Do you get frustrated when people say that you need to work smarter not harder? This is one of those concepts that used to frustrate me so much. I was raised by entrepreneurial parents who worked so incredibly hard to grow their business.
The idea of hard work was drilled into me from such a young age that it was essential to have a strong work ethic. We have been taught with the idea that to create success, to have a successful career, to build a successful business, you have to work hard.
However, some point we’ve all looked up to a hardworking man or women and noticed they only were able to reach a certain level.
BUT, at some point working harder creates a bottleneck in your business. It creates this area where you can no longer grow, and you limit, you put a ceiling on how much growth you can experience in your business.We all have the same 168 hours a week, and there is just a point where working more is not the answer.Click To Tweet
How do you get to that next level in your business?
1: Do less with more focus
If you know my story, then you know that when I started this business, I only had about 25 hours a week to work. For me, this meant I needed to maximize those hours. It wasn’t about working as fast as I could.
This is a big myth, a lot of people think when you don’t have much time you have to be as productive as possible, you have to learn how to work as fast as you possibly can. So because I had this constraint put on me, I was ruthless in how I spent my time.
I only invested my time and energy in activities that I knew were going to lead to results.
I got laser-focused on what I now call my business sweet spot. I focused on where I knew I could get the best results.
2: Teamwork makes the dream work
The next lesson I learned the hard way was that you don’t have to do it all by yourself, teamwork truly makes the dream work.
This is something I had such a hard time with, I had such a hard time with because I am a perfectionist, I am slightly a control freak, and I had a hard time letting other people into my business.
And I’m sure you can probably relate to this feeling of “oh gosh, I know I’m overwhelmed, and I need help, but I need to let go of control.”CEO does not mean Chief Everything Officer.Click To Tweet
It’s all about streamlining and systematizing and building a team that can then implement those ideas for you. They can take those strategies and take them off your plate.
When I started hiring my team, the first thing I started doing was hiring for my most significant areas of weakness and areas that I knew were creating busywork I didn’t need.
For me, the first area that I needed off my plate was customer service.
- I needed someone to manage my inbox
- I needed someone to manage my calendar
- I needed someone to make sure that the client invoices were paid and we knew how many sessions somebody had left
- and all of those basic admin customer service types of tasks
The next area I hired for was another bottleneck for me, something that was taking me way too many hours and I knew that if I just hired somebody who could get it off my plate, they would have the skills to get it done quickly. For me this was tech.
Have you ever run into tech problems with your business like you don’t know how to put something on your website or you’re trying to figure out something behind the scenes with your payment system?
And you don’t know these systems in and out so you spend hours and hours and hours trying to get it all set up, but if you just hired somebody, they would have it done like that.
They would entirely be able to take that worry off your plate.
3: What got you here won’t get you there
This is a big thing that I had to go through, especially as I was crossing the six-figure mark and wanted to double that.
I wanted to get to multiple six figures; I wanted to get to $250, $300,000 a year. Because at this point I had to make a massive shift from working one-on-one.
Before I took my business online in 2011, I was predominantly consulting in person, actually going into people’s businesses and working with them face to face, not just zoom to zoom or Skype to Skype, but face to face.
And it was very referral-based, it was very word of mouth and organic which was a great way to start a business.
But eventually, you hit that ceiling where you can’t work more hours.
You could try just raising your prices, but fundamentally something needs to change if you want to do something like growing your business two or three times the size that it is.
For me, this meant making that significant shift from one-on-one to one too many and I did this with a signature program that’s called Sweet Spot Strategy.
If you’ve been growing an organic, referral-based, word of mouth business, but now you want more control over your income, you want more control over your schedule, you want to have more freedom in your business and if you are running word of mouth, referral-based business you probably aren’t feeling that.
It’s time to make that shift, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut off your primary revenue source.
It just means you need a plan to taper down the high touch, high-level work and then start implementing the marketing and the sales systems so that you can start filling out that passive income source.
4: Embrace rinse and repeat
I think one of the things about entrepreneurs that’s so challenging for us is we love being creative, we love coming up with new ideas, we love experimenting, but this can also work against us.
Because it can mean that you’re continually recreating the wheel, you’re always starting over instead of building systems in your business that continue to do the work for you.
I think of this as building an asset in my business, I’m going to do the hard work upfront, and then that hard work is going to continue to pay off for me over and over and over again. With my business it looked like creating first a signature program.
A signature program should be something that you create once, you put that hard work into it once, and then you’re able to continue to enroll new clients into it again and again and again and again.
5: Create the money to invest back into you and your business
I’m going to just share with you that when I first got started I was somebody I hated being in debt, I had zero credit card debt, I didn’t want to go into debt starting my business, I had heard so many horror stories about that and I am still somebody who runs a zero debt business.
I don’t like having that kind of thing hanging over my head, that’s just my personal preference here. And I also didn’t have a huge savings account; I didn’t have a whole lot when I was making that transition into my business.
What I had to learn early on is I needed help, I needed support.
And there comes the point where you just don’t need another course, and you don’t need to google all the answers all the time, you need to invest in getting the answers because that’s the fastest way to get the answers that are going to help you move forward.
So I started shifting my mindset.
Instead of “I don’t have the money for this”, I thought “I can create the money for this.” I started looking at new investments and realizing oh if I need to work with a mentor, I only need three more clients to pay for that.
I realized I could create the money I needed to invest in my business
You need to make investments in your business, and there is no business that operates without having some investment put into it.
You need to work on yourself, and this includes your mindset.
I can make a whole other Live, a whole other show just about the mindset shifts you need to go through, but the challenges you’re going to face as an entrepreneur, I have seen them knock people out of the game before they ever really got started in their business.
Things like criticism, a negative comment from somebody, a crappy email from somebody. You’re not a jar of Nutella; someone’s going to be upset at you at some point.
The next thing you need to invest in is your skillset. You need to be not only excellent at what you do as a practitioner.
And the final thing you need to be ready to invest in is the tools and team to grow. I see a lot of people go out there who are saying what the cheapest, easiest way for me to do X, Y, Z is?
“What is the free tool I can use for social media or what is the free tool I can use to grow my website?”
These are things that maybe they’ll help you at the very, very beginning, but there comes the point where you outgrow free tools, and you need to invest in the right tools.
The right tools can make a huge difference.
6: Find a mentor and a mastermind
This is the lesson that is hard for me to learn because I was somebody who believed I could figure it all out on my own.
But like I said when I started this whole experience of being an entrepreneur, I was limited by time. I didn’t have a ton of time and energy to figure things out. I was just being resourceful and googling away wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go.
I learned early on that you could either try to google your way to success, which is fine, there’s a lot of answers out there. Pretty much every answer you want is googleable, but it means you have to know the right things to ask.
This is why a mentor is so incredibly powerful because they know what you don’t know.
They know all of those other things that you can’t possibly be aware of because you haven’t gone through them before.
It’s so important to take the time to find a mentor who has been there and done that, a mentor who has walked the path you want to walk.
They can share with you, they can shine a big light on what you don’t know that you don’t know and this is priceless.
You may have to pay that mentor, but they’re going to help you avoid so many major mistakes and save you so much time on this journey that you might have spent spinning your wheels trying to figure it all out on your own.
Along the same lines is surrounding yourself with a mastermind. Now if you don’t know what a mastermind is, this is a group of peers that come together to problem solve, to support one another.
And one of the other challenges along with not having a mentor that I see for a lot of entrepreneurs is they’re trying to get feedback from the wrong people.
There’s just no way that someone who is not on this path with you who doesn’t understand entrepreneurship, those people are not the right people to be asking for helpful advice.
Whether it’s an informal mastermind of BFFs where you get together and support one another and bounce ideas around or a more formalized mastermind where you’re working together with a mentor to collectively do the things that’ll take your business to the next level.
A mastermind can make a huge, huge impact in helping you grow your business. If you enjoyed this episode today, then I’d love to invite you to check out the CEO Accelerator.
The CEO Accelerator is a mastermind experience I am creating where you can work together with 12 other amazing women entrepreneurs who are ready to grow beyond six figures in their business without working harder and me.
If you’ve seen some success on your own and you know that you need a mentor and a real support system of peers to help you grow to that next level of success, I would love for you to check out the details and apply at rachealcook.com/ceoaccelerator.
I want to give a big listener shout-out to Adrienna of @avaandthebee on Instagram! She is a Virtual Assistant for wedding professionals – and a few days ago, I logged into Instagram and she had tagged me in not only the sweetest post – but had actually created a beautifully styled photo featuring the Promote Yourself to CEO podcast! Here’s what she shared on her post –
Vacation Mode: ON
While I took a few hours this morning to get some work done, this afternoon was spent at the beach. And as you might have noticed by now, I LOVE listening to Podcasts. Right now I am loving @racheal.cook Promote Yourself to CEO.
And this is such an important message for me right now. As Ava And The Bee grows, I am learning how to implement a balance of owner, CEO, and mentor. It’s a lot to take on, I’ll be honest. So while the whole idea of turning into the CEO roll kind of terrifies me, it is also pretty darn exciting.
I dreamed of this happening at Ivory & Beau. I dreamed of the days where I ran the shop and didn’t take every single bride that came in the store. I dreamed of my role as the big picture visionary, not the nitty-gritty tasks. (Ya’ll, I steamed almost every gown that came into that store. Hours of my life was spent steaming) And while we never really got there when I was at the shop, it’s so exciting to take this role on now.
What are some dreams you are dreaming up? Is it taking your VA business full time? Or take a week off? Let’s share those dreams!?
Thanks so much Adrienne! I know that it’s a big transition to start thinking of yourself as The CEO of your business – that’s why I named this show Promote Yourself to CEO!
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