EP 52 - The 4 must-have systems to grow your business - karemmieses.com


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Productive boss life

with Karem Mieses


EP 52 – The 4 must-have systems to grow your business


with Business & Productivity Consultant Karen Grill

In episode 52 of the “Life Boss: Becoming Unstoppable Podcast“, I joined forces with a Boss Lady, Super Mom & Colleague to bring you a real discussion on the 4 must-have systems to reclaim our time to not only grow our businesses but enjoy life. Productivity Coach & Fix This Next adviser, Karen Grill, shares with us her insights scheduling, time management, boundaries, and social media management as it has evolved over the last 10 years.

We dive deep into how to select tech and apps beyond the hottest trends and compare notes on why we have personally chosen the ones we currently use. All in an effort that you look past the trends and apply what’s available to your ultimate goals.

Karen Grill is a Business & Productivity Coach for Entrepreneurs and a Certified Fix This Next Advisor. Having started her first online business over 10 years ago, she knows the struggles of entrepreneurs and has learned the strategies for creating a successful business. She loves helping business owners manage their time, overcome their tech issues, create systems and strategies to work less and earn more so that they can run the business they love while still having time for their families and themselves.

And you will not want to miss her picks for
(1) Scheduling apps

(2) Project management Software

(3) Social Media Tools

(4) Karen Grill’s experiment for us this week.

Karen Grill, Business Consultant, Second Act Moms, Life boss podcast



Karem Mieses (00:53):

And today I have a very special guest because she’s a colleague and she basically does the same thing that I do, which is really unusual in our industry to share. But I want it to bring her so that you get a different perspective when I’m talking about systems and productivity and how to get things done.
So Karen, a little bit about you. How did you get to do this, that you do now?

Karen Grill  (02:21):

Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me, Karem. It’s so wonderful to be able to talk with another colleague. I really appreciate that. So I started my first online business over 12 years ago. I was in a situation where my husband was working in another state and I had two little kids. And so I really struggled. I struggled to be able to service my clients and having to deal with these two little kids. They were like five and three. And so I just realized there was a point where I was sick and my kids were there running around screaming. I was trying to answer a client’s email and I was just like, this cannot be what it’s supposed to be like. This is insane. And so I really kind of went on this journey to figure out how about time management

Karen Grill  (03:00):

And productivity and how was I going to be able to make this work, to be able to do this business, but still be there to support my kids. And so I took a lot of classes. I read a lot of books and all the things, but I realized a lot of times that they were men who were writing them and they didn’t have the care of their kids. They really didn’t understand my situation. And so it’s taken me a long time to really figure out ways that we can work on our business and still be there for our kids. And so I’m so thrilled to be at this moment where we are right now, because it’s a wonderful time to be able to be with our kids into the businesses we love.

Karem Mieses (03:34):

Definitely. I’m right there with you on that, because to be honest guys, (you know that I am very understanding and have patience) but there’s nothing truer than another mother can understand you way better because you have to be a mother to really understand what is happening. And I have had this fight basically with many of my boss babes that do not have kids and say, no, but I have to do what it is. And I’m like, yes, I know I was like that. Like I had my kids later, like I have my first one at 35. So I wasn’t, I thought the same way that they, they are thinking now and I’m like, Oh my gosh, I was so full of it. And then kids enter. And it’s like, Oh my gosh, all this work, but work life balance in corporate is absolute BS. Yeah.

Karen Grill  (04:43):

I had the same experience. I worked in international development and I mean, we worked 60 to eight hours a week and that was just normal. Like, it was nothing strange. And then when I had kids, I’m like, wait, I can’t do that anymore. Right. But it was hard to readjust and figure out, okay, so now I’m my own boss. So how do I manage that time? Right. So that I can actually serve the clients that I have and giving them the best that I can, but then still the whole reason I did it was to have time with my kids. Right. And be able to be there for their school events and all those things. And I just don’t think people who haven’t had kids or who don’t have the care of their kids don’t understand that.

Karen Grill  (05:18):

Oh yes. And when you started transitioning your business to a more suiting lifestyle, something sustainable, right. What do you think was a crucial part of it? Like either a system or a mindset shift that was like the pivoting moment where you said, no, we are doing this now.

Why did Karen Grill became a Productivity Coach For Moms

Karen Grill  (05:44):

Right. So I have to say that when I started there just wasn’t the technology available there, weren’t the tools and the software that there are now. So I didn’t have that help, but instead, it really was a mindset shift thinking about what real-time do I actually have to work on my business? And I think this is where a lot of people go wrong. They think, Oh, so I’ll work from 10 to two. And I think they actually have four hours to work. But when you really look at it, you actually have less than that. Right. And I always have kind of buffer time just in case something happens with my kids. Like one time my son got hit in the head and gym class, I had to go to, you know, that you are and all those things. And so my whole day was shot and I didn’t know what to do after that. Like what do you do when you finally come back? And so it was really figuring out, okay, I really have less time than I think to work. What are the crucial things that I have to get done today for my clients? And then if there’s extra time, perfect, I have always things to do. Right. But really being specific about what I needed to get done that day and how much time I had to work that day.

When is hard to say no but you have to say no anyway

Karem Mieses (06:42):

Was it hard to start saying no to things?

Karen Grill  (06:46):

At first, it was, but I would always go back to those chaotic moments when I hadn’t said no. And the way that it made me feel. And a lot of times I’ve noticed I would get sick right after those kinds of times, or I just wasn’t feeling well. And so I couldn’t be there for my kids or my clients. I’m like, well, that’s not a better solution. So I realized, I got really specific at firing clients. So I have another business that I started and I worked with patent attorneys and there were some patent attorneys who tried to always have me do more than what my service was. And I realized from the beginning, then I can’t work with those people cause they would call me all day long and that just wasn’t my service. And so I realized I can not have those clients. And I got really good at firing them. I made those boundaries and I just realized I felt better. And I was able to be more present for my kids. And so it made a huge difference. And when I saw those results, it was easy to say no,

Karem Mieses (07:36):

Oh yes. Oh my gosh, I hear you. And I go, I, it takes me down memory lane because I used to though a lot of expert witness on bankruptcy courts and yes, yes. – attorneys -and those of you that are attorneys, I hope that you are doing it differently, but it’s like, w what’s the most important is or whatever. You have to be reacting to every email, to every text. Do everything. I remember when, when we started, the first smart-phone was a Blackberry and that was crazy. That was like crazy because they would think that you are working Sunday and Saturday and around the clock and expedited, like, no, that’s not the way to go. So if you would have to start now because you and I, both of us started before there was all this technology. I started transitioning everything online in 2012. So it’s been a while. If you have start all over know what three steps would start with? Like, do this right away in 2020?

Recommendations for a business owner starting or re-structuring now in 2020

Karen Grill  (08:56):

Scheduling software

I started, they didn’t have any scheduling software. And so it literally was going back and forth by email, on, you know, what a waste of time. Right. For everybody, for both of us. And so I definitely think that he’s displaced for most people have started as some kind of scheduling software. I think use acuity. I like Calendly find the one that works for you. But I also think people don’t always use their tools to the fullest extent. So people think, Oh, I can just schedule appointments with Calendly or acuity, but really you can take payments. You can have an intake questionnaire form, you can have it connect with zoom. So they get reminders and have the zooming set. So there’s so much that one tool can do for you. And the amount of time it saves is amazing. So make sure whatever tool you’re using, make sure you’re using it to the fullest extent that you can.

Karem Mieses (09:41):

So that’s one, one or two more. So

Karen Grill  (09:46):

Project Management Software aka the hub

I definitely have like project management software. I think you said you use Trello. I like Asana, but again, there are so many options. And I think that’s one thing that wasn’t in the past. Like they didn’t have all those options. And so in some ways, it’s harder now, but in some ways, I think it’s easier to find something that works with your brain. Like we all think differently how we work is different. So you need to find the one that really kind of jives with the way you work. And it’s great that there are all those options. So I, there most all have free trials. So try one that works for you. But the thing that is so revolutionary about them is you can put everything in them. And so really when you wake up in the morning, all you have to do is open that tool and you’ll see exactly what you have to do today. You’re going to sign it to other people. If you have a team or if you have maybe a virtual assistant so that you can see everything, it’s kind of your headquarters, your hub, right. Your company hub. So you can see everything there. And I even keep all my mom’s stuff in there. So really I have just a one-stop-shop so I can see everything when I go in there and it’s super easy and it definitely saves me time.

Karem Mieses (10:42):

Yes. Okay. So I love that you mentioned about, there are so many options right now, and I know that maybe a policy can get into paralysis by analysis because figuring out which one is the best and Karen said it brilliantly, start with the one that works for you. I started using Asana because when I started, basically that was it. Yeah. That was, there were no many options. It was Excel or Excel, or what was it with the AA action plan that project managers use. And for those of you that have no idea, you stop calculating our ages. But what I love about Trello and it’s something to consider is I am a very visual person. My brain works with pictures. So Asana gives me that. And also because I love to play with images, it gives me an extra motivation goal there. And back to what Karen said on about the scheduling system, it’s maximizing the functionality. But I would like to compare notes with the statement with Karen, I have found with my clients that many times when they stumble with technology or with the app is because they didn’t sit down to brain dump everything that they do on a day.

Karen Grill  (12:26):

And you know, that’s one of the biggest things, again, they’re either not realistic about what they do each day. They don’t even really know all the things that they do, whether it’s business or personal, but also they don’t take the time. And, you know, I don’t know how we can, how we can stress enough that if you take the time upfront, it makes your life so much easier going forward. So take the time now to learn the tool, whatever tool you choose that you think works for you, make sure you learn it, put everything in it, so that then you will be saving the time and you’ll be the productive person that you want to be.

Karen Grill, Business Consultant, Second Act Moms, Life boss podcast

Karem Mieses (19:24):

So you okay. So we talked about scheduling. We talked about your project management tools and how important it is to set up your processes, like sitting down and saying, wait, this is everything that I need to do, or that I do in a day, so that you start decluttering and maximizing those resources, What would be a third one that is like a must-have?

Karen Grill  (19:49):

Social Media Scheduling Tools

So, as you alluded to so many gurus say, you have to be everywhere on social media, you have to be visible. So I do believe that social media is a great tool to use. You need to pick kind of your lane, pick the platform that you think your clients are on, and that kind of resonates with you. But I think I’m using some kind of social media scheduling tool is a must because it’s impossible to be everywhere all the time. And so, you know, whether you use creator studio, which is free, so you can schedule if you’re on Facebook or Instagram that’s a great way to always have that content going out consistently, but also you still need to schedule time into going to engage, right? I think that’s something people miss they’ll schedule this content, but they didn’t ever go back and reapply to the people who’ve commented. And that’s so important in terms of both the algorithm, but it just people seeing you and seeing that you’re responsive and you’re actually on these platforms, you’re not just posting and ghosting everybody, right? So you really find the platform that you want to focus on and then be consistent about it. And I think these scheduling tools can really help,

Karem Mieses (20:48):

This is a hot topic lately, so I gotta ask, which scheduling tool is easier or favorite and why?

Karen Grill  (20:56):

So this is a tough one. I have tried a whole bunch of different ones. I will say that it seems to me lately that, you know, Facebook is really pushing creator studio of their own tool and it’s free. So, you know, I do a lot on my Facebook there. I actually have Tailwind for Pinterest and Instagram, and I definitely like some of the functions that are there for Instagram in terms of now you can schedule Instagram reels, you can do stories. You can save groups of hashtags so that you can just click a button, it’s there, it’ll automatically post in the first comment. I’m doing kind of a test and I’m a big experimenter testing if there’s a difference in reach when I post using creator studio or if I do tail one. So I don’t know the details yet, but hopefully I’ll have a solution if it’s better to use the third party tool or better to use Facebook and Instagram’s own tool.

Karem Mieses (21:46):

Hmm. That’s a great experiment. We have been doing both, but I think that, and this is all nerding out on tech right now, but I have found that the difference where I see the difference in reach is when I am engaging. Yeah. Like the algorithm somehow is remunerated your participation on the platform because that’s, they, they want more eyeballs on the platform. So they, because they are selling ads. So they want blue eyes their business model starts to crumble,

Karen Grill  (22:22):

But that’s why I think it’s so important. You can’t just schedule while it’s good to have a schedule into it. You do, you have to schedule that time during the day. And if you can, you know, like even within 15 minutes to 30 minutes from when your post goes out to go in and try to engage respond to comments, I think that’s one of the best things you can do.

Karem Mieses (22:37):

What one thing you wish you would have started doing way sooner to get you where you are at faster?

Karen Grill  (22:52):

I think focusing, so I think so many of us, when you start out, you’re kind of reading all this information and following all these different people and everybody has a different perspective in a way of doing the business. I think if I would have focused on one thing, I’m one service, especially at the beginning, I think, and I’m one client. I think that I would have gone along faster. Right. I think it would have the best track. And I think so many people feel so scattered like they’re trying to do so many things. So that’s why I say you choose one social media platform. You don’t have to do all of them, especially at the beginning, like really find your voice, figure out you know, if your clients are attracted to what you’re saying on this platform if they’re there. And then also if your clients are responding to the services that you’re providing, if your offer, if nobody’s accepting it, then that’s probably something you need to change. But I think when you can focus at the beginning and then you can start to expand your offerings, I think I would have moved faster.

Karen Grill, Business Consultant, Second Act Moms
Karen Grill, Business & Productivity Coach at Second Act Moms

Karem Mieses (26:19):

What does it mean for you to be the boss of your life?

Karen Grill  (26:34):

I definitely see it kind of holistically, right. So I think we talk about work-life balance, and people say that can’t be there can’t have a work-life balance, but I don’t exactly think that’s true. I don’t think it has to be a balance like 50, 50, but I believe that you can have kind of a work-life, a family life, and then a time for yourself. And it’s just kind of figuring out how that’s going to work in your life. And so for me, being the boss of my life is really having all those components every day in my life.

Karem Mieses (27:00):

As you were explaining it, I was imagining like bubbles floating. More than a wheel, it’s where you feel the most comfortable I guess.

Karen Grill  (27:15):

I feel like kind of fulfilled, right? So I have the business, I love working with my clients. I love my business. So I have that part. I have the time with my family that I love as well, but I also realized at some point that I needed to have that time for myself. And so carving out a little time each day, even if it’s five minutes of journaling, whatever that is, that really makes me feel like I’ve had a full day.

Karem Mieses (27:35):

Karen has given us a lot, those three tools are ones that you can start working on right now. I love all your perspective on it specially that you include the business but also the life perspective. And, and that’s so important because I believe that that’s what makes entrepreneurship sustainable. We are not going to sprint, and burnouts. So with that said, I love to end the show, giving the listeners and experiment for the week.


Karen Grill  (28:40):

One thing I know that you love is time blocks as well, Karem. So one of the things that I think is really important is trying to, you know, batch similar tasks together. It was funny. I was at a friend’s house a little while ago and she was cleaning and she would like clean this one area, then walk over here and clean this area and then clean it. I’m like, what are you doing? Like that is so inefficient. So in all areas of life, I think we can find efficiencies. So let’s say, I know a lot of clients will finish with a client and they’ll invoice them and then they’ll have another client. Then they’ll invoice them. Instead of having the invoicing throughout the date, set a block of time where you do all the invoices together, because it’s much more productive, you’re working with your brain. So they say that when you do similar tasks in a row, you’re much more efficient and it can take up to 20 minutes to reassess your brain goes back to a new kind of task. And so it’s so much more efficient. So wherever you can in your business and even in your life, figure out things that you do repetitively, if you do them all the time, try to find a block of time in your schedule and do them all at once. You’ll find it’s much more efficient and it’ll work with your brain. You’ll much more better.

Karem Mieses (29:43):

I love that because sometimes people ask me, “But what do you mean about blocks of time?” And you just explain it like brilliantly with this batching experiment. And it’s right. It takes some time to going from one task to the next. And then you are losing time in day. So guys, that’s your experiment this week. You are going to do those, not only the time blocks, but batching as well during those time blocks, so that you can start finding pockets of time. Thank you, Karen Grill so much for sharing your wisdom and your knowledge and experience with us. I’m super grateful to have you here.

Karen Grill  (30:28):

Oh, thank you so much, Karem. It’s been a pleasure to be here with you.

How to Connect with Karen Grill?

Karen Grill is a Business & Productivity Coach for Entrepreneurs and a Certified Fix This Next Advisor. Having started her first online business over 10 years ago, she knows the struggles of entrepreneurs and has learned the strategies for creating a successful business. She loves helping business owners manage their time, overcome their tech issues, create systems and strategies to work less and earn more so that they can run the business they love while still having time for their families and themselves.


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