Join Up Dots is the Steve Jobs-inspired podcast that’s a top-ranked entrepreneur podcast hosted by David Ralph. Susan recently joined David to chat about how business owners can bring order into their lives, and more, including:
- Tips on how to sound like an expert.
- Why your sales process should be 90% providing value and knowledge to others BEFORE you attempt to close the sale.
- How to discover the blockages in your time and workloads to power your business forward.
- And why every business owner should be asking the question: “is this process simple enough?”
Please find the full video transcript below.
Intro: Life shouldn’t be hard life should be a fun-filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God-given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock and start getting the dream business and life you will, of course, are dreaming up. Let’s join your host, David Ralph from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another jam-packed episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David: Yes, hello there. Good morning to you. Good afternoon, or whatever time it is in your world. There’s there are different times available. Just go onto Google and find out what your time is and it’ll be fine. Today’s guest joining us on the show is the chaos eradicating officer. Yes, the CEO of beyond the chaos, a consultancy helping small business owners to simplify their operations and manage their projects so they can grow their businesses and get their lives back. Yeah, this is something that I’m really big on in Join Up Dots.
With 30 plus years now she doesn’t look old enough. She really doesn’t have operations project management experience in professional service industries. She’s on a mission to improve American society exponentially, and also the world so now we’re not making multi-course dinners. She enjoys Texas a&m football games and Blackhawks hockey.
And she lives and works from our home in McKinney, Texas, with her husband, dog, and cat. But of course, how did she create a life that seems like everything is in place and functioning like a well-oiled machine?
Well, whilst a young child her mother sewed often and she demonstrated her organizational skills at an early age, as she’d organized a button collection by size, shape, and color for our own amusement. And to this day, we’ve heard rumors that she can’t eat Smarties without pouring them onto the table and organizing them by color into a graph format before eating them in the order of few is to most I think she’s got a problem.
I think she’s got a problem. Now, we didn’t say that she was completely sane. But we can tell you she can turn the insanity of chaos into beautiful functionality.
And so from a moment of childhood clarity, to creating our own business, it all starts with joining up the dots or joining up the Smarties. So what is the first thing that today’s overwhelmed business owners can do to start bringing order into their lives? And no matter how organized anyone is, how does she deal with that? Come on, guys, give me a break. Let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one at the Susan Fennema. Good morning, Susan. How are you?
Susan: I am great. Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to do this today.
David: I’m excited to have you here because I love all this sort of well-oiled machinery stuff because it’s the thing that we want to get into when we start our own business. And it’s the thing that most people screw up big time when they start their own business. Why? Why do we screw it up? Susan?
Susan: Well, I think we start because we’re very good at a trade, you know whether that be in my case, project management, it could be software development, maybe you’re a great accountant. And you say I am very good at this. I want to go and serve the world. Let me start my own business.
And then all of a sudden, wow, there’s marketing. And there are sales. There are employees in some cases, and there’s managing your workload. If you’re a solopreneur. It might be oh my gosh, I sell and then I fulfill, and now I don’t have anything to work on anymore. So I better go sell. And it’s this endless cycle of panic. Oh.
What do I do next?
David: Well, I laughed, because you could have stopped that sentence. And I would have known exactly what you mean. Because one of the things that I have trouble with Susan, and it’s the Find your passion and you never have to work again. Because I think okay, yeah, you can find your passion.
That’s brilliant. But from being in it 15 years, there’s a lot behind the scenes. That wasn’t part of my passion, but I suddenly realized that I only well I ever had to know really well. All I needed to know that I needed to know so that I could find somebody else who knew it that could do it for me.
Susan: Right? And you know, like, for example, in my case, my experience and what my passion is, is creating organization out of chaos. Well, it’s interesting that the more and more I’ve done that, the less and less of that I do I do more selling, and I do more and marketing and I do more be the face of the company and that kind of thing. But that passion that I had, now I have to go plan dinner parties instead just to get that out of me.
David: Now I started with a concept, and I look back on it. And it’s so naive Bayes also works as well, of creating a hit global podcast, when I could just rock up to the microphone start talking people would listen. And I would make squillions and squillions of pounds easily. Yes, I, I’ve kind of done that. I’ve turned it into a very lucrative business. But the actual podcasting bit is probably 2% of everything else I do. I hardly ever podcast, even though from one side of the fence, the tip of the iceberg, that is the whole business.
So how do you get people to understand that you’re not somebody that’s just talking the talk? But you’re actually walking the walk because we get this time and time again. People say, oh, I’m brilliant at this, and I’m brilliant. And then you go into their house, it’s a complete mess. So how do you actually live it so that you can actually bring it to the world?
Susan: So I think one of the things that most people look at is, you know, do you come across when in the sales process, for example, as knowledgeable, when I speak to a person I’m somewhat solving as I go. So that comes out in that conversation. And they’re already getting value, even if they never engage with me in a proposal to move forward with me and my team, they have gotten value just out of the q&a that we go through.
And so there is a degree of pulling that together as a person of experience in that field. The other thing is creating, and this is something that I would recommend to everyone is making yourself look like the expert by sharing information, one thing you could do is maybe be a guest on a podcast, another thing you might do is write a bunch of blogs I have written we’ve posted probably every two weeks, for six years.
So that’s a lot of content, that’s a lot of information that goes out in the world that makes you look, the expert that you are, you just have to be willing to give some of it away from free for free. You can’t hold all of it inside and expect people to buy from you.
David: Now, this is a big point of it. Oh, but oh my god, if I give it away for free, nobody’s gonna buy it. Nobody’s gonna buy it. I remember in the early days, I used to be so into that thinking. How can I get people to buy? And now I think to myself, people want easiness even though they get it all for free on Join Up Dots. Even though they get it for free on my website, people will still buy courses and coaching because they can’t be bothered to sort of traipse through all the value that you’re giving away for nothing.
Susan: That’s absolutely true. That’s one of the reasons that as since we serve small business owners. And by small, I mean really small, like 10 people or fewer. We understand that they already have too much on their plate. So as consultants, we don’t just give them this written implementation plan and say good luck, we actually implement it as well. That’s a big difference between a consultant and in our case, a consultant slash implementer you don’t have to do the work yourself.
I just cannot imagine a small business owner feeling great, now I have even more to do I was overwhelmed when I came to, you know, I have more to do that I still don’t know how to do. And I’m gonna, I’m gonna continue to, quote be wrong or fail at this. And that is not ever where I want to leave people. I want people to feel empowered, and and and more relaxed when they’re done with this. So just given somebody a whole other list of things to do to me is not a solution.
David: No, I agree with you. And we’ve had a guest on the show recently. She said, but to don’t list is more important than the to-do list. And I loved that and we raced each other to trademark it and I think a worm I think I won.
But it’s so true, isn’t it because in business, I remember when I was in corporate land, we always used to have time management experts come in and they always used to give us more things to do to plan our work, I used to be bothered with this, I haven’t got time to do this, I’d rather just sort of get the work done.
Now what I think is a kind of business and minimalism, where somebody comes in and starts scraping away and says, you know, what is this doing to your bottom line isn’t doing anything, when if it’s not just getting rid of it? What about this and just keep on, you know, carving away until the ultimates, simplicity occurs in front of you.
Susan: I think that the word you use simplicity is so important. We always advise that if you can’t repeat it, you need to be concerned about whether you should keep doing it. So if we can’t build a process and step through that process, is that something that you should be doing? Is it too complicated? Do we need to go back and re-evaluate that hole? Should you even be selling that? Should you be selling it a different way from that standpoint? So that simplicity is so important to be able to scale a business at all? Now,
David: I’m going to jump into your business now. Because, you know, we all say that we’re doing better, you know, you go to any school reunion, and you’ll be saying, Oh, yes, I’m doing amazing. I’m doing whatever, even though you know, you’re living by a stoplight on the corner of the street. It’s just the way life is now with yourself. How perfect. Are you behind the scenes? Is it one of these things? Right? Yeah, in business, you know it. But actually, when life gets easier, it can all go out the window.
Susan: So I live by most of our principles for sure. calendaring is one, people are terrified when they see my calendar, because it’s so structured, which is really beneficial to me. And without that, I would get lost as well. I always laugh that my projects. And my setup has to be very structured. Because I’m really lazy, I can’t remember anything. I just want to look at something in it tells me what to do next. So putting that structure around, allows me to be lazy and allows me to be not always that smart and not remember things.
My household is clean as well. I’m structured in the way I live my life. Sometimes to the point that I think it drives my less structured sister insane. But I feel like if you’re not living it and experiencing it, and being able to demonstrate that it works, that you’re not able to come from that place of you have to try it. It absolutely works. I’m living proof. Otherwise, you’re just kind of like, the rules are for the not for me. And I don’t, I don’t subscribe to that philosophy.
David: Because my personal assistant and I’ve had to press mute on her because I’ve watched her burst into life is Alexa. And I put all my things on it. And I’m always saying what I’ve got to do next Alexa, and he tells me you know, and it just keeps me organized.
I’ve got one in my office where I record now, I’ve got one in my house where we’ve got them all over the house, God knows what they’re listening to all the time with our conversations. But you don’t have to pay a lot of money. And you don’t have to have a virtual assistant that there is sort of systems and things in place that can keep you very organized, but no effort at all.
Susan: Absolutely. There are many free options of ways to do that. So if you have an iPhone, it comes with a reminders app, you can start there. But there are also free project management tools. Asana is a great example partner of Asana and we absolutely recommend that especially for people just starting into project management, so a free tool, you can download and start using today.
All of those things are somewhat excuses to me of I’m just not trying to build a structure I’m more willing to allow my company and my life to drive me instead of me taking a step back, doing a little bit of effort, and driving it
David: now when you are laying in the bath and I won’t go any further than that, and I will tell them well we haven’t got a webcam on or anything but you’re laying in the bath and you’re thinking about things that you’ve got to do tomorrow. Is it kind of a pleasant feeling or is it oh my god, you know, there’s so much to do.
You know I I’ve got a very successful business. I’m absolutely delighted with it. But I spend all my time telling my wife got so much to do, there’s so much to do. And the more I do it, the more it becomes something bigger. It’s just like you’re building a bigger and bigger mountain. But I kind of love it at the same time. But what about yourself? Do you look at it as me as this sort of challenge? Or do you think to yourself, Oh, for God’s sake, for God’s sake, that there’s more to this than I imagined?
Susan: So I look at it as I look to it as a challenge. But I, you know, if I’m laying in the bath, first, I have wine and I’m going out of my mind my way to not think about work. But, to me, that’s part of the structure that you create. So when I suggest that people build out their calendar, they start with put their spiritual life on it. Then secondly, put your health on it. When are you working out? When do I
David: hang on? Let’s stop on that spiritual life. What do you mean by that?
Susan: So I’m, I’m a Catholic, Christian. And to me, that involves some readings in the morning and involves attending church on Sundays. It could be that if you’re not that, that it’s just meditation, maybe it is sitting in your garden and enjoying a cup of coffee every morning, but it’s whatever you’re doing to center yourself spiritually.
David: Okay. Okay. So so it could just be quiet time to sort of get yourself focused for the coming day.
Susan: Right? So whatever it is for you, whatever your meditation, prayer, whatever that is, that centers you
David: I would imagine, this is the kind of thing that people would schedule, and then coming Oh, I let that go. I let that go. It did this is a non-negotiable time? Is it? Oh, is it something that you could fit in something else if it comes along?
Susan: So with calendar blocking, the beauty of it is that if you have to fit something else in? Well, you have a block on your calendar, move it to another time of the day. So while I think that it’s better for me to start my day, that way, it might be better for somebody else to do it at one o’clock in the afternoon. Well, if you’re going to lunch with a friend, maybe you do it at two o’clock that day.
But if you have that block and you’re moving it around, the important part is that you’ve allocated that amount of time to focus on certain things. So like I said, spiritual is first for me because if your spirits not good, the rest of you is not. The second is health. You know, when you go into the gym, did you put time to eat lunch in there, because small business owners how many of us have just worked straight through lunch and three o’clock in the afternoon, we’re about ready to pass out. I mean, I did that when I started for sure.
Oh, then lunch put in, you know, to me, I put a block at the end of the day, that’s when I make dinner. And that is also my transition back to normal life, you know, I’m working at home. So having that time period to cook is my transition from work into home life. Put those things in there first, and then move to your family, your social, whatever that is, you know, if you have a kids soccer game coming up, put it on your calendar because the rest of it will fill in the holes.
And, and David, just like you were saying, There’s so much to do. Well, there’s always so much to do. But if you’re not setting your priorities of those things, first, those things that we’re working for, then you’re never you’re going to give up all of that stuff. And you’re going to end up a sad, unhealthy, unhappy person instead of somebody that works when they are supposed to work.
David: Let’s listen to Oprah. And we’ll be back with Susan, the way
Oprah Winfrey: The challenge is to get still and ask yourself what is the next right move? not think about Oh, I got all of this. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move. And the next right move and not be overwhelmed by it because you know your life is bigger than that one moment. You know you’re not defined by what somebody says is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David: Now at the moment, Susan, I’m realigning Join Up Dots. I’m realigning it because I realized that the last couple of years has been very much me working one to one and in groups with people. And that wasn’t scalable brilliant at the time. Because it taught you so much about what people really needed. But it gave me a little bit of a headache. Now I’m looking at it as a wonderful kind of jigsaw puzzle where I can already see all the puzzles and bits and where they fit.
And so although it’s taking a little bit of time, there’s an ease Prewitt is effortless. When you decide, look, I want to be beyond the chaos, I want to be helping people. But you’ve only just transitioned from corporate into a sort of entrepreneurial. What were the first steps you did? Because at that time, it isn’t clarity isn’t effortless? It’s a blank piece of paper. And you think, How the hell do I get the first customer? So how did you do you remember how you managed to get the first person that actually believed in you?
Susan: I very much remember. So. I, the way I started was I reached out to pretty much everyone. I’ve known for almost 30 years that I was still in touch with that in any way. might know somebody might be the person. And I said I’m starting my own business.
This is what it does, do you or anyone you know, need the services. And I reconnected with a colleague that I had worked back in the 90s with and she brought me my very first client and I was so excited right out of the gate. I’m like this, this took a week. She’s like, we need you now. Can you start now? And I said yes. And so I got on board and worked with that client. Oh, for long enough for me to realize that I had quit one job and essentially went to work for someone else.
David: But just before you move on with this, I’ve got a question that I need to ask you, when you suddenly got that first client, because I remember the first time that I got somebody you wanted my assistant, I kind of thought, oh my god, somebody wants my assistance. I don’t think I’m up to this, you know, I, I’ve been pretending. But now now I’ve actually got to do it. Actually, as it was, it was a walk in the park and it was a breeze.
But I did have this big moment of imposter syndrome of almost not gonna fess up. I’ve got to fess up, you’re the first client and I paid I’ve never done this before.
Susan: So that’s a lot of people have that. I did not have that. Because of what I was being asked to do. It was something I was very, very comfortable with. It was not outside of, you know, anything that I had done in the past. So it was not that challenging. But I understand what you’re talking about. And I have definitely had moments of do I fake it till I make it kind of thing. And a lot of the time what goes through my head when I’m thinking that is Oh, I don’t know if I can do this.
What about this, I don’t know if I can do this. And then all of a sudden, I’m already doing it. And you have to kind of click to you are doing it. You’re doing it right now. Take that confidence and go with it.
David: Now, confidence is one of those things, Susan, and I was talking to somebody that I’ve been working with the other day. And I said to her, I mean total belief now. But your income exponentially goes up as your competence grows to the same level. So in the beginning, you’re kind of you to know, you’re trying things and I think people can see it.
But once the competence comes through you and you almost think Yeah, look, I’m bloody good at this. This, this is my thing. You’re not gonna find anybody better than this. That’s when your income goes up. Do you see as well that a business’s competence is a direct bridge over to the personal competence of the individual behind it?
Susan: I think that that’s true. Now as you scale, of course, there are challenges. When I’m a one-person shop, all I needed was you know, three or four gigs a year and I’m good. Now I have 10 people they’re not full-time people, but I have 10 people that are working. And that means it has to be more and so my part of that also is less. So you have to weigh what you’re doing. I am choosing to do that to scale my business.
And we’re getting there, but you have to that confidence comes from, oh wow. Somebody else wants to work for us. Somebody else wants to buy into this vision, which means that if the team is there and ready and they’re buying in that message is good. It’s good for the clients as well, that we’re getting that, that confident, we can take care of your chaos philosophy out into the world.
David: It’s an interesting moment. I wonder about this a lot, whether when we start, most of us want to be like solopreneurs, we want to build the business. And then you start bringing in income. And you think, Oh, this is nice, this is nice, this is all my work, this is all my income. Then suddenly, you get to a point where you’ve got to start giving that income back to other people to help you deal with what you’ve actually created.
And then it becomes a kind of responsibility because you are not only thinking about yourself, you’re also thinking about your employees. Is that something that has fitted naturally into your sort of psyche and your competence? or push comes to shove, would you be quite happy to be a one lady business.
Susan: So a lot of that depends on your life situation. I am blessed to have a husband who earns a good living, we need my contribution to our household, for sure. But that has given me the flexibility to be able to say, I want to not be tied to my computer doing project management every day. I want to have a team that does that for me. So that is going to take away from my income, especially at first because now you’re not doing any of that work. And everything has this overhead that you didn’t have before.
And you have to get enough of it to pay yourself. So for me, there was a natural and a natural progression to that, as well as nice, comfortable protection, you know, from I don’t have to make the same amount of money. Now, if I had to, could I change things to make that happen? Absolutely. So I’m grateful for my situation. And it lets me explore the opportunities and the options that are out there.
David: I’ve got a partner but earns quite a good income, but she likes to spend even more on the income that she’s got. And so so it’s a totally different ballgame. And I don’t tell her how much I earn. So So otherwise, I keep it all secret on that. So with all this, okay, let’s get back into the nuts and bolts because Is there something that people can put into place with total competence and clarity right at the very beginning?
Or is it a case of you’ve got a mess up and then untangle the weeds somehow? Because I know people say you should delegate work out. I mean, other people say, but I don’t know what work to delegate out. And other people say you’ve got a structure in Yeah, but it’s that that I all I do. I don’t think I could teach somebody else. So what can they do right in the very beginning to sort of free themselves before the weeds start wrapping themselves around them?
Susan: So I have a little exercise that I recommend build a spreadsheet or shoot write it down on a piece of paper, I’m usually anti paper, but in this case, it’s totally okay. Start writing down every single action function that you’re performing, do it for about a week, and then go through that list and start to rate what level of work is it? Is it CEO work? Nobody on the planet can do this, but me? Is it technician work?
For example, project management, software development, that kind of thing? Or is it assistant? Is it absolutely admin work? invoicing? Following up on sales proposals, these types of things, start classifying that and figure out where you’re spending your time. Now, part of this too is to give yourself a rate.
You know, what do I make an hour, it might be a guess it might be what you want to make an hour, but give yourself that rate and that is the rate. So if you say I’m a CEO that makes $200 an hour, well is performing this function worth $200 an hour and then go through that whole thing. And figure out what I’m sorry. Can you still hear me?
Yeah, I can hear you fine. Okay, sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Um, if go through that whole thing, and figure out what you should and shouldn’t be doing. If you’re sending follow-up emails on your sales calls or proposals yourself, is that worth $200 an hour. Those are things you could delegate, so you could be spending more of your time on those $200 an hour tasks. Somebody else can be helping you with those other technician level and admin type tasks. Then, you’re able to earn more money, essentially.
David: I’ve done most of the stupid things in business that you can think about. But at the very beginning, I realized that the client that I thought I was aiming for, didn’t have any money. And it was like they were skinny clients. And then I realized that actually hang on, I shouldn’t be targeting these people, I should be targeting people with money.
Now, it sounds very cynical, but that’s the way it is. And then I didn’t quite believe in myself, but the people that had the money would trust me to be the sort of that source of their, their salvation, I suppose. Now, how do you decide your price structure right at the very, very beginning, so that you don’t go into that same thing of either working for free or dealing with crappy clients that haven’t got any cash?
Susan: So I think that there is at the beginning, a feeling that, gosh, I should just charge I should accept whatever they’ll pay me just so I have a client. The problem, of course, is that if you say yes, you’re saying no to something else. That means great that clients gonna pay me $40 an hour, that’s a great rate that can keep me you know, fed.
But what am I saying no to I’m saying no to maybe $80 an hour tasks that I could be doing or looking for, but I don’t have time now, because I’m doing all these $40 an hour tasks. So some of it is set, you need to find out what is going in the market to a degree you know, how much does project management how much do project managers cost that kind of thing. And then set your price.
And don’t apologize for it. You have to have confidence that your price is worth it and your skillset is worth it. If you don’t feel like your skill set is worth the going rate, then you need to really sit down and do some introspection of is what I should be doing. But setting your price at the going rate, and then over time raising it.
Because as you’re working, you’re gaining more and more experience. You should be looking for better and better clients that have more money to pay you that value, what you’re providing more than the ones you start with. So started going rate, get your confidence behind that rate, and then grow it over time. Always raise your prices.
David: Yeah, always raise your prices and you’re going to lose clients. But you’re going to have more time because the clients are paying you what you read before. And it’s a real it’s a sort of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy kind of thing where you think to yourself, hang on that. Is that right? Do I suddenly get more time but the same amount of money if I lose half my clients? Yep, you do.
And that’s when Yeah, you start getting into that position where you think, hang on, hang on, there’s literally nothing I can’t do here. I just have to learn more about my skill set than anybody else. And you know, I mean, I’m in the podcasting world, you might have guessed Susan, and when I started, there were about four of us. Now there are about 12 billion them, and most of them are being honest, rubbish.
I dip into their shows now and again and I listen to them. They’re not very good. Because they’re not doing a deep dive in actually what makes podcasting work but just kind of replicating what other people have seen. And once you become a guru, and obsess about your skillset, that’s when your money starts increasing, isn’t it? It’s all simple stuff really. But it does take time to get there.
Susan: It absolutely does. And you know I suffer from the “but I want it now” approach. I have to rein it in for me sometimes. You can’t just jump $20 an hour when you know your regular clients are used to pay in yet that less that’s a big jump, you know what?
How do you over time build that up? Do you always give yourself a cost of living increase every year? Do you only sign up new clients with your new rate and old clients get to keep their old rate? You know, those are all things that you need to think about, as you decide, you know, how you’re going to run your business.
I’m also a firm believer in you know, that there’s that PETA charge, you know, the pain in the ass charge, yes, science that is difficult. And, you know, go ahead and raise your rate $20 an hour there, if they fire you great. gives off the problem. And if you if they pay you, then you’re like, Okay, well, I guess I’m willing to do it for this money then.
David: And if you’ve raised it as well, you can pay somebody else to sort of do the additional work, you know, you’re suddenly reducing your time that you’ve got to be with these people.
Susan: That’s also true because you can bring in assistance you can bring in help if your rates higher. Yeah,
David: So Susan, we’re talking about getting structure into a business. And we’re also talking about a lot of stuff that’s really, really useful about pricing. And understanding your own personal worth. Now, there’s another bit that I am aware of in business because once again, Susan, I had been proven where you suddenly get fed up with the thing that you’ve built. And you kind of go through an energy slump.
And I remember probably about three years ago, four years ago, I remember thinking, God, I don’t know if I like this anymore. You know, this was going to be my salvation, this was going to be what I was going to do for the rest of my life. But actually, I’d be quite happy to just smash it up. And that was when success was sort of escalating at quite a speed. And I don’t think that I was quite ready to go with it.
Now. I can quite honestly say, Susan, I’m gonna be doing this in 15 years, you come back to Join Up Dots in 15 years, I’m still going to be having the same conversations with people. Are you aware of that in your own personal journey, when actually you look at it, and I can’t be bothered? I can’t be bothered with this anymore.
Susan: Yeah, I definitely see that. And you know, interestingly, you’re not alone. Everybody does this, we work with a lot of small business owners who feel just that way. I went through this, probably about a year ago, where I was like, I just cannot spend time and focus and drill down deep into the details with clients anymore. It was something that I used to love. And now and then now, I’ll still pick up a client and work with them. But it’s at a much higher level, it might be more fine-tuning rather than starting at the beginning.
But it was very challenging for me. And that’s when I said I really need to look at a different way to do this. And so last year is really when we started digging into a simplified process that made it so that our team knew what to do and could pick it up for me. So I didn’t have to do the initial discovery with the clients, they could do it. And once we started to create that system, I got re-energized. Because I was able to step away a little bit. And feel like I’m building something different. Even though it’s really just the next step in my business. So everybody feels that sometimes it’s burnout. Sometimes you need a vacation.
But sometimes it is that you have built something complicated, and it needs to be simplified. And that’s going to happen. I am positive about my business several more times. But now I know what to do about it. I know how to step back and say okay, Make it simple. What do I hate? Do we need to do what I hate anymore? Or does someone else need to do what I’m hating? And if so how do I make that happen? Yeah, build a system to make that happen.
David: It’s funny, isn’t it? Because, you know, as we started the conversation, if you find your passion, you never work again. But through that, your passion comes and goes. I understand what you’re saying. Because there are times that my passion is gone on vacation and left me to work on the business. And then there are other times that you know, I just can’t be bothered, my saving grace. And it wasn’t good to believe the world.
But my saving grace, I actually was locked down when it occurred last year. Because suddenly, a lot of the things that I was dealing with got taken away from myself. And I was sitting in a garden with a cup of coffee in the morning, reading my book, thinking to myself, this is all very pleasant. It kind of gave me the ability to reassess what I actually wanted in my life. I would say 50% of it was what I already had. And then 50%, I looked at it and thought, it’s not quite right, it’s not quite right, I need a need to simplify. As you say, the next stage of your business, and we will go through that multiple times.
Susan: You know, isn’t it interesting too how when you put what you want out into the world, especially as driven business owners, it all of a sudden just miraculously happens? You know, when you start saying, why am I doing this? Why am I working like this? And, and then you’re like, Oh, right, I remember what I’m working for, for example, for me, I was like, we have a great house. But there are so many things that need to be changed in it and updated and modified and all of these things.
My vision is that that’s what we’re working for money to be able to make those things happen to make our home more of a home, and more of a place that we can have guests and all of that good stuff. And all of a sudden, things start to appear to make that happen. And you know, we had low interest rates here in the States, and we were able to refinance our house, and all of a sudden the value of it’s gone up.
But that is not necessarily something that if I had not put in my mind that this is a vision that I have down the road, that when this opportunity arose, I would jump on it. I might have just let it pass by if I didn’t have that vision in the first place of where I was going. Now I’m in the state of, well, I need to come up with another vision. What else do I want to do? Maybe it’ll happen in two years.
If I put it out there. Do you know yeah, I think that you’re absolutely right about your passions, changing your vision, and what you’re working for changes. And I’m a firm believer too, and that if you can do what that vision is now, we’ll do it. Now. If you want to retire to a piece of land, what can you do to do that? Now we can all work from anywhere now. So can you start making that happen? Now? Why do you have to wait?
David: I created a vision board right? Before I started everything. I forgot all about it. I found it clearing out some stuff. And I looked at it and I thought, oh, chick Tabby went off there. And it wasn’t something that I looked at every day I used to in the early days. But it was something that had occurred. And you could kind of go doo doo doo doo doo doo doo bass a bit weird. But of course, it’s not. It’s just intention and consistent action almost every day.
Susan: right in that makes a big difference. You know, and in my case, I didn’t have to work for it. It happened, but it didn’t. I mean, I had to be aware that that’s what I wanted. And I think so many times as small business owners, we don’t even worry about what we want.
David: Yeah, it’s a strange old world we’re in. What’s the next three steps but you’re looking at thinking this is where I want to walk up, I want to walk up these three steps by saying the end of the year or six months or what you’re aiming for.
Susan: So we are actively trying to grow our business and have more and more clients so that I can step more and more away from it. My goal is to have a business that kind of runs itself that I can come in and do one big consulting engagement a year or something like that, and be there to set the tone and all of that. But to get there,
I need to grow our revenue, grow our sales, so that I’m able to start removing myself from marketing more and start removing myself from sales more to become more of a true CEO, and less of a CMO, CEO, oh, CFO. And I’m less of a CFO than I was before. But really take that step back to really just be setting that tone. So our steps are going to be right now we’re focused on marketing and, and growing more business.
And as we get there, we’re going to start to look at what can our current team take on more and more? How do we get their income raised as well, which includes raising prices, it’s all a lot of things, right? It all works together to get there. But that’s the vision that I’m working towards right now.
David: Well, let’s just bring this show to a natural end. With the words of Steve Jobs. He said He’s back in 2005. Let’s hear him again.
Steve Jobs: Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward, 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David: Now everyone could follow that advice. I listened to it. And sometimes I switch off from it because I’ve heard it so many times. I mean, other times, I really listened to it. And that was one of those times. If we heard that every single day when we woke up in the morning, little Steve Jobs talking to us from our Alexa or wherever we’ve got it by the side of the bed, I think that life would be a lot clearer. Somehow he would give us that simplicity of going okay, I may not get it all done today. But I’ll be one step closer.
Susan: I think that that’s absolutely true. And I wish my younger self had had more confidence in my ability to do it myself. You know, one of the things that I felt like throughout my entire career was I wanted security. I wanted to work for a company and be able to count on a paycheck every other Friday and know how much it was and be able to plan things in detail surrounding that. And I was fooling myself because that is not secure, you are in no way in control of your own destiny, when that is the situation that you’re in.
If I could have been braver earlier, I could have been where I am now 10 years ago, the experiences that I had, though, all contributed to me being able to do that do what I do now. And that can’t be taken away. So while you are the sum of what happens in your life, you have to figure out how to direct it so that you’re eventually getting where you want to go.
Small business owners are absolutely in control of their own destiny, you don’t lay yourself off, you don’t go get unemployment, because you always have work to do. Whether that’s figuring out what your next sale is. Sometimes you might be a little hungry. But being able to count on yourself, to me is the thing that is so important that I wish my younger self would have been aware of.
David: Well, this is the point of the show when you get a chance to speak to your younger self. So you’ve got a chance to ask Steve Taylor this so that she can listen to Join Up Dots sometime in the future or sometime in the past. I don’t know how it all works and actually get that advice.
So this is the part of the show. We call it a sermon on the mic when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. If you could speak to a young Susan, what age would you speak to? And what advice would you give her? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the music. And when it fades, it’s your time to talk. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker: Here we go with the best bit of the showman
Susan: So Susan, happy birthday, he just turned 25, you’ve been in a job that is kind of sucking the life out of you and you need to take control of your world, you need to start looking at what you do best. realize that the process-oriented part of you is something that can take you far. Be confident in that ask for more money, when you go to your next jobs, and make sure that you are planning for the lessons that you can take from each of the jobs, what part of that position is going to help you in the long run, be better, don’t just be satisfied at the moment.
Look at what you’re learning, because everything’s going to be bigger than you expect it to be. You’re going to be able to take all of these experiences. And yes, I know, John, Susan, you’re struggling with, you know, feeling like you, you can’t break free, that you have, you know, challenging people that you’re working with. But each of those challenges brings you some information that’s going to help you when you start your business because you are learning how small business owner’s minds work. And once you know that, you’re going to be able to serve them very well.
David: Write advice over dots join up, Susan, if you’re having a hard time, actually, you’re just learning what you need for the future. And that’s the way it operates. So Susan, what’s the number one best way that our audience who are struggling with the chaos in their lives can connect with you?
Susan: Absolutely, go download our FREE eBook, three ways to control chaos in your small business.
David: We will have over links in the show notes to make it as easy as possible to get the ebook and of course to connect with you as well. Susan, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you got more dots to join up. I do believe that joining up the dots and connecting our past is always the best way to build our futures. Susan, thank you so much.
Susan: Thanks for having me. David, this is great.
David: Susan Fennema. From Beyond The Chaos. Yeah. So it’s a process that you have to go into. And if you can start the process right at the very beginning by getting somebody to ask the right questions. And to give you clarity, it will save you so much money really well. You know, I look at what Susan’s doing. Every business owner needs to be based not when it all gets difficult, but right at the beginning. That’s what it’s for.
Originally published at Beyond the Chaos: Fractional Operations Consulting and Project Management