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 Scale to Seven® 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.

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Kathryn Binkley  

Welcome to Scale to Seven®! Your behind-the-scenes look at what it really takes to scale your business to seven figures. I'm your host Kathryn Binkley, business and leadership coach for online entrepreneurs. Here's what I know, building a business that will generate millions requires the mindset, strategy, and action of a future seven-figure CEO, starting now. Ready to Scale to Seven®? Let's go!

Hey, everybody, welcome back to the podcast. I'm so excited. Today I've got Stephanie Skryzowski. With me, we are going to 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.

Stephanie Skryzowski  

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.

Kathryn Binkley  

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 at scale, because it's not just you and your business, and it's grown and continues to grow?

Stephanie Skryzowski  

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, um, you wear all the hats. So my title was 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 million nonprofit organization. When I became pregnant with my first daughter, I decided, like, I don't want to 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 to 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 six or seven years, here we are today, our client portfolio, we have just under 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. And today, I have a team of let me see I'm counting 34567. Like 18 people.

Kathryn Binkley  

I was like, I was thinking to myself, that's going to 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 it's 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 felt like I knew, of course, your background because we've talked about that. But I 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 want to grow my business to a million dollars and then I want to 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 a million and while you're holding yourself back? 

Stephanie Skryzowski  

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 think I'm gonna grow to a million and just kind of like hold steady there. Because I don't want to manage a big team. I don't want to have a big business, I don't think I can get this beyond a million.

Kathryn Binkley  

And what's changed? Now? What do you know? Or how do you think about it differently now?

Stephanie Skryzowski  

Well, so I sent that to you, I think in like March of 2021. And by, you know, nine months later, we had hit a million. So I was like, oh, wait a second. Well, that didn't take very long. So now what's gonna be next, if 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 behind a million dollars would look like, this is too hard. I have to stop here.

Kathryn Binkley  

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 kind of 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.

Stephanie Skryzowski  

Yeah, I guess I was just so used to leading teams, both in my business. And then I'm thinking about my role just prior to starting my business where I was the leader of the team, and it was a smaller team, maybe four or five 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 will 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, eight additional people to get to a million dollars, and then I need like another six 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 that just was like, well, that's my team. So I have to manage them all individually. 

Kathryn Binkley  

Yeah. And so now we're working to establish leaders and 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. 

Stephanie Skryzowski  

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, so 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 support 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.

Kathryn Binkley  

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 sports. 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 use the word that it kind of felt like an addiction to work. And so describe it to everyone what that felt like, at that time. And you told me there are these three categories of work when you reflected back so tell us a little bit about that realization.

Stephanie Skryzowski  

Yeah, so I. So I have two little girls, I have a five year old and a two year old right now. And I don't have full time childcare for them. And so I do a lot of like, definitely like I would set her where like you're shifting your focus very quickly from one thing to another 

Kathryn Binkley  

Or multitask. 

Stephanie Skryzowski  

Yeah, yeah, there's another term that anyway, 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 and chunks of time, I'm doing mom's 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 7pm. 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 three 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 work that I was doing in the evenings into three categories. And the first was habit working, were 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 that sort of habit, frame of work, I was just doing busy work, I was like answering emails or like clicking about in a sauna, 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 that 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 going to have enough time. So that was where I was planning most of the time. But then I realized like, there are some times that I would call it like necessary work. So because I don't have a crystal clear Monday through Friday, nine to five schedule, there are deadlines that still happen, I still do have a number of clients that I support. And I have to close our 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 third category of work is fun work. Projects are 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 want to 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.

Kathryn Binkley  

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 pretty quickly. And that's a choice that we can make. And we can talk a little bit about that. But then even the second 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 the 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 two 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. Is that decision or that choice not to do the work. So how do you differentiate the two or what comes up for you when we talk about choosing freedom? Yeah,

Stephanie Skryzowski  

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 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 out. So it's very easy for me to stay busy. But 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 of weeks ago. I voxed 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 handed in a 15 minute window that I have for lunch, you don't mind, 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 owners, we're never going to 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 my own piece, rather than just like habitually coming back into my office, you know, shoving sandwich on my throat and doing two emails in that period of time.

Kathryn Binkley  

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 the shortest 15 minutes. How do you feel afterwards? Can you notice a difference?

Stephanie Skryzowski  

I honestly feel like it sounds kind of silly. But the first word that comes 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 kind of silly, but it's like taking 15 minutes to go sit and eat lunch by myself away from my screen really did. And does like 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.

Kathryn Binkley  

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 feel 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 that feeling powerful. I just think about who he is and 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, wouldn't it? 

Stephanie Skryzowski  

Yeah, totally. 

Kathryn Binkley  

All right. 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?

Stephanie Skryzowski  

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, just so between 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 reshaped my calendar. So I only take meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays. What that means right now is that Mondays and 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 and Tuesdays are for meetings. And that's it no other days a week, but 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 need a hobby or something. But what is me actually, I've read like two dozen books, I think in the first six weeks of the year, because I'm not just like staring 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 oh, maybe we should let a note keep your boundaries. And I have been, been pretty good about that for the first six 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 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, 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 handed 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, and then 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 than I need to shift to my team. But I would say that is the second big, big shift that I have made an 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 this also felt like pretty scary, but completely necessary for me to be able to yeah, continue with these changes that I've made.

Kathryn Binkley  

Yeah. So for everyone who's listening, they may be thinking, I'm just guessing that when you say hiring, even when it's uncomfortable, 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 want to be irresponsible. And we're not talking about being irresponsible 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 through, what's this gonna look like? How is this going to 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? To make that decision?

Stephanie Skryzowski  

Yeah, uh, well, so you know, the first place I'm always going is my trusty forecast, I'm looking at the numbers first and foremost. And so I have 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 going to bring in and what we're going to 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 eyes to I imagine, okay, we're going to hire four 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 four 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 four new people? What does that mean in terms of revenue potential, so not only expenses, but like, if we bring these four 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 plug all the numbers in, I look at the numbers. And I did that recently. I literally just hired four 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 that but that's always the first 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 this time, especially with making four hires in the course of like, a couple weeks, I actually did like a little retreat by myself last week of 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 competent 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.

Kathryn Binkley  

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 encouraged 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 speak on the power of having numbers and data but no one knows that better than Stephanie. So Stephanie, maybe you even want to touch on that a little bit because that's what you do everyday 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?

Stephanie Skryzowski  

Yeah, so I mean, really having visibility into the future of your business 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 sure the bookkeeper sends them a P&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 forecasts 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 going to be spending on each, each expense in my business over the next 12 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 four 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 can really use their numbers to see into the future of the business. And we look at you know, your actual, so like what actually happens this year combined with a 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 don't 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 going to be in a cash crunch in three months, or six months or whatever. So yeah, I don't know how anybody operates a business without a forecast.

Kathryn Binkley  

Yeah, I agree. 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 going to give you what you need to make those decisions. All right, so Stephanie, could you tell everyone where they could learn more about you?

Stephanie Skryzowski  

Yeah, yeah, our website, just 100degreesconsulting.com. And you can find us on Instagram @100degreesconsulting or my Instagram is stephanie.skry. 

Kathryn Binkley  

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

Hey, if you like what you're learning on the podcast, you have to check out The Scalability Factor™. It's my coaching program where I teach you how to create and sell a scalable offer so you can earn more while working less. Just head over to kathrynbinkley.com/scalability and I'll see you inside.

 

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