Succeeding at Failing | Lessons on Setting Up A Business That Works For You
Today we are with Brittany May, and she is with us to talk about how to set up a business that works for you and your crazy lifestyle, welcome Brittany.
Hi thank you so much for having me.
Brittany, we're so excited. Brittany is a mom of three- soon to be three, right? She is a military spouse, and an entrepreneur. She works part time hours out of her home in Germany where she currently lives, and after her first seven figure business the wrong way, because it totally took over her life, she is now passionate about helping others work smarter and create a life and business that works for them. She is focused on teaching how to create sustainable, automated businesses around your passion, have a larger impact on the world, and finally obtain scheduled freedom for yourself and your family. I can't wait to dive into these topics! This is great! Just, just what we need.
And, you know, one of the first things that I loved about reading about your story Brittany and something that I would love for you to share a little bit more in depth, is the fact that you're not ashamed of saying like, even in the face of what seemed to be success building a seven figure business, it went completely the wrong way. So, in a certain way, something did not work there. And, And these are the stories that sometimes don't get told very often because we like to just put front and center, what worked, the success, all the good bits and parts, but tell us a little bit, what were some of the things that you learned or what was it that you said, you know, next time around, this is definitely the don'ts, this is what I'm going to avoid or what I can share with other moms about what not to do so that they don't fall into that trap of saying “I'm building something but at the end of the day is really not leading me the way that I want to”?
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for asking that question because I think so many business owners and entrepreneurs, our goal, our milestones, what we are told is successful or not is monetary and it's these financial numbers, and then that's what we can kind of either get focused in on a little bit too much. But at the end of the day, what success means to you is completely different. And what success is for me today is completely different than it was 10 years ago it looks very much different. And I would not trade that, I would not go back if you paid me. I worked around the clock, and I loved what I did, I really did, however, the home life boundaries that people talk about all the time now, there was no such thing. And back then it was little Blackberry phones I don't know if you guys remember those. Oh my god- and I got it specifically because it had the keyboard and I was like I can answer emails.
I got it before.
Right and it was glued to my hand and that's all I did from the minute I woke up, I was in reaction and response mode, talking to customers or managers or employees or whatever that looks like, all through the day, until you know, 1- 2am, go to bed and then you wake up and do it again. And it's like, I don't have a life outside of this, like what is the point, you know? You're supposed to be doing this, you're supposed to love what you do, and there's my little one in the background. but at the end of the day, I'm a mom now, And they are my top priority. And they are my focus.
See, they’re just trying to tell you, you are my mom now. Yeah.
I am your boss, now.
And what were you doing in your previous business and what was the trigger like that day or that moment where you said “That’s it, I need to have a change in my life”?
Yeah, so I had a retail chain. I had my own stores I had six brick and mortar stores, and also was a web designer and we sold other brands so it was like a whole thing. There was just like a lot of traveling with the buying conventions and to manufacturers and it was just nonstop. And that was, I was, I was actually an entrepreneur before I became a mother, so that very much. I mean, well I shouldn't say, that because it didn't work even when I was single and did not have children, you know, it was too much. However, it was when I became a mom, my oldest when she was born. It was like, you look at those little eyes and you're like, ‘oh my gosh like how can I leave this at home with somebody else’, you know, and that was like okay, this is not gonna keep going this way, like, what, what do we do, what can I keep? What can I get rid of? What can I change? Do I start from scratch? Do I, you know what? So it was really just taking a step back and kind of throwing the box away and deciding, you know what I wanted my life to look like and what I wanted my business to look like and not worrying about you know the cookie cutter or what you feel like “you're supposed to be doing.”
Right. All of these expectations as well or that that society brings towards you. Right?
Yes, and it's also, I guess the as taking a stance into stepping into your own power and saying, you know, what are the rules for me? How would I want to redifine the game of life and motherhood in business for myself and for my family dynamics? And for, you know, as you say the fact that you are living abroad and you're raising a family and you're having a business and you're doing all the things, like, what does that look like? So, tell us a little bit about your philosophy around working smarter, what does that mean in Brittany's world?
Yes. So, and it's been a complete 180 from who I used to be, because my father was also an entrepreneur and raised, I think kind of the old school mentality where, like, you're a workhorse, and if you're a good worker that means put in longer hours. That means put in more sweat, right, and that's what I was taught that's when you're doing good, that's when you're working hard. You're doing a good job and that's what I replicated obviously in my first business. But it was really taking a step back and saying: ‘Well, can I get the same results, but not eat up my time? What would that look like?” And that's when I really got into got into automations and systems and then I just loved it and totally geeked out from there and never looked back. But literally, if there's a quicker way to do something, I will find it, and that's both in my personal life and in my business life.
Oh my God. Yeah, you must see my eyes spark up because that's exactly what I'm thinking and that's what I'm currently going through. That's my whole philosophy on tackling business now as well, like me, just like you, I have another one on the way. And you just realize okay time is becoming less and less, but there is no way I'm gonna scale down on my business, on the contrary, it's actually fueling me on to do more and to do better, but I need to have systems in place. So, yes, what are some of your, like, key factors or key steps of automation or deciding what needs to be automated.
See I could geek out about this all day so feel free to jump in and stop me! My rule of thumb, and it's a bit like I told you, I'm a bit crazy about this so take it with a grain of salt, but it's a good place to start. So if you look at your day and your schedule what you're doing for your business. My rule of thumb, anything that you do more than twice, needs a system, and that can be twice in one day, That could be twice in a week, it could be twice a month. If you did more than one time, it means a system, and that doesn't, I think so many people are afraid of that word and they kind of like, their eyes glaze over and they're like, I don't know what that means or I don't know where to start, you know it can be overwhelming, but I think it could be as simple as a bullet point list, something that you can step by step, here's what I do: I open this email, I click this button, I do this thing whenever I am attending to this process or what have you. So it's on paper and you are able to at some point, delegate it or hand it off, whether it's to a VA, whether it's to your spouse, to an older child, you know it can be anything but it's removing yourself and that manual I call it being a manual Millie, from your business, and really just getting things more streamlined and automated so anybody can come in and be able to help you out because that's what we need. We can't do everything ourselves right.
Yes. Yeah. And to interrupt you a little bit on that, it's very fascinating because a lot of people know this as a standard operating procedure right like an SOP. I mean sounds so fancy, and something that only like high level businesspeople with a certain type of business are supposed to be involved with, but at the end of the day, as you say, it's as easy as just a Word document with some bullet points on how you go about doing something and expecting somebody to replicate that. And to extrapolate it from the business sense into life at home, I also believe that our husbands sometimes need SOPs too because they miss a lot of steps, right? And then we get annoyed because we do all the steps and they only do three and then we say well how is this supposed to help me out if out of the 10 steps you did three and I still have to do the other seven? It wasn't really delegating; it was just micromanaging the three steps on your end. So I love that you say this because it is very powerful this concept in both life and business how you can apply it.
So what else is on your toolkit for automations and delegation, what other cool tips can you share with us?
Yeah, definitely. So I think, and again it's like throwing away the box, there's no cookie cutter, so every business is going to look different and it should look different because all our lives, all our priorities all our schedules are totally different. So it needs to be reflective of that. So it's like right tools. Yeah, you're all done. We have to find the tools and apps that work for us and feel good for us so like Trello personally is one of my favorites, I use it personally. Like each of my children have a board and we've got all their information, all their like cute even throw on like milestones and sayings that we don't want to forget, or when they're older. And like we use, I use it for everything. But some people hate Trello and it doesn't feel intuitive to them. So rather than trying to again fall into those should be doings, it's just testing things out and seeing what works for you and what sticks, because if something doesn't stick, it's not because you're a failure, it's not because you're not doing something right, it's because it's just not quite right for you. So yeah, don't freak out. Don't be too hard on yourself just find something different, try.
Yeah, exactly like I used to do a lot of things, or trying to do like digital checklists and all of this, but I'm still at the end I love my notebook I love my highlighters, you know I love working with many, many, colors, it's, it's just what works well for me that's what keeps me productive and like you said it's finding that thing that works for you. But going back to Trello yes this is how Iva and I we keep our podcast management sort of intact with like, because also we are doing this together. We are in two different countries on two also two slightly different time zones. So it's like the best way and we do have a VA involved as well now and it's just perfect. This tool that's out there and, you know, everyone can work on it and it's very transparent.
Oh yes, it's, it has been a great tool for us, that's for sure. In just how the communication is disseminated between the two of us so nothing is really falling through the cracks. It's out there for both of us to see in real time.
Yeah, and that's, that's the beauty of these systems. Because it is it's when you’re a mom, it’s like, yo can hear my youngest in the background, and before this I was dropping out my first grader and they have a new thing- whatever- regulations and instructions because it COVID. And it's like every morning is changing and you're just like constantly running around, right, and yeah, but that's our life, that's reality. And so when you have these systems in place, it makes sure that your business keeps turning, even on those crazy days, and even you know when your kids get sick, or when you just want a day off and you just want to like sit down and have a coffee or whatever that looks like for you. You have systems in place and it keeps going and it just, it takes a huge stress off of you and that's the way it should be. Business should not be hard, it should be fun.
Exactly. And you I mean, you live overseas, you are, you have a husband that in the military, so you are moving every couple of years, I suppose. Yeah. So are we. And so we totally know what that's like and that's why it's also probably much more sustainable to have an online business, to have gone digital. And I know you have sort of an international team in place as well. So how do you work best across different time zones as well? What has helped you there?
Yeah, definitely, um, so again, Trello has been amazing because you can add everyone on the board, everyone whenever they wake up, they can work, you know, it doesn't matter, and you can leave a note, and then someone in the Philippines or someone in America is gonna wake up on their time zone and be able to, you know, you pass the ball and keep it going. So that's been amazing.
And really, I think it's just finding what works for you. We are very much an early morning, family, and so in the beginning, I was bending over backwards and like doing it was late night stuff for me, but that's I like can't even, don't even try talking to me because I won't make sense! So it was like okay what am I doing? Because I was trying to be accommodating, but there's different ways to do that there's so many there's apps where you can literally record videos and so it's not real time, but you still have kind of that face-to-face connection and they can respond when it's convenient to them and so just really thinking about everyone's lifestyle and personal preferences. And just, even the way that they work best, and you know kind of figuring out the flow of that rather than being like, ‘No, it needs to be nine to five, we all should be on the same time zone, I don't care if it's 1 am your time”, no way.
I mean this is how Iva and my story started out as well. She was actually in Germany at that time, I was in Japan and, but this is how our kind of friendship started off with these conversations and it did not matter that we were not on the same time zone we were so there for each other. So, through this time, at this phase of our life we were going through and it was, it really helps I mean technology thanks to technology nowadays right.
Yes, yes, there's a lot of things that technology can help us with, for sure. And within that same vein, Brittany, what are some, you know, basics or not necessarily with, with regards only to apps or systems but, but also you know what are the basic foundations to building a sustainable, automated business that you have experienced for yourself that you can give us some, you know, very macro level, rule of thumb for people or moms that might be wanting to take notes. and say like What are some pointers or guidelines that they can start implementing right away?
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I don't think you have to take it as extreme as I have, however. I think kind of really looking at, I don't know if you guys have heard I'm going to backups or if you guys have heard of the 80/20 rule. And it's like, where you figure out, okay if you lay out everything that you were doing so if there's different services, different products and find out how much money that's bringing in, but then on the flip side, how much time that takes. Nine times out of ten when I have done this with clients, it's the thing that takes up 80% of their time is only making them the 20%, like they're working so hard and it really doesn't account for a whole lot in that bottom line, so I say just scrap that completely. And then the 20% that comes so easy to them, is making them the majority of the money. So let's flip that and focus your energy and your time and your automations right on that 20% that's super easy and grow that rather than spreading yourself too thin. I truly believe in the power of focus that can help you, and then me, personally I looked and I was like, What am I, limiting myself and basically you know putting a cap on myself because I have to have my hand in these projects? How can I take me out of it and so it can be completely scalable or can be handed off to somebody else? So that's what I have done and I mean, took that to an extreme or even taking it further as we're getting ready for baby number three to come. And I'm no longer doing one on one, I'm no longer doing any coaching whatsoever, all my products are completely digital and automated. And then we might have like an annual summit, we just had our first one. Wrapping up today. And that's what we're doing
Oh right, yeah, I know today, isn't it? Wow, congratulations on that.
Thank you. Yeah, it's been so much fun and it's an even that is all I mean as I'm sitting here talking to you guys, I'm not there, it's all automated. So, it's, you know, it's just finding what works for you and it doesn't have to be extreme because I'm very much an introvert so that's what works well for me. But people that are extroverts and they, like, that's their favorite part, so don't take it out if that's like what you live for, because it's my thing
Or combine it together right? You can have like things automated but still jump in there for like weekly sessions or like, you know, be really active
So you still get that interaction and it's scalable.
Exactly, exactly. That's it, that's a really smart system. Now I, of course, because I am so aligned with what you're doing and that's sort of where my passion lies as well and trying to create something for moms that makes life just easier, give them a step by step by step on how to grow an online business. And of course, I have already seen your, your website and you have amazing tools on there really that that can be applied immediately. And we'll talk about you can explain to us about it in a second. But you have now, so basically shifted completely on teaching others how to run their businesses. So do you go in and kind of really dissect their businesses, and really question and like lay everything out on the table and say ‘Okay this is what you do day in, day out, these are your daily, weekly, monthly tasks,” and then you come in and like recommend to them, these are the steps you should automate or delegate?
Yeah that's how it started. Honestly, so those companies Simply Happy Life started as a blog. I think it was like, day two, because that's how my brain works, it turned into a course. I was like ‘Why not’? and that was my first digital course, and it was how to automate your social media, because that was a huge component for me and my first business that ate up so much of my time, and I was like, people need to know this because it just eats up all your time and it's so stressful and it takes a lot off your plate.
And that's kind of how I just transformed, and so many people then were coming to me based off of my last business and they're like, how did you, you know, you don't have any other stores, you moved everything online, how did you do that? I'm burned out, I want to do that. And so it just started with those conversations. So I used to work one on one with clients and yeah we just digged in and I loved it and would go through and be like, ‘Here's what you can tweak, here's what you can do a little bit different. This is gonna make it scalable, this is wasting your time- let's scrap that’, you know, and come up with these systems and the automated emails or the triggers or whatever that looks like for them. Or even, you know, create processes for their onboarding their employees you know if they didn't have that and that was like, you know, chaos, every time they brought someone new on and it was just really finding their pain points and creating custom systems for them.
But after so many clients, I saw all the industries may be different, some of the problems might be different, but the solutions and the mentality, the processes were the same. So that's what I created what I call the Simply Scale Program, and it's basically, it's not a course. It really is it's just a program but it walks you through step by step, and rather than being like, okay, here, you need Trello, it's teaching you how to think and how to decide those pieces for yourself. Because like I said, not everyone should have the same stuff. So, I definitely give my recommendations and share what I use, so you can, you know, check it out, but I teach you what needs to be systematized and how you can do that for you.
And people can decide to work with you on, on, on certain time frames, or do you recommend that there's a certain amount of time that that they work together with you to really get the system off the ground and really go into a complete full automation loop where they can feel confident that it's running on its own?
Yeah, so the program is completely self-paced and self-taught now and so as I was saying, I don't do any of the one on one stuff anymore so I took it to the extreme. You don't have to, but literally everything is in there, and it's everything is, because I felt like so many like online courses and products, it was just more overwhelm and you log in, you're like oh my gosh, where do I start, but this is literally, you have one little video, you have an action, and then it unlocks the next one, like you can't even see the next step until you're on it because it's just about focus, one little step at a time and build those systems, and yeah that automation for yourself, and even I've had people in there that are like, ‘I'm not tech savvy’ and we've got tutorials we have everything templates swipe files, Whatever you need. It's all in there so you don't there's no excuse. I basically take it away. I'm sorry.
Yeah, that's amazing. I mean we will definitely link all of that in the show notes because I know there's a lot of people listening out there right now saying ‘Where can I find this? I need this. I need this in my life now!’ And you are also offering a freebie, to our audience, which is Scale A Business Without Sacrificing Your Time. It is a mini training, right. So tell us a little bit about that one.
Yeah, that's where I really, really dive into what I call the manual Millie's and how to become an automatic Annie and I will walk you through part of that process that you can, as you're watching the training you can get started that day. So again, no excuses. It's not about the tech. It's just about diving in and just clearing your plate and streamlining and so yeah, I really enjoyed that training.
So I have already signed up, I have watched it and it is fantastic so I can recommend it.
I'm signing up as well because it is very inspiring, Brittany, that you have spent this time together with us, and have really showed us that it is possible to step in and create a sustainable automated business around something that you love doing, according to the 80/20 rule. And, and at the same time, to be able to schedule that that free time for yourself and for your family, without feeling that you are burning both ends of the candles so to speak and that you're not missing out on such precious moments which are our children's lives and their childhoods, which go by, so, so quickly. So this freebie is something that is definitely going to help a lot of moms out there that are wanting to get started and to really simplify their life. So, thank you so much, Brittany, for being here with us. And if you want to connect with Brittany, you can find her on Instagram @simplyhappyBrittany, and we will also be sharing her Facebook page, her LinkedIn profile, and her website, along with the freebie link in our show notes,
Thank you so much for, for sharing all of these insights with us, this has been super helpful. And we can't wait to follow along and your journey.
Yes, and congratulations on your baby!
Baby number three. Here we go.
Lucky number three
It is possible moms can literally do it all have it all, and have lots of fun and entertainment along the way, right?
Entertainment, that's for sure. Thank you for having me.
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Brittany May is a mom of three, a military spouse and an entrepreneur. She works part time hours out of her home in Germany. After running her first seven-figure business the wrong way (and having it take over her life) she is now passionate about helping others work smarter and create a life (and business) that works for them. Brittany is focused on teaching how to create sustainable, automated businesses around your passion, have a larger impact on the world; and finally obtain schedule freedom for yourself and your family.