Episode 106: Invisible Barriers with Stephanie Skryzowski

What are the Limiting Beliefs Holding You Back from Scaling?

Do you dream of scaling your revenue, but catch yourself with limiting beliefs that lead to playing small instead? Are you thinking:

  • I don’t have time
  • It will be easier to do it myself
  • I don’t want to manage or train a team
  • I can’t grow my revenue without working more

You aren’t alone. 

In today’s episode my client, Stephanie Skryzowski, is sharing the invisible barriers that were limiting her revenue and freedom and how she overcame them, crossed the $1M mark and has set her business up for limitless growth.

And if you’re ready to remove all of the invisible barriers between you and your goals, join me in The Elevate Effect™ Mastermind. I’ll show you how to shift your mindset and strategy to create the financial and time freedom you desire. Apply here


In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • How to think about scaling your business like a formula
  • Why what’s holding you back is often an invisible barrier
  • Why adding team members doesn’t have to mean adding more work to your plate
  • 3 Categories of Work —-> and which one to cut immediately
  • How to intentionally choose freedom and leverage your power as a CEO
  • How to get clarity when you have big decisions to make in your business


Featured on the Show:

Stephanie Skryzowski is a visionary Chief Financial Officer that helps purpose-driven leaders better understand and use their numbers to make smart decisions to grow their bottom line and their impact. She is the Founder and CEO of 100 Degrees Consulting which provides financial strategy and bookkeeping services to businesses and nonprofits around the globe. 

Stephanie is passionate about educating leaders to understand, use, and communicate their numbers to create financial sustainability and increase their impact on the world, and she runs The Purpose & Profit Collective, a program to empower entrepreneurs to master their own finances.

When she is not crunching numbers, Stephanie is exploring the world with her husband and two young daughters.


Hey. Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. I'm so excited. Today, I've got Stephanie Skrzowski with me. We are gonna talk about numbers and finances and freedom and how all of those are connected. She is an incredible client of mine, but also just an amazing CEO who has scaled her business, and I want her to tell you all about that. Stephanie, thanks for being here.

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah. Fractional CFO, and I own a CFO and bookkeeping agency. So we provide CFO strategy and bookkeeping services to small businesses and nonprofits.

Awesome. Will you tell everybody a little bit about how you got started and even just a little background to understand the size of your business, the scale, because it's not just you and your business, and it's grown and continues to grow.

Yeah. So I actually started my career. I'm going all the way back to, like, right after college. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I had thought I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 12 years old. So My entire undergrad and then my career choice after college was all towards the direction of becoming a lawyer, so I went so far as to take the LSAT and I realized pretty quickly that this was like the opposite of what I wanted. It was nothing like what I wanted. And so I started working for a nonprofit.

And similar to entrepreneurship in a nonprofit, you're kind of doing everything. You wear all the hats. So my title is operations manager, but I was also doing all of the finances and the accounting and bookkeeping and financial reporting as well as, like, fundraising and stuffing envelopes and hosting events and all the things, but I really latched on to the finance side of things. And so I moved into working for nonprofits As a finance person all the way up to being the CFO about a $15,000,000 nonprofit organization. When I became pregnant with my first daughter, I decided, Like, I don't wanna do this anymore. I was traveling the world, which was beyond incredible and gave me, like, the most amazing experiences of my life, but I was ready just kind of settle down and do my own thing, and I had always had this entrepreneurial bug. And I decided, you know, I think there are smaller nonprofits out there that need CFO strategy, financial leadership, but they can't afford somebody or don't need somebody full time. And so that's really where The business began, really thinking I was just going to be a CFO for, like, a handful of nonprofits.

And pretty quickly, I started talking to small business owners who were in the same boat like, hey. I have challenges with cash flow. Hey. I need help with forecasting. Can you help me too? And so started adding small businesses. And then we also quickly found out that those organizations and companies who needed, you know, financial strategy. Often, they didn't have a good bookkeeping solution either, and so sometimes their books were a mess. You can't really provide that strategy If your books are a hot mess on the back end.

So we started offering bookkeeping services as well. So fast forward 6 or 7 years, here we are today, our client portfolio. We have just under a 100 clients, and about half of them are nonprofits, half are small businesses. And the common thread between all of them is that they are all purpose driven, mission focused businesses and nonprofit organizations all looking to make an impact in the world.

I was like I I was thinking to myself, that's gonna be difficult for you to come up with that number because you just keep adding more people and you just made some hiring decisions that are in the works. So I was like, you're gonna have to add in a few more people even. So exciting. Okay. So I didn't know that you were an operations manager before. I feel like I knew, of course, background because we've talked about that, but I've either I forgot or I never knew that you had that title. That's really interesting. Just learning something new about you.

So fun. So when you came to me, one of the very first conversations we had, maybe even one of our very first exchanges in Voxer. You had said to me something along the lines of, I just wanna grow my business to $1,000,000 and then I wanna hold steady because and why don't you fill in the blank there and talk about, like, why you didn't think you wanted to go beyond a1000000 and why you're holding yourself back.

Yeah. I remember that thought so clearly because I really felt like that's where I sort of had to top out. So I said, yeah. I I think I'm gonna grow to a million to just kind of, like, hold steady there because I don't wanna manage a big team. I don't wanna have a big business. I don't think I can get this beyond a1000000. And what's changed now? What do you know or how do you think about it differently now?

Well, so I said that to you, I think, in, like, March of 2021. And by, you know, 9 months later, we had hit a 1,000,000. So I was like, oh, wait a second. Well, that didn't take very long. So now what's what's gonna be next if we I do decide to just, like, hang here. But what has changed since then, I think, is realizing that there's actually, like, a very specific formula to growing my business, And there probably is a very specific formula to growing everybody's business. You just have to figure out what that formula is. And I felt like a year ago now.

So in February, March of 2021, I didn't really understand that formula yet where it's like, okay, if we have the systems and structures and processes in place, the formula is very simple. For every x number of clients, I need this position and that position. And then I could just keep layering on top of that, and it actually becomes very simple and routine. And, like, I don't have to think about it or reinvent the wheel, but I was not at that point a year ago, so it felt like I don't even know what a business beyond $1,000,000 would look like. This is too hard. I have to stop here.

I love that you describe it as a formula. Of course, with everything you do, it makes sense that that's how your brain works, and I couldn't agree more. That's so true. I think there's another piece of the formula that you had in your mind that since then you've let go of, and that is you kinda described it as an invisible barrier at the time where you didn't think you could go further because there was also this other formula that you thought was true but wasn't, and that was the more team members that you add, the more that you are going to have to work. And, sure, there's actually some truth. Like, they have to be onboarded. They need a leader, but it didn't all have to be you or it doesn't all have to be you. So maybe talk about that shift in your mindset as well.

Yeah. I guess I was just so used to leading teams both in my business, and then I'm thinking about my role this prior to starting my business where I was the leader of the team, and it was a smaller team, maybe 4 or 5 people under me, so that's what made sense. It didn't make sense to put anyone in between those people and myself, so I just sort of had this thought in my head that, well, I have to lead every person on the team individually. I didn't have any hierarchy built into, like, the org chart in my business, so it was just, like, me and then a layer of, you know, how many of our people under me. So I was thinking, okay. Well, if I need, you know, 8 additional people To get to $1,000,000, and then I need, like, another 6 people on top of that for the next level. I was like, I can't manage 14 people myself, and I didn't even think of the possibility of not being able to grow, but not having to manage all those people. I just was like, well, it's my team, so I have to manage them all individually.

Yeah. And so now we're working to establish leaders in each section department, you know, function of your business. And that way, they are handling the day to day management and you're focusing on leading leaders instead of leading everyone. Because I'm sure for everyone listening, like, managing a team and, you know, plus people, the team keeps growing. That's not something that sounds fun, it sounds like it could take

a lot of time, but it doesn't have to. Yeah. Definitely. I'm already starting to see that a little bit with the sort of with the structure that you and I have worked into building into the business, I've already started to see that that bit of relief And not having to manage everybody, and we're still adding, you know, still adding people, still adding layers, and I'm already, yes, just starting to see that hierarchy. And it has made not only my life easier, but I think it's made the team so much stronger because the team gets more dedicated, more frequent work that they need in order to be successful as well. So, like, me letting go of that was not just good for me. Like, it's good for the team too.

Oh, that's so great. I'm glad that you said that because I'm sure that some people feel like, as a CEO, they would still want their team to have access to them, but to hear that it's even better, it can be a better experience. Not that they don't have any access to you, but it can be even better support. It sounds amazing. That's a good reminder. So then let's talk about, once we got some of the hierarchy in place, at that point, it was really more so, okay, now what are you still spending your time on that we can free up. And this was back to another conversation that we had where you reached out and you actually mentioned that you were working at night and you used the word that it kinda felt like an addiction to work. And so describe it to everyone what that felt like, at the time and you told me there were these 3 categories of work when you reflected back, so tell us a little bit about that realization.

Yeah. So I, so I have 2 little girls. I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old right now, and I don't have full time childcare for them. And so I do a lot of, like, definitely, like what's that term where, like, you're shifting your focus very quickly from one thing to another.

Oh, multitasking.

Today. Yeah. There's another term that anyway, it doesn't matter. But yeah. So I have, like, I have full time childcare a couple days a week, and then the other days, I'm doing, like I have chunks of time where I'm doing work stuff. In chunks of time, I'm doing mom stuff. And so sometimes I need to work in the evenings just like finish up projects or things like that. But what I found Was that every evening, I'd put the girls to bed at 7 PM, and I would go to my office.

I'd reach for my laptop, and I'd go to the couch, and I would just sit there for 3 hours on my laptop. And I was doing things, like, the whole time. I was I was doing things, but what I discovered was that, like, that was a habit. That was a habit of coming into my office, grabbing my laptop, and sitting on the couch. And so I really differentiated the the work, that I was doing in the evenings into 3 categories. And the first was habit working where I just out of habit, I was just grabbing my laptop and sitting on the couch. And I was doing that way, way, way too often. And so what I found when I was doing in in that sort of habit frame of work, I was just doing busy work.

I was, like, answering emails or, like, clicking about in Asana, just checking things off, doing, like, little things that, yes, needed to get done, but were not urgent and did not necessarily need to be done by me at all. And it was all rooted. Habit working is really rooted in a scarcity mindset that there's not enough time. If I don't do it tonight, like, I'm just not gonna have enough time. So that was where I was landing most of the time, but then I realized, like, there are some times that I would call, like, necessary work. So because I don't have a crystal clear Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 schedule. There are deadlines that still happen. I still do have a number of clients that I support, and I have to close their books.

I have to present financials by a certain date. And so if that was a day where I only had childcare for half the day, but it needed to be done by the morning. Yes. I would need to get on in the evening to finish that project, so I would call that necessary work. And the 3rd category of work is fun work. Projects or things that I'm working on that I find really exciting or inspiring or perhaps I, you know, just bought a new course and I wanna learn. And and so, you know, I would do those things in the evening. So I really broke it into, like, habit working, necessary work, and then fun work.

And what I realized was, like, Way too often, my evenings were falling into that habit work category.

Yeah. Absolutely. And I really see like, when you shared that with me, I was like, okay. So we can get rid of the habit work work pretty quickly, and that's a choice that we can make, and we can talk a little bit about that. But then even the 2nd category, let's look into why some of that work is necessary. Some of it is just your schedule with kids and choosing intentionally to be a mom during this time. But if it's not, if it's necessary work because of some other reason, maybe there's something else we can do with a team or a system to free that time up. And then, of course, the fun work, like, no need to shift that.

If you want to work and it's a choice to work because it's fun and it's some inspiring project, then, by all means, like, have at it. I love that. But being able to separate it out, I love that that helps you see. What do you really want to spend your time on? Really, like, what do you want to choose at the end of the day? And so I know from our you know? And with coaching, that really led to this conversation of, okay, what actually needs to change. And then some of that is actual changes that are required in the business, things with your schedule or your team or systems like I said. And sometimes it is just that choice. So let's talk about those 2 categories. Let's first talk about maybe the choosing because I think a big realization is that freedom is, in some cases, it's just a decision, especially with that busy work or that habit work.

It's that decision or that choice not to do the work. So how do you differentiate the 2 or what comes up for you when we talk about choosing freedom?

Yeah. I mean, I think it's I think it's being, like, a whole lot more objective with my with my thoughts and thinking like, does this literally have to get done this this minute or this day. And when I think about it objectively, no. Like, most of the time, it doesn't. I'm very type a. I like to be on top of things. I like to check things off, so it's very easy for me to stay busy. What I what I was finding even during my days is I would have, you know, 15 minutes in between meetings around lunchtime, and I just did this a couple weeks ago.

I boxed you a message about it. I was like, I feel, like, really proud of myself because I literally sat in my kitchen, and I made myself lunch. And I ate lunch sitting at the table, looking outside when normally I would come bring it back to my desk and, like, tackle a few emails. Well, what the choice that I made there was, like, knowing that those emails do not need to get handled in that 15 minute window that I have for lunch. You know, my, like, mind, space, and peace is the Choice that I want to make because I know that, yes, I will always have things to do. There I will never get to the end of my to do list. I feel like all business donors. We're never gonna get to the end of our to do list literally ever.

So why not make that choice to take those 15 minutes for myself and my own self care and my own peace rather than just, like, habitually coming back into my office, you know, shoving the sandwich down my throat and doing 2 emails in that period of time. I'm so proud

of you, first of all, for taking that time. And I'm so glad that you're sharing that with everyone, not just that you took that time, but that, like, that reminder that that to do list will never end. There's always more to do. So if you want to create freedom, part of that is finding those pockets, choosing those pockets of time and being intentional with it. In your experience, after you take those times or those pockets away from your desk even if it is just as short as 15 minutes. How do you feel afterwards? Can you notice a difference?

I honestly feel like it sounds kind of silly, but the first words that come to my mind is I feel more powerful. Like, I feel like I have control. I'm not letting my inbox or my to do list or ClickUp or whatever. Like, that's not controlling me. I feel more powerful and in control over the work that I'm doing and my day. And, yeah, it's it's It seems kinda silly, but it's like taking 15 minutes to go sit and eat lunch by myself away from my screen really did And does well, I did it again today, actually. It does give me that feeling like, okay. I'm a CEO.

I have control over what I'm doing, when I'm doing it, and, like, Gmail is not controlling me.

I think everyone listening has to be able to relate. Like, I'm sure so many people come back to their desk and they just fill every minute with work. And so I love that you're sharing this because there's little quick wins. If it changes how you feel and you get to that place of feeling powerful, I just think about, okay, then what comes from that feeling of feeling powerful? Because, man, that's a very different result than the opposite feeling of out of control or overwhelmed or whatever might come from that. Like, the rest of your day and the results that come from that just have to be complete 180.

Yeah. Totally.

Alright. So then let's talk about some of the changes that you actually did make because it is more than just the choice, you then have to take action. And so there are some things that we changed up with your schedule and inside of the business. So why don't you share a few of those?

Yeah. The first thing that I where I really can feel the impact this year, especially, is in the boundaries that I've set on my calendar for the way that I am, basically, like, crafting my week. So I have a lot of meetings between clients because, like I said, I am still serving clients myself. The so between the clients and, discovery calls with potential clients and team and all the things, I have a lot of calls. And what I found when looking at my calendar was I was spending, like, chunks of time every single day on calls, and so I was never able to get any chunks of time where I could actually get any work done or, like, think, make decisions, do those things that I just need a little bit of space for. So I reshape my calendar, so I only take meetings on Mondays Tuesdays. What that means right now is that Mondays Tuesdays are pretty packed. I'm hoping I know that that will change as I continue to shift what I'm working on.

But right now, Mondays Tuesdays are for meetings, and that's it. No other days awake do I take meetings with, like, a few rare exceptions. I am not working in the evenings anymore unless it's that necessary work or the fun work. I'm not just habit working, and I've found that I feel like I I need a hobby or something, but, what is me? Actually, I've read, like, 2 dozen books, I think, in the 1st 6 weeks of the year because I'm not just, like, at my laptop all night long. So that's the first change I would say is around the calendar and setting those boundaries. And I've had to, like, check myself and almost, like, talk to myself. Like, okay. That client wants to schedule a meeting on a Wednesday because they can't wait till Monday.

Like, maybe we should let them know. Keep your boundaries, and I have been been pretty good about that for the 1st 6 weeks of the year, which I'm really it's worked out really, really nicely for me. So I say that's the biggest first change. The second change is letting go of a lot of my client work, and I had been reluctant to do it. I've Always had a hard time with this, honestly, since the beginning of my business and and giving up my client work. It's the story I'm telling myself that, well, the client just wants me or only I can do this that you know, I want this done kind of, like, with my vision and only I can do that. Or, it will be easier to just do it myself than to hand it off, like, all the excuses. But I've you know, obviously, you've you've helped me with that, sort of push through all of that and start handing things off to the clients, or to handing handing off my clients to my team.

And for the most part, it's, like, gone very smoothly, and we still have some work to do. I still have more clients that I need to shift to my team. But I would say that is the 2nd big big shifts that I have made and action I've taken, and I'd say the third one is hiring. And so hiring more people than feels comfortable, honestly. Especially recently, you and I have had a ton of conversations around that. Like, just hiring a bigger team than feels comfortable to me. Like, It feels pretty far outside of my comfort zone to have a team of 18 people, but I know that that's the team that my business needs to be able to serve our clients really well and do what we need to do. So it's also it's not only client facing people, but it's, really building out a leadership team that's not directly client facing that's also felt like pretty scary, but completely necessary for me to be able to, yeah, continue with these changes that I've made.

Yeah, so for everyone who's listening, they may be thinking, I'm just guessing, that when you say hiring, even when it's comfortable or delegating client work or even just shifting your schedule the way that you talked about, that all of those things are either difficult or impossible for them or they think, I don't wanna be irresponsible. And we're not talking about being responsible at all. We're not talking about, for example, hiring more than your business can afford. And so what that really meant is you have to put some serious thought into these decisions. It's not just on a whim. They are decisions that can be made. But I want you to talk a little bit about your thought process because none of these were quick and easy yeses. All of these took some time, took multiple conversations in some cases to really work what's this gonna look like, how is this gonna work.

So how did you come to the decision ultimately to move forward with each of these, and what are the types of things that you're looking at how to make that decision.

Yeah. Well so, you know, the 1st place I'm always going is my trustee forecast. I am looking at the numbers first and foremost. And so I have a, a month by month forecast of all of the revenue and all of the expenses line by line in my business. And so it's basically, like, my best guess as to what we're gonna bring in and what we're gonna spend every month for the rest of the year and sometimes into the following year. So the first thing I do is I plug those I I imagine, okay, we're gonna hire 4 new people. Let's plug their salaries into the forecast and see what that looks like. And so I can see, okay, if I hire these 4 new people, what will that do to the bottom line? What does our profit look like? What do our margins look like? If we hire these 4 new people, What does that mean in terms of revenue potential? So not only expenses, but, like, if we bring these 4 new people on board, what can we what how much more revenue can we generate with them with them there and being able to serve clients.

So I plugged all the numbers in. I look at the numbers, and I did that recently. I Literally just hired 4 people in the last week, and I did that in this in this situation, and that wasn't enough. Like, I was feeling still nervous. So But that's always the 1st place I go because at the end of the day, the numbers don't lie. The black and white numbers were telling me, yes. You can do this. And so that was, like, that was a good confidence boost.

Like, yes. I can do this. Is my margin where I want it to be? Maybe not, but it will get there with these people on board. But at this point, it, like, it wasn't enough. And so I what I really did at this time, especially with making 4 hires in the course of, like, a couple weeks, I actually did, like, our little retreat by myself last week, a business retreat. And what I realized was I just needed the space and the just clarity away from the day to day of meetings of my inbox of, like, managing the team of all the things to really be able to think clearly about the numbers, about the decision. And it was then that I finally felt like I felt clear. I felt confident in that decision, and I knew I had the forecast, you know, in my back pocket.

I knew the numbers were telling me it was fine, but I just needed some, you know, some headspace to be able to make that decision. And, of course, like, 50 Voxers with you.

I love all each and every Voxer. Happy to hear it. So I'm glad that you got to that place and that you got the clarity that you wanted, and I know so many CEOs need that. And so I really encourage, if you're listening, to go take that time away, get your head CLEAR, but don't miss the first thing that she said. And that's really knowing your numbers. You have to start there. Before I even answered some of her questions or encourage her to hire. We chatted about some of the numbers.

You have to know those to be able to make decisions. And I love to to speak on the power of having numbers and data, but no one knows it better than Stephanie. So, Stephanie, maybe you even want to touch on that a little bit because that's what you do every day with clients. What do they need to be thinking about or considering specifically or how can they connect with you to learn more about that.

Yeah. So, I mean, really having visibility into the future of your business is is the biggest gap that I see when clients first come to us. It's like, yeah, maybe they have a bookkeeper who is keeping track of things in QuickBooks. And so chart bookkeeper sends them a p and l every month, a profit and loss statement, and they may look at it, but that's kind of where their financial management ends. And, honestly, that's almost like the least important part of managing your business money. The most important part, I believe, is that future forecast, that future vision into, okay, what does my revenue look like month by month for the next 12 months? And, you know, we can't predict the future. This is essentially a best guess, but it's better than nothing. Right? Like, we need to have it all documented all on paper, all in a spreadsheet.

Same with expenses, really laying out line by line. Okay. How much am I gonna be spending on each each expense in my business over the next 12 months months. What does my profit margin look like? How much am I paying myself? And it's really that future clarity that helps you make decisions. If I didn't have that, If I didn't have a place to plug in what those 4 salaries might look like, what the impact they would have on my business financials, like, I would definitely not have made that decision Because I'd be more inclined risk averse. I would be much more inclined to just hold on to the money and, like, suffer it out basically without adding these people. So That's what we do. That's exactly what we do.

We help our clients build forecasts so they could really use their numbers to see into the future of the business. And we look at, you know, your actual so, like, what's actually happened this year combined with the future vision for the rest of the year. So you have this, like, snapshot of any you know, at any given point in time of what your year is going to look like financially. So, yeah, I don't make any decisions without plugging it into the forecast. I honestly don't know how people do make any decisions financial without, like, having a forecast. Because if you're making decisions based on how much money is in the bank today, That is very problematic. You know? You might have just be coming off of a really good month, so your bank balance is, like, through the roof. You make decisions on hiring or investing in a mastermind or whatever without realizing or without thinking through fully what expenses are coming down the pike, and you're gonna be in a cash crunch in 3 months or 6 months or whatever.

So, yeah, I don't know how anybody operates a business without a forecast.

Yeah. I agree. I I can't imagine either. And I know that it's something that's so important and so necessary. And, again, I like to preach that, but I don't actually do that work. So I always send people over, and I highly recommend Stephanie. Go check out her team. They will take really good care of you.

I have had an inside look at the way that they work for the last year as we've coached together. And I know that they're just gonna take such good care of you. They're gonna give you what you need to make those decisions. Alright. So, Stephanie, could you tell everyone where they could learn more about you?

Yeah. Yeah. Our website is 100degreesconsulting.com, and you can find us on Instagram at 100degreesconsulting or my Instagram is stephanie.skry.

Awesome. Thanks so much for joining me. Thanks for having me.

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