What We’d Be Working on If I Were Your COO: Q3 Edition

Welcome to the 2021 Q3 Edition of, “What We’d Be Working on If I Were Your COO.” 

At the close of each quarter, I’ll guide you through the exact processes and reflections I work on with my COO clients throughout the year. You can expect actionable guidance, deep reflection, and ways to enhance your business systems to reach your goals. 

Curious about what we’ve covered so far? Check out the 2020 Q4, 2021 Q1 and 2021 Q2 blogs.

Let me paint a picture that defines this season of business. 

There I was in my natural habitat: Target. Flip flops on my feet, a PSL in hand, shopping early for Christmas gifts for my kids.

If that doesn’t sum it up, I don’t know what else does! This season is truly a mish-mash. The summer temperatures are lingering outside, but back-to-school shopping leaves us looking ahead to Halloween and crisper air. Before we know it the holiday season will be upon us. As business owners, it can feel like we are straddling multiple seasons all at once. 

On one hand, things are ramping up in your business. You are transitioning from the leisurely summer season and into a more structured, busy fall. While you do need to set the tone for this new season, it can be easy to only focus on the ramp-up, and not enough on tying off loose ends as the calendar year comes to a close. 

Never fear! I’m here to help you set the tone for a successful fall while also making sure the holidays don’t sneak up on you. 

In this Q3 edition of “What We’d Be Working on if I Were our COO,” you’ll learn exactly what I focus on with my 1:1 COO and coaching clients during this season. I’ll outline the ways you can successfully transition from summer to fall while planning for a more relaxing, organized holiday season. 

The Ramp-Up

September can feel oddly reminiscent of January. 

As we emerge from the laid-back pace of the summer months, we tend to focus on this feeling of a fresh start. We can take some notes from our New Year planning strategies to establish an effective schedule and leverage this time.  However, it’s important to balance this with our end-of-year close-out items. Here are the essential pieces to consider as we ramp-up from summer to fall without blinding ourselves to the fact that December is closer than we may realize

New Schedule 

Whether you worked all summer or took time off from your business, your schedule is probably going to change in some way. Even if your schedule wasn’t significantly different, it was likely slower. You probably had different turnaround times for deliverables or heard back from clients in a more leisurely manner. 

Most of us are in the process of getting back to some sort of “normal”. If we aren’t careful, however, time can escape us quickly. We feel pressure to hit the ground running, going from 0 to 60, frantically trying to get as much done as possible. This is a recipe for burnout any time of year, but during this season especially!

I work with my COO clients to first take control of their time and the unique responsibilities this season brings. We work together to set healthy boundaries and recapture their time in a way that feels aligned. Here’s how!

Time Audit

Before we dive into anything else, I recommend my 1:1 clients conduct a 7-day time audit. During this audit, you should document everything you spend your time on. Be honest with yourself. Write down how much time you spend on client work, with family, and even how often you find yourself scrolling through Instagram. 

My clients ALWAYS find something surprising every time they complete this audit. It can be an eye-opening process that helps you identify what your priorities actually are so you can shift your schedule in a way that feels aligned.

Remember, this is not an exercise to criticize. It is meant to help you get honest with yourself so that you can make strategic changes and reclaim your time! Time audits can allow you to get a grip of your schedule as the hustle and bustle of fall approaches. Who knows… reclaiming your time may help you finally tackle those 2021 goals you ALMOST gave up on.

Want the EXACT time audit formula I use with all of my clients? I created a Time Audit TOOL with you in mind! 

It’s free to my email list, but only until THIS Friday, September 24, 2021! 

After that, it’s going to be a paid offer (seriously, it’s value-PACKED).

Snag Your Freebie NOW! 

Click here to send me an email with the subject line: “Get My Time Back!” and take advantage of this free goodie ASAP! Plus, you’ll be the first to know about new promotions, blogs, and tips in the future!

Ideal Work Day & Week

You can live a life by design, but it requires some upfront thought, care, and planning. Carving out CEO Time away from the daily obligations of your business is a powerful strategy that will allow you to journal, reflect, and plan out how you want your day-to-day life to look and feel. Try these journaling prompts on your next CEO Day as a jumping-off point:

  1. When do you work best? Look back at your time audit to notice when you tend to be most productive. You can consider scheduling your client calls on days or times when you feel most energized.

  2. What fills up your cup? You can’t pour from an empty cup, after all. Be sure to time block opportunities for self-care. What do you need each day or each week to ensure you feel fulfilled and nourished? This might be a daily walk, time with friends, or creative time to paint, draw, or create (for you, not your clients). Carve this out and consider it a non-negotiable for the health of your business and yourself. I like using Time Blocks to reserve this on your calendar before other business obligations take up space. 

  3. What do you want your week to look like? Do you wish you could have a 4 day work week? Do you need to take time off mid-week to recharge? Maybe you like working Monday-Friday, but only want to work in the mornings and have your afternoons free! Being your own boss means you can make these choices, but you need to do so strategically. If taking every Friday off is a goal, consider how you can structure your week to support this without scrambling every Monday morning! Backward design is your friend when setting and meeting your business goals.

Healthy Boundaries

As you step back into the busy season of fall, re-establish expectations and boundaries with your clients. My policy is to communicate early and often! Be sure to remind them of turnaround times, your hours of availability, and when they should expect to hear from you. 

This is NOT the time to change your policies. I recommend you only do this once a year instead of sporadically to maintain trust and reliability. But, you can take time now to reaffirm your boundaries and bring them forward. This can be especially important in the fall when it is easy for us all to lose sight of our own boundaries and life feels so hectic!

COO Tip: Here’s a simple way to do this. Automate an email response outside of your business hours. If you don’t respond to emails after 5 pm on Friday, you can set an auto-responder. Gently remind your clients of your working hours and when they can expect to hear back from you. This will reassure them while helping you communicate your boundaries consistently. 

If you want more tips and strategies for reclaiming your time before the fall season gets into full swing, you’ll want to check out this post all about getting your time back in your business.

The Cool-Down

As crazy as it may sound, this is the time to plan for the end of the year. But so many businesses get distracted by the ramp-up, they forget how essential it is to focus on the cool-down! If this is not a priority, the next few months may escape you and you’ll be feeling more frazzled than festive when the holiday season approaches. Taking time NOW to get your end-of-year business items in check will make a world of difference in your business and your personal life. Let’s map out this process.

How to Jump-Start Your End-of-Year Planning 

News flash! Sharing your offer in November or December is too late! 

I don’t say this to scare you, but to motivate you to prioritize and share your offers NOW! As soon as December hits, people drop off. It will be much harder to connect with your audience or make them aware of your products and services. Usually, your audience will taper off around Thanksgiving as they prep for holidays and wrap up their own stuff. They may be tying things off in their own businesses while juggling travel plans and spending more time with family. Naturally, they have other things competing for their time, and so do you!. 

Instead of struggling through November and December, put a plan in place and leverage your captive audience NOW! Currently, you are in a beautiful 3-month period (MAX) where your audience is paying attention to you.

Here’s how to leverage September-November so you feel ready for the holidays!

  • Plan your launches. If you’re looking to launch a product or service in 2021, this is your prep time! Begin to drop breadcrumbs or go into full launch mode. Most launches run for about 6-8 weeks. Reverse engineer those dates and you’ll realize that if you wait, you’ll be in holiday territory before you know it! Don’t panic, start taking action today. Consider when you’d like your product or service to drop and set a reasonable timeline to get there.

    Action Item: Consider Holiday Promotions. A lot of businesses offer promotions or deals for Black Friday.  I don’t typically encourage Black Friday promotions unless it aligns with your business’s values, so don’t feel pressured to have one just because all the “cool kids are doing it”. If this is something you’re genuinely interested in doing though, start planning it now to avoid scrambling at the last minute.

  • Schedule Your Holiday Time. As CEO, it is essential to take time off to recharge your batteries. Decide how much time you want to take away from your business and set it on the calendar now. This will be important to share with clients and will help you budget your time as you take on new projects. Plus, marking these dates on your calendar now will make it easier to stay accountable to your needs later on. 

  • Holiday Gifting. I know it may feel hard to think about holiday gifts in September, but December will be here before you know it! It can be tricky to figure out the who, what, where, why, and when of gifting. That’s where I step in. 

    • I suggest planning to give gifts to clients, team members, vendors as well as mentors and friends. 
    • You should consider each person’s unique interests when selecting a gift. Be sure it is something that comes from the heart. 
    • The cost isn’t everything, but the sentiment is. 
    • If you are in the position to budget, I recommend ANNUALLY spending between 5-10% of what a client has contributed to your business this year or is expected to next year. This would be for all gifts throughout the year (not just during the holidays). For a team member, consider spending the cost of a nice dinner out. Use these tips as a starting point. Be sure to factor in shipping, tax, and packaging costs since these can escalate fast.

There is no right or wrong answer for how much to spend but hopefully, these tips are helpful! If you want even more guidance on holiday gifting etiquette, check out this FREEBIE!

COO Tip: Holiday prep often involves shipping (especially if you are a product-based business). You may be shipping items to clients, family, and loved ones! Be aware of unique shipping deadlines. In 2021, USPS and other major shipping companies are adding a holiday surplus surcharge beginning OCTOBER 3. You will need to budget for this (budget your money and your time) while planning so that items get to clients on time and you include the accurate shipping prices in your quotes. 

Check-in on Your 2021 Goals

Remember those goals you set way back in January!? September is a perfect time to do a pulse check and see how they are coming along.  Right now is your opportunity for a last big PUSH! You still have time to hit those goals you are oh-so-close to reaching but haven’t quite tackled yet.

Take time to review these goals one by one. Celebrate the ones you hit (GO YOU!), assess the ones you’ve changed (notice how your business grows and adapts), and finally hone in on the goals you haven’t hit yet. You can ask yourself a few questions to help you get clarity around these goals. You can specifically zoom in on the ones that you haven’t met yet, but are close to reaching!

  1. What pain points or stumbling blocks are holding you back from meeting this goal? 
  2. What do you want to do less of?  
  3. What isn’t going well?

When you notice these roadblocks it is easier to find solutions. These may include time blocking to prioritize tasks in your schedule, looking for accountability in the form of a fellow entrepreneur or a coach, or even outsourcing tasks you don’t enjoy or have time for. 

Then, you can brainstorm ways to hit your goals. You can weigh the pros and cons of goal-crushing solutions such as strategically raising prices, creating or launching a new product, or promoting your offers differently.

COO Tip: A capacity calculation is an excellent way to see if you haven’t met your goals because there’s too much on your plate. I recommend my COO clients do capacity calculations once every quarter so this is a perfect time to try it for yourself. If you’ve maxed your capacity, it’s going to feel impossible to reach those 2021 goals unless something changes. The change may be re-arranging your tasks and priorities or considering ways you can outsource or delegate within your team. 

Audit More Than Just Your Time

Take time to assess what is and is not working in your business. I have all of my COO clients conduct audits of their systems and their content every quarter. These are essential rhythms in your business. When addressed consistently, you can feel confident in the behind-the-scenes pieces of your business that keep everything running smoothly. 

While I love having things in place that can work for you behind the scenes, I do not believe in the expression, “set it and forget it.” This may surprise you, but let me explain why. Forget it implies you do something once and never need to worry about it again. This is just FALSE. 

Successful business owners leverage technology and automated tools, but they know these systems need to be maintained and tended to on a rhythmic basis. We need to review, update, and re-evaluate the pieces of our business regularly so that we can rest assured they are up to date throughout the year. Not updating these pieces can actually cause more harm than good. 

Save yourself the unnecessary headaches by auditing the following facets of your business NOW:

Audit Your Systems

All recurring tasks and processes need to be systematized in your business. Having a clear system in place ensures it is easy to reproduce, share, assess, and implement. Never again wonder, “what do I do next?” Check-in on the following systems in your business:

  • Onboarding and offboarding: How are you supporting your clients throughout their experience with you? Take time to get feedback from past clients so that you can continue to innovate and improve your onboarding and offboarding processes.

  • Software: CRM, PM, email, subscriptions, etc.  Take a look at the platforms you use. Are you optimizing them and using them to their full potential? Are there any platforms you have that you’ve outgrown or simply don’t use? 

Audit Your Evergreen Content 

Next, you’ll want to do an overview of your business content. Evergreen content is information in the online space that is public-facing and always working for you. It’s like your 24/7 salesperson. However, if we don’t tend to our evergreen content, it’s like having a salesperson in the showroom who hasn’t been trained in years! Information can quickly become outdated, links may be broken, and some content may not even be accurate.

Action Item: Review all copy on your website, social media platforms, landing/sales pages, email sequences, branding, etc. You may even ask a friend or team member to give it a lookover. It’s always nice to have a second pair of eyes!

Money Mindset

Taxes can’t wait until April (stop lying to yourself). This is the time to touch base with your accountant for all contributions. Come holiday season, your accountant may be harder to reach and work with. Once January hits they are full steam ahead in tax mode. 

It’s smart to capture their attention now and make sure you’re on track. They can help get you in line for all the tax stuff you need to finish before the calendar year closes. You’ll feel confident stepping into the new year without any money worries!

If you don’t have an accountant yet, you may want to prioritize this! Since tax regulations can vary considerably from place to place, I ALWAYS recommend you find someone in your local area (country/province/state) who specializes in small businesses.

Let’s sum it up

This may feel like the season of oxymorons. “Ramping up” while “cooling down” is as contradictory as “jumbo shrimp”, “icy hot”, and my favorite expression that I haven’t quite kicked yet, “yeah, no…”– I mean what does that even mean?! 

While this season can feel confusing, putting these ramp-up and cool-down strategies in place will help you feel like you’re in control of your time in September while also being prepared for December’s swift arrival. 

I hope that these tips will allow you to flow into the season with eyes wide open so you can feel confident, stress-free, and ready to successfully cross off those last few goals of 2021 from your TO DO list forever!

It is also natural to still feel like you need more support and accountability during this season. If you want coaching support to close out 2021 as strong as possible, reach out about a FREE Strategy Call. For 30 minutes we can chat about your business goals and barriers to your success. I am all about value so you’ll walk away with some custom first steps and information about how to work with me in a coaching or COO capacity. 

  1. […] about what we’ve covered so far? Check out the 2020 Q4, 2021 Q1 and 2021 Q3 […]

  2. […] about what we’ve covered so far? Check out the 2020 Q4, 2021 Q2 and 2021 Q3 […]

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