You’re doing all the right things in your business. You have a great offer and clients you adore. Yet, you’ve hit a ceiling in your business. You can’t figure out why or break through it no matter how hard you try. If this feels familiar, then in this episode you’ll learn the three big shifts you need to make to get you and your business unstuck and back into growth mode.
On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:
4:29 – Are you spending much of your time doing $10 p/h activities in your business? For big shift #1, I go over what $10, $100, $1,000, and $10,000 hourly tasks look like.
12:28 – Many clients hit another plateau when they refuse to make the second big mindset shift. Here’s how doing so can pay dividends.
15:05 – I reveal another challenge I often see among entrepreneurs (myself included), even when they’ve previously overcome the second mindset hurdle.
17:46 – Where was my focus when I hit this business plateau? It took me a long time to admit this to myself.
22:20 – I discuss the final shift needed and reveal an exercise I frequently do to help me get out of my own way.
26:14 – To wrap the show, I recap the three shifts to think about if you’re feeling stuck and unsure about how to move the needle in your business.
- The CEO Collective
- CEO Planner
- “Are You Making CEO Level Work a Priority?”
- 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall
- Racheal on Instagram
- Leave a review on iTunes
There seems to be this invisible ceiling in a lot of entrepreneurs growth journey where despite the fact that they are doing all the right things in their business—they are doing their marketing, they're doing sales activities, they have a great product, program, or service to deliver, they have clients they love—it feels like they hit this invisible ceiling on their growth and no matter what they try to do, and no matter how hard they try to work, they continuously find themselves plateaued at this level of growth. What is going on here? If you have ever found yourself in this situation, you feel like no matter how hard you work, you can't seem to get over that plateau and back into growth mode, you're going to want to listen in because today, we're talking about the three big shifts you need to make to get back into your growth mode.
Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.
Hey there, CEOs. Welcome back to another episode here on Promote Yourself to CEO. We are continuing this conversation from the previous episode where I shared six ways to work smarter, not harder, for entrepreneurs and CEOs who are wanting to continuously grow their business but in a very sustainable way. One of the things that I have seen over and over again is that there becomes this point where a lot of businesses start to plateau, where their growth hits a certain level and it feels like no matter how hard you work, no matter how many hours you put in, you just can't break through. This happens often when I am working with entrepreneurs who have already hit their first six figures annually in business and now they're working towards multiple six figures in their business so that they can pay themselves a six-figure salary.
Once you get to this point, it starts to feel very exciting because $100,000, $150,000, $200,000 a year of take-home income, a professional salary, that gets really exciting. That's when you really start to think about all of the things you can do for your family. This is when, if you are thinking about investing into your children's future or buying an amazing house or really creating wealth for yourself and your family, it can really happen. This is the level where you're able to do things, like allow your spouse to leave the job that they don't love anymore so they can get on the path to creating something that they do love. It's a very, very exciting level. But there are a few bumps in the road often when we start hitting this level. Yes, part of it is what got you here won't get you there. We talked about that in some of the lessons to work smarter, not harder, but when we start really thinking about what practically you need to do, there are three key shifts that are really helpful to think about to get you through that growth plateau.
If you've been feeling stuck in growth in your business, your business has been hovering around the same level for a long time and you know you just can't work any harder, then keep on listening here. Often, this ceiling is created because we have created it ourselves. We didn't mean to but it happens. We max out on clients, we have as many people as we feel we can reasonably serve, we max out on our pricing, so we've really hit the highest limit we can in the price range for our offer and we sit there, and are going, “What do we do next?” This is where we need to start shifting how we're thinking.
First off, first big thing, I want you to make sure that you are focused on what your time is being invested in. Too often, I see entrepreneurs who are spending a lot of their time on the busy work in their business. They are doing what I call $10 an hour activities. Now, if you have followed along with the podcast for a while, you've probably heard me talk about the Entrepreneur Scorecard. I have an entire episode breaking down exactly what this is. The scorecard is a huge part of our 90 Day CEO Planner that we sell but what the scorecard is all about, it's all about giving a dollar amount to the activities you are doing. It's not about how much you're actually invoicing and making in the business but what it does is help you to understand the value of your sweat equity into your business.
I didn't come up with the idea of a scorecard. This came from the book Marketing 80/20. They broke out a lot of the core tasks in a business and assigned each of them a value. There's $10 an hour tasks, $100 an hour tasks, $1,000 an hour tasks, then $10,000 an hour tasks, six figure CEOs that are creating a sustainable business where they're not having to hustle and work so hard. They know that their time and energy really needs to be spent doing the CEO level work that only they can really do. They know that if they are spending their time and energy in a $10 an hour bucket, doing those lower value tasks, then they will use up all the time that is available for them to work. Not only will they use up a lot of that time, by overworking in this way, their research has played out. Once you work over 35 hours a week, there are diminishing returns on your productivity. You have used up your brain power. Your brain needs a chance to rest, recharge, and recover from all of that work. If we are spending all of that mental energy on tasks that aren't the ones that are moving the business forward, that are really the ones that only we can do, then we're wasting so much resources here.
What are these different tasks? $10 an hour tasks are going to be mostly admin, customer-service level tasks. This is managing the inbox, managing your calendar, and sending out invoices. These are things that you can easily delegate to somebody. You can bring on an assistant. You can have a bookkeeper. These are things that are pretty easy and honestly not very expensive to outsource. They must be done but these types of tasks are really just going to maintain your level of business.
Now, the next category is $100 an hour tasks. These are more skilled tasks and often, these are things that, again, are maintaining your current level of business. These are going to be things like your ongoing marketing activities, like writing a blog post or creating a newsletter or putting stuff on social media. A lot of these activities are going to be those nurture marketing activities, so the things that are just keeping you top of mind to your existing audience. These activities could also be things like working with your clients. Again, this isn't about how much your clients are paying you. It's not about actual revenue numbers here, but I put it in this bucket because this is generally a maintenance area for your business. If you're focused mostly on the $10 and the $100 an hour activities, then basically, what is happening is you are putting your time and energy in the maintenance level. You are not putting your time and energy in growth level activities.
What are the growth level activities? These are the $1,000 and $10,000 an hour activities. Most of these are going to be related to Attract marketing, to sales, and to new business development, to more strategic activities. These types of marketing activities are going to be the Attract marketing activities, like pitching yourself to be interviewed on podcasts, getting publicity and media coverage for your business, running advertising campaigns to grow your business. These are activities that are getting you in front of new audiences. Often, they're going to be, again, putting yourself out there in the media, getting interviewed, being a public speaker. It's all about visibility. These are the things that get you in front of new potential clients and they grow your community, and your audience.
The second category here is sales activities. These are where the actual invitation happens. This could be sales activities. What I like to say here is the $1,000 activities are mostly sales activities that are prepping for the sale or their one-to-one sales. This could be creating a sales page for your offer. It could be pitching your offer. It could be having one-to-one sales conversations. It could be creating a webinar or a challenge or some mechanism that is designed to invite people to join your product, program, or service. The $1,000 an hour bucket is also where I put a lot of these strategic planning and new business development. This is where you are sitting down and having your CEO Date. You're planning your quarter, you're looking at how you're hiring your team and who else you need on the team. This is where you're planning out the vision for the business in the future and how you're going to get there.
Now, how do you get to the point where you're spending more time in that $10,000 an hour bucket? Honestly, this is all about getting in front of lots of people at a time. The $10,000 an hour activities are going to be the very high visibility activities. Anytime I am being interviewed for someone else's podcast, I track that in my planner as a $10,000 an hour activity. If I am being on the local news show, then I track that as a $10,000 an hour activity. If I am at a networking event, I track that as a $10,000 an hour activity. That's because that is how valuable it is to my business. This is such a game changer when you start to think about these things.
The big thing I want you to take away, and if you want to dive more into the idea of an Entrepreneur Scorecard and actually begin using one in tracking your time and seeing are you spending your time mostly in the maintenance mode for your business, the $10 and $100 an hour tasks or in the growth mode for the $1,000 to $10,000 an hour tasks, then we need to start shifting you and the way you're spending your time and energy. If you are letting those lower value tasks, the maintenance mode tasks, take out the majority of your week, what they're actually doing is wearing away at your capacity to show up for the higher level things and get the results that you want. Those are the activities that we really want to think about, “How can we outsource these? How can we put a system in place to make it really easy to have those things taken care of? How can we get a support team member in place to handle those things for you, so pulling you out of the weeds of your business and helping you to stay focused in growth activities?”
This leads to the second big shift we need to make at this point. I know so many people who have successfully built a six or multiple six-figure business and again, they hit this plateau of how much they can grow their business. It's usually because they are struggling with the idea of hiring a team, they're struggling with the idea of getting support in their team. Often, the conversation goes something like this, “It doesn't make sense for me to pay somebody to do this because I can do it. In fact, it takes so much time for me to teach somebody how to do it the way that I want it done. I might as well just do it myself.” While that might be true the first time, for a lot of these day-to-day activities, you recruit back so much time when you are able to hire someone to handle your email, to manage your calendar, you might find that even five hours a week of admin and customer service support, you might pay $100, $150 an hour for that but the trade-off is that then you are freed up to spend five hours a week on those higher level growth activities in the visibility marketing and the sales area of your business.
That's when you free up the bandwidth you need. If you haven't been able to create a more leveraged offer, maybe you haven't been able to create a workshop or a webinar or a training, then now you have time in your calendar to start creating that leverage in your business. You might pay a little bit, yes, to get those tasks off your plate and it is going to be a bit to get that person on board, so they can handle those tasks but it frees up so much of your time and energy to go after the higher value tasks. Higher level CEOs don't look at these types of tasks and think, “Well, I can manage my own calendar, so I should do this because I want to save a little bit of money.” Instead, they think about, “How can I free up more of my time?” Growth mode CEOs are always thinking about, “How can I conserve my time, my energy, and my focus to put them towards the growth activities?” They know that they can take these lower level things off their plate. That means they can shift their focus to what's actually going to move the needle in their business.
A huge part of this is hiring people who can implement for you. This is another challenge I see often, especially for entrepreneurs who are really uncomfortable with hiring people to implement for their business. They tend to do the same things later in their business that help them get going. Often, when a lot of us are getting started, we have to learn how to do all the things because we don't have the resources to go out and pay for help. Yeah, that makes total sense but what I tend to see is people who continue to invest in information instead of investing in implementation. I see people who are continuously signing up for more and more and more online courses who are signing up for more and more and more training so they can learn how to do all these things, so they can learn how to figure out all these things. They don't have any resources left to get somebody to implement that thing for them.
The way this often plays out is, let's say, you're spending $5,000, $10,000 a year on online courses, which is really easy because they range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars and now, you just have a list of all the things you need to implement but because that was your budget for getting things up and going in your business, you have no more resources to go hire the person who could set up the funnel or who could help you create the webinar or could help you actually implement the thing you just learned about. Now, you're still stuck a little in the weeds as you're trying to figure it all out yourself. This is a massive shift. I see people who join us in The CEO Collective and they will have been in our world, on the email list for six months a year, sometimes even two years, then finally, they join us to get some support and learn how to implement, and learn how to bring those implementation roles into their business.
Just know that if you find yourself at that stage where you're getting clients in the door and you just can't figure out how to scale anymore, like you know you need to be doing those higher level activities, especially visibility activities to get in front of more people but you just don't have the bandwidth, you don't have the time or the energy or the resources to make that happen, chances are it's because you need to get out of the weeds and get some support with the implementation. Instead of learning how to do it all yourself at this point, we need to start hiring experts, we need to start hiring people who can help you get there faster and help you implement a system that already works instead of trying to figure it all out from scratch.
I know that this has been something that for me, it took a long time for me to admit I needed this help. When I was at this type of plateau in my business, a lot of it was because I was so focused on two areas of my business. I was focused on the marketing activities—and that was my main area that I was responsible for in the business, and I was the only person doing those things—then the delivery of our service, of our product, programs, and services where I was the only person responsible for delivering those things. I realized that I needed to get other people in my team enrolled in these different areas so that I could free up my bandwidth even more and stay focused on the only part of it that only I can do.
For example, instead of me editing this podcast—and that's a core marketing activity—I have a team behind the scenes who all I have to do is sit down in this chair, press record, and they handle every other part of producing it. They take it, they edit it, they upload it, they put the show notes together, they put the newsletter together, they do all the things. That frees up so much bandwidth for me. It allows me to do the part only I can do without getting caught in the weeds of the whole entire process. Same thing with my visibility strategy. I realized, if I was responsible for putting myself out there a lot, honestly, I was a lazy pitcher. The reason I had so many interviews come my way wasn't because I was proactively going out there, it was just because I had built this network over so many years and people would ask me. But I knew that if I wanted to get back into growth mode, I had to get more strategic and proactive about this. But I didn't have the bandwidth to focus on all the pitch, and follow-up, and all that goes into getting more visibility for your business, so I hired somebody to support me with that. At this point, I've had three different people support me with that, probably since I want to say 2019. It has made such a massive difference and definitely shifted me out of a plateau where my growth had stalled for a little bit.
The other part that has been so, so important for my business, hiring people who can implement for me and not just trying to do it all myself, was in the delivery of our products, programs, and services. In 2018, 2019, I started in my masterminds that I was running, having my team, my core team be a part of that because these were the people who were helping me do things in my own business. I knew they were really amazing at helping me and that my clients should have access to them too. That was such an eye-opener for me to realize that oh my gosh, maybe my clients don't just need time with me, they need time with people on my team. I don't have to be the only one to deliver this thing to them.
Since we rolled out The CEO Collective, we're now two years into this program that we are now 100% focused on for the business. My whole team is involved in delivering that for me, meaning I'm not the sole person communicating to all my clients. Each of my clients, they all have accountability mentors in the program to hold them accountable to the plans that they're making. I show up for the things where I can provide the most value, then I bring in my team who are amazing and who have so much experience and expertise in their own rights to deliver even more value to our clients. That has just been such a game changer, just really shifting how we think about putting support systems in place in the team.
All of this frees you up, like the first thing I talked about, focus on the growth level tasks, $1,000 an hour, $10,000 an hour tasks. That is the growth mode. With your team hiring implementers, stop trying to figure it all out yourself, stop trying to piece it together, stop taking another online course. I know for a fact that most entrepreneurs who are making multiple six and seven figures, they are not investing in courses anymore. They're investing in experts. They're hiring people to implement, to get the thing done because they know that that is the biggest ROI, it is the best way for them to get out of the weeds and to just get the strategy out there into the world.
Now, the final thing that you really need to think about—this is such a huge mindset shift—is you really need to be evaluating your role as CEO on a regular basis. I think one of the challenges that I personally ran into and I've seen with a lot of my clients is when we all start our business, and we are doing all the things, we get pretty good at a lot of them to be honest. Like we are so used to doing all these small things in our business, that even when we hire people to do them, we can find ourselves getting in their way. If we don't reevaluate our role as CEO, what I find happens is we release an area of our business for someone else to be responsible for, for someone else to implement, then because we aren't clear about what our new role is and where we should be spending our time and energy, we find ourselves dipping our toe back in to something that we have already hired out.
I know that for me, I have found myself doing this so many times. I had to give my team permission to say, “No, get out of here. This is not your responsibility anymore.” That was hard for me. That was so hard for me. A great example of this is my inbox. Even though I've had somebody manage my inbox for such a long time, there would be times where I would jump in and start responding to things, and my team would be like, “Racheal, get out of there. This is not your best use of time.” I don't always know what conversations have been had already with everybody who's in the inbox, so I would tell them like, “Hey, just lock me out of the inbox. If I don't need to be there, keep me out of it.” With the website, I am just techy enough, I am just dangerous enough but if I start getting in a mood where I want to tweak something, like I want a sales page to look a certain way or whatever, they kick me out of there so fast you would not believe because they know that is honestly just making their job harder for them to have to go in and clean up after me or have to fix something that I broke, which is totally possible. It is really, really important for me to be clear about my role as CEO and where I uniquely provide the most value to the business.
Each time I hire someone else on the team, I sit down and rewrite my job description. I think this is such a great practice because if you have been responsible for everything previously and now you're bringing someone else on the team, and they're going to take something off your plate, you have to be clear about what that thing coming off your plate means you were able to do and have that reminder all the time. I think this is just such an amazing exercise. Each time we hire somebody on the team, I sit down and rewrite my job description, I rewrite my responsibilities, I review our organization chart and who all is on the team, and I make sure everybody's clear about what this person's role is so that people aren't coming to me and I'm not becoming a bottleneck. I make sure all the communication channels are really well explained so that no one gets confused, then we end up double dipping on those specific tasks that need to be handled.
I think this is one of the simplest easiest ways we can get out of our own way is getting very clear on a regular basis. Again, if your team is in growth mode, you're probably bringing people back onto the team, hiring more people on a pretty regular basis, so you've constantly got to be reevaluating what your role is and make sure that your time and energy is spent in the highest value area, that area that only you can do.
I hope that helps because at the end of the day, if you are in a plateau in your business, if you feel like you've hit a certain level of growth and you've been here for a while, and you aren't exactly sure how to move the needle anymore, I really want you to think about these three shifts. I want you to think about these three things. One, where is your time going? Is your time in maintenance mode tasks, those $10, $100 an hour activities or is it in growth mode tasks, the $1,000 to $10,000 an hour activities? Second, are you getting a team in place who is helping you to implement in your business; and not just implement the basics admin customer service but implement things like marketing, sales, the delivery of your product, program, or service? If you are wanting to be in growth mode, you've got to stop getting out of information overload. You've really got to stay focused, both yourself and your team in implementation.
Then third, are you reevaluating your role as CEO? As you are growing and you are bringing people onto the team, are you getting in their way? Are you trying to double dip back into those tasks you tried to outsource? Are you micromanaging people? Are you finding yourself just not clear about what you should be doing and feeling like maybe you should take back things you tried to get off your plate? It is time to rewrite that job description and get super clear about where you actually provide the highest and best value.
This is an ongoing process. All of these things are an ongoing process. You can't just continue doing what you have done and hope that it will shift you out of a plateau and into growth. You've got to be laser focused and you need to be thinking a little bit differently about your business. If you want to work with us closer and learn more about these types of mindset shifts, and how we can support you, this is the work that we do inside of The CEO Collective. One of my favorite things that I do inside of The CEO Collective is to remind our clients and work with our clients again and again and again as they're implementing our 90 Day CEO process, is to help them make sure that the time they're spending every single week is in those growth mode activities. We help hold them accountable to see where they're spending their time and energy to make sure that they are going to get the results that they want to see.
If you're interested in joining The CEO Collective, we would love you to come check out more of the details and get on the waitlist for the next enrollment cycle. I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I'm going to be following up this conversation, talking even more about the types of support that a growth mode CEO needs to have in their business and in their life in the next episode. Make sure you are subscribed so that you get all of the upcoming episodes of Promote Yourself to CEO. If you love this and want to continue the conversation, please tag me on Instagram @racheal.cook. I would love to hear your biggest ahas, insights, and takeaways. All right, I'll talk to you soon.