Episode 51: From 100 Hour Work Weeks to 20 Hour Work Weeks with Laura Murphy
Transcript Episode 51
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.
Hey, everybody, welcome back to 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship. I’m Stephanie Skryzowski and today I have my friend, Laura Murphy, on the podcast.
Laura is a multi passionate entrepreneur through and through. She is a brand photographer, a systems strategist, a business coach, a retreat host and a speaker for creative entrepreneurs.
She educates the creative community on all things workflow, systems, productivity and time management to help her clients and students run thriving businesses that don’t require working around the clock. Sounds amazing, right?
She is obsessed with fire pits, sweet wine, deep conversations, elephants and showing off her horrible dance moves at any given moment, which you will not see on the podcast today.
Laura is on a mission for entrepreneurs to schedule more date nights, brunch weekends, and vacations as a result of finding more freedom while running a thriving business.
Now, Laura talked about her journey from starting in interior design, working around the clock, to starting her own business and still working around the clock.
She was doing 80 to 100 hour work weeks as a wedding photographer, which honestly blows me away because I cannot function past 9 PM. So there’s not even like 16, 18 hours in a day that I am functional. So I don’t know how she was doing this. But she has shifted her life and her work so that now she’s working about 20 hours a week.
She’s currently traveling around the country in an RV with her husband, and making more money than she was making before. And it’s all due to workflows and systems in her business. And so, she has an amazing story. She busts a lot of myths about what workflows and systems really are and how long they take to set up and what they do and all the things and so I’m really excited for you to hear her story today.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Hey, everybody, welcome back to 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship. I am super excited to have what I would consider like an old friend Laura Murphy on the podcast today.
Yeah, hey! Thanks, Stephanie. I’m so excited to be here. It’s so good seeing your face, even though it’s not in person.
Yeah, yeah. Laura and I were in a mastermind together four years ago, I guess?
Almost 5. 2017, I think? So, it is now 2022
Oh my goodness. Okay, five years ago. So yeah, you’ve been present through my entire entrepreneurship journey since I started this company in like 2015, 2016. So anyway, Hello. Tell our listeners a little bit about who you are, what you do and take us on the journey, your entrepreneurship journey to how you got to what you’re doing now.
Yes, that’s my favorite story. Alright, so I’m Laura. I’m from New Jersey. But currently, me and my husband are RVing around the country. This trip, specifically, we’re doing the southwest. We bought an RV in October, and we’re traveling around with our cat, Tucker. And we’re loving it. I’m actually sitting outside on Lake Powell right now as we record.
But I am what I would consider to be a serial entrepreneur and just really, really multi passionate. I think that the world tends to try to put us in a box and give us labels. So for labels sake, I started out as a wedding and portrait photographer, and then started moving into brand photography.
And by the way, I still do all of the things that I’m listing, I tend to not let go of things.
So wedding and portrait photography is business one that’s Laura Lee Photography. And then I do brand photography and business strategy and coaching at Laura Lee Creative which is my company that started in 2016. Totally on accident, which I can get into with my story a bit.
And then starting in 2016 as well, I started doing workflow and system strategy for entrepreneurs, which is probably what we’ll talk a lot about today.
I really fell face first into that, and now we have grown that Department of Laura Lee Creative into a digital shop and courses. We have plans to kind of create a marketplace of all different entrepreneurs contributing to this marketplace, which is going to be under a third company called Find Your Freedom Co.
That is really what I am passionate about is freedom and helping entrepreneurs pursue their passions with more ease. Because I think you and I can attest that I’m sure every one of your listeners can attest to the fact that as soon as you decide to become an entrepreneur, everything is on you.
Your finances are on you, your marketing, your admin work, your client work. You have to figure everything out. And even though I think kind of everybody starts entrepreneurship to have freedom, we kind of go into this hustle, maniac mode to try and get everything done and it just becomes this recipe for burnout.
My passion is really helping people pursue their business and their passion, and build a business they love without burning out.
And so that definitely stemmed from my story. So I can go into my story a little bit. I started my wedding photography business. My first wedding I ever shot was 2013, which I cannot believe is nine years ago. Now, it’s crazy. Side story, we were at the beginning of the Grand Canyon the other day, we were in Navajo Nation on our road trip.
This guy was talking to one of the Navajo women selling jewelry at this marketplace. He said he was from New Jersey. I was like, oh, where are you from? Turns out my first groom ever was his sailing instructor!
25 years ago, I was like–
How is that even possible? Wow!
I do not know. And I was like, wow, six degrees of separation. This is the smallest world ever. That’s where my business started with that groom, who was my first wedding, 2013. It was my godmother’s son, actually. So like my god-cousin, I guess you could consider it. And he like, “hey, is this something that you want to continue doing because I have a couple friends getting engaged, I would love to refer you if that’s something that you want to pursue.”
I went to school for interior design. I was working for a hospitality design firm. Hated my job. The design part was really cool but the clientele that I had was not so great. It was a lot of nightclub owners. And their hours were 4pm to midnight. So I would always get in trouble for not hopping on conference calls at 11pm. I was like, yeah, no, I’m out. I’m done for the day. And so I was trying to pivot into my own business back in 2013.
So he started referring me to some friends. So I officially started that business in 2014. That’s when I got my LLC. And then I went from 2 to 6 to 15 to 28 Weddings over the course of 2013, 14, 15, 16. I had pretty much had it with my interior design job.
I took up kickboxing because I was so just full of anger. And I’m not an angry person at all. But I was like, I just need to punch something every day because of my boss and these clients. I took up kickboxing and I was like, “this is not healthy.” I’m such a happy person. I need to make a change.
So I saw this girl’s post on Facebook that I went to high school with, that they were looking for somebody to be a photo editor at their photo studio. And I was like, “oh, I know Photoshop, I can do that.” So with no background in Photoshop, other than self taught by my husband, while we were studying abroad, I was like, sure, I can be a photo editor and I do photography.
So I took a job at the photo studio, March 2015. And I told them going in that I was trying to start my wedding photography business. So I kind of alluded like, “look, I’m not gonna be a long term employee here, but I will help you out because you’re in a bind.”
I started in March, which means that they were probably shooting Christmas catalogs at that point. So they did all the work for Christmas tree shops. This might be an East Coast thing, I don’t know.
But Christmas tree shops, Ross Stores, Toys R Us. So we had a lot of really big clients and my job was the photo editor. Basically, I would Photoshop the dust off a photo so that they were catalogue ready, was very mindless.
I was also editing all my weddings while I was there. So I was just editing photos 16 to 18 hours a day. And it was awful.
By October, I had 19 weddings and sessions, October 2015. I came to work basically in pajamas and my boss came into work after me.
He was like, “hey, Laura, can I see you in my office?” I was like, “oh my god, I’m gonna get fired and I looked like a schmuck.”
And he’s like, listen, I’ve been in your shoes, I can see that you’re burning the candle at both ends, and you’re grinding your teeth. He was like, I used to grind my teeth when I was your age from stress.
He’s like, “I actually went partially deaf in one ear. I don’t want to see you go down. I didn’t even know that was possible. So then I got really freaked out. He was like, I don’t want to see you go down that same road, your business is crushing it.”
He’s like, “I don’t know why you’re still here. So I don’t know if you need permission. But if you do, I’m giving you permission to quit, we will find a replacement. I know that you’re probably sticking around because we’re in a busy season, and we’re swamped, and you feel bad about leaving. I’m giving you permission to quit, if that’s what you want.”
And basically, he was just like, I believe in you. So I was like, “okay, well then consider this my two weeks notice, I guess.”
I just remember just so vividly, I was just standing against the wall in his office crying, and then I just slid down the wall. So like a puddle of my own tears on the floor. I was just like grateful and excited and also just really overwhelmed.
So I just remember leaving after that two weeks, my last day was October 30, 2015. And going through the parking lot to my car and being like, “oh my gosh, I’m just gonna blast Aretha Franklin’s Freedom. I cannot wait to not have a nine to five job and just be an entrepreneur and have all this freedom and have time freedom.
The sky’s the limit on my finances. I can do whatever I want when I want!
The reality was I burned out within four months, because I was looking at a calendar of 28 weddings and something around 100 sessions or something like that.
I was like, “Well, this is not what I thought it was going to be.” I was honestly pissed because I wanted to be a photographer since I was two years old. My mom was a photographer. We had a studio in our house when I was growing up.
I did not know that.
Yeah, so it’s like, my mom and grandfather was also a photographer. So this is a third generation thing, maybe even fourth generation. I don’t know. I don’t know, did they have cameras back then?
We’ll have to check the history books for that one.
But I just remember thinking, I have wanted to be a photographer since I was two years old. And now I finally am one and I am so worked out. I have no more passion for my business. And my mom was an office manager at a dentist office at the time.
She was like, hey, I think you need to create some standard operating procedures, create some systems, create some workflows, she was like if you create SOPs, I can help you with things but you need to record and write down how you do them. Because I don’t know how to call like you want me to or blog how you want me to.
So I was like, What the heck is a SOP. And like my design firm, I was the lead designer at age 21. So it was a very, very small place. We did not have SOPs, but I was always really, really organized. I had to manage 60 construction workers, so I had to be organized.
Her suggestion stuck and I ended up reading the E-Myth Revisited by David Gerber. That’s all about creating systems in your business.
They use the story about McDonald’s and how McDonald’s franchise by creating these SOPs with Roy Kroc and the McDonald’s brothers, and they were able to basically create a hamburger and any McDonald’s location across the country or across the world. I was like, that’s a cool concept. All right, I’m gonna do that for my photography business. So, I did.
I ended up creating a post production playbook as what I call the Wedding Photographer’s Playbook. It was everything that I do after a wedding. How I call, how I edit, blog, do social media. How I mark it, I wrote it down. I had a step by step checklist, paragraph descriptions of exactly how I do it.
And I had a business coach at the time. I was starting a newsletter to do more brand photography and reach more entrepreneurs for brand photography. And then just somehow that pivoted into education and launched this product. I launched the playbook as a product. It was just for myself and my mom to help me because I was drowning.
And I was like, okay, I guess we are stepping into the world of education. It was totally on accident and people started asking me about it before I was like, let me launch a product. People started asking me how I created a workflow and system so that’s basically what I did for months.
I sat down at my dining room table. I had moved back home at the time to my parents house because I was like, I cannot live in Hoboken, New Jersey while trying to get a business off the ground.
If anybody doesn’t know the East Coast, that’s right across from New York City, so very expensive place to live. So I moved home, listened to my mom’s advice, created workflows, created systems. And four months later, I went from working, I would say, I was doing 80 to 100 hour weeks
Oh my gosh!
Because I was in the middle of busy season. So I just come off of 19 weddings and sessions that needed to be edited and blogged and called and marketed and social media done. I was not outsourcing anything at the time. And I was just pulling 2am, 3am nights every single night. I was like something has got to give. And I remember saying to my mom was like, there is no way that all his other photographers are doing this.
I mean, why would anybody choose to work like this, or do this business? This is ridiculous. And I was like, it’s really overpowering the whole being around people on the happiest day of their life thing. So after that four months, I was going into the next start of my season, so I think it was probably April 2016. And I was like, Alright, let’s put these systems and SOPs and workflows to a test. I went down to like 10 to 20 hour weeks.
I had double the amount of work that I had in 2015. I was like, okay, I think I hit the jackpot, I’m on to something. TuesdaysTogether was starting around that time. So all these people at TuesdaysTogether meeting started, I just I couldn’t help talking about it.
I was like, oh my gosh, I created workflows and systems and SOPs, and that really efficient and productive and now I’m able to work so much less, and I’m making more money, working less, my referrals are going up.
So naturally, people started asking me about it. And I was so excited. And I started inviting people over to my fire pit at my parents house. I love fire pits. And we would just have like cheese and wine and talk about workflows. And so then I started charging for it. I called it the fire pit sessions.
And that was when my one on one mentoring was born. Now here we are six years later, and I have courses and a shop and coaching and done for your workflow services. And I still do brand photography and wedding photography. I attribute all of that to the sole reason that I am on a three month trip with my husband, I’m working probably around a 20 hour week right now. We are crushing it in business.
I used to think that I had to work 100 hour weeks just to make 60 grand a year. And now here we are working way less than that, making way more than that, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I feel like I actually have work life balance, which for a very long time, I thought was a stupid missed joke. But now I’m just really passionate about helping other people find whatever success or freedom means to them.
Because I think that business ownership I mean, what is the point of being an entrepreneur, if you don’t have freedom, or you are running yourself into the ground like you might as well have a job that’s only going to work 40 hours a week not 80. That is kind of my long, short story of how we got here. And it’s been wild.
Yeah, oh my gosh, well, I just kept thinking about that meme. That’s like, entrepreneurship is like leaving your 40 hour week corporate job to go work for yourself, like 80 hours a week, or 60 or whatever. So that sounds like that was you for a long time.
So now you’re still doing all the things. You know, I feel like a lot of times we hear this advice, like you have to only do one thing you have to have one offer, you have to have just one thing and it sounds like you’re very multi passionate. So you’ve got different things going on right now. But you’re actually working less.
So what percentage roughly, of the work that you’re doing is for your photography business versus like the courses and the workflow stuff.
I would say it’s about 50/50 I think 50/50 As far as revenue goes, I would say. But the photography business I’m doing less work for because it’s so systematized and a lot is outsourced. Once you go into the education and passive income side, there’s just always something more to learn and the landscape changes so quickly.
So I just always feel like I’m in growth stage and maintenance stage in that realm of the business whereas the photography business I feel like I could do in my sleep and it’s kind of on autopilot at this point. So revenue wise 50/50 but time-wise, way more on Laura Lee Creative than Photography.
Cool. That totally makes sense. And so the growth that you have seen in your business, I was going to ask you that. So you said you’ve outsourced a lot. So is kind of the efficiencies and your ability to work less, is it because you have streamlined workflows? Or you’ve hired more people instead of doing everything yourself? Or is it like a combination of both?
Combination of both, but I would say 90% I don’t know percentages, but I would say very, very, very high percent, because of workflows and systems and streamlining everything. Because this year, I knew that we were going on this road trip, and we were originally going to try to rent our house. But then we found out about squatters – laws and squatters rights.
When I found out it was really not good idea. So we were banking on having a lot of income from our house rental while we were on the road. And then we found out we couldn’t do it. So I luckily found that out in the middle of my busy season. I was like, you know, I’m just gonna edit everything. So I edited all my own sessions, all my own weddings, saved a couple grand that way.
I was doing everything myself. This was the busiest wedding season, if people listening are in the wedding industry, they know. But COVID rescheduled every single wedding that was on the calendar for last year, then we had to shoot them this year, plus the original 2021 weddings. So it was the busiest wedding season. We have busiest portrait season we had other than when I was like, really only doing weddings.
I was doing 28 a year was my most. So this year, I think we had 19. And I was like, I’m just gonna edit myself because I want to save the money. I kind of always weigh things of like, do I have more time or do I have enough money right now?
Yes. That’s like my favorite decision making tool.
Yeah, so the workflows and systems completely changed my business, my life. I use Honeybook as my CRM. So everything I talk about this in, I call it the four S system. Part of my overwhelm to organize framework, creating a workflow is step one is the structure. And then we go into the streamline phase, which is when I create all the email templates and questionnaires and efficiencies and brainstorm automations.
Phase three is systematize, which is when I actually put it in a CRM. And use the automation tool within Honeybook, or Dubsado, or 17Hats, Tave. Whatever CRM people use, has an automation or a workflow tool. So I automate and systematize every single thing from the moment somebody inquires through my contact form. All the way through delivering their service.
And we have probably 20 something workflows at this point, because we have a lot of different offers and services. So that is phase three, systematize.
And then phase four scale, which is when I write the SOPs, and that’s the phase where I can outsource things to either a team member or a subcontractor or freelancer because I have the process of exactly how I want something done written out, and I can hand it off.
We do have a very small, but mighty team now, but I was only able to bring on that team because of the workflows and systems.
So I think, in my opinion, maybe this is an unpopular opinion. But I think people hire too quickly, because they don’t have workflows and systems set up. They’re throwing money down the drain like, I’m like, if you just streamline things, and you did things more efficiently, you probably wouldn’t need to hire at the stage that a lot of people are in.
There’s absolutely a stage where you should hire a team. But I think a lot of people do it prematurely, because they’re just drowning in work. And I’m like, you could just do this better.
Yeah, well, that’s kind of what I was asking because I was like, Yeah, you get the advice all the time, like, just hire for your weaknesses, outsource, outsource, outsource. But if you don’t have the back end set up in a way that is like going to set them up to be successful. Like you said, you’re kind of just wasting money and you’re not setting them up for success.
So you’re going to be frustrated, you’re probably creating more work for yourself, and they’re probably not going to be very happy either. So that’s why I was asking. I think it’s really interesting that you can attribute like relieving yourself of this burnout due mostly to systems and workflows and processes instead of people and I think that anybody listening should kind of think about that.
It’s like okay, maybe the number one or like the first solution is not necessarily hire a big team like that may not solve your problems that actually might make them worse.
Yeah, I definitely like my team, I love them so much. And they are game changers for my life and business but I definitely think that is step two and just to give a really small example, this girl didn’t end up hiring me to do her workflows, but really should have.
She was a portrait photographer. She was like a specialty portrait photographer, she was doing four sessions a month, I believe she said, and she told me on her consult that she was going to hire a virtual assistant, and out of there, and she was gonna open a studio and hire a studio manager.
And she’s was like, I am working around the clock, I can’t keep up. She didn’t do anything, she was only doing four portrait sessions a month. Now, I could finish four portrait sessions a month in take away the shooting time, I could deliver that in four hours. That’s like, what, why do you need to hire an editor and a virtual assistant and a studio? I was like, all of your profit is just going to just evaporate into thin air.
And I was like, all you need to do is get more organized and get efficient, I promise you that is all you need to do. I still think about her to this day, it was probably four or five years ago, but I still think about her. I’m like, I wonder how she’s doing if she’s still in this business. Because I think that’s such a problem is people hire too quickly before their profit is there, before their systems are there.
And then they get themselves into a position where they can’t afford the team they have. But they also don’t want to go back to doing all the work because then they’re working around the clock and the relationships crumble. And they don’t have time for date nights or their family. And it’s just this huge, unhealthy cycle.
I call it the leaky bucket. And I think that people try to throw duct tape over the holes in their bucket like your business is a bucket, FYI. People will try to throw duct tape over the holes that could be hiring somebody. It could be running Facebook ads, instead of showing up in your marketing. I’ve totally done that. And I think that people throw duct tape over instead of trying to look at the hole and being like, how can I actually construct a bucket that’s not going to have these holes?
Oh, I like that. That’s good. Yeah, instead of filling holes, like let’s construct a bucket that doesn’t have holes, that seems way more efficient. Oh, that’s a good metaphor. I really like that.
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I did not know that your mom and your grandfather were photographers. Was there any internal pressure that you felt to continue along that path? Did you ever feel like oh my gosh, I just want to quit and go back to a nine to five?
No pressure in that regard. But the pressure came the other way. So my mom was not financially successful as a photographer. This was 35 to 30 years ago. So I’m turning, how old am I? 31 in a couple of weeks. You know, social media wasn’t a thing back then that you could have an ad in the newspaper for your business or you had a storefront, and we didn’t have storefront, this in our house.
She worked at a camera store as the manager for like 13 years and then tried to dabble in her own business. And now she just does it for fun. But she’s incredible. Like she wins awards all the time for her photography. But she does not do it pays she does landscape and wildlife and stuff like that. But because she was not financially successful, her and my dad, mostly my dad.
My dad is, he was VP of Sales and Marketing for a company for 41 or 42 years. So he’s very business savvy. And they really did not want me to become a photographer because they didn’t think that that was a financially responsible decision. This was back when I was trying to pick a college major. I was like I want to go to school for photography.
I think the quote was Laura, “I don’t want you to eat peanut butter and jelly your whole life.” Oh, okay. So I went to school for interior design. I tried to triple minor back in college. I tried to triple minor in photography, graphic design and business but I ended up just doing business.
And then, taking classes and photography because I was like really mad that they were making me do all these prerequisites that I had already done in high school. I was like I know how to use my camera. I don’t need to take camera 101. I’m not paying you money for this class.
So I dropped the photo minor and just like, did it on my own. But yeah, they didn’t want me to be a photographer. And then I was doing the design firm for a couple years, then went to the photo business. I had hired an accountant at that point in 2015. And he was the one that ran my numbers and was like, yeah, if you’re putting 40 more hours of work into your business, and not somebody else’s business. Like you could definitely be financially successful here.
He was kind of the one that planted the seed that I could go full time. And I distinctly remember standing on the stairs of my parent’s garage stairs, going into the laundry room, talking to my dad crying. Just like having so much anxiety, telling him that I wanted to quit and become a photographer. And he was like, I had no idea that you were this miserable at your job and this anxious. He was just like, I support you.
He’s like, you’re smart, you’re competent, you’re gonna make it work. It’s a different time than it was, you know, even a couple years ago when you were going into college. And it’s a different time than when mom was trying to do this. So that was, I guess, 2015. And ever since they’ve been so supportive, and my mom has actually worked for my company since 2014.
Oh, that’s amazing. Wow, that’s interesting that you sort of received the pushback in the other direction. Like, actually, we don’t want you to skip this.
I would imagine, like, you see a pretty big transformation in your clients, especially the ones that you work with related to workflows. Do you help them sort of push past the same overwhelm and, you know, maybe pushing past their comfort zone like you went through? What does the transformation look like for those clients that you work with?
Oh, my gosh, what a beautiful question. Yes, that is solely the reason that we do this is for those transformation stories. I think one of my favorite is one of the first ones that I ever got. First testimonial I got she was a beta tester for my playbook, that first product that I had launched, and she was a mom of three. She was a church volunteer. A wife. She was a wedding photographer… and she was working 60 hours a week.
She messaged me, I still remember as Valentine’s Day 2016, I was on a ski lift. When I got this email, it was back. Vacations turned on on my phone. And I opened up this email and I was like, oh, Scott, I just got to read it from one of my beta testers. I want to see what she thinks.
She said that she shaved 20 hours off of the wedding post production work. Post production is just anything that happens after you shoot the wedding. So the editing, calling, blogging. She said she saved 13 hours, the first wedding that she used my system for and 20 hours, the second wedding.
At the end of her paragraph of what she thought about the product and everything. She was like, It’s Valentine’s Day this weekend, instead of putting my kids in front of Daniel Tiger, which I had to look up because I don’t have kids.
I know Daniel Tiger very well.
I’m sure. She was like, I made Valentine’s Day treats with my kids. I went on a date with my husband. And years past, I just worked right through and didn’t prioritize my family. I was just sitting on this chair lift on the ski mat, crying my eyes out.
I was like, okay, I’m carrying this person’s story with me forever. This is my why. And now, we’ve had people on the brink of divorce, because their business has taken over their life that are like you saved my marriage.
Because I’m actually spending time on my relationships and pouring into them. I’m not working until 2am. And I just think that we live in the hustle culture and hustle and grind culture. It’s really unhealthy long term. I think there’s a short season to hustle and get things off the ground. But there needs to be a time limit on that. And people need to work smarter, not harder.
So now I say like we help people go from hot mess to a well oiled machine. We help them go from overwhelmed to organize and burnt out to balanced and some of just like the snippets of transformation that we’ve had as students going from 60 hour work weeks to 20 hour work weeks. We had one student take a one month sabbatical. Literally a week after she finished my course.
She’s like, oh, okay, well, this is all set up and running on autopilot. I’m going on a one month sabbatical to Colorado. I didn’t know that until like two years after I saw her at a conference and I was like, oh, like, how are things going? She’s like, Oh, I never told you. But after I finished your course, I was able to take a sabbatical.
I was like, what? Why didn’t you tell me that? I was like, that’s incredible. And so then just people getting to take their kids to school and start other businesses. That’s kind of my story. I was like, well, now I have all this time left in my photography business. I love work, I love business, let me start another one.
So I was gonna say you seem like a high achiever. Like, you cannot have and I’m saying this, because I’m exactly the same way. I don’t do so great with downtime. So I love that you chose and you had the ability to choose to fill your newfound downtime, you didn’t have to choose to start another business.
But that’s, you know, you could and so you did, and I love that. I think that, what a great example of basically like the work that you do for your clients, you are traveling the country with your husband in an RV, because you can. That’s your choice. I love that so much.
What do you say to because I know I’ve often felt this way, like, okay, I know, the right thing to do is like set up the system. But it takes time on the front end. And honestly, I just don’t have that time right now. And so I just gotta push through and deal with what I have right now. I just don’t want to spend the time up front. I’m sure you get that pushback a lot. What do you say to that?
Yeah, I feel like it is really just a mindset and a perspective shift. One of my coaches, I believe it was said that every one hour you spend creating a system or training somebody is going to save you potentially 100 hours, a 1000 hours, like however many times you do that thing. If you do it 50 times in a year, and it takes you an hour, you’re saving 50 hours because you created a system and train somebody to do it. And I was like, oh, well.
Okay, I like that.
Yeah. And so that’s kind of the mindset that I take, because I definitely still do that. I’m just like, “oh, it’s busy season, I’ll just do everything myself because I could do it faster.” And then I’m like, “no, you have support. Like you have the 15 minutes to train somebody on how to format a blog post, or how to format the newsletter the way you want, or how to write show notes, or whatever it is.”
I think that people get really overwhelmed with looking at everything that they need to create a system for. And so I always just say, to create something that whatever is the biggest roadblock or time, set your bottleneck, start there. I always start with my inquiry process, because that’s the biggest part of a client funnel. We have more inquiries than we do clients – I always start there.
And if it’s client work, I would say it’s really easy because it can be broken down into five stages. There’s inquiry, booking, onboarding, fulfillment, and off boarding. And so you’re just kind of going through each one of those stages and creating the workflow, the system and the automations for each section.
Then you get into the internal business stuff where you’re like, okay, I need to create a system for email and for podcasting, and for zoom calls and calendar, events and stuff like that. And, to me, that’s more of an off-season thing. If you do have an off-season.
I like that, like, “okay, just start with one thing. Think about what’s your biggest thing or what takes the most time. Or, I mean, sometimes it’s like, I just need to start with the easiest thing.
Not necessarily the biggest thing, but I think maybe often people could kind of get overwhelmed with creating workflows and systems when it’s like, “oh, my gosh, I have to like systematize every single thing in my business.” No, just pick one thing. Start there, and then, let that ball kind of roll.
I know, for me, it was our proposal process. I was creating in manually in Microsoft Word a new proposal and a new agreement for every single client. For like, a long time, not even to tell you how long I was doing that. For like, an embarrassingly long amount of time. But now we’ve streamlined that entire process.
Basically, I have a sales call. Or like a, you know, a sort of a discovery call with a potential client. I fill out a form with a few different pieces of information, and then everything is automated beyond that. It’s like all the way to the agreement, that kickoff call. Like with a new client, everything is automated.
I started there because I was like, this seems a little ridiculous that I am using Microsoft Word for like agreements and having people like have to sign it and send it back.
If anybody out there is like, oh my gosh, this is so overwhelming. Start with one thing, like what’s the biggest pain in your butt right now and start there.
In my new course, I don’t know a date that it’ll launch. it’ll be like Q1 Hopefully of 2022. But I talk about the six R’s of streamlining. I totally don’t remember all of them off the top of my head. But the last R is roadblock. And so I say, what are the things that are becoming a bottleneck in your business over and over and over again, so for you the proposals and the contracts, and I was like, start there or figure out the solution of the roadblock.
And there are just so many different ways to streamline. But just like also recap that four S framework.
Creating a workflow is basically a checklist of every single action you do from the moment somebody sends there the contact form and touches base with you the first time all the way through, delivering your final email service, whatever it is. And so that’s step one, it’s really a workflow is just a gigantic checklist in order.
And then you start adding triggers and automations to it. So a workflow is made up of actions and triggers, the actions can be create tasks and emails and questionnaires and contracts and a proposal there’s all actions, then the triggers are either based off of project start date, project end date, when a previous task is complete. So step one is just creating that workflow.
And then once you have that gigantic checklist, like my wedding, or close 169 steps. Once that’s done, then you go in and you see, “okay, I need to create a proposal template. I need to create a contract template, I need to create these 40 email templates or whatever it is.” And then once you create those. Then, you can go and put them into a CRM, systematize and automate.
I think that a lot of people, I always like to add this little caveat, I think people tend to be really afraid of automation, because they think it’s gonna make their business less personal. The reality is it gives your clients such a better experience.
Oh, my gosh, totally. When things are like, consistent, I feel like that’s so much better. I love that. I have a question for you, as we’re kind of starting to wrap up, you have gone from having 80 to 100 hour work weeks, which I literally cannot fathom like I am not a night person.
So the thought of having to produce any type of work at night past, say 9pm is like I just literally don’t understand. So to now having a 20 hour work week and traveling the country, which is just so amazing. I’m so happy for you. What helps you sort of disconnect from work, especially, you know, when our businesses are so much a part of who we are and for so long, and we actually really like what we do, I often find it kind of challenging to disconnect from work. So how do you do that?
Oh, such a good question. I was actually writing an Instagram caption about this yesterday, because when I am at home, I struggle with it so much like back home in my house in New Jersey. But I think that the thing that has been helping me on this road trip is getting outside and moving my body. And we have been going on hikes every single day.
We’re currently at Georgetown, Arizona. So I think just being out in nature and not being in front of a screen is how to disconnect and to be in a really good book that’s not on a Kindle, like actual pages and an actual book you can hold. I think all of those things really helped me disconnect.
And the other ugly, unconventional thing that has helped me when I am home, I actually have not had to take it since getting out here. I take daily CBD drops when I’m at home. I’m equal parts Enneagram 7, Enneagram 3. So my mind is going at all times. Like how many hundreds of businesses can I start this year? And so I got CBD in early December because I was like maybe it’ll help me focus and I was like, I just want my mind to think about one thing at a time and not 20 things at a time.
And so I was taking daily CBD. The company was it’s called Equilibria. It’s a women owned small business out of Colorado so I love that. There’s no THC or anything like that in it, it’s just plain CBD. And it helped me so so much with just being single focused in my mind and really helped me disconnect when I was home. So that’s the home prescription and then the trip RVs prescription is get outside, get some sun and move my body.
Amazing. Yeah, I agree. I was thinking about when you were saying reading like a book and not on a Kindle. I read on the Kindle app on my iPad but I have to always put my iPad into airplane mode, because I’m like, if I see one notification, my brains like, oh, what’s that? And I have most notifications turned off.
But yeah, there’s something about reading and an actual book, and not a business book. I’m forcing myself this year. I’ve read a lot recently, and I’m forcing myself, okay, for every business book I read, I have to switch. And then I have to read a fiction book. Like, I can’t just read business right before I go to bed, that’s not disconnecting at all. If anything, that’s just generating more ideas so I hear you.
I’m not an Enneagram 7, I’m a 3. But like, yes, yeah, yeah, like you. My brain is just constantly on thinking of new ideas and new businesses and ways to improve and all the things. So anyway, thank you. I’m starting to ask all of our guests that question, because I need ideas. So I ask these questions at the end with a selfish motive, like, okay, I want to know everybody else is doing so I can do that, too.
Yes. I also think though, I want to add this because it is something that I learned in 2021, that I think part to my overwork and my obsession with working I think came from two different layers. Layer number one was a scarcity mindset that if I stopped for like one second to disconnect that everything would crumble, and nobody would ever inquire again, and I wouldn’t make any money.
I wouldn’t be able to support my team and make payroll or pay myself or do anything. And so it was really coming from a scarcity mindset.
So that was layer one, which is not healthy. So I was working on that. And then layer two, and this is an Enneagram 7 thing, but also just a human thing. I was trying to avoid a lot of grief and emotions that I didn’t even know I had until I slowed down.
And then when I slowed down, and all of these feelings came up that I had to deal with, and I really suffered through anxiety a lot in 2021. I was like, this sucks, I would much rather work than deal with this.
Yeah, I with you, let’s work instead of dealing with our feelings.
Exactly. I was actually really nervous before coming on the RV trip, because I knew I was going to take time off around the holidays. My anxiety did come back and I just dug dirt again. Did a lot of journaling. There was a lot of things that I had to work through that I was avoiding. And now, I feel like I’ve worked through them.
And I’m like, I finally feel free. So, now I feel like I am having such an easier time disconnecting? Because I think I was subconsciously associating, disconnecting and slowing down with having an anxiety attack. So now I’m like, yeah, let’s work 20 hours a week, let’s go hike, let’s go do this, let’s go do that. And so I’m still filling my time, but it’s not filling my time with work and things are occupying my brain. It’s just filling time with play. And that’s really different for me.
Yeah, amazing. That is super powerful. There’s like lots of different layers to it. But I think look at the results that you have had from implementing the right systems and the right processes in your business and your life and reducing your work hours and like look what it has given you. I think that is just a great place to wrap this up. And it’s a huge takeaway for our listeners. So Laura, where can our listeners find you?
So best place would be Instagram @lauraleecreative, that’s the one that I’m primarily posting on. And my website is lauraleecreative.com. There’s tons on that site, brand photography, coaching then for your workflows, our shop is on there.
And that’ll kind of be the place that they can connect with anything that I do. That’s kind of the hub. And if anybody is interested in following along on our RV travels, I have not posted on this account yet. But our account is @themurphysonthemove on Instagram.
Oh my gosh. So cute. I’m following right now. I need to go follow you because this has always been don’t necessarily the RV part. I don’t know if I’m down for the RV part, personally, but…
You just wait till you see ours and you’ll be like, Okay, I’m down. I know you have two daughters, but it’s beautiful.
Oh my gosh, I know. Well, I’m excited to check that out. The traveling around for three months, it’s like a dream that I need to make happen. So amazing. Well enjoy the rest of your day in beautiful Arizona. And thank you so much for coming on the show Laura and we’ll talk soon.
Thank you. This was so fun. I’m so glad at work outside on a lake with my hotspot. This is great.
Yes. Amazing. All right. Thanks, Laura.
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 51