Welcome to the Biz Balance podcast! I am so glad you’re here! My name is Karen Greenoe, I’m a wife, a mother of two precious little girls and an entrepreneur. This podcast has been a dream of mine for so long and I am absolutely thrilled that you are along for the ride with me! On this podcast, I will be sharing what I’ve learned on my journey through life and entrepreneurship and interviewing those who have gone before us in the hope that it will help you on your journey. We will share practical tips and tricks that you can immediately implement in your life and business to make your road a little smoother. So let’s put our heads and our hearts together so we can learn from one another and hold each other up.
A little bit about me…I did not come from an entrepreneurial family. Not in the least bit. Both my parents were PHd’s in chemistry and had always worked for big companies. But I always had a bit of the entrepreneurial bug, even when I was a kid. My mom bought me my very first “business” book. You can’t see me, but I’m putting air quotes around “business!” It was called “Better Than a Lemonade Stand” and it outlined all of these different business ideas for kids. Simple things like garbage can mover, house number painter, so on and so on. From there, I was hooked. I sold Mary Kay in college, made cute gifts to sell to my sorority sisters and even tried my hand at wedding planning. Let me tell you, I was not cut out for that one! You wedding planners are serious superheros! I seriously don’t know how you do what you do! You have my mad respect! But, after college, reality stared me straight in the eyes and said “you’d better get a big girl job.” Begrudgingly, I agreed.
I held a couple of jobs in those first few years after college, one in a hotel sales office, one for an education consulting firm and finally, a women’s health company where I was in surgical sales. About six months into that last job, I met my husband, George.
We met at a yard sale that was being hosted by mutual friends. Our eyes met over a dish of chocolate eclair casserole. That first night, we talked about all of the things you SHOULDN’T talk about when first meeting a guy…family, marriage, religion, everything. He will tell you that he knew that night that he was going to marry me. It took me about a week to come around to the idea. From then on, we were absolutely inseparable.
And that was in 2009. And we all know how America looked in 2009. The economy was in shambles and in most industries that year, uncertainty was the only constant. I got sick of it pretty quick. I was ready to take the leap into full time entrepreneurship. But there was one problem…I didn’t know what I was going to do!
George and I were attending a hobby conference together and as my eyes wandered around the room, it hit me. I was going to be a florist! I have no idea where that lightning bolt came from, but I have never been more sure of anything in my life! George saw the resolve in my eyes and was instantly supportive.
My family didn’t take me seriously at first. I do not hold it against them at all. I think they saw the state of the economy and were worried that I was taking too big of a leap. It wasn’t until my dad saw my 35 page business plan that he replied “Oh! You’re really serious about this!”
My dad cosigned a very small small business loan and thank goodness he did because I had absolutely nothing of value to my name! After he signed the loan, my father, who was a man of very few words, unbuttoned his plaid button down shirt to reveal the t-shirt he was wearing underneath. It read “I’m your father, not an ATM.” Thanks dad!
In August of 2009, I officially took that leap of faith and went all in on starting my first “real” business, Lily Greenthumb’s Floral Design. I signed a lease on a cute little brick and mortar space in downtown Matthew North Carolina (just outside of Charlotte) before I signed my first client (crazy, I know!) With my tiny small business loan along with my life savings and we were off to the races! My doors opened for business on December 5th, 2009.
Business exploded. I’d booked more events than I’d ever dreamed. Probably too many! Against all odds, this little company was an (seemingly) overnight success! But along with that came some real difficulties. Finding help. Setting boundaries. Knowing when to shut it off. I was seriously working around the clock.
Every year, I am reminded of this when I log into Timehop and see a Facebook post about making boutonnieres til 1 am. That was my reality!
That Christmas, as the retail orders poured in, I remember sitting at my (soon to be) in-law’s kitchen table and crying my eyes out because I was so exhausted and overwhelmed. It was like drinking from a firehose. I couldn’t even see straight, let alone plan.
Every night when I got home from my studio, I’d answer emails and write proposals for hours. One day, I remember George asking if I could try to shut off work by 8pm every night so we could have some time together. I actually laughed at him. Can you believe that? I was sliding down the slippery slope of becoming a workaholic. My relationships were suffering and I wasn’t taking care of myself.
I did eventually find help as I started building my team. My first hire I brought on in 2011 and she is still with me today over eight years later and I am so thankful for her! She dove into my business and she is my right hand woman. She is an incredibly talented designer and takes care of this business as if it were her own. Since then we’ve had a number of designers, assistant designers and interns come to work with us. It really is incredible to see how this crazy little idea has grown so much bigger than me. In the past 10 years that we have been in business, we have designed over 800 weddings and events!
But, in those early days, I will admit, I was still not good at handing things off. I was scheduling all of the appointments, sending all of the reminders and tracking all of our orders. All on top of actually meeting with clients and designing! It was overwhelming.
It took a few years, but reality again looked me square in the eyes. And those were the eyes of my sweet firstborn daughter, Giles. Someone else now needed my time and attention. Holding her was the sweetest feeling but, because I had not prioritize my life and my time, I was struggling. I was trying to keep too many balls in the air and, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t doing a very good job of it! Would you believe I was actually answering emails while in labor? Talk about misprioritized time! Something had to give!
I remember having a skype call with my team while I was on my first maternity leave. As soon as I logged in, I instantly saw how exhausted they were. I’d been accidentally double booking appointments, not following up, clients who were not a good fit for our company were pouring in. I wasn’t doing a good job doing my job and they were suffering because of it.
It wasn’t that my company couldn’t survive without me, its that I had not empowered my team to even make that a possibility.
So I took a hard look at how I was running my business what I was doing on a daily basis. What absolutely needed to be done by me? What could I delegate? What could I eliminate all together? Let me tell you, y’all, it was scary. But on the other side of that fear was a HUGE amount of freedom. By prioritizing and delegating, I was now freed up not only to spend time with my new family, but to work on things that truly moved my business forward instead of being in the weeds all of the time. I learned how to set work aside when my family needed me. To draw boundaries to protect myself and my time. How to work smarter, not harder. These are the things I want to share with you!
Mommas, I hear you out there. I hear that there aren’t enough hours in the day. I hear that you are trying to juggle all the things. I hear that you just want one minute to sit down and catch your breath. I’ve been there. In reality, if you are a working mom in any capacity, you are basically doing two full time jobs. It is my goal to share practical advice and stories from those who have gone before us that we can easily incorporate into our lives as working mommas. I cannot wait to hear your “ah ha!” moments as we travel along this road together.
I have a question for you…what do you have in common with the most successful people in the world? Other than all of us breathing oxygen, we all have exactly 24 hours in each day. So if you had a choice, why would you spend a single minute of that doing something that doesn’t move you forward. We will talk a LOT on this podcast about making the most of your time. I like to think of it as time effectiveness rather than time management. To me, time effectiveness means spending more time on the things that matter and move you forward rather than trying to shove so many more things into your day so it is absolutely bursting at the seams.
So today, with that in mind, I’m going to share the three productivity hacks that have changed how I operate in my business. It has made me feel like I have truly accomplished something in my day, reduces my stress level at work and at home because I feel like I have less hanging over my head.
Number one: The Big Three
The big three are the items on my to do list that are the top priority of the day. It may be something I’ve been avoiding, something that requires a little extra brain space or something that’s lived on my to do list for a little too long and is, frankly starting to annoy me because of its sheer existence. When I get into my office every day, the big three are the first things I tackle. My team knows that when my office door is closed, I am heads down. We affectionately refer to this as “Karen’s Hour” and unless the sky is falling, they know to leave me alone. I silence my phone, take off my Apple Watch and close all browser windows that aren’t required for the task at hand. And I KNOCK. IT. OUT.
Number two: Set Boundaries
Boundaries look different for everyone, but I can tell you, they are so freeing. One boundary I set for myself years back was not taking after hours appointments. It’s actually a funny story how this one came to be. In our old studio location, we had a dance club next door. They decided to start offering fitness classes in the early evenings. The zumba was no problem. I quite enjoyed the music. But then they started offering NUDE YOGA. Now, let me be clear, I have no problem with pursuing things that I would not particularly chose to pursue, but this one did affect my business. One early evening, I glanced out the large, plate glass windows from our consult table and saw, out of the corner of my eye, a gentleman sauntering out wearing nothing but cut off denim overalls. I decided then and there that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t worth the risk of my clients being uncomfortable just so I could meet them after work. Instead, I now offer lunchtime Skype calls for my clients that can’t get away during the work day. In the beginning, I was worried that this boundary would push people away, but honestly, the right clients are quite understanding and often opt for a lunchtime call. Drawing the line in the sand has not affected my bottom line at all. In fact, I think it’s helped my clients value me even more as a professional because they see that I value myself and my time. Bonus, even with my longer commute, I now very rarely miss family dinner time.
Number Three: Admit You’re not the Best for the Job
This one is a hard one, but I promise you, I’ve saved the best for last! This is hands down the one thing that changed my business the most and freed up most of my time. I took a good hard look at where my time was being spent and realized that a good portion of this time was spent on tasks that I could easily train someone else to do. By doing this, I was able to dedicate my working time to tasks that only I could do. These were the tasks that made the biggest difference in my bottom line and moved my business forward the most!
I know this sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! With a little time on the front end, you can create a training program to easily hand off tasks, even if you don’t currently have a team. Bringing on a virtual assistant was ground breaking in my business and allowed me to have someone on staff that could handle a number of the tasks I was currently handling without bringing on a full time or even part time team member. My current VA works five hours a week and has a set list of tasks each day that she can easily knock out remotely. Also, because she manages our incoming inquiries, I am not tempted to say yes to things that do not serve the long term goals of our company. FOMO is real, y’all! By having a gatekeeper in place, saying NO is so much easier!
Try outsourcing in your personal life too! We use Blue Apron and Instacart for meal planning and groceries as well as have someone who takes care of our lawn and cleans our home and office. Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean that it is the best investment of your time.
So give it a try first thing tomorrow. Set your big three, start setting boundaries and brainstorm on things you can outsource. You will be amazed much more productive you feel! I cannot wait to hear about it!
September 1, 2019