Episode 45: The 3 Biggest, Hardest Lessons of Building a Million Dollar Business in 2021
Transcript Episode 45
Welcome to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship Podcast, the show for purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to get inspired to step outside of your comfort zone, expand it to your purpose and grow your business in a big way. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski, a globe trotting CFO whose mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers to grow their impact and their income. Let’s dive in!
Hello, hello! Welcome back to the 100 degrees of entrepreneurship podcast. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski and I’m really excited to take a little walk down memory lane with you today and look back at 2021. The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, hopefully not too much ugly, and really talk about some of the lessons that I learned. So hopefully, you can go into 2022 and not make some of the same mistakes I made, and maybe follow in my footsteps on some of the things that were really, really good that happened.
So I’m about to say something super cliche here. But I can’t believe it’s already the end of December. Like I honestly cannot believe it. I don’t know where the year went. It was a wonderful year in many aspects. But I can’t believe that it’s almost over. I really love the end of the year. And I love a new year. And it also kind of helps that my birthday corresponds with the beginning of a new year.
So my birthday is December 29. And so I am looking at not only a new calendar year, but another trip around the sun for myself. And so I love a good fresh start. I love a good brand new notebook. And I love a good goal setting session, you know that about me already. And so this is just such a fun time of year for me, I love it.
So what I wanted to do today we’ll share a little bit about what my goals were for 2021. And what the progress looked like how I made progress on those. I also wanted to share a couple lessons specifically from my business about what this year looks like for me. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
One of my first goal, so at the beginning of the year, I use cultivate what matters power sheets. So if you have not used this before, if you’ve not seen them, check it out, it is an awesome like goal setting notebook, basically, that kind of walks you through, really digging deep and understanding what your true priorities are in your life and your business for yourself or your family. And filling those down into tangible, achievable goals, which is super exciting. And then walking you through those goals and the little baby steps that all add up to achieve those goals throughout the year.
When I did my power sheets, at the beginning of the year, my goals were as follows. The first was that I wanted to take care of myself. And so taking care of myself, for me means exercising daily, eating healthy and having self care time. And for me that usually means just like a lone time, or it can read a book and the quiet. I’m an introvert. So I really need that calm and that quiet in my daily life. And so that’s what taking care of myself means to me.
Oh! and also scheduling all of those doctors and dentist appointments that I’ve been putting off because I don’t really want to do it. But that’s what self care looks like to me. And so that was something that I tracked on a regular basis. And I would say you did pretty good on the Exercise Front. You have heard me wax poetic about our Nordic Track treadmill. And so that was a big part of my self care this year.
I also read a lot more books than I have in years past and I some of it I did on treadmills, some of it I did, like with physical books, some of it I did on my Kindle app on my iPad. So I did a lot of reading this year. And to me that really it feels like indulgent self care, I love to read. So I feel really good about that.
My second goal and other personal goal was to celebrate and document and so this just means to me make a special moment in my two daughters lives and just have fun and slow down and do special things. Like even if it means like, “Okay, it’s Tuesday morning, but it’s National Pancake Day. So we’re gonna make pancakes today!” You know, it’s even like little silly things like that my girls are little and they love that kind of thing. And so just kind of slowing down and taking the time to celebrate.
What I mean by document however, I feel like I did not do so hard on this one. What I meant was take all of the photos that I have and put them into some sort of like family album, family yearbook type thing. I didn’t do this because how many photos I have on my phone. I have 25,000 over 25,000 photos on my phone right now. That is bananas!
I mean, it’s kind of cool because I have like at least five years of history on my little handheld device that goes in my pocket. So I can like see the day that my five year old daughter was born on my phone anytime I want, but that means that if something happened to my phone or to the iCloud, and those memories are gone for good. I think what I might do is actually just pay someone to like, take those photos and make albums or something. So anyway, I didn’t do so hot The documenting part, but the Celebrate part I feel great about I had a great year with my two little girls.
My next goal was to build wealth. And so what that meant for me was really being intentional about how I’m earning money, how I’m investing money, how I’m donating money, and how I’m saving money. Those four things might sound really familiar. Back in episode 38, I talked about what to do with a cash windfall. And I talked about those things. I talked about investing, money, donating, saving, and of course, earning money.
So I was very intentional about all four of those things like how I was going to make my money, how I was going to invest it, how I would donate it and give it away, and how I would save it. And because of that, we have hit our financial goals for the year. And I’m really, really proud of that, both on the personal side and on the business side. What I realized how I did that was because I was intentional, right?
And I think about like everything that we do in our business and our lives, you can literally do anything, as long as you have a plan to get there. I don’t believe anything is out of reach. But you need a plan to help you get there. And so thinking about our financial goals, I had a plan. And that’s how I got there, like I would not have hit our savings goals. If I didn’t have a plan, if I wasn’t actually taking action every single month to move money from my checking account into my savings account, right? It takes action.
So think about that with your business. If your business bank account is not where you want it to be, then how can you get there? What are the actions that you need to take to get there. And so thinking about what intention Do you want to have for that next year.
So my fourth goal was to create an inspiring space. So I basically wanted to upgrade a few areas of our home to really create a beautiful and inspiring space that I was happy to be in. I work from home, my friends. I work from home, so I am in this house 24/7. So it has to be nice, right? It has to motivate me and bring me joy.
And so it’s funny, I’m actually coming to you today sitting in the corner of my bedroom on the floor, which is not usually where I podcast from I usually podcast from my office. But I’m coming to you from the floor of my bedroom today. Because we have window installers here, putting some additional windows into our living room to brighten the space. And I’m so excited about it. And that just is such a huge impact for me in terms of like a beautiful inspiring space and relatively like low investment. So I’m actually like working on achieving one of those goals. While we speak today on this podcast, which I think is funny.
I thought my last goal was to build a million dollar business and building a million dollar business to me is so much more than money, right? It is only like a small fraction of that is about the money. Only a small fraction of that is about the million dollar revenue. What a million dollar business means to me is you have hit this level, that is not arbitrary, right? Oh, gosh, I have a seven figure business great good for you. No, this is not because I want some vanity metric. It’s basically setting my business up to run itself smoothly, to have me not be at the hub of every single thing that goes on in the business, right?
It’s a stronger business, if I am not touching everything. If I am not the direct supervisor for every single person on my team, it’s a stronger business that way. And then and only then when you set that up, does it have infinite possibility to grow. So, that’s what I mean by building a million dollar business is setting up the company so that it is a strong company that can run with or without me.
And I feel like we really, really accomplished that this year. And it has been the result of some incredibly hard work to be honest with you. Some incredible time investments from me from others on our team, and money, investments, resources and adding team members. Getting experts to help us set up these systems and buy new software and things like that. But I feel like that that has helped us achieve our goals.
So I want to talk a little bit more about the business stuff since I know you all are here for not tips on how to get yourself down to the treadmill at six o’clock in the morning to achieve your fitness goals. You are here for the business stuff. So I wanted to talk a little bit more and kind of dig into like what does it mean to build a million dollar business and talk about some of the investments and things that we have done this year?
So I think one of the biggest investments that we have made is in the team. I think that’s probably pretty clear, right? If you had to guess like okay, what have you spent your money on? What have you invested in obviously the team. If you recall, back in the episode where I talked to Amy Northford, Episode 41. I talked to Amy northward and she basically convinced me on the air or on our podcast that it was really important for me to have our team retreat and to spend the money to bring everyone together.
I have to admit I was a little bit hesitant. And you know me, I ran the numbers. I put together a spreadsheet, and I was like, “Holy moly! This is gonna cost a lot of money to fly 8 people from across the country together in one place for a week.” And you know what, it was a lot of money. It was not cheap. And I didn’t go. I won’t say like spared no expense, I was mindful and moderate and modest. But we had a wonderful time. And it was lovely. And it was also expensive.
What I realized was that investing in my team, whether it’s by going on a retreat together, or whether it’s giving end of your bonuses, which I am doing, and by the time this episode goes live, my team will have the bonuses in their bank accounts. And I honestly feel like Santa Claus! I’m so excited. I’ve never done this before. And I’m just so excited to reward the team for all of their hard work this year.
So that’s another way to invest in the team, I was actually just talking with a friend, another entrepreneur who’s giving her team like little performance bonuses of 50 bucks a month, if they meet certain criteria. And I love that. So, you know, investing in your team doesn’t have to be anything like crazy expensive or ton of money out of your pocket. But it really goes a long way to show your team that you care, that you’re grateful, and that they’re important, they’re important to the success of the business of the company, and the way that you serve your clients, or your customers or your students or whoever you’ve got.
So investing in the team was huge. For me, it was a lot of money, but it was beyond worth it. So the other ways that we have really built ourselves up to a million dollar business, again, having very little to do with the revenue, are building up our systems and our internal infrastructure. And let me tell you, this was kind of painful, kind of a painful lesson.
So in January of 2021, we had some transitions on the team that were really difficult that were hard for our clients. That were kind of heartbreaking if I’m being honest. And while in the middle of it, we’re like this is a nightmare. I could not be more grateful for those transitions in our business last year, because they have led to what I feel like is an infinitely stronger company than what we had before.
So basically think about in your business, like I said, I for a long time, I’ve really been the hub of everything in the business, right? Like I’m the CEO, I started it. I’m the only one that has been here since literally day one. And that is hard sometimes, right? It’s hard to pull yourself out of things, we also kind of had set up the business so that one person was like handling everything. And so if that one person left, like things were going under.
So what we did this year, was ensure that every single client has at least two people who are in the loop who are working on that client. So if one person said, “Oh, I have a family emergency, I’m going to be offline, starting now for the next four weeks.” Everything could keep going smoothly, like the client wouldn’t even know that there was any interruption in what was going on. And everything could keep running really, really smoothly.
Not only did we staff each engagement differently, but we also set up the systems on the back end. So that now we have literally every single task down to like five minutes, even something that takes you five minutes for a client, it is all documented in Asana. It’s linked to whatever, you know, Google Drive folder, you might need it or whatever google doc you need. It’s all in one place.
So again, if somebody just had to step in and say, “Okay, I’m taking this client now.” Boom, they’re in! They have everything they need. That was not the case a year ago. And again, this is a result of like some extraordinarily hard work. And I’m really proud of it. Honestly, I really am. Because I feel like we’re such a stronger company for it. Also, we’ve worked really, really hard. Another investment that we’ve made that has allowed us to grow that allowed us to build this bigger business is both our client onboarding process, and our team onboarding process.
And it has like, moved me to tears when the last couple people that have started with us have told us that like, “oh my gosh, this onboarding process as a team member has been so smooth has been so welcoming has been so helpful.” Because my friends, that was not always the case. Listen, I sent out a survey to our team probably almost two years ago at this point, probably a year and a half ago. And the results were not great.
They were like, “Honestly, it was kind of hard to like come in and get up to speed. I wasn’t sure where things were and like things seem kind of disorganized. And like, I figured it out and everything’s good now, but like it wasn’t really the easiest.” But now to get that feedback that things were really smooth like that as a result of our hard work. And again, that is what building a million dollar and beyond business looks like.
So if you’re thinking about this, and you are in the early stages, maybe you’re 100,000 Maybe your revenues 200,000 You’re in the early stages. Now is the time don’t follow my lead on this. Don’t wait until things are breaking or someone on the team leaves and you’re left in alert, like set these things up now, so that you have faster capacity and ability to grow.
So that was a big lesson that we learned this year. And something I’m really proud of, and the team is really proud of as well the progress that we’ve made on setting up those systems on double covering clients, on having a really good team member onboarding process and client onboarding process. Don’t let this fool you, my friends, there’s still work to be done. We will constantly be serving our team, serving our clients to get their feedback, and to continue to do better and better and better. It’s really, really important to us. And it’s just encouraging, right? When you see progress, you’re like, okay, cool, we can do more. It’s working.
And then the last thing I would say one thing that I really feel like was a game changer this year for me was hiring a coach. My business coach is this just amazing blend of mindset therapist, but also the most strategic operations-oriented person. And so the value that I have gotten from her has just been incredible this year. She’s helped me when I’m in this like, bad mindset space. And yes, my friends, it happens to all of us, we all get imposter syndrome. I’m like, Who am I to build this business? Like, clients are gonna think, you know, they’re gonna figure out I’m a fraud.
Okay, FYI, I’m not a fraud. I know, I’m not fraud. But you know what I mean? Like, we get this imposter syndrome, like, who am I to be doing this. She pulls me down off that ledge every single time. Or also, when I’m like, Oh, I have this HR issue I’m dealing with or like, our project management system is like not cutting it for us anymore. Like, what should we do? She is there without operation stuff, too, and has just been an incredible support and incredible, like catalysts for our growth this year, too.
So think about what investments you’re making. And frankly, she’s not cheap, right? Like when we think about our business coaches, or anything like that masterminds that we’re in, there’s usually like huge reward, but it is not cheap. So the reason that I’m able to make those decisions, though, is because I’m plugging everything into my forecast. I have a forecast that I can map out who I should hire, and when and can I afford it? And what happens if a couple clients leave? Can I still afford it? What about a business coach? Am I at the point where I can afford the business coach that I want to work with? Like all these things.
The only reason that I am able to do that is because I have a forecast. And I’m just gonna like pause a second here to plug the profit playbook.
COMMERCIAL BREAK: You hear me talk all the time about how important it is to know your numbers as a business owner. But you may be thinking, well, how in the world do I do that? Where do I even begin? So, I have a free resource for you. The profit playbook is an amazing template that you spend about 15 minutes getting it all set up. And you can literally see into the future of your business revenue, expenses, cash flow, just like a crystal ball. It is a huge resource that will absolutely help you create a roadmap to reach your goals in your business. It is for free, over at 100degreesconsulting.com/profit
So there you have it, my friends, you got to hear both my personal and my business goals for 2021. The progress that I made on each of those and some of the sometimes kind of tough lessons that I learned this year. You know, it’s one of those things where it’s like super painful while you’re in it, and then you get to the other side, and you’re like, “oh my goodness, I survived that and things are a million times better on this side.”
So I hope you got a couple takeaways things that you can work on, maybe add to your own goals in 2022. And I will catch you next time, my friends.
As always find me over on Instagram, I want to hear what you’re planning for 2022 specifically, especially when it comes to your finances, your business finances. So you got a big revenue goal. You want to like set up a forecast this year and actually use it and stick to it. Send me a note over on Instagram @stephanie.skry and I’m going to cheer you on.
One of my favorite things is inspiring others and motivating others and helping others get hyped up and excited. And I want to do that for you. Just like we do with all of our clients. I also want to celebrate with you. So come find me over there. And if I don’t see you or talk to you or hear from you. I wish you a wonderful holiday season and I will catch you soon. Thanks!
Thanks for listening to the 100 degrees of entrepreneurship podcast. To access our show notes and bonus content, visit 100degreesconsulting.com/podcast. Make sure to snap a screenshot on your phone of this episode and tag me on instagram @stephanie.skry and I’ll be sure to share. Thanks for being here friends, and I’ll see you next time!
Transcript for Episode 45