Work life balance tips don't always cut it when life throws challenges your way. Today we share the business systems and processes you need to have in place for overcoming adversity in business, along with a step-by-step plan to reignite your love for your biz.
So let me ask you... are you ready to learn the REAL work life balance tips you need to thrive — even in face of adversity?
Are you craving business systems and processes that will actually help you lean into the growth that’s possible despite the world being turned upside down? (Instead of going through the motions as though it’s all “business as usual.”)
If this has you saying, “YES!!! THIS IS WHAT I NEED!”, then you’re gonna love what our guest, Kristi Brocato, has to share today.
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL DISCOVER:
If this episode chock full of work life balance tips and business systems and processes inspires you, leave a review and share your biggest takeaway with me. And while you've got your phone out, make sure to follow me on Instagram @thecourtneyelmer for more quick tips on how to streamline your business systems and spend more time in your zone of genius.
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Courtney Elmer 0:00
What's up, welcome back is the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, episode 93, which is all about work life balance tips and business systems and processes. I’m your host Courtney Elmer. I think we’d all agree, growing a business in these uncertain times can be tough. It’s time that we stop ignoring this fact and start talking about it. That's why in today's exclusive episode, we're talking about one thing: how to stay motivated through adversity in business and work life balance tips.
It's one thing to sit here and talk about business systems and processes and growth like nothing has happened. But if I’ve learned anything in business, it is that leaning into these times of uncertainty, and getting quiet, and exploring what they're asking of us, leads to the greatest growth. Today's special guest, Kristi Brocato has a lot to share when it comes to navigating the extreme ups and downs of running a business. And I have a feeling that this episode will be one you want to come back to. Anytime you're feeling stuck, discouraged, or overwhelmed. That's all coming up next. So stay tuned.
Courtney Elmer 4:03
Today's special guest, Kristi Brocato, is an expert at navigating the ups and downs of business because she's been doing it for almost 26 years. She started with only $500 in a dream and has now grown her company to an over $3 million enterprise. I can think of no one better to share with you on this topic than Kristi Brocato, my special guest today. In this episode, you're about to hear why it is okay for things to feel chaotic while running a business, and the best work life balance tips. There's no avoiding it.
The truth is, we don't always have it all together. She's also going to give you permission to simply be wherever you are in business right now. Whether it's total and complete chaos, whether you're in a place where you're discerning your next move, whether you're in a place where you feel like you're barely hanging on for dear life. It's okay to be where you are. Kristi also talks about how to spend more time in your zone of genius by prioritizing what brings you joy, and she has some very practical tips that she's about to share with you on how to do that.
Plus, we talk about the step-by-step plan to either reigniting or redefining your love for what you do whenever you’re struggling to feel motivated. And she shares the real truth about why your back end business systems and processes aren’t meant to be static. So if you have been struggling to find your joy lately in the work that you do, and it feels like you’re going through the motions, then listen closely to my voice right now. This episode was made for you.
Courtney Elmer 8:07
Kristi, welcome to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast. I'm so excited that you are joining us today to discuss work life balance tips and business systems and processes. I've been looking forward to your interview for quite some time.
Kristi Brocato 8:15
Well, I'm so happy to be here. I listen to your podcast all the time. And it truly brings me joy. It helps keep me focused in my day to day work. And I'm excited to share with your listeners a little bit of my story.
Courtney Elmer 8:33
The thing that resonated with me when you reached out about coming on to the show was your story. It was the adversity that you've overcome in your business. It was the perseverance with which you have kept going over 26 years. We all know there are ups and downs in business. But how do I know when to keep going, vs. throwing in the towel?
Kristi Brocato 10:36
It’s hard. Navigating those everyday challenges isn’t easy so learning work life balance tips is crucial as an entrepreneur. But I can say this: whenever you are focused on what brings you joy, and connect every day with “Why am I here? What is my reason today?” It keeps you going. That sometimes gets lost in the busy-ness of everyday business. As a business owner, you’ll naturally get wrapped up in the day-to -day things and the business systems and processes fall by the wayside, no matter what industry you’re in.
And you’ll forget about your why. You’ll want to throw your hands up and say, “Why am I doing this, I'm not making any money. Or I might be making money, but I'm missing out on my kids' activities, or I'm working so much and so long. What for?” You have to bring yourself back to your why, every day. No one is going to do it for you.
Courtney Elmer 12:20
What I love so much about what you said is focusing on “What is my why today.” We often start out in business with a why, a greater reason, our purpose for why we’re doing what we’re doing. But like you said, the chaos of life can steal your focus and your joy. I know for me, I've had these experiences in my own business where I've tried to get back to why I started but sometimes it feels so far away. Do you have any tips or any advice for when things feel so stressful and overwhelming and that spark isn't there, to reconnect with your why? Do you have any work life balance tips?
Kristi Brocato 13:26
It might be a little different for everyone, as I can only speak for myself, but I like to take a day for myself. I try to unplug from social media, and I think about when I first started my business. What was it inside of you that made you say I want to do this? You have to bring yourself back there. Remember that feeling and get creative again. Sit down with your notebook and write down in your journal all the things that you love about your business. Write down what motivates you, and the problems in the world you want to change or fix. Somewhere in the 24 hours of every day, you have to bring yourself back to a place that makes you happy. So you can reconnect to your vision and say Ok, let’s go get this done. These are the ultimate business systems and processes.
Courtney Elmer 15:25
My entire family had COVID in June, and that brought everything to a screeching halt. And at first I struggled to stop, I struggled to slow down, I was so worried about all the things that weren't getting done. Now looking back four months later, it’s been the biggest gift that I could have received this year.
Navigating that challenge made me stop and focus on learning work life balance tips, and take a hard look at what wasn't working in my business. Whereas before I was just going through the motions trying to keep up, I’d forgotten my reason. So I reconnected, and now I can give you on one hand, the top five things in my business that if I could do that all day, every day, I would be the happiest girl in the world. It wouldn't matter how much money I made. But I’d gotten so far removed from that by dealing with all the “life stuff” in the way.
So you started your business with $500. And this year, you're going to be a $3 million company, which is absolutely incredible. You have two children. You're a busy mom, you run a successful company that has grown so much through the years. So I'm curious to hear what that journey was like, from starting out as a young mom, juggling family and work, and wearing all the hats in your business, to now running your company and team full time? Can you share work life balance tips? How about your backend business systems and processes?
Kristi Brocato 18:55
I was 23 years old, and all I had was $500 and a huge vision. And because I was so young banks obviously wouldn't loan me money. I didn't have any credit. I was right out of college. So I had to get very creative and go to a family friend who had a business, and he loaned me money. After a few months of doing everything on my own, of course it was small at the time, I realized I needed help. I had no I had no experience in hiring employees. I had no idea where to even start and we did not have social media back then.
So I hired a delivery driver because first and foremost, I needed a delivery driver because I obviously couldn't take orders and deliver. Then through the years, I hired lots of different people, but we had no systems in place. Everything was like throwing spaghetti on the wall. Fast forward to about year 16 — I realized that if I do not create business systems and processes, I am never ever, ever going to make it over the million dollar mark. There was no way. Kristi could not do everything I had great employees, but still, they didn't have any business systems and processes to follow. They did whatever I told them to do, and it was very chaotic. But I started to create systems that worked, like a production system, a delivery system, a shipping and receiving system, a system for reaching out to new clients, and a system for marketing, things began running so much more smoothly.
And here’s the thing — those systems have changed and grown as business has changed and grown. But they’re still there as the foundation of my business. So at about year 20, I realized that my staff could no longer do everything, each person needed a very specific role. So we put that in place, and I’m proud of that because that right there enabled us to grow beyond the million dollar mark, then the $2 million mark, and now $3 million. I'll be the first to tell you, I would not be where I am today, without the systems and staffin place, because the systems can mold around the current situations in the world and keep business running smoothly no matter what comes our way.
Courtney Elmer 22:29
I want to point out something that you said that jumped out at me, which was how these business systems and processes change and grow. This is so true. I used to struggle with this because I'm a box checker by nature, so that was how I ran my business in the beginning. I thought that if I could get the XYZ system in place, then I wouldn't have to touch it again. But that isn’t necessarily true.
Business systems and processes are designed to be the backbone of your company. They're designed to be there to support you as you move and grow. But like a child starts off with a child size backbone as that child grows, the backbone needs to grow to support the growth. And it's the same thing in a business where, those systems, if you think of it, like the backbone of your business, they're meant to support you as you grow, which means by default, that they've got to change and grow with you. You start off with a system in place, and then simply allow that system to grow and evolve.
If you want to look at a system of how systems and systematization can go wrong, look at the US government. There's so much red tape, there's so much rigidity, and that's not what “systematization” is designed to be. It's designed to be something that grows with you; it’s flexible, not ridgid.
Courtney Elmer 26: 15
So when it comes to your team, I'd love to dig into how you built that. Because you went from a team of zero to a team of how many now?
Kristi Brocato 27:30
Courtney Elmer 27:32
What's it like to run a team of 20 people? And what are some of the business systems and processes that you put in place that got you to the place where you feel like y'all are all working in sync?
Kristi Brocato 27:44
Whenever you put people in a role, and you let them do their job, and you let them understand their role, that's when things start to work in sync. And look, keep in mind, there's folks on my team that don't necessarily have a role. And you always need those people, the swiss army knives who can go where you need them to go. Take the front staff, for example , sometimes someone working in the front of the store needs to come to the back and help us in production. They need to come make gifts for our project.
Or maybe we need to send one of them on delivery. So there's a lot of roles that intertwine. But whenever you have a production manager, a general manager, a shipping manager, you have these people that are in charge of something, and they're good at it. That's when things begin to grow. Because they bring great ideas, they're in their zone of genius, and you allow them the flexibility to grow. The key to that is to have a clearly defined role for them, and for them to understand their specific role with the right business systems and processes in place.
I think of my team as my family. I'm one of the oldest now. So it's like having a bunch of adult children that you love and you want to wrap your arms around and take care of and in turn, they take care of you. So you have to learn how to have fun, but also how to take care of business..
Courtney Elmer 29:59
That is so valuable right there, that little nugget. I think this is one of the things too because many business owners start out by hiring from a place of desperation that they don’t have clearly defined roles. This just breeds confusion and frustration long-term. But having specificity and having clarity on what roles you need to be hiring for what that person's job is supposed to be, and helping them flourish in that role by allowing them to grow, totally changes the whole nature and dynamics of working with a team.
I love your approach to treating them like family too, but I’m curious — how do you maintain boundaries so that they still respect you as their boss? What are some of your best work life balance tips?
Kristi Brocato 31:46
My best work life balance tips are you have to have a healthy balance, but you still need to be a boss. There are times when we have to have very difficult conversations. And if your staff is your friend, sometimes it's hard to have those conversations. There is that definite line there for me: I’m your boss, but I love you like family. So if you need help, I'm there for you. But you still have a job to do. So it's important to be balanced.
Courtney Elmer 33:34
Yeah, one of the things we talk about in our Mastermind Program, the Visionary Leader Incubator™, is having clarity on these roles. You have to have clarity on the vision of the team you want to build before you build it. Ask yourself, what are the roles that I need filled, so you know who to plug in next and when. Often people try to move so quickly in business because there's this false sense of urgency that we place on ourselves to grow, but going slow is good.
Hiring slowly gives you time to pivot and tweak along the way. It’s the difference between driving at 90 miles an hour and you don't see the curve up ahead, or the difference between going 30 and taking the curve at 30 so you don’t fly off the side of the cliff. It feels slower in the short term but gets you there faster in the long run. So how do you specifically hold your boundaries with your team? How do you set that boundary from the onset? Is that something you do in your hiring process or onboarding them? Please share some of your best work life balance tips.
Kristi Brocato 35:59
No, honestly, Courtney, I don't have a specific system for that. It's something I feel in my heart. Through the years, as I grew as a person, and now I feel like I go to work with a better mindset. And while I still feel like I need to micromanage things at work at times, I have to remember that I have people in place that are actually smarter than me, and are actually better at that job than me. I remind myself not to go in their lane. Everyone understands we have this line between life and work.
Courtney Elmer 38:12
Yes, it’s important to maintain those boundaries--great work life balance tips. So I have one final question that I ask every guest who comes on the show, but I don't prepare anybody for.
As many of our listeners know, here at The EffortLESS Life® we believe that success in business does not depend on how hard you work. We’re the anti-hustlers. So we like this idea of creating an effortless life and business. Still working, but working intentionally. Working more abundantly. Working on the things that bring you joy. So the question is this: What does it mean to you to live an EffortLESS Life®?
Kristi Brocato 40:29
To live an EffortLESS Life® to me means going to work every day and smiling and being happy. And not living every moment stressed out and worried about either, I guess where the next sale is going to come from? Are we going to be busy this month? Do we have to slow down buying? Are we going to have a good Christmas? Do we have the right business systems and processes in place?
It’s not giving in to all the worry. It might be unrealistic to expect happiness every day. But why not? We deserve happiness every day. Handle the problems with care, then go back and find your joy. Focus on your joy. So an EffortLESS Life® to me means being able to breathe in your own space without worry. And having peace.
Courtney Elmer 41:45
Yeah, so good. I love that. Where can people find you online and learn more about your company and the beautiful gift baskets that you guys put together?
Kristi Brocato 41:56
Courtney Elmer 42:03
Awesome. Kristi, thank you so much for being here today to share your best work life balance tips. I appreciate you sharing your story and your wisdom for our business owners who are listening and who are going through hard times or are struggling to grow right now. And I know that what you've shared has given a lot of value to them.
Kristi Brocato 42:24
Thank you, Courtney, I enjoy your podcast so much. I am so happy to share my business systems and processes with you along with my best work life balance tips.
Courtney Elmer 42:29
I don't know about you, but I am feeling inspired. One of the things that I have been doing lately, and is keeping a joy journal. I have a notebook on my nightstand, and every night I reflect on what brought me joy today. Sometimes it's a long list. Sometimes it's a short list. But it helps me stay attuned to those things that are bringing me joy and prioritize them. So if that resonates with you, I invite you to try that joy journaling practice.
Because the more we can stay focused on that, as you heard Kristi Brocato shared a moment ago, the more you will feel joy in your life, you will begin to vibrate at that level. And it's true because I've noticed it in my own life. So that is your marching orders walking away from this episode. That's what I invite you to do. And if you've got a topic that you want to hear on the show, I would love to hear from you. Send me a voicemail at systemsmadesimple.co and I might feature your question on air.
Now, coming up next week, we are talking about the number one reason you're not hitting your revenue goals. And no, it has nothing to do with COVID. It has nothing to do with the economy. It has nothing to do with the size of the goals you set. It has nothing to do with you.
You're going to learn the reason that you haven't been hitting your financial goals, and why knowing your numbers as a visionary leader is so important, so that you can begin to set aligned annual financial goals and dramatically increase your chance of actually hitting them. So that's coming up next week. In the meantime, make sure you tell your friends about the show. And until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®. I'll see you back here next week.
Hi! I am a mom of two amazing children. Bella is 21 and Nick is 18. I started my company over 25 years ago with $500 and this year I will reach $3 million dollars. As a busy mom and wife who was trying to keep a household and manage a growing company, I realized that if I didn't create systems that worked and implemented processes that the team could follow, I would HATE what I had created. It took me 20 years to learn this (way too long), but once I changed the way I worked, the staff was happier, my sales grew and I had TIME to do what I truly enjoyed in my company and in my personal life.