The biggest reason small business owners fail? Burnout. You start your business thinking you’re going to get to do one thing really well. And next thing you know, you’re the Head of Accounting, HR, COO, and also managing projects! There is a better way. Listen as the Business Bros talk to Susan about how she turns the insanity of chaos into beautiful functionality, including:
- How Susan completely disconnected during a one-week vacation, without coming back to a pile of work
- Difference between being self-employed and being a business owner
- Which parts of your business should you systemize?
- And which processes to set up first
Please find the full audio transcript below.
Hernan: All right, ladies and gents. Woo, I know business is tough. It ain’t easy. There are so many things going on, and you wish you can get a little bit organized. That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. Here we go.
Speaker: The Business Bros Podcast was created for you. Learn from the business professionals who come to share their stories. Find out what’s working in business and social media, and what’s hot and what’s not, straight from the mouths of successful entrepreneurs out there doing the real work. And now welcome to another episode of
Hernan: Business Bros.
Susan: Business Bros.
James: Let’s do it. All right, all you business bros out there, before we jump into the show, just a quick reminder to please subscribe on whichever platform it is that you’re listening to us on today. Give us a like, give us a follow. Subscribe and drop a review. Help other like-minded business owners find value from our awesome guests while we rise in those podcast rankings.
We sincerely appreciate every single one of you for it. And if you want to be a guest on the show, we’d love to have you on to learn from you as well. Go to www.businessbros.biz. Schedule your time, and don’t forget to follow us on our social media at Business Bros Pod.
All right, everybody, we’re so excited and honored to bring another incredible guest to The Business Bros Pod. Today’s guest is a chaos killing, clutter kicking, disorder fighting maven. Nothing makes her happier than beating the pants off disorganization and eradicating chaos.
Our guest knows that business owners often find themselves in the unenviable position of being a team leader, the head accountant, chief customer service officer, and the head of the project management division. But with your head turned in so many different ways, how can you ever get through the madness?
Our guest helps you gain control of your business by following three simple steps to create structure, diagnose, discover, and implement. With customized solutions designed specifically for your business, you’ll be free of the shackles of confusion and finally able to focus on your vision while knowing your business is continuing to operate simply and chaos-free. Joining us today from McKinney, Texas, the chief eradicating officer at Beyond the Chaos. Welcome to the show, Susan Fennema.
Hernan: Well, well, well, Susan, what do you think? I mean, two and a half minutes in, and is it like any podcast you’ve been on so far?
Susan: No, this is very, very, exciting. I love it. Great intro, by the way. It’s fun.
Hernan: Let’s dive into. Ham always bringing the heat. It’s funny that you’re specifically talking about the chaos in a business because almost every business owner that’s out there has this great vision and this great idea of this concept, product, or service that they want to throw into the market.
And as soon as they see any hint of success, as soon as the market accepts whatever it is that they’re going to be selling, all of a sudden, they’re bombarded with everything else that comes as part of being a business. You thought it was going to be simple. I’m just going to do this one job and that’s it. No big deal.
And then one thing piles up, and another thing piles up, and another thing piles up. And one of the biggest reasons why entrepreneurs fail is because of burnout. It’s because they don’t know how to handle this stuff. Share with us your experience in having that overwhelming everything that happens as an entrepreneur. And how’d you get over it?
Susan: Well, it helps that this is what I do. Right? You build processes for your business. And structure. You have great project management tools. You calendar block your time. I started that way. So it’s easy for me to be the COO of my business. I’m not a good marketer, I’m not a good finance person, so I go find those people. But most regular CEOs are taking on that chief operating officer role. They hate it. They’re not good at it. They don’t want to do it because of its details and minutiae. Man, I spend half my time trying to get out of those because I love them so much.
But it’s too hard to build a process when you don’t even want to think that way. And so for me, putting that process together and building my company based on that has just made it run so smoothly. I was able to go on a week-long vacation last month. And by the way, vacations are as awesome as you remember them.
Go on one. I did not check on text messages, voicemail, email, I didn’t look at work for an entire week. My team ran everything so smoothly. I came back, invoices went out, clients were cared for. I even had my sales calls lined up for the next week. And I had 10 emails, that’s it. They had handled everything else. What a relief.
Hernan: Hold on, let me kind of recap there because I think this kind of goes over people’s heads. You are not self-employed. You actually have a real legitimate business. And for those of you who are not catching on here, she went on vacation, and when she came back, she had made more money probably than when she was there. It means that she has things in place, people in place, trainings in place, employees in place, everything in place, so that she can step away. Do you hear that? She can step away from her business. Susan, help me understand. What is the difference between being self-employed and being a business owner?
Susan: So being self-employed, and I love that you’re making this distinction, by the way, being self-employed means you’re doing all the work. You are fulfilling for your clients. You are essentially a glorified freelancer or subcontractor that you’re working for other clients. When you’re owning a business, you’re creating a repeatable structure, that is simple, that your team can execute. Now I am not a huge business. I won’t probably ever want to be a huge business. But I do one day have the goal of stepping out of the sales and marketing role. That’s the one that I usually recommend most business owners stay in until they’re ready.
It’s very easy to sell yourself. It is harder to turn that part over. And so that’s usually the last thing that you let go of. But I’ll tell you what, even as I’m selling and as I’m working on the marketing, I’m constantly thinking about: What is my process of selling? How am I doing this systematically so that one day I could teach someone else how do to it, step back and really be a CEO and have other people do all the work? I just show up and set the tone.
Hernan: We are so excited about having a title. Right? A title means everything to us. I’m the CEO, it kind of reminds me of if I could be the captain. Right? So if you have a Navy ship, for example, there’s the captain on that ship. And that captain is in charge of everything, but he’s not doing everything. So you want to go out and be a captain, you get yourself a little boat, and you can call yourself a captain. But what are you doing essentially? You have to clean the boat. Make sure the engine runs. You have to put all the gas in. You have to do all that stuff.
And then all of a sudden, you’re realizing that the best day in a boat owner’s life is the day they sell the boat, not necessarily the day they end up buying the boat. Right? And that’s the same process that we end up having with these business owners that you’re talking about. But a big issue that I find is I have a hard time letting go. Right? How do I let go of those responsibilities? I know I can do a good job. I’m going to wake up early and I’m going to work hard in my business. And that person I brought on, why don’t they work as hard? What’s going on? How can I let go of things comfortably?
Susan: So part of what you’re getting at is absolutely true. Nobody’s going to ever be as invested in your business as you are. They are not. Nobody’s ever going to be as good at it as you are, although I will argue that there are things as business owners that we force ourselves to do that we’re horrible at. But the thing that you were great at, that you started the business because of, nobody’s going to do it the way you think it should be done perfectly every time.
But here’s how you start to let go. You have to think through all the steps that you’re performing to be able to get them written into a process so that somebody else can execute your vision. It has to start from getting it out of your head. And once you get it out of your head, now you’re working with somebody on a process together to build that to be what you have, the outcome you expect from them executing it.
Now note I said outcome. That doesn’t mean that they are doing every single thing exactly the same way you would. It means you’re achieving the same outcome as you would hope that you would achieve.
Hernan: Let’s talk about that system because what you’re describing here is a system, a process, in other words, a standard operating procedure, the way that you do things. You might have a process that you do instinctively, and you just get up in the morning, you start doing that thing. But when you try to train somebody and you’re laying out instructions, and it’s maybe an outline with five points, you get up, you turn on the computer, you go to your CRM and you start calling people. That is not as descriptive.
If I gave those instructions to somebody, I wouldn’t get the outcome, like you said, the outcome that I’m looking for. What do you mean by having a process in place? How detailed do we need to be so that somebody else can come in and do that same job?
Susan: So let’s take the exact scenario you mentioned, make phone calls. Right? Okay, call people. That is not going to get the same results if I ask my team just to go call some leads, not the same results as if I gave them a script, if I educated them on what we’re selling so that they also don’t sound like the mindless script readers. Right? So there is some training involved, but also, start with a script.
I use a script. I follow the script when I’m selling. Part of the reason why is so that somebody else could also follow that script. I’m constantly modifying it and changing it. Then you start working with that person to say, “Okay, how many calls did you find success with?” And you can measure that success however you’re designating it. I need a call set, or proposals written, or whatever your measure is.
You fell short of what we expected. Let’s go back and look at the process together and figure out what we need to tweak. Do we need marketing in here to actually help us with our script? Maybe that’s where we’re off. Or maybe you’re not making enough dials. How can we help you make more dials? And when you’re working together with a team member like that, to improve your process, you can’t fail because worse case, even if that person fails and you have to move on, you have a better process to start with the next person.
Hernan: That’s powerful. When we’re developing these things, they’re so time-consuming. There’s so much effort and detail that goes into it. James is my systems guy. When we started building this insurance company, I say we, but it was him. He spent the last seven years, A, learning the insurance business, and then B, developing a system so that now our team implements a lot of the things.
There’s a lot of software that kind of helps us out. When a new lead comes in, it goes into a certain thing and a checklist pops out. And these are the next processes and procures. And as people move through these processes, the next batch pops up, and then we move them to the next.
So it’s helping out team move a customer through a sales process so the end result happens all the time. It took a long time, but the benefits are amazing. What kind of outcome do we get? If we were to focus our effort and put in that year, two years, or whatever it’s going to take to develop this process, what’s the benefit of having that system in place?
Susan: Well, you can go on vacation for a week and not have to do all of it. Right? But also, now you’re also able to scale, so you’re able to repeat it multiple times and grow bigger, very much more efficiently than if you’re talking to every single person every single time. If you’re having to onboard every single person and try to remember all those same things, and now they’re all off doing it their own way with different checklists and different flows. Now those checklists that you’re talking about, great, you have software, but because you have software, you didn’t get the checklist and it started working. Right?
You had to work the software to set it up and use the tool properly to get you there. So I think that’s another mistake some small business owners have is they’ll say, “Well, I have a project management tool, but it doesn’t work. I’m using Basecamp, but it doesn’t work.” Is that really true? Because there’s a lot of companies that are using Basecamp and running their whole company based on it. So you have to use the tool appropriately too. It’s not magic.
And this whole process development doesn’t stop. You’re constantly thinking in a different way. You’re thinking about my business as a process, so everything you’re doing, your mindset starts to change of: How can I improve this? Or how can I simplify this? Or, oh, great idea, let’s go add that to the checklist so that next time, we’re sure it’s covered with a new client.
Hernan: There are so many different things that are going on in a business. When you sit down with a client and they’re just feeling overwhelmed, they’re feeling like burnout is coming around the corner, and they finally, finally reached out and asked for help, so they’re sitting here talking to you. And they’re trying to get the help. Where do they focus first? What should I be systematizing first? Where should I be putting my first employee? What should I be setting up or focusing my attention on? Because I know you already said that we want to leave the marketing, your sales process to yourself at first because you can sell yourself. But of all the other things, what do we set up first?
Susan: So I like to put my clients through an exercise to basically tell me: What are you working on? And then let’s start classifying. What are those things? Are they admin tasks? Are they technician tasks? Because say you were a great software developer, so you’re doing that. Are they manager tasks? Maybe it’s managing a team. Or are they CEO tasks, nobody else can do them but you?
What are those rankings? And then do you enjoy them? I’ve worked with a software developer who loves to develop software, hates sales. Great, let’s figure out how to systemize your sales and get you out of that and let’s make sure that you have time every week devoted to developing software. But here’s a key, not as a deliverable to a client on a schedule. Right? So you might be working on a product for your business, as opposed to something due to a client, so that you’re getting what you love out of your business, and you’re not having to do the other parts. Those are the parts we systemize, so it’s different for everyone. And we have to kind of figure that part out.
But you can start by doing a self-examination. What are you doing every day? Are you doing admin tasks? Or are you doing CEO tasks? Admin tasks, pretty much all CEOs hate, so getting those off your plate is pretty easy. And that’s an easy place to start with the process too. So being able to hand off, say, something like sending out invoices to a client, which many owners hate, record yourself on a screen using Loom or even Zoom, show and tell how to do it. Then hand that recording off. That’s the simplest way to start creating a process.
I usually then also encourage that admin that you’ve hired to do that, you want them to write it down for you because if you change software, you can go edit the software in writing. Otherwise, you have to totally rerecord the video. So to avoid that, having it in writing is important. But you can also ask an admin to also help start creating those. Now an admin’s not going to be as good at writing a process. They’re going to write it from their standpoint, this is what I have to do. So if you have the skill set of being able to write, I would encourage you to also try to write it, or reach out and get some help to do it.
Hernan: There are so many different places you can go to nowadays too. A lot of the VA companies will help write some of your SOPs once you record that video because they want to have the same instruction. If they have turnover from one of their VAs, they want to replace the next person, and they want to have those same processes in place.
So when you do hire some of these VA companies, ladies and gentlemen, that is part of the structure. You’re going to have to send a video, send some instruction on what you want them to do. And they kind of help you out in creating some of these SOPs. Now, something I heard, and I want to make sure I clarify when you’re talking about which thing to kind of systematize and push out, it sounded to me like we start with the thing you have. Right?
Susan: For sure.
Hernan: We start with the thing that we don’t like. I heard, I think it was Russell Brunson, said … He was talking about how he kind of rated himself in different areas. He was like, “I’m a 10 year and I’m a seven and a five and a six in these other areas.” And he was like, “Look, the key to running your business is that you have a 10 in all the areas. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s you.”
Hernan: So which one do you start with? Which one do you hate the most? Which one do you want to get off your plate the most? Because then it gives you that life. Did I hear you correctly?
Susan: You absolutely did. If you are not enjoying what you’re doing, then why are you doing this? Go get a job. Do the things that you love, that’s why you started your business in the first place. Right? You loved something. You wanted to go and do that. Now I’m talking about professional services mostly. But of course, some businesses sell products and that kind of thing. You still have service and operations around your function as a CEO, even if you are selling products. You know you have to still do all of those things.
So what do you love? If you need to educate yourself more to do it better, that can be part of the plan. But if you hate it, figure out how to get rid of it. I mean, that’s absolutely the first thing that we should work on.
Hernan: I 100% agree. Let’s talk a little bit about what we’re going to find if we go beyondthechaos.biz. What is it that you offer there? And what can listeners do to get some of that information?
Susan: Well, you can go there and you can get it, all of it. It’s all free, everything on the website. There are a couple of things to take note of. We have a very robust blog and resources page. And that resources page will actually … There’s a place at the top of that where you can start. And it will walk you through different blog postings and recordings in certain areas to educate you on that. You can also go to beyondthechaos.biz/ebook and download a free eBook that’s Three Ways to Remove Chaos from Your Small Business.
And that’s going to walk you through our three main methods, which is process your business, develop process, establish a good project management function and project management tool, and then lastly, it prevents interruptions. And part of that is calendaring your time, making sure everything’s running smoothly so that you’re not reacting. You’re actually pro-acting most of the time.
Hernan: What was it like writing that book? I mean, you’re a process person. You write a lot of stuff down. How was it different from your standard operating procedures to now writing a book which essentially gives people the instructions on how to write their standard operating procedures? Right?
Susan: Right, right. It was a different experience. One, I talked about it first. So I’m a pretty good speaker, so I talked through it first. And then we went back and we edited it to make it flow better and to make more sense. So I am a journalism major, I do have a writing background, which really helped me get there too. But a little bit of an interesting, different, it was actually more fun way to do it than writing number one, go to the website, number two, click here, yeah, that kind of thing. Much better.
Hernan: We live in an era now where we have so much access to information. We have so much access to different types of tools. We even have access to employees all around the world. When you have a client that comes to you and says, “Hey, I need help,” what are some of your go-to resources that you give them to kind of help guide them in a direction whether it’s employment, or software, or training in general?
Susan: We have a robust set of partners that we refer to if you need marketing help or financial help. But then we also will have them … We walk them through which software is best for you. Our favorite software tool is Teamwork. It is a fantastic project management tool. We recommend that a lot. And then also, we are also Asana partners, and that one, we bring in for a little bit more simple, like if they have never used a project management tool, we’ll start with that one because it is simple.
So there are a whole bunch of tools we have at our fingertips that we can recommend for you, depending on what you need. But we do like to talk to you before we make those recommendations.
Hernan: And you’ve been in business for a while. For every business, the funniest thing is no matter how successful you see a business, there are always fires that are happening. There’s always problems. There are always hiccups and things that you have to overcome. In your business, what are some of the things that you’re struggling with, even today, that you’re trying to overcome?
Susan: Oh, wow. Mostly, we run pretty smoothly. I usually only get pulled into fires when something weird has happened with an invoice, and our team can’t figure it out. I’ve got to dig into the tool. I do get pulled in if the team is having a challenge of solving a problem for a client. We work together pretty well. But sometimes, especially when it’s a technical challenge, I’m probably more technically inclined than all of our team and more technically experienced.
I’ve worked in the virtual world for 11 years, so I’ve touched a lot of different software, and so I’m able to put out some of those fires. But they’re kind of smoldering, and they’re not major get out the fire extinguisher and take it now because it’s systemized, because we’ve structured the business so that things are planned and we’re thinking forward. We’re not reacting.
The other thing is that when something does come up, maybe a client gets frustrated, or isn’t jiving with the consultant they’re working with, that’s probably the biggest type of fire we have. What I’ve done is created space that in my … I have the energy to address that in a much more rational way because I’m not doing it all the time. I’m not constantly putting out those fires. That’s where you get burnout and exhaustion and overwhelm.
Hernan: See, I love asking that, especially when you have someone like yourself who has a system in place, because the response that I get, the response I heard from you, was I don’t deal with a lot of those things. My team has the flexibility. They know what is expected. They have the freedom to move around a little bit, to wiggle and figure out a solution. And it gives you more of a CEO status. So if you’re not spending so much time putting out fires, then aside from vacations, what does a CEO spend so much of their time doing?
Susan: I do a lot of review marketing, figure out how to find more leads, showing up, and doing podcasts.
Susan: Yep. I do some speaking. I’m essentially the face of the company and I’m doing sales, so I am on all of the sales calls, even first calls. I even qualify. So I’m involved in that quite a bit. I write the proposals. After I write the proposals though, and they’re shared with a client, we’re on to a process. So the team gets involved in sending them out and doing the invoicing. And even the turnover has become much more structured than it was originally.
When I’m having a call now they’re all recorded, and I’m even coaching on the call to the consultant, not that the person that I’m selling to knows that. But I’m saying things like, “Oh yeah, we will definitely look into X, Y, Z for you.” I’m telling the consultant notes as I’m selling so that as they listen to those calls to catch back up, they’re already starting to get an outline and more information and direction without me having to spend a whole other hour to go back through it with them.
Hernan: See, the life of a CEO, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, ladies and gentlemen. And it doesn’t start off that way. I promise you, what you’re going through, it can get better. You’re not going to be stuck there forever unless you let yourself get stuck there forever. Susan, before we head out, I know we kind of talked about it a little bit in the middle. But if people want to get ahold of you, want to get a copy of the eBook, how can they get ahold of you?
Susan: Easiest way is to go to beyondthechaos.biz/ebook. You can download the eBook for free there. I know some people, especially if you’re a very overwhelmed business owner, you might be going, “Oh, I cannot read another book. I just go to get some help,” there’s also contact information on that page, so you can just click and go straight to me, and we’ll get on a call and solve your problem.
Hernan: Perfect. All right. Well, make sure you guys check that stuff out. Look, if you’re struggling in your business, if it’s just driving you up the wall, you don’t have any time to spend with your friends, family, or go on vacation because you’re the type of business that when you go on vacation, your paycheck goes on vacation too, then you need to stop and get this book.
Pick it up, figure out a way to start building these systems and putting them in place. And that is exactly what Susan does, so go check out beyondthechaos.biz/ebook, and you’re going to get that eBook for free, free. That’s it. This means you’ve got to invest a little bit of time, learn a little bit, and implement because it doesn’t mean anything. GI Joe said, “Knowledge is half the power.” Right? Well, the other half is the implementation. You’ve actually got to give it a shot. And yes, you will mess up. And yes, you will make mistakes. But you improve each and every time.
Susan, we at The Business Bros do video testimonials. That’s how we help our clients generate more leads and generate more revenues. Basically, we take their existing clients and turn them into a sales force. And so I wanted to ask you a question. You were on The Business Bros. Now you’ve had a full episode. What was your experience like on the show?
Susan: This experience has been so fun, first, which is not always what you experience on a podcast. Also, you guys are so well prepared. You have the background of you’ve done your homework, essentially, and you’re ready to go. And I love how this has flown through both in time and in the whole flow and process of the questions.
Hernan: Awesome. All right. I’m going to give you the framework that we use to build a great testimonial. So ladies and gents, take notes. It’s pretty basic, it’s pretty easy, it’s pretty fun. You can do this with your relationships, friends, whatever you want. Number one, we told Susan how awesome she was with our fire intro. James does a great job with that. Number two, we asked Susan about more of her awesomeness. We wanted her to share some cool stuff because she’s already great and what she’s doing.
And then number three, we asked, “What’d you think of us?” And that is how we get a good video testimonial, ladies and gents. How cool would it be, Susan, how cool would it be for your customers to say nothing but good things about you?
Susan: Oh, well, that would be spectacular. Luckily, most of them do.
Hernan: Of course. Ladies and gents, you’re in business because you are already doing a good job. But the problem is, your customers, tell you you’re awesome one time, and then they don’t really tell their friends and families. And a video testimonial will capture that and live on the internet for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, being that sales pitch, telling other people how awesome you are.
So if you guys need help with your testimonials, make sure you guys go to businessbros.biz/testimonials. Let’s get those done so you can increase. It’s all about scale. Right? Increase that lead generation, increase those sales, and make your business a lot better because you know what, sales cure ails. You have that extra cash, you can start investing in your admins. You can start investing in your systems. And you can start investing in some extra time, so like Susan, you can go on vacation too.
All right, ladies and gents, Susan, thank you very much for being on the program. Really appreciate you taking the time.
Susan: Thanks so much for having me. This was a blast.
Hernan: All right, ladies and gents. We’ll see you guys later. Oh, by the way, it is my favorite day of the week, S-H-I-T, So Happy It’s Thursday. We’ll see you again next time. Peace, and we’re out.
Speaker: Thank you for listening to The Business Bros Podcast. Are you looking to get more clients or to increase your income? Hernan, the business bro, can help you generate referrals through the power of podcasting, and James, the insurance bro with Pipeline Insurance, can help you effectively add insurance to your existing business. If you are ready to create wealth today and generational wealth for tomorrow, email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation, or join The Business Bros network, www.businessbros.biz.
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