Break the Ceiling

Break the Ceiling

Growth is only hard when your business isn't built for it. Break the Ceiling is the podcast for agencies & consultants who want to break through self-imposed growth ceilings by shirring up their operations and increasing capacity, so they can take their growth from stalled to skyrocket, without working more or hiring the wrong people. Host Susan Boles sparks new ideas and solutions for all your biggest growth headaches to conquer bottlenecks, ease workflows, and get your business on track to double revenue. Without sacrificing quality of work, client satisfaction or letting any pieces fall through the cracks. Whether you're interested in back-end business operations, finance & accounting, team management, technology, project management, client management or human resources, we dig into the underlying problems that might actually be the reason you and your business have maxed out on growth. Learn more at


August 3, 2021 1 min

I wanted to give you an update on what's going on with Break the Ceiling.

Over the last two years, I've released almost a hundred episodes of Break the Ceiling. I've put out so many episodes that I'm really proud of, and I've talked to a ton of really amazing business owners.

Thank you so much for listening and hanging out here with me, geeking out on the backend of running a business.

I wanted to let you know th...

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Boundaries are all about setting guidelines for how you work.

From your very first interaction with a client or a prospect, you're giving them hints about how you work or even explicitly setting expectations for how you'll work together.

So if you take four days to respond to their request for information, they might have the impression that you're a little slow. React immediately, and they'll think you're always ...

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You are not your business.

Your business is something you are creating, which means you have a relationship with it.

Like any relationship that we are in, the relationship that we have with our business can be complex and takes understanding, consideration, and work.

And as with our personal relationships, the ones that we have with our businesses are shaped by our past experiences, for better or worse.

We might have been told that we...

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When was the last time you crossed off everything on your to-do list? Have you ever? Does even glancing at it make you feel overwhelmed and maybe a little bad about yourself?

Hustle culture tells us that working 24/7, 365 will bring us success, that we have to grind it out to gain ground.

But not only is that not realistic for real people with families and friends and lives we want to live, it’s not even true.

There’s a ton of researc...

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Maintenance mode as a topic for the podcast actually came out of a personal capacity crisis.

Like a lot of people, since March of 2020, I've been without child care. With my son in hybrid school all year long, I gradually started having less and less time to devote to ScaleSpark.

I lowered the bar on my expectations for myself and what I could accomplish again and again and again, but there was still stuff that just wasn't ge...

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Sometimes the challenges to consistency come from self-sabotage, things like distraction, boredom, imposter syndrome.

But especially for folks who are neurodivergent or dealing with chronic issues or disabilities, consistency comes with additional challenges that require you to figure out how to manage unpredictable energy levels, or how to cope with executive function issues.

Most common productivity advice centers on the idea of tr...

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It's ok to quit.

Consistency can be critical to success, but knowing when to quit is an equally valuable skill.

So, how do you know when to quit and when to just push through the hard parts?

You've heard me talking to business owners who credit being consistent as the key to their success.

But failure is also a part of being an entrepreneur and one we talk about a lot less because it's not as pretty. Most successful busines...

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Consistency is the underlying premise behind maintenance mode, behind working the system, behind the mantra of "don't break it". It's the opposite of shiny object syndrome.

When you're consistent with your offers and your messaging, people know who you are, what you stand for, and what you sell.

When you're consistent in your operations, your team and your clients know exactly what to do next.

When you're c...

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The point of maintenance mode is to give you time and space to take a REAL break. Not a vacation where you're checking your email or you're stuck on your laptop kind of break. But a real, genuine break.

That step back can feel kinda scary. It might feel like you're standing at a precipice, trying to figure out if you'll trip and fall over the edge, or if it's just a tiny step down to a solid surface.

That step me...

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In order to be completely away from your business for any length of time, you probably need to hire someone. Or maybe a few someones.

In the last episode, I talked to Jason Staats about how he uses technology to help him keep his 4 different ongoing projects in maintenance mode, but hiring is also part of his maintenance strategy. He comes up with the ideas, figures out the tools, then hires someone to monitor and maintain.


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You can't step away and do something else if everything's going to come to a screeching halt when you do.

To be prepared for maintenance mode, you have to figure out how to get the behind-the-scenes systems to operate, consistently, without you.

In order to get your business into maintenance mode–and build a stronger business while you're at it–you have to answer the question, "What if I'm not here?"

Ideally, ...

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Sales are the lifeblood of any business.

So when you're thinking about maintenance mode in your business, you need to think about how to make sure sales still come in, even if you're not around.

Last week we talked about the first step in preparing for maintenance mode by being consistent with your messaging and your offers. If you haven't listened to Episode 81 with Michelle Mazur, go check that one out.

This week, I want...

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No one is bored with your business but you.

The last month or two, we've been talking about maintenance mode–the idea that you can create a business that can kind of run itself. There are systems and processes set up, so everyone knows exactly what they need to do.

The same kinds of systems and tools that you would use to prepare your business for maintenance are the SAME ones that you would use to free up capacity and prepare yo...

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Sometimes we end up building a business that just doesn't fit our lives.

Not intentionally. Sometimes it just happens that way.

Maybe you don’t have the freedom you thought you’d have. Maybe you’re doing group courses but you really want to be 1 on 1 with clients, or vice versa.

Sometimes when you step back and examine what it'll take to get to maintenance mode or what it will take to scale or grow, you realize that you don&...

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Don't break it, stay the course, work the system. Don't break it, stay the course, work the system. That's the refrain that's in the back of my head all the time now.

One of the biggest challenges of getting your business into maintenance mode is your mindset.

It's not that it's so difficult to build systems or design your business model to be sustainable and resilient. It's that we, as entrepreneurs lik...

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As I have been talking with business owners about maintenance mode, they have consistently brought up burnout.

That moment when they realized that they couldn't keep working the way they were working.

Caring for a family member or realizing they were burnt out or trying to handle a load of virtual school with no child care for a year – they all encountered a recognition that their own personal capacity had been reduced.

For me, ...

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How's your capacity feeling these days? Getting a lot done? Or, like me, have you been hitting that pandemic wall hard?

Over the last few weeks, I've been exploring the idea of maintenance mode in business, and today I want to shift from exploring the IDEA of maintenance mode into more tactical applications.

If YOU wanted to move your business into maintenance mode, or you wanted to focus on scaling, how would you DO that? ...

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Visionary or Integrator? Startup or Maintenance CEO?

In the world of business, there is no shortage of ways to categorize your leadership style and the way you operate. But maybe in the real world, it's not quite so distinct.

I LOVE quizzes and personality tests and different ways of categorizing my personality, my skills, and how I think about things.

Sometimes these assessments are genuinely useful and can help us understand how...

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Sometimes it takes more than one try to really nail the execution of an idea.

Creating scalable systems isn't necessarily intuitive and it runs counter to most of our narratives about how hustling hard and creating more is the path to success. I propose that the path to success is actually radical consistency.

As I was looking around for guests for this series on maintenance mode, I started thinking about all the business owners...

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I've been spending a lot of time this year thinking about capacity.

A lot of the work I do focuses on helping clients streamline their operations to increase their capacity without increasing their costs or business complexity.

ScaleSpark actually started as an outgrowth of me running businesses and holding a full-time job. We owned a guest ranch and a brick-and-mortar store while I worked full time and ran all the back ends of...

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