Any Shark Tank fans out there? I was recently a guest on The SharkPreneur podcast, a podcast that focuses on the secrets to exponential business growth. If it sounds familiar, it’s because one of the hosts is an original Shark from the hit show. Take a listen to this 20-minute episode and hear about:
- My journey to becoming a Chief Eradicating Officer
- How I define business chaos
- My 3-step process for eradicating chaos
- One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when trying to fix the chaos
- And more!
Kevin Harrington is the inventor of the infomercial, one of the original sharks from the hit tv show shark tank, and has generated over 5 billion dollars in TV and digital direct response sales. And Seth Greene is the world’s #1 trusted authority on cutting edge direct response marketing, a best-selling author, the only 3x Marketer of The Year Nominee, and the founder of Market Domination LLC.
Please find the full video transcript below
Introduction: Welcome to the SharkPreneur podcast with Kevin Harrington and Seth Greene. Kevin Harrington is the inventor of the infomercial. One of the original sharks from the hit TV show Shark Tank and has generated over $5 billion in TV and digital direct response sales.
Seth Greene is the world’s first trusted authority on cutting-edge direct response marketing, a best-selling author, and the only three-time marketer of the year nominee. On the podcast, Kevin and Seth interview sharkpreneurs who share straight talk on what it takes to explode your business.
Kevin: Why do so many businesses struggle while others seem to explode overnight? Do you wish you had the secret to this type of exponential growth? Now I’ve scaled more than 20 businesses to over $100 million and it’s not just luck. In my new book with Mark Tim, mentor to millions, you’ll learn the repeatable framework I use in all my business ventures for massive success order at kevin mentor dot com and get over $1,000 in bonuses.
Seth: Welcome to the Sharkpreneur podcast. This is your co-host, Seth Greene. Today I have the good fortune to be joined by Susan Fennema. She is the CEO Chaos Eradicating Officer of Beyond the Chaos, a consultancy helping small business owners with 25 or fewer employees simplify their operations and manage their projects so they can grow their business and get their lives back. She’s also the author of Three Ways to Control Chaos in Small Business. Susan, thanks so much for joining us.
Susan: Well, thanks so much for having me on SharkPreneur, Seth. I’m looking forward to this today.
Seth: Awesome, let’s go back in time. How did you become a chaos eradicating officer? Was there some chaos back then?
Susan: Oh gosh, it’s so funny because I think I’ve been doing it my whole life and didn’t really even realize it. I mean, from the time I was a kid, I was organizing my mother’s button collection, she sewed, and I would sort them, I was three years old, sit there on the floor and sort them by color and size and build little graphs from the most to the fewest buttons.
Seth: Oh my goodness.
Susan: So yeah, there is just something innate in me that has chaos control written all over it. So by the time I was grown up, I guess, since we’ll just jump the teenage years.
Seth: Sure, of course.
Susan: I was already helping small business owners, just one-on-one though as an employee. And I tended to always work for small business and by small, I mean usually 10 people or fewer. I got to know those business owners really well throughout my career and they all had a lot of the same character traits. And so when I got ready to go look for my last job, I said, “Well, let’s just make my last job. Let’s open my own business and let’s serve more of those business owners. Let’s help more of them how to succeed.”
Seth: That is awesome. Well, congratulations. I’m sure the longer version of that is probably in your book. So what are we defining as chaos? Let’s start there.
Susan: So for a small business owner, chaos can really look like overwhelm, mostly. It’s the what do I do next? What did I forget? Why is the client yelling at me? Where’s my virtual team members? Why can’t I find them? What is going on on my projects? And where is all the money? All of those things combine into complete overwhelm. So many small business owners got into business because they were really good at what they did. I am a great software developer. I’m going to start my own business and I’m going to develop the software I want to develop, okay?
Well, we already know the flaw in that, you never get to do what you want to do as far as even that aspect of developing software. But if you take it to the next step, now you don’t even get to develop software at all, let alone the software you wanted to make, because you’re busy with all of this other stuff that you didn’t expect to be part of it.
Seth: Absolutely. So that’s a great way of defining your avatar. A great way of defining the chaos that we all deal with. We all get that entrepreneurial myth as Michael Gerber wrote about, we say, “Ooh, I can do a better job of this on my own.” We’re the technician, the doer of the thing, but we don’t know anything, in most cases, about running an actual business when we start. So how does your process help eliminate and clarify so that we don’t have to deal with that chaos anymore?
Susan: So we really approach it from a three-part way. One is first getting in and recognizing that you do have a process in your business, even if you don’t know it, that you do because it’s not written down, it’s all in your head. But you’re doing the same things repeatedly the same way, for the most part.
That’s the first thing is to start getting that stuff out of the owner’s head, get it down where it can be shared with someone that they can delegate to. Start with an assistant or a bookkeeper or whatever that thing is that you hate to do the most and get that off your plate. So creating the systems is absolutely the first step.
The second is to dig into your project management. Most of the people we serve are also running projects with their clients. So think marketing companies or copyrighting companies, software developers, those types of professional services, and many of them, you start asking questions about their project management techniques and they aren’t using software. They’re doing it through email. They don’t have timelines, they can’t manage workflow. So that is the next thing we tackle.
And then the last thing that we tackle is how you prevent interruptions in your day and how you really sort of take control and charge of your schedule.
Seth: So I have resembled at times, all of those remarks, I started managing by email and Post-it Note, Post-it Notes, get lost. I graduated to Excel, then Google sheets. Tried a whole bunch of different project management software over the years, until we finally had our own custom-built to do what we want. And now it runs much, much smoother. And most of the chaos has been tamed. What are you finding are some of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make that cause more chaos that’s unnecessary?
Susan: That’s a great question. So one of the things is actually, sorry, Seth, doing exactly what you did.
Seth: Listen. I fully admit that I was making giant messes and it took years to learn how to clean it up and avoid it in the first place.
Susan: So bouncing around between software, even to the point of feeling like you need to create your own software to solve the problem, I think, is one of the biggest mistakes. Pretty much all of the software tools out there that are available online will do what you need to do. If there are gaps here or there, adding a little process in using Zapier to make it move, something like that, is a better solution than just to throw up your hands and say it doesn’t work and go onto the next one. I do find a lot of my clients come to me saying, “Oh, I tried Asana and Basecamp and Teamwork, and they don’t work.” And it’s okay, well you can’t put the hammer next to the nail and expect the picture to get hung, right?
Seth: What? It doesn’t just happen?
Susan: There’s no magic here, you have to actually put in the work, you have to put some structure around how you’re using the tool and then follow that structure religiously and have your team follow it as well.
Seth: All right, and then take us through an example, you don’t have to show their identity if it’s confidential, but take us through an example of here’s what a business came to you with the problem. And then here’s kind of the magical transformation of what their life looks like now that they’re running your processes.
Susan: Okay, this is a good one. I have a perfect example of this. I had a client who three years ago, came to me desperate. They were at the end of a year and a half long project and they’re not done and they don’t know what’s left to be done and they wanted us to fix it in the month that it was due.
Seth: Oh my God. You’re like, “Where were you? Why didn’t you come to me a year ago?” Why are they coming to me when their hair is on fire?
Susan: Right? Talk about black of magic. We don’t have magic. We don’t do that kind of thing.
Seth: It doesn’t just happen?
Susan: Couldn’t go back in time and fix it, but we were able to keep that client, not necessarily happy right off the bat. But that client is still a client of my client today. We regrouped, we set up a real plan and then we worked the plan, and that made a huge difference to finally getting to the outcome. It was not when it was originally expected, but it did get there. And to this day, they’re coming back to this team asking for more support. And to me that’s a huge success, that client has engaged us to do all sorts of project management as well as creating some systems for them and they are really starting to explode right now. They’ve really streamlined and simplified how they run their business.
Seth: That is a great example. Your passion is obvious. What do you like best about what you do?
Susan: I give small business owners their lives back. I’m affecting American society as a whole and that’s really one of our big values. We want small business owners to go home and eat dinner with their family, or leave the office and walk down the hall to the kitchen with their family, and enjoy their family and enjoy the things that they love to do.
We want to make sure that they know how to treat their team well by setting clear expectations. Most people want to meet expectations, but many small business owners have them all in their head and they don’t know how to get them out and share them and it ends up frustrating everybody. And so as people are interacting better, because they’re happier, all of a sudden that just goes out into the world exponentially as all of these people are touched differently from children to spouses, to team members, and on into clients.
Seth: I feel like I’m listening to myself because that is almost exactly how I described the ripple effect of our marketing and that if the business owner doesn’t have to worry where the next client’s going to come from if we take away the financial stress, they stay happily married. They don’t stress out and take it out on their wife or their kids, and they create more jobs. And so we were very similar in how we’re describing that ripple effect. You give advice every day, what is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Susan: It’s probably from my dad because he gives the best advice ever. A small business owner for 50 something years. He’s 80 years old and is still running his business. What he told me a long time ago is that “You know, you’ve made it professionally when you don’t do anything, you set the tone for your business.”
Seth: That is awesome and you’re essentially helping your clients do that every day. That’s beautiful.
Susan: Right, and he’s been able to live that probably for the last 20, 25 years. Most of us don’t get to that, that early. And so watching that inaction and watching that being done with integrity and good intentions toward your team members is inspirational to me.
Seth: Absolutely. I know you are a voracious content consumer. What are three of your favorite books? And you can’t say your own.
Susan: Okay, favorite books? I would say one that I love is, The One Minute Manager. It literally takes one minute to read it too. So if you haven’t read it, read it, that gives a great insight on how to quickly manage a team.
Susan: I also like, Traction the EOS System, so that you learn how that whole system works. We don’t always follow an EOS system because the businesses that we work with are smaller, but many of the techniques in there we follow.
And then, of course, I have to go to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, life-changing.
Seth: Absolutely. Awesome recommendations, all of them. What do you think is the biggest shift you’ve seen in your clients in terms of pivoting since COVID?
Susan: Wow, we’ve had some really interesting situations. We’ve had some that just exploded in business that took their PPP money, that they got, and they focused on their business during that time, simplifying, putting some structure in place. And those people have seen a huge takeoff here in the past few months because of the work that they did during that time. And then I’ve had other clients, we had one client whose clients were the entertainment industry and that’s rough. He’s having to totally rework his whole business, fix new targets, do a new website, all new marketing, and so that’s been really overwhelming for him. And that type of change is a bit heartbreaking to me because they’d been so successful for years. He’d been in 20 years. But, here’s the one thing they all have in common, not one of them said, “I give up.”
Seth: Awesome. What advice would you give a small business owner who is feeling the chaos and the overwhelm right now, other than to hire you, they can’t hire you. Where would you tell them to start?
Susan: I would tell them to start by at the end of every day, figuring out their top three priorities for the next day and making sure that you have time in your calendar to do them.
Seth: That’s a great exercise right there, absolutely. What for our folks who are watching or listening and want to learn more about how you can help them conquer the chaos, where’s the best way for them to go get the book, and where’s the best place for them to learn more about you?
Susan: Well, they can download the book here, and all of our contact information is there as well. They’ll be able to find us on LinkedIn and email and all that good stuff.
Seth: Awesome, what else do you want to share that I didn’t think to ask you?
Susan: Well, we have been helping people for five years. I’ve been in business now for five years.
Seth: Congratulation, you made it past the first five.
Susan: I made it past that killer time there and we’re just very passionate. My whole team is always going to be more than just a project manager to people. We’ve become that confidant and that person that is going to help you, decide maybe, whether that client is even the right one to be going after, we might raise red flags you don’t hear. So we’re a trusted resource that we can help you with. We’ve worked with 50 clients in five years and we would really love to see their progress and change.
Seth: Awesome, fascinating interview, incredible story, great service. This has been Seth Greene for Sharkpreneur with Susan Fennema of Beyond the Chaos.
Susan, thanks so much for joining us.
Susan: Thanks for having me.
Seth: Thanks, everybody for watching or listening to SharkPreneur, we’ll see you next time.
Originally published at Beyond the Chaos: Small Business Project Management and Operations Consulting.