Being a female leader in a culture that has been designed by men for men poses endless difficulties, and so many of us are left feeling exhausted and burned out, trying to wear all the hats in our businesses. Even without the craziness of the last 15-18 months, it can feel exhausting to be leading a business in a way that is not sustainable or aligned with what we most value. This week, I’m exploring this further and showing you how to design a profitable business in a way that is aligned with your values and feels good for you.
Join me this week as I share how I integrated my values at a foundational level to create a sustainable, joyful, fulfilling way of doing business and show you how you can create the necessary shifts to start working differently in yours. If you’re ready to get off the hustle bus, stop rewarding overworking culture and start working in alignment with your values, I’m sharing three shifts you need to make to take the first step.
You are listening to the Design You podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 166.
Welcome to the Design You podcast. A show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy, here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.
Hey friends. It is June. Sit with that for a minute. It is the sixth month of 2021. Are you ready? I mean are you enjoying it? Do you have something to show for it? And my definition of having something to show for it is way different than it used to be. So are you rested? Are you enjoying your life? Whatever the case it’s a marker, it’s a point in time where we can stop and assess, six months into the year.
And I feel like I say this every June, and every July, and every August. And you’ll hear me say it again on some future episodes of the podcast I’m sure, probably sounds familiar to you because I just, I find it fascinating how my brain has a hard time comprehending time and how fast it goes. And what’s always even harder to imagine than June every June is that we just have over half the year left. We’ll blink and it’ll be putting up the tree again, buying presents.
And we’ll blink and we’ll be at that December 31st or even December 1st going, “What did we do this year? Did we make any money? Did anything happen? Did we realize any of our dreams?” No pressure. But the good news is if you want some really amazing in depth hands-on mentoring in your creative business to finish this year I’m going to tell you about something that I’ve got, a program that you don’t even know I have probably. Because it’s not Design You, which Design You is incredible.
It’s this other exciting program called Millionaire Mentorship that a lot of you probably don’t even know exists until right now. I’m going to talk about it. But first I want to talk about this year and how things can be different this year than all those years in the past when if you were like me in June going, “Where did the first six months go? And what the heck are we going to do for the rest of this year because time was flying.” If you want things to be different in the remaining months then that’s what I want to talk about today. So hear me.
Your life and business don’t have to feel like a dead run between now and December 31st, 2021. They don’t have to feel like a dead run and you can still make progress while not feeling like it’s a dead run in your business and your life. And you can write your story, a different story than the one you may have written in the past about how the rest of this year and really your future are going to look. And that can be true even if you’re running a super serious business because I think mine’s pretty darned serious.
I’ve got a lot of team members, and we make a lot of money, and we generate a lot of money, and we want to generate more money. And it’s a serious business. And so yours might be a serious business too, one where you’ve hit a 100K or past a 100K many times over, you have multiple six figures, or even you’ve hit a million dollars. But you want things to feel different.
So I am talking to all you designers and creative entrepreneurs today that are probably at the multiple six figure mark, six figures, 300,000 maybe, 250, 300, 500, even a million dollars in revenues in your business that you’ve hit before or you hit consistently. But now you’re halfway through another year and you’re feeling like you’re on that dang treadmill again, or the struggle bus, or the hustling your way right into exhaustion, whichever one of those are your go to analogies, your phrases, your buzzwords. I’ve used them all.
But some part of you is still holding out hope that you will land on your goals come six months from now and that things will eventually calm down to a manageable level of work and stress. Don’t we think that over and over? We’re like, “This is just a really stressful period.” Yet it’s been just a really stressful period for the last 15 years. But surely in the future it’s going to calm down.
So let’s just take a minute, I need it anyway today. I think this is the fourth podcast I’ve recorded today. But let’s just take a minute and let’s take what I’d call a big old breath, like ah, you know that kind where you just let all the stress and tension out. And let’s, on the heels of that big breath take a little bit of an assessment or even a really honest assessment of your year so far with just asking yourself just a few questions. So would you say that you have accomplished what you want to so far this year?
And are you on track to finish 2021 in the way you envision? And remember this doesn’t mean that you have the biggest most audacious goals ever and are you running at a dead run and hustling every day? You might have had goals to slow way down, or to launch something new, or to build your team. Or it doesn’t matter really what your goals are. But are you on track so far? And do you have that planned? Can you see that you’re also on track to finish the way you envision this year?
And while doing that, while being on track and finishing strong later this year does that involve hitting your money goals that you wanted, that you’ve dreamed about for this year? And are you working the amount of hours you would like to be working? Or are you way overworking? Or are you telling yourself you should be working more because you’re not hitting your goals but you’re just aren’t doing it? What does it look like? What’s the true assessment? No beating yourself up here, just honesty, compassion. But we need to know what we’re dealing with.
So I want you to think about those and most importantly I want you to ask yourself are you hitting your goals in a way that feels good, if you are hitting them does it feel good? Does it feel joyful? Does it feel fun? And is it a sustainable approach, meaning you could keep at this pace for a long time in a good way? If that’s not the case then are you hustling? Are you burning yourself out? Are you always feeling like you’re still coming up short on money and time? Gosh that’s so prevalent. How many years I’ve been sitting in June going, “We haven’t done enough yet but I’m also exhausted.”
And if you’re like that, like I’ve been many times and like many of the designers I hear from right now that I talk to all the time. You’re probably still wearing all the hats or almost all of them in your business, including the CEO hat but you’re feeling like you’re failing and a lot of it more than you care to admit. That’s what we want to know.
We’ve got to know what we’re dealing with. And if you’re there, if that’s you then it’s exhausting. Even if we hadn’t just come out of a worldwide pandemic and other craziness for the last 15-18 months, which we have, but even if we hadn’t it’s still exhausting just to be doing this level of leadership right, if you’re doing it in a way that’s not sustainable. But this year especially has its own kind of exhausting for many of us.
And the confusing part about this is when you’re working in this way and you’re hustling your way to success you look super successful to the outside world which is kind of confusing. Because all those people around you are always telling you how amazing you’re doing, and how much they love your work, and how much fun your business must be. And they’re so proud of you and they’re not wrong. You’ve built your business to six figures, or multiple six figures, or way beyond that. And that’s something to celebrate for sure.
But you often don’t feel successful on the inside because you’re hustling. And I get that. I’ve been there. If I had a dollar for every time I tried to quit my business that in and of itself would be enough to hit my money goals. And I think it’s the promise of that real success, the kind with time freedom and money freedom that we imagine, that we dream how business should feel like. That seems like it’s just right around the corner, it’s that promise, it’s that hope that keeps us working this hard.
And we think I can’t quit right now, I’ve come so far and I love my business, and I love my clients, and I love my team, and I love this work mostly. And what would people think if I quit now and wasted all that time, and money, and energy? And we’re asking ourselves those questions but we’re not being super honest about how we really feel a lot of times in our business. But it’s that promise of surely we’re almost there, surely we’ve almost made it.
Wouldn’t we regret it if we quit five yards before that finish line of time and financial freedom that gets you up again and again hustling one more day, day after day, after day, after day, after day. And if doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results isn’t somehow the definition of insanity we just don’t really know the definition because that’s what we’re doing a lot of times. So I want us to be honest here for a minute.
Arriving at that successful spot that seems just around the corner but never seems to show up, it’s like the biggest, longest corner in the history of mankind or womankind. We never seem to get around it. But what if the truth is because of the way we’re showing up that we’re not as close as we thought to time and financial freedom. We want to believe we are but what if we’re not? When you think of that, the luster and the hype of this hustle that we’re doing, wears really thin doesn’t it?
And I bet you really when you think that way you think I can’t keep this pace up much longer. If that corner is not literally almost in front of me I just can’t keep doing this. And I can’t keep this pace. How else can I sustain what I’ve built, much less grow it even more? I can’t. And it’s not just that. There are more thoughts hidden under the surface that we really don’t like to admit, but we can’t quit thinking about. Why am I not farther than this already? I should be farther ahead. I’ve put in so much time. My gosh, have we ever put in the time.
Nobody works harder than you and me and that’s why it’s so frustrating to not see the results we want because we’re working really hard. But you’re carrying too big of a workload on your shoulders and you’re not admitting that. You’re wearing all those hats. So it seems impossible to make a lot of progress in any one area of your business because you’re doing a little bit of every part of your business, it’s wearing you out.
And even if you did have time at this point you kind of feel unsure where to even focus your efforts. Is it marketing? Should I be working on ops, financial, something else entirely? It just really starts to become confusing and overwhelming. And for God sakes, for God sakes why? Why is cash flow still so unpredictable? Why? I mean you’ve probably made a lot of money at some points in time or kind of regularly.
I’ve done that too but there were still moments, so many moments that I didn’t have consistent cash flow but I’d have those big projects. And I thought surely by now I’ll consistently have them. Now that I’ve had one and I know how it feels I’ll just have them regularly and this whole money situation will be regulated, it’ll be great. But it doesn’t ever seem to work that way.
I remember all the times I felt like I would never have consistent cash flow no matter how hard I tried even though I had had those big projects and those big years. And even if you have a lot of business right now, if you have had, or totally have at this moment an abundance of work and revenue because a lot of designers and creatives are really busy right now as we speak, which is amazing. But even with that we don’t have a way of forecasting future profits to truly feel secure in our business.
So we worry, this is just another phase of feast in the feast or famine cycle. And all too soon we’re going to find ourselves right back in the famine mode again hoping that we have the strength and the stamina to bootstrap this puppy, this business again for like what is it now, like the 20th time that we’ve had to pull ourselves back up and do this again and do the hustle again?
And I really want to talk to you about how to step off of that treadmill. It’s time to get off and it’s time to get off for the very last time because it does not change. And it doesn’t matter if this is your third time to bootstrap or your 20th; it’s the same cycle over, and over, and over again. And that corner just keeps getting farther away. You see it, you’re like, “I surely am about to turn it”, yet you never seem to.
So you’ve heard that saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Yeah, well, maybe the reason you feel like hell is that you’re believing that the hustle and the productivity mindset that you’re buying into and gosh, I bought into it for way longer than I care to admit. It’s not serving you. And your intentions are amazing but your approach is the problem. Your approach is the problem.
And so what I want to do is I want to teach you how to think about this another way. And if you want to work with me and some amazing people to do this work at a deeper level, if your company’s at that place and you’re ready to invest at that level I’m going to tell you about that in a minute. But whether you work with us or not, let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about how you have to shift and why.
So there’s quite a few resources in the world that get us to the 100K or a few hundred K in our business. We can find those but they’re almost all built on the hustle mentality. I even created some for years that were built on the hustle mentality because that’s the mentality I had and they worked to a point. And I mean they got me pretty far actually but I was exhausted while hustling.
And so what I started to realize is that there are very few, if any, resources that teach us how to really lead and really step into the role of CEO and build a sustainable multiple six figure or even seven figure business. I just couldn’t find them. Where did I find those resources? They weren’t there. And so wherever you’re finding your resources, what you’re probably finding is they’re often designed for men by other men and are all about making the millions through the hustle and the grind.
And in fact the very genesis of capitalism, making money, making a profit with your business is all about the hustle, that’s what it’s built on. Hustle is the capitalism roadmap. And for entrepreneurs especially in America working hard long hours is what’s rewarded. While working in alignment with our values or crafting a business that fits our lives the way we want to and feeling the way we want to feel, which is how most of us women desire to approach business, that concept is not taken seriously at all in the business world.
So how did we get here? How did we get to this hustle and grind culture that was created by men for men and then find ourselves as women CEOs and business owners trying to fit ourselves into that mold? Well, we can start by thanking the industrial revolution for the hustle and Henry Ford for that matter, for creating the eight hour workday and the 40 hour workweek. And at the time it was an improvement because people at that time had been starting to work in factories and they were working 12 and 14 hour days which is probably a lot like some of your days.
But it was that industrial revolution and that productivity hustle approach that taught us to trade dollars for hours. I work this many hours I get this many dollars. So the birth of productivity came from that period. But productivity and cranking out work is meant for machines, friends, not humans. We’re not robots. We’re not machines. But we somehow forget that. And we keep trying to work like one day, after day, after day and wonder why it’s not working.
And since that time, especially in America we’ve been rewarded not for the value of what we create, but for how long and how hard we work to create it. I have been in there with the best of them, comparing stories about how hard I work. And not often fully telling the truth about the exhaustion and the lack of sustainability that comes with that kind of approach.
I’ve been guilty of buying into that mentality more than once, really from a long time. And I was on the hustle bus for years but I have probably at least three full blown episodes of burnout in the last 21 years to show for it and maybe even more. And I’m sure you have a few bouts of it too. But there’s more to this story than just being a hustling CEO, because if you’re a woman like I am and most of you that are listening are, there’s even more to it.
So today women own 36% of small businesses, yay us, could be worse, could probably be better, could definitely be better. But it’s not nothing, 36%. But here’s what you need to know about those 36% of businesses is that a staggering amount of them, almost 90% of those women owned businesses generate less than $100,000 a year. Let’s say that again. Of the 36% of small businesses owned by women, 90% of them make less than $100,000 a year. And that’s in gross revenue I’m sure, not meaning your salary but generating less than that.
And of that 36% only 2% of those businesses ever generate more than a million dollars, only 2%. Now, this isn’t all about money but it’s just an interesting statistic, an interesting marker because if we’re hustling all the time yet the stats show that 90% of the people that are doing this, the women never make more than $100,000 a year in their business. That’s sobering. And it’s not okay in my opinion.
We think we have a lot of opportunity now as women to own our own businesses but if most of us are struggling and barely making ends meet that doesn’t feel like opportunity exactly.
And let me give you a few more stats. 62% of female business owners are between 40 and 59. It’s exactly where I am. Nearly 40% of women owned businesses or women business owners, rather, say marketing skills are absent from their business. And that’s 24% higher of a rate than men who say that about their business by the way. So 40% of women, what is that, only like, I don’t know, 16% of men say that marketing is absent from their business. But we say that our marketing skills aren’t on point, they’re not there.
61% of female business entrepreneurs choose to fund their businesses with their personal finances rather than their business finances. This one is huge to me. I see this all the time. It’s exactly what I’ve seen for years of women trying to run businesses and literally funding it with their own money, or their husband’s money, or their wife’s money, or their family money. And then women are 21% less likely than men to feel very optimistic about their business performance.
And one more, out of women business owners 25% don’t believe they have a strong sales plan in place. My version of that of the people I talk to and coach with is that most women don’t like selling at all. And don’t for sure like to sell the way we’re taught to sell, which is back to sort of that business made for men by men approach.
So what are all these statistics telling us? And why am I telling them all to you? Well, I think they’re telling us three important things. I think they’re telling us where resources continue to fall short for women entrepreneurs. And I think that’s in three areas. I think that there’s a lack of mentors, of female mentors showing us how to do this in a way, do business that is, and make profits, and even become millionaires if we want to in a way that aligns for us and supports us that doesn’t kill us in the process.
And I’ve searched high and low for those mentors and those programs and I haven’t found a lot of them. So I’ve started to create them myself. And I’ve started to compile the experts, and the contacts, and the people, and the resources myself so that I can set myself up for success, to run a business in the way that is really right for me as a woman. And secondly, I think these stats are showing us the lack of mindset tools that are needed for women CEOs who are wanting to make six or seven figures, not just lack of mindset tools, but lack of female focused mindset tools.
And did you ever notice that all these stats I was reading or even just your own self-doubt is all about mindset stuff? You or other women not believing in yourself, not believing in your sales, or sales abilities, not believing in your marketing, and not believing in your finances. All of that stuff, it’s all the things you’re thinking about yourself.
So, so much of the struggle is with how to think about our businesses and what to do next yet we can’t find the coaches or the resources for what I would call female CEO mindset work. And there’s a few popping up and a few really good ones, thankfully. But I wasn’t finding them when I was needing them so I started creating them.
And then third, I think the other thing we learn from these stats is the lack of financial mastery for female CEOs. Yeah, we may have the basics down. A lot of us still don’t even have that. And just fumble through year after year with your numbers. But even for those of us who do feel okay about our numbers and our finances, we still don’t really feel like we understand the money part of business at the level that could make our firms more stable.
And we don’t really know how to project revenues, or create sustainable profitable business models year after year without a whole bunch of struggle. We just, we don’t feel like we are masters of that financial domain. We don’t have mastery there. And so that was something else that I really wanted to create and make sure that I had very dialed in on my business. And yeah, I have an accounting degree and an MBA. But there were so many years where I still did not have financial mastery in my business.
And so if these three areas of mentors, and mindset, and financial mastery don’t exist out there then where do we turn for this kind of support and information? Well, here’s what I think. I think that we don’t usually find it at all. And so then we have two options. We have two options in our businesses. It’s kind of like we can have one of two types of businesses. We can have that cute little woman run just eking out a profit year after year business that everyone thinks is so fun. But if we’re really being honest it’s a whole lot closer to a hobby than we would want it to be.
Or if we don’t want that kind of business, that more, a little bit more woman aligned type of business that feels like us then the other option is to have a ‘real business’ built on the hustle and grind framework designed for men by men. And we just have to try to get onboard and adapt and that takes such a toll on us because that’s exactly what I did for years because I thought those were my two options, hobby business or real business. And what real meant at the time was this hustle and grind kind of approach.
And what we can’t seem to find is – or have or create is what I call option three which is a business with both higher profits and more ease happening at the same time, but one that is created in alignment with our natural feminine approach to life. And really doing business based on what we really care about and what we really value. That’s what wasn’t available to me, or at least I couldn’t find a roadmap for. I couldn’t find a resource. I couldn’t find anybody talking about it for a long, long time. And to be frank it really kind of ticks me off.
It makes me angry that that kind of female-led aligned business and business model was not something that I was seeing. So I’ve spent the last, I would say, three or so years calling BS in every way in my own business about these things, the hustling, the not having the mentors I needed, the not, you know, any area left that I didn’t have financial mastery.
Any place that I was hustling and grinding all the time and killing myself again and again, and creating burnout over and over I started calling BS on myself and I started designing a business that works for me, and is profitable and feels good. And feels good not just to me but to my team. It’s not just about me. If I just create a business that feels good to me and I shove all the hustle down then I just have this constant cycle of a whole bunch of unhappy exhausted team members that turn over all the time and then I have to rehire again. And that wasn’t what I was looking for either.
I wanted a place, and a culture, and a business that felt like a business for women, designed by women that aligned with me and my pretty much all female staff. And this is not to be gender specific here. I’m not trying to be sexist in any way. It’s just aligning with those who are female or who identify as female who have a different type of approach, possibly softer, but we’re not softies, it’s just different. We just approach things differently. And so I wanted a business that felt like that.
And so I want to tell you about three things that I learned that I think you need to shift to stop doing business in the hustle way and start creating a business that is a sustainable company that serves you, serves your team, serves your clients, serves the world in a way that the hustle culture never can. So instead of you being in service to your business all the time and feeding it constantly like an insatiable money and time eating monster, because that’s what mine felt like for so long. I want to show you how to create a business that serves you, and your team, and the world.
So it’s not you’re all serving it, but it’s serving you, sounds pretty amazing. Now, let me be clear. Work is still work. It’s not that I’m waving a magic wand and all of our businesses are suddenly dreamy, and easy, and always fun, and there’s never anything hard. That’s not how it works at all.
And what I want you to understand is that there is a lot that is involved in creating this kind of business but let me remind you. You are going to be working hard anyway because you’re still trying to make the hustle approach to business get you to that corner so you can go turn it where things get easy. So this is sort of a turning the corner approach. But to do that you have to get off of that treadmill and that other old outdated approach and get on a different approach.
So that’s what this is about, it’s about working differently. It’s about thinking differently. It’s about doing things differently so that you can create more ease and joy in your business in the long run because you’re getting a more intuitive and aligned framework in place. So here is the three shifts that I think you have to consider to move towards that intuitive aligned business.
So number one, kind of was just alluding to this. What got you here won’t get you there, meaning over there, that place of alignment. You can’t just work harder in the hustle mode and end up in the aligned mode or in the aligned result. Time passing is not the answer. Having more years of experience is not the answer. Working harder is not the answer. And sure, we can all say, “Yeah, right, Tobi, you just have to work smarter, just smarter, not harder, just smarter.”
I hear that all the time. I’ve heard it for years but what the heck does that even mean? And who are we listening to when it’s smarter? Because smarter, the sort of hustle and grind way, the kind of male created way, or masculine energy. We don’t even have to say male because I created a lot of this too but it was in that masculine energy. Working smarter and masculine energy is not the same as working smarter for me in a more feminine energy or feminine approach. And I think that’s the gap here. That’s where the info doesn’t exist.
How do I work smarter and how do I do it in an aligned way? And let me just be honest, I’ve thought I was working smarter many, many times. I certainly didn’t think I was working stupid when I was putting in all those hours. I thought I was on the track and I would just work more of them and I would land where I had dreamed of, which felt good. But it didn’t work that way. And I was doing what ‘they’ were telling me to do to be successful. And they thought it was how to work smarter too.
So we’ve got to be careful in how we define, and unpack, and understand these terms of yeah, let me just work smarter. I don’t even want you to use that term. It’s not smarter, it’s just different. And in lieu of knowing how to create an aligned business we just wrack our brains and try to figure it out on paper. And we didn’t have the mentors or the coaches like I said earlier, in those moments that we’re trying to figure it out.
And so we try, and try, and try and we think of all these ideas and maybe this’ll work and maybe that’ll work. But at the end of the day we end up falling back into just working more the old way because that’s all we know. And it seems better than doing nothing. And so yeah, we’ll get off, we’ll exit the treadmill for a little while, we’ll hit stop, get off, think we’re going to be onto something, think, we’ll figure out what working smarter means, think we’ll have a new path.
And at the end of the day we’re like, “Screw it, just get back on the treadmill, we’ve got to get some work done.” And we hope that that time, getting back on is going to be the answer to fixing our issues but it never does and it never will. So to make the shift of not doing the same thing and expecting a different result I adopted what I call an anti hustle approach. And I adopted that in January of 2020, so about 18 months ago now. And it was very deliberate and very intentional.
And one of the things that I started doing was I took a challenge with myself to cap my work hours at 32 hours a week, non-negotiable, period, 32 hours a week. And I did that for 90 days as part of something that we were doing in our company called Project Fail. And for 90 days my goal every week was to work no more than 32 hours. And most weeks of the 12 I got pretty darned close. I usually came in around 34-36 hours, not too far off the 32. And I definitely didn’t hit 40 hours except a couple of times, maybe 10 out of 12 times I was way less than 40 hours.
And there were definitely weeks that I hit 32 hours and it kind of blew my mind, blew my mind that it was possible. I was terrified and skeptical that it couldn’t work when I started this exercise. I knew it just meant that we would just have to scale a bunch of things back and a put a whole bunch of stuff on hold until I came to my senses and started working like crazy again.
And let me just be clear when I say not working 40 hours a week or working 32 hours a week it doesn’t mean that I’m always lying around on those other days of the week. A lot of times I’m reading. I’m definitely doing a lot of stuff for myself, self-care and other things to help me be a better leader. So it’s not that I’m just literally in leisure land all the time. But the work, the hard work, the meetings, the podcasting, the stuff that I really call work was in a 32 hour or less period.
And what I learned in this process and this exercise, and I love that my approach, my first kind of foray into this was this exercise in constraint. Because what I learned is that to adopt this anti hustle approach that you’ve got to change a whole lot about how you think, especially about the way you personally work, including how you make decisions, how your whole company makes decisions and how you delegate to people.
And because I had a hard stop at 32 hours, guess what? It didn’t allow a lot of my habits like working nights and staying late when I felt the urge or was in a panic about something from a client or something else that wasn’t finished. It didn’t allow me to work weekends to catch up. Those of you who do that every weekend you know I’m talking to you right now. You’re like, “I don’t work that much, except wait, I always work Saturday and Sunday because I always have so much to catch up on.”
That wasn’t allowed so if I couldn’t do any of that working late, staying late, working weekends, working nights, working again after dinner or after family time, if I couldn’t do any of those then how in the world was I going to get things done and run my business? I didn’t know how. But this was a one stop approach to taking away all my bad habits and excuses. And it required me to come up with more creative solutions to create the results I want. And I chose to do those intentionally from an aligned space because I was tired of feeling burned out.
So I had to get really clear about my role. I had to hire the right people, which meant letting go of a lot of people, or I don’t know if it’s a lot, but letting go of some key people and replacing them with other people. But to do that I had to get clear on what their roles were and what it meant to hire people that could really do the jobs that I was now giving up, at a level that I wanted them done. And so this was really imperative that I could no longer believe I was the only person who could do that work.
I know a lot of you are still thinking I’m the only one who can do that. And I can’t delegate it or pass it down because no one could do it or will do it at my level. And so when you’re only working 32 hours a week or less there’s not time for you to be the only one to do all that stuff because all that stuff is probably way more than 40 hours a week. So I had to un-commit to all of those things and I had to think differently. And that leads me to the mindset or the shift number two that I had to make to really create a sustainable aligned female-led business.
So number one was I can’t do things the way I’ve always done them. What got me here won’t get me there and number two; I had to stop being chief employee and become Chief Executive Officer. Shift from chief employee to CEO. And I didn’t even really know what that meant. I know very, very well what that means now but I did not know what that meant.
So if you’re ever going to have a business that is sustainable, meaning it doesn’t kill you to run it, and you’re not working constantly and never having a break, one that has time, freedom and financial freedom then you’ve got to stop being the chief employee of your business and truly become that CEO, that leader. Now, the main problem with this is that there’s, I think, a big misunderstanding for most of us that those aren’t one and the same. You’re like, “Wait, wait Tobi, chief employee, right, CEO.”
No, absolutely not the same thing, they’re not one and the same. But most business owners I know can’t imagine not being chief employee. They have a hard time letting go and being supported by others. And most don’t know what the heck they are supposed to do with their time if they give up those jobs to other people. It’s sort of like a loss of identity. And they don’t know how to generate cash to pay for that kind of a firm. And it’s just foreign because again we don’t have mentors and we don’t have roadmaps that are built for female entrepreneurs, for female CEOs.
So all we know how to do is hustle and grind, and the chief employee is right there on the treadmill, it’s like the hustle approach. So if there aren’t any role models or information out there on what this looks like to truly CEO in a sustainable business, especially for women what are we to do? And let’s be honest, many of us women are also running our households and raising families.
I mean no wonder we don’t know how to do all of this work and create a business like this based in a male designed or masculine energy designed business approach. Because we’re bringing all of our female roles to the table, the raising of kids, the running of households, the taking care of parents, so all of those things. And again this is not to say men don’t do that stuff. They absolutely do, and thankfully, more men than ever are involved with their kids.
But I’m just saying, when we come out of a traditional thinking, which we do a lot in America, and especially over the years the roadmaps for business have come from those traditional approaches. We didn’t have the information. So I’m not being sexist here. I’m just being factual that there aren’t many of the female designed roadmaps for success in business as a CEO. So in lieu of understanding what a CEO can even mean in our firms we just keep wearing all the hats. And we just keep believing all those things are our job.
And we stay in the trenches, and we crank out work, and we don’t let go of jobs or roles because we don’t trust people on our teams to work at the level we would. And we don’t know how to articulate what we would even want so people can consistently get that right, get those results for us, without us being the one to do it. Am I right?
It’s sort of this vicious cycle of trying to get help and it not really helping. And then us taking back all the hats even though when we gave those away the first time we got a whole bunch of other hats to wear. So now these hats come back so we have more than ever hats. And it’s a problem. And the reason we keep doing that is because we don’t have the how to guide for being a CEO, for being a leader, a female leader and getting out of the way so that our company can scale and grow in a way that we truly love and we truly enjoy, and it’s fulfilling, and it’s aligned.
So it’s like we have the belief that business is supposed to be hard, a lot of us do believe that. And that an enjoyable business isn’t even a real business. And ladies, do we ever make sure that business is really hard? Yes, we make it a 1,000 times harder than it has to even be. And partly it’s hard because the model we’re using is not aligned with who we are and what we value. And sure, there are still challenges that come up weekly, and even daily in all businesses, even very aligned businesses.
And I’m not trying to be all Pollyanna here and act like when you’ve designed a business in a sustainable and an aligned way that everything’s going to be perfect. But when we’re making CEO level decisions to support a business that’s aligned and sustainable week after week then you have a completely different experience in your business. And staying in the trenches and hoping to hustle your way to a more joyful result is not the approach. It’s totally different than that which brings me to the third shift that I think is required to have this kind of business.
And this is what I call the shift to running a values based business. And there’s a bit more to this than you might think. It’s one thing to sort of know what you value. You’re like, “Yeah, I know what I value, my family, my kids, my health”, whatever. And to know when the hustle and grind that you’re doing currently is out of alignment with those things. You can see that because you feel burnout and you’re like, “This is not aligned. I’m not spending enough time on myself or with my kids.”
But there’s a difference in that, that out of alignment because you feel it in your body, and you’re often way too close to burnout or even in burnout on a regular basis. There’s that and that is a good. That’s a great start to having the awareness that you’re out of alignment. But that in and of itself is not the same thing as running a values based business and creating a values based culture in your company.
So the one I’m talking about is one where you create a company culture consciously that is articulated in all parts of your business, your policies, your procedures, your hiring, your job descriptions, your awards and incentives, your work hours, your company manual, your weekly meetings, your standard operating procedures, the way you invest in your team. All of this stuff, all having your values embedded in, around and through, and being the driving force for literally everything you do in your company.
And one of the first problems with this is you have a hard time even putting words to what you really value. Or even if you kind of know and you could sort of get it fleshed out, on paper you might have trouble finding the courage to say it out loud because running a business ‘like a woman’ or I might even call it like a girl isn’t really celebrated or encouraged in the real business world. But I’m on a mission to change that.
When I integrated my values at this foundational level in my business it felt like so much of what I had struggled with for years sort of fell away. And again, it’s not that there aren’t moments of hard. I’ve been in a really business season the last month but I’m not in a busy season all the time. The moments of feeling overwhelm are so much fewer and farther in between.
And the decision fatigue of being on the hook for every major decision, and most of the minor ones in my company that I used to be in charge of when I wore all the hats, so much of that sort of fell away also, fell away from my job description and role because we intentionally placed it on other people. And we placed it with and in the care of our other people who were aligned with us at that values level or aligned with me.
And because our whole team now has this value based framework in which to make decisions and take work off of me and off of each other, and also to know that they can move something forward because they know how to make it in alignment with our very clear company values and beliefs, there’s so much more that can be done. Our impact is greater than it’s ever been. And you would think that would be the opposite. You would think the hustle would produce, produce, produce. But there’s a difference in productivity and producing things.
A lot of times that productivity or hustle doesn’t even end up producing a whole lot. But this is really different. And the team members that we hired through this approach or either hired based on their values that align with us. Or if the ones that we already had on our team, if they hadn’t been hired under that then it was almost like we put them back through the hiring process really in an effort to train them and to align them with our foundational company values which eliminated so many team issues and individual employee challenges that we had been encountering for years.
It made everything so much easier, and more clear, and more decisive, more, you know, just more clear in what was right for the company and who was right for the company. So managing and leading a team of likeminded people, all committed to making the same big impact in the world, in this world is completely the opposite of trying to get a bunch of individuals who are more here for a paycheck to all row in the same direction week after week.
Hiring this way we’re already moving in the same direction. We already have our eye on the same ball or balls. We already are collectively committed to creating a certain impact instead of trying to talk a whole bunch of people who just happened to be filling those roles into hopefully caring about what you care for. But at the end of the day they’re really there because they need the money or they had a degree in this job or this area. And they’re there to play a part but they’re not really aligned. That’s so much harder.
And there’s so much management that has to happen to try to get those people rowing in the same direction and it happens over and over again.
So talk about a game changer, this shift to a values based approach, to a female-led business. And making these three shifts, all three of them, adopting the anti hustle approach, trading in my chief employee hat for a true CEO hat and articulating the company values, and bringing the entire business in alignment with them is where I began this work of creating a female owned and female-led business that was a completely different path than the hustle and grind path that I had been on before.
And so I created it and then I started designing the roadmap of how other people could create it too. I’m not going to lie. I think this approach is a complete game changer for all women. But I also think it’s a game changer for men because male led businesses are often still made up of a ton of key female members. And even male team members are sick of the hustle. It’s not sustainable for them either.
And especially if they’re men who are also wearing a lot of the hats of the responsibility at home because again I think we’ve evolved so much in how homes are run and whose the breadwinner and all of that. And we’re thankfully lessening these gender roles even though this conversation has been very gendered so that we would know what I’m talking about. Thankfully that we’re getting less and less of these kind of gendered roles.
But I think it was so important to talk about it in this way so we could understand it, where we’ve come from and how different what I’m talking about is than what most of us are trying to do in our businesses. And so there you have it, hopefully a lot of aha moments for you today about why your business is still struggling. Why you aren’t as far as you hoped. Why the cash flow is still escaping you. Why you still feel exhausted at the end of the day. Why managing your team feels harder than ever. Why after, fill in the blank, x number of years you’re not where you thought you would be.
And if you happen to be a female business owner that wants to dig into this work at a deeper level with me and some other incredible women, and create this company, the type of company I’ve talked about. Then head over and check out my Millionaire Mentorship program. So you can get to that at tobifairley.com/millionaire. And this is a program I guess you would sort of call it like a mastermind type program. We call it a mentorship. And we started it about six months ago after I had done a year, a full year of this work in my own business.
And the members in the mentorship are thriving. And we’re about to open it up again in just a few days, maybe the day you hear this. And we’re just inviting a handful of people in, maybe around 10 or so this time. And I want you to know about it because you may want to join us. So, head over to that tobifairley.com/millionaire if you want to hear more about this program. And you can read all about what the program entails. You can hear testimonials from some of our amazing current members and you can apply there if you want to join us.
Now, how do you know if you’re ready for this program versus my Design You program? Let me tell you. Design You is amazing. And we do start this work, this type of work, the CEOing, this alignment type of work in Design You for sure. And we’ll be opening Design You up again probably at the end of the summer with some really exciting changes. That’s a whole other topic that I’ll be telling you more about in July or August.
But I think the people that are ready for mentorship are likely hitting revenues maybe 300, 350 up to maybe half a million or 800 at least. You might even be making a million dollars but it doesn’t feel sustainable. But you have enough revenues and enough liquid cash in your business that you could invest in a program like mentorship because it’s not inexpensive. But there’s a lot of handholding. There’s a lot of mentoring as we say, so, at least in those kinds of areas of revenues probably and also at least a couple of team members.
So what could it look like? You may be in the, like I said, 300 to 800,000 dollars in revenues or more. You’ve maybe got two to five team members or more. But you’re maybe even looking to add more team members or get the right people in place.
And what you’re really looking for is a more sustainable, more joyful, more fulfilling way of doing business that no longer feels like the grind, and the hustle, and the push, and the uncertainty. There’s still uncertainty, trust me, but it doesn’t feel like the uncertainty that comes along with pushing so hard all the time to the point of exhaustion and still not creating results. So the aligned and intuitive approach I’ve talked about today. I’ve been describing this whole episode is exactly the approach we take in the Millionaire Mentorship program and it feels really good.
Now, let me be clear again before we go. To create the kind of business we’re talking about, it’s a commitment. And this program’s a commitment. It’s a financial commitment but it’s a time commitment.
And so right off the bat if you’re in money and time scarcity which kind of goes along with the grind, the hustle and grind you’re going to have to make some pretty good shifts both to invest in yourself and your business at this level financially. But to invest the time and even more than both of those, I think it’s to invest the bandwidth, the mindset, the brain power that it’s going to take for you to do this deep level of personal work.
Now, we work to make it fun for sure. And we do things right off the bat to help you relieve stress and get off that treadmill from day one because that’s part of the biggest problem. But there are still going to be moments that are going to feel hard because changing, especially changing habits that we’ve had for 5, 10, 20, 30 years isn’t easy. And gosh, I did a lot of habit changing in 2021 and even this year, and still we’re finding a lot of these habits and it’s work but it’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.
So this is not inexpensive financially, it’s not inexpensive time wise but our members who are there and who are committed to this work and are doing the deep, deep mindset work and shifts. Those members are getting crazy results. They’re getting results that they say have paid for this program many times over within just the first few weeks or months.
So if you want to know more about this program and you want to apply head over, check out the sales page tobifairly.com/millionaire if you want one of those 10 or so spots. I think it’s 10, 10 or 12, that we’re opening up to have your name on it. And you can apply there if you’re ready to go and you have the financial resources in place to do it or you can apply to have a sales call with one of our mentors who happens to also be a master certified life coach who will talk you through a lot of the program.
There’s a few options for you there, so head over, check it out and I can’t wait to hear from you. And you know you can always DM me on social media, on Instagram. You can always ask me questions. I’m here for you and for the right people who are ready at the right level. And this doesn’t mean that you’re wrong if you’re not there.
But you’ll know or at least have a little intuition, even if it’s scary that this might be right for you. And that’s when you’re going to want to reach out to us or apply, or apply to have a call with Carrie. Because this incredible program with these kickass literally, kickass female CEOs that are already in there is really a game changer. And it will help you become the kind of leader that we’ve talked about here today. So I hope you will check it out. And maybe you’re not quite ready for mentorship and that’s fine.
Maybe you’re a perfect candidate for our Design You program which like I said is opening up soon. And if neither of those are right for you yet just keep listening to the podcast because you know I’m going to keep teaching you here every single week with all of this goodness. So I hope you took a lot away from today’s episode no matter what.
And next week I’m going to bring you a related podcast episode, because I did a really fun interview with three of our Millionaire mentorship members so you can hear from them where they were before they joined and exactly what this program is doing for their businesses and for their lives. So I can’t wait for that.
Okay, that’s what I have for you for today friends, thanks for listening. It’s always such a joy to be here with you especially when I get to do a solo show and go into my favorite mode which is kind of teaching mode and sharing what I’ve learned in the hopes that it will help you in your business too. So thanks for being here. I hope you start creating today that kind of aligned business that we talked about because it feels so good. And I’ll see you back here next week with more about the Millionaire mentorship program because it is awesome. Okay, bye for now.
Thank you so much for listening to the Design You podcast, and if you are ready to dig deep and do the important work we talk about here on the podcast of transforming your mindset and creating a scalable online business model, there has never been a more important time than right now. So join me and the incredible creative entrepreneurs in my Design You coaching program today. You can get all the details at TobiFairley.com.