Hello everyone, welcome to the Balanced Business Leaders Podcast hosted by yours truly, Claire Jones, owner of Liminal Clarity. We are a business development agency that helps small business leaders scale and grow without burning out.
This is the next podcast in a series where we will be discussing the various trials and tribulations that lead me to creating my Three Pillars of Business Success, a framework that represents the foundational systems that contribute to sustainable business growth.
If you’re interested in learning more, please join us in our free Balanced Business Leaders Facebook Group at facebook.com/groups/balancedbusinessleaders.
Ready? Alright, let’s dive in.
So I started this podcast as a way to tell my story, particularly when it comes to the many, many different lessons that I have learned over the years when it comes to founding, developing, running, and growing small businesses.
This particular episode is going to be about the Three Pillars as a whole, why they’re important, and why I structured them the way that I did.
Alright, so to give you a little bit of background on myself (if you didn’t catch the previous podcast) – from age 15 onward, I’ve always worked with small businesses and arts organizations that were under 60 staff members total. So I’ve seen first-hand what challenges these businesses run into. I’ve seen both how they can struggle and how they can succeed in their businesses and in their lives.
I even started my first business back in 2014 – a general store devoted to local goods in West Seattle – and the information that I’m presenting to you today is the kind of stuff I wish I had had back then.
Back then, I had found myself working 60 hours a week in a white box by myself surrounded by inventory I couldn’t sell and it was a really depressing place to be in. I was living by myself, eating rice & beans for dinner, feeling burnt out and exhausted.
After coming out of this, I realized that there were structures that I could put in place though. Systems that would help me streamline my time and be more efficient, effective, productive, and happier in general.
In this vein, I created my Three Pillars of Business Success: Sustainable Schedules, Marketing Strategies, and Processes & Systems. And I’d like to share them with you today so that you can free up your time and actually enjoy this business that you’re building. Yes, I’m saying that you too can scale your dream business without burning out.
Alright, so, why are sustainable schedules important?
Because you can’t burn the candle at both ends and you need to make sure that everyone’s personal sustainability supports the business’s sustainability. Because you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Why are marketing strategies important?
Because you need to strategically go after marketing opportunities that will help you reach your ideal audiences and do it with intentional forethought instead of impulsive reaction.
You need to do this instead of scattershooting your approach because so many small-business leaders try so many different avenues in so many different ways and they’re not really focusing their marketing efforts to get quality ROI from their efforts and time spent.
Why are processes & systems important?
Because you need to streamline your day-to-day routines and day-to-day tools so that everything flows easily – like a well-oiled machine – instead of having to reinvent the wheel every day.
So when I’m talking about Sustainable Schedules, I’m talking about things like self-awareness, self-regulation, delegation, mental productivity, mindset, wellness & burnout, and time management.
Basically, how do you (and your team members) manage your time and how do you make sure that your schedule is sustainable so that you’re not burning out?
I know what it’s like to burn out in your business. You are running, you are hustling, you are trying to go in so many different directions all at once and you really need to be strategic about your time because you’re not going to be able to bring your full self to the business and bring your full self to your passion if you’re burning out.
You built a business around a passion of yours, around a zone of genius, and what you really don’t want to do is deplete yourself so then you can’t even show up fully.
I definitely experienced this in my first business – my schedule was not strategic and I was exhausted and frustrated and stressed all the time, but I learned systems and tools like the Healthy Mind Platter that really helped.
The Healthy Mind Platter is a great framework that was developed by the NeuroLeadership Institute and they have identified seven areas of your life that should be balanced and prioritized in order to have optimal brain functioning. They created it by looking at the brain through fMRI machines, doing a bunch of psychological studies and other scientific studies and they found that there’s seven areas that you need to prioritize in your life in order to have optimal brain functioning.
Those areas are things like Social Needs (which means Connecting Time and Play Time), Physical Needs (which means Physical Time and Sleep Time), and Cognitive Needs (which means Down Time, Time In, and Focus Time). And you need to prioritize each of those seven areas in your life to make sure that you’re showing up as your best self in your business.
So that’s the first step to creating a Sustainable Schedule.
Step #2 is Flexible Time Blocking. Step #3 is Self Regulation. Step #4 is Delegation. And step #5 is Coaching Habits.
We will be going over each of these steps more in depth in the coming podcasts, so stay tuned!
Pillar number two, then, is Marketing Strategies:
How are you intentionally focusing your efforts when it comes to marketing strategies?
Are you taking a scattershot approach?
Are you trying too many things so that the quantity is over running the quality of your marketing efforts?
So I’m talking about Google services, social media profiles, branding, customer engagement, content creation, and website development.
How are you focusing your efforts and time by focusing on your target market?
For example, a lot of people say when it comes to social media profiles – if your target demographic has people over 30, you’re going to be better off on Facebook; but if your target demographic is under 30, you’re going to be better off on Instagram.
Or if you’re a business-to-business kind of company, where you work more with business owners or corporations, Linkedin is probably going to be your best bet.
Or if you’re helping the more elderly market and offering senior care services or stuff like that, you might want to consider doing snail mail as your primary marketing effort. Because a lot of them aren’t on Facebook, a lot of them aren’t on Instagram.
So how are you reaching your target demographics?
Do you even know what your target demographics are?
Have you created your ideal customer avatar?
How can you reach them with intentional forethought instead of impulse?
Because there is this concept called the Shiny Object Syndrome and I see a lot of small business leaders fall into this trap. It’s when you go after any shiny object, any shiny idea that you come up with and then you have a scattered approach and you never actually get much done.
You feel like you’re being productive, because you’re completing tons of tasks day-in and day-out but you’re again at quantity over quality. And what we want to focus on is a higher quality of marketing engagement, a higher quality of customer engagement, and how can you actually save time but get better results?
And it doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be a huge time suck or money suck. At the end of the day it’s just being strategic and being intentional with your efforts when it comes to marketing.
Especially when it comes to marketing, you need to realize:
How many people are you building relationships with every day?
How many touch points do you need to make with them so that you can stay in contact with them and nurture those relationships?
How many times do you give them a chance to know, like, and trust you?
So Step #1 for Marketing Strategies is figuring out your Platforms & Customer Demographics. Then step #2 is Websites & Google My Business. Step #3 is Touchpoints. Step #4 is Content Creation. And step #5 is Content Management.
And then, pillar number three is overall business Processes & Systems:
How are you structuring your day-to-day routines and the tools that you use so that you are being efficient with your time?
A system is basically just a set of principles or procedures by which something is done and so it doesn’t have to be too complicated. You just have to know the procedure by which something is consistently done. Then you’re not reinventing the wheel each and every day and you’re not wondering what you should do next or what the next step is because that wastes a lot of time at the end of the day. These are sometimes called SOPs – Standard Operating Procedures.
I’m talking about things like financial processes and systems, workflows, operating manuals, and leadership – leadership is definitely a system.
Leadership is a procedure by which you lead. How can you incorporate a leadership system into your day-to-day routines so that leadership is not something that you need to troubleshoot or a fire that you need to put out on a day-to-day basis but something that you just consistently do?
How do you systematically motivate your employees? Leadership is totally a system.
Making decisions is totally a system. What is the procedure by which you make decisions? Are they based on feelings? Based on facts? Pros and cons lists?
Employee Engagement and management, like leadership, is also a system. How do you systematically and procedurally motivate and manage your employees?
And then business relationships can also be a system. How do you systematically track those relationships that you’re building on a day-to-day basis?
So Step #1 for Processes & Systems, then, is Business Plans. Step #2 is Financial Processes. Step #3 is Client Journey. Step #4 is Company Structure & Workflows. And step #5 is Operations Manuals.
Keep in mind that we will be going through each of the three pillar systems in depth in the coming episodes.
So next time, I’ll be introducing Sustainable Schedules and giving some background on why I chose it as my number one pillar of business success. I hope to interweave my personal experiences with the business lessons I learned along the way so that I can paint a full picture for you guys.
And please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and love connecting with my audiences.
If you want to learn more, I personally invite you to join us in the Balanced Business Leaders VIP Group Program. In as little as one hour per week, you will walk away with a clear action plan to grow and scale your business sustainably.
Please visit linktr.ee/liminalclarity for more information.
You can find the episode outline, video recording, transcript downloads, related links, etc. below.
And, until next time, love you all, take care, and I hope you have a good day wherever you are.