Today on The Systems Made Simple™ Podcast, business systems expert Courtney Elmer reveals the standard operating procedures you need to scale your business as an entrepreneur.
Not only would you finally experience what it’s like to have the time-freedom you started your business for in the first place, but you’d also be able to lead your team to greatness and grow your company sustainably without sacrificing the people you love in the process.
The problem is, most entrepreneurs are so busy trying to perfect their marketing and messaging that they completely ignore the importance of getting basic business systems and standard business operating procedures in place until it’s too late.
Inside today’s episode, I’m going to reveal why the level of success you experience is directly related to the quality of back-end business operations you have in place within your company.
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL LEARN:
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Courtney Elmer 0:00
Hey there, you're listening to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, Episode 64 about the business systems, business operations, and standard operating procedures you need as an entrepreneur. When entrepreneurs meet our brand for the first time, they tend to have a lot of questions. Many are skeptical that growing a business can feel effortless. “What do you mean, Courtney, growing a business feels like frickin’ hard work!” I get it. The problem is that our culture has conditioned you to believe that you have to work hard to be successful. That's not entirely true, and in this episode I'm going to reveal why when you have the right business systems and standard operating procedures in place, growing your business feels a whole lot easier. Because imagine what if one year from today, you had the right business systems, standard business operating procedures, and support in place so you could spend more time in your zone of genius, and make more money while doing it? The reality is, growing a highly profitable business can feel effortless, and fun. But first, you need to get the right business systems and standard business operating procedures in place and learn how to stop bottlenecking your own growth. That's all coming up next. So stay tuned.
Courtney Elmer 1:46
I was having a conversation recently with my business bestie because we serve a similar market. We were talking about the blind spots that we encounter with many of our students and clients. One of the biggest struggles most entrepreneurs have is a lack of cash flow. We see them struggling to maintain consistent five-figure monthly income. This could be because of broken business systems in your business, or a complete lack of back-end standard business operating procedures altogether. This could be because of inconsistent lead generation. There's a lot of reasons why we could link back to cash flow being the main problem. But in this episode, I'm going to reveal why cash flow isn't the real problem, and why spending your time and energy trying to fix it is a waste.
Tell me if you can relate to this: you've hit six figures or close to it. You know what you teach can help people. But what you don't know is how much longer you can sustain the pace you're working because you're already maxed out. Maybe you haven't admitted it yet. Maybe you feel disconnected from your work, exhausted, burnt out. But at the same time, you feel like you can't take a break or step away from your business, because if you do, something's gonna fall through the cracks. So it's easier to just keep working day after day to maintain the status quo...without realizing how much it's costing you to continue running your business this way -- without the right business systems and standard business operating procedures in place.
Gosh, I remember in the early days of my business, I thought that in order to be deserving of success, I had to earn it. To earn it, I had to work hard. This is the belief system by which many entrepreneurs operate: "the harder I work, the more successful I'll be." But at some point, you will stifle your growth. You'll be just like those other visionary leaders out there who aren't living their dream yet because they're too busy building it.
This is why you need business systems and back-end business operations. What is it costing you to continue working the way you're working right now? How much growth are you stifling because you can't work harder than you already are?
Some people can't even wrap their heads around the concept because they have no idea what a lack of business systems and standard operating procedures is costing them and hard dollars. I'll give you a hint. It's to the tune of millions. So when most entrepreneurs reach an income plateau, what do they do? They might think, "If I could hire a team, or learn to outsource, or sell more, or get more visible, or grow my list, THEN I'll solve my cash flow problem." But it doesn't work like that, because the real problem is not cash flow, it's a lack of back-end standard business operating procedures. If you are experiencing cash flow problems in your business right now, this is a symptom of a deeper problem that's going on under the surface due to a lack of business systems and poor business operations. And this is why The EffortLESS Life® exists.
Courtney Elmer 8:59
Back in the day, when I first graduated from college, I was full of ideas, full of optimism. I started working 9 to 5, eager, hungry, ready to move up those ranks as quickly as I could. I thought that hard work equals success: the harder I work, the more money I'll make; the more money I make, the more freedom I'll have. But very quickly, I began to recognize the things that were broken in the company I was working for. Business systems and standard business operating procedures were non-existent. Workflows were broken. The chain of command was broken. The lack of personal responsibility was appalling. It was a toxic environment, and I felt powerless. I felt like even though I could see so clearly the business systems and standard operating procedures this company needed in order to turn things around and get out of the debt that they were in, my hands were tied because I did not have the authority to help them. I was "just an employee." Fast forward, I chose to walk away from that toxic environment (one of the best decisions I ever made). I transitioned from there into another job working for another entrepreneur as their right-hand business manager. I loved it, it was so much fun because this entrepreneur had a lot of problems. And I knew how to fix them. They were very successful, they had a good clientele, but their cash flow was up and down. They did not have good business systems and standard business operating procedures in place, so they were struggling to gain traction and momentum. This business owner was wearing all the hats in their business. They were meeting with the clients, they were handling the phone calls, they were handling the client complaints, they were doing the back-end data entry, they were doing all the things.
I walked in there with a vision to help them streamline their workflows, streamline their business operations, and get those SOPs in place and create the back-end business systems and structures so that they as the business owner could spend more time in their zone of genius. We made a ton of progress in the couple of years that I worked with this individual. To this day, that person still asks me, "When are you coming back, I need you back, please come back." And it was after those couple of years of helping this person get the right business systems and standard business operating procedures in place that I really began to recognize my own gifts. Those things like organization and systematization and business systems workflows and data that I'd taken for granted because they came so naturally and easily to me, that I didn't realize how hard these are for other people. And as I began to recognize these gifts, I began to recognize a voice inside speaking to me, calling me to help more people with these same problems.
So what started as a journey from working 9 to 5, to supporting other business owners in their companies, eventually led to the creation of my own company, which you know as The EffortLESS Life®. The common denominator in all of the jobs that I've had (including a few more that I didn't mention) is that there were problems with their business systems and standard business operating procedures, which caused problems with their cash flow, problems with their visibility, problems with their client conversion and retention, and many, many other things. So when we talk broadly about your standard business operating procedures, your SOPs, and your workflows, I know it ain't necessarily sexy.
Courtney Elmer 13:52
It's not the stuff you want to be spending your time on. I know that too. Because maybe it's not your zone of genius. But imagine how different would your business be if you had those business systems in place, if you were able to streamline your standard business operating procedures and simplify your workflows, and trust that nothing was falling through the cracks. Imagine how it would feel if you had a team of A-players in place to support you.
When you have a problem in business that shows up like cash flow (or lack thereof) what most people do is try to jump in and fix that issue. They try to build more sales funnels, convert more leads, get more visible. The last thing they think of is taking a look at whether or not their business operations are actually operational. They focus on everything but the real problem, which is a lack of back-end standard business operating procedures and business systems.
They spend all their time and energy and effort building a machine to solve the problem that isn't! Which only creates more problems. But even as I sit here and say that you need the right business systems, and you need a good support team, and you need standard business operating procedures and simplified workflows, the core problem is that you've become the bottleneck to your own growth. There are three kinds of resources that you have in business, two of these are unlimited. One is highly limited. But the one that's limited limits the others. Let me explain. These three resources are 1) action, 2) business systems, and 3) support. Off the top of your head, which one do you think is the limited one? Action. There is only so much any one person can do. But there is no limit to the number of business systems and standard business operating procedures that you can have in place and no limit to the amount of support that you can have in place, both through team members and personnel, and support through business systems and standard operating procedures. However, if you are currently solving the problems in your business right now by doing; overthinking; by jumping in with action (and unknowingly taking the wrong action) then you will limit your growth and potential.
The reason that most entrepreneurs rely on action-taking as their primary means for problem-solving is that it is instant gratification. The other way is slower and painful, putting business systems in place, taking time to set up standard business operating procedures, hiring, onboarding, training team-members the right way to get the right support in place. "Come on, Courtney, I have better bigger things to do. I want to make an impact. How is creating this standard operating procedure going to help me make an impact?" Most people don't see the correlation. But you, listening to my voice right now, you get it, don't you?
Courtney Elmer 17:27
It wasn't until I began to recognize that my method for solving problems (by doing) wasn't working. But then I figured out a different way. I leaned on my innate gifts and talents in order to solve the problem in my own business by getting the right business systems and standard business operating procedures in place. And simultaneously I began recognizing how this doesn't come naturally to everyone. And that's okay. That's why we're here. That's why The EffortLESS Life® exists.
So how do we fix a cash flow problem? It's not by hiring a team. It's not by outsourcing more, it's not by delegating, or deleting, or by organizing or scheduling. It's not even by getting the right business systems or more consistent workflows in place. Those things are all absolutely necessary, don't get me wrong. But they don't solve the immediate problem, which (I say this with love) is you. You're the one stifling your own growth, by choosing to solve all your business problems by doing.
It's a business operations problem, but it's not a business operations problem. At its core, it's a you-problem. And some people are going to get real mad at me for saying that. But if you're a long-time listener, then you know that I'm not here to sugarcoat the truth, because that would do you a great disservice. I could give you a million business systems for getting more organized, or for onboarding new team members, and freeing up your workload. But none of that will help you until we address the root problem first. So I have to ask you a very serious question. What are you afraid will happen if you don't do it yourself? And by "it", I mean, anything in your business?
Courtney Elmer 19:22
Pick something on your to-do list. What are you afraid will happen if you don't do it yourself? Take some quiet time after this episode ends to think about that. Too many entrepreneurs are doing without thinking. Silence is the key here. We distract ourselves with busyness, and with noise, and with doing, to avoid taking a look at the real problem. Moving forward becomes so much easier when you realize what you're working with; when you realize those fears that are holding you back
To wrap up our conversation today, I have two more questions that I want to leave you with. I implore you to spend some time journaling about your answers. I want you to go deep enough to where you gain some insight that you haven't seen before. So maybe take 15 minutes, maybe 20, maybe 10 however long it takes you to get the insight that you need here.
These two very important questions that I want you to ask yourself right now, in regards to your business systems. What isn't happening, that if it did happen, would cause the perceived symptoms, (in this case, cash flow) to go away? And, What is happening that if it didn't happen, would cause the perceived symptoms to go away?
These two questions will give you that deeper layer of insight necessary to identify the core problem. Those who take the time to journal and to do this work are going to see the most results. You can't fix what you don't know is broken. But if it's broken, it sure as heck won't take you where you want to go, will it? Success has absolutely nothing to do with your skill set, or your capabilities, your experience, or even how hard you work. Your success depends on one thing: the degree to which you put the right business systems and standard business operating procedures in place to achieve your greater vision. And more importantly, stop trying to solve all of your problems by doing.
Courtney Elmer 22:37
The reason The EffortLESS Life® exists is because we know that entrepreneurial burnout costs the US upwards of $300 billion a year. We're here to do something about it. We're tired of seeing entrepreneurs close the doors on their dreams, and shutter up their windows and go out of business because they're burned out. So if you're listening to my voice today, and this is hitting home, we're here to help. We have a top-secret incubator program called the Visionary Leader Incubator™. The purpose of this program is to help you learn what business systems and standard business operating procedures you need and to learn how to simplify your workflows and get the right support in place so you can spend more time in your zone of genius. Head over to courtneyelmer.com/visionaryleader right now to fill out an application and find out if you are a good fit for this program. And if this program is a good fit for you.
Speaking of connecting, come follow me on Instagram @theeffortlesslife.co. We do free coaching there, we do behind-the-scenes interviews. We have a lot going on there every week to just continue adding value to your life and to your business.
We've got a brand new podcast website called systemsmadesimple.co! There is a cool feature there called the voicemail feature where you can send me a topic idea for anything that you would like to see me cover here on an upcoming episode.
Next week we're going to go behind the scenes with a rockstar entrepreneur and entertainer who has worked with some high-profile clients like Oprah, Chanel, and more luxury brands that you know and love. She now coaches visionary leaders like you on how to reinvent and redefine the hustle and live an intentional lifestyle while working toward your dreams. Next week on the show, we are going to ask and answer the question: "Is it really possible to be successful without working hard?" So join me back here next week. Until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®.