Break the Ceiling

Susan Boles

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.

Introducing Break the Ceiling
Trailer 3 min 17 sec

All Episodes

I wanted to give you an update on what's going on with Break the Ceiling. Over the last two years, I've released almost a hundred episodes of Break the Ceiling. I've put out so many episodes that I'm really proud of, and I've talked to a ton of really amazing business owners. Thank you so much for listening and hanging out here with me, geeking out on the backend of running a business.I wanted to let you know that we're going on hiatus, so we won't be releasing any new episodes for a while. I want to take some time to think about how I want the show to evolve, and I'd like to reimagine it a bit. So I'm taking a break from recording and releasing episodes here so that I can take this space.And to be honest, it's been a heck of a year and a half for me and I need a little bit of a break.Stay tuned to this feed and hit subscribe if you're not already a subscriber so you don't miss it when we come back with a new updated and improved show. We have some really exciting things planned, both for the podcast and for the business.In the meantime, there's almost a hundred episodes in the feed so definitely catch up on the ones you’ve missed. I'd love to connect with you and hear what you'd like to see for the show going forward and I'm looking forward to being back in your podcast feed and your ears soon.Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @theSusanBoles LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Aug 3

1 min 41 sec

Boundaries are all about setting guidelines for how you work.From your very first interaction with a client or a prospect, you're giving them hints about how you work or even explicitly setting expectations for how you'll work together.So if you take four days to respond to their request for information, they might have the impression that you're a little slow. React immediately, and they'll think you're always available.What choices we make about where our boundaries are–or aren't–can have a huge effect on our overall capacity and how much time it takes to actually serve each client.Boundaries can be a really powerful tool when we're talking about streamlining or increasing your operational capacity.Today we're going to dig into them with my guest, Brittany Berger. She's the founder of Work Brighter, which is a digital media company that helps productive unicorns go beyond working smarter to a version of productivity that makes room for “unproductive” things like rest, self-care, and fun.She started Work Brighter after five years running content marketing in really high-stress startups that prioritized hustle, growth, and scaling over self-care and mental health. Now that she's changed her own mindset, she spends her time helping other high achievers find balance for themselves and advocating for mental health awareness.Let's just say her boundary game is strong.Listen to the full episode to hear: How Brittany uses boundaries as guardrails for habits and routines that protect her mental and physical health How adding a little extra friction around things like email and social media can help reinforce your boundaries and keep you from breaking them yourself Why building boundaries to manage your energy rather than pushing through leads to sustainable productivity How Brittany has redefined success in a way that respects her health and wellbeing and not just the bottom line Learn more about Brittany: BrittanyBerger.com Work Brighter @workbrighter on Instagram @thatbberg on Twitter The Slackification of the Family Home–The Atlantic Magazine Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jul 27

31 min 22 sec

You are not your business.Your business is something you are creating, which means you have a relationship with it.Like any relationship that we are in, the relationship that we have with our business can be complex and takes understanding, consideration, and work. And as with our personal relationships, the ones that we have with our businesses are shaped by our past experiences, for better or worse.We might have been told that we’re supposed to leave our baggage at the door when we come into work–we might even think we succeed–but that’s not how humans work. And when we ignore how our pasts affect our present, we set ourselves up to repeat unhealthy relationship patterns everywhere in our lives.In today’s episode, we’ll talk about how your foundational experiences might show up in your business and create limitations to your growth, especially when it comes to perfectionism and control.Nicole Lewis-Keeber is a business therapist and mindset coach who works with entrepreneurs to create and nurture healthy relationships with their businesses. She's a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Masters in Social Work and she writes and speaks about the impact of small-t trauma on businesses. Her biggest, most important work is in combining therapeutic processes with business coaching to help entrepreneurs build emotionally sustainable and financially stable businesses.Listen to the full episode to hear: How your business is not you, but a thing you’re in relationship with How control relates to trust and its impacts on your ability to lead and grow How perfectionism is a safety mechanism and tools to help you begin to lower that shield Why when you’ve tried all the systems and none of them worked, it’s probably not the systems Learn more about Nicole: Trauma and Its Impact on Business - Free Course Nicole Lewis-Keeber Coaching Instagram: @nicole.lewiskeeber Facebook: Nicole Lewis-Keeber Coaching Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jul 20

31 min 15 sec

When was the last time you crossed off everything on your to-do list? Have you ever? Does even glancing at it make you feel overwhelmed and maybe a little bad about yourself?Hustle culture tells us that working 24/7, 365 will bring us success, that we have to grind it out to gain ground.But not only is that not realistic for real people with families and friends and lives we want to live, it’s not even true.There’s a ton of research out there that says resting actually increases your productivity, your effectiveness, your problem-solving skills and your creativity.We need rest to do our best work and to be able to bring our best selves to our businesses.But those to-do list items still need to get crossed off. How do you create the space for rest? For your family and friends and for your best work?There's no shortage of “helpful information” out there about personal and business productivity.We all know those blog posts about some millionaire’s morning routine or the latest hack or a new software tool that will magically solve all of your problems with getting things done. But those so rarely work for the average person, let alone if you’re adding neurodivergence, chronic illness or disability to the mix.So what do you do? How do you tackle the overwhelm and miles-long to-do list?Tanya Dalton says the key is to get crystal clear on your priorities and then use that as a filter for everything else.Tanya is a productivity expert, speaker, and best-selling author of the Joy of Missing Out. She serves as a growth strategist for female leaders and hosts the Intentional Advantage Podcast. Tonya is also the founder and CEO of inkWELL Press Productivity Co., which provides tools that work as a catalyst to help women do less while achieving maximum success.Listen to the full episode to hear: How getting clear on your mission, vision and core values and leading from them creates a priorities filter Five questions to ask yourself when you’re prioritizing a task How to create a priority list, or a “to-do list with intention” Why implementing priority systems at home too creates space for rest and empowers everyone in your household Why a perfectly even work-life balance is not only unachievable, but undesirable, and a new way to think about balance Learn more about Tanya: TanyaDalton.com inkWELL Press Productivity Co. the Intentional Advantage Podcast The Joy of Missing Out Book Facebook: @Tanya.i.Dalton Instagram: @Tanya.i.Dalton Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jul 13

46 min 51 sec

Maintenance mode as a topic for the podcast actually came out of a personal capacity crisis.Like a lot of people, since March of 2020, I've been without child care. With my son in hybrid school all year long, I gradually started having less and less time to devote to ScaleSpark.I lowered the bar on my expectations for myself and what I could accomplish again and again and again, but there was still stuff that just wasn't getting done.Don't get me wrong, I wasn't sitting around doing nothing. I executed a big business model shift that included piloting my first group program and creating my Not Rocket Finance course.I got a TON done. But it was a lot less than I normally would have.Then at the beginning of 2021, I reached a bit of a crisis point.I couldn't keep trying to shove a full-time business and being a full-time stay-at-home mom/homeschooler into the same hours. Something had to change.I really started to take a look at what I could stop doing, what needed to change, and what systems I needed to build to take my business from one-to-one client services to a scalable business that could operate in maintenance mode.And I've spent the last 16 episodes interviewing founders about maintenance mode and consistency, exploring capacity, business model, and techniques to prepare and execute maintenance mode in your business.So to wrap up the theme, I wanted to take you behind the scenes and talk about what I learned from all my interviews over the last few months and what I experimented with and tried out in my own business.So I brought my executive producer, Sean McMullin, on the show to interview ME about maintenance mode.Listen to the full episode to hear: How shifting from big picture problem solving to treating the process of being consistent as a series of small experiments satisfied the need to break things in the business Why you need to figure out how you’re self-sabotaging, then why you’re doing it in order to create effective systems and supports that keep you from it Why maintenance mode isn’t about finding the perfect system but stacking systems that are good enough Steps to start looking for what you can automate, delegate, or make more efficient in what you do every day Learn more about Sean:Yellow House MediaLearn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jul 6

43 min 29 sec

Sometimes the challenges to consistency come from self-sabotage, things like distraction, boredom, imposter syndrome.But especially for folks who are neurodivergent or dealing with chronic issues or disabilities, consistency comes with additional challenges that require you to figure out how to manage unpredictable energy levels, or how to cope with executive function issues.Most common productivity advice centers on the idea of trying to do more work, to shove more into the day, to force yourself to change your behavior so you can do more.But what if you don't want to do more? What if you just want to make it easier on yourself to do the work you love?Or what if your brain or energy levels just don't work the same way that the productivity bros hawking the advice do? Then a lot of that advice is just downright useless.The real key is figuring out how your brain works and creating an environment that supports you in doing your best work. And that may take some experimentation, but it probably won’t happen following someone else’s hacks.Marie Poulin, of Notion Mastery, helps ambitious business owners level up their digital systems, workflow, and productivity, so they can spend more time on what matters. She's been an influential voice in the Notion community, has a big following on her Notion Youtube channel, and has created a lot of the Notion resources available today.Marie also recently discovered that she has ADHD, so her brain works a little differently and things like consistency, scripting or executive functioning–like deciding what to prioritize working on–can be extra challenging.Marie and I talk about consistency and how critical it was to her success with Notion and her course and community Notion Mastery. We also talk about how discovering she was neurodivergent explained so much about how her brain worked and has helped her figure out how to set up systems that work the way she does.Listen to the full episode to hear: How Marie uses making public commitments as an external motivator to keep herself consistent Why she learned to build in opportunities for later iteration and improvement to projects so she can be finished enough for now How Marie stumbled into her ADHD diagnosis and how she gave herself permission to accept that her brain works differently Tools for noting when and how you work best so you can minimize resistance in your schedule Learn more about Marie Poulin: Mariepoulin.com Notion Mastery youtube.com/c/mariepoulin How to Run Your Life Inside of Notion Instagram: @mariepoulin Twitter: @mariepoulin Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jun 29

46 min 54 sec

It's ok to quit.Consistency can be critical to success, but knowing when to quit is an equally valuable skill.So, how do you know when to quit and when to just push through the hard parts?You've heard me talking to business owners who credit being consistent as the key to their success.But failure is also a part of being an entrepreneur and one we talk about a lot less because it's not as pretty. Most successful business owners have at least a few failures in their rearview mirror.I had 2 businesses that were marketing and branding successes and abject financial failures before I started ScaleSpark.Failing sucks, there's no doubt about that. But those failures are a big part of what motivates me to teach financial skills and why I believe that your numbers tell you a story about what to do next in your business.Deciding to quit something is so hard and emotionally wrenching. I also wish I'd listened to the story my numbers were telling me on both those businesses and quit earlier.But you don't always know if you're failing. Maybe you're just stuck in what Seth Godin calls "The Dip:" that point in every project where you have to figure out if something is genuinely not working or if you have to push through.Today my guest and I are talking about how to know when you should quit.Margo Aaron is the cohost of the YouTube show Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites and the author behind That Seems Important. She's a psychologist turned accidental marketer and she's fantastic at getting to the heart of the entrepreneurial mindset. Her email newsletter consistently gets right to whatever mindset fog I'm in at that point in time and always manages to encourage me to keep going.Margo and I have both quit businesses. And in this interview that we originally recorded in September of 2019, we explore what it meant to quit and how we each realized it was time to let go.Listen to the full episode to hear: The client call that made Margo realize she had a major disconnect between what she was getting paid to do and what she wanted to be doing What questions to ask yourself to assess if you’re in “the Dip” or if it’s time to let go Why product-founder fit is as important as product-market fit How to build a business that aligns with your values and defines success on your terms Why you need creativity, intuition, and experimentation in your business, not dogmatic models and rules Learn more about Margo Aaron: That Seems Important Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jun 22

51 min 55 sec

Consistency is the underlying premise behind maintenance mode, behind working the system, behind the mantra of "don't break it". It's the opposite of shiny object syndrome.When you're consistent with your offers and your messaging, people know who you are, what you stand for, and what you sell.When you're consistent in your operations, your team and your clients know exactly what to do next.When you're consistent, you're efficient and you don't waste time, effort, or money.Consistency means that you don't get exhausted by decision fatigue - because a lot of your daily decisions have already been made and you're just following the process you decided on a while ago.Consistency builds resilience. Even when you're operating at 10%, having built habits and processes means that you can keep the ball rolling.In order to become more consistent in your business, there are two things you have to figure out.First, you have to get your mindset wrapped around being consistent and prioritizing it. That sounds simple, but in my experience, it's just not. It's so easy to self-sabotage by getting distracted or bored or prioritizing other things.Second, once you know that consistency is an important value to you, you have to build habits and design your environment so that being consistent is actually the easiest path for you to take.If consistency is the goal, building habits is how you accomplish it.Meet Sarah. Sarah Von Bargen is a writer, coach, and educator who helps people spend their time, money, and energy on purpose. And she uses habits to make sure they're sticking to that purpose. Habits have been a critical component in her own business success and in the success of her students, too.Listen to the full episode to hear: How the stress of flying by the seat of her pants turned Sarah into a data-driven planner How changing your exterior circumstances–like charging your phone in another room–supports the interior work that builds lasting habits How Sarah uses a “think about it later” list to help keep herself from productive procrastination and shiny object syndrome Why you should test shiny new ideas on social media or your blog to gauge interest before you spend time or money developing them Learn more about Sarah Von Bargen: Yes and Yes Instagram: @yesandyesblog Money & Happy Facebook Group Free Workbook: How To Rescue The Time & Energy To Go After What You Want Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jun 15

38 min 8 sec

The point of maintenance mode is to give you time and space to take a REAL break. Not a vacation where you're checking your email or you're stuck on your laptop kind of break. But a real, genuine break.That step back can feel kinda scary. It might feel like you're standing at a precipice, trying to figure out if you'll trip and fall over the edge, or if it's just a tiny step down to a solid surface. That step means that you have to trust that the systems you've built and the team you've trained can handle whatever comes up. That's the goal, to allow you to be able to take a break from your business without breaking your business. And what does that look like in a real business? To go through the process to prepare for maintenance mode, build the systems, and then trust them to work and step away? That's what we're talking about today.Claire Pelletreau is a Facebook and Instagram ad expert and conversion optimization expert. Claire also LOVES talking about money–profit, loss, the whole shebang. She asks her guests how much they charge–and how much they earn–on her show, the Get Paid Podcast.Claire recently took a break from her business while on maternity leave for several months. She knew it was coming, so she prepared, she planned and she got her business ready to operate in maintenance mode. And then she walked away. For months. During a pandemic. Listen to the full episode to hear: How Claire changed her content strategy and schedule for her podcast to cover her maternity leave How she budgeted for her leave and unforeseen expenses in her absence The process of mentally and emotionally checking out from her business and what it was like to come back to work in a vastly different world after summer 2020 Letting go of selling herself as part of the package and giving her team ownership Learn more about Claire Pelletreau: ClairePells.com Instagram: @clairepells Facebook: @absoluteclaire The Get Paid Podcast Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: You Need a Budget Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself, Mike Michalowicz Rachel Rodgers

Jun 8

46 min 35 sec

In order to be completely away from your business for any length of time, you probably need to hire someone. Or maybe a few someones.In the last episode, I talked to Jason Staats about how he uses technology to help him keep his 4 different ongoing projects in maintenance mode, but hiring is also part of his maintenance strategy. He comes up with the ideas, figures out the tools, then hires someone to monitor and maintain. Technology and Team are the two most powerful resources you have when it comes to operating your business in maintenance mode.Technology allows you to make sure your team is doing only the most high-value tasks and having that team in place means that someone is there to monitor the autopilot, make decisions on the fly, and keep the trains rolling. Having a team you can turn to, and someone you can trust to monitor the autopilot can be the last, very critical, piece of maintenance mode. And it's the piece that allows you to truly step away, and know that things are taken care of, even if you aren't there to be the one to take care of them.Meet India Jackson. She's the CEO of Flaunt Your Fire, a brand visibility agency, and co-founder of Pause on the Play, a podcast and community dedicated to visibility and vulnerability for inclusive leaders. India started off her career as a model and bodybuilder and evolved that into an agency where she now leads a team. We talk about her evolution as a leader and how hiring and finding the right fit was critical to the growth of her agency and for her to be able to step back from doing all the things. Listen to the full episode to hear: How India began building a team to fill in gaps in her skill sets, and how her mindset on delegation has changed in her 10+ years in business  Why she hires client support staff for their empathy and not just their resume  How India approaches partnerships and hiring with a values mindset, from full transparency in job listings to explicitly asking about values in interviews Why your brand or company values have to be broken down into actions you take every day, with clarity on what impact you want to have  Learn more about India Jackson: Flaunt Your Fire Pause on the Play Flaunt Your Fire Podcast Pause on the Play Podcast Instagram: @flauntyourfire @pauseontheplay Connect with India on LinkedIn Learn more about Susan: Scalespark.co Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Erica Courdae Break the Ceiling Episode 83: Leveraging People, Processes and Technology with Jason Staats

Jun 1

43 min 19 sec

You can't step away and do something else if everything's going to come to a screeching halt when you do. To be prepared for maintenance mode, you have to figure out how to get the behind-the-scenes systems to operate, consistently, without you.In order to get your business into maintenance mode–and build a stronger business while you're at it–you have to answer the question, "What if I'm not here?"Ideally, the answer is that nothing changes. Invoices still get sent on time, your products and services still get delivered, and the wheels on the bus keep going round and round. That's the goal of maintenance mode, to me. There are some tasks that really don't lend themselves to having a computer do it. But MOST back-end administration of a business can be automated. And for me, automating that back-end tasks means my business won't break if I'm not here for a bit.The other payoff is that even if I AM working in my business, I have time to do other, more interesting things. I could even start another project like my friend Jason did.Jason Staats is a CPA in Salem Oregon. He's principal at Brenner LLP by day, and an accounting tech enthusiast by night. In addition to his CPA firm, he has also started Launch for Accountants, which is a newsletter and website with all the latest software launches. He's built Realize, a community for accountants and he is launching a software product. All those projects he's started and continues to run? He used technology to make that work and keep them all running, even if he's not IN that business all the time. Listen to the full episode to hear: Why creating a single space to gather opportunities and priorities across projects fights overwhelm How knowing what his “anti-goals” help Jason choose which projects to pursue How considering new projects in terms of skills development keeps distraction and shiny object syndrome in check How getting to maintenance mode lets you choose to pursue side projects and shiny objects  Learn more about Jason Staats: Launch for Accountants Realize Follow Jason on Twitter Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

May 25

41 min 50 sec

Sales are the lifeblood of any business.So when you're thinking about maintenance mode in your business, you need to think about how to make sure sales still come in, even if you're not around.Last week we talked about the first step in preparing for maintenance mode by being consistent with your messaging and your offers. If you haven't listened to Episode 81 with Michelle Mazur, go check that one out.This week, I want to talk about step two in preparing for maintenance mode and that's your sales process.In order to put your business into maintenance mode, you have to understand how sales come in, how you make sales, and how you're going to continue to make sales, even if you aren't actively working in your business for the momentWhile sales are one of the first things business owners seem to want to outsource, sales are probably one of the very last pieces of your business operations that you should be handing off to people.And that means that figuring out how to put sales on maintenance can be a challenge.And my friend, Allison Davis, is my go-to when it comes to sales and creating sustainable sales processes.Allison is a sales trainer and coach who ignites growth in small business owners and mission-driven organizations. I've done a TON of sales training–it's one of my weaknesses so it's something I've tried hard to develop.Allison was the person who finally made it "click" for me that I don't have to do ALL the things when it comes to sales, I just have to build a sustainable system and stick with it.Listen to the full episode to hear: How to pull yourself out of overwhelm by actively choosing what you can do consistently Why using buyer types to modify your sales approach doesn’t have to be inauthentic Why Allison started the Sales Roundtable and why it’s an effective and efficient way to connect with potential clients Learn more about Allison Davis: Allison-Davis.com Sales Roundtable Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Break the Ceiling Episode 81: Work on a Consistent Message and Marketing System to Prepare For Maintenance Mode with Michelle Mazur Dani Johnson’s GEMS® Mastery

May 18

33 min 35 sec

No one is bored with your business but you.The last month or two, we've been talking about maintenance mode–the idea that you can create a business that can kind of run itself. There are systems and processes set up, so everyone knows exactly what they need to do.The same kinds of systems and tools that you would use to prepare your business for maintenance are the SAME ones that you would use to free up capacity and prepare your business to scale.And that means that spending time setting up repeatable processes and checklists and automation has a HUGE return on your investment of time and effort.But, what, PRECISELY, do you need to DO to get your business prepared for maintenance mode?The first step is to zoom out and look at the end goal–what your business will look like, feel like and run like IN maintenance mode.The second step of preparing for maintenance mode requires you to think about your business as an ecosystem. In order for you to step away, every part has to operate smoothly.SO how do you prep each PART of your business for maintenance? What do you need to consider and what are some tactics that you could use to help you get there?Michelle Mazur is the founder of Communication Rebel, a Messaging Coach and Author and she's the voice in my head when it comes to my own marketing and messaging, telling me that consistency is the key to success.Consistency in your messaging means that you don't have to reinvent the wheel every quarter. It means you know what you need to say and you know to whom and how you need to say it. And it’s the first part of being able to prepare your business for maintenance mode.Listen to the full episode to hear: How to build your company’s communication bible: the Brand Message Guide Why consistency and repetition aren’t boring to your audience How to experiment in order to optimize and minimize, so you’re marketing where it counts What to do when you hit a dip in sales or engagement Learn more about Michelle Mazur: Communication Rebel Instagram: @drmichellemazur Three Word Rebellion Three Word Rebellion (book) Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

May 11

39 min 22 sec

Sometimes we end up building a business that just doesn't fit our lives. Not intentionally. Sometimes it just happens that way.Maybe you don’t have the freedom you thought you’d have. Maybe you’re doing group courses but you really want to be 1 on 1 with clients, or vice versa. Sometimes when you step back and examine what it'll take to get to maintenance mode or what it will take to scale or grow, you realize that you don't actually have the capacity to grow this thing you built. The business you built isn't designed for that.In order to get to maintenance mode, you need to shift. Ryan Lazanis and I talked about this in Episode 75 - we'd each built businesses that didn't fit how we wanted to live our lives and so we ended up starting new businesses and specifically building them for maintenance mode.But you don't have to burn the whole thing down. Meet Mark Butler. He's the founder of the accounting startup Let’s Do the Books, as well as a freelance CFO for life coaches. And instead of shutting his business down and starting over when he realized that something needed to change for him, he created a complementary business with a different business model–one that was designed for maintenance. Listen to the full episode to hear: How Mark makes two very different business models work under one roof Why his team is always empowered to tell him no How side projects sustain his creativity and generate new opportunities for the business Why every entrepreneur needs to ask themselves what they really want to be when they grow up Learn more about Mark Butler: Let’s Do the Books Money School Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Break the Ceiling Episode 75: Starting with the End in Mind: Reverse-Engineering the Plan with Ryan Lazanis Break the Ceiling Episode 79: The Maintenance Mode Mindset: Stop Breaking Your Business with Racheal Cook

May 4

33 min 41 sec

Don't break it, stay the course, work the system. Don't break it, stay the course, work the system. That's the refrain that's in the back of my head all the time now. One of the biggest challenges of getting your business into maintenance mode is your mindset. It's not that it's so difficult to build systems or design your business model to be sustainable and resilient. It's that we, as entrepreneurs like breaking stuff and we LIKE shiny new things–shiny things are FUN! Breaking your business over and over with new offers, new messaging, new technology tools, new business models is not the path to creating a lasting, sustainable business. In fact, it’s how too many business owners burn out. The real answer might seem boring, but it's actually kind of freeing.It’s consistency, working the system, staying the course. Once you figure out what works for your business, the key is not to break it and not to get in your own wayBut... HOW? HOW do I get out of my own way? HOW do I stop getting distracted by every new idea that pops into my head? How do I keep myself from breaking it? What am I supposed to DO all day if my business doesn’t need me to shop up and deliver?That's exactly what I'm talking about today with Rachael Cook. She's a business strategist, author, and the host of the Promote Yourself to CEO podcast. And she helps business owners figure out how NOT to break their businesses.Listen to the full episode to hear: Why redefining your role and asking yourself what are the jobs only YOU can do is an essential mindset shift How treating your systems and your team as assets and not just your content can prevent launch burnout Leaving hustle culture behind so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor How getting to maintenance mode before a crisis or major life event hits safeguards your business against the unpredictable Learn more about Racheal Cook: RachealCook.com Promote Yourself to CEO Podcast Instagram: @racheal.cook Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Break the Ceiling Episode 07: Why Streamlining Your Effort Pays Off with Business Strategist Michelle Warner  Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't by Jim Collins

Apr 27

44 min 23 sec

As I have been talking with business owners about maintenance mode, they have consistently brought up burnout. That moment when they realized that they couldn't keep working the way they were working.Caring for a family member or realizing they were burnt out or trying to handle a load of virtual school with no child care for a year – they all encountered a recognition that their own personal capacity had been reduced. For me, that moment of recognition forced me to realize that my realistic maximum capacity was WAY lower than I thought it was. We all have a maximum capacity - a ceiling of how much work we want to do or how much our business can handle. But also true for us as individuals. And so when you're preparing your business for maintenance mode, you need to examine your own capacity as a founder. You need to think about your own energy, priorities, and boundaries. And that's virtually impossible if you're stressed and exhausted. Re-examination forced by burnout and exhaustion is exactly what happened to today’s guest, Finka Jerkovic. Managing her own energy as a business owner has been crucial in making sure that she is building a business that is supporting her, building a business based on work that she truly LOVES to do.Finka is a coach, speaker, and author of the book Sell From Love.She brings over two decades of experience in corporate Canada in the financial services industry, with expertise in sales, leadership, communication, and coaching.Finka helps her clients discover their “Brilliant Difference” so that they get 100% clear on their unique talents, skills, and expertise so that they can use their personal strengths to grow their business.Listen to the full episode to hear: What led to Finka recognizing that she had hit burnout and how she approached the need for immediate change  How she approached her capacity, energetically and operationally, differently when she came back from burnout  How what Finka calls “environmental wrenches” are actually just systems  How the same systems that help prepare our business for maintenance mode are the SAME systems that can help increase our capacity  That you can say yes to as much as you want, but your systems of support need to be built in order for you to be able to say yes.  Learn more about Finka Jerkovic: Sell From Love Instagram @finka_jerkovic LinkedIn @finka-jerkovic Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Apr 20

40 min 1 sec

How's your capacity feeling these days? Getting a lot done? Or, like me, have you been hitting that pandemic wall hard? Over the last few weeks, I've been exploring the idea of maintenance mode in business, and today I want to shift from exploring the IDEA of maintenance mode into more tactical applications. If YOU wanted to move your business into maintenance mode, or you wanted to focus on scaling, how would you DO that? How would you prepare for maintenance mode? In all of my conversations with other business owners who have made this shift, there has consistently been a first step that they had to address.Capacity.Either the business's capacity or their own capacity as the owner. Each business owner ran up against a wall (sometimes repeatedly) and came to the realization that the way they HAD been working wasn't the way they wanted to CONTINUE working.They had to make changes to increase their capacity. Sometimes, that meant changing a business model to a more sustainable one. Sometimes it meant creating a capacity limit to protect their energy or just stepping back from the work for months at a time. Sometimes it just meant examining the work they did and figuring out how to make it more efficient. That's the path that today’s guest, Anna Wolf, took. Anna is the CEO and owner of SuperScript Marketing, a content marketing agency for financial brands. She runs a team of marketers, scattered throughout the world, who create content for financial companies and who provide customized services for each client.When Anna ran up against her capacity ceiling, she decided that she loved the work she was doing and didn't really want to change the way that she was working. But that something still had to change.So Anna turned to systems. Listen to the full episode to hear: How Anna thinks about capacity and figuring out what the real capacity is in her businesses About some of the projects that Anna built to expand her business’s capacity without fundamentally changing what she was already doing to deliver quality services What impact these systems and processes have had on her business or on her own capacity as the owner And how Anna has learned that there needs to be a balance between seeking answers externally and follow your gut, even if that means risking making mistakes Learn more about Anna Wolf: SuperScript Financial Marketing Agency  LinkedIn @annawolf Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Apr 13

30 min 13 sec

Visionary or Integrator? Startup or Maintenance CEO?In the world of business, there is no shortage of ways to categorize your leadership style and the way you operate. But maybe in the real world, it's not quite so distinct.I LOVE quizzes and personality tests and different ways of categorizing my personality, my skills, and how I think about things.Sometimes these assessments are genuinely useful and can help us understand how and why we do the things we do and think the way we think - which can help us improve our weaknesses and lean into our strengths.But, they can also sometimes create artificial boxes around us and create limitations that can keep us from growing as leaders and as individuals.One of these dichotomies that I've repeatedly gotten stuck on, personally, is the idea that you are either a startup or a maintenance CEO.You're either the energetic kid here to whip everyone into a frenzy of work, who changes things at the drop of a hat. Or you're the "adult" they bring in once things are rolling, so you can bring order to the chaos.As we've been talking about maintenance mode, it seemed like a logical choice to examine whether or not all business owners can even BE in maintenance mode. What if you ARE either a startup CEO or a maintenance one? Does that mean that your business will never be able to operate like clockwork?My guest today is Sarah Avenir, author and the CEO of &yet, a marketing and messaging agency. And she's been on both sides of this debate.She's BEEN a startup CEO, a freelancer, an employee, and then she got tapped to become the CEO of &yet and she had to figure out how to make a team of designers, developers, and strategists come together under what she calls systems of practice.Listen to the full episode to hear: What Sarah thinks of the dichotomy of Start-Up CEO vs Maintenance CEO and what the term Maintenance Mode means to her What the journey from being a startup CEO to a maintenance style CEO has been like for somebody who thinks in systems and who is comfortable with consistency. How Sarah has found freedom through the structure and routine of systems And how systems in practice incorporates being a human being and what we need to stay healthy Learn more about Sarah Avenir: Twitter @sarahavenir Roam Research People-First Growth Find Your Weirdos Meet Our Weirdos Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Apr 6

40 min 12 sec

Sometimes it takes more than one try to really nail the execution of an idea. Creating scalable systems isn't necessarily intuitive and it runs counter to most of our narratives about how hustling hard and creating more is the path to success. I propose that the path to success is actually radical consistency.As I was looking around for guests for this series on maintenance mode, I started thinking about all the business owners I know who REALLY seem to have nailed it. Who think in systems, in processes, who really understand the power of consistency. And I noticed something about most of the folks that came to mind - they were all second or third-time founders. They'd built a company and then built another. They'd been through the process at least once before, realized that consistency and systems are the key to building and scaling a successful company and then when they built their second company, they designed it FROM THE BEGINNING, with maintenance mode or scaling in mind. Most of us are creating businesses that tie us to a physical place and set hours. But oftentimes, the life we want to live doesn’t always align with the businesses we create. When I started ScaleSpark, I designed it from the ground up to be the kind of business that would give me the freedom and flexibility I wanted. I knew what my end game was so I built a business that reflected that.My guest today did the same thing. Ryan Lazanis is the founder of Future Firm, which helps accounting firm owners grow an online scalable firm. I thought Ryan would be the perfect person to talk about this because Future Firm is his second company. Back in 2013, he founded Zen Accounting, which he started, scaled, and then sold.Listen to the full episode to hear: What Ryan learned from his first company about creating a scalable company that can operate on maintenance mode The lessons he took with him from that first company and how it influenced how he built the second one How Ryan reverse-engineered his business to revolve around his ideal life Learn more about Ryan Lazanis: futurefirm.co futurefirmaccelerate.com Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Mar 30

26 min 5 sec

I've been spending a lot of time this year thinking about capacity. A lot of the work I do focuses on helping clients streamline their operations to increase their capacity without increasing their costs or business complexity. ScaleSpark actually started as an outgrowth of me running businesses and holding a full-time job. We owned a guest ranch and a brick-and-mortar store while I worked full time and ran all the back ends of those operations.I had to figure out a way to make that backend run seamlessly and efficiently because I only had maybe an hour or two a day before I went to my day job and I needed to be really effective with my time… which led me to software. I used software tools to make the operations mostly run without me. Understanding how to use technology to boost capacity was something I had to learn for my businesses to survive. And eventually I started ScaleSpark to help other businesses harness those tools and boost their own capacity.Even though increasing capacity is one of my core competencies, capacity has been a real issue for me over the last year. So the first question I asked was: what can I stop doing? It actually turned out that there was a lot of stuff that, when I really examined it, wasn't bringing value into my business, but it was sucking up my time. I needed to get my business back to a place where if I needed to, I could set it and forget it. Maintenance mode. For this episode, I wanted to figure out what maintenance mode means to different people and what it looks like in different kinds of businesses. I started asking podcast guests and people around me what maintenance mode meant to them and I never got the same answer twice. Listen to the full episode to hear: Growth mode versus maintenance mode and how you can be in both at the same time How the skills, systems, and tools that you would build and develop for maintenance mode are pretty much the same as the ones you would build for scaling Why process can be so powerful for increasing your capacity, whether that's for  maintenance mode scaling or just to make your job take less time How maintenance mode affects product-based businesses and how to define which products require you to be more involved and which ones can run on their own Learn more about Ryan, Anna, and Tamara: Ryan Lazanis – futurefirmaccelerate.com Anna Wolf – superscriptmarketing.com Tamara Kemper – trainual.com Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Mar 23

18 min 29 sec

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 scalespark.co/dollarsanddecisions.Learn more about Michelle: themichellewarner.com Networkingthatpays.com Instagram: @michelle.warner Twitter: @warnermichelle Facebook: @themichellewarner Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Mar 16

10 min 51 sec

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 scalespark.co/dollarsanddecisions.Learn more about Charlie: Facebook: Productive Flourishing Twitter: @CharlieGilkey Instagram: @productiveflourishing, @momentumplanner Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Transistor.fm (affiliate)

Mar 9

12 min 13 sec

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 transistor.fm, 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 scalespark.co/dollarsanddecisions.Learn more about Justin: Transistor.fm (affiliate) justinjackson.ca Build Your SaaS Podcast Justin Jackson’s Weekly Newsletter Baremetrics Open Startup Project Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Mar 2

9 min 35 sec

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: accessally.com 30daylistbuildingchallenge.com @nathlussier on Twitter AccessAlly on Facebook Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources:Transistor.fm (affiliate)

Feb 23

29 min 36 sec

When I was first thinking about what privacy-focused marketing meant, I asked a few of my favorite marketing friends: if THEY were going to do privacy-focused marketing, what would they do?Universally, everyone came back with the answer of podcasting and SEO.Podcasting is one of the very few places in the world of media still without automatic digital ad insertions, for the most part. Also, podcast data tracking is not that detailed. Download or subscriber numbers are notoriously unreliable and the ability to tie downloads to an individual is relatively difficult. So, in terms of content delivery, podcasting is pretty private.This month, we've been talking about digital privacy and online security - and following along a bit with an experiment in privacy-focused marketing I decided to take on for my own business.Since podcasting was already a major part of my marketing strategy, I was already using a privacy-focused podcast hosting platform, so for my experiment, there really wasn't anything for me to change.Then we come to SEO—search engine optimization—which is the focus of THIS episode and was the next big piece that I added into my privacy-first marketing initiative. Up to this point in my business, I hadn't really paid much attention to SEO, assuming it was mostly for businesses larger than mine and that it would be something I added... someday.But, in light of trying to figure out how to still get traffic and leads, while not tracking folks or paying advertising dollars to companies that I REALLY didn't want to support like Facebook, investing in making my content more searchable and PULLING people to me just made sense. They were already searching for the content anyway... why not be the answer to their questions?To do this, I needed to find some support. I didn't have time (or honestly much of a desire) to learn the details of SEO. Enter Kim Herrington. Kim is an SEO consultant and the founder of Orsanna, a marketing agency for law firms, financial services, and other professional services.I found Kim by listening to a podcast episode where she described the work she did for Paul Jarvis (the co-founder of Fathom from 2 episodes ago). Because Paul is so committed to digital privacy, I knew that Kim would be well-acquainted with the privacy-first approach I was trying to take.Kim has been instrumental in helping me execute my privacy-focused marketing strategy and keeps me up to date on changes in the marketing and digital privacy world.Listen to the full episode to hear: What Kim’s done for me behind-the-scenes at ScaleSpark Behind the scenes of ScaleSpark's privacy-focused marketing experiment Why SEO is the perfect strategy if you're concerned with data privacy in your own marketing The big changes coming with Facebook and Instagram and data tracking that we should all know about Learn more about Kim Herrington: Follow Kim on Instagram kimberlyherrington.com kimberlyherrington.com/guide orsanna.com Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources: Transistor.fm (affiliate)

Feb 16

31 min 47 sec

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: the-purepoint.com Follow PurePoint on Twitter Other resources from this episodeWhat’s the difference between digital privacy and online security?Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Feb 9

34 min 26 sec

Last summer, I started really thinking about values. What values do I have that I want to make sure I'm building into the DNA of my business? When it came right down to it, I realized that my core value—the one I wanted to make sure lived in every essence of my business—was safety.  The work I do with clients requires trust and vulnerability. It’s intimate. Money is a touchy, uncomfortable subject for most of us, especially when we're talking in specific numbers. There's SO much shame and guilt and inadequacy for most of us when it comes to handling our finances. Talking about what's not working behind the scenes in your business requires you to admit that everything isn't perfect. And that can’t happen if people don’t feel safe—both in the real, physical world and psychologically. So, I asked myself: if I want to build a company with the core value of safety, how do I actually go about doing that?In the last seven months or so, I embarked on this experiment in privacy-focused marketing and data security. It’s been a big part of every marketing and operational decision I’ve made. All this month, we’re talking about privacy and security on the podcast. It'll be part behind-the-scenes with me sharing some of the actual steps I've taken and how I thought through these decisions for myself. I’ll also be interviewing some of the experts that helped me educate myself along the way. One of the first things I did was remove Google Analytics from my website and replaced it with a tool called Fathom. It’s a really simple, lightweight privacy-first alternative to Google Analytics. My guest today is one of the founders of Fathom, Paul Jarvis. Paul and his cofounder, Jack Ellis, are two of my go-to experts on both digital privacy AND on the logistics of how to build that ethos into the DNA of your company. It's a core value for them as well, so they have to navigate the balance of promoting, marketing, and growing a company while still staying true to keeping data secure and while being respectful of individual's data AND transparent about what they're doing. Listen to the full episode to hear: Why we should care about data privacy—even when we have nothing to hide Balancing privacy with marketing and promoting needs of a growing company while still keeping everyone’s data private Why I decided to swap Google Analytics for Fathom My background in Security Forces for the Air Force and how that informs my approach to safety and security in my business Learn more about Paul Jarvis: Fathom pjrvs.com Learn more about Susan: Think Like A CFO Scalespark Action Plan ScaleSpark

Feb 2

47 min 59 sec

The choices we make about how to earn, save and spend our money all ultimately come down to how we think and feel about money - and work.And whether or not you're "successful" with your financial choices is all a matter of your perspective. That’s why understanding and thinking about how you define success has a lot to do with whether or not you're satisfied—or feel successful—with your finances.If you live in the US, you live in a capitalist society that equates accumulation of money with success. The default assumption is that more money is better and that success is accumulating as much money as you possibly can. But examining that definition of success and figuring out if that's YOUR definition of success can be really powerful when it comes to handling your own finances - and can help shape your priorities and values that help define your own financial choices. That's a lot of what my guest today does with his clients. Meet Brian Plain. Brian is an Investment Advisor Representative with Gradient Advisors, LLC an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Brian helps clients figure out what to do with their finances and helps them figure out a plan to meet their financial goals. A lot of that work means really examining what success means, what enough means and recognizing that, even with a good financial plan, as soon as you walk out the door with your plan, it'll change. But that doesn't mean you failed. Listen to the full episode to hear: How to examine your financial values and create your OWN definition of success and failure when it comes to your financial decisions What does "success" look like when it comes to managing your money? How to incorporate what we really care about into our financial choices Learn more about Brian Plain: Brian’s blog The Reframing Failure Blog Post brianplain.com Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jan 26

28 min 51 sec

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: ritabarry.co/breaktheceiling @ritabarryco on Instagram Connect with Rita on LinkedIn Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jan 19

47 min 57 sec

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: bearcoaches.com Anti-Capitalist Business Consulting Freely: An Anti-Capitalist Guide To Pricing Your Work  Follow Bear on Instagram Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jan 12

57 min 4 sec

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: thatseemsimportant.com  Marketing Masterclass: The Art and Science Of Getting People To Care on Skillshare Why We Buy Things We Don’t Need on Medium Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Jan 5

41 min 2 sec

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: alituplife.com LITerally Podcast With Lacey Sites @alituplife in Instagram @A Lit Up Life on Facebook Facebook Group: The Lit Up and Loaded Entrepreneur Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Dec 2020

35 min 24 sec

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: theagenshe.club @theagenshe on Instagram Listeners can get a free 12-month membership in The AgenShe Club, using code BREAKTHECEILING or simply use this link to claim your discount! Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Dec 2020

48 min 19 sec

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: The Agency Owner's Guide to Hiring Web Developers Connect with Rob on LinkedIn Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Dec 2020

41 min 11 sec

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: Wanderwellconsulting.com Follow Kate on Instagram Follow Wanderwell on LinkedIn Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Dec 2020

44 min 24 sec

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: cocreatinginclusion.com Connect with Alethea on LinkedIn Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Resources mentioned in this episodeWhite Supremacy Characteristics by Tema Okun

Nov 2020

50 min 10 sec

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: laurencaselli.com Follow Lauren on Twitter Follow Lauren on Instagram Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Nov 2020

48 min 59 sec

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: Free Contingency Planning Kit Connect with Mary Beth Simon on LinkedIn Follow Niche Partnership Consulting on Facebook Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Nov 2020

25 min 11 sec

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: The 5-Minute Inner Critic Makeover The Haven: A Home for Sensitive High Achievers Connect with Melody on LinkedIn Follow Melody on Instagram Follow Melody on Twitter Follow Melody on Facebook Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Nov 2020

33 min 57 sec

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: elatiaabate.com  Connect with Elatia on LinkedIn Follow Elatia on Instagram Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Oct 2020

36 min 23 sec

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: ProcessDriven ClickingUp Community ProcessDriven Collective  Subscribe to Layla on YouTube Follow Layla on Facebook Follow Layla on Instagram Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Oct 2020

47 min 55 sec

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: Work Brighter Work Brighter Clubhouse Follow Brittany on Instagram Productive Unicorns Group on Facebook Follow Brittany on Twitter Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Oct 2020

35 min 22 sec

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: launchfa.com rlz.io Follow Jason on Twitter Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Oct 2020

46 min 50 sec

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: The What Works Network The What Works Podcast Yellow House Media Follow Tara on Instagram Follow Tara on Twitter Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Sep 2020

1 hr 1 min

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: Andréa’s Social Media Success Framework  Social Media Management Business Building Blueprint Savvy Social Podcast Savvy Social School Connect with Andréa on Facebook Follow Andréa on Twitter Follow with Andréa on Instagram Connect with Andréa on LinkedIn Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Sep 2020

32 min 12 sec

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: live-happier.com Coach In Your Pocket The Happier Approach Podcast The Happier Approach Book Learn more about Bonnie Gillespie: bonniegillespie.com Follow Bonnie on Instagram Follow Bonnie on Twitter Subscribe to Bonnie on YouTube Follow Cricket Feet on Facebook More about Bonnie on IMDB Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles Other resources mentioned in this episodeStop Hate For Profit campaign

Sep 2020

1 hr 6 min

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: Mammography Club Follow Beryl on Facebook Follow Beryl on Instagram Learn more about Susan: Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Sep 2020

41 min 21 sec

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: Communication Rebel  Michelle Mazur on Instagram The 3-Word Rebellion (book) What’s Your Rebel Roadmap For Exponential Impact + Influence (quiz) Learn more about Susan:  Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Sep 2020

36 min 39 sec

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: beingboss.club almanacsupplyco.com @beingbossclub on Instagram @almanacsupplyco on Instagram Learn more about Susan:  Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Aug 2020

53 min 20 sec

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:moderntraction.comLearn more about Susan:  Scalespark Dollars + Decisions Roundtable Twitter @ScaleSpark LinkedIn @thesusanboles

Aug 2020

42 min 59 sec