EP 55-Setting Systems and Structure in your Business with Courtney Elmer

July 19, 2022

Courtney Elmer is a podcast host, business systems expert and CEO of The EffortLESS Life®. Courtney is on a mission to help online business owners get the right systems, structure, and support in place within their business so they can spend more time in their zone of genius.

In this episode, Courtney talks about why it’s important to outsource, systemize and focus on what you truly love in your business. 

In this episode, Courtney also discusses: 

  • What brought Courtney into her role as a CEO 4:48
  • The skills clients are missing when it comes to setting systems in business 9:42
  • Systems for money mindset and financial wellness 15:09
  • Setting systems to pay yourself 32:27
  • Getting over your fear of looking at your numbers 38:46
  • Knowing the value of your time 40:00

Connect with Courtney: 

Website |  https://www.courtneyelmer.com/

Business Website |https://www.theeffortlesslife.co/

Podcast | https://www.systemsmadesimple.co/

Connect with Danielle:

Website | https://www.kickstartaccountinginc.net/

Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/kickstartaccountinginc/

Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/kickstartaccounting 

Twitter | https://twitter.com/KickstartAcct

Things Mentioned in Today’s Episode: 

Book your FREE strategy call https://www.kickstartaccountinginc.com/get-started

What is your financial health? Take the FREE Quiz Here – https://quiz.tryinteract.com/#/6192948f1ab9670018ebce02

Full Episode Transcript

Intro  0:00  

Welcome to entrepreneur money stories, the podcast for women entrepreneurs who want to dig into their money stories so they can break free from limiting beliefs around money once and for all. Hosted by Daniel Hayden, owner of kickstart accounting, Inc. This podcast is a series of real conversations about money mindset with valuable and action packed takeaways for the entrepreneur who's building their abundant empire. Danielle is a reformed corporate CFO who's on a mission to help rural breaking female entrepreneurs understand their numbers and gain the confidence to create sustainable profits. And now here's your host, Danielle Hayden.

Danielle  0:41  

Welcome back to another episode of entrepreneur money stories. Today my conversation is with Courtney Elmer Courtney Amara is the founder and CEO of the effortless life a company dedicated to helping visionary leaders get the right systems structure and support in place so that they can scale to seven figures while spending more time in their zone of genius. Courtney is a corporate escapee cancer survivor and the host of the globally ranked podcast systems made simple Courtney's expertise on the business systems and podcasting has been sought by leaders and teams by Forbes, Business Daily pap sugar BuzzFeed and dozens more. Through her podcasts and online programs. She teaches online business owners how to streamline their business systems, lead their teams to greatness, leverage their message through podcasting and thrive in their genius of the visionary leader of their company. Courtney's true mission is that hard work is not required for success, you'll often find her on the living room floor building skyscrapers out of low Legos with her husband, Alan, and their son AJ, a surprise miracle baby following her cancer treatments. I am so excited for you to hear Courtney's vulnerable and truthful story about her money mindset, and the systems that she uses within her business to be financially well, because truly that is what we're in business for is to be financially well, not just in our business, not just in our personal life, but also in our mindset. So here's my conversation with Courtney. Courtney, welcome to entrepreneur money stories.

Courtney  2:22  

Danielle, I'm so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Danielle  2:25  

Yeah, so we connected a long time ago. I always like to thank the podcast world for bringing so many incredible business owners into my orbit.

Courtney  2:35  

Yes, I know you had reached out to be on my show. And you were an amazing guest absolutely loved our conversation. We talked about having you back, which we haven't booked another podcast episode yet. But you are going to be teaching my mastermind soon. And it is it's so amazing. Like how podcasting. I never imagined this when I started a podcast two years ago, but how the doors that it has opened and like the opportunities that it has presented. Just unbelievable. Like I could have never dreamed that up.

Danielle  3:01  

Yeah, yeah. I think it's been amazing for relationships and community. And not just because, you know, we started the podcast in the midst of a pandemic. But, you know, even before that, so for me, it's it's incredible. So thank you so much for being here. Maybe just starting to tell the audience a little bit about yourself and your your mission today.

Courtney  3:24  

Yeah, absolutely. So I am the CEO and founder of the effortless life. And what we are dedicated to doing is helping entrepreneurs get the right systems and structure and support in place in their business that they need to scale to the level that they want to scale. For some people that six figures. For some people, that's multiple, six figures. For some, they're like, I'm going all the way seven figures and beyond. But wherever your goal is for your business, if you don't have the right systems and structure and support in place, it's going to be harder to get there, it's going to take you longer, and it's going to feel like more work. So that's really where this idea of building an effortless business comes into play. Where it truly is less effort, literally, that it's us spending time in your zone of genius. You get the systems backing us so that you know stuff is running in the background like it's supposed to be and then you can stay focused on what you've got in the business to do in the first place. Which is whatever it is. That's the thing.

Danielle  4:23  

Yeah, your zone of genius. While you make that sound like a really magical place.

Courtney  4:30  

It is so magical. It is so elusive and it can be really hard for people to get there and to know like yeah, that's where I want to be. That's why I started my business. But here I am day to day in the weeds of everything just trying to hold it all together.

Danielle  4:44  

Yeah. So tell us what brought you into this business?

Courtney  4:48  

Yeah, you know, so funny because I remember this like it was yesterday. But my journey in business started in a cold, sterile doctor's office. And I had just returned from my honeymoon. I was one Five years old, had gone in for a checkup right before the honeymoon and said, Okay, follow up visit after coming in. When you get back, we got back two days later, I'm sitting in the doctor's office. And my doctor walks in, and he's like, Hey, Courtney, how's it going? I want to introduce you to her and so she's another doctor. She's a thoracic surgeon. She's an expert specialist in what she does, and she is now on your case. And I'm gonna let her take it from here. And I looked at him, and I said, Excuse me. And in my mind, I've got a case, who, excuse me, I have a case, all right. And she sat me down, and she looked me in the eye, I'll never forget, she was wearing bright yellow, and she had the most beautiful smile, and the most beautiful woman I have ever met was so caring and nurturing about her. And she looked at me and she goes, Courtney. She said, I'm just gonna tell you like it is, you have cancer. And we need to operate as quickly as possible. The pathology results revealed that this is starting to spread, it's a more aggressive form than we typically see. And here's what it's going to look like for you over the next few months and how your life is gonna change. I'm saying they're like, what just happened? I felt like I was in a scene in a movie, you know, everything around, you just stops, like the actors just sitting there, like in their thoughts like, that was me in that moment. Are you sure you have the right file? Right? Is this the right person? Is this really happening right now. And so that moment, I mean, gosh, needless to say, a wake up call. Like, that's an understatement. But it was the moment that I needed in my life. That was the catalyst for everything that was to come next. And I knew that nothing would change unless I made some serious changes. And prior to that I had been working for other entrepreneurs and other business owners didn't matter what title you gave me, but I was their operations manager, I was the glue that held their business together. And I was growing up was, yeah, on the back end systems and structured all the things. And I just had been feeling for a while that there was more, but I was living day to day going through the motions, nothing was there to push me towards whatever that more was, until that moment, until that diagnosis, and I knew that I couldn't keep doing what I was doing. And I just felt called to really step into my greater purpose at that point, which I had no clue what that was, but have eventually figured it out. And fast forward five plus years later, here we are, you know, and being able to really utilize his gifts and talents that we're going to waste. And I wasn't doing anything with other than just, you know, helping business owners in their day to day operations. I really been able to do that now at a much greater level.

Danielle  7:35  

That's amazing. So you've heard the term visionary integrator, yeah. Oh, yeah. So do you, you know, it's interesting talking to you, because you also run your business. So do you truly feel called as an integrator? No.

Courtney  7:51  

And this is what's so interesting. Yeah, right. Right. Now I fill that role within my business and where we are with our current team structure, I wear the hat of the visionary leader and the integrator, but the goal is to not wear the integrator hat forever. And while it is my strength, I am also really leaning into what it means to run a business. And that has been a huge mindset shift for me through the years. Because when you go, I mean, just the shift alone from working in a business, for someone else to building something of your own is a huge mindset shift that has to happen there. And often we take like, I call it an employee mentality, but we take that mentality into our business. And we try to build a business as a CEO, but from a perspective of an employee. And eventually we reach a point where like, this ain't working. And so there's that shift that has to happen. But then also the shift for me where while I'm great at running operations, it's not the thing that lights me up. And there's a much greater vision that I have for our company and where we're headed, that I want to be able to lean into, and that's going to require me to pass off those day to day operations and the oversight of those operations someone else and give that to someone to oversee.

Danielle  9:01  

Now, I think this is something that's really difficult for you, I see it in a lot of our clients that it is really difficult, because so many of us are called visionaries, right? It's what brings us a bit into owning a business. But these systems can really be that integrator type focus. And so this is something that we see our clients really, really, they fight with it, they fight with it like they fight with a county.

Courtney  9:29  

I know. I see it too.

Danielle  9:31  

Yeah. So what are some of the most common skill sets that your clients are missing or need to dial in as they start to think about their systems?

Courtney  9:42  

Yeah, it's a great question. You know, really, there are four main systems that I teach. And those four just to give you a quick overview, we can go deeper. But the quick overview is visibility and sales those function on the front end of your business to bring in traffic and revenue, and then deliverability and operations and those function on the backend of your business to help nurture and deliver your promise what you're promising to your clients and students. And the operations, which is like the glue that holds everything together, I call it the junk drawer of business because nobody ever wants to open that drawer and deal with, you know, legal and accounting and all the stuff that falls in that drawer. But those are the four systems and a very high level. And so what happens is, what I see happening most often, anyway, is that, you know, a lot of the students that come to us, they come to us with a great vision for their business, they know what they want, they're pretty clear on their mission, maybe they haven't dialed it in as much as they could, but we work with them to get there. And they know the impact that they're here in the world to make. They're frustrated, because they are so bogged down in the day to day of their business, that they feel that they are not leading the business in any way. They're not guiding it forward. They're just constantly putting out fires and trying to keep the business afloat. This is a common situation, we see this all the time. And so that frustration comes into play. They know, as a visionary that they need to have systems, but systems are at their zone of genius. And so there's that resistance, and they're like, I know I need systems, but I don't want to be the person to put them in place. And I don't have time to figure all that out, because I'm over here just trying to keep the business going. And so it can be a real catch 22 for people. And it can be a very a point of frustration that will eventually lead to burnout. Because your time your effort and your energy are all limited resources. Right now you might be trying to grow your business with time, energy and effort, how much time you can put in how much energy you can put in how much effort you put in. But inevitably, and everyone's capacity is different, I don't care how much capacity you have, I don't care if you're the only person on the planet that could just go longer than the rest of us, eventually, you will reach a point where you will crash and burn. Because time, energy and effort are limited. There always have been always will be. So it's not about learning how to manage the time we have or how to manage our energy or how to figure out, you know, my expending too much effort and you know, what should I be focusing on in my business, it's about learning how to leverage the time we have leverage the energy you have, leverage the effort, because if you're trying to build your business on limited resources, your business will always be limited, your growth will always be capped, your income will always be capped. And so really, it's a mindset shift that has to happen there. That by slowing down to put these systems in place, maybe it takes you let's say a year, let's say this is my year of systems in my business. And maybe it's uncomfortable. And maybe it's not you putting them in place, maybe you have someone on your team who's helping you implement, that can help a lot. But let's say you give it a year. And that the systems that you slow down and put in place over that year, the return that it will give you, it's actually really hard to measure. While it is an upfront cost of your time, right or an investment of your time to slow down and figure out a process and get a system in place. It's much easier when someone hands you the system. It's like your plug and play this is we get edit to your business, here's how to do it. And that's what we do for our students. By getting those in place, you are saving time for yourself on the back end, you're freeing that up in your business at a student reached out to me the other day, I get this surprise email in my inbox from her I wasn't expecting it. She goes shortness. Yeah, I know. So nice. And it was a nice email, too. It wasn't like this is a problem, can you help me fix this, it was like coordinate, I just had to let you know, I don't even think I'd be able to calculate the number of years you have saved me in my business. She's like at least five, I would have paid you triple for what you taught me how to implement into my business. She was actually newer in business, she said I'm now generating consistent revenue only eight months in something I would have never been able to do having just left corporate and try to figure all this out for my own. She said, I feel like I have the foundation in place now that I can grow from and then I can go as far as I want to go. And it was just so affirming for me to hear that because as a systems person, you know, you either are a systems person or you're not. And so the non systems people out there whenever they begin to really see the value in having those systems. And if they could just get over the hump of just being able to implement, you know, an install, say install those systems, but just to get them installed, you know, they will support you in the long run. And I'll pause there because I'm sure you have questions for me. But there is a story that I will share at some point on this episode. Today, I'm sure about how systems are really meant to function in your business. And I think unpacking that story too can also help kind of unpack some of the resistance that comes around systems do for people.

Danielle  14:33  

So what is the really good place for somebody to start so I'm thinking about the listener who sitting there listening say I know guys that have systems in place, right? I hear you, I hear you. They're rolling their eyes. What can they do today to help start to think about what systems to get in place in and why right like when we think about money mindset and financial wellness, like how do this specifically help that person? So action step? And then how specifically can that help that person become more financially? Well?

Courtney  15:09  

Yeah. So actually, let me start with the story that I was going to share, because I think this will help kind of frame the systems from a different perspective than you might be thinking about systems. And it'll answer that question. So when I was a little girl, I love to color and I would get so excited anytime someone would give me like a coloring book for my birthday, right. And it was like this fresh new coloring book, these beautiful pictures, and no matter where the pictures were, Mickey Mouse or whatever it was, and I would get my box of colors. And I would open up those crayons, and I would start to color that was maybe four or five years old at the time. So my motor skills weren't fully developed yet. And I would inevitably, always color outside the lines. And I would get so frustrated, because I was like sitting, there's methodically as I could just try to color inside the lines, and it just didn't evitable II would go out of the line. So eventually, I got older, coloring of the lines wasn't really a problem anymore. And I realized innately at the time, I didn't really understand this until much later in my life until recently, actually, but I realized, I saw the value in having a system, the lines operate as the system, the lines is like the framework, right, it's there to hold the art piece of art together. But how you color that picture is up to you. You might use crayons, you might use markers, if you throw in some glitter, maybe you color, something blue that really is normally red, or maybe it's yellow, but you make it orange, and you add your own twist and your own artistic interpretation to it. So I think of systems much the same way in our businesses, where a system and this is where most people go wrong with systems are not even wrong. But where the resistance comes up is that a lot of people think of systems is very rigid, that I have to have the system in place. And then it has to be done this way forever. And then you know, systematize, everything in my life, I don't want to be a robot, you don't want to be having all these systems and just kind of like, oh, in my life that

Danielle  16:56  

way. It's easy to think about that. Because right, we're taught in the society, the four hour workweek, and if we can get the systems to do everything for us. So if this system can sync to the same system to the system,

Courtney  17:07  

exactly. And I can see how someone might think that right like that. It's it's clinical, it's robotic, it's just these systems. And it's like, no, I want to have that human element in my business, I just want to be able to have the freedom and flexibility to kind of do things how I want to do them and evolve. So I look at systems instead of being as like this prescriptive robotic thing, as more of like the lines in a coloring book, it's the framework that's there to guide you, is the support in place. So you don't veer too far off track. But what you do with the picture itself, and the artistic work that you create, your vision that you're bringing to life for your business, is up to you. And so that's how I see systems, they're, they're there to support you. They're there to provide structure, and they're there to flex with you as you grow. So this kind of leads us to the question of right, where do we start then when it comes to systems? And so there's no one place that I always say like, here's where you should start, start with visibility or start with sales. Most people start with visibility and sales, because they know they need marketing and sales to keep their business

Danielle  18:09  

going. That's step one. Yes. Right.

Courtney  18:10  

We know we need that. Right. But does that mean that's necessarily the place for you to start? I don't know, look back at the past month, what are the things in your business that have utterly drained you? What are the top three things of the list that you just came up with in your mind that you, if you had the resources and the energy to train someone on how to do that, that you would hand it off to them tomorrow, to get done something that you just really do not want to be doing in your business? That's where you should start. And what are those things that are really sucking your time, they're taking more time than they should be? And what would be different if you were able to simplify that process somehow, and have a system in place for it. And maybe it would also help for me to share kind of, you know, a system is how you get from A to B. Think of it like your Google Map, if you're going to get in your car and you're going to drive somewhere for the first time, you're not just going to go driving aimlessly around, you're going to punch an address into that app, and get a list of directions. And a Google map is going to show you two things, it's going to show you a map, which is an overview of your starting point to your finishing point A to B, and then it's going to give you the step by step directions to get there. So we think of systems I want you to be thinking about that in your mind as well. So okay, what are the things in my business that are stuck in my time? What are the things that if I can hand it off tomorrow? I would, what are the things in this past month that have really drained me of my energy and taken me out of my zone of genius, and of those what are the top three, and which is the number one that I would like to get some sort of system in place to be able to simplify to help me get from A to B faster. Maybe it's something that's taking too much time right now and you want to just be able to get that thing done faster, or more efficiently or handed off all together. So that's where the system can come in to support you. And then we develop processes from that place based on where it is that you want to go. So I know if that was a little too high level, but I thought that could be helpful for those that are real visual too, because I'm very visual and sometimes thinking, you know, we kind of confuse these terms system and process and what does that and, but that's how I look at it, you know, system is really going to be the guide and the support to get you from where you are now to where you want to go. But from a to b. And then the process is kind of those individual directions that the system will naturally spit out for you in order to get there based on your vision and your goals. And we kind of just reverse engineer that process.

Danielle  20:34  

Yeah, I think that's really helpful. And I think it's really helpful to think about, what are you doing in your business? That is repetitive, right? What are you repeating what is draining your energy? I think that that's really important for us to not think about, what should we have, right? What system should we have? Because it really can't, you know, you only give us four pillars, but there's a million things, those four pillars a million, just, you know what we're talking about in the accounting pillar, right? And that's not even everything in the operations pillar, right? So you can, you could spend so much time in there, but really being able to customize that to you or your self, and where you need to be spending your energy. So let's talk about your journey, as a business owner, and what have been some of your favorite financial systems that have helped create, we can talk systems in general, but that have really helped create financial wellness for you as a business owner. And I'm thinking of, you know, tying back like the name of your business, right, effortless, like being financially well, doesn't have to require so much effort. So, yeah. How have you gotten to that area of your life? Through using your methodology?

Courtney  21:49  

Yeah. Oh, I love this question. Well, you know, there's kind of two sides to it. One was the work that I had to do on my money mindset to be able to get to a place where I can start to put systems in place to get financially well, is a big piece. They're happy to dive in with that.

Danielle  22:05  

Yeah, let's let's dive into it. Sorry. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, let's start there.

Courtney  22:08  

So growing up, my dad is in finance, he has been for gosh, like 50 plus something years now, something ridiculous. And he is one of the wisest men that I know one of the smartest men that I know, we nicknamed him and our family have a nickname. We call him the book of knowledge. And I mean, you you ask him anything, and he will spit out an answer. And I'm like, Who are you Google? Like, what law? How do you know this? That's just my dad. Okay. So when it comes to finance, I mean, tax code, estate planning, like anything, he knows it. And I mean, he is a master at helping his clients build wealth, and really leverage that wealth for their long term goals. And what that looks like, he's not just sitting around managing people's money, but he's really opened and build wealth, beautiful. So growing up in a family where that was my dad, we had a lot of talks in the family about finances, but they weren't always the greatest talks. And Dad, I love you. If you ever happen to listen to this episode, you know, I love you. And you've taught me so much. And hearing you talk about finances in the house was like a hot button. For me. I hated it. Because normally it was in the form of him and my mom arguing about a budget. My mom didn't wanna stick to a budget. And then he was like, Nope, this is why we have to do what we have to do. Here's an era, you know, and my mom would just be like, Yeah, and it was caused so much tension and friction, and, and they would get upset with each other. And so very early on, I developed this resistance to money, because I thought that money was stressful. And what I didn't say in the beginning of my journey, my initial approach in business before my company was the effortless life, our tagline was stressed less, live more. And that was our goal was to help entrepreneurs simplify and stress less than their business, a little vague, maybe, but that was what we were doing. And so in the early days of my business, I resisted money. So much, because I thought that money equals stress. And here I am over here, building this brand, helping people stress less like money just didn't fit into that paradigm in my mind. So I had to do a lot of work on my mindset. First of all, even become aware that that was a story that was informing how my relationship Yeah, how

Danielle  24:12  

did you? How did you realize that it was a story because I think there's a lot of talk around money mindset and procurement. The first thing I hear when we're working with clients is literally people don't even know that they have a money mindset. Right? So how did right? How does one even, like how did you start to realize that you even had a story that you were telling yourself there?

Courtney  24:32  

Yeah, it's interesting. I had a business coach at the time, who put out this 31 day, master your money challenge or mind your money challenge, something like that. I forget exactly what it was called Mind your money, maybe. And at the time, in my business, my biggest frustration was lack of consistent revenue. And I would have these months where it was like, great, I launched something we did pretty good, or I've had, you know, this was before COVID. And so I had a speaking event that month right now Some stuff from states or whatever it might have been. And so that would be great. But then in the months in between when I didn't have that stuff going on, it was like nothing. And I was like, there was a lead flow problem tied to that, right? There's a lot of reasons why, but that was the frustration. So when he put this training out, I'm like, I'm gonna do that 31 Day Challenge, and I'm just gonna do it. So the first time I started it, I think I got like, four days in, and I stopped. And it sat there in my email inbox buried, you know, in a folder, because I'm one of those people that has all these folders in her email. And, of course, systems for everything, right, but is like sat there buried in a folder, it was like, I didn't wanna see it out of sight, out of mind, didn't touch it. And then a year later, I was still having the same revenue problem in my business. And I'm like, Okay, and so we started promoting this again, and oh, if he's doing like, once a year at the time, and I'm like, I'm gonna do it. And I committed to doing it, and I got through those 31 days. And it was amazing. When I just stopped and started listening to what I was saying to myself about money. That really clued me in to this dialogue that I was having in my head about money. And I had read a book to your badass at making money, Jensen Acero. I had read that flying home from a business conference one time on the plane. And she had some good insight in there as well, that kind of just started cluing me into what we might label these money mindset stories, or these money stories. And so that had that awakening, and it took me slowing down and listening. I think that's the one thing most people don't do, we don't even know that it's a story. Because it's just something that's been running in our mind for so long. We're not even aware that it's there. But you can stop. And whenever you notice, like, you know, pick anything in your business centered around money, that creates a feeling for you a negative, we'll label it a negative feeling, maybe it's anxiety, maybe it's tension, maybe it's stress, you know, avoidance feeling avoidance, is it the thing that you keep pushing the bottom? Yeah. And then what is the thought that precedes that feeling? And so when I asked myself that question, and I started noticing, like, that's a coaching question that I ask people and like, they're gonna come to me, like, I'm so overwhelmed about this. And I'm like, okay, so that feeling of overwhelm. Take yourself back to that moment, the last time you felt that feeling, what was the thought that preceded that feeling? Every single time they know what that thought is, even if they weren't aware of it before? And that's the story. So I had asked myself that question, I took myself through that process. And the story was that money is stressful. And I'm like Corby, don't like adviser those VA commercials back in the day, you should have had a VA hit yourself on the head, like, it's not money, that's stressful. It's the lack of money that stressful. And that was exactly what my parents were arguing about. Because at that season, in my dad's business, he had just gone out on his own, we're starting to build his practice, and my mom had just quit her full time nursing job as a night nurse. So they were in a natural season of financial instability within, you know, their relationship. And that just needed some time to sort itself out. And eventually it did. But because of my age at the time, and how I interpreted that, I took that story with me then for 25 years, thinking that money was stressful. So that was where it started. And then I kind of pulled on that thread and just kept unraveling, you know, what are these other beliefs I have around money, what's the resistance? I feel around money, and really did some work there. So yeah, I think that was really kind of my own journey in terms of unpacking my mindset around money. That's awesome. And to be able to get to a point even more, I was excited to look at the numbers in my business, because avoidance was a huge thing for me. I didn't wanna touch it. It was stressful, right?

Danielle  28:44  

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. So what are some habits and systems that you've put in place today that have helped you become a more financially? Well,

Courtney  28:56  

yeah, person. So ironically enough, my dad gave me my first money system too. And we didn't have an allowance growing up. We'd have to do chores around the house and earn money. And I would like iron shirts for like 10 cents a shirt or something ridiculous. You know what I was like hustling to make some money. You know what, at the end of the week, I'd have like, $4, or whatever. And so of that, $4, my dad would give us three mason jars. And this is before we had bank accounts, and we were young at the time, I say we I have two younger sisters, you do this with all of us. And so we'd say, Okay, this jar is for savings. This jar is for your charity, discharge, what you can spend on whatever it is that you really want. And so soon enough at $4 became like $1.50 that was in my little jar leftover for what I could spend. And I hated it because I was like, Dad, but it was $4 I earned that $4 And I'm able to go spend that $4 He's like, Nope, you need to learn now and you need to learn this well to pay yourself first always. And even though I was resisted that at the time as I got older and I started working and I got a real job and stole my little odd Jobs babysitting and all these things that have already been ingrained in me. And so when I was in college and I finally got around to setting up like bank accounts, I always had like a savings account, really kind of set up, like, you know, my checking account, my savings, all those things. Every time I get a paycheck, immediately, I would put a portion of that away into savings, it was very simple system at the time, it was really like, here's the percentage of putting away into savings. And then here's the percentage that I have available to live on. And so essentially, just like in the diet world, we say, reduce the size of the plate, so you eat less. It's the same concept, but applied to money. And so even though that might sound restrictive, wasn't because while I saw it that way, at first, as I got older, I realized, you know, if I were to just spend the money that's coming in, I would never have anything left for myself. And I would always be struggling. Funnily enough, for the first several years in my business, I failed to pay myself first. And I lived out a one bank account. And everything that came in went right back out. And I wondered why I was struggling to make a profit, and why I could never write myself a paycheck. And why was never able to do those things. Although Courtney, because you just completely threw that advice out of the window and didn't even apply it to your business. And it's just funny to me, because while it was something that was such a part of my life in relation to money, as I was growing, when I got into business, it was like somehow I forgot that.

Danielle  31:28  

And it's different. It's different. It's just it's different when you run a business, and I think so many of us, you know, I want to touch on this, because you said, what I got my first few jobs. And when I got a paycheck, I, I put money in savings, I had that percentage allocated, and the rest was for me to live on. Now, as we start a business, we are not getting a paycheck, right? You're you have to learn to how to allocate revenue to pay yourself first. So I think that is the big shift. And we hear this with so many of our clients, right? I understood this as an employee, I don't understand this money game, to understand how to be financially well, as a business owner. So how did you start to shift? How did you start to implement that system in your business so that you could start to pay yourself because you made the comment to that at first, it was lumpy revenue. Mm hmm. So tell us a little bit more about that.

Courtney  32:27  

So this is where the system really comes into play. So I'll explain what the system is and explain how it functions. Because I mentioned two systems earlier, I mentioned sales. And I mentioned operations, most people think of those as separate, but they actually function together. Because if accounting and bookkeeping and financial wellness falls into operations that is directly related to your sales. So you might be the best at sales, you might be really good at closing deals, and you're bringing people in all the time. Or maybe you're not maybe you were like me in the beginning where things are kind of lumpy and inconsistent, and you're just trying to stay afloat. Whatever it is, most entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that they need more sales in order to generate profit. That's actually not true. Because if you don't have a system on the back end, in terms of your accounting and your bookkeeping, then everything that you make no matter if it's $100, or million dollars is going to fall right out the back end of your business. And that's what was happening to me. So the system that I put in place, really truthfully, it is so basic, I don't know if this is what you would recommend Danielle and you want to hear it Oh, to hear it. But it's the mason jar system in terms of my bank accounts. Yeah. And so I haven't I have it, I have an income account where everything comes in. On a certain day of the month, I have four other accounts that I allocate percentages to one of those is profit, one of those is to pay myself one of those is to set aside for taxes. And another one is operating expenses. That's what I operate my business with. I used to operate it from my income account, and it was much bigger, and I thought oh, okay, we can hire people, we can do all these things. Now it's much smaller, and I'm like, wait a second, it's helping me make better decisions in my business, it's helping me not grow faster than I can sustain in terms of revenue and it also shows me where the revenue holes are and where if this is if this is what my expenses are, this is the revenue I need to be making to sustain these expenses. Otherwise, we need to cut expenses or generate more revenue like those are the only two things right when you don't have that system in place. Anything you make is just going to go right out the back end and you're going to be right back where you started which is where I spent many years in my business was first few years and it was hard and it was tough and I was like gosh being a business sucks like maybe I should just go back and get a nine to five and let someone pay me you know, so it all it all ties together and when you start to see kind of that 30,000 foot look at how these systems not only function within your business but function together. Then you really can start to see like gosh, there is some value to this and to having these these things in place.

Danielle  35:01  

Hey podcast lovers, I hope you're enjoying another amazing episode of entrepreneur money stories, I had to interrupt to tell you about an exciting new tool we recently launched. If you've been wanting to learn how to start managing your business finances, but don't know where to start, then visit kickstart accounting inc.com/bootcamp. To receive our new five day video bootcamp series, you'll receive a video each day that will take you from accounting overwhelm, to money powerhouse. So you're ready go to kickstart accounting inc.com/bootcamp. Alright, that's the episode. Are there any other systems that you can think of that have helped you or your clients become financially? Well, and again, it doesn't have to be accounting and bookkeeping, right, like just other any other systems that you can think of, that we should share with the audience before we move on to the next topic?

Courtney  35:55  

Yeah. Knowing the value of your time. And while that might not sound like a system, it is directly related to how you market your business, where you're spending your time in your business. And it's directly tied to the amount of revenue you're able to make in your business. And so most people undervalue their time. And if you don't have a value of your time, if you can't sit here and come up with a number right now, and tell me this is what an hour of my time is worth, then you need to look at that. Because I have a whole podcast episode, I think it was episode 43. But we dive really deep into this. And this is a really important step to being able to make a sale system work in your business or to make your accounting system work, you have to know the value of your time. Because if you're spending your time right now doing $20 An hour tasks that you could pay someone to do for you, when you could be out there and making $250 An hour or $500. Now, or I don't know, you tell me based on the value of your programs, and what you charge for them and the work that you charge people to do. And you might sit down on a 30 minute sales call with someone and be able to bring in a new client. What is the value of that time? And how do you actually begin to measure the activity in your business based on the value of your time as an essential foundational piece. Every time I teach this to our students, it's amazing the insights that they get from this, and how vividly they recognize instantaneously that they have been undervaluing their time, and how if they just started to value their time a little bit better, they wouldn't have as many of the revenue problems that they're having in their business, because they'd be spending their time more on those revenue generating activities. Because they would understand the value of an hour of their time, they would know that our their time is worth I think

Danielle  37:44  

we're looping it back to the beginning of the podcast, he talks about reflect on what you've done in the for the last 3060 90 days. Right? I think that is something that has really helped us when when we work with clients is to say, alright, what tasks have we done, that a system can automate? A person can take off of your plate? And then you can do the same thing with systems, right? What systems do I have in place today, and others the right systems to continue to take this off of my plate? One thing that we see a lot is that there's a lot of dues and subscriptions in this online world that we live in. And although I think that they can really improve our businesses and our lives and the way we do things, we can forget that we signed up. We can let it go. And so I think there's reevaluating it. And is this still the best system for me? And do I have it here, just because I spent a lot of time in implementing it three years ago? And is this still the right system? So having that constant evaluation of my time and what I have in place today?

Courtney  38:46  

Yes, case in point, I literally I kid you not I was sitting in bed less than 830 at night, and I was doing an expense audit. And I was looking at my expenses for 2021. And I was I printed out the last 12 months of credit card statements. And I was going through line by line. And I caught stuff that I was subscribed to that I'm like, we don't need this anymore. Or why are we using this? Or why did we sell it? Why are we still paying for this I was able to go and cancel all those things, knock those things out. And it's so eye opening when you do that, because like you said, you know, and again, we're being marketed to all the time. So people might market something and you're like, gosh, that sounds great. But it's just $20 a month. Okay, so I'm really not a big deal. But you calculate that that out over a year? And are you really using that. And that's three $400 or whatever that calculates out to be that you could be putting somewhere else and your business and you could be paying a VA to help you or maybe these other ways that that money could be better serving your business. And so we we can't be afraid to look at the numbers. And here's the thing, because I know for people listening right now and I'm sure your audience has felt this before and this is why they listen to your podcast is that you know, avoidance is like a big strategy here. When it comes to numbers. I'm gonna deal with it. I will look at it but I know that I need to. And the thing that I have found to be true every single time is that no matter how long I avoided it As soon as I chose to shine a light on it, essentially it take a look, I always felt better. It always felt better to know what the numbers are than to not know. So even though those credit card statements had been sitting on my desk for a few weeks, and I kept pushing it, I knew like I need to get to here and do this, I need to do this, according to one's gonna do this. And I finally sat down, I'm not joking. Last night, the time was literally with me. I better do. Honestly, I was talking to Danielle, tomorrow, I gotta get this done. No, I mean, that didn't even cross my mind. But you know, sitting there looking at that, and I felt so much better after because it was like, oh, gosh, we don't even need that cash. Look, I just saved myself $1,000, you know, another email service provider that we have been using that I pay, I think I paid $12 last year for. And the deliverability was terrible. We were having so many issues with it. But because I had spent so much time building the automations that I had built in there, I was very resistant to moving away from that. And it was almost easier to just throw money at the problem in order to not have to, you know, merge to something else. But the thing was, and you're gonna laugh at this, but like I was already paying for email, within another program that I use, but I wasn't using their email. I was already paying for it. So like, why am I paying an additional $1,200? For something that I'm already paying for? Maybe didn't have the bells and whistles,

Danielle  41:17  

you know? Yeah. But it's beautiful, though, because you're the systems expert. Yeah. And so what I think we can all learn from there is that, even as the systems expert, you have to remind yourself that it's okay to pivot. And it's okay to recreate, and it's okay to change

Courtney  41:35  

100%. And in doing that, it felt so good. The past few weeks, we've been migrating everything from that old system. And I'm like, Hey, I'm gonna save $200 This year, and I'm gonna pay for this thing that I don't need. And it's just those little wins along the way. Right? That kind of reinforces it. And yes, in business, we're going to recognize those times where, okay, we made a decision. And in hindsight, we realized maybe it wasn't the best decision. And guess what, you could change your mind? Yeah. And that's, that's the beauty. You know, just because you made that decision doesn't mean you're married at that decision.

Danielle  42:03  

Well, speaking of which, I always like to ask our guests. What are you most curious about next in your business or your personal life? Like, where do you where do you see yourself going big goals for 2022.

Courtney  42:18  

My book, I mean, that's my, that's my next big thing. Yeah. And it's been a thing that's been in the works for years now. And there's a whole story there. And I had an agent, and I didn't have an agent, and it was being pitched. And then it didn't get accepted and blah, blah, blah, and all the things. And I just kind of shelved it for a while no pun intended, there. Really just put it on the shelf was like this, this book idea, I have other things to focus on right now. But it, it's just nagging me, it hasn't left me alone. And so I know that that's the next step that I need to take. And so speaking in terms of financial health, I know that the next investment I need to make in my business is to hire a book coach. And I have someone that I want to work with, I have everything outlined and I know what I need to save in order to make that happen to be able to take that next step with her. And so that's another thing too, that having a system in place that my business is allowing me to do on the financial side is it's like this is a goal that I have, it involves finances. And so in those allocations that I'm doing, I'm able to put aside some money for that too. And it's a win every month when I know in a small percentage, but just knowing that that's building slowly. And eventually that's going to help me be able to bring this goal and this vision to life. And so without that, you know, it would just be this thing that either a maybe I over committed to, and then had to figure out how to scramble and hurry up and make sales to support or be just didn't even pursue because for whatever story I was telling myself I shouldn't or when the right time or whatever. That's really the next thing on my horizon. And I'm so so excited. So hopefully, by the end of this year, we'll be able to set that officially into motion, and move forward with that once and for all.

Danielle  43:48  

Well, you'll have to keep us posted. That's that's a very exciting endeavor. And I love that this theme and what you say if slow down to speed up, it's okay to slow down and not do everything today, right? That take on too much. And then and then be scrambling for sales. But really, actually pull back right. Let me pull back, wait, save, do the hard work, do the small steps, put the system in place so that you can achieve achieve goals and success. And that will speed up your success once you actually take on that endeavor.

Unknown Speaker  44:24  

Yeah. 100%. So we'll say yeah.

Danielle  44:27  

All right. Is there anything that I didn't ask you today that you wish I would have?

Courtney  44:33  

We covered a lot. I mean, I feel like we really went you know, into a lot of things. There's nothing that comes to mind off the top of my head.

Danielle  44:39  

Okay, perfect. Where can the audience stay connected with you and continue to learn about you and all the systems?

Courtney  44:47  

Yeah, so I'm always looking to support business owners who are looking to get support and place in their business and structure and systems and you know, I always say this If systems is not your zone of genius. It doesn't have to be an order to have have systems in your business. And I'll show you how to do that. And, you know, hopefully by just implementing a few small systems that will create quick wins for you that will be able to really show you the power of having systems in your business. So if you want to reach out to me, you can connect with me on Instagram. I'm at the Courtney Elmer, definitely go tune into my podcast systems made simple. You can just whatever podcast app you're using right now. Pull it up, go follow me there, download some episodes, start listening and learning. I think you're going to see a different perspective really, when it comes to systems and hopefully a refreshing one. And an enlightening one for you to help you take those next steps and getting systems in place.

Danielle  45:40  

Yeah, I second going to download your podcasts. I am not a systems person. I'm greater. My my team will laugh as they hear me say that. But I definitely think that you you simplify it in a very beautiful way. So thank you for that.

Courtney  45:54  

Awesome. Thanks, Danielle for having me. Yeah,

Danielle  45:56  

absolutely. Thank you

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