Businesses are not without their hurdles. What differs from each one of them is how they fix those hurdles and transform. A fixer and a transformer, Jennifer Goldman of the Jennifer Goldman Consulting, joins Paul Higgins in this episode to share with us how she is helping businesses overcome the hurdles that are holding them back. On building, she shares her favorite personal effectiveness tips that help businesses boost their People, Productivity, Profitability, and Growth. Jennifer also shows how they can protect their time by visualizing their goals and ideas in three ways and explains what she calls IDEOS. Living and giving, she then shares her personal habits that help her become successful and which charities and communities she is passionate about. An excellent model of Build, Live, Give, join Jennifer in this conversation to gain more insights and tools that you can add to your toolbelt for success—no matter which aspect of life.
Boosting Profitability with Jennifer Goldman
Build Live Give. Mentoring with Paul Higgins
Welcome, Jennifer Goldman, from Jennifer Goldman Consulting to the show. It’s great to have you here, Jen.
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
We’ve had some great conversations in the past and I know you’re going to give so much value in this episode. Why don’t we kick off with a little bit about your career and how you got most importantly to running your own business?
I started my career being an employee at several different businesses. Every time, I was looking to do massive changes. Luckily enough, they allowed me. After doing that enough times, I said, “Enough is enough.” I want the flexibility. I had a little pivot in life, which is having children and that was the writing on the wall. I went from being in one business at a time to working with several businesses.
Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers that was when it was firstly still around.
When I started working, I started in high school. My parents were working parents. One of my first jobs was at a John Deere company where there were tractors and equipment coming in and out. I did some jobs at a bank. I did some jobs at a nighttime dating service writing ads for people. I have done a lot of different things. When I finally got to the Lehman and those, that was my whole experience being a financial planner for business owners but there are stories behind every tranche of life.
I suppose the shift from working in multiple businesses to running your own. Back then, who were your biggest supporters through the transition? Who continues to be your biggest supporters now?
Certainly my husband, a big supporter. He saw the entrepreneurial blood in me probably before we got married, that was a big deal. In terms of who paved the path, I have to give a lot of credit to my parents. My dad was a teacher and my mom was an assistant at a college in Foreign Languages. Both of them also had real estate on the side. I definitely saw the trials and tribulations of being your own business owner but I also saw the freedom it gave you to have life choices. They’re still around to support me.
Let’s move into the Build section. I know everyone wants to understand more of what you do. What do you say when someone comes up to you and says, “Jen, what do you do? Who do you help? How do you help them?” How do you answer that?Many business owners are givers, and because of that, they keep giving to the point of their own downfall. Click To Tweet
Sometimes it changes, although I’m told that should always be the same. I’m a fixer and a transformer. When people ask, “What do I do?” My answer is, “I’m here to fix those hurdles in your business that are holding you back.” From there, the conversation spins out. Most often, they’re mentioning the hurdles of people, productivity or not enough time and energy.
I’m sure everyone reading at the moment will be shaking their head like, “I’ve never had those problems.” There’s plenty. As far as who, who do you help specifically? Who do you love to help?
I love helping budding businesses. What I mean by that is they’re on the edge of being, in the US we call it a lifestyle practice and they’re on the cusp of being a formable business. Meaning you have people on your team, full-timers. You have to have systems, standards and procedures. The people that I love working with are the owners and leaders that are intellectually curious. They’re open to habit changes. They’re open to ideas, changes and they’re confident. As much as they’re open, they’re willing to listen and then say, “That fits me. That makes sense for our business or I’m not going to do that.” I love that too.
I certainly love working with similar clients from a more sales perspective. I suppose you’re more operations but what are some of the struggles? We can talk at the top level but what are the things you see day to day with people struggling to scale their operations?
One big thing is that business owners second guess their gut on who’s right for their team and who isn’t. We’re loyal creatures by nature, I believe. Most people are and most owners. We keep people on that maybe aren’t the right fit or we don’t acknowledge that they need to be what I call recalibrated, shifted around or taught something new. That’s one thing, we’re super loyal and I love that but it also can get in the way. The other hurdle is protecting your time. When you become a business owner, there’s a reason. You have goals. A lot of business owners are givers and because of that, they keep giving to the point of their downfall. It’s about protecting the time so that you can spend time working on the business, not in the business.
What are some of the specific things you help with to protect time?
You’ve got to show them the downside of not protecting. If you do X, you can’t do Y. It’s a little concept of Essentialism or McKeown’s Theory. I’ll also put in appointment scheduling systems. You understand this with sales but this idea that people can reach you but only when you’re willing and able. Putting in tools to hold you back from giving all your time all day and night. Another thing is visualizing your goals and ideas that you want to do and the benefits. Even I have to work at this after all these years. Every time you have a great idea, that doesn’t mean you go ahead and do it. Write it down. Write what’s the benefit if I did do this? If you can’t clarify the benefit, it doesn’t belong being implemented.
Have you got any examples? You don’t have to mention specific names but any examples where you’ve helped some of that visualization?
A real example would be and this is a meld of multiple businesses because I’ve worked with enough and we always land up doing this. We always land up writing out what’s the best time of the day and the worst time of the day to do technical types of things work, whatever that work is. What’s the best time of the day to do your sales calls versus the worst time of the day? We have energy swells throughout the day and focus. Some people get really tired in the afternoon, others are super energized. We do a color blocking to talk about that and then we bake that into the scheduling software. Of all the businesses I’ve worked with, I can’t name any that we haven’t done that for, every one of them.
Do you have a diagnostic or something to help them understand when their energy is at its peak?
I have not gone that far. I would love to have but I will tell you this exercise alone of the color blocking is something they’ve never even done or sat and thought about it, so that seems to be enough to get them going.
Most of my clients are in the US, I’m living in Australia. A couple of US and Europe so it’s a bit tricky but I split my day. The morning is the hardest, eat the frog. In the middle of the day, I go for a ride, a swim, have a nice cold shower, have a 30-minute nap and then I start my second part of the day, which is like morning again. Once again, I go to the hardest stuff. I did hear where someone said like, “You work an extra hour but if your energy levels are 10%, 20%, you haven’t worked an extra hour.”
What’s the point? That’s what I mean, if I were to ask you, you know your energy levels. I do believe mostly it’s somebody asking you the right question about it and then you thinking about your day and going, “I know when I’m good and when I’m not good. You’re right, that’s spinning the wheels.” I remember when I started my business, this is something most people don’t know. In fact, almost everyone except my husband. I slept on the floor under my desk for 30 minutes a day because I didn’t want to be around anybody. I didn’t want anybody to even know I was doing that. I felt guilty but that was the power nap you take now. You had to. How would you go that many hours in a day?
For me certainly because I got down to 6% kidney function and I call it the kidney fog but it is horrendous. It’s like not sleeping for 48 hours. That was every day. I now know having kidney transplant and getting all my energy back, just the difference between the two. Once again, take us through a little bit more about that visualization because it means many different things to different people. What’s your interpretation of that?
One way of visualization is writing down the ideas, and the way I do it is I use a project management software program and you can use any one. You write down the idea and the benefit of implementing the idea. You write down who would lead that idea. Who would implement it? When would you start and end it? It’s like muscle memory. The exercise of writing it down, articulating the benefit and the timeline makes your gut, which is your second brain, basically tell you this is never going to happen or, “Yes, I can get this in amongst everything else.” That’s one form of visualization. A second form I do is I use PowerPoint. If I’m doing work around process, tech and thinking about the client experience like your sales process that you work on, I’ll open a PowerPoint and put in the logos of the different tech being used.
In text and written word, I’ll write down what are the steps that we’re going to go through that I’m going to take somebody through that experience. By seeing something visually with color and non-color, writing something, it comes to life. You feel the flaws. You see the gaps. You see the problems. You also see the hurdles with implementation or the win. You can also see, “This is turnkey. This is going to be a great experience for my staff and potential client, for example.” That’s a second way to visualize. The third way is I’m going to say it’s the old-style way but whiteboarding. I did this. I was working with a client and I whipped out a small whiteboard, took a marker and started writing down with arrows. It was like the skies opened. They were like, “I got it. It makes complete sense.”
Do you ever use the whiteboard on Zoom or others where it’s a virtual whiteboard as well?
No, because I’m terrible with the mouse. It looks like bad graffiti but I’m sure you would tell me because you know these great tools. I’m sure there’s a better tool than just the Zoom tool. I’m not great on that yet. Some day.If you're on this path of growth, you're always needing to improve so that you're not overstaffing. Click To Tweet
Have you ever heard of MURAL? You can use that as a form of a visualization board. You talked about project management software. There are a lot of great ones out there. What are some of the key principles when using a project management software?
I’m biased. I want the four fields. It’s about how it is on your eyeballs. I have no ties to this company but I’ll mention it because I happen to like the platform. I happen to use Asana because when I write something in, it can look like Excel for some people. It can look like a calendar for other people. It can look like what you’re talking about with MURAL, it can look like a whiteboard. Everybody is a different type of learner. It’s all the same data but you can see it in different ways.
We have used Asana since about 2016 and it’s fantastic. I met the COO. You know when you go into a task now, you can hit a button and it can start to type it but it also turns your voice into text. I suppose the hardest thing when everyone moves your project management software is where do I put the SOPs? There’s a whole lot of rules and everyone’s got a different interpretation of it. How do you work with companies to get on the one page?
Everything I’ve ever done has been mostly virtual. I’m Zoom now but it used to be Skype. I will draft out the structure in Asana for them. I set it up with a board and I set up four main goals. I do the three Ps and a G. I cover People, Productivity, Profitability and Growth. From there, I use the task feature. I don’t use it as a project management software. I use it as a business planning software. Underneath each of the goals, that’s where we list all the great ideas. I have one trick on the side, I create one extra area and it’s called a simmer pot. That’s where you could throw all those crazy wonderful ideas that they don’t make it under the three Ps and a G until you assign a benefit to them.
I believe you use another platform called IDEOS. What’s that? How do you use that?
That’s my brain articulated for businesses. Businesses watch when I go through building out processes and thinking about how they operate or how they can operate better, my brain ticks off the words off of IDEOS. Let me explain that and then we can go deeper. IDEOS is I for Integrate, D for Delegate, E for Eliminate, O for Outsource and S for Staff. When I’m working through how do you introduce yourself out to a potential customer and then bring them through the whole sales cycle. As they’re talking about what they’re doing, I’m looking for ways to IDEOS.
If you follow that mantra, it helps you to think of ideas to lower the workload, which was profitability and capacity, which then allows you to grow. That’s just my brain articulated and I try to teach that as I’m working with businesses so that when I’m no longer working with them, they can continue to use that mantra to continue to improve. As you and I both know, if you’re on this path of growth, you’re always needing to improve so that you’re not overstaffing. You’re not maxing out people. You’re thinking of better ways to operate.
With COVID and the impact that’s had, how has that changed the way that people run their business and particularly run their operations?
I will say the things that I’ve been talking about for years are coming to life, the idea of using outsource providers. When you and I were into that, they were afraid of that. Maybe it was control. Maybe they didn’t know the person well. They couldn’t get to meet them. I’m big fans of that now. That’s one thing. Two, this collaboration software, you’re ahead of your time. How do you collaborate on ideas when you’re not all in the same location? The things like Asana, Trello and ClickUp are amazing. They’re not invasive if you shut off email notifications. You use them when you need them to help you. I guess I would say the silver lining is businesses are operating better. They’re thinking more lean. They’re more excited about the opportunities where it’s not just a ton of work. It’s more about being able to focus on their people internally and their customers or clients. Businesses are coming out great and they can survive.
Who’s the best person to lead the internal project? They bring you in to transform the business, prove the operations for those three Ps and a G. Who’s best to be the person within the client that works with you?
It depends on what we’re working on. Let’s break it down. It’s sales or marketing. It may be the person that supports the business developing person. I believe in empowering your people and helping them rise up, which also allows the senior executives to delegate down. For me, I aim to not work necessarily with the owners all the time but like that next tier of person. That next tier could be that administrative assistant that is answering the phones but you didn’t realize had that power skill to think about the moving parts, pull it all together and rise up. It doesn’t matter where they are. It’s how their brain works.
I understand. I think that’s the gap where a lot of people or owners prolong it because they think they’ve got to be the person that does it. You shared some great examples where that doesn’t. What are some of the other things that sometimes get in the way of owners letting go and letting their team effectively build the processes with you?
We can have those control freaks and I can speak clearly to that. I used to work in quality control. It’s not a good position for somebody who’s a control person. Sometimes that control freakiness can get in the way. However, the trick with that is understanding that if you let somebody else in your team build the processes that you can then make the final decisions on, that appeases your control. You can see what’s going on without doing the work. That’s how we get over that control freakiness. Another hurdle is finding time. I think the hardest thing is being the business owner is, in the end, you are the decision-maker. You can’t get away from that. If you want to get away from that, great. That’s the business of building a scalable business.
You’ve got to hand over the reins to somebody else. Let your people draft. A great example on this one is too many businesses when I’ll say to them when I start, “I would love to get the job descriptions.” They’re like, “I don’t have them.” I’m like, “Great, let’s do it. I’m going to send out a template to all the staff and let them draft.” The owners are blown away like, “I thought I was supposed to draft it.” I’m like, “No, you’re not. They’re already doing the job. Let them do the first draft. Let’s give them some tips, let them do the second draft. All your job to do is to refine it with them and then to support them in what their goals are if it matches the business.” Talk about a breath of fresh air in liberation. The owner doesn’t have to do it.
That’s a great point. I can’t remember who I learned it from when I was at Coke but they and James Clear talked about it around it’s a lot harder to change an existing habit. It’s a lot easier to create a new one. The saying was, “Can someone else do this? Am I doing someone else’s job?” I’ve got my leadership strategy, maybe be sales or closing partnerships. The things that only I can do as a business owner and then everything else get out of to let others do it. I’m aligned with what you’re saying.
Before we go into the Live section, I’d like to talk about whether you are going to have a low or high seven-figure business in 2021? I’ve got an assessment and it’s a series of fifteen questions. It takes about three minutes to do. The most important thing is once you do the assessment, it’s a gap analysis. Once you do the assessment, then what we’ll do based on your score is give you specific actions. Most of those actions have a call with me but the call is not a sales call. The call is to see and go into the gaps of how you might be able to close those. You can go to PaulHigginsMentoring.com/assessment to complete the fifteen questions in less than three minutes. In the Live section now, Jen, what are some daily habits that help you to be successful?
I’ve always found that getting up in the morning, doing my geriatric workout. I can’t do a hard workout anymore and dressing for work has been huge for me. I’ve done this forever and I know a lot of people are just learning to work from home, so that’s hard on them but it’s like putting your game face on. That’s been important. Another daily habit certainly is standing during the day. We sit way too much and we don’t realize that’s not good for the brain. It’s the idea of like standing up. For some reason you think the blood is going to go down more but it seems to help so that’s good. Finding something that you like. For me, sometimes I’ll read The Stoics. I read one page a day. Holiday’s book or I happen to be an empath so I’ll read something. Maybe I’ll take out fifteen minutes a day to do something that is different and switch my brain.
What’s your opinion on stand-up desks?The hardest thing in being a business owner is, in the end, you are the decision-maker. Click To Tweet
I spent a fortune of mine years ago. It’s pretty amazing. You can do just about anything you want for cheaper for that matter. I remember back in the day before sit-stand desks, I made a big block of wood and put stuff on top.
I’ve got two monitors here. I’ve got a printer. It’s quite a sturdy one. I do 30 minutes on and off. I work focused tasks for 30 minutes, one task 30 minutes. It’s timed. As soon as that goes off, I go and stretch. I fill my water bottle or whatever. When I come back, it’s standing. I’m alternating that through the day. I find that to be fantastic. If you think of most people when you’re on the mobile phone, sometimes you walk and you think, “How did I get here?” You typically think far better on your feet than you do sitting. That’s a great benefit. We spoke about your partner, Jared, who’s supported you at the start. What would you like to say to him about the support he’s given you through this journey?
I wrote it in my bio that I’m married to one very understanding man. I think your partner is crucial in being an entrepreneur and running a business. For him, it’s the patience. Honestly, marrying what I should’ve done years ago which is to speak a little more slowly and deliberately to let the idea come to life and to think about what you’re saying. I owe him a big thanks. I wouldn’t be doing what I do now without the support. More importantly, that he emulates what I should be doing. Maybe he’ll do it well right before I die someday. It’s a lifelong learning.
The next section is the Give section. What’s a charity or a community that you’re passionate about and why?
I’m super passionate. I used to work with the homeless for a few years and feeding meals at the end of the workday. Now I give to Feeding America. That’s my favorite charity to give to at all times. Locally I give to Under the Bridge. There are people in the next town that live over under a bridge. I give to that. On the community side, I took it upon myself a few years ago to get involved in town politics to promote public school education and funding. I’m knee-deep in that now. We’re working through a massive multi-year plan to fund and modernize our public schools here. I’m excited about it.
A charity or a community that I support is called The Purple House. It’s PurpleHouse.org.au. They help indigenous Australians get access to dialysis machines. With my background, it’s important to me. My book, I give all the proceeds of that and a portion of my total income goes there. The last section is the Action section. I’ll ask you some questions and get some rapid-fire responses. The first one is, what are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
The same thing as I do for business, visualization, IDEOS. I do it personally for my kids and always be a curious learner. I’m always learning.
We talked about Asana as a project management software. Other than Asana, what’s a key piece of software that’s essential for running your business?
If it weren’t for my calendar system and CRM, I would be a lost puppy. I need both of those, document, email. That covers it.
What CRM do you use?
I use Salesforce.
I know that for many businesses, there’s the discussion that Salesforce is like taking an ocean liner down, fishing it. It’s big fit for purpose. Why Salesforce for you?
Salesforce is not a fit for most. When I started my business, I was on a path to grow it quite large with lots of staff, scalability and tech. The industries I was working with, Salesforce would have been an up and coming system to use. I thought, “Why not learn it and use it at the same time so I could help my businesses with it?” That’s why I picked Salesforce but I’ve worked with bridal shops and yoga studios. It is not the right system for that. There are these amazing, less expensive, easy systems to use for those types of businesses. Don’t take my lead is what I’m saying.
You’re a curious learner. I am as well. What’s the best source of new ideas for you?
They fall in my lap and you can speak better to this because I know you’re a high learner. I listen to my business friends and find out what they’re reading or listening to and my personal friends, that’s probably more than enough to be reading off of. I am active on LinkedIn. From time to time, somebody promotes a book and if it’s got the right title and hits the heart, I’m in.
The big question is the last. That’s why I leave it to the end. What impact do you want to leave in the world?
I’ve always wanted people to have financial freedom. What I mean by that is to have choices. What pains me the most about many people is that they’re trapped doing something because they desperately need that money and that win. They don’t have the flexibility of saying no to the bad customer or no to an idea that doesn’t hit their heart and their gut. If I can leave this earth knowing that there were more people that had the ability to have choices in life, it would be good.
Thanks so much, Jen, for sharing all your wisdom. You’re active on LinkedIn so people can find out more. Also, you can go to JenniferGoldmanConsulting.com to get more information about Jen and the wonderful work that she’s doing. Thanks for being an excellent model of build, live, give. You build your own business but you help other people to be more operational for theirs so that they can go and live life. You’re a great exponent of giving back. It was wonderful to have you on the show, Jen. I will talk soon.
Reader, welcome and please subscribe if you love the show. If you’re a regular, welcome back and I’d love to get some feedback from you. You can always leave questions at PaulHigginsMentoring.com/questions.
- Jennifer Goldman Consulting
- The Stoics
- Feeding America
- Under the Bridge
- Jennifer Goldman
About Jennifer Goldman
Jen brings 30 years of experience transforming businesses to thrive for generations. Her proven management and operations methods have helped over 1,000 businesses boost People, Productivity, Profitability, and Growth while teaching the key elements of managing a service business to the next generation of business leaders.
She has been published in Inc, Tech Tools for High-Margin Practices, Liberated CEO, and has spoken on national stages. And while her work love is transforming, her home and heart love is supporting her children and husband in their endeavors, giving to the homeless, and advocating for public education improvements and funding.
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