling all the things.

I chatted with Brittany Berger about setting boundaries around the expectations of how you work, both for yourself and for your clients. 

Today I’m talking proposals with Rob Howard, founder of web development agency Howard Development & Consulting and creator of Automatic Freelancer, a mentorship program for freelancers.

For Rob, the crux of the proposal process is reducing your sales time. 

You can quickly spend a ton of time, often unpaid time, preparing proposals to pitch projects to clients even if they never end up hiring you.

This time can really suck the profit out of any project. 

Rob has developed a system that allows him to give accurate quotes on the initial call and send out proposals within 15 minutes of getting off that call. 

It's a system that saves a ton of time, and dramatically increase his profit per hour without changing the deliverable he’s actually providing to clients.

On today’s episode:

  • How Rob’s 30-Minute Profitable Proposal System sets him up to make a quick and accurate decision resulting in a proposal that makes the most sense for the client 
  • How having a proposal process that makes clear what you are selling and how much you are selling it for takes away a lot of the stress of selling 
  • Why delivering a proposal to your client quickly instills a greater amount of confidence in your ability
  • How Rob breaks his proposals down in terms of the size of offer: small, medium, and large
  • Why profit per hour per client is the only metric Rob chooses to track on a regular basis
  • And how when you develop the mindset of an owner building a business, it sets you up for growth and success down the road


Dec 17, 2019
Setting Boundaries To Increase Capacity With Work Brighter Founder Brittany Berger

We have the freedom to design just about any business we want. We can work with clients in a hundred different ways to deliver our service. 


But how that works has a lot to do with the boundaries you set in place. 


Boundaries are expectations, guidelines, and frameworks around how we want our work and our lives to happen. They're a really effective way to both deliver better customer service and make your business more efficient. All while building more resiliency into your processes. 


Today, I continue our month’s theme of opting-out by talking with Brittany Berger, founder of digital media company Work Brighter


Brittany’s boundary game is strong. 


When building Work Brighter, Brittany made the conscious decision to prioritize the mental health and personal life boundaries that make room for unproductive things like rest, self-care, and fun. 


For her, boundaries are a powerful tool for streamlining and increasing her operational capacity. By choosing how she works with clients, when she works with clients, and who she works with in the first place, Brittany is explicitly setting expectations for how they will be working together. 


By establishing these boundaries she is not only taking care of herself she is also ensuring that she will continue to have the capacity needed to continue helping high achievers and productive unicorns go beyond just working smarter to a better version of productivity.


On today’s episode:

  • Why Brittany has opted-out of the normal method of doing one-on-one business and instead leverages her strengths and interests in ways that are more profitable. 
  • Why she defines success in her business in ways that are not necessarily tied to profit or revenue
  • Why she only checks her email twice a week so she can focus on deep work and self-care
  • How she manages energy and focus by doing the hardest thing first, preserving the most energy for sustainable productivity
  • The transparent guidelines she uses to reinforce boundaries with her clients
  • And how making it difficult for herself to access social media has been a great tool for freeing up space in her business



Dec 10, 2019
Why Streamlining Your Effort Pays Off With Business Strategist Michelle Warner

Opting out of business-as-usual practices  or deciding to buck your industry trend can be a really powerful point of differentiation for service businesses 


When you opt-out of using corporate jargon or ridiculously complicated implementation processes, you can really stand out from the crowd. 


And, making this choice can also be a really great tool for increasing your operational capacity behind the scenes. 


By opting-out and choosing not to implement a cumbersome or overly complicated process, you free up your time. By choosing to not administrate the process and hire somebody to manage it for you, you save all that time, money and effort that you would have spent otherwise.


Today, I am having business strategist, Michelle Warner, back on the show to talk about how we both use opting-out as a tool to help our clients become more profitable and efficient. 


We talk about how Michelle helps service providers, coaches, and course creators drill down and focus on what's important, as well as how they can stop spending time on unproductive distractions and start designing profitable businesses.


On today’s episode:

  • How Michelle uses an 80/20 framework to harnesses creative energy, turning it into something useful instead of something that can quickly derail us.
  • How Michelle helps clients move away from their startup phase and start optimizing as a company
  • The ways that doubling down on a single project has compounding effects and is uniquely beneficial to entrepreneurs  
  • All the ways that entrepreneurs are naturally creators and how they can look to the art world for guidance and inspiration
  • How you can take your financial metrics and turn them into qualitative choices for what you want your business to be.
  • How we can slow down and build our awareness in our business with tracking and mindfulness practices 


Dec 03, 2019
Defaulting to Simple with ScaleSpark Founder, Susan Boles

If you’re struggling to keep your head above water in your business and you can’t figure out how to break the ceiling and scale your business, then you should listen to this Break the Ceiling podcast with ScaleSpark Founder, Susan Boles. 

In the first few episodes of this series, Susan has focused on tackling default decisions, those decisions that you might have made in your business without thinking about them or realising that you had another choice. 

“Default decisions aren't necessarily good decisions or the right decision for your business.”

In the upcoming episodes however, Susan switches the focus from default decisions to opting out and why she advocates ‘Default to Simple’, the touchstone she uses when trying to figure out the solution to any problem in her own business, or her clients businesses. 

Because often, the next thing you have to do in your business process is just really simple. 

But before we go ahead and begin the next chapter, if you didn’t get the chance to listen to our series on default decisions, definitely go back and dig into them because they frame the upcoming episodes on opting out, and get you thinking about alternative options that you might not have considered in your business.


On today’s podcast:

  • Why the tech that promises to make your life easier can just be another complication
  • Why your business needs processes
  • Why writing a list allows you to keep it simple
  • How to simplify your process to get paid by opting out
  • Why opting out is such a powerful tool
  • Future guests on the podcast for the opting out theme


Nov 19, 2019
Using Software to Scale with ScaleSpark Founder, Susan Boles

In this special podcast episode, the shoe is on the other foot - Susan herself is on the receiving end of the interview. And she’s talking to Tara McMullin (who you might remember from the first ever Break the Ceiling episode.)

Bottlenecks in a business workflow process and complicated workflows can combine to create huge business growth headaches, not to mention potentially impacting your quality of work, resulting in poor customer satisfaction, or worse, letting things slip through the gaps. 

So Susan wanted to share this episode (first aired on Tara’s podcast, What Works) because she wants to discuss her experience of default decisions in software and technology. 

“When you're starting out, you don't know what you don't know.”

In this episode, Susan and Tara talk about why and when you should review your software tools, and how you can really use software to help automate your operations and address some operational capacity issues. They also talk about the challenging work of implementing new software and how to make the change a little bit easier and more effective.

So tune in to hear all that and more. 

On today’s podcast:

  • What Susan typically finds is standing between her clients and tripling their revenue
  • The basis for business default decisions
  • Why hiring more people won’t fix an operational capacity problem
  • Mistakes small business owners make when they try to use software to expand their capacity
  • Why software can be another bottleneck to workflow process rather than an aid
  • The audit process Susan carries out for each individual business to figure out what software could help them
  • How Susan makes software recommendations for each business
  • How to implement a new software system painlessly
  • Common mindset problems business owners face when switching software


Nov 05, 2019
Breaking the Default Model: Building a Badass Business with Badass Your Brand Founder, Pia Silva

Are you looking to break the mold with your business model? Are you one of those business people that make very deliberate decisions and knows that default decisions just can’t apply to your business? Then you need to meet Pia Silva. 

If you haven’t heard of the powerhouse that is Pia Silva, then you’re in for a treat. Pia is the founder of Badass Your Brand and Worst of All Design, and she made a very deliberate decision to step away from the default agency model. She knew she had to structure her business in a way that suited her preferred working style, while ensuring it remained wholly efficient to meet her needs and the needs of her clients. 

“This model came about because a year prior, a business coach of mine had said to me, ‘you're selling $30,000 projects, you're looking for clients who have $30,000, but you're networking with people who think you're great, yet they don't have $30,000, they have $3,000. So maybe you don't want to keep saying, oh, sorry, you don't have $30,000, so forget you, and instead think of something to sell them. Just come up with something you would sell someone if they had $3,000.”

And in the space of just a couple of days Pia had pivoted her whole business from chasing big projects via a traditional agency model, to making more money with a smaller project model. 

On today’s podcast:

  • Break the ceiling by breaking the default agency model
  • Why project management tools don’t work for every business
  • Using a lead product and a bullseye product
  • The freedom of transparent pricing
  • How to figure out your pricing strategy
  • Increase your price as you increase your value
  • Figure out a model that works for you and what you want out of life
  • Create a marketing structure that means you constantly have leads coming up
  • Why the big agency model can’t work for smaller businesses


Oct 22, 2019
Crossing the chasm from experimentation to deliberate model with business designer Michelle Warner

We’ve been focusing our attention on default decisions in the last couple of episodes- those choices that you make about how to run your business. And a lot of these decisions happen without us even realizing we're making a choice, especially at the beginning of our businesses. 

But sometimes those choices we didn't know we made come back and bite us in the butt when we need to make the transition from experimentation mode or validation mode into growth mode.

I chat with business designer Michelle Warner about business models, because lots of our default decisions are actually built into the model we choose. Michelle helps coaches, consultants and service-based entrepreneurs grow their businesses by showing them how to prioritize what matters and skipping what doesn’t. 

More importantly, Susan and Michelle discuss how to make that all-important decision of crossing the chasm from experimentation entrepreneur mode to a business model that's designed to grow, and how not to drive yourself crazy along the way.

On today’s podcast:

  • Why business design is a hybrid approach to creating your business model
  • The inspiration behind moving from a multi million dollar tech startup to business design
  • The symptoms of knowing when you’ve hit the ceiling in your business
  • The decisions entrepreneurs make over and over again
  • How to choose your business priorities
  • Focusing your team to do the 80%, leaving you free to do the 20% fun stuff


Oct 08, 2019
Is it The Dip or time to pivot with That Seems Important founder Margo Aaron

Are you an entrepreneur who thinks marketing is prosaic, a series of boxes that need to be checked off in a certain order? Are you too scared to break the ceiling with your own brand of personal marketing because it’s not something that you’ve been told to do? Then you should listen to Margo Aaron on today’s podcast, because she is someone you need in your life. 

Margo Aaron is the cohost of #HAMYAW and the author behind That Seems Important. She accidentally ended up in marketing and today she talks and writes about how to connect authentically with customers, and how to use ethical marketing to sell better, and more, online. 

“People really don't understand marketing, in part because marketers do a really bad job of explaining it. And they very very unethically sell it.”

On today’s podcast:

  • People don’t pay for strategy, they pay for outcomes and results
  • Why Margo was so nervous about launching ‘That Seems Important’
  • You don't have a marketing problem, what you have is a self-doubt problem
  • You need to find the intersection between your business model and your personal disposition
  • Why you shouldn’t measure your worth based on other people's benchmark success
  • The importance of playing and seeing where a business goes rather than sticking rigidly to a plan
  • Part of entrepreneurship is making things up - you are bringing something into the world that didn't exist before


Sep 24, 2019
Default Decisions and What Works with Tara McMullin

Welcome to this first episode of Break the Ceiling, the podcast where we'll talk about how you might structure your business, or even why you're in the business you're in in the first place. 

We're going to talk about financial decisions, hiring decisions as well as technology decisions, and give you some ideas to consider. But mostly, I just want you to start asking yourself, ‘why did I make this choice and does it still serve my business?’

My first guest in the series is Tara McMullin. Tara is a podcaster, writer, and a small business community leader. With over a decade of experience helping thousands of small business owners grow their business. She's on a mission to change the dialogue about what's really working and she believes that no one person has the answer to “what works” in small business.

Tara is the host of the What Works podcast, a top small business podcast that's been recommended by Forbes and Entrepreneur. And she's also the founder of the What Works network, a community hub for small business owners. 

She is also incidentally the person who came up with the name for this podcast.

On today’s podcast:

  • Why the default decisions you make at the beginning of your business may actually be causing the problems that are limiting your ability to grow
  • Not every framework or management tool works the same for each business
  • Why ‘What Works’ is pretty much an entire business based around the concept of fighting default decisions
  • Challenges associated with switching between different types of business models
  • How to know when you’ve hit the ceiling
  • Know where your skills lie and focus on doing that well - outsource the other stuff
  • Why Tara’s personal growth will help her business break through the ceiling


Sep 10, 2019
Introducing Break the Ceiling

Introducing Break the Ceiling launching early September 2019.

For more information, visit

Aug 29, 2019